Gunga (county district offices) (郡衙)

Gunga (county district offices) was a government office attended to the affairs of state by government officials (lower or middle ranked) of the counties (called Gunji) under the kodai Ritsuryosei (ancient East Asian system of centralized governance) in Japan. A Gunga was a kind of Kanga (government office) facility as well as a Kokufu (ancient provincial office or capital) and Eki (an ancient station, supporting facilities for a traffic system under Ritsuryo system) and also pronounced in several ways such as Guuke, Gunge, Kooge and Gunin. Gunga was also called Gunchi to emulate the ancient laws of China. Before Hyo became Gun (county) in 701, Gunga had been called Hyoga.

Gunga facilities consisted of two main structures: a Seiden (the main buildings of the imperial palace complex) and the wakiden (a hall standing nearby the main hall), where the Gunji (district official) practiced his political and governmental affairs. Additionally, it consisted of other elements, such as a shoso (public repository) which maintained the collection of all denso (rice field tax) and a shozei suiko to (loaned rice plant as the rice tax stored in provincial offices' warehouse) and other architectural structures reserved for lodging. Since the Kokufu where kokushi (provincial governors) resided controled Gunga indirectly, most of Gunji were members of powerful local families such as the old kuninomiyatsuko (provincial governor). Before the Kokufu was elevated as a governmental facility, the Gunga was the central administration of a territorial area. It is also believed that there was a betsuin (branch facility, branch temple) for conducting supportive political affairs, in case a gun's (county) area was too large to manage through a central office.

Unlike the location of a Kokufu, process to pinpoint the location of Gunga ruins has not progressed because many of the Gunga establishments were relocated due to circumstances of establishment for a Gun (county) and political transitions. In recent years the excavation and research has been progressing in archaeology and these well-known remains have been reexamined. Many remains related to kanga (government office) have been found by findings of excaveted remains such as massive building construction ruins, an ink writing earthenware and Saishi (religious service) vestige which related to kanga facilities. As a result of these discoveries, an ancient transportation system connected between the Kokufu and the Gunga, and between the Gunga and another Gunga has been emerged. These remains were proof that around the late ninth century, the kokushi (provincial governors) acquired greater authority and significant power and began to administrate like a Zuryo (the head of the provincial governors) in their actual practice, and the effect of this fact upon the Gunji was a dramatic reduction in power and authority so the Gunga system declined in Japan.

Additionally, an office of gun (county) in the modern period of Japan (the Meiji and Taisho periods), formed by Gun-ku-cho-son Henseiho (Act for the alignment of local government system) enacted in 1878, was called gunyakusho.

[Original Japanese]