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Bugyō (奉行), often translated as "commissioner" or "magistrate" or "governor", was a title assigned to samurai officials of the Tokugawa government in feudal Japan; other terms would be added to the title to describe more specifically a given commissioner's tasks or jurisdiction.

Pre-Edo period[edit]

In the Heian period (794–1185), the post or title of bugyō would be applied only to a set task; once that task was complete, the officer would cease to be called bugyō. However, in the Kamakura period (1185–1333) and later, continuing through the end of the Edo period (1603–1868), posts and title came to be created on a more permanent basis.[1] Over time, there came to be 36 bugyō in the Kamakura bureaucracy.[2]

In 1434, Ashikaga Yoshinori established the Tosen-bugyō to regulate foreign affairs.[1]

In 1587, a Japanese invading army occupied Seoul; and one of Hideyoshi's first acts was to create a bugyō for the city, replicating a familiar pattern in an unfamiliar setting.[3]

Edo period[edit]

During the Edo period, the numbers of bugyō reached its largest extent. The bureaucracy of the Togukawa shogunate expanded on an ad hoc basis, responding to perceived needs and changing circumstances.


Meiji period[edit]

In the early years of the Meiji Restoration, the offices and conventional practices remained in place during the initial period when nothing else had been contrived to replace the existing Tokugawa system. For example, the commander-in-chief of artillery under the early Meiji government was called the Hohei-bugyō.[32]


  1. ^ a b Kinihara, Misako. The Establishment of the Tosen-bugyō in the Reign of Ashikaga Yoshinori (唐船奉行の成立 : 足利義教による飯尾貞連の登用), Tokyo Woman's Christian University. Essays and S.tudies. Abstract.
  2. ^ Brinkley, Frank et al. (1915). A History of the Japanese People from the Earliest Times to the End of the Meiji Era, p. 436.
  3. ^ Cullin, Louis. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582–1941, p. 27.
  4. ^ Screech, Timon. (2006). Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822, p. 243 n113.
  5. ^ a b Cunningham, Don. (2004). Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai, p. 42.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Jansen, Marius. (1995). Warrior Rule in Japan, p. 186, citing John Whitney Hall. (1955). Tanuma Okitsugu: Forerunner of Modern Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  7. ^ a b c Beasley, William. (1955). Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853–1868, p. 322.
  8. ^ Cullen, p. 170.
  9. ^ Beasley, p. 323.
  10. ^ Screech, p. 245 n35; Beasley, p. 323.
  11. ^ Naito, Akira et al. (2003). Edo: the City that Became Tokyo, p. 26.
  12. ^ Beasley, p. 324.
  13. ^ Screech, p. 19; Beasley, p. 324; Roberts, Luke Shepherd. (1998). Mercantilism in a Japanese Domain: The Merchant Origins of Economic Nationalism in 18th Century Tosa, p. 207.
  14. ^ a b c Jensen, p. 186; Schaede, Ulrike. (2000). Cooperative Capitalism: Self-Regulation, Trade Associations, and the Antimonopoly Law in Japan, p. 223.
  15. ^ Shimada, Ryuto. (2005). The Intra-Asian Trade in Japanese Copper by the Dutch East India Company, p. 51.
  16. ^ Takekoshi, Yosaburo. (1930). The economic aspects of the history of the civilization of Japan, p. 238.
  17. ^ Hall, John Whitney. (1955) Tanuma Okitsugu: Forerunner of Modern Japan, p. 201
  18. ^ a b c Beasley, p. 325.
  19. ^ Sasama Yoshihiko. (1995). Edo machi-bugyō jiten, p. 11; Screech, p. 19.
  20. ^ Murdoch, James. (1996) A History of Japan, p. 10; Jansen, Marius B. (1995). Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration, p. 226.
  21. ^ Murdoch, p. 10;
  22. ^ Screech, p. 12; Beasley, p. 326.
  23. ^ Screech, p. 241 n69.
  24. ^ a b c Murdoch, p. 9.
  25. ^ Sasama, p. 152.
  26. ^ Cullen, p. 112.
  27. ^ Coaldrake, William H. (1996) Architecture and Authority in Japan, p. 178.
  28. ^ Beasley, p. 329.
  29. ^ Cullen, p. 173; Beasley p. 330.
  30. ^ Murdoch, p. 334.
  31. ^ a b Papinot, E (1910). Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan. Tuttle (reprint). p. 763. ISBN 0804809968.
  32. ^ Van de Polder, Léon. (1891). "Abridged History of the Copper Coins of Japan," Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan p. 419-500.