Hizen Province (肥前国 Hizen no kuni ) was an old province of Japan in the area of Saga and Nagasaki prefectures. It was sometimes called Hishū (肥州), with Higo Province. Hizen bordered on the provinces of Chikuzen and Chikugo. The province was included in Saikaidō. It did not include the regions of Tsushima and Iki that are now part of modern Nagasaki prefecture.
The name "Hizen" dates from the Nara Period Ritsuryō Kokugunri system reforms, when the province was divided from Higo Province. The name appears in the early chronicle Shoku Nihongi from 696 AD. The ancient provincial capital of Hizen was located near Yamato city.
During the late Muromachi Period, the province was the site of much early contact between Japan and Portuguese and Spanish merchants and missionaries. Hirado, and later Nagasaki became major foreign trade centers, and a large percentage of the population converted to Roman Catholicism. Toyotomi Hideyoshi directed the invasion of Korea from the city of Nagoya, in Hizen, and after the suppression of foreign contacts and prohibition against the Kirishitan religion, the Shimabara Rebellion also took place in Hizen province.
During the Edo period, Hizen province was divided among several daimyo, but dominated by the Nabeshima clan, whose domain was centered at the castle town of Saga. At the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Hizen was divided between the following han:
During this period, the port of Nagasaki remained a tenryō territory, administered for the Tokugawa government by the Nagasaki bugyō, and contained the Dutch East India Company trading post of Dejima. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868 came the Abolition of the han system in 1871, whereby all daimyo were obliged to surrender their domains to the new Meiji government, which then divided the nation into numerous prefectures, which were consolidated into 47 prefectures and 3 urban areas by 1888. The former Hizen province was divided into modern Saga Prefecture and a portion of Nagasaki Prefecture. At the same time, the province continued to exist for some purposes. For example, Hizen is explicitly recognized in treaties in 1894 (a) between Japan and the United States and (b) between Japan and the United Kingdom.
- Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Hizen" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 338 at Google Books.
- US Department of State. (1906). A digest of international law as embodied in diplomatic discussions, treaties and other international agreements (John Bassett Moore, ed.), Vol. 5, p. 759.
- Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric and Käthe Roth. (2005). Japan encyclopedia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 10-ISBN 0-674-01753-6; 13-ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5; OCLC 58053128
- Papinot, Edmond. (1910). Historical and Geographic Dictionary of Japan. Tokyo: Librarie Sansaisha. OCLC 77691250
Other websites 
Media related to Hizen Province at Wikimedia Commons
- Murdoch's map of provinces, 1903
- National Archives of Japan: Hinozenshu sanbutsu zuko, scroll showing illustrated inventory of industries in Karatsu Domain, 1773-1784