Servants of the Inner Quarters: The Women of the Shogun's Great Interior

Hata Hisako

in Servants of the Dynasty

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780520254435
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520941519 | DOI:
Servants of the Inner Quarters: The Women of the Shogun's Great Interior

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  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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During the nineteenth century, a messenger named Fujinami made a career of working for the shogun; bringing this young woman into the palace was one way of recruiting new staff. In the common parlance of the time, they were called servants of the inner quarters or palace women. Fujinami lived and worked in women's quarters for the Tokugawa shoguns called the “Great Interior”. By the time Fujinami started working at the Edo Castle around 1837, the Tokugawa shogunate had ruled Japan for more than two hundred years. Founded in 1603, it developed administrative structures, including those for the Great Interior, by the middle of the seventeenth century. The eighth shogun Yoshimune oversaw their reform in the 1720s. One result was a diminution in the power of concubines, to the advantage of wives and administrators. This chapter focuses on the period after Yoshimune's reform, the Great Interior of Edo Castle, and the women who worked for the shogunate.

Keywords: Fujinami; Japan; shoguns; servants of the inner quarters; Great Interior; Yoshimune; Edo Castle; concubines; shogunate

Chapter.  8315 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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