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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Literati to the shogun oku jusha

*The employment of censors by the Bakufu has been severely criticized as indicating a system of espionage. It scarcely seems necessary to observe that the same criticism applies to all highly organized Occidental Governments with their secret services, their detectives and their inquiry agencies.


Even more important than the censors were the chamberlains (soba yonin) who had to communicate to the shogun all reports submitted by the roju, and to offer advice as to the manner of dealing with them. They also noted the shogun's decisions and appended them to documents. The exercise of these functions afforded opportunities for interfering in administrative affairs, and such opportunities were fully utilized, to the great detriment of public interest. There were also pages (kosho); castle accountants (nando); literati to the shogun (oku-jusha), and physicians (oku-isha).


The duty of transmitting messages from the shogun to the Emperor and of regulating all matters of ceremony connected with the castle was discharged by fifteen masters of ceremonies (koke) presided over by four chiefs (the office of chief being hereditary in such families as the Osawa and the Kira) who, although their fiefs were comparatively small, possessed influence not inferior to that of the daimyo. A koke was usually on watch in the castle by day. These masters of ceremonies are not to be confounded with the chamberlains (soshaban) already spoken of. The latter numbered twenty-four. They regulated affairs connected with ceremonies in which all Government officials were concerned, and they kept watch at the castle by night. Subordinate to the koke and the chamberlains were various officials who conveyed presents from the feudal lords to the shogun; directed matters of decoration and furniture; had charge of miscellaneous works in the castle, and supervised all persons, male or female, entering or leaving the shogun's harem. Officials of this last class were under the command of a functionary called o-rusui who had general charge of the business of the harem; directed the issue of passports to men and women of the samurai class or to commoners, and had the care of all military stores in the castle. The name rusui signifies a person in charge during the absence of his master, and was applied in this case since the o-rusui had to guard the castle when the shogun was not present. The multifarious duties entrusted to officials over whom the o-rusui presided required a large number and a great variety of persons to discharge them, but these need not be enumerated in detail here.


Characteristic of the elaborate etiquette observed at the shogun's castle was the existence of semi-officials called tamarizume, whose chief duty in ordinary times was to repair to the castle once every five days, and to inquire through the roju as to the state of the shogun's health. On occasions of emergency they participated in the administration, taking precedence of the roju and the other feudatories. The Matsudaira of Aizu, Takamatsu, and Matsuyama; the Ii of Hikone, and the Sakai of Himeji--these were the families which performed the functions of tamarizume as a hereditary right. It is unnecessary to describe the organization and duties of the military guards to whom the safety of the castle was entrusted, but the fact has to be noted that both men and officers were invariably taken from the hatamoto class.


In the o-oku, or innermost buildings of the shogun's castle, the harem was situated. Its chief official was a woman called the o-toshiyori (great elder), under whom were a number of ladies-in-waiting, namely, the toshiyori, the rojo, the churo, the kojoro, and others. There were also ladies who attended solely to visitors; others who kept the keys; others who carried messages to public officers, and others who acted as secretaries. All this part of the organization would take pages to describe in detail,* and is necessarily abbreviated here. We may add, however, that there were official falconers, sailors, grooms, gardeners, and every kind of artist or mechanician.

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