Shogun family (将軍家)

The shogun family was a houshold system where the head of samurai, who was designated as seii taishogun (literally: "great general who subdues the barbarians") or for the head of palace guards, generated, in the medieval times in Japan, imitating the houshold system of kuge (the court noble) when establishing his government. In addition to the shogun himself, it included the heir and other family members, after a hereditary system was established, and mandokoro, its household organization.

This concept was first introduced when MINAMOTO no Yoritomo was designated as Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards), and he applied this concept to his own master-servant relationships. This term was used for Yoritomo and his vassals, gokenin to establish control of the nation by themselves independent of the imperial court. Later, Yoritomo himself was designated for seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), followed by his sons, MINAMOTO no Yoriie and MINAMOTO no Sanetomo, establishing the system of making the post of seii taishogun hereditary. Then the term 'shogun family,' an abbreviation of the 'seii taishogun family' and of the former 'udaisho' (the head of the right division) family, both Yoritomo's position names, was established.

Since MINAMOTO no Sanetomo in the post of seii taishogun also assumed the post of udaijin (minister of the right), it became possible for the person in the post of seii taishogun to assume a daijin (minister) post. However, during the Kamakura period, the shogun from Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) and shogun from the imperial court did not take the post of ministry even after he was released from the shogun post. It was Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA during the Muromachi period, who took the post of naidaijin (Inner minister), when shogun assumed the post of a ministry again.

During the Muromachi period, the term kubo instead of shogunke (shogun family) was used for seii taishogun. In the Edo period, the term was used for Tokugawa gosanke (three privileged branches of Tokugawa family), for Gosankyo (three privileged branches of Tokugawa family), and for the heir of shogun against a child from a legally unwedded wife of shogun.

The shogun family played the role of the clan governing Japan throughout the samurai-based government era. Although designated by the Emperor, it boasted the power exceeding that of the imperial family in the era when the samurai-based government was first established. Although the shogun family was formally placed under the imperial court, it was customary that the shogun family was accepted as a royal family by foreign countries.