Jigeke (Jige Families) (地下家)

Jigeke was a family status of court officials who were not permitted to enter the Courtiers' Hall in the Imperial Palace. During the Edo period, there were more than 460 Jigeke.


Entering the Courtiers' Hall in the Imperial Palace' means entering the Courtiers' Hall called Tenjo No Ma in the emperor's private living quarters, i.e., in the south side of the emperor's residence Seiryoden; and during the Heian period, court officials were authorized by imperial sanction to enter the Hall without regard for their family rank and court rank. After the Medieval Ages, the status of Jigeke was established when court officials were clearly divided according to their family rank, and families permitted to enter the Hall were called Toshoke, and families not permitted to enter the Hall were called Jigeke. Accordingly, court officials from Jigeke were not permitted to enter the Hall, even if their official rank was raised to Sanmi (Third Rank). Yet, although chamberlains of Rokui (Sixth Rank) were low-ranking court officials called Jigenin, they were permitted to enter the Hall; besides, there were cases--though few cases--when a chamberlain of Rokui served as the highest ranked chamberlain called 'gokuro' three times in his lifetime, or the family of the chamberlain of Rokui produced the highest ranked chamberlain for three successive generations, they were raised to Toshoke. Other than the division into Toshoke and Jigeke, there were other divisions of families into Kyuka (families with a long family genealogy) and Shinke (families established during the Edo period); however, during the reign of Emperor Sakuramachi (1735-1747), it was forbidden to establish a new family without permission.

After the Meiji Restoration, the title of Danshaku (Baron - one of the titles of Kazoku - nobility), was given to the Oshikoji family (or the Oshinokoji family) and the Mibu family, the leading Jigeke, correspondingly to raise them to Toshoke; and the Itami family (Shigekata ITAMI: court official served at Shorenin Temple), the Ozaki family (Saburo OZAKI: court official served at the Sanjo family), and the Tomii family (Masaakira Tomii: a senior servant at Shogoin Temple) in recognition of merit. Primarily, however, the treatment of Shizoku (the family of samurai descendants) was applied to most families of Jigeke, including the Hirata family who served as a secretary at the Bureau of Archivists and ranked next to the Oshikoji family and the Mibu family in Jigeke.

Jigeke - Hereditary officials

Like those of Toshoke, offices and businesses of Jigeke were hereditary. During the Edo period, hereditary officials from Jigeke--the Head of Secretaries 'Kyokumu' (leader of secretaries in the Council of State Secretaries, inherited by the Oshinokoji family), the Head of Secretaries 'Kanmu' (leader of Senior Recorders of the Left, inherited by the Mibu family), and the court official at the Bureau of Archivists 'Kurodo dokoro Suino' (inherited by the Hirata family)--were collectively called 'Saikanjin' and respectively managed events and ceremonies of the Imperial Court by supervising the hereditary officials of secretaries, recorders, and staff of the Bureau of Archivists.
Particularly, 'Kyokumu' and 'Kanmu' were collectively called 'both offices;' later, at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate, 'Suino' was added and the three offices were collectively called 'Sansai.'

Other than the three families called Saikanjin, the court officials from Jigeke were called Namikanjin (general court officials) and had subordinates called Shimokanjin, who did heavy labor for the events and ceremonies. Generally, Namikanjin rose from Rokui (Sixth Rank), whereas Shimokanjin rose from Nanai (Seventh Rank) or Shisho (lower-ranked officials). The rank of Shimokanjin was traded in the form of 'stock' ostensibly through adoption of 'the buyer' by 'the seller' in most cases, and sometimes 'collected' by the government office on the pretext of staff acquisition, which led some cases of merchants and farmers in Kyoto and its surroundings acquiring the rank of Jige official for the purpose of raising their social status or earning their living, i.e., securing their jobs (In most cases, Saikanjin accepted the application for appointment of Jigenin by the government office without question).

Shimokanjin was increased to meet the manpower shortage caused by imperial ceremony restoration during the latter half of the Edo period: According to "Jige Shidai" (Records of Jige), they were 73 in 1746, increased to 110 in 1796 and to 170 in 1849.

[Original Japanese]