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Old 09-24-2020, 11:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Posts: 75
Japanese Noble and Daimyo Clans

I've seen severals threads about European nobility, but there's none for Asian one so let's start with Japan.

Japan had rather unique 'nobility' compared to European where there were courtier clans (the nobles) and warrior clans (samurai clans) who later became daimyos (land lords). Most of them are (or claimed to be) the descendants of Fujiwara, Taira, Minamoto, and Tachibana. Those clan was founded during Heian period (794 – 1185 CE) when the Imperial Court grew too large, and the emperor ordered that the descendants of the previous emperor, for too many generations, no longer be princes, but were given the surname and honour.

Initially, the warrior clans were deemed lesser than courtier non-warrior clans (dominated by the Fujiwara clan) in term of social standing and position in the government in which they were never taking part in the political realms until Taira no Kiyomori (1118 – 1181) was able to climb the ranks of government and basically taking control of it from the courtier. After the Taira clan has been beaten by the Minamoto clan in at the Battle of Dan-no-ura, Minamoto no Yoritomo started the beginning of bakufu/shogunate where the warrior clans held the power and (technically) was the one who ‘ruled’ Japan.

With the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate during Meiji Restoration, the new Meiji government seized the land formerly under direct control of the Shogunate and daimyos who loyal to the Tokugawa. It culminated in 1871 with the abolishment of han system, starting with the other daimyos surrendered their domains to the government in exchange of the position as non-hereditary governors of their former domains (which were renamed as prefectures) and the formation of the kazoku peerage system in place of daimyos and noble courtiers with the ranks of:
1. Prince, the equivalent of a Duke (公爵, kōshaku)
2. Marquess (侯爵, kōshaku)
3. Count, the equivalent of an Earl (伯爵, hakushaku)
4. Viscount (子爵, shishaku)
5. Baron (男爵, danshaku)

The initial rank distribution for kazoku houses of kuge descent depended on the highest possible office to which its ancestors had been entitled in the imperial court. Thus, the heirs of the five regent clans (go-sekke) of the Fujiwara dynasty (Konoe, Takatsukasa, Kujō, Ichijō and Nijō) all became princes.

Other head of clans were also appointed the title of prince for taking a prominent role in national affairs or for their close degree of relationship to the Imperial family such as Sajo, Tokudaiji, Saionji, and Iwakura. Same for several former daimyos such as the heads of the Mōri and Shimazu who were both ennobled as princes in 1884 for their role in the Meiji Restoration.

Excluding the Tokugawas, the initial kazoku rank distribution for the former daimyō lords depended on rice revenue: those with 150,000 koku or more became marquesses, those with 50,000 koku or more become counts, and those with holdings rated below 50,000 koku became viscounts.
The head of the Tokugawa clan, Tokugawa Iesato, became a prince, the heads of primary Tokugawa branch houses (shinpan daimyō) became marquesses, the heads of the secondary branches became counts and the heads of more distant branches became viscounts. In 1902, the former shōgun Tokugawa Yoshinobu was created a prince, and the head of the Mito Shinpan house was also raised to the rank of prince in 1929.

The 1946 Constitution of Japan abolished the kazoku and ended the use of all titles of nobility or rank outside the immediate Imperial Family. However, even though they may have lost their past teritories and power, since the end of the war many descendants of the kazoku families continue to occupy prominent roles in Japanese society and industry.

Unlike in European peerage systems, but following traditional Japanese custom, illegitimate sons could succeed to titles and estates. Also, to prevent their lineages from dying out, heads of kazoku houses could (and frequently did) adopt sons from collateral branches of their own houses, whether in the male or female lines of descent, and from other kazoku houses whether related or not. Also unlike European custom, the adopted heir of a peer could succeed to a title ahead of a more senior heir in terms of primogeniture.


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Old 09-25-2020, 12:02 AM
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Posts: 75
One example from the daimyo clan:
Tokugawa clan

The Tokugawa clan is basically the clan who ruled Japan from 1603 to 1867 under Tokugawa Shogunate. They claims to be descendant of the Nitta clan (a branch of the Minamoto clan). But unlike several former lord and noble clans, nowadays this clan members seem to avoid politic.

