Dazaifu (government)

The Dazaifu (大宰府 or 太宰府) is a Japanese term for the regional government in Kyushu from the 8th to the 12th centuries.[1] The name may also refer to the seat of government which grew into the modern city of Dazaifu in Fukuoka Prefecture.[2]

Tofuroh dazaifu
Site of the former Dazaifu headquarters in Dazaifu, Fukuoka


The Dazaifu was established in northwest Kyushu the late 7th century.[3] The town of Dazaifu grew up around the civil and military headquarters of the regional government.[4]

During the 8th and 9th centuries, records refer to Dazaifu as "the distant capital".[3]

In 1268, envoys bearing letters from Kublai Khan appeared at the Dazaifu court. There were a series of envoys which came before the unsuccessful invasion of 1274.[5]

In the Muromachi period the political center of the region was moved to Hakata.[4]

The city of Dazaifu was the center of the Shōni clan and later the Ōuchi clan. In the Edo period, Dazaifu was a part of Kuroda domain until the han system was abolished in 1873.[4]


The flexible term refers to the regional government for all of Kyūshū and nearby islands.

From the 7th through the 13th century, the governor and vice-governor of Dazaifu had civil and military functions.[6] The titles of the vice governors were Dazai dani and Dazai shoni. Among the Dazai shoni was Fujiwara no Hirotsugu in 740 who started a rebellion in the same year.[7]

Sometimes there was an official Absentee Governor (Dazai-no-sotsu). This title was only given to Imperial princes. Among those holding this office was Takaharu-shinnō who would later become Emperor Go-Daigo.[8]


Dazaifu is the name of the place where regional government was centered in the late Nara period through the Muromachi period.[9] It is the town which grew up around the government center in the 7th through the 12th centuries. It is also the name of the small city which continued to grow even after the regional government center was moved.


Dazaifu refers to the region which includes all the provinces on the island of Kyūshū and other nearby islands.[10]


The Dazaifu is the name of the civil government on the island of Kyūshū.[11] As it grew and developed, a large complex of government offices (都府楼跡 Tofuro-ato) was built for the use of the hierarchy of bureaucrats. The many buildings were arranged along a symmetrical grid,[12] not far from the Buddhist temple complex at Kanzeon-ji (観世音寺).[13]

Dazaifu is a metonym of the official position at the head of the regional government. It is also a metonym for the person who fills this leadership role.

See also


  1. ^ Adolphson, Mikael S. et al. (2007). Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries, pp. 5-6., p. 5, at Google Books; excerpt, "... the Dazaifu -- the governmental headquarters in northern Kyushu -- was a center in its own right ... earned the epithet 'the capital of the western periphery' (saikyoku no daijō)"
  2. ^ "Dazaifu" at Japan-guide.com; retrieved 2013-3-5.
  3. ^ a b Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Dazaifu" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 150.
  4. ^ a b c "Dazifu" at GoJapan.com; retrieved 2013-3-5.
  5. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 92.
  6. ^ Conlan, Thomas D. "The Two Paths of Writing and Warring in Medieval Japan," Archived 2015-09-23 at the Wayback Machine Taiwan Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Issue 15), June 2011, pp. 91 (PDF 7 of 43).
  7. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, p. 71.
  8. ^ Ponsonby-Fane, p. 204.
  9. ^ Turnbull, Stephen R. (2013). The Mongol Invasions of Japan 1274 and 1281, p. 35.
  10. ^ Sansom, George Bailey. (1958). A History of Japan to 1334, p. 443.
  11. ^ Embry, Charles R. (2011). Voegelinian Readings of Modern Literature, p. 71; excerpt, "Dazaifu, a reference to both a city in Kyushu and the ancient headquarters of Kyushu government."
  12. ^ "Government Office Ruins" at Japan-guide.com; retrieved 2013-3-5.
  13. ^ "Kanzeonji" at Japan-guide.com; retrieved 2013-3-5.


  • Adolphson, Mikael S. et al. (2007). Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries. Honolulu : University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 9780824830137; OCLC 260109801
  • Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 194887
  • Sansom, George Bailey. (1958). A History of Japan to 1334. Stanford: Stanford University Press. OCLC 256194432
  • Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon (Nihon Odai Ichiran). Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691

External links

Coordinates: 33°30′52.35″N 130°30′54.52″E / 33.5145417°N 130.5151444°E

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Dazaifu may refer to:

Dazaifu, Fukuoka, a city in northern Kyūshū

Dazaifu (government), the regional government in northern Kyūshū

Fujiwara no Takaie

Fujiwara no Takaie (藤原 隆家, 979 - February 2, 1044), was a Kugyō (Japanese noble) of the late Heian period. He was the Regional Governor of Dazaifu and is famous for repelling the Jurchen pirates during the Toi invasion in 1019. He reached the court position of Chūnagon.

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Shōni clan

Shōni (少弐氏, Shōni-shi) was a family of Japanese nobles descended from the Fujiwara family, many of whom held high government offices in Kyūshū. Prior to the Kamakura period (1185–1333), "Shōni" was originally a title and post within the Kyūshū (Dazaifu) government, roughly translating to "Junior Counselor", and working under a Daini (大弐).

Dominated by members of the Fujiwara branch family of Mutō, the title over time came to be used as a family name. When Minamoto no Yoritomo established the Kamakura shogunate in 1185, he reorganized the administration of Kyūshū. The post of Chinzei Bugyō replaced that of Daini, and the Shōni were similarly pushed out of their traditional hereditary position; members of the family were, however, still granted various other important posts in the region.

Members of the family would play an important role in commanding the defense against the Mongol invasions of Japan in 1274 and 1281.

They would later ally with Ashikaga Takauji and the Northern Court in the Nanboku-chō Wars of the 14th century. Repeatedly defeated by the Ōuchi family in the 14th and 15th centuries, the Shōni gradually lost their territories, and were eliminated entirely by the Ryūzōji clan in the mid-16th century.

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In 1587, Toyotomi Hideyoshi confirmed the clan's possession of Tsushima. In the struggles which followed Hideyoshi's death, the clan sided with the Tokugawa; however, they did not participate in the decisive battles which preceded the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate. The descendants of tozama Sō Yoshitoshi (1568–1615) remained at Tsushima-Fuchū Domain (100,000 koku) in Tsushima Province until the abolition of the han system. The head of this clan line was ennobled as a "Count" in 1884.

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