Otogishu (advisers) (御伽衆)

Otogishu is the official duties, which existed in families of Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lords in the Sengoku period) from the the Sengoku period (period of Warring States) to the early Edo period.


Otogishu were the close advisers who were called to their lord's side and gave advice about politics and military affair, while they also reported buhenbanashi (anecdotes about the life of samurai) or situation of various districts to their lord. Otogishu was also known as Ohanashi-shu (collocutor of the load), Gohobanshu (officials who accompany shogun) and the brains.

In the the Sengoku period, otogishu was more likely to be a counselor, therefore, people like Buddhist priest, chief retainer who retired and withdrew to the sidelines, downfallen daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) and busho (Japanese military commander) in the form of a Buddhist priest served as otogishu. After the turbulent age died down, the role of comforting lord's boredom also became to be emphasized, and townspeople who rose suddenly and became innovative power were also called to the lord's presence as otogishu and became new culture bearers at the time of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. After Edo Period, shogun and territorial lords still had otogishu, however, as political power passed into the hands of chief retainers, power of otogishu had gradually weakened.

It is said that their storytelling spread among the common people and became the origins of kodan storytelling and rakugo (traditional comic storytelling).

Hediyoshi and Otogishu

As Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI was not very good at reading and writing, in order to make up for that he had many otogishu for learning by the ear. According to one theory, he had 800 otogishu. And also, many otogishu of Hideyoshi came from a good line such as the old shugo family, the family of former his master, or higher ranking busho (Japanese military commander) than him. It is said that Hedeyoshi appointed those people as otogishu to show that the man like him from low-class now rose to the highest rank (possible for the subject) in a country and even people of good birth and people from historic families served him.

Hideyoshi's otogishu from samurai family include Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, Nobukatsu ODA, Nagamasu ODA, Narimasa SASSA, Toyokuni YAMAYA, Keijhun MIYABE, Katsutoshi TAKIGAWA, Shigenari FURUTA and Nagachika KANAMORI. Those from townspeople include SEN no Rikyu, Sokun IMAI and Shinzaemon SORORI.

They supported the reign of Hideyoshi at domestic affairs and gave rise to magnificent Momoyama Culture, while they formed a part of later Japanese Culture, such as completion of wabicha (wabi style of tea ceremony) that pursued simplicity.

[Original Japanese]