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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

These observed the behests of the Bakufu



The common saying that the Kamakura Bakufu brought the entire country under one administrative control requires modification. It was not until Tokugawa days in the seventeenth century that the whole sixty provinces passed under one feudal ruler. Still as between the Kamakura Bakufu and the Muromachi, the latter, though its military supremacy was less complete, may be said to have extended its influence theoretically over the whole of the lands throughout the empire except the Chokodo estates.

In another respect, also, the advantage lay with the Muromachi shogunate. During the Kamakura era, the Court magnates continued to despise the Bakufu adherents, and the distance between the capital and Kamakura imparted to the latter an element of rusticity. But with the establishment of the Muromachi shogunate a change took place. The Bakufu, the visible repository of power, stood side by side with the Court, and opportunities for close relations existed constantly. Moreover, the Court nobles, notably antagonistic to the military regime, followed the fortunes of the Southern dynasty, those alone remaining in the capital who were on more or less intimate terms with the military. Such were the Nijo, the Saionji, the Hino, and so forth. These observed the behests of the Bakufu, sought to acquire the latter's confidence, and always paid respect to the Hana no Gosho, as the shogun was called.

So close were the relations that for ceremonial purposes at the Bakufu, it was customary to employ Court officials, and witty writers of the time discourse amusingly on the often clumsy efforts made by the courtiers to ape the customs and acquire the dialects of the provincial soldiers.


The administrative power having been transferred from the Court to the Bakufu, it may be said that the sei-i tai-shogun exercised supreme authority throughout the empire. But the shogun himself did not actually discharge administrative duties. That was done by the kwanryo with the shogun's consent. Originally this official was called shitsuji (manager), and his functions were to look after the affairs of a provincial magnate's establishment. During the Kamakura era, the Ashikaga family occupied a high place. Of Minamoto origin, it was connected with the Hojo by marriage, and for generations its shitsuji had been a member of the Ko family. Ashikaga Takauji made Ko no Moronao his shitsuji, and a highly competent captain he proved himself. Subsequently, in 1362, Shiba Yoshimasa was appointed shitsuji, but soon his title was changed to kwanryo (governor-general), and it thenceforth became customary for the latter position to be occupied by a member of one of the three families, Shiba, Hosokawa, and Hatakeyama, in succession.

Speaking broadly, the kwanryo corresponded to the skikken (regent) of Kamakura days. But whereas, the Kamakura shikken exercised virtually autocratic authority, the shogun being a minor, the Muromachi kwanryo, nominally, at all events, was under the control of an adult shogun. In fact, the kwanryo in the Muromachi polity resembled the betto of the Man-dokoro in Yoritomo's time. For the rest, the Muromachi Bakufu was organized on practically the same lines as its Kamakura prototype. There was a Man-dokoro, a Monju-dokoro, and a Samurai-dokoro, and the staff of these offices was taken originally, as far as possible, from the families of men who had distinguished themselves as legislators and administrators at Kamakura. There were also officials called bugyo (commissioners) who directed the enforcement of laws and ordinances. These commissioners numbered thirty-six, and each had his own sphere of duties: as the shonin bugyo, who controlled judicial affairs; the tosen bugyo, who dealt with affairs of foreign trade; the jisha bugyo, who superintended temples and shrines; the onsho bugyo, who had to do with official rewards, etc.

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