Mutsu Province

Mutsu Province
Mutsu Province in 1868.

Mutsu Province

Mutsu Province (陸奥国) is one of the many old Provinces of Japan. Originally known as Michinoku (陸奥 or 道奥) it was also known as Ōshu (奥州) or Rikushū and is categorized as one of the eight Tōsandō (Eastern Mountain Road) Provinces.12 The Province was established in the early 8th Century under the Kokugun System and was historically populated by the Ezo People.1 This area now belongs to Aomori and Iwate Prefectures.2

Heian Period

By 801AD the Ezo People had been subdued by Sakanoue no Tamuramaro through the use of frontier fortresses (saku) one of which being Izawajō.12

The Ōshu Fujiwara family came to control this area later in the Heian Period.12 These Fujiwara members held their stronghold in Hiraizumi which quickly flourished as the center of military, political and cultural might for Northern Japan.1 Fujiwara no Sanekata is known to have acted as Governor of Mutsu from 995 until his death in 998AD. He was either have been stationed there, or exiled, depending on the sources.4

The Abe Clan‘s power grew here and by the lifetime of Abe no Yoritoki (?-1057) had come to control the six districts of Mutsu.1

Fujiwara no Hidehira (1096-1187) acted as governor during his lifetime.2

Kamakura Period

Isa Tomomune, who later changed his name to Date Tomomune, after helping Minamoto no Yoritomo defeat his brother Yoshitsune in 1189 was given the Date Dictrict of this province from which he made the clan name.12

Muromachi Period

During the Muromachi Period this area falls under the control of the Date Clan in the south and the Nambu Clan in the north and by the time of the Tokugawa Shogunate the territory was divided amongst 20 daimyō domains (known as han). The areas of Aizu and Sendai were the most powerful of them.1

Date Masamune (1567-1635) extended the clan territories by taking over 30 districts in Mutsu and Dewa Provinces ultimately defeating the Ashina Family in 1589.12

Supernatural Connections

The Province is noted to have been the home of the Yōkai known as the Kurozuka, living in Adachi. This is written about in the 10th Century Yamato Monogatari.3

Fujiwara no Sanekata (mentioned above) is also said to have transformed into the Yōkai known as the Nyūnai-Suzume while in this Province.4

In the 35th year of Empress Suiko’s reign it is said a Mujina performed a song for her here.3

Additionally the folktale known as The Oni of Adachigahara is set in this province.5


1. Kodansha. (1993) ”Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”. Tokyo: Kodansha Ltd.
2. Louis Frederic, translated by Kathe Roth (2002) “Japan Encyclopedia”. London: Harvard University Press.
3. Yoda, H. and Alt, M. (2016) “Japandemonium: Illustrated: The Yokai Encyclopaedia of Toriyama Sekien.”. New York: over Publications, Inc.
4. MacMillan, P. (2018) ”One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each: A Treasury of Classical Japanese Verse”. St. Ives: Penguin Classics.
5. Ozaki, Y.T. (2015) “Japanese Fairy Tales” USA: Cavalier Classics.

Former Provinces of Japan
KinaiIzumi * Kawachi * Settsu * Yamashiro * Yamato
TōsandōDewa * Hida * Kōzuke * Mino * Mutsu * Omi * Shimotsuke * Shinano
HokurikudōEchigo * Echizen * Etchū * Kaga * Koshi * Wakasa
San’indōHōki * Inaba * Izumo * Tajima * Tamba * Tango
TōkaidōIse * Kai * Kazusa * Mikawa * Owari * Sagami * Shimōsa * Suruga * Tōtōmi
NankaidōAwa * Iyo * Kii * Sanuki * Tosa
San’yōdōAki * Harima * Mimasaka
SaikaidaōBungo * Chikuzen * Hizen * Hyūga * Iki * Tsushima
Pre-Taihō CodeKibi

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Mutsu Province