Despite a great deal of recent scholarship, T okugawa Japan (1603-1868) remains something of an enigma. With a population of around 30 million, japan was demographically larger than any European nation, and physically larger than any nation in Europe other than Sweden, France and Spain. On the other hand, with 75 per cent of the area composed of mountain, the density of lowlands settlement meant that a very large population was mainly organised within a series of interacting communities. Across most of the area most of the time, japan's climate was temperate, but Tokugawajapan's domestic economy lay on the edge of the monsoon area, periodically exposed to typhoons, floods and famine. The tremendous cultural hegemony of China in East Asia embraced japan throughout the years to 1868, yet that influence was much modified. The phonetic alphabet emerged as a partial replacement and extension of Chinese characters, Japan's Confucianism was not a replication of the Chinese model. As with Britain, Japan lay somewhat outside the mainstream of continental life, and external influences were forever being amalgamated in a distinctive culture.