Myobo kanmon (明法勘文)

Myobo kanmon is kanmon (report) prepared by scholars (Myobo-ke) of Myobodo (study of Codes) including Myobo hakase to respond to consultation. It is mainly responses to the Imperial Court and In no cho (Retired Emperor's Office) asking for legal interpretation of Laws of codes and ethics (conduct) concerning specific accidents and problems, but sometimes it contains answers to specific questions from the Emperor and Kugyo (the top court officials) and self-answered questions.


Normally an imperial decree intended by the Emperor or Daijokan (Grand Council of State) was handed down via recorders of gekikyoku (Secretaries' Office of the Council of State) or Benkankyoku (Controllers' Office) to Myobo hakase, who replied in the form of kanmon. At first such an imperial decree was formally handed down to an instruction group of Myobo hakase called 'Myobo-zoshi' but after the ninth century it was handed down to Myobo hakase personally. The scope of kanmon covered both criminal and civil affairs, and later reports on matters which were not directly related to Myobodo were sometimes submitted. In the tenth century, when the authority related to trials of government officials' crimes was moved to Jin no sadame (ancient cabinet council) of Daijokan, kanmon concerning charges and penalties of crime accounted for the large majority of Myobo kanmon, so they were especially called 'Zaimyo kanmon' (kanmon for charges).

The oldest Myobo kanmon in Japan is the one concerning interpretation of Regulations for selection of Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code) included in "Hosoruirin," and was replied by FUJIWARA no Fuhito, Dainagon (Major Counselor) and Kadono no Okimi, Shikibukyo, who were involved in compilation of Taiho Code and also served as Ryokan, because there was no government post of Myobo hakase in those days. In addition, the oldest record of kanmon created by Myobo is the one concerning the replacement of Kokushi in the article of October 14, 758 of "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued). Three kanmon written by daihanji (judge) SANUKI no Naganao, Myobo hakase 御輔長道 and Sadaishi (senior recorder of the left) 川枯勝成 in the so-called 'Zengai Jiken'(described in the article of December 6, 846 of "Shoku Nihon Koki" (Later Chronicle of Japan Continued)), in which benkan Yoshio TOMONO accused all of his five fellow benkan of violating Soni ryo (Regulations for Monks and Nuns) in their customary public administration which had been implemented for many years, are well known.

In the mid Heian period, buntai (literary style) of Myobo kanmon was generally fixed. At the beginning, the matter to be reported is written in a sentence, "Kanjin... no koto," and the body text starts in the next line. First, the body text of an imperial decree to which kanmon replies is cited. Next, the body text of Laws of codes and ethics (conduct) upon which kanmon is based is cited (this is stipulated in Laws of codes and ethics (conduct) concerning conviction of 断獄律). The text body of "Ritsu-no-shuge" and "Ryonoshuge," commentaries compiled by Imperial command, is cited in the same format. Next, the proposer's comment and conclusion, which are called 'Kanketsu' are shown.

Such kanmon were used as conference materials in Jin no sadame and In no hyojo (consultation under the government by the retired Emperor) and included in many works by Myobo-ke such as "Hosoruirin" and "Seiji yoryaku," and later treated as one of the sources of court noble laws. Myobo kanmon had been actively created by the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), when the political power of the Imperial Court and In no cho was well retained in and around Kyoto, but Myobodo declined with the downfall of such political power and Myobo kanmon were no longer created.

[Original Japanese]