Chokushimaki (Imperial pastures) (勅旨牧)

In ancient Japan, Chokushimaki was a ranch developed by the emperor's Chokushi and was used to supply war horses for the Meryo (the section taking care of imperial horses). It was also called Mimaki.

There were Shokumaki and Kintomaki (pasture where animals were sent to graze) in Kanboku (state-owned sock farm).


From seeing the harness as burial goods of the old tomb it proved that a cavalry horse culture started at the tumulus period in Japan, and then raising horses for military use spreaded to various places in the Japanese Islands, especially the distribution expanded in the eastern country. In the Yamato sovereignty (the ancient Japan sovereignty) at the Reign of Empress Suiko, the government post to manage the horses already existed, a powerful clan produced horses in and around the capital. Also, in the provinces local leaders produced cavalry horses, which were contributed to the central authority under the ritsuryo system.

It is considered that Chokushimaki was newly established to separate it from the Hyobusho (ministry of military) that had undertaken the management of Maki in the later part of the Nara period. At this time the supply of horses from Ryoseikoku and Mimaki tended to stagnate, and also a chief executive, FUJIWARA no Nakamaro, who had a tight grip on military power in the Dajokan, caused a war (FUJIWARA no Nakamaro's War), so it was a time when the necessity to keep armaments under the direct control of those defending the emperor had been refuted. For that reason Chokushimaki was under the control of Naikyuryo (Bureau of administration of barn in the imperial court) in the beginning.

According to "Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers), chokushimaki was established in four provinces: Shinano Province (16 locations), Kai Province (3 locations of Hosaka Maki, Maino Maki, and Kasshiwamae Maki), Kozuke Province (9 locations), and Musashi Province (4 locations), and the first two provinces were under the jurisdiction of Samaryo (Left Division of Bureau of Horses), and the last two provinces under the jurisdiction of Umaryo (Right Division of Bureau of Horses). In addition, in Johei era (Japan), there were two additional locations in Musashi Province. Also, the additional two Maki are said to have been possessed by Emperor Uda and Emperor Yozei and later incorporated into Chokushimaki. In particular, because Udain (the posthumous name of Emperor Uda) is said to have been involved in the rights for appointment and removal of Kokushi (provincial governor) for Shinano and Musashi Provinces under Ingu bunkoku sei (provincial allotment system), there is another viewpoint that he was also somehow involved in the administration of Chokushimaki.

It is considered that in those Maki, Bokugen (or Mokugen) was assigned for each Ryoseikoku (province), except for Musashi, where Betto was assigned for each Maki, and Zaichokanjin was stationed by the central authority for a certain period of time while Meryo and Hyobusho were established to supervise work attendance.

Every year in August, Komahiki (The Horse-Leading Ceremony), a ceremony of Komakenshin, horse presentation from Chokushimaki to the central authority, was held and 240 horses (Kai Province 60, Shinano Province 80, Kazusa Province 50, Musashi Province 50. In addition, 60 horses were added after inclusion of two Maki in Musashi, bringing the total to 110 horses from Musashi and the grand total horses presented to 300 per year) was presented to the Imperial Court every year. The horses were sometimes placed in 'Shiyomaki' which was set adjacent to Heiankyo (ancient capital of Japan, present day Kyoto) by Meryo and were accordingly used for public services or granted in some occasions to Kugyo (court nobles) or Konoefu (the Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards).

It is said the system saw fullest administration in the first half of the tenth century when military tension caused by revolts such as Tengyonoran (the war of Tengyo) was heightened but diminished afterwards. However, they remained as Shoen (manor) or farms of Meryo up to the Kamakura period. Some of the Zaichokanjin who served as Bokugen or Betto (the head secretary of a temple) thrived as Samurai, and the Shigeno clan which is said to have been Bokugen for Shinanomimaki had the Sanada clan in its descendants, who later developed from a small feudal lord to a Kinsei (early modern) Daimyo. Also, the offshoot of the Mochizuki clan which ruled 'Mochizukinomaki', a Maki thought to have been the head of Juroku (one of the Noh drama masks which features a boy) Maki, became Omimochizuki clan, the head of Koga Gojyusanke (Koga 53 families)(Koga ninja families).

[Original Japanese]