Jisha honjoryo no koto (寺社本所領事)

"Jisha honjoryo no koto" was a law enforced by the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) on July 10, 1368. It was also called Oan no taiho (an important legislation in the Oan era) and Oan no hanzeirei (an Oan era hanzeirei (law allowing military governors to collect half of the taxes from manors and domains as military funds to protect them)).

Jisha honjoryo no koto was formulated at the first hyojohajime (a ceremony within the bakufu conducted at the first held conference gathering of government officials on New Year's day or at the inauguration of a new shogun) after the inauguration of the third Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of the Muromachi bakufu, Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA. It was regarded as a law that established standard policies on territorial litigation of the Muromachi bakufu as well as a law that drew the line on the Hanzeirei of the past. Therefore, a clear distinction could be made between this law and the former series of hanzeirei (order allowing military governors to collect half of the taxes from manors and demesnes as military fund).


In the year before the enactment of the law on December 25, 1367, the second Shogun Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA fell critically ill. This lead to his ten year old legitimate son, Yoshimitsu, succeeding the head of the family with Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA being appointed as Kanrei (Shogun's Deputy) to look after him. Even after Yoshimitsu had gone through his genpuku (coming-of-age ceremony) early the next year, all practical aspects of the administration were covered by Yoriyuki. These conditions lasted until Yoshimitsu reached the age of 18 years old in 1375 (although it was not until the Koryaku Coup that direct administration of Yoshimitsu was instituted both nominally and virtually).

Immediately following the establishment of the law, a Migyosho was issued to the Omi Shugoshiki (provincial constable of Omi Province) Rokkaku Ujiyori where it was mentioned that the law had been accompanied by imperial sanction authorized by Emperor Gokogon of the Northern Court (Japan). The law can be said to be unique due to the fact that it was ratified in the form of an imperial sanction by the Emperor that was ordered by the bakufu (The word 'taiho' is also said to imply the meaning, 'a significant law enacted by both the bakufu and the Imperial Court').


The law repealed hanzei that had been implemented on territories owned by the Emperor, the Retired Emperor and Sekken-ke (families which produced the Regent and the Chief Adviser to the Emperor) as well as on Ichien Chigyo territories (lands of nobles that were managed by honjo (proprietor of a manor) with full title) with a temple or shrine for a honjo. In exchange, the law required full payment of nengu (land tax). Territories in other various districts owned by honjo were divided in half between a honjo's zassho (a person in charge of miscellaneous tasks) and an azukarinin (person left in charge of one's belongings, etc.) of a samurai family that had occupied the territory taking advantage of Hanzeirei (This could be virtually regarded as Shitaji chubun, which means a "physical division of the land"). If an azukarinin disobeyed the law and seized more than half of the territory, they were punished severely and forced to return the entire territory back to the honjo. However, if it was land managed by a commoner who had borrowed the name of a noble, even if it was Ichien Chigyo territory, the annulment of hanzei did not apply. Whether it was either Ichien Chigyo territory that was to be subjected to the repeal or territory in which hanzei continued to be officially implemented, half of the land was to be immediately handed over to a honjo's zassho.

Regardless of the provisions of the law, hanzei was not to be applied to Ichien Chigyo territory that had not been subjected to Hanzeirei up to that time.

Within Ichien Chigyo territories with a temple or shrine as a honjo, there were a number of territories in which the bakufu approved the implementation of hanzei by mistake. These territories were to be divided in half, each part owned by the honjo and the samurai family respectively until the bakufu could find alternative territories.

In some cases, the Jito occupying a territory of a honjo was not a samurai family, but a Kuge (court noble) who was given the position of Jitoshiki (manager and lord of a manor) as a reward by the bakufu for meritorious service
When this happened, in contrast to other common territories where the honjo was a Kuge acting as the lord of a manor, the Kuge was obliged to follow the provisions of the law in the same manner as a samurai family playing the role of Jito.


During this period, the Muromachi bakufu was facing a critical situation in its conflict with the Southern Court (Japan) even though the shogun was still an infant. The Muromachi bakufu made attempts at getting over the crisis by developing stronger partnerships with temples and shrines, influential families such as the Sekken-ke and the Northern Court (Japan), which it had been supporting. While this law was categorized as a hanzei law, its contents demonstrated policies concerning territories of the Muromachi bakufu as well as the attitude toward litigation on the inside and outside of the bakufu.

The Hanzeirei was enforced in order to secure provisions for the army under the long-lasting conflict with the Northern and Southern Courts. As a repercussion, however, samurai families, such as the Shugo, were effectively seizing land in various districts, including Shoen. As a result, honjo, such as those living in Kyoto, became unable to receive nengu. In order to put an end to a situation where territories were seized by samurai families for long periods of time, the law ordered a division of the territories between the honjo and the samurai families, causing honjo to lose half of their territories. This caused the honjo to lose the half of their territories. The bakufu obtained an imperial sanction in order to eliminate resistance of honjo consisting of traditionally influential families, such as Kuge. Samurai families who had occupied territories and monopolized income from nengu, on the other hand, were obliged to contribute half of their income to the honjo without question in exchange for official approval of their supremacy over the remaining half of their territories. In effect, the law reduced the income from nengu for samurai families by half. In response, samurai families, supported by their military power, did not accept Shitaji chubun (a physical division of the land) and refused to return territory that had originally belonged to temples, shrines and Kuge, setting aside the Imperial Court's territories. It was for this reason that the law is considered to have been largely ineffective.

Additionally, in contrast to the former series of Hanzeirei which defined their time frame as 'this year's crop' and enforced in areas deemed 'provinces in a state of war,' this law defined the time frame as 'for the time being' and the areas as 'various districts.'
This provided the legal grounds to authorize and perpetuate the usurpation of territories and hanzei that had been enforced by Shugo in various regions on the pretext of war without approval from the bakufu. Accordingly, the law facilitated the establishment of the Shugo-ryogoku system (the system where a Shugo dominate a manor) by the samurai families (Shugo). Furthermore, the bakufu did not show an assertive attitude toward searching for alternative territories (to be found by the bakufu to compensate for its mismanagement of the hanzei as mentioned above), despite the regulation it created to do so. Consequently, the hanzei that continued to be implemented on these territories persisted, in spite of the fact that it was a temporary measure.

Among the goals in the enactment of this law, the following points can be regarded as more significant than others: First, the basic principles of administration of territories and the basic approach toward litigation over territories were established by the Muromachi bakufu, resulting in the de facto recognition of the Shugo-ryogoku system; second, the relationships with the Imperial family and Sekkan-ke, both of which were exempt from hanzei by this law, were strengthened, clearing the way for Yoshimitsu to rule over the Imperial Court and the Retired Emperor in later years.

[Original Japanese]