Jikaku (Temple Ranking) (寺格)

Jikaku was the hierarchy of a Buddhist temple used to classify its status based on its economic and social standing. Temples are differentiated depending upon the temple's lineage and when it was founded etc: rights and interests of assets such as fuko (a vassal household allotted to a courtier), rice tributes, temple lands, manor property holdings; handling of appointment of Sango (three monastic positions with management roles at a temple), stewards or chief priest's role, prayer methods, dress etc. It was determined by the Imperial court and bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

The Engishiki' (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) indicates that Japanese temples were classified into 2 three-tier groups in ancient times. Kanji (state-sponsored temples) were classified into daiji (temples built by Emperors), kokubunji (provincial monastery) and jogakuji (temples supported by nobles or local ruling families). The other group consisted of daiji (temples built by Emperors), yufuji (temples given jikifu (sustenance households) by the Imperial court) and shoji (temples smaller than other kanji (state-sponsored temples)).

When a monzeki temple (a temple of high rank where members of the Imperial family and nobility enter the priesthood) was founded in the Heian Period, new Jikaku were established such as miya-monzeki (temples headed by the Imperial princes), sekke-monzeki (the priest clan eligible for regents), jun-monzeki (temple rank which is next to monzeki, a temple whose head priest is a member of the Imperial family) and waki-monzeki (subordinating temple to legitimate the temple). Inge (a branch temple to support services of the main temple) and jun inge (status of temples equivalent to "Inge" (a branch temple to support service of the main temple)) were formed as lower-ranking Jikaku.

This was the hierarchy used by the Imperial court.
During the latter part of the Kamakura shogunate, the authorities set up a system of grading temples and accordingly, decided the Rinzai sect's five most important temples called 'Gozan.'
The Muromachi shogunate further segmentized the Rinzai Sect temples into gozan, jissatsu (ten important temples of the Rinzai sect), shozan (zen temples other than gozan and jissatsu) and rinka (lowest ranked zen temples. As such Jikaku started to be used for the hierarchy and status of temples within various other sects.

With the establishment of religious groups of each sect in recent times, the trend further intensified. As a result, various Jikaku (temple ranking) systems were established. Jiryo (temple estate holdings) criteria was used as follows: shuin dera (shogunate authorized) temples, kokuin dera (daimyo (Japanese territorial lord) temples authorized) by differentiated by territory; shie dera (its priests allowed to wear shie (priest's purple garb) temples or koe dera (its priests allowed to wear koe (priest's light brown garb) temples by color of robes; dokureiji (temples allowed to see Emperor or Shogun exclusively) temples performing more unique ceremonies. Main temples and sub-temples that were used to supervise temples were also part of Jikaku.

After the Meiji Restoration, Jikaku was realigned and simplified as it lost its official backing. Even nowadays the Jikaku ranking system is still used by the internal organizations within various religious groups.

[Original Japanese]