Aug 21, 1192 CE: First Shogunate in Japan

Aug 21, 1192 CE: First Shogunate in Japan

On August 21, 1192, Minamoto Yoritomo was appointed a shogun, or Japanese military leader. He established the first shogunate, a system of military government that would last until the 19th century.


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On August 21, 1192, Minamoto Yoritomo was appointed as a shogun, or military leader, in Kamakura, Japan. Yoritomo established Japan’s first military government, or bakufu, called the Kamakura shogunate.

Shoguns were hereditary military leaders who were technically appointed by the emperor. However, real power rested with the shoguns themselves, who worked closely with other classes in Japanese society. Shoguns worked with civil servants, who would administer programs such as taxes and trade. They also worked with the daimyo, or wealthy landowners. Finally, shoguns worked with samurai, a warrior class who were usually employed by the daimyo.

A series of three major shogunates (Kamakura, Ashikaga, Tokugawa) led Japan for most of its history from 1192 until 1868. The term “shogun” is still used informally, to refer to a powerful behind-the-scenes leader, such as a retired prime minister.

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National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Last Updated

April 24, 2024

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