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Machi-bugyō (町奉行, machi-bugyō) were samurai officials of the Tokugawa shogunate in Edo period Japan, this was amongst the senior administrative posts open to those who were not daimyō.[1] Conventional interpretations have construed these Japanese titles as "commissioner" or "overseer" or "governor".

This bakufu title identifies a magistrate or municipal administrator with responsibility for governing and maintaining order in what were perceived to be important cities.[2]

The machi-bugyō were the central public authority in the Japanese urban centers of this period. These bakufu-appointed officers served in a unique role, which was an amalgam of chief of police, judge, and mayor. The machi-bugyō were expected to manage a full range of administrative and judicial responsibilities.[3]

The machi-bugyō was expected to be involved in tax collection, policing, and firefighting; and at the same time, the machi-bugyō needed to play a number of judicial roles – hearing and deciding both ordinary civil cases and criminal cases.[3]

Only high-ranking hatamoto were appointed to the position of machi-bugyō because of the critical importance of what they were expected to do. The machi-bugyō were considered equal in rank to the minor daimyō. There were as many as 16 machi-bugyō located throughout Japan.[3]

Shogunal city[edit]

During this period, a number of urban cities—including Edo, Kyoto, Nagasaki, Nara, Nikkō, and Osaka—were considered important; and some were designated as a "shogunal city". The number of such "shogunal cities" rose from three to eleven under Tokugawa administration.[4]

List of machi-bugyō[edit]


  1. ^ Beasley, William G. (1955). Select Documents on Japanese Foreign Policy, 1853–1868, p. 325.
  2. ^ Hall, John Wesley. (1955) Tanuma Okitsugu: Forerunner of Modern Japan, p. 201
  3. ^ a b c Cunningham, Don. (2004). Taiho-Jutsu: Law and Order in the Age of the Samurai, p. 42.
  4. ^ Cullen, William. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582–1941: Internal and External Worlds, p. 159.
  5. ^ Murdoch, p. 334.
  6. ^ Beasley, p. 332.
  7. ^ Beasley, p. 334.
  8. ^ Beasley, p. 338.
  9. ^ Beasley, p. 331.
  10. ^ Beasley, p. 333.


See also[edit]