Joro otoshiyori (上臈御年寄)

Joro otoshiyori is the title of women serving in the O-oku during the Edo Period. The title is abbreviated as joro at times. These women were allowed direct contact with the Tokugawa shogun family and their wives and ranked the highest in O-oku.

Duties and position

The joro otoshiyori is the official responsible for social, cultural and other important ceremonies and served as advisor to the shogun and his wife.

Many of the women who rose to the position came from noble families of Kyo and were well-versed in court protocols, laws and special events and are believed to have accompanies the bride to wed the shogun and live in the Edo Castle.

Although ranking the highest among the women of O-oku, they are believed to have wielded little influence within Ooku, due to the lack of opportunity to influence the shogunate's policy on court nobility or due to the fact that the shogun's wife had little power. For this reason, lower-ranking toshiyori actually held the highest authority in O-oku, dominating all important and lesser matters.

Notwithstanding, there were joro otoshiyori who demonstrated influence over shogunate policy, such as Uemon no suke no tsubone during the reign of Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA, Takakoka during the reign of Ieharu TOKUGAWA, Anekoji under Ieyoshi TOKUGAWA and Utahashi under Iesada TOKUGAWA, showing that "absence of power" was not necessarily true.

[Original Japanese]