Daikan (local governor) (代官)

A daikan (local governor) meant a person, who performed the public administration and construction in a designated territory on behalf of his monarch (state), and his rank. Daikan became one of the samurai government's posts in Japan.

A local governor enforcing the king's will in western countries was sometimes translated into Japanese as a daikan, and in many cases,he was a villain like the one in stories such as William Tell or Robin Hood, being possibly effected by Japanese period dramas.

Daikan before the Edo period.

After the medieval period in Japan, there were many deputy posts like azukaridokorodai (acting deputy shoen lord; shoen was a manor), kokushi no mokudai (deputy kokuhsi; kokushi was a provincial governor mostly before the Muromachi period), shugodai (deputy shugo: shugo was a military governor), koshugodai (acting deputy military governor), jitodai (deputy jito; jito was a shoen steward), and jindai whose function was to preside troops on a campaign as a deputy, and furthermore, there existed a deputy post of these deputies called matadai (literally, "double deputy").

Originally, the concept of daikan represented a deputy post which administered political affairs and ruling in koryo (government's territory) or shoryo (private territory). Before the samurai government came into power, a typical sample of the post was mokudai acting as deputy of kokushi. After the Heian period, yonin system (remote appointments), which kokushi did not reside in his appointed province but his deputy attended the governance of the province on his behalf, was established, and it became popular for kokushi who adopted this system to set up the deputy post called mokudai (deputy kokushi) in kokufu (provincial office).

After the Kamakura period, with the establishment of a power structure concerning land ruling based on shugo jito system (system to govern provinces by military governors and their estate stewards) in the samurai government, gokenin (immediate vassals of the shogunate) who were assigned multiple shugo posts in several provinces came to privately appoint shugodai (deputy shugo), who performed the shugo role on behalf of shugo. In the Muromachi period, the administrators of lands under direct control of bakufu (the shogunate) were called daikan, and they were distinguished from shugodai who performed the deputy role of shugo, and from koshugodai who were deputies of shugodai (See Shugodai for details).

In a broad sense, as explained above, the post of daikan extensively meant a deputy post, whose role was to perform duties in an appointed province like the post of mokudai and shugodai; but after the Muromachi period, daikan post came to mean, originally, a post which attended the rulings of lands under direct control of the Muromachi bakufu (Muromachi shogunate) on behalf of it, and later in the Sengoku period (period of warring states), daimyo (Japanese territorial lord) followed this practice and appointed their own daikan in lands under their direct control, thus the name of daikan came to represent whole posts who had the name.

After the Azuchi-Momoyama Period in particular, as Nobunaga ODA forced his vassals of his clan to live in his castle town without exception, which resulted in a rapid increase in demesnes without their lords residing there, thus it became a practice to let daikan administer their demesnes including new chigyo-chi(territory).

Daikan in the Edo period

In the Edo period, daikan as well as gundai (daikan administering relatively wide shogunal lands) were appointed by the bakufu under the control of kanjo bugyo (commissioner of finance), and they administered chigyo-chi of small sized hatamoto (direct retainers of the Edo bakufu) and tenryo (shogunal lands; the name tenryo was used after Meiji era).

Daikan in the early Edo period were mostly hereditary posts, and small sized gozoku (local ruling families) and jizamurai (local samurai) residing in the local lands were selected to be daikan and taken into the bakufu as retainers. Among the daikan, famous figures are Tarozaemon EGAWA of Nirayama daikan office, MIYAGAWA no Tomoyuki Sukezaemon of Matsuzaki daikan office, and Shigenari SUZUKI of Amakusa daikan office. With the increase of bureaucratic daikan, although their term was not fixed, they were mostly replaced within a few years after the Kanei era (1624 - 1644). The lands administered by daikan were generally said to be easier to live than in the other ones governed by daimyo (lord whose domains have at least 10,000 koku of rice [one koku equals 5.1 bushels]). It should be noted that the daikan had a different role from Sunpu machi bugyo (Sunpu town magistrate), Sado bugyo (Sado mine magistrate), etc.

