Kubo (shogunal representative) (公方)

The term "Kubo" originally referred to the embodiment of public affairs in the premodern Japan or the national sovereign power, that is, the Emperor or the Imperial Court in olden times, and the Shogun in the Kamakura and the Muromachi periods. Especially in the late Muromachi period, the term "Kubo" was used as the title of the Ashikaga Shogun Family who were dominant in exercising governmental authority of the Shogun. The title of Kubo was called "Kubo go."

The creation of 'Kubo go (the title of Kubo)'
In China, the Chinese character for "ku" in the word "Kubo" included the concept of "private," while in Japan this character was used to mean the integration of the nation and its people. In Japanese, the meaning changed such that the concept of "public" did not include "private" referring to the field that a nation should deal with, and it became the opposite of "private." This concept appears in Japanese phrases such as "Goko gomin" (to share the total harvest of rice between public and private, 50% each) or "Koshi kondo" (to mix up public and private matters).

As a result, the term "Oyake" (another pronunciation of 'ku' of 'kubo') was used to mean the Emperor as the national embodiment in ancient Japan, and the custom of calling the Emperor, his family, and the Court as "Koke" (literally, public family) or "Kubo" sprang up.

After the late Heian period in which private fiefs like shoen (manor in medieval Japan) were remarkably spreading, the term "Kubo" was used to emphasize the national sovereignty. However, after the Kamakura period when the Court's power had relatively fallen, there were some cases that "Honjo" (temples, shrines, and court nobles) and samurai families, which had achieved control of the entire shoen and Koryo (an Imperial demesne), called themselves "Kubo" as the holder of the sovereign power in the fiefs.

In the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) from about 1283, the rule of naming the Shogun from the Imperial family as "Kubo," "Gokenin" (an immediate vassal of the shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods) as "Kubo no hitobito" (Kubo people), and "Kanto Goryo" (the Shogun's demesne) as "Kubo Goryo" was adopted in consideration of such names as Tokuso (the patrimonial head of the main branch of the Hojo clan), Miuchibito (private vassals of the tokuso), and "Miuchi Goryo" (Tokuso's demesne) in the Hojo regency. This rule is said to have been introduced by Yasumori ADACHI, who carried out a reform of the shogunal administration under the banner of the Shogun from the Imperial family and Tokimune Hojo, the regent for the Shogun. It was to prevent Hojo's private power from intervening in the shogunal administration and also to show that the sovereignty of the shogunate resided in Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") and Gokenin who was in a master-servant relationship with the Shogun.

"Kubo" in the Muromachi bakufu
Accoding to "Teijo-zakki" (Teijo's memorandums) written by Sadatake (Teijo) ISE who was Hatamoto (a direct retainer of the shogunate) in the Edo period as well as a descendant of the Ise clan which served as Mandokoro shitusji (chief of Mandokoro, the Adiministrative Board) of the Muromachi bakufu, Takauji ASHIKAGA, who established the Muromachi bakufu in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), was allowed to hold the title of Kubo. However, Takauji was not unreservedly happy about the title of Kubo because the term "Kubo" carried the strong connotation of the Court or the court nobles. Takauji refused to accept the title of Kubo, saying that he could not put on armor if he got it; however, once the title was bestowed on him, it was diffiicult to recall it; thus, the title was tentatively left to Takauji.

Subsequently, the title of Kubo was not employed even at the time of Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA, the second Shogun. However, after the time of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, the third Shogun, the title of Kubo was positively used as an honorific for the Shogun. After the Shogun Family called themselves Kubo, Motouji ASHIKAGA, who was Kanto kanrei (the shogunal deputy for the Kanto region) at first, began to name himself Kamakura Kubo. Since then, the title of Kubo had been handed down for generations by the Shogun who headed the shogunate and by the families of the Ashikaga clan in Kamakura who called themselves Kamakura Kubo.

In addition, the Uesugi clan and the Hatakeyama clan who had been Shitsuji (the Shogun's assistant) were moved up to Kanto Kanrei. Some say that Kenshin UESUGI succeeded to the position of Kanto Kanrei, and that Ujitsuna HOJO and Ichimasu TAKIGAWA adopted the title Kanto Kanrei some time later.

The later years

In the Edo period, the title became firmly established as another name for the Shogun who possessed absolute power; when people referred to Kubo, they almost always meant the Tokugawa Shogun.

