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This article is about the Japanese military rank and historical title. For other uses, see Shgun

History of Japan




Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun (11921199) of the Kamakura shogunate

A shgun (, [o] ( listen)) was the military dictator of Japan during the period from 1185
to 1868 (with exceptions). In most of this period, the shoguns were the de facto rulers of the country,
although nominally they were appointed by the Emperor as a ceremonial formality.[1] The Shoguns
held almost absolute power over territories through military means. Nevertheless, an unusual
situation occurred in the Kamakura period (11991333) upon the death of the first shogun, whereby
the Hj clan's hereditary titles of shikken (1199-1256) and tokus (12561333) monopolized the
shogunate as dictatorial positions, collectively known as the Regent Rule ().[2] The shogun
during this 134-year period met the same fate as the Emperor and was reduced to a figurehead until
a coup in 1333, when the Shogun was restored to power in the name of the Emperor.[2]
The modern rank of shogun is roughly equivalent to a generalissimo. Shogun is the short form
of Sei-i Taishgun (, "Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the
Barbarians"), the individual governing the country at various times in the history of Japan, ending
when Tokugawa Yoshinobu relinquished the office to Emperor Meiji in 1867.[3] The tent symbolized
the field commander but also denoted that such an office was meant to be temporary. The shogun's
officials were collectively the bakufu, and were those who carried out the actual duties of
administration, while the imperial court retained only nominal authority.[4] In this context, the office of
the shogun had a status equivalent to that of a viceroy or governor-general, but in reality shoguns
dictated orders to everyone including the reigning Emperor.


1Heian period (7941185)

2Kamakura shogunate (11921333)
3Ashikaga shogunate (13361573)
4Tokugawa shogunate (16031868)
7See also
9Further reading
Heian period (7941185)[edit]
Main article: Heian period
Originally, the title of Sei-i Taishgun ("Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the
Barbarians")[5] was given to military commanders during the early Heian period for the duration of
military campaigns against the Emishi, who resisted the governance of the Kyoto-based imperial
court. tomo no Otomaro was the first Sei-i Taishgun.[6] The most famous of these shoguns
was Sakanoue no Tamuramaro.
In the later Heian period, one more shogun was appointed. Minamoto no Yoshinaka was named sei-i
taishgun during the Genpei War, only to be killed shortly thereafter by Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

Kamakura shogunate (11921333)[edit]

Main articles: Kamakura shogunate and Kamakura period
In the early 11th century, daimys protected by samurai came to dominate internal Japanese
politics.[7] Two of the most powerful families the Taira and Minamoto fought for control over the
declining imperial court. The Taira family seized control from 1160 to 1185, but was defeated by the
Minamoto in the Battle of Dan-no-ura. Minamoto no Yoritomoseized power from the central
government and aristocracy and established a feudal system based in Kamakura in which the
private military, the samurai, gained some political powers while the Emperor and
the aristocracy remained the de jure rulers. In 1192, Yoritomo was awarded the title of Sei-i
Taishgun by the Emperor and the political system he developed with a succession of shogun as the
head became known as a shogunate. Yoritomo's wife's family, the Hj, seized power from the
Kamakura shoguns.[8] When Yoritomo's sons and heirs were assassinated, the shogun himself
became a hereditary figurehead. Real power rested with the Hj regents. The Kamakura shogunate
lasted for almost 150 years, from 1192 to 1333.
In 1274 and 1281, the Mongol Empire launched invasions against Japan. An attempt by Emperor
Go-Daigo to restore imperial rule in the Kenmu Restoration in 1331 was unsuccessful, but weakened
the shogunate significantly and led to its eventual downfall.[9]
The end of the Kamakura shogunate came when Kamakura fell in 1333, and the Hj Regency was
destroyed. Two imperial families the senior Northern Court and the junior Southern Court had a
claim to the throne. The problem was solved with the intercession of the Kamakura Shogunate, who
had the two lines alternate. This lasted until 1331, when Emperor Go-Daigo (of the Southern Court)
tried to overthrow the shogunate in order to stop the alternation. As a result, Daigo was exiled.
Around 13341336, Ashikaga Takaujihelped Daigo regain his throne.[10]
The fight against the shogunate left the Emperor with too many people claiming a limited supply of
land. Takauji turned against the Emperor when the discontent about the distribution of land grew
great enough. In 1336 Daigo was banished again, in favor of a new Emperor.[10]
During the Kemmu Restoration, after the fall of the Kamakura shogunate in 1333, another short-lived
shogun arose. Prince Moriyoshi (Morinaga), son of Go-Daigo, was awarded the title of Sei-i
Taishgun. However, Prince Moriyoshi was later put under house arrest and, in 1335, killed
by Ashikaga Tadayoshi.

