Baron (男爵)

Baron (called danshaku in Japanese) is a title of nobility. It is the fifth highest rank of peerage (Gotoshaku) in ancient China, modern Japan, and England. It is ranked below Viscount. There is a title that corresponds to baron in the peerage systems of France, Germany, and Russia.

Barons in Europe

Danshaku in Japanese corresponds to Baron in English. The feminine equivalent of Baron is Baroness, and is used for the wife of a Baron or a woman having the title of Baron (female Baron).

In England, a Baron is the lowest-ranked title that is eligible for a peerage.
In England, it is rare to call a man of this peerage Baron; rather, they use the general title Lord, such as 'Lord Smith.'

In Scotland, a Baron is not a title of peerage, and the corresponding peerage is called 'Lord of Parliament.'

Although almost all other European countries including Russia use the title Baron, Germany uses Freiherr instead.

Japanese Barons

It was established after the Meiji period, and it was determined as the peerage of the lowest rank. The following people received the title of Baron.

Kuge (court nobles)

People who were raised to the peerage after the Meiji Restoration
Families separated from their head families (26 families) and a number of Buddhist monks (those who were originally court nobles of the Kofuku-ji Temple) who returned to secular life during the time when anti-Buddhist movement was getting stronger (called the Nara peerage, 27 families). Furthermore, the following families received the title of Baron: the Oshikoji family and the Mibu family, whose social standings were particularly high among the Jige-ke (family status of non-noble retainers who are not allowed into the Emperor's living quarters in the imperial palace); the Tamamasu family (Kanin-ryu, one of the Fujiwara faction); the descendants of Misao TAMAMATSU, who was from court nobility and made a great contribution to the Meiji Restoration; and the Nishitakatsuji family, who served as Guji (chief of those who serve shrines, control festivals and general affairs) of Dazaifu Tenman-gu Shrine and who were a branch family of the Takatsuji family.

Samurai family (buke)

People who were raised to the peerage after the Meiji Restoration
They are the people of the families who were separated from the Daimyo (Feudal Lord)'s family after the Meiji period (35 families). The following 11 families and the Yoshikawa clan of Suo Iwakuni Domain, who had been raised to the peerage since the Meiji era, received the title of Baron: 5 families who owned more than 10,000 koku of crop yields as the attendant chief retainer of three privileged branches - the Ando family of the Kii Tanabe Domain, the Takenokoshi family of the Mino Imao Domain, the Nakayama family of the Hitachi Matsuoka Domain, the Naruse family of the Owari Inuyama Domain and the Mizuno family of the Kii Shingu Domain, and 6 families of kotaiyoriai, a family status of samurai warriors in the Edo period, who owned more than 10,000 koku of rice during the Meiji Restoration - the Ikeda family of the Harima Fukumoto Domain, the Ikoma family of the Dewa Yashima Domain, the Hirano family of the Yamato Tawaramoto Domain, the Hondo family of the Hitachi Shizuku Domain, the Yamazaki family of the Bitchu Nariwa Domain and the Yamana family of the Tajima Muraoka Domain. The Hayashi family, who were deprived of their samurai status during the Boshin War, received the title of Baron, having been raised to the peerage from the warrior class. The Inada family, Hitto karo (the head of chief retainers) of the Tokushima Domain, were bestowed the title of Baron as an award for their great achievement in the development of Hokkaido. The Honda family, who were the chief retainers of the Matsudaira family of the Fukui domain, were first judged as baishin (indirect vassal) and were given the class of warriors, however, they were finally given the title of Baron after the petition and riots known as the Takefu incident.

Buddhist priesthood and Shinto priesthood

None of these were particularly suitable as a Baron under the bylaw, however, the following were raised to the peerage: Shinto priests of local areas, especially from the old families (the Arakita family of Ise Jingu Shrine, Kawabe family, Matsumoto family of Ise Jingu Shrine, Aso family of Aso-jinja Shrine, Itouzu family and Miyanari family of Usa-jingu Shrine, Ono family of Hinomisaki-jinja Shrine, Kaneko family of Mononobe-jinja Shrine (in Ota city), the Ki family of Hinokuma-jingu Shrine and Kunikakasu-jingu Shrine, Kitajima family and Sen family of Izumo-taisha Shrine, Senshu family of Atsuta-jingu Shrine, the Tsumori family of Sumiyoshitaisha Shrine, Takachiho family of Tendai Shugen zasu (head priest of the temple) of Hikosan; Family names in bold letters indicate that they were kuninomiyatsuko (the heads of local governments), and Buddhist priests' families which inherited positions (the Kibe family, the chief abbot of the Kibe school of Jodo Shinshu - the True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism, the Shibuya family, the chief abbot of the Shibuya school of Jodo Shinshu, and the Hanazono family, the chief abbot of the Kosho-ji Temple of Jodo Shinshu). Among them, 18 families, except the Otani family of Nishi Hongan-ji Temple, were given the title of Baron.