When the leader of the samurai family who headed the shogunate was appointed "Seii Taishogun," his honorific title of "Uesama" changed into "Kubosama"; the term "Kubo" strongly indicated that "Kubo" was a representative of the Court.

Kubo of the Ashikaga clan

Kamakura Kubo (Kanto Kubo)

The chief of the Kamakura fu (the shogunal headquarters in Kamakura)
Motouji ASHIKAGA was the first Kamakura Kubo. Kamakura Kubo was discontinued for a while due to the Eikyo War, but was soon restored; after the fifth Kamakura Kubo, Shigeuji ASHIKAGA, fled to Koga, he came to be referred to as "Koga Kubo."

Sasagawa Kubo (Sasagawa Gosho)

Sasagawa Kubo was established when Mitsukane ASHIKAGA, the third Kamakura Kubo, sent his younger brother, Mitsunao ASHIKAGA, to Sasagawa in Asaka County in Mutsu Province for governing the Oshu region. Sasagawa Kubo took the anti-Kamakura government position after the War of Uesugi Zenshu, but died out in the Battle of Yuki in 1440.

Inamura Kubo (Inamura Gosho)

Inamura Kubo was established when Mitsukane ASHIKAGA, the third Kamakura Kubo, sent his younger brother, Mitsusada ASHIKAGA, to Inamura in Iwase County in Mutsu Province for governing the Oshu region. Inamura Kubo died out because Mitsusada committed suicide in the Eikyo War in 1438.

Horigoe Kubo

Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA, the eighth Shogun of the Muromachi bakufu, sent his younger brother, Masatomo ASHIKAGA, to the Kanto region to cope with Shigeuji ASHIKAGA of Koga Kubo, but he could not go over Hakone, so he settled in Horigoe, Tagata County, Izu Province. Horigoe Kubo died out because the second Horigoe Kubo, Chachamaru ASHIKAGA, was defeated by Soun HOJO.

Koga Kubo

Koga Kubo was identical to Kanto Kubo that relocated to Koga City in Shimousa Province; Shigeuji ASHIKAGA was the first Koga Kubo. Koga Kubo established its headquarters in Koga at first, but after becoming a puppet in the hands of the Hojo clan, it was forced to move from place to place. It died out with the death of the fifth Koga Kubo, Yoshiuji ASHIKAGA. Its descendants became the Kitsuregawa clan of koke (privileged family under Tokugawa Shogunate).

Oyumi Kubo

Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, a younger brother of the third Koga Kubo, Takamoto ASHIKAGA, proclaimed himself Oyumi Kubo at the Oyumi-jo Castle in Shimousa Province supported by the Kazusa Takeda clan (the Takeda clan) who was the lord of the Mariyatsu-jo Castle in Kazusa Province. In 1538, it died out because Yoshiaki was killed in the First Battle of Konodai.

Kuratani Kubo (Kuratani Gosho, Echizen Kubo)

The descendant of Yoshitsugu ASHIKAGA who was a son of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, the third Shogun of the Muromachi bakufu, settled in Kuratani. The Asakura clan temporarily acknowledged that Kuratani Kubo was a ruler of Echizen Province in place of the Shiba clan who served as Echizen Shugo (provincial constable). Later, Kuratani Kubo was called the Kuratani clan as a general invited by the Asakura clan.

Hirashima Kubo (Hirashima Gosho, Awa Kubo)

A nickname for the Shogun

As the term "Kubo" was commonly used as another name for the Shogun, people sometimes gave Kubo a nickname such as "So-and-So Kubo" with a twist of irony to make it widely known.

Yoshitane ASHIKAGA "Nagare Kubo" (Wandering Kubo)

The name came from the fact that Yoshitane wandered from place to place because he was forced out of power by leading daimyos (Japanese feudal lords). His family settled in Awa Province, hence the name Awa Kubo.

Tunayoshi TOKUGAWA "Inu Kubo" (Doggy Kubo)

The name came from the fact that he issued "Shorui awaremi no rei" (an edict against cruelty to all living things), and he treated dogs so generously that he invited the people's indignation.

Yoshimune TOKUGAWA "Kome Kubo" (Rice Kubo)

The name came from the fact that during Yoshimune's rule, the price of rice went up and down because of an alternating succession of bumper harvests and famine, so he was always under pressure to control the price of rice.

Ieshige TOKUGAWA "Shoben Kubo" (Pissy Kubo)

As Ieshige was of a delicate constitution and had an impediment in his speech, there was a rumor that he peed in his underwear at the palace.