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  • Japanese: 御家人 (gokenin)

Gokenin, or "housemen," were in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods direct retainers to the shogun; they held a somewhat lower station in the Edo period, below the hatamoto ("bannermen") who filled that role of being the direct retainers to the shogun.

It is believed there were roughly 20,000 gokenin in Edo period Japan. They held low-level government posts within the Tokugawa shogunate, enjoyed smaller stipends than hatamoto, and were not entitled to audiences with the shogun.

Like the hatamoto, gokenin were not permitted to leave Edo without official authorization.[1]


  • Teruko Craig (trans.). Musui's Story: The Autobiography of a Tokugawa Samurai. University of Arizona Press, 1988. p.xii.
  1. Katô Takashi, "Governing Edo," in James McClain (ed.), Edo & Paris, Cornell University Press (1994), 43.