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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

The jito becoming vassals of the shugo



At Kamakura, also, there was a kwanryo to guard the eastern provinces (Kwanto). In Takauji's time, his second son, Motouji, was appointed to this office, and it was thenceforth inherited for some generations, the Uesugi family furnishing a shitsuji. Ultimately the Kamakura kwanryo became a powerful military satrap, hostile to the Muromachi shogun. The holder of the office then received the title of kubo, and the hitherto shitsuji became kwanryo. In other respects the Kamakura polity retained the form it had under Yoritomo: a Hyojo-shu (Council), a Hikitsuke-shu, a Monju-dokoro, a Samurai-dokoro, and various bugyo. In Kyushu and Dewa, the principal officer was called shugo, that post being of special importance; while in the other provinces shugo and jito (high constables and land-stewards) continued to officiate as before.

The jurisdiction of these high constables--great military magnates or relatives of the shogun--extended to two or more provinces, and the shugo were then called kuni-mochi-shu (province-holder). A daimyo (great name, i.e. feudal lord), in communicating with Muromachi, had to make a kuni-mochi his medium. For the Kwanto and Shikoku, the Hosokawa house was the kunimochi; for Shinano, Etchu, Echigo, and Kaga, the Hatakeyama; for Ise, Kai, and Suruga, the Yamana; and for Kyushu, the tandai. After the power of the tandai had declined, the Ouchi family took its place. In

the days of Yoshinori's shogunate, there were twenty-two shugo in the country, and seven of them administered three provinces or more, each. The provincial governors appointed by the Southern Court disappeared, for the most part, during the War of the Dynasties, and on the restoration of peace the only one of these high officials that remained was Kitabatake of Ise.


Originally appointed for administrative and fiscal purposes only, the shugo said jito acquired titles of land-ownership from the beginning of the Ashikaga era. To plunder and annex a neighbouring province became thenceforth a common feat on the part of these officials. In 1390, tracts of land measuring from one-half of a province to two or three provinces are found to have been converted from the shugo's jurisdictional areas into military domains. Such magnates as Yamana Tokiuji held from five to eleven provinces. These puissant captains had castles and armies of their own. At first, they respected the requisitions of the Bakufu. Thus, in 1463, when an elaborate Buddhist ceremony had to be performed on the decease of Yoshimasa's mother, a tax in the form of cotton cloth was levied from the shugo, a ruler of three provinces contributing ten thousand pieces; a ruler of two provinces, five thousand, and so on.*

*A "piece" was 40 feet, approximately. When the castle of Edo was built in Tokugawa days--seventeenth century--each daimyo had to contribute "aid" (otetsudai), after the Ashikaga custom.

But after the Onin War (1467-1469), military magnates resided wholly on their own domains and paid no attention to requisitions from the Bakufu. Further, these magnates compelled all jito and go-kenin within their jurisdiction to serve as their vassals. Previously to the Onin era the shugo had resided, for the most part, in Kyoto, delegating the discharge of their provincial functions to deputies (shugo-dai), chosen by the shugo and approved by the Bakufu. Presently, the process of selection was dispensed with, and the office became hereditary. Thus, Yusa of the Hatakeyama, Oda of the Shiba, Uragami of the Akamatsu, and so forth are examples of deputies who resided permanently in the provinces concerned and acquired influence there superior even to that of their principals. The deputies, in turn, had their vice-deputies (ko-shugo-dai), to whom the name daikwan (another term for "deputy") was often given. These daikwan were selected from among the members or vassals of a shugo's family to act provisionally as shugo-dai. As for the jito, from the middle of the Kamakura epoch their posts became mere sinecures, the emoluments going to support their families, or being paid over to a temple or shrine. Occasionally the office was sold or pawned. The comparatively small areas of land within which the jito officiated soon came to be recognized as their private domains, but after the Onin commotion this system underwent a change, the jito becoming vassals of the shugo. Many, however, held their original position until the middle of the sixteenth century. In the days of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Oda Nobunaga--namely, the second half of the sixteenth century--the name jito was given to the headman of a village or district, who served as the immediate representative of authority.

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