Bakuhan-taisei (the feudal system characteristic of the shogunate) (幕藩体制)

"Bakuhan-taisei" is a historical concept of social system of early modern Japan viewed basically from feudal homage between bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) (or seii-taishogun, literally "great general who subdues the barbarians) and han (domains) (or daimyo, meaning "feudal lords"). In the pre-war days, the term meant a political system itself in the narrow sense, but along with the development of the historical science in the post-war era, the term has become to mean a concept that indicates the features of entire society system of the early modern Japan. It is also called "Bakuhan-sei" (literally, "a system of bakufu and han").

It was characterized with the Edo bakufu as the supreme governing institution at the top of warriors, and yet with each feudal lord which maintained somewhat independent governing structure in its own territory (domain), as well as with the tax system based on annual yield of rice, Kokudaka-sei, whereby tax is paid by rice and other actual goods. Daimyo (feudal lords) were classified into Shinpan daimyo (descendants of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA), Fudai daimyo (hereditary vassals to the Tokugawa family) and Tozama daimyo (non-Tokugawa feudal lords), all of which were controlled by Tokugawa shogunate through Sankinkotai (a system under which feudal lords were required to spend every other year in their residences in Edo) and Kaieki (change or forfeit of ranks).
Samurai (warriors) were positioned at the governing class in the hierarchy called "Shinokosho" ("warriors, peasants, artisans and merchants") (Although it is pointed out that the term of "Shinokosho" was not correctly representing the order of hereditary social status at that time.)

Kokudaka-sei tax system was gradually formed through heino-bunri (the separation of warriors and peasants) and kenchi (cadastral surveys) during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Various systems to build up Bakuhan-taisei, including systems of sakoku (national isolation), chigyo (enfeoffment) and murauke (village wide, collective responsibility for tax payment) were established under the reigns of the first to third shogunates, namely Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, Hidetada TOKUGAWA and Iemitsu TOKUGAWA. Also enforced were Buke Shohatto (various laws for warrior class families) and Kinchu Narabini Kuge Shohatto (a set of regulations that applied to the emperor and the Kyoto nobles) as well as the administrative systems for temples and shrines throughout the country.

During the Edo period, the growth of merchant capital and the penetration of the commodity economy to agricultural villages contributed to the transformation of the hierarchy of village communities, which, however, caused such turmoils in the community as uprising peasants and destructive riots, and compelled both Bakufu (shogunate) government and Han (local domain) governments to try to reform their political systems.

In the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate, bakufu (shogunate) ended its seclusion policy and opened the country to the world, and along with the extension of the authority of the Imperial court, reconciliation between the Imperial court and shogunate was promoted. Bakuhan-taisei (the feudal system of shogunate in Japan) was dissolved by Taisei Hokan (the transfer of power back to the Imperial court) and Osei Fukko (the restoration of imperial rule in Japan). Although the governing structure by old han (feudal domains) was maintained for a while in the early Meiji period, Bakuhan-taisei was eventually brought to the end through a series of Hanseki Hokan (the return of lands and people to the Emperor) and Haihan Chiken (the abolition of feudal domains and establishment of prefectures) under the new policy of centralization.

History of Theories

Pre-war stage
Disputes on Japanese capitalism
Theory of Tasaburo ITO

In and after the World War II
Bakuhan Taisei ron (a theory on shogunate ruling system)
Bakuhansei Kozo ron (a theory of structure of shogunate system)
Yonaoshi Jokyo ron (a situational theory on social reform)
Bakuhansei Kokka ron (a theory on the nation of feudal shogunate system)

[Original Japanese]