犬公方 (inu kubō)
This top depicts a dog-faced shogun, playing with the nickname of the fifth shogun of the Tokugawa Period (1600-1868), Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1646-1709). During his time as military ruler of Japan, Tsunayoshi enacted a series of laws aimed at the common people, most famously his “Edicts on Compassion for Living Things (生類憐みの令, Shōruiawaremi no rei),” which stipulated that people should not abandon sick cows or horses, should not sell animals such as birds or tortoises for food, and should not kill dogs. To kill a dog, even a stray, was punishable by death. This earned Tsunayoshi the nickname of inu kubō, inu meaning “dog” and kubō being a formal title meaning “shogun.”
Hiroi Michiaki: Ah, this is the “dog shogun.” The shogun… in the Tokugawa period, there was a law to have compassion for all living things, and it was forbidden to kill dogs.
Paula: [The shogun] Ietsugu. [Note: The “Dog Shogun” was actually Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the 5th Shogun.]
Hiroi: Yeah. He was called the “dog shogun.” I modeled this on him. Because I’m an “Edokko” [a native of Tokyo], you know. Heh heh heh. I disagree with him.