Shoban (foreign lands) (諸蕃)

In ancient Japan, the term "Shoban" meant three countries in the Korean Peninsula called 'Sankan' as well as the clans of settlers originally from there. In a broad sense, the term could include persons from the Chinese Continent. The term "Shoban" was read as 'Tonari no kuni' (the neighboring country) in wakun (the Japanese reading way of Chinese characters).

In the ancient China, the surrounding countries were referred to as 'Ban' meaning 'Kegai' (out of state reign), which Japan is believed to have imitated.

The writing '諸蕃 (Shoban),' '蕃 (Ban)' (foreign lands) and '蕃国 (Bankoku)' (barbarian countries) were often used, for example in "the Nihon Shoki" (the Chronicle of Japan) in its Article of November, 482 (under the reign of Emperor Seinei,) and in several other Articles of the Chronicle, on the other hand '玄番寮 (Genba-ryo)' (a bureau for Buddhism and aliens) was established under the Ritsuryo System. However, the writing, '隣国 (Rinkoku)' (the neighboring country), which has same wakun (the Japanese reading way of Chinese characters) as "Shoban," was officially used for a big country, China. In the last half of the 7th century, when Shiragi (Silla) unified the Korean Peninsula, countries in the Korean Peninsula used to be referred to as "Shoban" became in fact the one country, so that the term Shoban was sometimes used in the sense of Shiragi. It is not clearly known when the term 'Shoban' began to be used in the sense of settlers, but according to 'Konin-shiki,' commentaries to "the Nihon Shoki" (the Chronicle of Japan), there already existed a book referred to as "Shoban Zasshoki" in the Konin era. The term "Shoban" in the sense of settlers could definitely be identified in "Shinsen Shojiroku" (the New Selection and Record of Hereditary Titles and Family Names) completed in 815, where several terms for the place of origin were referred to, such as 'Kobetsu' (families branched out of the Imperial family) and 'Shinbetsu' (clans branched out of a family of god), along with which the term 'Shoban' (not 'Banbetsu') was defined to mean "clans originally from Daikan (China) or Sankan (three Korean Kingdoms)."

[Original Japanese]