Gosankyō – Three branches of the Tokugawa clan from which a shōgun might be chosen if the main line became extinct. Established by Tokugawa Yoshimune in the middle of the Edo period.
gosho (御所) – The Emperor's throne or his residence. The residence of a member of the Imperial family, and a term to indicate those members. The residence of a prince or shōgun, and a term for prince or shōgun.
gōzoku (豪族) – local samurai clans with significant local land holdings.
haimyō (俳名) – a "haiku pen-name". It was common in the Edo period for artists, writers, kabuki actors and others to take part in poetry circles and to take on pen-names under which they would compose poetry or create related works, such as haiga paintings.
han (藩) – feudal fiefs; the land owned and controlled by a noble lord or clan.
Hōjō clan (北条氏) – branch of the Taira clan that ruled Japan from Kamakura during the Kamakura period. Not to be confused with the Later Hōjō clan (see below).
Hōkōshū (奉公衆) – During the Muromachi period, the Gokenin part of the shōgun's personal army. They constituted five uits were in service from the time of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu to that of Ashikaga Yoshinori. The KantōkKubō had his own Hōkōshū, which were an important part of his power base.
jitō (地頭) – shōgun-appointed officials that managed shōen (manors) during the Kamakura and Muromachi shogunates.
sadaijin (左大臣) – Senior Minister of State overseeing all branches of the Department of State with his deputy, the udaijin.
sakoku (鎖国) – the "self-isolation" policy followed during the Edo period (1603–1867), under which Japan engaged in limited trade or communication with the outside world.
samurai (侍) – the feudal Japanese noble warrior class.
sankin-kōtai (参勤交代) – the Edo period (1603–1867) policy under which feudal lords (daimyōs) had to travel to the capital in Edo annually, and to leave their families in Edo year-round. This was used by the shōgun (warlord leader of the nation) to prevent rebellion.
Sengoku period (戦国時代, sengoku jidai) was a time of social upheaval and nearly constant military conflict that lasted roughly from the middle of the 15th century to the beginning of the 17th century.
seppuku (切腹) – honorable ritual suicide. Also called hara-kiri. One of the death penalties which respected a samurai's honor. The belly was ceremonially cut and an assistant then cut the head from the back. Suicide allowed a samurai to keep his honor because it was considered dishonorable for a samurai to be killed by others.
sesshō (摂政) – Imperial regent for a child emperor or empress; the regent often continued in this role, changing titles to kampaku once the child emperor came of age.
shikken (執権) – the regent for the shōgun during the Kamakura shogunate. The Hōjō clan monopolized the shikken post and was therefore the effective ruler of Japan.
shinbutsu bunri (神仏分離) – The forcible separation of Buddhism and Shinto, in particular during the Meiji era.
shinto (神道) – is the traditional religion of Japan that focuses on ritual practices to be carried out diligently to establish a connection between present-day Japan and its ancient past.
Shinto and Buddhism Separation Order (神仏判然令, Shinbutsu Hanzenrei) - A Meiji era law that forbade the mixing of Buddhism and Shinto, an effort to weaken Buddhist temporal power. See shinbutsu bunri
shitsuji (執事) – see kanrei above.
shizoku (士族) – "warrior families", term used to refer to former samurai after the abolition of the class system following the Meiji Restoration.
tairō (大老) – the highest-ranking government post of the Tokugawa shogunate. There was usually only one tairō, or, at times, none.
tandai (探題) – during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, tandai was a colloquialism for a high-ranking official (for example a shikken or rensho) with governmental, judiciary or military responsibilities within a certain area.