Shinryo Kogyo (神領興行)

Shinryo Kogyo was a policy implemented by the Emperor and the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a Shogun nominally appointed by the Emperor) mainly in the mid-Kamakura period to promote the performance of Shinto rituals on the basis of tenjin sokan shigo (an idea of correspondence between Heaven and Man). With a view to facilitating the performance of rituals by and securing the estates and other assets of Shinto shrines which would support financing of their performance, the governing authorities promulgated mainly providing for free returning of sold or forfeited land lots. It is also known as Ichien-shinryokogyo Law, and understood as a typical pattern of benevolent rule.


From the early Kamakura period onward, social disturbances including natural disasters and civil wars came to affect the nobility as well, culminating in the Jokyu Disturbance in which the Imperial forces were defeated and even Emperor Daijo was condemned to exile; this resulted in clear recognition that the nobility was in a crisis of life or death. Against this background, within the Imperial Court there emerged animated moves to restore its previous authority by recovering centripetal force and thereby turning the eyes of people to real-world politics. Benevolent rule' was a policy principle promoted along this line of thought, and Shinryo Kogyo was one of the policies based on that principle.

Jishakogyo-rei (literally "law on the performance of temples and shrines") had been issued as part of such new policy systems since the rule by cloistered emperors; under Hogen Shinsei (Hogen new law) of 1156 acclaimed as having established the Shinjin (godlike person) Kugonin (people who presented food and other supplies to the Imperial Court, noble families, temples and shrines) Sei (system), Emperor Goshirakawa promulgated his own Shinji Kogyo Rei (literally "law on the performance of religious rituals") but as a specific policy action, the first instance is found in the policy advocated under the Shinsei of the Retired Emperor Gosaga in 1156 to admonish government officials and provincial governors against neglect of religious rituals and to prevent Shinjin and Kugonin from increasing in number. This policy is appreciated as embodying physiocracy, restraining the influence of Shinjin and Kugonin engaging in commerce and encouraging the performance of true religious rituals.

Kuge Shinsei (new laws issued by the Imperial Court) in 1261 and 1263 encouraged 'respect for gods and Buddha' and, under the direct rule by Emperor Kameyama that followed, performance of Shinto and Buddhist rituals was declared in 1273 with mention of specific measures in the form of succeeding Kocho Sinsei (of 1261 and 1263).


With Genko (Mongolian invasion attempts against Japan) marking a new epoch, there spread the idea that the victory in the secular war was due to the victory in the 'divine war' based on the aforementioned tenjin sokan shiso, and a nationwide call arose for the performance of praying and various other rituals, expansion of shrine estates and construction of temples and shrines as expressions of gratitude for the divine protection. In this period, the management of shrine estates by Shinto priests was destabilized by arbitrary appointment of priests and approval of betsusoden (fragmentation of shrines' estates to be separately possessed by Sekkanke (families qualified for appointment as Prince Regent or Chief Advisor to the Emperor) or other persons having particular relations, who were honsho (nominal landowners)) by not only jito (estate stewards) and higokenin (lower-ranking samurai not under official control of the Bakufu) but also by honsho, and the consequent lack of funds prevented shrines from duly performing various rituals.

On July 4, 1284 when Cloistered Emperor Kameyama had the virtual reins of government, Chinzei Shinryo Kogyo Kaifukurei (Order to Restore Rituals in Shrine Estates in Kyushu) was issued on August 7 in the same year to reward those who had contributed to the victory against Genko, and recovery of former shrine estates already sold or pledged by then was made possible gratis under this order. Chinzei Shinryo Kogyo Kaifukurei was thereafter successively issued in 1285, 1298 and 1312, and applied to Shinto shrines in the whole country, including Usahachiman-gu Shrine and Ise-jinja Shrine above all; the estates of Ise-jinja Shrine expanded especially in eastern provinces.


Under Shinryo Kogyo-rei, samurai and bonge (commoners) were excluded from various shrine positions, and Shinryo ichien chigyo (unified proprietorship of shrine estates) became more prevalent. This development stimulated the proliferation of Shinryo ichien chigyo not only from the samurai side through jito-uke (system under which the jito controls a manor and pays a fixed fee to its owner) and shitaji-chubun (halving of revenue source land) but also from ryoke (lords of manors), resulting in the beginning of breakdown of the traditional system of occupational positions based on status differences, which involved the emergence of jito having a ryoke position and vice versa, and eventually in a major change of ryoke positions and jito positions in manors and public estates. Furthermore, under the Kenmu Restoration regime in 1333, as the positions of honke (nominal landowners) and ryoke (virtual landowners) of manors were abolished in various provinces and Kansha Kaihorei (Order to Release Officially Authorized Shrines) was issued, resulting in rapid progress of proprietorship unification, and such expressions as jisharyo (estates of temples or shrines), honsho ryo (estates of honsho) and bukeryo (estates of samurai families) began to be found in the initial forms of these orders of Muromachi period. The decomposition of Shoen Koryo Sei (system of court-owned lands and private manors) was thus steadily driven forward.

Also, as the expansion of temple or shrine premises, in which it was theoretically prohibited to kill animals, became a nationwide tendency, common people who had lived on the blessings of mountains, fields, rivers and seas ran into difficult situations and some of them became bandits, according to recently published views.

[Original Japanese]