Hizen Province

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For the former Russian battle ship operated as Hizen by the Imperial Japanese Navy from 1908 to 1922, see Russian battleship Retvizan.
Map of Japanese provinces (1868) with Hizen Province highlighted

Hizen Province (肥前国 Hizen no kuni?) was an old province of Japan in the area of Saga and Nagasaki prefectures.[1] It was sometimes called Hishū (肥州?), with Higo Province. Hizen bordered on the provinces of Chikuzen and Chikugo. The province was included in Saikaidō. It did not include the regions of Tsushima and Iki that are now part of modern Nagasaki prefecture.

The name "Hizen" dates from the Nara Period Ritsuryō Kokugunri system reforms, when the province was divided from Higo Province. The name appears in the early chronicle Shoku Nihongi from 696 AD. The ancient provincial capital of Hizen was located near Yamato city.

During the late Muromachi Period, the province was the site of much early contact between Japan and Portuguese and Spanish merchants and missionaries. Hirado, and later Nagasaki became major foreign trade centers, and a large percentage of the population converted to Roman Catholicism. Toyotomi Hideyoshi directed the invasion of Korea from the city of Nagoya, in Hizen, and after the suppression of foreign contacts and prohibition against the Kirishitan religion, the Shimabara Rebellion also took place in Hizen province.

During the Edo period, Hizen province was divided among several daimyo, but dominated by the Nabeshima clan, whose domain was centered at the castle town of Saga. At the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Hizen was divided between the following han:

Domain Daimyo Revenue (koku) Type
Saga Domain Nabeshima 357,000 tozama
Ogi Domain Nabeshima 73,000 tozama
Shimabara Domain Matsudaira 70,000 fudai
Hirado Domain Matsuura 61,000 tozama
Karatsu Domain Ogasawara 60,000 fudai
Hasunoike Domain Nabeshima 52,000 tozama
Ōmura Domain Ōmura 28,000 tozama
Kashima Domain Nabeshima 20,000 tozama
Fukue Domain Gotō 12,000 tozama

During this period, the port of Nagasaki remained a tenryō territory, administered for the Tokugawa government by the Nagasaki bugyō, and contained the Dutch East India Company trading post of Dejima. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868 came the Abolition of the han system in 1871, whereby all daimyo were obliged to surrender their domains to the new Meiji government, which then divided the nation into numerous prefectures, which were consolidated into 47 prefectures and 3 urban areas by 1888. The former Hizen province was divided into modern Saga Prefecture and a portion of Nagasaki Prefecture. At the same time, the province continued to exist for some purposes. For example, Hizen is explicitly recognized in treaties in 1894 (a) between Japan and the United States and (b) between Japan and the United Kingdom.[2]

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Media related to Hizen Province at Wikimedia Commons