Giso warehouse (義倉)

Giso was a warehouse which was constructed in important domestic places to store rice and other grain in case of natural disasters and famine, and the grain in stock was collected from ordinary people or acquired using the cash contributions by the rich. While holding grain for emergencies, to help maintain the giso warehouses and prevent spoilage, old crops were sold (deseri, 出糶, to be on sale) at a fair price or loaned (shakuho, 借放) at a low interest rate to the public.

In China, Shito zokunin jo (司徒属人條, an article of Shito zokunin) in "Rites of Zhou" talks about its origin that Zhou applied 'Ishi-ho' (委積法, literally, method of goods), and according the definition Sonhei CHO, Takushi shosho (account office) made in the Sui Dynasty (in 585), that was obvious on record, people from the domains to ordinary people were forced to provide a certain amount of foxtail and proso millet and those millets were stored in giso warehouses which were constructed in prefectures. This system was succeeded by the subsequent dynasties. In the year 747 of the Tang Dynasty, it is estimated there was a total stock of 63,700,000 koku. However, this system weakened due to corruptions and appropriations for public finance after the Southern Sung Dynasty.

In Japan, this system was implemented in the Taika Reforms based on the system in the Sui Dynasty and set forth in Fuyaku ryo (tax structure) of Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code), and all people excluding Imperial princes made contributions according to their levels of wealth. With the deterioration of the Ritsuryo system, a giso warehouse was disappearing, but there appeared to be domains which began to construct giso warehouses due to the influence of Confucianism during the Edo Period. It was believed that after the establishment of the Meiji Government, many of giso warehouses were seized by the government and used to make up a shortfall in state finances.

Shaso warehouse

On the other hand, both local government and the private sector engaged in business similar to Giso, and built warehouses known as Shaso. In the Southern Sung Dynasty China when giso warehouse disappeared, it was thought that Chu His recommended constructing Shaso warehouse as a substitute for Giso, and the Shaso system was brought into Japan along with the doctrines of Zhu Xi (Neo-Confucianism). During the Edo Period, Ansai YAMAZAKI, Chikuzan NAKAI, Gakuraku KATO, Nobuhiro SATO, and Shoin YOSHIDA created their own Giso concept. This idea was supported by many domains, and as early as 1654, Masayuki HOSHINA of the Aizu domain introduced this practice. Also, the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) implemented 'shichibu tsumikin (70 percent reserve fund)' for the Kansei Reform. Unlikely to the initial purpose of the establishment of Shaso, many Shaso warehouses were constructed at the initiative of the dominant class of people who were embracing the doctrines of Zhu Xi (Neo-Confucianism) in Japan and therefore, the mixture with giso warehouses constructed by the dominant class of people was spread. Nonetheless, there were more than a few shaso warehouses under the initiative of the private sector, and it was confirmed that some shaso warehouses survived until the Showa Era.

[Original Japanese]