Sojaban (an official in charge of the ceremonies) (奏者番)

Sojaban (or Soshaban) was a governmental post in the Edo bakufu or domains. The officers in this post managed etiquette of samurai in castles.

Specifically, when daimyo or hatamoto (a direct retainer of the bakufu) were going to have an audience with seii taishogun (literally, "the great general who was to subdue the barbarians") or when a messenger taking a present from a daimyo was sent to the Edo castle, Sojaban checked the person's name and the content of the present to report them to the shogun, and, when the shogun gave a grant, notified the person of the message. In addition, when a daimyo's territory was changed or someone of a daimyo family died, one of the officers was sent as an envoy of the shogun, and an officer in this post sometimes participated in Buddhist memorial services of the Tokugawa shogun family or gosanke (three privileged Tokugawa branch families) in place of the shogun when the shogun had to be absent. The officer was also in charge of teaching the etiquette concerned with the genpuku ceremony (the ceremony of celebrating the coming of age) for the heirs of daimyo who would attend the ceremony in front of shogun.

The number of Sojaban was 20 to 30 customarily, though no specification existed in the bakufu. According to a commonly accepted theory, Nobutomi HONGO was the first person appointed to the post in 1603, but there is another theory insisting that he was not the first. Later, Sojaban became a post for Fudai daimyo (a daimyo who had belonged to the Tokugawa group from the Battle of Sekigahara) as a gateway to success, being mostly the first post for them. As a liaison officer between a daimyo or a hatamoto and the shogun, this post was an important together with Ometsuke (an inspector) and metuke (an inspector under Ometsuke). Four of the Sojaban officers also assumed the jisha-bugyo post (the post in charge of affairs concerned with shrines and temples) concurrently (in 1658 and later). The officers in this post were appointed mostly from Tsume-shu (the persons watching and serving the shogun family), whose waiting room in the Edo castle was the fuyo (cotton rose) room.

This post was once abolished in September of 1862 due to Bunkyu Reform, but was restored again in October of the next year.

[Original Japanese]