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Buei Shiba as the "martial defender"?
Topic Started: Jan 24 2018, 06:47 AM (179 Views)
RemmySkye
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Peasant
Hey friends. So I was curious about something thought I'd post here for any information. I was recently reading the Journal of Socho, the English translation by H. Mack Horton. Socho was a frequent guest of the Imagawa who were also patrons of his. Naturally then he has plenty of entries about the Imagawa, their history their lords their fief/territory etc.

It was interesting to me as well as he begins discussing the trials and tribulations of an opponent of theirs, (mostly tribulations fortunately or not) whom he refers to exclusively as the "martial defender." This martial defender seems to have a claim on certain of Imagawa territories but he is generally unsuccessful in prosecuting his cause against Imagawa. Socho even goes so far as to say something about how Totomi and Suruga rightfully belong to Imagawa due to rights acquired from before Go-Daigos time which I also found interesting.

Any way in the notes etc at the end of the text it's clarified that the martial defender is Shiba Yoshitatsu, surviving (victorious?) head of the Shiba clan post Onin War. And what a massive grudge the head of the Shiba must have had what with losing Echizen to Asakura, eclipsed by vassals in Owari and having lost domains in Tottori/Suruga. It almost feels like dark humour to refer to the head of the Shiba as the "martial" anything let alone the "martial defender" (presumably the martial defender of.... the realm? The Shogunate? The Ashikaga house?) Although I do understand Ashikaga Yoshihisa, Yoshitane and others felt sympathetic to the Shiba, creating an awkward situation with Asakura but there wasn't much they could do about it.

So my question is in regards to if anyone could provide any kind of information or thoughts of an educated guess even ad to what was this title of "martial defender"? Was it as I'm assuming, something exclusive and hereditary to the Shiba house? Was it maybe something more informal (i.e
Takauji called the Akamatsu the "mother" of the Shogunate and the Hosokawa the "father") but I would think if it wasn't an official honor then Socho would not be using it in place of a name or other title (even say Owari no Kami at the least.)

It kind of brought to mind some of those sort of dubious but creative "titles" being thrown around by the warlords in the Three Kingdoms period of China. Nevertheless as a "fan" of the Muromachi Shogunate and by extension the houses that supported it and helped create it I would love to know more so thanks to anyone who replies.
Edited by RemmySkye, Jan 24 2018, 06:50 AM.
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ltdomer98
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Daijo Daijin

Shiba Yoshitatsu held the title of 左兵衛佐 (sahyouenosuke). I'm guessing that Horton translates this as "martial defender." A more accurate translation would be something like "Assistant/Deputy Chief of the Left Palace Guards." The Hyoenofu was one of the Ritsuryo system guard and military offices, along with the Konoefu ("Imperial Guards Ofice") and the Emonfu ("Gate Guard Office"). The Hyoenofu, if I recall correctly, functioned somewhat as the "ministry of defense" during the Nara and Heian periods.

The Wikipedia article for Hyoenofu notes that the Tang organization it was modeled after was the 武衛 or Buei--hence the "Buei" in use to refer to Shiba Yoshitatsu. It's not a name, it's a nickname based on his Ritsuryo title.

I have no idea why a translator would pick "martial defender," other than if you simply took the literal translation of the two characters 武 and 衛. Which...why would anyone do that? I don't know Horton (Toranosuke, do you?) but he appears to be a literature scholar. It's unfortunate, but many literature types don't particularly care to translate those things accurately. Again, I don't know him, so I can't speak to his reasons. Other literature types, like the McCulloughs, have filled pages upon pages of glossaries trying to determine exact translations for every single title that appears in a work. While I don't always agree, they at least try. "Martial defender" just sounds...well, lazy.

EDIT: Let me be clear what I mean when I say "accurate." If you define it as "using what the characters literally mean," then yes, "martial defender" is what the two characters literally mean, when you look at them each in the dictionary. As a historian, that's a horrible way to translate things. First, "buei" isn't an actual title in the Japanese system. If that's what he's called by people, I'd leave it as "Buei." It's being used as a name. If it's an adaptation of his title, Sahyoenosuke, and you want to translate that, then "Deputy Commander of the Left Palace Guards" or something like that. It's a mouthful, but it MEANS something, historically. "Martial defender" has no meaning whatsoever. If you just translate words looking at them in a dictionary, and don't investigate the actual context, you're going to produce a subpar translation.

(is it obvious at all that I just finished a translation exam that took me about 28 hours to complete?)

The title was NOT hereditary to the Shiba house; however, it appears that during the Muromachi period, many Shiba held the position, with 6 total holding the Left Assistant position in a row. (Incidentally, the right was held by 4 members of the Shibukawa family in a row, so perhaps under the Ashikaga it was "hereditary" in the sense that they gave it to those two families, but it's not "hereditary" in a legal sense).
Edited by ltdomer98, Jan 24 2018, 11:29 AM.
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RemmySkye
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Just wanted to quickly thank you kindly for taking the time to respond and absolutely satisfy my question. I appreciate that and give my compliments to your knowledge. Thank You!

Would also just like to quickly add, I've read and reread Varleys the Onin War and I really must say, while I do find the civil war of the Kii / Kawachi Hatakeyama house fascinating and am always eager to learn more about them, it's truly a shame we don't know more about the Kanrei Shiba house.
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ltdomer98
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Well...wait a few years and there's a certain professor I know very, very well who will have a book coming on the Onin War. ;)
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