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The Tenpō famine (天保の飢饉, Tenpō no kikin), also known as the Great Tenpō famine (天保の大飢饉, Tenpō no daikikin) was a famine which affected Japan during the Edo period. It is considered to have begun in 1833, and lasted until 1837. It was named after the Tenpō era (1830–1844), during the reign of Emperor Ninkō. The ruling shōgun during the famine was Tokugawa Ienari. The famine was most severe in northern Honshū and was caused by flooding and cold weather.
The famine was one of a series of calamities that shook the faith of the people in the ruling bakufu. During the same period as the famine, there was also the Kōgo Fire of Edo (1834) and a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in the Sanriku region (1835). In 1837, the last year of the famine, Ōshio Heihachirō led a revolt in Osaka against corrupt officials who refused to help feed the impoverished residents of the city. Another revolt sprung up in Chōshū Domain. Also in 1837, the American merchant vessel Morrison appeared off the coast of Shikoku, and was driven away by coastal artillery. The sum of these incidents made the Tokugawa bakufu look weak and powerless, and exposed the corruption of officials who profited while commoners suffered.
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