History Glossary of Japanese Historical Terms

By JREF · Jan 14, 2017 ·
  1. JREF
    A glossary with essential terms relating to the history of Japan. This list will be continually expanded.

    bakufu幕府Government of the shogunate, also referring to the seat of the government and administration
    bakuhan taisei幕藩体制Edo-era system of government, characterised by the central authority of the bakufu and local autonomy of the han
    beHereditary professions assigned to uji
    bunmei kaika文明開化"Civilization and enlightenment", an early Meiji-era movement aiming at re-organising Japan according to Western ciliization
    buke, bushi武家・武士Warrior class
    chōnin町人Edo-era townspeople, merchants, craftsmen and labourers
    daimyō大名feudal lord, warlord
    daiō大王Great king
    dajōkan太政官Grand Council of State, the highest organ of the Meiji government until 1885
    dajō daijin太政大臣Chancellor or Chief Minister, head of the dajōkan
    fudai-daimyō譜代大名Hereditary vassals of the Tokugawa
    fukoku kyōhei富国強兵"Enrich the state, strengthen the military", a national slogan during the Meiji era
    genrō元老Elder statesmen during the Meiji Period, a powerful informal and extraconstitutional institution
    gokenin御家人Direct vassals of the shogun
    hanFeudal domain of a daimyō
    haniwa埴輪Unglazed tomb figures made of earthenware
    hatamoto旗本"Bannermen", direct vassals of the Tokugawa of higher rank than the gokenin
    heinō bunri兵農分離Social segregation of samurai and peasants at the end of the 16th/beginning of the 17th century
    insei院政Cloistered rule, rule of an emperor abdicated
    jingikan神祇官Department of Divinities, a Japanese Imperial bureaucracy established in the 8th century
    jitō地頭land stewards appointed by the shogun, especially in the Kamakura and Muromachi Shogunates
    jisha bugyō寺社奉行"Commissioner" or "overseer" of temples and shrines during the Tokugawa shogunate
    kabaneHereditary titles used with clan name in pre-modern Japan to denote rank and political standing
    kaikoku開国The opening the Japanese nation for foreign countries and trade in 1853
    kanpaku関白Chief advisor and regent of an emperor
    katanagari刀狩Sword hunt, the confiscation of weapons at the end of the 16th century
    kōbu gattai公武合体"Union of the Imperial Court and the Shogunate", a policy aiming at a political coordination between the bakufu and the emperor
    kofun古墳Burial mounds
    kokuJapanese unit of volume, especially for rice (180l)
    kokudaka石高Estimate of the annual yield of farmland measured in koku of unpolished rice and the basis of and taxes throughout the Edo Period
    kokushi国司Provincial governor
    kokutai国体The Japanese national entity: system of government, sovereignty, national identity, essence, and character, etc.
    kuge公家Court nobility
    Kyōto shoshidai京都所司代Governor of Kyōto and highest-ranking representative of the Tokugawa shogunate in the city
    mandokoro政所Chief governing body of the Kamakura bakufu
    monchūjo問注所Court of justice of the Kamakura bakufu
    Ōsaka jōdai大坂城代Commissioners or governors, high-ranking officials of the Tokugawa shogunate
    ōsei fukko王政復古Imperial restoration
    ritsuryō-sei律令制The centralised imperial system of government of the Nara Period
    rōjū老中One of the highest-ranking government posts under the Tokugawa shogunate
    Rokuhara tandai六波羅探題High-ranking position in the Kamakura shogunate
    rōnin浪人Masterless samurai in feudal Japan
    sadaijin左大臣Minister of the Left, a government position in the late Nara and Heian periods
    sakoku鎖国Policy of national isolation during the Tokugawa shogunate
    samurai-dokoro侍所Board of Retainers, an office of the Kamakura and Muromachi shogunates
    sankin kōtai参勤交代"Alternate attendance", a Tokugawa policy under which daimyō had to spend every other year in Edo
    seii tai shōgun征夷大将軍"Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the Barbarians", the official title of shogun
    sekke摂家The five regent houses of the Fujiwara clan and the kuge
    sesshō摂政Title of a regent acting on behalf of a child emperor or an empress regnant
    shikken執権Regent acting on behalf of a Kamakura shogun
    shi nō kō shō士農工商A hierarchic social class structure based on four professions or castes: samurai, peasants, craftsmen, and merchants.
    shinpan-daimyō親藩大名Branch or cadet families of the Tokugawa
    shōen荘園Privately-owned and often autonomous estates or manors
    shugo守護Military governor or "constable" appointed by the shogun to oversee one or more of the provinces
    sonnō jōi尊王攘夷"Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians", political slogan of the bakumatsu to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate
    sūmitsuin枢密院Privy Council, an advisory council to the emperor
    taikō太閤Title of a retired kanpaku
    tairō大老Highest-ranking official in the Tokugawa shogunate and chief policy maker; regent in the absence of a shogun, or in the event that the shogun was incapacitated
    tenryō天領Land under the direct control of the Tokugawa shogunate
    tozama-daimyō外様大名"Outside daimyō", nonhereditary feudal lords that submitted to the Tokugawa after the Battle of Sekigahara and were usually excluded from participation in the government.
    udaijin右大臣Minister of the Right, the Junior Minister of State, overseeing all branches of the daijōkan and deputy of the sadaijin.
    ujiKin groups during the Kofun Period and traditional Japanese clans
    uji no kami氏上Head of an uji
    ujigami氏神Guardian god or spirit of an uji
    wakadoshiyori若年寄"Junior Elders", high-ranking government officials in 17th-century Tokugawa shogunate
    zaibatsu財閥Industrial and financial combines of a conglomerate type that dominated the Japanese economy between the Meiji Period and World War I


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