Echigo Province (越後国, Echigo no kuni) was an old province in north-central Japan, on the shores of the Sea of Japan. It bordered on Uzen, Iwashiro, Kōzuke, Shinano, and Etchū Provinces. It corresponds today to Niigata Prefecture, minus the island of Sado.
Its abbreviated form name was Esshū (越州), with Echizen and Etchū Provinces. Under the Engishiki classification system, Echigo was ranked as one of the 35 "superior countries" (上国) in terms of importance, and one of the 30 "far countries" (遠国) in terms of distance from the capital.
In the late 7th century, during the reign of Emperor Monmu, the ancient province of Koshi Province (越国 or 古志国, Koshi no kuni) was divided into three separate provinces: Echizen, Etchū, and Echigo. The new Echigo Province consisted of Iwafune and Nutari Districts, and was one of two border provinces of the Yamato state with the Emishi (the other being Mutsu). In 702, Echigo was given the four districts of Kubiki, Koshi, Uonuma and Kanbara from Etchū. When Japan extended its territory northward in 708, Dewa District was established under Echigo. But this district was transformed into Dewa Province in 712. Sado Province was temporarily merged with Echigo between 743 and 752. Since the division of Sado in 752, the territory of Echigo remained constant to the Meiji period.
The provincial capital of Echigo was located in Kubiki District, in what is now the city of Jōetsu, but its exact location is now unknown. The temple of Gochikokubun-ji (五智国分寺), also in Jōetsu, claims to be the successor of the provincial temple of Echigo Province; however, its records date only to 1562 when it was relocated to its present location by Uesugi Kenshin. Two Shinto shrines vie for the title of ichinomiya of Echigo Province: Yahiko Shrine in Yahiko, and Kota Shrine in Jōetsu.
Echigo was ruled directly by the Hōjō clan during the Kamakura period, followed by the Uesugi clan from the start of the Muromachi period to the late Sengoku period. Under the Tokugawa shogunate of the Edo period, Echigo was divided among several feudal domains. The Hokurikudō highway passed through the province, and numerous post stations were established. The port of Niigata was also of major importance in the coastal kitamaebune trading system.
The area became a battleground during the Battle of Hokuetsu in the Boshin War of the Meiji Restoration. Following the establishment of the Meiji government, the various domains became prefectures with the abolition of the han system in 1871. These various prefectures merged to form Niigata Prefecture in 1876.
Historical districts edit
Echigo Province consisted of fifteen districts:
- Niigata Prefecture
- Dewa District (出羽郡) - split off to become Dewa Province
- Iwafune District (岩船郡)
- Kanbara District (蒲原郡)
- Koshi District (古志郡) - formerly part of Etchū Province; now dissolved
- Kubiki District (頸城郡) - formerly part of Etchū Province
- Nuttari District (沼垂郡) - merged into Kanbara District (period unknown)
- Uonuma District (魚沼郡) - formerly part of Etchū Province
Bakumatsu period domains edit
Media related to Echigo Province at Wikimedia Commons