Kojunin (小十人) (escort guards) (小十人)

The term "Kojunin" refers to a post of the security and military division (Bankata [security officials]) of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). The term is said to have come from Kojunin (an attendant). Kojunin were bodyguards most of whom were foot soldiers gurading a shogun and his legitimate sons. Their duties were divided into three categories, i. e. the vanguard on a march or in a procession, Senkenkeibitai (advance army) to be sent to a destination, and the security guard inside a castle.


The title "Kojunin" can be found in documents on the Edo bakufu or domains, especially large domains. The function of Kojunin was to guard and defend a shogun (or a domain lord) and his legitimate sons. Foot soldiers played a central role in it. They were the foot soldiers who were closest to their lord in wartime or on a march. Therefore, those who held this post had a relatively high social status among foot soldiers.

It was a part of Gobankata (literally, "five Bankata") consisting of Shinban (new guards), Kojunin, Koshoban (inner guards), Shoinban (castle guards) and Oban (a group of guards in the Edo bakufu) in the Edo bakufu. Those who held this post were on duty in Hinoki no ma (a Japanese cypress room) of Edo-jo Castle in time of peace to guard the castle. When a shogun went out of Edo-jo Castle to visit Nikko Tosho-gu Shrine, Zojo-ji Temple, Kanei-ji Temple, etc. in time of peace, it was the time to show their stuff. They were busy on such occasions. When a shogun went out, they served as advance foot soldiers in a shogun's procession or went ahead of him toward his destination as the advance to guard the area.
Kojunin accompanied a shogun on a trip to Kyoto and Osaka in the beginning and the end of Edo period
They also guarded Nijo-jo Castle, etc.

Kojunin were headed by Kojunin gashira (the head of Kojunin) or Kojunin banto (a general manager of escort guards). Kojunin gashira and Kojunin banto were basically selected from those belonging to hatamoto yoriaiseki (a family rank of high-ranking hatamoto, direct vassal of the shogun) whose annual stipend assessed on the basis of a crop was 1,000 koku (of rice) (a unit of volume: rice 1-koku is 180.39 liter, lumber 1-koku is 0.278 cubic meter) or over (Their yakudaka [salary paid in accordance with the rank of one's post] based on tashidaka system [a wage system established by the Edo bakufu] was 1,000 koku.). The middle manager of Kojunin was Kojunin kumigashira (a group leader of escort guards) whose yakudaka was 300 bales of rice. Kojunin kumigashira often traveled on official business to a shogun's destination to survey the site. Kojunin gashira (or Kojunin banto) and Kojunin kumigashira were entitled to ride on horseback. There were generally 20 Kojunin gashira, 40 Kojunin kumigashira and 400 Kojunin banshu (guards holding the post of Kojunin) in the Edo bakufu, although each number differed from age to age.

Banshi (a samurai serving as a guard in the Edo period) holding the post of Kojunin was characterized by having a status equivalent to that of hatamoto, but no entitlement to ride on horseback. Kojunin banshu were often selected from those whose Karoku (hereditary stipend) was approximately 100 bales of rice (or koku). If one assumed office as Kojunin, yakuryo (executive allowance) corresponding to a salary for 10 persons was given to him in principle. The sum total will come to more than 120 koku in chigyo (the annual stipend). When Kojunin went to Edo-jo Castle to work, he went on foot, put on Setta (Japanese traditional sandals) and hakama (pleated and divided skirt made in fine stripes), and had two servants, i. e. yarimochi (a lance bearer) and komono (a lower servant) with him.

Distinguished or fortunate gokenin (immediate vassals of the shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods) among the high-ranking gokenin receiving Karoku (hereditary stipend) or their soryo (heir) were promoted to Kojunin. Some of them were promoted to hatamoto. Family lineage was more priotized in selection of bankata in time of peace. Accordingly, very few gokenin were directly selected from those who guarded the route that a shogun took for Kojunin. Some gokenin who had assumed yakukata (an administrative post or a clerical post) such as a governmental accountant or a post at O-oku (the inner halls of Edo-jo Castle where the wife of the Shogun and her servants resided) or their soryo were promoted to Kojunin thanks to a distribution of rewards according to their merits.

In Satsuma Domain, Kakaku Kojunin gumi (a group of guards whose Kakaku [family status] was Kojunin in Satsuma Domain) was formed in the Tenmei era to maintain the dignity of Kakaku Koshogumi (a group of guards whose Kakaku was Koshogumi [a family rank of lower-ranking samurais in Satsuma Domain]). Those who were the second and the third sons of guards of Koshogumi and set up a branch family were admitted into Kakaku Kojunin gumi. But Kakaku Kojunin gumi was abolished in the Kyowa era. After its abolition, those who had had Kakaku of Kojunin were integrated into Kakaku Koshogumi.

[Original Japanese]