InshiIn no tsukasa (院司)

Inshi (or In no tsukasa) is an official of In no cho (Retired Emperor's Office) set up directly under the retired emperors and nyoin (empress, empress dowager or grand empress dowager) during the ancient period to the middle ages in Japan. Generally mid-ranking aristocrats were appointed to Inshi concurrently with other Japanese official posts. As the cloister government started in the late Heian period, the post of Inshi in In no cho, a retired emperor's political organ, became an important post.

This section describes the details of the Inshi of the cloister government.

Inshi in the cloister government

The first case of Inshi was confirmed as In no betto (chief administrator of the Retired Emperor's Office) ABE no Yasuhito in 835, during the reign of Emperor Saga. At first, In no cho was established as a household agency for retired emperors and its main work consisted of trials dealing with land-related issues and with civil affairs. The ranks of Inshi were Betto (chief officer), Hogandai (deputy chief officer) and Sakandai (secretary).

When Emperor Shirakawa started the cloister government around 1086, the role of inshi, which made up In no cho, became very important. Inshi issued letters and orders such as "in no cho kudashibumi" (a letter issued by in no cho), "in no cho cho" (orders issued by in no cho) and "inzen" (a decree from the retired Emperor) under the "Chiten no kimi" (the retired emperor in power) in order to carry out the cloister government. Therefore, practical government officials who held successively the position of Kurododokoro (the Chamberlain's Office), benkan (officials of the dajokan) and Zuryo (the head of the provincial governors) often became inshi. Although they were not high-ranking aristocrats like Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) people, they had political influence because of their business ability.

Some inshi and other mid-ranking aristocrats became close advisors of the emperor and cloistered emperor with real power and wielded influence. They were called In no Kinshin (the retired Emperor's courtier). Inshi and In no kinshin made various profits behind imperial power and they often received chigyo-koku (provincial fiefdom). One of the main reasons that TAIRA no Kiyomori gained power quickly after the Hogen War, was that he was an Inshi of Emperor Goshirakawa.

Inshi had taken major roles in politics not only during the heights of the cloister government between Emperor Shirakawa and Emperor Gotoba, but also until the beginning of the Muromachi period when the cloister government was extinguished (except certain period).

Main posts

In no betto: the highest officer of inshi
The first In no betto was MINAMIBUCHI no Nagakawa, who was appointed as the In no betto at the same time the Retired Emperor Saga abdicated the throne. Generally, several persons were appointed as In no betto, and mostly Kugyo (the top court officials) or Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain) who served the retired emperor during the reign as the emperor were appointed as In no betto. When Kugyo was appointed as betto, it was called "Kugyo betto", and when Shii (Fourth Rank) was appointed, it was called "Shii betto." During the reign of the retired Emperor Shirakawa, one In no shitsushi (chief officer) was selected from Kugyo bettos and one In no nenyo (one of the positions in In's office) was selected from Shii bettos to rule In no cho. Also, in the Kamakura period, the post of In no shikken was added above In no shitsushi and In no nenyo and selected from Kugyo bettos.

In hogandai : the second highest officer in inshi and assisted betto, conducted general affairs and signed official letters issued by In no cho. This position was set during the reign of Emperor Uda. During the reign of the Retired Emperor Shirakawa, there were hogandai with Shii (fourth rank), however, usually one or two hogandai were selected from Goi (fifth rank) and four or five hogandai were selected from Rokui (sixth rank).

Inshutendai (secretary of the In no tsukasa, the third rank officer): their main works were such as document and record creation and management in In no cho and civil affairs under the betto and the hogandai. This position was set during the reign of Emperor Suzaku. Two or three shutendai were selected from Rokui (sixth rank). In the reign of Emperor Goshirakawa, one "Cho no nenyo" which was the highest officer in In no cho (different post from In no nenyo) was selected.

Inkurodo (palace officer): this post was for the Kurodo with the sixth rank who could not reach the post of Inshutendai even though they had served the retired emperor since his reign as emperor. According to "Shugaisho" (an ancient encyclopedia in 14c) the fixed number of places was four. According to the "Sankaiki" (Tadachika NAKAYAMA's diary) MINAMOTO no Yoritomo who was Sahyoe no jo (third-ranked officer of Sahyoe-fu, the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards) was appointed as Inkurodo of Josaimonin (nyoin (a close female relative of the Emperor or a womwan of comparable standing)) on February 19, 1159 (old calendar).

Indenso (introducing officer): they were in charge of relaying various messages to the retired emperor. As the first Indenso, Tsunefusa YOSHIDA and TAKASHINA no Yasutsune during the reign of the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa were confirmed. This post functioned in reality after Emperor Gosaga appointed Tametsune YOSHIDA and Sadatsugu HAMURO in 1246 and they were in charge of all messages except Kanto moshitsugi (adjusting works between the retired emperor and Kamakura bakufu). During the reign of Emperor Kameyama, in 1279, six members of Indenso were divided into three pairs and each pair worked in rotation. Buke tenso (liaison officers between the imperial court and the military government) was derived from Indenso. During the Edo period, incumbent or predecessor dainagon (chief councilor of state) and chunagon (vice-councilor of state) were appointed as Indenso and Buke tenso concurrently.

Inmizuijin (palace guard): they worked as guard for the retired emperor and his palace. Mostly, they were selected from Konoefu (division of Inner Palace Guards). The new emperor gave fuko (Residential units (ko) assigned as prebends (fu) to support top-ranking officials, temples, shrines, and royal households such as those of the queen-consort and crown prince) and zuijin (guard) to the retired emperor as well as a title of respect. The fixed number of places was five each (later six each) from Sayu Konoefu (the left and right divisions of the Inner Palace Guards). When the retired emperor entered the priesthood and became a cloistered emperor, he returned zuijins as a sign of renouncing the world. However, each zuijin with the rank of Konoe shoso (fourth rank officer in palace guard division) from the Left and Right divisions of palace guards stayed in the cloistered imperial agency as officials.

[Original Japanese]