Daimyo (大名)

Daimyo is an expression that came from Daimyoshu. It signifies a person whose name is very famous. As opposed to a Shomyo. It originally meant a person who wields influence in a region. Later, in samurai society, it came to mean a warrior who has a lot of territory or subordinates. In the Muromachi period the Shugo strengthened their control over their assigned territories and became Shugo Daimyo. In the Warring States period, Taishin Ryoshu (noble land owners) appeared who established even stronger control over their territories, and were called Daimyobun no Kokujin or Sengoku Daimyo. In the Edo period the word specified a lord who was granted a territory of 10,000 koku or more from the Edo Shogunate. Among warriors with less than 10,000 koku, those who belonged to the Shogunate were called Jikisan. In fact, because the feudal lords that were the Daimyo shared characteristics with Chinese lords (shoko), they were also called Daimyo Shoko.

This section describes the details of the Edo period, recent Daimyo.

For Shugo Daimyo or Sengoku Daimyo, refer to the relevant articles.

Edo Period Daimyo

The rank of Edo period Daimyo was determined by family status, official rank, size of stipend, office, and service.

First, depending on his connection to the Tokugawa Shogun family, related families (Shinpan, Shinpan Daimyo) were classified mainly as Fudai Daimyo (hereditary Daimyo) that were vassals of the Tokugawa family before the Battle of Sekigahara, and Tozama Daimyo (non-hereditary Daimyo) that became vassals around the time of the Battle of Sekigahara. The first Shogun, Ieyasu, in order to maintain the bloodline in the event that the Shogun household died out, for supervision and control of the Daimyo nationwide, and for support of the Shogunate, established three branch households of the Tokugawa family that were allowed to use the Tokugawa name, and sent the ninth son, Yoshinao TOKUGAWA, to the Owari domain, the 10th son Yorinobu TOKUGAWA to the Kishu domain, and the 11th son Yorifusa TOKUGAWA to the Mito domain. Beginning with the elder brother of the second Shogun, Hidetada TOKUGAWA, and second son of Ieyasu, Hideyasu YUKI, was sent to the Echizen domain, he placed Tokugawa family members as Daimyo all of the country.

Moreover, over the generations the hereditary vassals that supported the beginning of the Tokugawa Shogun family were placed as Fudai Daimyo, who secured the Shogunate's military power while serving as important officials from the Shogunate's chief minister to members of the council of elders, supported the Shogunate's government. The Fudai Daimyo had relatively small stipends, and aside from the prominent Fudai Hitto in the Ii clan who received an unusual 350,000 koku in the Hikone domain, the Torii, Sakakibara, Honda and Ogasawara clans received relatively large stipends, but throughout the Edo period only a few Fudai Daimyo maintained more than 100.000 koku, starting with the Sakai, Abe, Hotta, Yanagisawa, and Toda clans. This was for the separation of influence and military power.

The Tozama Daimyo were the Daimyo that joined after the Battle of Sekigahara, and many had opposed the Tokugawa at Sekigahara. The Shogunate was very careful about that, actively carried out intelligence gathering activities using spies, and when they feared impropriety or insurrection, did not hesitate to revoke rank. Representative of the Tozama Daimyo were the Kaga Domain of the Maeda clan, famous for the million koku of Kaga, the Satsuma Domain of the Shimazu clan, a family famous from the Kamakura period, the Sendai Domain of the Date clan, the Fukuoka Domain of the Kuroda clan, the Hiroshima Domain of the Asano clan, the Choshu Domain of the Mori clan, the Yonezawa Domain of the Uesugi clan, the Saga Domain of the Nabeshima clan, the Kumamoto Domain of the Hosokawa clan, the Okayama and Tottori Domains of the Ikeda clan, the Tokushima Domain of the Hachisuka clan, the Tosa Domain of the Tosa Yamauchi clan, and the Akita Domain of the Satake clan.

The status of a Daimyo was defined as Kokushu if their territory was one province or more, or an equivalent number of koku, as Joshu Daimyo (joshu class) if they had a castle, those without a castle were distinguished as Jinya, and the rooms that they occupied at Edo castle during their service there were differentiated based on the Daimyo's status. Refer to Shikoseki for details.

Aside from Daimyo in charge of provinces, those with 100,000 koku were generally not allowed possession of a whole district, and usually held territory around the castle and in patches. In extreme cases, rule of a single village was divided between two land holders (aikyu).

Daimyo, as a rule, had 10,000 koku or more, but the Kitsuregawa clan's Kitsuregawa domain was 5,000 koku. That was because the Kitsuregawa clan were descendants of the Ashikaga clan.

Daimyo were subject to control by the Shogunate through the Laws for the Military Houses and the sankin kotai (alternate attendance) system. Other than that, there was a system of assignments called otetsudai, and at the end of the Edo period some were ordered to defend the coast, so the Daimyo were always in a difficult position financially.

Words Associated with Daimyo

Daimyo Kazoku - Among the nobility, those who had formerly been Daimyo.

Daimyo Yashiki - A Daimyo's mansion. Out of several, the principle residence in Edo was called kamiyashiki, and the others shimoyashiki.

Daimyozen - Generous like a Daimyo.

Daimyo Gyoretsu (Daimyo Procession) - The Daimyo moving in a file when changing beginning a term in Edo. Also used to refer jokingly to a group moving in a cluster around an important person.

Daimyo Hikeshi - Edo firefighter brigades that the Edo Shogunate ordered each Daimyo to create. Made up of samurai from each domain.

Daimyogashi - When a major merchant lent money to a Daimyo at high interest with rice as collateral.

Daimyoazuke - When the Shogunate entrusted management of criminals to a Daimyo.

Daimyo Bushin - Extravagant construction.

Daimyo Ryoko - Extravagant travel.

Daimyo Hikyaku - A messenger that a Daimyo employed to communicate between Edo and the province.

Daimyo Oroshi - Cutting a fish into three slices so that a lot of meat stays around the spine. Comes from the fact that the practice is extravagant.

Daimyogiri - Cutting meat or fish into rough chunks.

Daimyogai - Purchasing something just as the seller asks for.

Daimyo Wan - A big bowl.

Daimyo Kendon - Refers to a Kendon that was served in a container that has a lacquer painting of a Daimyo's family crest or boat.

Daimyojima - A design of thin, vertical pinstripes.

Etymology and Change in Pronunciation

The Muromachi period dictionary "Setsuyoshu" listed the two pronunciations 'taimei' and 'daimyo,' the former meaning a Shugo (a major feudal lord), and the latter meaning a wealthy person (the wealthy class). In the Warring States period, the distinction by pronunciation weakened, and it is thought that 'taimei' was common. The Nippo Jisho (Japanese-Portuguese dictionary) from the beginning of the 17th century also listed the two pronunciations, 'daimyo' and 'taimei,' but there was no clear distinction in meaning, and both were used for major feudal lords.
The pronunciation settled on 'Daimyo' after the beginning of the Edo period, and by the Kansei era they were solely called 'Daimyo.'

Recent Classes of Daimyo

Shugo Daimyo, Sengoku Daimyo
Shinpan, Fudai Daimyo, Tozama Daimyo


[Original Japanese]