digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















This article is about the Japanese military rank and historical title. For other uses, see Shogun (disambiguation).
Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun (1192–1199) of the Kamakura shogunate

A Shogun (将軍 Shōgun?, [ɕoːɡu͍ɴ], "general", literally "military commander") was a hereditary military dictator in Japan during the period from 1192 to 1867. In 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 Shogun held almost absolute power over territories through military means, in contrast to the concept of a colonial governor in Western culture. Nevertheless, an unusual situation occurred in the Kamakura period (1199-1333) upon the death of the first shogun, whereby the Hōjō clan's hereditary titles of Shikken and Tokuso (1256-1333) monopolized the shogunate, collectively known as the Regent Rule (執権政治?).[2] The shogun during this 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.[2]

The modern rank of shogun is roughly equivalent to a generalissimo. Shogun is the short form of Sei-i Taishōgun (征夷大将軍?, literally "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]

A shogun's office or administration is the shogunate, known in Japanese as the bakufu (幕府?, "tent office/government"), which originally referred to the house of the general and later also suggested a private government under a shogun.[4] 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.[5] 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.

Heian period (794–1185)[edit]

Main article: Heian period

Originally, the title of Sei-i Taishōgun ("Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the Barbarians")[6] 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. Ōtomo no Otomaro was the first Sei-i Taishōgun.[7] The most famous of these shoguns was Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, who conquered the Emishi in the name of Emperor Kanmu. Eventually, the title was abandoned in the later Heian period after the Ainu had been either subjugated or driven to Hokkaidō.

In the later Heian, one more shogun was appointed. Minamoto no Yoshinaka was named sei-i taishōgun during the Genpei War, only to be killed shortly thereafter by Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

Kamakura shogunate (1192–1333)[edit]

In the early 11th century, daimyo protected by samurai came to dominate internal Japanese politics.[3] 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 Yoritomo seized 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 Taishōgun 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 Hōjō, seized power from the Kamakura shoguns. When Yoritomo's sons and heirs were assassinated, the shogun himself became a hereditary figurehead. Real power rested with the Hōjō 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.[8]

The end of the Kamakura shogunate came when Kamakura fell in 1333, and the Hōjō 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 1334–1336, Ashikaga Takauji helped Daigo regain his throne.[9]

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.[9]

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 Taishōgun. However, Prince Moriyoshi was later put under house arrest and, in 1335, killed by Ashikaga Tadayoshi.

Ashikaga shogunate (1336–1573)[edit]

The tomb of Ashikaga Takauji

In 1338, Ashikaga Takauji, like Yoritomo, a descendant of the Minamoto princes, was awarded the title of sei-i taishōgun 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 (1603–1868)[edit]

Main articles: Tokugawa shogunate and Bakumatsu

Tokugawa Ieyasu seized power and established a government at Edo (now known as Tokyo) in 1600. He received the title sei-i taishōgun in 1603, after he forged a family tree to show he was of Minamoto descent.[10] The Tokugawa shogunate lasted until 1867, when Tokugawa Yoshinobu resigned as shogun and abdicated his authority to Emperor Meiji.[11]

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.[12]


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" (闇将軍 yami shōgun?), a sort of modern incarnation of the cloistered rule. Examples of "shadow shoguns" are former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka and the politician Ichirō Ozawa.[13]


The term bakufu originally meant the dwelling and household of a shogun, but in time, became a metonym for the system of government of a feudal military dictatorship, exercised in the name of the shogun; this is the broader meaning conveyed by the term "shogunate".

