The Kyoto Shugoshoku (京都守護職)

The Kyoto Shugoshoku (literally, "office of the protector of Kyoto") was an important post in the Edo bakufu that was newly created at the end of the Edo period; it was one of the three key posts in the bakufu, the others being the Seiji-Sosaishoku (literally, "political governor") and the Shogun-Kokenshoku (literally, "guardian of the Shogun"). The Kyoto Shugoshoku corresponded not to the Yamashiro Shugo (literally, "guardians of the Yamashiro area"), but to the Samurai-Dokoro (Board of Retainers) of the Muromachi period.


The Kyoto Shugoshoku performed the role of maintaining order in the city of Kyoto and guarding the Kyoto Gosho (Old Imperial Palace), Nijo-jo Castle, etc. Katamori MATSUDAIRA, the feudal lord of Aizu, took up this post on September 24, 1862. MATSUDAIRA placed the headquarters at Konkaikomyo-ji Temple (at 121 Kurodani-cho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City). Basically, 1,000 samurai of the Aizu clan were stationed in Kyoto and took turns every another year.

Originally, Kyoto shoshidai and Kyoto machibugyo (Kyoto town magistrate) held the post to maintain order in the town under the Edo bakufu.

At the end of Edo period, in Kyoto, riots started to prevail as though they were punishments from heaven, burglaries of merchant residences, and robberies by zealous supporters of imperialism and the shogunate-overthrowing philosophy that advocated reverence for the Emperor and expulsion of the barbarians and those who opposed the bakufu. However, the bakufu soon discovered how impossible it was for the Shoshidai alone to prevent riots and so the bakufu newly founded the Kyoto Shugoshoku to facilitate recovery of the their prestige and to achieve order in the town.

Under the Kyoto Shugoshoku was the Kyoto Shoshidai, the Kyoto Machibugyo, and the Mimawariyaku (patrol troops) and the Kyoto Mimawariyaku, that was under the Mimawariyaku formed by the bakufu's direct followers and also incorporated under the Kyoto Shugoshoku. However, the Kyoto Shoshidai and the Machibugyo did not help much. Because the warriors of Aizu could not fulfill their duties, the Shinsengumi was also incorporated under the Shugoshoku being retained by the Shugoshoku and were assigned to maintain order in the town.

On January 3, 1868, due to the coup of Decree for the Restoration of Imperial Rule after Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor) was implemented in October in the same year, the Satsuma and the Choshu clans established the right to rule Kyoto and, therefore, the Kyoto Shugoshoku was abolished six years after its foundation.

Katamori first refused the repeated requests asking him to take the post, from Yoshinobu TOKUGAWA and Shungaku MATSUDAIRA. The clan's financial condition was very bad because they had to bear the role of guarding Uraga and Ezochi (inhabited area of the Ainu) and the clan's followers also all agreed to oppose Katamori's taking the post. However, because Shungaku quoted the family precept that 'the Aizu clan is an entity which should protect the Shogun family' by Masayuki HOSHINA, the founder of the Aizu clan and, the clan's followers finally accepted. The lord and vassals, assigned to the duty of guarding the Shogun family all cried out in grief anticipating that 'the Aizu clan will soon collapse with this' with their arms around each other's shoulders in the residence maintained in Edo by the daimyo of the Aizu clan.

Though they seemed to cry because they were worried about the excessive financial load, the Aizu clan which later incurred the ill will of those advocating reverence for the Emperor because of its duties in the Kyoto Shugoshoku, had to resist to the end of the Boshin Civil War, was completely annihilated in Aizu-Wakamatsu City the clan's capital, and its collapse was indeed realized.

[Original Japanese]