Ashikaga shogunate (13361573)[edit]

The tomb of Ashikaga Takauji

Main articles: Ashikaga shogunate and Muromachi period

In 1338, Ashikaga Takauji, like Yoritomo, a descendant of the Minamoto princes, was awarded the
title of sei-i taishgun and established the Ashikaga shogunate, which lasted until 1573. The
Ashikaga had their headquarters in the Muromachi district of Kyoto, and the time during which they
ruled is also known as the Muromachi Period.

Tokugawa shogunate (16031868)[edit]

Main articles: Tokugawa shogunate and Bakumatsu

Tokugawa Ieyasu, founder of the Tokugawa shogunate

Tokugawa Ieyasu seized power and established a government at Edo (now known as Tokyo) in
1600. He received the title sei-i taishgun in 1603, after he forged a family tree to show he was
of Minamoto descent.[11] The Tokugawa shogunate lasted until 1867, when Tokugawa
Yoshinobu resigned as shogun and abdicated his authority to Emperor Meiji.[12]
During the Edo period, effective power rested with the Tokugawa shogun, not the Emperor in Kyoto,
even though the former ostensibly owed his position to the latter. The shogun controlled foreign
policy, the military, and feudal patronage. The role of the Emperor was ceremonial, similar to the
position of the Japanese monarchy after the Second World War.[13]

Upon Japan's surrender after World War II, American Army General Douglas MacArthur became
Japan's de facto ruler during the years of occupation. So great was his influence in Japan that he
has been dubbed the Gaijin Shogun ()[14].
Today, the head of the Japanese government is the Prime Minister; the usage of the term "shogun"
has nevertheless continued in colloquialisms. A retired Prime Minister who still wields considerable
power and influence behind the scenes is called a "shadow shogun" ( yami shgun), a sort of
modern incarnation of the cloistered rule. Examples of "shadow shoguns" are former Prime
Minister Kakuei Tanaka and the politician Ichir Ozawa.[15]

The term bakufu (, literally, tent government) originally meant the dwelling and household of a
shogun, but in time, became a metonymfor the system of government of a feudal military
dictatorship, exercised in the name of the shogun or by the Shogun himself. Therefore,
various bakufu held absolute power over the country (territory ruled at that time) without pause from
1192 to 1867, glossing over actual power, clan and title transfers.
The shogunate system was originally established under the Kamakura shogunate by Minamoto no
Yoritomo. Although theoretically, the state (and therefore the Emperor) held ownership of all land in
Japan. The system had some feudal elements, with lesser territorial lords pledging their allegiance to
greater ones. Samurai were rewarded for their loyalty with agricultural surplus, usually rice, or labor
services from peasants. In contrast to European feudal knights, samurai were not landowners.[16] The
hierarchy that held this system of government together was reinforced by close ties of loyalty
between the daimys, samurai and their subordinates.
Each shogunate was dynamic, not static. Power was constantly shifting and authority was often
ambiguous. The study of the ebbs and flows in this complex history continues to occupy the
attention of scholars. Each shogunate encountered competition. Sources of competition included the
Emperor and the court aristocracy, the remnants of the imperial governmental systems,
the shen system, the great temples and shrines, the shugo and jit, the kokujin and early
modern daimy. Each shogunate reflected the necessity of new ways of balancing the changing
requirements of central and regional authorities.[17]

