Mutsu no Kami (陸奥守)

Mutsu no kami was the governor of Mutsu Province. It meant the post or the one who took the post of it. The job was to control the administration, judiciary and all of the national affairs. The position was limited to one person. The grade of the job was equivalent to Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank).

The ancient and the medieval period

The kokufu (provincial office) of Mutsu Province was in present Tagajo City, Miyagi Prefecture, and kokushi (provincial governors) began to be sent down in the first half of the eighth century. At first the job assumed the weighty responsibility of taking countermeasure against Ezo (the northerners). Mutsu Province was the northernmost of 66 provinces in Japan (though it was thought to be the easternmost in those days), and was the remote region along with Dewa Province as well as the large country with vast territory. While Mutsu Province was a place with good goldmine and breeding of good horses, the governor of it was on a mission of subduing some tribes of Ezo who did not come under the yoke of the Imperial Court, and subsuming other tribes of Ezo who once submitted (Fushu) but often seceded from the Imperial Court. Because of some tribes of Ezo who did not submit down to posterity, the territory of Mutsu Province did not expand to the Shimokita Peninsula or Tsugaru region. Therefore, Seii taishoguns (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") or Chinju-fu shoguns (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North) were dispatched to Mutsu Province and Chinju-fu (army base) was deployed in the subdued area and the Chinju-fu shogun, the chief of it ranked with kokushi.

Thus, military aristocrats from Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan) or Kanmu-Heishi (Taira clan) were often assigned as Mutsu no kami successively and they often doubled as Mutsu no kami and Chinju-fu shogun.

A good example of this is the case with MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi, the head of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan), and his son MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. In case of Yoriyoshi, four generations of the Minamoto clan, from the earliest ancestor, MINAMOTO no Tsunemoto to his father, held the post of Chinju-fu shogun, and when the Abe clan (in Oshu, northern Japan), who was the chief of Fushu (subdued Ezo) and the autonomous ruler of Okuroku-gun (six counties in northern Japan), conflicted with kokufu, Yoriyoshi was also dispatched as Mutsu no kami and Chinju-fu shogun and subdued them in 12 years. This is called 'Zen Kunen no Eki' (Former Nine Years' War).

After that Mutsu was calm for a while but there still remained the area in Ezo which was not annexed to Mutsu Province, so MINAMOTO no Yoritoshi from Yamato-Genji (Minamoto clan), who was remotely related to Yoriyoshi, subdued as far as the northern edge of Aomori with the troops of the Kiyohara clan in Dewa Province and the authority of Mutsu kokufu came to range throughout Tohoku area.
This is called 'the Battle against Ezo northerner in the Enkyu era.'

After that, Yoriyoshi's son, MINAMOTO no Yoshiie stepped in an internal strife of the Kiyohara clan, who ruled Okuroku-gun after the Abe clan, suppressed this and performed his deeds of arms. This is called 'Gosannen War' (the Later Three Years' War).

After the Gosannen War was suppressed, the Oshu-Fujiwara clan became the effective ruler of Ou region and the position of kokushi of Mutsu Province became more like a revenue agent. FUJIWARA no Hidehira, the third head of the Oshu-Fujiwara clan, got the position of Mutsu no kami and Chinju-fu shogun; however, it is said that MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, who developed a feeling of hostility toward Hidehira, took actions for Hidehira's dismissal and soon Hidehira was dismissed.

After FUJIWARA no Hidehira died, Oshu-Fujiwara was defeated by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo and when Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) was established, Mutsu no kami became the honorable position served by senior vassals such as the Hojo clan or the Adachi clan.

Imperial Prince Norinaga, who became the Emperor Gomurakami later, entered Mutsu kokufu, the provincial capital of Mutsu Province, which had become shinno ninkoku (the province whose gubernatorial posts were reserved as sinecures for imperial princes) in the time of Emperor Godaigo after the downfall of Kamakura bakufu, and Akiie KITABATAKE, as Mutsu Osuke (Assistant Governor of Mutsu Province) and Chinju-fu daishogun, had mighty battles against the force of Takauji ASHIKAGA leading the force of Tohoku (north) region.

In the Sengoku period (period of warring states) this position was assigned to Takahisa SHIMAZU, Motonari MORI and Nobutora TAKEDA so on.

Recent times

Since Masamune DATE it became customary that the position of Mutsu no kami as an official court title for samurai was granted to the family head of the Date family or the lord of the Sendai Domain, that is, the position was taken over by the Date clan by heredity till the end of Edo period. Aside from this, another position of Mutsu no kami was assigned to Fifth-ranked Jige-ke (family status of non-noble retainers who were not allowed into the Emperor's living quarters in the imperial palace) by the Imperial Court in Kyoto.