Fuseya (布施屋)

A Fuseya was a temporary relief station and lodging facility for travelers that was established in many parts of Japan during the kodai ritsuryosei (ancient East Asian system of centralized governance). In many cases, Fuseya were established by Buddhist temples as part of their charities.

The Hidenjo (an institution for aid and care of travelers during the early Heian period) in Musashi Province is famous due to the description of its background in the Rikkokushi (Japan's six national histories chronicling the 7th and 8h centuries).

Societal Background
下の文を統合しました. The use of swift horses was limited to government officials, meaning that it wold take days, or even weeks for common people to travel to the capital by foot or by land horses. In addition, they also had to pay for their own meals during the trip.

As a matter of course, the severe conditions caused many people to collapse from starvation and illnesses or even die en route, causing the issue to be recognized as a social problem.
In order to resolve such conditions on a nationwide basis, places like Buddhists temples were used as a focal point to establish 'Fuseya.'



Judging from an integration of scarce historical materials, Fuseya facilities consisted of three to five structures and categorized as relief stations, lodging facilities, depositories and food storehouses.
In some locations, the depository and food storehouses were called 'Itakura.'

Relief stations and lodging facilities in Fuseya provided such services as food distribution, lodging and treatment for injuries and illnesses. These facilities, however, were persistent in being limited to temporary use or for finding shelter in emergencies. They had none of the attributes of being facilities for long-term recuperation or lodging. Consequently, the services placed great emphasis on relief activities while placing very little importance on aspects of accommodation. In fact, it is known that the Fuseya established by Todai-ji Temple had only two sets of bedding and had conditions far from capable of accommodating guests for many days.


The management of Fuseya mainly constituted either 'temples' or 'kokufu' (provincial offices). The very idea of helping travelers in trouble was based on a concept of Buddhist thought called 'kyujutsu' (helping a person in trouble), so temples naturally made up the majority of the operations. It is likely that Fuseya operated by kokufu or the government emerged in accordance with Buddhist activities as well as the practical problem of increasing traveler deaths.

As a Fuseya itself was a product of Buddhist thought, Buddhist temples were invariably involved in their operations. Fuseya operated by temples themselves were put under the supervision of the temple, but when they were operated by a kokufu, a supervisory temple would be built near the site or a nearby temple would be assigned to look after it. In addition, a 'Yakushi-ji Temple' was always built on the grounds of a Fuseya in which a Yakushinyorai (Bhaisajyaguru (Buddha able to cure all illnesses)) was enshrined as a honzon (principal object of worship at a temple, usually a Buddha or Bodhisattva).

There were diverse methods of raising funds for the operation, securing food and other supplies for a Fuseya, such as owning newly cultivated land, setting aside stipends called fuchi that were attached to official services, and loaning out rice plants at interest in the form of suiko (government loans, often seed rice, made to peasants in Japan from the 7th through 12th centuries). In some cases, even trees would be planted, such as jujube, pear or chestnut trees on the grounds of a Fuseya in order to make a supplemental contribution to the food supply.

Main Fuseya

Fuseya established by Gyogi
It is traditionally said that Gyogi, priests of great sanctity during the Nara period, built Fuseya as a missionary activity when they went on pilgrimages around the country.

There were reportedly ten Fuseya, with two in Yamashiro Province, three in Settsu Province, two in Kawachi Province, two in Izumi Province and one in Bingo Province.

Most notable among them was Koya no Fuseya that was established at Kawabe-gun in Settsu Province (Hyogo Prefecture) in 731.

This Fuseya is said to have been the foundation of Konyo-ji Temple in present-day Teramoto, Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture.

Todai-ji Temple Fuseya
Established at Toichi-gun, Yamato Province in 761.

This facility was not only for travelers but also for people under the burden of doing labor at temples.

This Fuseya was established on the border of Tama-gun and Iruma-gun in Musashi Province in 833. At first it was under the official management of the Musashi kokufu, then later came under the Imperial Court.

This is the most well-known of all the fuseya in the country due to the detailed background history of its establishment described in the "Shoku Nihon Koki" (Later Chronicle of Japan Continued), which was one of the Rikkokushi (the six ancient Japanese historical collections compiled between the Nara and Heian periods).

Please refer to the section on Hidensho for details.

This Fuseya was established in Kyushu (province unknown) in 835. It was under the official management of the Dazai-fu (local government office in Kyushu region).

According to the "Shoku Nihon Koki" in a section on December 29, 835, this facility was established when the Gyobukyo (Minister of Justice) ONO no Minemori, who was formerly a Dazai no daini (Senior Assistant Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices), invested earnings from approximately 140 hectares of his cultivated land into the operation.

Two theories on the location of the facility are Chikuzen Province and Buzen Province.

The former location is estimated to be in Chikushino City, Fukuoka Prefecture, the latter is estimated to be in the Saigawa area, Miyako-machi, Miyako-gun, Fukuoka Prefecture (old Saigawa-machi, Miyako-gun).

The Shodai-ji Temple in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo Prefecture claims to have succeeded this shokumeiin.

Sunomata Fuseya
Established at Anhachi-gun, Mino Province in 835 and government operated. It was operated by the government.

This Fuseya, which straddled Nagara-gawa River, was established as part of an order of Daijokanpu (official documents issued by the Daijokan, Grand Council of State) to build bridges and establish Fuseya throughout Tokaido and the Tosando area.

It was situated in what is presently know as the Sunomata area in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture (old Sunomata-cho, Anhachi-gun).

This Fuseya was established at Takakura-gun and Ayukawa-gun, Sagami Province in 844. It was under official management of the Sagami kokufu.

It was allegedly established by the Sagami no suke (assistant governor of Sagami Province) TACHIBANA no Naganori who used his salary of 10,000 sheaves of rice plants to pay for the facility.

Although there is no description about it in Rikkokushi, the facility was recorded in a law code during the Heian period called "Ruiju sandai kaku" (Assorted regulations from Three Reigns), in which it is mentioned that it aided 1,158 people for four years after being established.

It was situated in what is presently known as Atsugi City and Ebina City in Kanagawa Prefecture.

[Original Japanese]