setto (a sword given by the emperor in the symbol of his trust to the appointment of someone to a mi (節刀)

Setto (or Sechito) refers to the sword which was granted by the Emperor to Shogun who was going to the front or Japanese mission to Tang Dynasty China as the sign of commission in ancient times of Japan (from the Nara period to the Heian period). 'Setsu' means tally what an envoy had as a sign. After their mission, the sword was returned to the Emperor.

Shogun who was granted Setto was called Jisetsu Shogun and an envoy who was granted Setto was called Jisetsu envoy. Jisetsu Shogun is a supreme commander of army corps that were sent to a remote region to suppress the rebellion and was called Seihayato Taishogun, Seii Taishogun, Seito Shogun or etc. depending on what was suppressed.


According to "Nihonshoki," Setto had begun when the Emperor Keitai granted the sword to MONONOBE no Arakahi who was assigned to conquer Tsukushinokimiiwai in the Iwai War occurred in 527. Also, there are well-known examples that the Emperor Monmu granted the sword to AWATA no Mahito who was appointed to Minbu Shosho and Shitsusetsushi (an envoy to China) in 701 and the Emperor Kammu granted the sword to Seii Taishogun SAKANOUE no Tamuramaro who was assigned to conquer Ezo (Northerners) in 801. The custom which the emperor granted Setto to Shogun or an envoy became obsolete at the end of the Heian Period when Kentoushi (a Japanese mission to Tang Dynasty China) was abolished and rebellion in remote regions was reduced.

At the end of the Edo Period over several centuries after that, Setto-kashi (Imperial grant) came to public attention as a ceremony with political implication. In 1863, the Emperor Komei granted Setto to Iemochi TOKUGAWA who went up to Kyoto in order to encourage expulsion of foreigners. After all, this plan was not implemented; however, decrease in Tokugawa's authority and revival of the Emperor's Imperial Court authorities became obvious. In 1867, the Emperor Meiji granted the Impeiral standard (made of gold brocade) and Setto to Imperial Prince Arisugawanomiya Taruhito who was appointed to Tosei-daisotoku (great general) for a military expedition to the east.

In the Meiji Period, the system which the Emperor had the right of all authorities including the supreme command (Article 11 of the Constitution of the Empire of Japan) was improved and under the national policy of increasing wealth and military power, military authority of the Emperor was also increased. Amid the ongoing modernization and westernization of system, the custom of Setto remained as a practice of granting a sword to marshal. In the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the Crown Prince (later the Emperor Taisho) granted a noted sword, Ichimonji-yoshifusa to the navarch of combined fleet Heihachiro TOGO to encourage him. This is also considered a kind of Setto.

[Original Japanese]