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  • Japanese: 郷士 (goushi)

Gôshi (lit. "countryside/village warrior") were Edo period samurai who remained situated in the countryside rather than residing in castle towns. This was possible only in a few parts of the archipelago, including chiefly in Satsuma han, which had the highest samurai to non-samurai ratio of any domain, and which was powerful enough to exact from the Tokugawa shogunate exceptions to policies such as that removing samurai from the land. Gôshi could also be peasants or commoners who have been granted certain privileges of the samurai, similar to goyô shônin, such as the right to bear swords, the right to audience with the lord, or the right to use of a family name in official documents, albeit without being actually made members of the samurai class.[1]

Unlike in many areas (such as Satsuma) where gôshi were retainers to the daimyô, gôshi in Fukuoka han were those who refused to swear loyalty to the lord, choosing to instead remain in, or relocate to, the countryside. The gôshi of Fukuoka retained some degree of elite status, and were considered of a separate class from the villagers around them, but were not retainers in service to the domain.[2]

Gôshi thus had more personal, direct power over the peasants of their local area, though many also worked the land themselves.

Famous Gôshi


  • Conrad Schirokauer, David Lurie, and Suzanne Gay, A Brief History of Japanese Civilization, Wadsworth Cengage (2013), 155.
  1. Luke Roberts, Mercantilism in a Japanese Domain: The Merchant Origins of Economic Nationalism in 18th-Century Tosa, Cambridge University Press (1998), 11n26, 51.
  2. Arne Kalland, Fishing Villages in Tokugawa Japan, University of Hawaii Press (1995), 19.