The current head of the clan is Tokugawa Tsunenari. He used to work at Nippon Yusen, a shipping company, before retire in 2002 and currently is the head of the nonprofit Tokugawa Foundation. His mother was Toyoko (eldest daughter of Tokugawa Iemasa – his only son died young, hence Tsunenari succeeds his grandfather) and his father was Matsudaira Ichiro (son of Matsudaira Tsunoe of Matsudaira clan, patrilineal descendant of Tokugawa Yorifusa, the youngest son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun and founder of Tokugawa clan). His great-greatfather was Tadayoshi Shimazu, the last lord of Satsuma Domain.

His heir, Tokugawa Iehiro, is an author and translator.

This article has a good information of the current fate of Tokugawa clan.

Some notable ties between the Tokugawa clan and the Imperial family:
-Tokugawa Masako, the daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada the 2nd shogun, who married Emperor Go-Mizuno. She was the mother of Empress Meisho.
-Tokugawa Iemochi, the 14th shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate who married Chikako (or Kazuhime/Princess Kazu), youngest daughter of Emperor Ninko. This marriage produced no issue.
- Setsuko, Tsunenari’s paternal aunt was the wife of Prince Chichibu, the second son of Emperor Taisho.


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Old 09-25-2020, 12:22 AM
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia
Posts: 75
One from the noble/courtier/non-warrior clan:
Konoe clan

Konoe was one of Kugyo (a collective term for few most powerful men in the Emperor court pre-Meiji era) and Go-Sekke (5 families decent from the Fujiwara clan who pratically hold the power as sessho and kampaku or regent until imperial Household Law in 1948 restrict it to a member of imperial family. The other are: Kujo, Ichijo, Takatsukasa, and Nijo).

As one of Go-Sekke, the Konoe clan always has a close ties to the Imperial family. There were at least five Imperial Consorts who came from Konoe family, including Konoe Sakiko, who was adopted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1586. The most recent consort from the Konoe is Konoe Koreko (1760-1783), who married the 118th Emperor of Japan, Emperor Go-Momozono; they had an only daughter Princess Yoshiko.
>> I wonder what happen to the main branch of Ashikaga clan, surely they wouldn't be completely wipe up post-sengoku period, right?<<

As of 1605, since Konoe Nobutada (1565-1614) had no male heir, one of his nephews (the fourth son of Emperor Go-Yozei) was chosen as his heir and named Konoe Nobuhiro (1599-1649), who later married his daughter. Nobuhiro's patrilineal lineage of the Imperial House descended in the head of the family until 1956, when the eldest son of Prime Minister Konoe Fumimaro, Fumitaka, died in the Soviet Union without legitimate male heir. As the result, Fumitaka's wife adopted his nephew Konoe Tadateru, second son of Fumitaka's sister, as their heir.

Some notable descendants in modern era:
-Konoe Tadateru; current head of the Konoe family. He was the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 2009 to 2017. His wife is Princess Yasuko of Mikasa, the granddaughter of Emperor Taisho. He is the the younger brother of Hosokawa Morihiro, former Prime Minister of Japan.
-Konoe Fumimaro; politician and Prime Minister of Japan 1937-1939 and 1940-1941. He was close advisor to Emperor Showa until the end of WW II. Died after WWII (suicide).

Hosokawa Morihiro is the grandson of Konoe Fumimaro through his daughter and son of 16th Head of the Hosokawa clan (another daimyo clan, one of cadet branches of Ashikaga clan, the shogunate clan prior to Tokugawa, thus makes them descendant of Minamoto clan. You may ever heard the tale of Hosokawa Tama/Gracia who committed seppuku for her Christian faith during sengoku era). He was a politician and Prime Minister of Japan in 1993-1994, still active. After the death of his father in 2005, he succeeded him as the 18th head of the Hosokawa clan.

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