Kurahoshi (蔵法師)

Kurahoshi means manager of doso (pawnbrokers and moneylenders) in the Medieval Period of Kyoto. It was also called Yamahoshi (armed priest), Dozohoshi or Dozo bozu.

It originated as the priests in Enryaku-ji Temple who operated underground warehouses called doso and engaged in businesses like lending money at high rates of interest. In later years, it came to mean doso operated by common people under the protection of Enryaku-ji Temple by means of acquiring a position called Sanmonkunin, which was given to the servants whose honjo (proprietor or guarantor of a manor) was a temple. There were frequent instances of insolent behavior: some made excessive profit by taking advantage of Enryaku-ji Temple's authority, and some broke into residences of Kugyo (top court officials) to bully them into paying a debt. Afterward, the Muromachi bakufu put the doso in Kyoto under its administration. Even after that, however, many owners of doso had Hottai (religious appearance) and Nanori (specific Japanese rendering of Chinese characters used in names of persons especially priests) as the vestiges of Sanmonkunin.

[Original Japanese]