Dosoyaku (tax for doso) (土倉役)

Dosoyaku, also known as kurayaku, was a tax on doso (pawnbrokers and moneylenders) in Kyoto during the medieval era. It was the main source of revenue, especially for the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Kamakura bakufu

It has been estimated that the collection of dosoyaku began during the Kamakura period. Due to the fact that doso in Kyoto were under the control of Gion-sha Shrine, which was affiliated with Enryaku-ji Temple, they were often taxed by both and also subject to extraordinary taxation by the Imperial court. The taxation was so frequent that there was an article protecting doso in the Kenmu code.

Muromachi bakufu

As the Muromachi bakufu was establishing authority in Kyoto, deputy collecting officials of the Imperial court took on the task of imposing independent taxes on doso for the bakufu that had a weak financial base. In 1393 the bakufu issued 'Five rules regarding doso and sake shops scattered around Rakuchu' which was a five-article law. The law denied the interests of influential families, including Enryaku-ji Temple, minimizing the taxation by the Imperial court and other parties. It is believed that dosoyaku was charged in accordance with the number of items held by a doso. Sake shops and doso paid the bakufu 6,000 kan (now obsolete unit of currency) per year in return for being exempted from other taxes. The bakufu directly collected dosoyaku at first, but later on appointed influential doso as nosenkata (an institution to collect tax from moneylenders and sake breweries) and had them collect dosoyaku from several dozens of doso. This process eventually turned into a kind of subcontract system. Furthermore, the bakufu also appointed a Kubo-okura (financial branch) and entrusted the revenue, including dosoyaku and Sakaya yaku (taxes imposed on sake breweries by Muromachi bakufu), with selected nosenkata. A conflict over dosoyaku with the Enryaku-ji Temple continued for nearly a hundred years, and the state that Enryaku-ji Temple collected dosoyaku at their discretion and the bakufu issued the ban was occurred repeatedly even in Bunmei Era (1469-1487). When Tokuseirei (ordering return of land sold and dissolution of debts) was issued due to a peasant uprising, the bakufu had to suspend the collection of dosoyaku, making it an unstable form of revenue even though it was an indispensable form of income. The amount of revenue is not clear, but based on records of the time, it is estimated that 200 kanmon was paid to the bakufu every month during the Kakitsu Era (1141-1144).

[Original Japanese]