Shogun Samurai Swords

Shogun is a military rank and historical title in Japan. The rank is equivalent to general, a high officer in an army. As a title, it is the short form of sei-i taishogun. The Imperial Court in Kyoto awarded this title first to the leaders of military expeditions against eastern people, and later to the heads of military governments at many times in the history of Japan.

A shogun’s office or administration is a shogunate or bakufu. The latter literally means an office in the tent in Japanese. The tent is symbolic of the role of the military in fighting wars in the field but also denoted that such an office was meant to be temporary.

The term sei-i taishogun means great general who subdues the eastern barbarians. Eastern barbarian is one of several ancient terms for various groups who lived in eastern area and had not yet become subject to the central government. Among them were the aboriginal Ainu people who once inhabited Honshu in addition to Hokkaido.

Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, seized considerable power from the aristocracy in Kyoto. He became the practical ruler of Japan, and received the title sei-i taishogun. Thereafter, the heads of three successive shogunates received the same title. It continued in use until the Meiji Restoration.

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