Peerage in Pre-modern Japan

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Peerage in Pre-modern Japan

Before the reformation in 1868, Japanese peerage system was closely connected with bureaucracy system created on 8th century under Chinese influence.



Grade is given to the government officials and promoted occasionally. Each government job(s) has correspond grade (or range of grade), person who hold the grade should be appointed to the job.

grade kanji pronounce note
senior first grade 正一位 Sho Ichi-i usually posthumously only
junior first grade 従一位 Ju Ichi-i
senior second grade 正二位 Sho Ni-i
junior second grade 従二位 Ju Ni-i
senor third grade 正三位 Sho San-mi
junior third grade 従三位 Ju San-mi Kugyo
senior fourth grade, upper 正四位上 Sho Shi-i Jo
senior fourth grade, lower 正四位下 Sho Shi-i Ge
junior fourth grade, upper 従四位上 Ju Shi-i Jo
junior fourth grade, lower 従四位下 Ju Shi-i Ge
senior fifth grade, upper 正五位上 Sho Go-i Jo
senior fifth grade, lower 正五位下 Sho Go-i Ge
junior fifth grade, upper 従五位上 Ju Go-i Jo
junior fifth grade, lower 従五位下 Ju Go-i Ge Tenjo-bito
senior sixth grade, upper 正六位上 Sho Roku-i Jo
senior sixth grade, lower 正六位下 Sho Roku-i Ge
junior sixth grade, upper 従六位上 Ju Roku-i Jo
junior sixth grade, lower 従六位下 Ju Roku-i Ge
senior seventh grade, upper 正七位上 Sho Shichi-i Jo
senior seventh grade, lower 正七位下 Sho Shichi-i Ge
junior seventh grade, upper 従七位上 Ju Shichi-i Jo
junior seventh grade, lower 従七位下 Ju Shichi-i Ge
senior eighth grade, upper 正八位上 Sho Hachi-i Jo
senior eighth grade, lower 正八位下 Sho Hachi-i Ge
junior eighth grade, upper 従八位上 Ju Hachi-i Jo
junior eighth grade, lower 従八位下 Ju Hachi-i Ge
senior ninth grade, upper 大初位上 Dai So-i Jo
senior ninth grade, lower 大初位下 Dai So-i Ge
junior ninth grade, upper 少初位上 Sho So-i Jo
junior ninth grade, lower 少初位下 Sho So-i Ge


  • Kugyo 公卿 High court noble, third grade or higher, plus (incumbent and former) Cabinet Concillor 参議 Sangi with fourth grade. They'll be styled Kyo 卿 (Lord). The most highest grade of Kugyo, who experienced Regent-Viceroy, or Grand Minister, will enjoy special style Ko 公 (Prince).
  • Tenjo-bito 殿上人 court noble, fifth grade or higher. Usually they are granted permission to enter the imperial mansion house. They are usually styled Ason 朝臣 (Sir), which was originally a grade for clan name. The grade Ason is most popular and almost common, so court nobles are usually called Ason later.
  • Jige-bito 地下人 court servant, lower grades. Most of the administrative work in the court was handled by them.

family rank

After centuries with the bureaucracy system, so many precedents creates semi-official rank system for noble families.

  • Sekke 摂家 regent, head of the family can reach to the highest job in the court, Sekkan 摂関 "Regent or Viceroy". Only 5 families of Fujiwara clan belong, Konoe 近衛, Takatsukasa 鷹司, Kujo 九条, Nijo 二条, and Ichijo 一条.
  • Seiga-ke 清華家 prime minister. Head of family can reach Grand Minister 太政大臣 Daijo-Daijin which was usually honorable job. 9 families belong here.
  • Daijin-ke 大臣家 miniter. Head of family can reach ministers, usually the most lowest rank of minister, Minister of the Inner 内大臣 Nai-Daijin, rarely a little more higher.
  • Urin-ke 羽林家 guard. Head of family can reach to Senior Cabinet Adviser 大納言 Dainagon through Guard office 近衛府 job.
  • Mei-ke 名家 secretary. Head of family would reach to Senior Cabinet Adviser 大納言 Dainagon through Administrative office 弁官 job.
  • Han-ke 半家 branch. Head of family can sometimes reach to Senior Cabinet Adviser 大納言 Dainagon. Most of this families had specific jobs, such as arts, studies, and religion.