Hokumen no bushi (the Imperial Palace Guards for the north side) (北面武士)

"Hokumen no bushi" were samurai who served the retired emperor, standing by as the gero (servant) on the north side of the in (imperial palace of the retired emperor), and guarding or accompanying the retired emperor when he made trips outside..

Establishment of the hokumen and the insei (rule by the retired Emperor) period

Hokumen was established soon after Emperor Shirakawa began insei at the end of the eleventh century. The north side of the imperial palace of the retired emperor was designated as the guardroom, and hokumen referred to the public servants such as courtier and guardians who stood by to guard and accompany the retired emperor during his outings. In the "Gukansho" (Jottings of a Fool), it is described as follows.

During Emperor Shirakawa's reign, there was an upper and lower hokumen inside the imperial palace. The upper hokumen housed some shodaibu (public servants of the fourth and fifth rank) while the lower hokumen housed many efushoshijo (guardian servant, inspectors). Members of the lower hokumen would, followed by other servants, accompany the emperor on imperial outings armed with arrows.'

As was described here, there were the upper hokumen and lower hokumen, and the upper (shau) were stationed in the two rooms in the court, and there were tenjobito (persons who were allowed to enter the Emperor's residence). They were mainly courtiers from the fourth or fifth rank shodaibu class. However, it was a station for those allowed to enter the in but had a different role, and being fifth rank or higher did not necessarily mean they were stationed here.

Samurai were not in the court, but were in the 'lower side' (ka or ke), which was a building with five gaps between pillars along the mud wall with a roof north of the imperial palace, and this was not just for samurai, but also for gochodo (sodomy partner) of Shirakawain and gojiso (a priest who prays to guard the emperor).
It was also referred to as 'gero.'
Later, it was also effective when petitioned by temples and shrines, and priest soldiers. Unlike mushadokoro (place where Samurai of guard of the Imperial Palace is staffed) or takiguchi, hokumen no bushi were each a class of shogun or high-level officers with certain number of samurai, and the samurai force they led when they suppressed the masses at Enryaku-ji Temple in 1118, is said to have numbered one thousand.

However, hokumen included many kebiishi (a police and judicial chief), and Shirakawain gave direct orders to kebiishi instead of through betto (superintendent), the original chain of command of the Kebiishicho (Office of Police and Judicial Chief), which led to the hollowing out of Kebiishicho, a characteristic of the insei period. TAIRA no Masamori and his child, TAIRA no Tadamori, became the head of hokumen no bushi, and used it as leverage to advance their positions in the office of the retired emperor.

People who served as hokumen no bushi

The first hokumen no bushi is said to be the following three, according to "Bushi no tojo" (Emergence of samurai) by Rizo TAKEUCHI.

FUJIWARA no Morishige: Originally a 'gochodo.'
His name appeared in the "Shirakawa-joko Koya gokoki" (the Retired Emperor Shirakawa's visit to Mount Koya) of 1088, and was seen as a kebiishi since April 25, 1102 in the "Chuyuki" (diary written by FUJIWARA no Munetada). However, he was from FUJIWARA no Yoshikado's lineage of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan, and is not a true-born samurai.

MINAMOTO no Shigetoki: A Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan) and referred to as the Hokumen Four Heavenly Kings.

MINAMOTO no Suenori: A Montoku-Genji (Minamoto clan), but also seen as a Sakado-Genji (Minamoto clan) due to having been based in Sakamonmaki (坂門牧), Koshi District, Kawachi Province, a Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) territory. Maki' is the base of a samurai force. MINAMOTO no Suezane during the Hogen Disturbance was his second son.

Other than these, those who accompanied the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa for his pilgrimages to Kumano Sanzan beginning in the late fall of 1119 were as follows. TAIRA no Masamori: An Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) who was Shogoi (Senior Fifth Rank) Bizen governor at the time. He became Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) immediately after this for his achievements in searching out and destroying TAIRA no Naosumi in Chinzei.

TAIRA no Sadakata: Echigo-Heishi (Taira clan) of Koreshige's lineage. Grandchild of TAIRA no Shigesada, the child of TAIRA no Koreshige.

TAIRA no Morikane: Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) of Morikane's lineage. Grandchild of TAIRA no Sadasue, who was the younger brother of TAIRA no Masahira, and was of a different lineage from TAIRA no Masamori to Kiyomori. The father of TAIRA no Nobukane, who appeared during the Hogen, Jisho, and Juei Wars.

MINAMOTO no Chikayasu: Younger brother of MINAMOTO no Suenori (Sakado-Genji (Minamoto clan))

Additionally, Hanshun, a homugon (法務権) sojo (high-ranking Buddhist priest) who was a gojiso of Shirakawa since his days as Emperor, and who was the wealthiest at the To-ji Temple and the gon no betto (acting chief) of Kofuku-ji Temple, also served.

The following continued to serve for Tobain and Taikenmonin after the death of Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa in 1129. TAIRA no Tadamori: Child of the above mentioned TAIRA no Masamori, and the father of TAIRA no Kiyomori, and was Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) Bizen governor at the time. TAIRA no Tametoshi: Former governor of Suruga Province, and originally a 'gochodo' of the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa.

FUJIWARA no Sukemori: Governor of Aki Province, and lineage of FUJIWARA no Sadatsugu. MINAMOTO no Saon (佐遠): Daibu, inspector, therefore, fifth rank, and also known as Montoku-Genji (Minamoto clan), MINAMOTO no Suketo. FUJIWARA no Morimichi: Child of the above mentioned governor of Iwami Province, FUJIWARA no Morishige. Kebiishi.

TAIRA no Morikane: Kebiishi (mentioned above)
MINAMOTO no Suenori: Montoku-Genji (Minamoto clan) (Sakado-Genji - Minamoto clan) mentioned above
MINAMOTO no Chikayasu: Montoku-Genji (Minamoto clan) (Sakado-Genji - Minamoto clan) mentioned above

Other former hokumen no bushi from the Toba insei era included:
Norikiyo SATO: Lineage of Hidesato, and same age group as TAIRA no Kiyomori. Called himself Saigyo after entering priesthood in 1140.

MINAMOTO no Yoshiyasu: Kebiishi in 1152
Morito ENDO: Later known as Mongaku

Kamakura period and beyond

Saimen no bushi (the Imperial Palace Guards for the west side) was established as well in the era of Emperor Gotoba. In the Jokyu War, joined the battle with the hokumen no bushi, and saimen no bushi were abolished after the war, while hokumen no bushi remained. Later, its scale gradually shrank until it became merely a troop of guards for the imperial palace, and even their function as guards was lost as times changed from the Muromachi period, period of Oda and Toyotomi, and to the Edo period, but despite the fact that it did not appear at all in the Kinmon Incident when fire by war came closest to the imperial palace in modern history, it existed until the Meiji Restoration to describe family lineage.

[Original Japanese]