Shiden (賜田)

Shiden is the farmland given by emperors through issuing Shochoku (an imperial edict) to individuals under the rules set in the Ritsuryo Code of Japan.

The existing Denryo code (the law about providing farmland) article No. 12 in Yoro Ritsuryo defines that 'the farmland given to individuals by a special Chokumei (an imperial edict) is called shiden.'
By defining the rule of shiden in the code, emperors could intentionally provide farmland to a particular individual. This rule indicates that an emperor could have the influence on a particular person through his act of providing farmland. It is considered that shiden was maily provided to a dominant nobility class.

Shiden was categorized as 輸租田 (Yusoden, or rice fields subject to taxation) for which 田租 (denso, or rice field tax) was imposed. Also, the rule defined that not only 位田 (iden, or fields given based on the court rank) and 職分田 (shokubunden, or fields allotted for administrating and managing) but also shiden was also officially seized when an official who had been provided shiden was dismissed from his court rank in any reason.

In Nara period, the provided shiden was already cultivated before provision, but in Heian period, the cases increased that the provided shiden was ruined, empty land. The provision of ruined or empty land as shiden also meant that such land was required to be newly cultivated by the hand of shiden receiver. 一身田 (Isshinden, or a farmland given for his lifetime without the permission of inheritance) was also included as part of shiden. The existing name of Isshinden in Tsu City, Mie Prefecture, is considered to be the trace of shiden given as an Isshinden in those days.

[Original Japanese]