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Japanese term for the government commonly called the shogunate. The bakufu was a military government ruled by a shogun (literally general), a chief advisor called the tairo, an advisory council called the roju, and provincial lords called daimyo who raised armies of samurai. Bakufu never had complete control of Japan, but claimed their legitimacy by their control over the emperor, Japan's spiritual leader, as well as control over key fiefs such as the Kanto Plain.

The emperor's position in the bakufu system was unique. He was isolated from the outside world by several layers of advisors, but could still issue imperial orders to members of the bakufu, orders they were obliged to follow. However, the bakufu often used their military prowess to coerce the emperor into keeping his mouth shut.

There were two major bakufu in Japanese history. The Kamakura bakufu of 1192-1573 was founded by the Minamoto family (the same family immortalized in the Tale of Genji): it was eventually passed on to the Ashikaga family, who ruled it until its defeat by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Toyotomi's son Hidetsugu was defeated in 1600 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who founded the Edo bakufu. The Tokugawa family kept the shogunate until the Meiji Restoration of 1867, when opponents of the shogun's rule proclaimed Emperor Meiji the absolute ruler of Japan, and replaced the bakufu with an elected parliament.

In the context of Everything2, bakufu is a group of Japanologists who compose/complain about Japan-related nodes.

Japanese bakufu is a loanword from Chinese. The Chinese original is mu4-fu3., literally "tent office".

The mufu in its oldest usage was the field office of a commander during a military campaign. It is known in this sense in the Han dynasty. Beginning in the Three Kingdoms period it began to refer to the collective group of subordinate officials attached to an army commander, and the Japanese usage evidently builds on this.

Beginning in the Song dynasty and into the Ming and Manchu periods, mufu became increasingly non-military in sense. It could refer to any low-ranking officials under a prefect, and eventually any local dignitary without official status.

Mu "tent, screen" has certain related political connotations in Chinese.

  • Nei4-mu4 "within the tent" is used in the sense "inside news".
  • Mu4-hou4 "behind the screen" means "behind the scenes", in reference to hidden political power, much as in English we talk about "the power behind the throne".

The word mufu also appears in Chinese descriptions of the Japanese bakufu dating from Meiji times.

Several noders have written to request that I add Unicode to this or my other write-ups, and one has even offered to help convert my big5 entries to Unicode. I appreciate these good-natured suggestions. But it is not as simple as you might think. My operating system does not support Unicode, and I simply cannot spare the considerable time that would be necessary to upgrade. In addition, my small but comfortable Mac now has as much RAM as it will hold, and I will probably need a faster CPU, a larger hard drive, and more RAM in order to upgrade comfortably to Jaguar. A number of the applications I use, including NisusWriter and iCab, as well as the large number of home-made fonts I must use in my work, occupy a great deal of RAM and eat up a lot of space on my disk. And I am quite sure that I do not want to add any coding I can't actually read and verify for myself. Unicode is quite ugly if you can't read it as it's intended to be read. So please try to understand my situation. I have, however, removed the big5 coding that was originally here. When I am eventually able to upgrade to a fancier machine, I will begin going through old nodes and adding Unicode. But it just isn't feasible for me now.

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