Daimyo - the feudal lords of Japan

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When we're reading something about ancient Japan, we always see some titles like daimyo and shogun. We can notice these titles more easily in manga, anime, or light novels that deal with ancient Japan.

We can tell you, for example, some articles here on the site that talk about the history of Japan. Like an article about Edo period, Shogunate and others. In these articles you can find various titles, such as Shogun and Daimyo.

In this article, we will try to explain a little about the Daimyo. Even because they are much more cited than the Shoguns themselves. Even if they are a title below Shogun. That's because in Japanese history they had a good influence. But anyway, let's get to the point.

Daimyo - the feudal lords of japan

The Daimyos

The daimyo [大名] were nothing more than powerful Japanese feudal lords. These lords, governed most of Japan from their vast hereditary estates. This at least until their decline at the beginning of the Meiji period.

In this term, dai (大) means “big” and myo means myōden (名田), which means private land. With this definition the explanation is no longer necessary. They were subordinate to the shōgun, and nominally to the emperor and kuge.

The financial funds of the daimyos also varied considerably. While some daimyo clans were cadet branches of the Imperial family or were descendants of the kuge. On the other hand, other daimyo were promoted from the samurai ranks, especially during the Edo period.

Yes, we can see that he didn't have a defined ancestry base. What to say is that they always had a big financial fund because of their land. But how they got these lands we can leave to our imagination.

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The term daimyo, sometimes also usually refers to the main figures of the clans, who are commonly called “Lord”. It was usually, though not exclusively, from these warlords that a shōgun emerged or a regent was chosen.

Here we can see the importance of these men in history. After all, we can say that at least some Shoguns were chosen from the daimyos. But this is for another discussion.

Daimyo - the feudal lords of Japan

Daimyō used to hire samurai to protect their land and paid the samurai in land or food. After all, relatively few could pay a samurai in cash. The daimyō era ended shortly after the Meiji Restoration with the adoption of the town hall system in 1871.


The shugo daimyo were the pioneers to have this title. Yes, these were the first men to hold the title of daimyo. They arose among the shugo during the Muromachi period. The shugo-daimyo held military and police powers. As well as economic power within a province.

The Ashikaga shogunate required the shugo-daimyō to reside in Kyoto. So they had to nominate relatives or retainers to represent them in their home provinces. These people were called shugodai. Eventually, some of these, in turn, came to reside in Kyoto, appointing deputies in the provinces.

A major event involving these lords was the Wasni War. That it was nothing more than a great revolt in which shugo-daimyo fought each other. During this and other wars of the time, locally powerful warriors sought independence from the shugo-daimyō.

The shugo-daimyo deputies, who lived in the provinces, took the opportunity to strengthen their position. At the end of the 15th century, those shugo-daimyo who were successful managed to remain in power.

Daimyo - the feudal lords of japan


Among the sengoku daimyō there were many who had been shugo-daimyō. These were the ones who managed to hold on to power during the various wars and uprisings that took place. Thus, many other new characters appeared in the daimyo's ranks as well.

Who managed to ascend to power, originating from the ranks of the shugodai and their representatives. And on another slice of the pie, there were some other sengoku-daimyō, which came out of the ji-samurai.

The junior officers of the shogunate and rōnin, provincial officers and kuge also gave rise to the sengoku-daimyō. From this we can see that opportunities came to those who were prepared. Many were left with the power in hand, but others lost that power.

The article is still halfway through, but we recommend also reading:

Daimyo in the Edo period.

The Battle of Sekigahara in the year 1600 marked the beginning of the Edo period. Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu then reorganized about 200 daimyō and their territories into Han. Which were evaluated by rice production.

He also categorized the daimyō according to their relationship to the Tokugawa family.

After the Meiji Restoration

In 1869, a year after the Meiji Restoration, the daimyō, along with the kuge, formed a new aristocracy, the kazoku. In 1871, the han were abolished and prefectures were established, effectively ending the daimyō era in Japan.

Daimyo - the feudal lords of Japan

Following this change, many daimyō remained in control of their lands, being appointed governors of the prefecture. However, they were soon relieved of this duty and called en masse to Tokyo.

Despite this, members of the former daimyo and their families remained prominent in government and society. In some cases, they continue to be prominent to the present day.

Do you remember any Daimyo?

The Daimyos who have managed to stand out in the history of Japan are many. We can mention, for example, Shimazu Nariakira, Oda Nobunaga, Imagawa Yoshimoto among others. all with great roles and importance in the story.

Do you know of any others that had a big role? If you know of any, just leave a comment below. We are always looking at the comments. Remember to leave a brief explanation of this character's life.

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