Shido-shogun (Generals Dispatched to Four Circuits) (四道将軍)

The term "Shido-shogun" refers to four imperial (royal) generals who appeared in the Nihon Shoki (the Chronicle of Japan), namely Obiko no mikoto, Takenunakawa wake no mikoto, Kibitsuhiko no mikoto and tanbamichi nushi no mikoto.


According to the "Nihon Shoki," each of these generals was dispatched to Kuga no michi (Hokuriku circuit), Umitsu michi (Tokai circuit), Nishi no michi (Sanyo circuit) and Tanba michi (Sanin circuit), in the 10th year of Emperor Sujin's reign (88 B.C. ?)
They were appointed as generals to use armed force against and defeat those who would not accept the Emperor's precepts, and it was reportedly in the following year, the 11th year of Emperor Sujin's reign (87 B.C. ?) that these generals returned in triumph after subduing the local rebels.
(This is, however, believed to have actually happened at around the beginning of the fourth century.)

For reference's sake, in the "Kojiki" (the Record of Ancient Matters), the generals were not collectively described and no designation of Shido-shogun was used although a description of each of the four generals appeared individually in some articles. Also, there was no name of Kibitsuhiko no mikoto written in the Kojiki.
(Instead, his alias name was described there)

Takenunakawa wake no mikoto was also written about in the "Hitachi no kuni fudoki" (the topography of Hitachi Province), as well as Hikoimasu no miko, father of Tanbamichi nushi no mikoto, who was referred to in "Tango no kuni fudoki" (the topography of Tango Province).

According to one explanation, the story of Shido-shogun is not merely a myth but a part of a narrative of conquest of a country by members of the royal family associated with the dispatch of Toyokiirihikono-mikoto and the legend of Yamato Takeru, thus suggesting how the royal power of the early Yamato dynasty had expanded its hegemony. In fact, their route conquest almost overlaps regions where a number of large keyhole-shaped tomb mounds were propagated in the fourth century,.

Mythical descriptions

Obiko no mikoto was born as the first prince of Emperor Kogen and Empress Utsushikome no mikoto. He was an elder maternal-brother of Emperor Kaika and a maternal grandfather of Emperor Suinin, since his daughter Mimakihime no mikoto was an empress consort of Emperor Sujin. Ohiko no mikoto is enshrined in Funatsu-jinja Shrine (Sabae City, Fukui Prefecture), Aekuni-jinja Shrine (Iga City, Mie Prefecture), Isasumi-jinja Shrine (Aizu Misato-machi-cho, Fukushima Prefecture), Koshio-jinja Shrine (Akita City, Akita Prefecture) and other Shrines.

Takenunakawa wake no mikoto was a son of Obiko no mikoto. He was reportedly a founder of Abe and other clans. Takenunakawa wake no mikoto is enshrined in Tsu-jinja Shrine (Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture), Takedasuga-jinja Shrine (Yuki City, Ibaraki Prefecture) and other Shrines.

According to "Kojiki," Aizu was the place where Obiko no mikoto and Takenunakawa wake no mikoto joined together after having conquered Kuga no michi (Hokuriku region) and Umitsu michi (Tokai region) respectively.
(A tale about the origin of the place-name of Aizu)
Philosopher Masatsune NAKAJI proposed the view that Obiko no mikoto had marched along the Agano-gawa river and Takenunakawa wake no mikoto along the Kinu-gawa river.

Kibitsuhiko was born as a prince of Emperor Korei and Empress Yamato no kuni kahime. His alias was Isaserihiko. He is believed to have called himself Kibitsuhiko as he had suppressed Kibi Province, but there was no such name written in the Kojiki. It is also said to have been one of the models of Momotaro (literally, a peach boy), a hero of a fairy tale. Kibitsuhiko no mikoto is enshrined in Kibitsu-jinja Shrine (Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture,) Tamura-jinja Shrine (Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture) and so on.

According to the Kojiki, Tanbamichi nushi no mikoto was a son of Hikoimasu no miko, a prince of Emperor Kaika. In addition, according to the Kojiki, Hikoimasu no miko was dispatched to Tanba. His mother was Okinaga no mizuyori hime. His daughter was Hibasu hime, an empress consort of Emperor Suinin. He was the maternal grandfather of Emperor Keiko. Tanbamichi nushi no mikoto is enshrined in Kamitani-jinja Shrine (Kyotango City, Kyoto Prefecture) and so on.

Archaeological achievements

Regarding Obiko no mikoto, the most convincing explanation is that he was most probably identical to Ohobiko or Ohohiko, a forefather of Owake no omi whose name was inscribed on Kinsakumei-tekken (an iron sword with gold-inlaid inscriptions) excavated at the Inariyama kofun (an ancient tomb at Mt. Inariyama) in Saitama Prefecture. This explanation may show that the tales of Shido-shogun are not fictional but composed of ancestral legends which were actually transferred by the forebears.

It is pointed out that Andon-yama kofun (an ancient tomb at Mt. Andonyama) which is identified with the Mausoleum of Emperor Sujin (having a total length of about 242 m, and the rounded part having a diameter of about 158 m and height of about 23 m) is similar in shape to the referential mausoleum of Kibitsuhiko no mikoto (the Tomb of Great Kibitsuhiko no mikoto) which is called Nakayama Chausuyama kofun (an ancient tomb at Mt. Nakayama Chausuyama) (having a total length of about 120 m and the rounded part having a diameter of about 80 m and height of about 12 m), the ratio of which is about two to one.


Haruto MAEDA, a contemporary historian, would not acknowledge the historical authenticity of the Shido-shogun stories, and instead advocates that 'shido' referred to the regional division designed by Yamato sovereignty before establishing the goki-shichido system (a geological classification composed of five provinces in the capital region and seven circuits outside), and that the tales of Shido-shogun were fictions created to explain the process of establishing the goki-shichido system.

[Original Japanese]