Kura-bugyo (storehouse administrator) (蔵奉行)

Kura-bugyo was an administrator who controlled the government rice storehouses located in major cities in the Edo period, including one in Asakusa, Edo (Asakusa Okura). Under the control of kanjo-bugyo (commissioner of finance), kura-bugyo was posted to Takuhi-no-ma room receiving yakuryo (executive allowance) of 200 bales of rice. Kura-bugyo's subordinates included kumigashira (head of the group), tedai (clerk), monban-doshin (gatekeeping constable) and koagemono (rice unloading laborer).

The first appearance of the word 'kura-bugyo' is said to have been 1610 and Asakusa Okura in Edo is said to have been established in 1620. However, the kura-bugyo system was established earlier in the economically advanced area of Kamigata - to be specific, in 1621 in Osaka and in 1625 in Kyoto (being under the control of Kyoto machi-bugyo or Kyoto City Magistrate till 1790), while it was not until in 1636 that the system was established in Edo. In addition, kura-bugyo was established once in Shimizu City of Suruga Province, Otsu City of Omi Province and Takatsuki City of Settsu Province, but only three, namely ones in Edo, Kyoto and Osaka, continued to exist till the end of the Edo period.

In addition to hatamoto (direct retainers of the shogun) who are provided with jigata-chigyo (provision of a fief to retainers as salary) as referred to as 'holding a fief yielding such and such koku of rice,' there were gokenin (who are also direct retainers of the shogun) and some hatamoto who received 'kirimai' (an annual stipend of rice) in three seasonal installments from 'kuramai' (rice stocked in the government storehouses) as in a description such as 'receiving 30 bales of rice and a ration for two people.'
These retainers were called 'kuramai-chigyo-dori' or 'kuramai-dori' (rice stipend receivers), and kura-bugyo was in charge of control of this rice stock. Kuramai-dori type of gokenin cashed surplus rice over and above their own consumption through fudasashi (Tokugawa-period merchants who obtained the right to provide cash on the security of a vassal's rice stipends) who had their shops in front of government rice storehouses. The name Kuramae, an area near Asakusa, Tokyo, literally means "in front of storehouses" and is derived from the rice storehouses and fudasashi merchants in front of them.

[Original Japanese]