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.[14] The hierarchy that held this system of government together was reinforced by close ties of loyalty between the daimyo, 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 shōen system, the great temples and shrines, the shugo and the jitō, the kokujin and early modern daimyo. Each shogunate reflected the necessity of new ways of balancing the changing requirements of central and regional authorities.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Shogun". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved November 19, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b 「執権 (一)」(『国史大辞典 6』(吉川弘文館1985年ISBN 978-4-642-00506-7
  3. ^ a b "Shogun". The World Book Encyclopedia 17. World Book. 1992. pp. 432–433. ISBN 0-7166-0092-7. 
  4. ^ Totman, Conrad (1966). "Political Succession in The Tokugawa Bakufu: Abe Masahiro's Rise to Power, 1843–1845". Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies 26: 102–124. doi:10.2307/2718461. JSTOR 2718461. 
  5. ^ Beasley, William G. (1955). Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853–1868, p. 321.
  6. ^ The Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary, ISBN 0-8048-0408-7
  7. ^ 征夷大将軍―もう一つの国家主権 (in Japanese). Books Kinokuniya. Retrieved March 7, 2011. 
  8. ^ Columbia University (2000). "Japan: History: Early History to the Ashikaga Shoguns". Factmonster. Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  9. ^ a b Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan, 1134–1615. United States: Stanford University Press. 
  10. ^ Titsingh, I. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, p. 409.
  11. ^ "Japan". The World Book Encyclopedia. World Book. 1992. pp. 34–59. ISBN 0-7166-0092-7. 
  12. ^ Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi (Winter 1991). "In Name Only: Imperial Sovereignty in Early Modern Japan". Journal of Japanese Studies 17 (1): 25–57. doi:10.2307/132906. JSTOR 132906. 
  13. ^ Ichiro Ozawa: the shadow shogun. In: The Economist, September 10, 2009.
  14. ^ Bentley, Jerry. Traditions and Encounters. pp. 301–302. ISBN 978-0-07-325230-8. 
  15. ^ Mass, J. et al., eds. (1985). The Bakufu in Japanese History, p. 189.

Further reading[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shogun — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.

162948 news items

Carscoops (blog)

Carscoops (blog)
Wed, 27 Apr 2016 09:52:30 -0700

Back in the late 1980s, Yamaha developed and manufactured the acclaimed 220 HP Ford SHO V6 engine, and someone decided it's a good idea to cram it up in the back of a Festiva. It all started in 1984 when Ford commissioned Yamaha to produce and ...

Motor Authority

Motor Authority
Mon, 25 Apr 2016 13:01:47 -0700

You get the Ford Shogun, an outlandish custom that could have only been born out of the excess of the early 1990s. Not only that, but the Shogun is part of Jay Leno's private collection, and he shows it off to us in the latest installment of Jay Leno's ...

TV Technology

TV Technology
Mon, 18 Apr 2016 12:07:30 -0700

LAS VEGAS—Australian-based Atomos has announced the creation of its Shogun Inferno monitor recorder. The new unit features 1500nit/10bit/HDR monitor technologies, 4Kp60 over Quad-SDI recording capability, playback and editing functionality.


Thu, 07 Apr 2016 08:11:15 -0700

It sounds like some of the top Brazilian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters are starting to speak out against online critics, affectionately known as "keyboard warriors" because they sit behind a computer screen and talk shit all day about something ...
Mon, 25 Apr 2016 23:57:59 -0700

Leeds have signed their fourth player from relegated Zurich Premiership outfit Bristol Shoguns - back-row forward Matt Salter. Salter, who has agreed a two-year contract with the Tykes, follows Phil Christophers, David Rees and Scott Morgan to Headingley.


Thu, 14 Apr 2016 04:01:23 -0700

Sengoku Jidai: Shadow of the Shogun looks like a painting that an artistically-minded general might hang up in his office, to admire after a gruelling campaign fighting over control of Japan. Its maps of the warring states and blood-soaked battlefields ...

Combat Press

Combat Press
Sun, 17 Apr 2016 10:20:39 -0700

A pair of new champions took home titles at Shogun Fights 14 on April 16 in Baltimore, Md. As the promotion continues to grow and inched closer to its 15th card later this year, passionate mixed martial arts fans in the state of Maryland continued ...

Bloody Elbow

Bloody Elbow
Thu, 07 Apr 2016 15:04:08 -0700

In order to drive his point home, "Shogun" went with a rather unusual example, too. "It's the price you pay when the sport starts to grow. There's more criticism, more people bugging you. I'm going to give you a pornographic example. I don't want to ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight