Meiji Restoration, in Japanese history, the political revolution in 1868 that brought about the final demise of the Tokugawa shogunate(military government)thus ending the Edo (Tokugawa) period (1603–1867)—and, at least nominally, returned control of the country to direct imperial rule under Mutsuhito (the emperor Meiji). In a wider context, however, the Meiji Restoration of 1868 came to be identified with the subsequent era of major political, economic, and social change—the Meiji period (1868–1912)that brought about the modernization and Westernization of the country.
In 1868 the Tokugawa shôgun ("great general"), who ruled Japan in the feudal period, lost his power and the emperor was restored to the supreme position. The emperor took the name Meiji ("enlightened rule") as his reign name; this event was known as the Meiji Restoration. The Meiji reforms brought great changes both within Japan and in Japan's place in world affairs. Japan strengthened itself enough to remain a sovereign nation in the face of Western colonizing powers and indeed became a colonizing power itself. During the Taishô period (1912-1926), Japanese citizens began to ask for more voice in the government and for more social freedoms. During this time, Japanese society and the Japanese political system were significantly more open than they were either before or after.