Shoden (the privilege of entering denjo no ma [denjo room] of the Imperial Palace) (昇殿)

Shoden referred to having/giving permission to enter a denjo no ma in the minami hisashi (southern surrounding area) of the seiryoden of dairi (Imperial Palace) to people higher than goi (Fifth Rank) in the rank and people in a position of Rokui no Kurodo (Chamberlain of Sixth Rank) in and after the Heian period.


From the era of Emperor Uda, the emperor's daily whereabouts were fixed in the Seiryoden; therefore, shoden was indispensable for enabling those of suitable rank to participate in ceremonies and public duties or deal with the emperor's personal affairs in their capacity as an attendant and carry out duties such as taking the night watch or waiting on the emperor at table. The selection of shoden was made with each change of emperor, and selected persons, after receiving a senji (imperial decree) called shoden no senji and having their names written on a kan (board), were given shoden permission and allowed to stay in a denjo no ma if necessary. Daijo Tenno (retired emperors), nyoin (a close female relative of the Emperor or a woman of comparable standing), chugu (empresses) and togu (crown prince) also had their own shoden system in their imperial palaces. These people were regarded as lower in rank than naitenjobito who were allowed to enter the dairi. However, with the start of the Insei (rule by a retired emperor) period, intenjobito (people who were granted shoden for retired emperor's palace) were put before naitenjobito partly because actual government affairs were transferred to In no cho (Retired Emperor's Office).

Kugyo (high court noble) were generally given shoden, and Sangi (councilors) in the shii (Fourth Rank) were treated equally with kugyo exceptionally as members of Giseikan (Legislature). Both of them were collectively called kandachime (court nobles). However, for political reasons or because of the relationship with the emperor, some people were not given shoden even if they were kugyo, and such people were called "Jige (lower class nobles) no Kandachime." To give a representative example, MINAMOTO no Yorisada, who had committed adultery with FUJIWARA no Suishi, a shoji (principal handmaid) of Crown Prince Okisada, was not allowed to enter the Imperial Court in spite of the fact that he was already a kugyo by the time Imperial Prince Okisada was enthroned (Emperor Sanjo) ("Okagami" [the Great Mirror]). In later years it became an established custom that shoden was not given to members of Jige family even if they reached jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) or above.

On the other hand, it was necessary for people in Shii (Fourth Rank)/goi (Fifth Rank) to receive a shoden no senji in order to have their shoden granted. There was a clear-cut distinction between people called tenjobito (high-ranking courtiers who were allowed to enter the Imperial Palace) or Unkaku (same meaning as tenjobito) and Jigenin (court officials who were not Tenjobito) whose shoden was not permitted, which was a basic standard of social status in a court noble society. There was an exception among tenjobito that Rokui no Kurodo could receive a shoden no senji because it was necessary to perform their duties (in this case the Kurodo dokoro [Office of Imperial Household Logistics] applied for shoden to obtain a senji). Children and grandchildren of influential persons were allowed to enter denjo no ma in the capacity of Kodoneri (Minor Officer) based on the Oni system (the automatic promotion system in which the persons at the age of 21, whose parents are from Imperial to the fifth rank or whose grandparents are upper than third rank, are conferred an Imperial title). These children were called warabe denjo.

If persons were accused of crime and so on, they were given jojaku shobun: their names were removed from a record, their shoden were canceled and the kan with their names on in the Denjo no ma was removed. Therefore, such punishment was also called "kan-pruning." People who were once given jojaku shobun could not be appointed any official court rank unless the punishment was canceled/pardoned, so that they had to have their shoden granted again before appointment. This was called kaeri-denjo or kansho/gensho.

In Emperor Uda era there were approximately 30 tenjobito, however they rapidly increased in number both in the dairi and ingosho (the retired Emperor's court) in the Insei (rule by the retired Emperor) period. Therefore, Emperor Gotoba, by canceling a rule of bringing the shoden in his reign into the ingosho, which had been a custom, performed "restructuring" at his abdication, reducing tenjobito from nearly 80 to 44. This also had an effect of limiting In no Kinshin (retired Emperor's courtiers) to reliable close advisers and able officials, which was necessary to the Insei management.

In 1098, MINAMOTO no Yoshiie was granted in-shoden (access to the retired emperor in the imperial court), and in 1132, TAIRA no Tadamori was granted nai-shoden (access to the inner Court); these landmark events heralded the era of the samurai.

[Original Japanese]