Kansenji (官宣旨)

Kansenji, also called "Benkankudashibumi," are oral decrees (called Kuzen) of a high-ranking court noble (called Shokei) of a Dajokan that officials of the Dajokan (called benkan) during the Heian period sent to Ritsuryo koku and temples. Kansenji served Kanpu and Kancho.


While official documents to be issued by Daijokan are edited by Gekikyoku, kansenji is edited and issued by benkankyoku which is a point of contact with different provinces and temples. Therefore, kansenji was not sealed with the official stamp of daijokan that a shonagon, who administered the gekikyoku, had in his hand.
It is now accepted that the 'kan' in the word 'kansenji' means 'benkan' and not 'daijokan.'
Benkankyoku had two benkans according to its duties: benkan of the right (called ubenkan) and benkan of the left (called sabenkan), but kansenji were issued irrespective of these duties, that is, kansenji on happy events (ordinary administrative events) were issued by sabenkan, whereas kansenji on unhappy events (additional arrests) are issued by ubenkan, and since edicts issued by the former (called 'sabenkan gebun') are predominantly numerous, some claim that only this type of documents are kansenji. Usually, a draft of an imperial edict is orally transmitted by kurodo to jokyo, then jokyo commands the benkan to edit the kansenji and a recorder, who is an officer subject to benkan, (ritsuryo system) makes the actual text.

Text is given in shinsho-tai style of classical Chinese, is opened by an expression 'sakan kudasu' ('ukan kudasu' if it is an edict made by the ubenkan), then is followed by an address (only names of province and temple are noted), then by a header (a summary of the text) in the next line and finally by the text.
The text is ended by a closing term such as '依宣行之' or '官符追下.'
A date was given in a line next to the line of the text-closing term and, under this date, the signature and stamp of the recorder who made this edict was given and those of the benkan who issued this edict is given in the ojo (over the last line, next to the line containing the date and the stamp of recorder). All information about title, concurrent posts etc. is omitted. A signature placed by uchuben or sashoben, a person being most likely to issue an edict, was just 'chuben' or 'shoben' (there have been no previous cases in which sadaiben or ubenkan placed such a simple signature).

The daijokanpu or dajokancho was not fit for emergencies because shonagon and geki, who were not directly in charge of their issuance, were implicated, because the imperial stamp was needed for their issuance and because the procedures were complicated and often necessitated ceremonious events: exchange of documents, stamping etc. This is the reason why they have been replaced by kansenji, an edict of which issuance procedures were simplified. Although, kansenji was often closed by a text-closing term '官符追下' even if an official document was not issued later, since kansenji was based on the premise that an official kanpu or kancho were later issued. There were also the cases in which non-urgent orders and non-imperative documents were issued as kansenji.

From the early Kamakura period, kansenji was gradually limited to announcements of the dates of Buddhists or Shintoist rites to temples or shrines and dispatch of Emperor's messengers, because such orders were more and more sent as inzen issued by a retired emperor or as rinji, a more simplified edict.

[Original Japanese]