Chinju-fu Shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North) (鎮守府将軍)

Chinju-fu Shogun was an official who served as shogun, belonging to Ryoge no kan (class outside of the Ritsuryo system), which was set up for the defense of the northern area during the Nara period and the Heian period in Japan.

Taga (place name)

Although there are no historical records referring directly to the origins of the Chinju-fu Shogun, it has been said that the first Chinju-fu Shogun was ONO no Azumabito, who is as we can know the oldest.
At first, the headquarters was called 'chinjo' and later 'Chinju-fu.'
It is assumed that in the year 724 a fortress (Taga-jo Castle) was built located in Taga. Mutsu-kokufu (the provincial office of Mutsu Province) was also located in Taga.

The Chinju-fu Shogun took overall control of military affairs in Mutsu and Dewa Provinces and, commanded samurai from both provinces as well as samurai posted from other provinces. Except for Chinju-fu Shogun, all the other official posts with the title 'shogun' were interim ones, and, therefore, Chinju-fu Shogun was the only shogun existing in peacetime. Regional jurisdictional control often rested with the Mutsu region Azechi (inspector) who concurrently served as the political and military authority.

Chinju-fu (northern defenses) Shogun confronted the Ezo people of Mutsu and Dewa Provinces in the north of Honshu (Japan's main island).. When a large military movements was required various ad-hoc shoguns (generals) and dai shogun (great generals) were dispatched from the central government (along with soldiers from other provinces) all of which came under the command of the Chinju-fu (Northern defenses) Shogun.

OTOMO no Yakamochi (believed to be compiler of the Japanese classic book "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves)), died of illness in the year 785 in the provinces while he was campaigning as Chinju-fu Shogun.

Isawa (place name)

SAKANOUE no Tamuramaro who was Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), built Isawa-jo Castle in the year 802, and Shiwa-jo Castle in 803. The Chinju-fu (Northern defenses base) was relocated to Isawa either at the same time the castles were built or, possibly some years later. The precise date is unknown. It is thought that prior to being relocated to Isawa, it was possibly located in Shiwa. Subsequent Chinju-fu Shoguns distanced themselves from the Mutsu provincial government and started working in Isawa.

Prior to this relocation, the Chinju-fu (Northern defenses) Shogun outranked the Kokushi (provincial governor) and was posted to pacify the Northern provinces. However, after the stalemate of the `Barbarian Campaigns` (`Sei-i`), the Chinju-fu post came to control only a part of Mutsu Province, meaning a demotion to a status somewhat lower than the governor of Mutsu Province. Elements of the shogun executive bailiwick and that of the provincial governs overlapped sometimes. Intense confrontations frequently occurred between shoguns and provincial governors. As such, the Chinju-fu Shogun role was for all intents and purposes converted into an honorary post, and as the shogun seldom stayed in Chinju-fu (Northern bases), the Chinju-fu (Northern bases) were abolished earlier than the provincial governments. However, with the outbreak of the Zenkunen War (the Early Nine Year War) and the Gosannen Wars (the Later Three Year War), the local military command role was revived as a local commander with sweeping military jurisdiction even in Dewa Province.

Since Chinju-fu (Northern defense) functions had been substantially pared-back, the honorary post of Chinju-fu Shogun post was awarded to distinguished samurai.

Subsequent History

Incidentally, as an honorary post earmarked for military families, the post was filled by successive Taisho (generals) hailing from the Minamoto clan. Many of the Taisho (Generals) of the Seiwa-Genji clan (starting with the clan founder MINAMOTO no Tsunetomo), took the Chinju-fu Shogun post, and MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka (legitimate son of Tsunemoto-o (or Tsunemoto)), MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu and, MINAMOTO no Yorinobu (sons of Mitsunaka) are good examples of the practice. In particular, the Yorinobu family line in the Kawachi-Genji clan availed itself of this important position from generation to generation, starting with Yorinobu who handed the role to his son MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi from whence the role passed to his grandson MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. MINAMOTO no Yoshiie was the fifth successive generation after Tsunemoto (founder of Minamoto clan) to assume this post. This practice added cachet to the Minamoto clan name as a samurai family, to its ancestors and the founder of the clan, Yoshiie.

The post of Chinju-fu (Northern bases) Shogun largely faded into obscurity after MINAMOTO no Yoritomo became Seii taishogun (unifying commander-in-chief) however, during the period of the Kenmu Restoration, the post of Chinju-fu Shogun was reestablished and held by Akiie KITABATAKE and others. Since the official ranking system ignored this executive role in a personnel sense, Chikafusa KITABATAKE (Akiie's father) successfully petitioned the imperial court to use the title 'Chinju taishogun' (Northern bases great general) on equal ranking to the title Seii taishogun (Unifying commander-in-chief) in circumstances when court nobles ranked above Sanmi (Third Rank) assumed this post.

Subsequent to the Northern and Southern Courts period in Japan (circa 1336-92), no new Chinju-fu Shogun appointments were made however, there are records that MINAMOTO no Yoshishige (later founder of the Nitta clan) was appointed Chinju-fu Shogun by virtue he was an ancestor of Yoshisada NITTA (an active and meritorious retainer of the Southern Court) who had been appointed posthumously.

From the Kamakura period onwards, the Chinju-fu Shogun role became defunct except for a certain period of time, however, the significance of the role survived for posterity.

The term `Gosho` (residence/palace/manor) was the term used for the domiciles of emperors, the imperial family, government ministers, and Monzeki (chief priests of imperial or noble lineage) as well as the term of reference used for the residence of a shogun. The honorific `gosho' residence term was usually used by imperial family members and nobles ranked higher than Sanmi (Third Rank) but, was also used by a Chinju-fu Shogun, of imperial Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) rank.

FUJIWARA no Hidehira called his residence `Yanagi no Gosho` (Willow Palace), and when the descendents of Akiie KITABATAKE formed the Kitabatake clan and Akinobu KITABATAKE descendents the Namioka clan, Akiie's descendents gave their residences the names `Horowata-gosho`, `Namioka-gosho` and `Kawara-gosho`, whereas the descendents of Akinobu named their residences `Tagi-gosho` etc.

The family of Ashikaga Shoguns used the pretext that they had a kinship with Seii taishogun (Unifying commander-in-chiefs)), Kira clan families held they were descendents of Chinju-fu (northern bases) Shogun MINAMOTO no Yoshiie and thus named their residences: Maruyama-gosho, Setagaya-gosho, Makita-gosho, and Katsumi-gosho whereas the families of the Shiba clan, gave their residences the titles: Shiba-gosho, Shizukuishi-gosho, Isari-gosho.

In addition, even more plebeian homes of branches of the Kitabatake clan were named using the 'gosho' (manor) convention: Kozukuri-gosho (Kozukuri clan residence), Okochi-gosho (Okochi clan residence), Fujikata-gosho (Fujikata clan residence), Sakauchi-gosho (Sakauchi clan residence), Namise-gosho; Tamaru-gosho (Tamaru clan residence) and Iwauchi-gosho (Iwauchi clan residence).