New nobility

People who have made outstanding contributions to the country. Except politicians, bureaucrats, and members of the armed forces, the title of Baron was also given to businesspeople such as the Mitsui family, Sumitomo family, Konoike family, and Iwasaki family. Also, many families of karo (chief retainer of daimyo, Japanese territorial lord) of taihan (large scale domains) received the title of Baron as a reward for their outstanding contribution to the country during the Meiji Restoration.


Takeomi KIKUCHI, Yorisada GOJO, Nagayasu NAWA, Yukiyoshi NANBU, Toshizumi NITTA were also raised to the peerage and given the title of Baron as the descendants of meritorious retainers of the Southern Court (Japan).

The councilors of the Japanese House of Peers were chosen from barons by a mutual vote among themselves.

In Japan, Baron is the most well known title as well as Duke and Hakushaku (Count, Earl in England); Barons often appear in Japanese literary works and comic books. In many cases, they are described as gentleman types wearing traditional suits or riding suits; Baron is recognized more as the title for a gentleman rather than for aristocrats.

Words named after Danshaku

Danshaku imo (Baron potato)

A breed of potato
The name Danshaku imo comes from the fact that the Baron Ryukichi KAWATA cultivated a breed of potato called Irish Cobbler at Kamiiso town (present day: Hokuto city) in Hokkaido and popularized the potato.

Kuki danshaku (Air baron)

Kuki danshaku is the debut volume of the cartoonist Takao SATO.

Hige danshaku

a Japanese comic duo of Sun music group (entertainment agency)

Major Japanese barons

Tanemichi AOYAMA, principal of Tokyo Imperial Medical University

Shigekata ITAMI, recipient of Kinkei no mashiko and Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure

Kiyoshi WATANABE, recipient of Kinkei no mashiko and Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure

Kijuro SHIDEHARA, the 44th prime minister, the 40th chairman of the House of Representatives, recipient of Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun with Paulownia Flower of the Junior First Rank

Shozo KAWASAKI, the founder of Kobe Kawasaki Zaibatsu and a member of Kizokuin (the House of Peers)

Tsunatsune HASHIMOTO, general office director of Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), leader of the Ministry of Defense, professor at the University of Tokyo
Doctor of Medicine

Masanao KOIKE, army surgeon general and member of Kizokuin (the House of Peers)

Kanehiro TAKAGI, head of the Medical Bureau of the Navy and the general office director of the a Navy Medical Service
The founder of the Jikei University School of Medicine
Kanehiro was dedicated to the eradication of beriberi and was called the 'barley rice baron.'

Minoru FUKUHARA, Army Major General who was awarded with Grand Cordon of the Order of the Sacred Treasure and Kinkei no mashiko

Takeichi NISHI, Colonel of the Army, Colonel of the 21st tank regiment and gold medal winner in Equestrianism in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

Tsuneyoshi MURATA, feudal retainer of Satsuma, Army Major General, inventor of the first domestic rifle of the Japanese army, Murataju (Murata rifle)

Shigeru HONJO, Army General, military attache to the palace, Kwantung Army (Japanese armed forces in Manchuria)

Mineo OSUMI, full admiral, Minister of the Navy at the time of May 15th Incident and February 26th Incident

Shibasaburo KITASATO, medical scholar and bacteriologist
Founder of Kitasato University
Shibasaburo made remarable achievements in the health services and public health administration.

Kantaro SUZUKI, the 42nd prime minister, Chairman of the Privy Council, Grand Chamberlain, department director of the Navy Department, navarch of the combined fleet, and full admiral

Tomoshige SAMEJIMA, vice admiral, captain of the battleship Nagato

Kishichiro OKURA, the founder of Hotel Okura

[Original Japanese]