The status of daikan among hatamoto was the lowest with bestowed appanage of 150 bales (a bale is a traditional unit for rice, which is 60 kilograms) of rice, but his administering land was large and his power was big considering his status, which often resulted in making daikan's appearance as bad one in period dramas. Due to the above reasons, the bad image of daikan—oppressing peasants, receiving bribe from merchants, and ruling local women-has widely spread. Bosses and superiors who order irrational demand are sarcastically called odaikan sama (Mr. Daikan) today, which derives from the persistent images of the bad daikan in those dramas. Due to influence of these period dramas, people sometimes jocularly use the word, odaikan sama, when they beg somebody for something.

However, actually, the political system removed a daikan who was even slightly ill reputed without delay, so a bad daikan pursuing his personal greed could not exist for a long time in that society. As severe levy of nengu (annual tribute) led to peasants' chosan (to abandon one's field and flee away to other districts to evade cruel taxes), which adversely decreased the amount of collected nengu. There were actually some daikan who were dismissed and punished due to their responsibility for people who died from starving at the time of famines. Basically, in fact, daikan were so busy that most of them could not even find time to think about the evil conducts as written above. However, according to a record, there seems to have been a rare daikan, who deserved to be called as an evil one, who collected 88% as nengu in Harima Province, this rate was apparently an extortionate levy compared with the average rate 27.6% in tenryo (shogunal lands; the name tenryo was used after Meiji ear) during the Shotoku no chi (the peaceful era of Shotoku).

The area under the daikan's control was several tens of thousands of koku, which was usually considered as one unit of his area. The daikan set up a jinya (or called daikansho; regional office of administrative officials) in their jurisdictional area to administrate. Under the daikan, there were about 10 tetsuke (assistants of daikan but an immediate vassal of the shogunate; busi class) and a few tedai (assistants of daikan; servant for a samurai family), who assisted him. Particularly, the daikan whose appointed lands were near Kanto area remained as Edo jofu (a Daimyo feudal lord's retainer who remained permanently in the Edo with the lord's and their own family in the Edo period) and administered their lands through communicating with their tedai and went to their jurisdictional lands only on the occasion of kenchi (land survey), kemi (annual crop inspection), junsatsu (inspection), and serious affairs. When the daikan's appointed lands were in remote places, zaichi (to reside in one's place) was the principle.

Resembling the bakufu, in many han (domains), as their vassals' appanage generally changed from chigyo (grant) to kuramai (payment by rice from warehouses), gundai (intendant of a region or administrator of a town) and daikan who were appointed by their han came to administer vassals' territories together.

The status of daikan as a bushi was low in various han, many daikan were in kachi (foot guard) class with appanage of below 10 koku and also were inherited by local powerful families. In the latter case, their kakaku (family status) were mostly kachi class in the han.

Furthermore, in outlands, local rich farmers were mostly appointed as daikan and no officials were sent. The rewards in this case were status privileges such as myojitaito (the right to bear a surname and to wear a sword) and tax privileges such as tax exemption and permission to use utility mail system.

Daikansho (daikan's administrative office)

Daikansho was an administrative office, where a daikan was sent and performed administration, set up in the territory under the direct control of the Edo bakufu such as shihaijo (bakufu-owned land) and tenryo in the Edo period. As the feudal system under the shogunate (bakuhan taisei system) had been completely established in the Edo period, the size of daikansho was rather small considering the size of the area which the daikan administrated. At the end of the Edo period, in Gojo daikansho (south Yamato; 70 thousand koku), there were only one daikan, three tetsuke who were vassals of the bakufu, and ten personal tedai (samurai class), although there were ashigaru (common foot solders) and chugen (chore men below common foot solders) in addition. When local powerful persons were appointed as daikan, their residences were used as daikansho without setting up exclusive ones, and the local people such as their family members and servants served as the officials of the daikan.