Kenchucho refers to ledgers for recording the results of kenchu (land surveys) in shoen (manors) during ancient and medieval times in Japan. Since kenchu originated from kenden (cadastral surveys), kenchucho was also called kendencho (ledger of kenden), jikkencho (ledger of survey), marucho (ledger of round), and bajocho (ledger of hourseback). They functioned as residents' ledgers in order for the shoen owners to manage their lands and people.
Although there are differences in methods between different manors, in general, kenchucho records, in regard to a unit of 3.3 sq.m. of cultivated field, the address, dimensions, given amount of tax from the land, and the name of naukenin (cultivator assigned to the piece of land), as well as the tally for each item inserted at the end. It was carried out on the same date the kenchu was carried out and the established words 'chushin kudan no gotoshi' (the case is thus reported as above) as well as the signatures of the kenchushi (land surveyor) were dispatched by the manor owner, the local shokan (an officer entrusted with local management by the manor owner), and in some cases, jito (estate steward). Two copies of kenchucho were made: One copy for the use of the shokan for conducting managerial duties in the local manor, and the other for the manor owner for determining the amount of nengu (land tax) and kuji (public duties). However, it is said that there were some cases where although the kenchu was carried out, the kenchucho was not carried out due to the fact that the administration costs called kenryo including the cost of paper used to make kenchucho, as well as the cost of the mikkakuriya (three-day banquet) which was held when they received kenchushi in their land, was all defrayed by the local administration. In addition, when ikkoku heikinyaku (taxes and labor uniformly imposed on manors and provincial land in a province) were imposed regardless of shiishiboji (notices on every corner of the territory in order to clarify the boundaries) of manors or whether the land is public (koryo) or private manors, kenchu by kokushi (an officer of local government) was carried out, and kenchujo (the report of the kenchu) was issued.
Documents relating to kenchu
In addition to kenchucho, documents such as 'kenchu mokuroku' (A land register for shoen or public lands), 'nayosecho' (village register of land survey), and 'naikencho' (Reports of the land damage caused by natural disasters) were made in order to supplement kenchucho.
Kenchu mokuroku was an accounting document in the kenchucho which was kept by the manor owners for the purpose of governing their lands and imposing taxes. There were examples in which kenchu mokuroku was incorporated into the kenchucho, but there were also examples in which kenchu mokuroku was made by the local administration separately and especially to supplement the kenchucho, which was in need of update and correction by collating with the index when the kenchu was not being carried out.
In the first part, the total number of rice fields and the total amount of the annual tax to be imposed were written, and in the second part, the details of 'joden' (tax-free rice fields) and 'teiden' (taxable rice fields) were written. The former included run-down fields, fields belonging to shrines and temples (including expenses for other religious events), personnel costs (salaries for local governors such as shokan and jito), and the cost of water (irrigation facilities such as wells and irrigation channels), while the latter, categorized as the rest, was the basis on which nengu and kuji were imposed.
Nayosecho was an accounting document which tallied the information on the cultivated fields according to each naukenin, as opposed to kenchucho and kenchumokuroku which tallied according to the number of units of the land. It was kept by the shokan in order to determine the amount of nengu and the role allotment of kuji; in some cases, it was submitted to the manor owner.
Naikencho was a document which reported the situation in the areas where, due to severe damage caused by natural disasters such as floods and typhoons, a decrease of the harvest was to be expected. It was made when an emergency kenchu on the damaged areas was carried out. In it, they divided the fields between 'sonden' (damaged fields) from which harvest could not be expected and 'tokuden' (productive fields) from which harvest could be expected, and calculated and recorded the expected amount of tax to be imposed on the local area.