See also[edit]
History of Japan
List of shoguns

1. Jump up^ "Shogun". Encyclopdia Britannica. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
2. ^ Jump up to:a b () 6 (, 1985) ISBN 978-4-642-00506-7
3. Jump up^ Totman, Conrad (1966). "Political Succession in The Tokugawa Bakufu: Abe Masahiro's
Rise to Power, 18431845". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 26: 102
124. JSTOR 2718461. doi:10.2307/2718461.
4. Jump up^ Beasley, William G. (1955). Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 18531868, p.
5. Jump up^ The Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary, ISBN 0-8048-0408-7
6. Jump up^ (in Japanese). Books Kinokuniya. Retrieved March
7. Jump up^ "Shogun". The World Book Encyclopedia. 17. World Book. 1992. pp. 432433. ISBN 0-
8. Jump up^ "shogun | Japanese title". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-08-21.
9. Jump up^ Columbia University (2000). "Japan: History: Early History to the Ashikaga
Shoguns". Factmonster. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
10. ^ Jump up to:a b Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan, 11341615. United States: Stanford
University Press.
11. Jump up^ Titsingh, I. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, p. 409.
12. Jump up^ "Japan". The World Book Encyclopedia. World Book. 1992. pp. 3459. ISBN 0-7166-0092-
13. Jump up^ Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi (Winter 1991). "In Name Only: Imperial Sovereignty in Early
Modern Japan". Journal of Japanese Studies. 17 (1): 2557. JSTOR 132906. doi:10.2307/132906.
14. Jump up^ Valley, David J. (April 15, 2000). Gaijin Shogun : Gen. Douglas MacArthur Stepfather of
Postwar Japan. Title: Sektor Company. ISBN 978-0967817521. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
15. Jump up^ Ichiro Ozawa: the shadow shogun. In: The Economist, September 10, 2009.
16. Jump up^ Bentley, Jerry. Traditions and Encounters. pp. 301302. ISBN 978-0-07-325230-8.
17. Jump up^ Mass, J. et al., eds. (1985). The Bakufu in Japanese History, p. 189.

Further reading[edit]
Beasley, William G. (1955). Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853
1868. London: Oxford University Press. [reprinted by RoutledgeCurzon, London,
2001. ISBN 978-0-19-713508-2 (cloth)]
Columbia University (2000). "Japan: History: Early History to the Ashikaga
Shoguns". Factmonster. Retrieved 2007-04-17.
Brazell, Karen (November 1972). "The Changing of the Shogun 1289: An Excerpt from
Towazugatari". The Journal of the Association of Teachers of Japanese. 8 (1): 58
65. JSTOR 489093. doi:10.2307/489093.
Brock, Karen L. (Winter 1995). "The Shogun's 'Painting Match'". Monumenta Nipponica. 50 (4):
433484. JSTOR 2385589. doi:10.2307/2385589.
Grossberg, Kenneth A. (August 1976). "Bakufu Bugyonin: The Size of the lower bureaucracy in
Muromachi Japan". The Journal of Asian Studies. 35 (4): 651
654. JSTOR 2053677. doi:10.2307/2053677.
Grossberg, Kenneth A. (Spring 1976). "From Feudal Chieftain to Secular Monarch. The
Development of Shogunal Power in Early Muromachi Japan". Monumenta Nipponica. 31(1): 29
49. JSTOR 2384184. doi:10.2307/2384184.
"Japan". The World Book Encyclopedia. World Book. 1992. pp. 3459. ISBN 0-7166-0092-7.
Mass, Jeffrey P. and William B. Hauser, eds. (1985). The Bakufu in Japanese History. Stanford:
Stanford University Press.
McCune, George M. (May 1946). "The Exchange of Envoys between Korea and Japan During
the Tokugawa Period". The Far Eastern Quarterly. 5 (3): 308
325. JSTOR 2049052. doi:10.2307/2049052.
Ravina, Mark (November 1995). "State-Building and Political Economy in Early-modern
Japan". The Journal of Asian Studies. 54 (4): 997
1022. JSTOR 2059957. doi:10.2307/2059957.
Seigle, Cecilia Segawa (December 1999). "The Shogun's Consort: Konoe Hiroko and Tokugawa
Ienobu". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 59 (2): 485
522. JSTOR 2652720. doi:10.2307/2652720.
Hurst, C. Cameron, III; Smith, Henry (November 1981). "Review of Learning from Shogun:
Japanese History and Western Fantasy, by Henry Smith". The Journal of Asian Studies. 41 (1):
158159. JSTOR 2055644. doi:10.2307/2055644.
Sansom, George. 1961. A History of Japan, 11341615. Stanford: Stanford University
Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-0525-7
"Shogun". The World Book Encyclopedia. 17. World Book. 1992. pp. 432433. ISBN 0-7166-
Sinsengumi, Bakumatuisin (2003). . Bakusin (in Japanese). Retrieved 2007-04-17.
Smith, Henry (ed.) (1980). Learning from Shogun: Japanese History and Western Fantasy (PDF).
Santa Barbara: University of California Program in Asian Studies.
Totman, Conrad (1966). "Political Succession in The Tokugawa Bakufu: Abe Masahiro's Rise to
Power, 18431845". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. 26: 102
124. JSTOR 2718461. doi:10.2307/2718461.
Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi (Winter 1991). "In Name Only: Imperial Sovereignty in Early Modern
Japan". Journal of Japanese Studies. 17 (1): 2557. JSTOR 132906. doi:10.2307/132906.