Daimyo - the feudal lords of Japan

When we are 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 point you to, for example, some articles here on the site that talk about Japanese history. As an article about the Edo Period, Shogunate and others. In these articles you can find several titles, such as Shogun and Daimyo.

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

Daimyo - the feudal lords of japan

The Daimyos

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

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

The daimyo's financial funds also varied considerably. While some daimyo clans, they were branches of cadets 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 did not have a defined ancestry base. What to say is that they have always had a large financial fund because of their land. But how they managed these lands is that we can leave it to our imagination.

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The term daimyo, sometimes also refers to the main figures of the clans, who are commonly called "Lord". It was generally, 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 pay 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 city hall system in 1871.


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

The Ashikaga shogunate demanded that the shugo-daimyō reside in Kyoto. So they had to appoint 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 gentlemen 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.

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

Daimyo - the feudal lords of japan


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

Who managed to rise to power, originating from the ranks of the shugodai and their representatives. and in another slice of the pie, there were some other sengoku-daimyō, which arose from the ji-samurai.

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

Daimyō in the Edo period

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

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

After the Meiji Restoration

In 1869, a year after the Meiji Restoration, the daimyō, together 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 released from 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 remain prominent to the present day.

Do you remember any Daimyo?

The Daimyos who 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 history.

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

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