Bukeyaku (武家役)

Bukeyaku was a general term for taxation imposed by the Kamakura and Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

There are two ways of broad classification for the bukeyaku. One is categorized based upon who had the initiative on imposing the taxation. According to this point of view, there were public services ordered by the Imperial court to the bakufu which were shifted onto Gokenin (an immediate vassal of the shogunate during the Kamakura and Muromachi through the Edo periods), Shugo and Jito (military governor and estate steward), and taxes and labor imposed independently by the bakufu in order to operate and maintain itself. The other categorization is based upon the objects of the taxation. There were taxes and labor borne by Gokenin, Shugo, and Jito as a part of their obligations to the bakufu because they had a relationship of favor and service with the bakufu. There were other taxes and labor imposed on ordinary people, temples, shrines, and shoen (manor in medieval Japan) in the same relationship with the bakufu in the form of tansen (a kind of provisional tax in medieval Japan) and munabetsu-sen, both of which had the aspect of Ikkoku heikinyaku (taxes and labor uniformly imposed on shoen (manor) and kokugaryo (provincial land) in a province).

The bukeyaku imposed by the Kamakura bakufu was called Kanto-kuji (public duties). It was imposed on Gokenin based upon the size of koden (field administered directly by a ruler) in their shoryo (territories) which was registered on a cadaster called Ota-bumi. Broadly dividing this Kanto-kuji, there were taxes for operating organizations, managing events and building facilities of the bakufu institutions, such as seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") and Mandokoro (Administrative Board), and were also services ordered by the Imperial court, such as building of dairi (Imperial Palace), temples and shrines, or construction of embankment along the Kamo-gawa River (the Yodo-gawa River system), etc. There were other forms of bukeyaku, such as Obanyaku (a job to guard Kyoto) or Gunyaku, which services required direct exercising of military powers. After the Mongol invasion attempts against Japan, these burdens became intolerable, and the shifting of the burdens onto peasants aroused the bitterest opposition among them. This became one of the factors that destabilized the Kamakura shogunate system.

The bukeyaku by the Muromachi bakufu was mainly imposed on Shugo daimyo (Japanese territorial lord as provincial constable) and the citizens of Kyoto. The bukeyaku imposed on Shugo daimyo was called Shugo-desen, which was usually imposed on each territory in the form of Ikkoku heikinyaku, such as tansen and munabetsu-sen. The Shugo daimyo made use of these taxes to spread their dominion over their territories. On the other hand, the Muromachi bakufu successfully took over the right to levy taxes on citizens of Kyoto, a right formerly enjoyed by the Imperial court. The bakufu earned a large income by imposing Jiguchi sen (taxes imposed based on size of frontage), Sakaya yaku (taxes imposed on sake brewery by Muromachi bakufu), Doso yaku (taxes imposed on an underground warehouse), Bajo yaku and so on. The bakufu also made extra income by the tally trade (between Japan and the Ming Dynasty) and further augmented the income by counting the money donated by Zen temples (temples belonging to the Zen sect) such as gosan (Zen temples highly ranked by the government) in exchange for its protection over such temples, and buichi-sen (a commission for issuance of a debt cancellation order). These incomes played an important role for the Muromachi bakufu, which was unable to own land equivalent to Kantogobunkoku (provincial territories belonging to the Kamakura bakufu).

[Original Japanese]