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What is "Bando Bushi" ?

There are two ways to call a Japanese warrior who was born in Kanto area. They are "Bando bushi" or "Bando musha". On this site, we call them "Bando bushi". We will explain what kind of bushi(武士) they were, in detail.

Who are they?

"Bando Bushi(坂東武士)" is the first Japanese warrior formed in the current Kanto region.

"Bando(坂東)" is the name of an area that refers to the Kanto area today, which has 1 metropolitan area and 6 prefectures, from ancient times to the Middle Ages and early modern times.

In the Heian period, when the national power became stable and peaceful, the military conscription by the imperial court was abolished, and only the army = Kondei protected the local security. However, in rural areas, a small battle occurred frequently, and security around the area deteriorated gradually. The imperial court again formed an army, but the scale was too small to rule, so the local lords of manor organized clan and territories to stabilize security. It is the beginning of how they formed a new force as Bushi. After that, the they became stronger, and became the center of Japanese society. Around that time, "Bando" was ruled by the eastern end of the Yamato-Chotei (the Imperial Court in the Japanese Yamato period). The present Kita-Kantou was an important area for them to confront Ezo (currently called Tohoku東北) across the border. There were many conflicts in trade negotiations against Ezo as they were rich in supplies. That is where and when "Bando Bushi" that many particularly brave Bushi were born.


* It is also called "Kanto Bushi/samurai" in general.

* Bushi and Samurai is not the same. 


Etymology of Bando

"坂" means a slope that descends from a mountain pass, and is a pass when entering the Kanto plain from Saigoku (western area of Japan).

There are three ways to get in and out of the Kanto plain, which is surrounded by mountains on the west side, which are Ashigara Pass, the Kobotoke Pass, and the Usui Pass. You go down the slope from the pass to the east (東). This is how it was called "Bando" in the sense of east (東) of "Slope (坂)".

【Bandou 8 countries' Map】


坂東八洲_アートボード 1.png

① Sagami Province (Sagami)  (Kanagawa Prefecture)

② Musashi Province (Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa)

③ Awa Province (Southern Chiba)

④ Kazusa, Kazusa (Chiba)

⑤ Shimousa (Northern Chiba, southern Ibaraki)

⑥ Hitachi Province (Hitachi,Ibaraki)

⑦ Kozuke Province (Gunma)

⑧ Shimotsuke Province (Tochigi)

Later, it is also referred to as "Kan Hasshu," "Kanto Hasshu," "Hasshu," etc.


Also ... the etymology of Kanto

"Kanto" means "the eastern part of the centre of ancient Japan". Originally people called "Kanto" for those three major gates: Fuwa no Seki ("Seki" means gate) on the Tosan-do, Suzuka Seki on the Tokai-do, and Arachi Seki on the Hokuriku-do. It was said to be the beginning of the name "Kanto", and it had the same meaning as "East country". However, as the area of the central country expanded to the east, the area to the east of the present Chubu region was referred to as "Kanto". In this case, "Kanto" means east of Ashigara no Seki, Kobotoke no Seki, and Usui no Seki. It is a synonym of "Bando" in the sense of a slope descending from the pass.

​ ☆ Did you find it a little difficult? Click here for easier understanding!

The editor-in-chief of a portal site who is not good at history writes the history blog to tell you about the Japanese history!

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