Shinabe (Technicians in Offices) (品部)

Shinabe (technicians in offices), or 'shinashinano tomonowo' or 'tomono miyatsuko' in the Japanese way of reading, refers to the human group or organization in ancient Japan.

Shinabe refers to general term for multiple "Be" (groups of people who belonged to the Yamato Dynasty) or whole Be.

Before the Taika Reforms, Shinabe refers to bemin (members of Be) under the direct control of the Imperial Court (shokugyobe [professional Be], nashiro [bemin privately owned by the Imperial Family])

Shinabe were people who were assigned to government offices to produce goods used in the Imperial Court and learn those techniques after the Taika Reforms and under the ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code). Shinabe is believed to be the successor of shokugyobe before the Taika Reforms.

The word shinabe contains more than one meaning as described above.

In the days before the Taika Reforms, shinabe, led by Tomonomiyatsuko and other local ruling families, served the Imperial Court (Yamato sovereignty) by providing various goods or labor. Is is believed many of the toraijin (people from overseas, especially from China and Korea, who settled in early Japan and introduced Continental culture to the Japanese) technical experts who came to Japan in groups after the late 5th century belonged to shinabe. Some shinabe were dissolved after the Taika Reforms, while the rest were reorganized to be affiliated with government offices where they were obliged to produce luxury goods used in the Imperial Court and industrial products requiring special techniques as part of tribute. Shinabe and zakko (special technicians) are sometimes lumped together as the shinabe and zakko system, as these two organizations are academically similar. But, unlike zakko who were engaged in military-related technical work and listed in zakkoseki (family register for zakko) which was different from the general family register, shinabe were treated the same as ryomin (one of the two main castes of the ritsuryo system, meaning good citizens) by law.

Shinabe who lived in Kinai region (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara) and its surrounding provinces were divided into tsuneno shinabe who were obliged to pay tribute on a constant basis and karino shinaba with a form close to temporary yoeki (corvee under the ritsuryo system) work. Some komahe and someko (both are one of the shinabe) offered a certain amount of required materials and costs every year, while the others offered either labor in such a way that one member from each shinabe served government offices on a periodic rotating or temporary basis, or a certain amount of products. In return, they were exempted from all or part of assignments imposed in he as well as military service.

But in the Nara period, shinabe of shuyoshi (department of the ritsuryo bureaucracy responsible for falconry and hunting dogs) was abolished in 721, and then shinabe except the one of 'those who assume a hereditary profession' requiring advanced techniques were dismantled in principle to be incorporated into koko (one of the subcastes of ryomin) (regarded as general citizens) in 759. Shinabe continued to be abolished one after another, and "the Engishiki" (an ancient book for codes and procedures on national rites and prayers) published in the Heian period shows shinabe existed only under Kusuishi (Drums and Fifes Office). This situation was caused by intricately intertwined reasons, i.e., the fact that shinabe, which was the remnant of the bemin system, itself was incompatible with the ritsuryo system, that it became difficult to preserve shinabe as the ritsuryo system was weakened, and that improved social economy standard enabled procurement from and koeki (forced labor under the ritsuryo system) by ordinary citizens (procurement from ordinary citizens here includes procurement from commercial and industrial men in former shinabe).

[Original Japanese]