Jingikan (神祇官)

Jingikan (Jingikan/kamizukasa/kanzukasa) was a state organization in Japan. It was established in the ancient Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code, and again in the early Meiji period. Now, it does not exist.


Jin' of Jingikan indicates Amatsukami (god of heaven), 'gi' of that does Kunitsukami (god of earth) and the organization handled religious services as shown in its name. Being placed above daijokan (Grand Council of State) that handled administration, it was placed at the top of the government system. Its Shitokan (four classifications of bureaucrats' ranks) were Haku, the head, Fuku, the assistant head (Daifuku, the senior assistant head/Shofuku, the junior assistant head), Jo, the secretary (Taijo, the senior secretary/Shojo, the junior secretary) and Shi, the clerk (Taishi, the senior clerk/Shoshi, the junior clerk).

However, their ranks were low: For example, is is said that the rank of after-mentioned Jingi haku (a chief official in charge of matters relating to Shintoism) was Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade). This rank was by far lower than that of Sadaijin (minister of left) equivalent to Shonii (Senior Second Rank) or Junii (Junior Second Rank), was lower than those of benkan (officials of the dajokan) equivalent to Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade), than that of Dazai no sochi (Governor-General of the Dazai-fu offices) equivalent to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), and than that of kyo (minister) who was the head of the seven ministries, and was equivalent to that of Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain) (refer to the official court rank). In other words, Jingikan is placed above daijokan in Shikinryo (the law which stipulated duties of the ministries), but is placed below daijokan in documental administration.

Kanpeisha, a shrine status in ancient times, indicates that a shrine with the status recieves hohei (offering a wand with hemp and paper streamers to a Shinto god) to be used in kinensai (a religious ceremony praying for a good harvest) from an officer in Jingikan directly (a shrine with the Kokuheisha status receives hohei from kokushi (provincial governors).

Before the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code)
Since the word of Jingikan appears in historical documents before the Taiho ritsuryo (Taho Code) was established, it is considered that it had been established in the Asukakiyomihara-ryo, etc., but details of the government systems before the Taiho ritsuryo are not known because no original documents from those eras remain.

Under the Ritsuryo system
Initially, the Inbe clan and the Onakatomi clan (belonging to the same clan as the Fujiwara clan) occupied the posts of Jingi haku, the head of Jingikan but later, the Shirakawa family from Kazan-Genji (Minamoto clan) assumed the post of Jingi haku from generation to generation. Since the person assuming the post of Jingi haku was called o (prince) though working under an emperor, the family was also called the Shirakawa-haku-o family.

After the Ritsuryo system was abolished

In the Meiji period
Restoration of Jingikan
On February 10, 1868, the Jingi jimuka (clerical department) was established together with six other clerical departments. It was placed at the head of the seven departments. On February 25, 1868, the seven clerical departments were reorganized into clerical bureas under the general bureau, and the Jingi jimuka became the Jingi clerical bureau.

Jingikan in the Meiji period
On June 11, 1868, a Seitai-sho (a document for the government system) imitating the government system based on the ancient Ritsuryo system was issued, and Dajokan (Great Council of State) System was established. Jingikan was also restored offcially and was placed under dajokan. In June of 1869, Jingikan became independent of daiokan, and was placed at the head of the administrative system.

In addition to religious services, celebrations and jinfuko (managing households burdening religion-related matters), the roles of jingikan in the Meiji period included shoryo (the administration of imperial tombs) and religious mission. Shoryo, managing the tombs of the emperors and imperial family members was handled by the government in ancient times by Jibusho who managed imperial heirs, imperial marriages, auspicious signs, mouring and burial rites, and diplomacy, but during the Meiji period, the tombs were managed by Shoryoryo (literally, a hall for managing imperial tombs) placed under jingikan. In the past, Jingikan, who were placed in the center of handling religious services, did not conduct religious services related to imperial tombs, to avoid religious services from being made dirty by dealing with the dead, and therefore, the fact that Jingikan became in charge of imperial tombs was significant. However, to accommodate another new role given to Jingikan, the govermental office called "senkyoshi (missionary)" was placed under it. The primary objectives of religious mission were to prevent the infiltration of Chiristian religion and to proclaim to the Japanese people the national policies after the Meiji restoration, and this new role, requested by the national government, was given to Jingikan. However, serious confrontations existed among the officers in Jingikan concerning how to lead the people and what information should be given out, Jingikan was not large enough to conduct these missions nationwide, and therefore, no concrete results were realized.

To conduct national religious services, its original primary role, construction of Hasshinden (eight shrines) was proposed within Jingikan (until then, himorogi - a temporarily erected sacred space or "altar" used as a locus of worship, was built each time a religious ritual was conducted). The restoration of Hasshinden, which had been lost since the middle ages was a concrete movement towards achieving the unity of religion and state, and the movement was based on the idea that it was necessary not only to preach, but to do something concrete as well in the area of religious promotion activities that had been sluggish. In particular, officers influenced by Atsutane HIRATA strongly advocated the construction, but Bisei FUKUBA of the Tsuwano Clan was reluctant to restore the Hasshinden, saying that a model for the unity of religion and state in the modern era was to conduct religious rituals in the imperial palace. In addition, the national government had the big problem of moving the capital to Tokyo and of celebrating Onie no matsuri (first niinamesai - a ceremony for thanking the gods for a good harvest, after an emperor's accession) in Tokyo, making the state of affairs uncertain, and therefore, Dajokan showed a cautious attitude for the construction of Hasshinden as well.

However, it was considered to be a problem that no permanent shrine was available in Jingikan, so it was decided that a "temporary" shrine should be constructed to enable religious services to be conducted for a while; the construction of this temporary shrine was completed in December of 1869, and the mitamashiro (an object that was worshiped in place of the spirit of the dead) of the Hasshinden, which had been kept by the Shirakawa and Yoshida families since the Hasshinden was abolished in medieval times, was enshrined there. It was planned to do a religious service for the temporary shrine by Emperor Meiji, but the plan failed to be realized because the timing was not good (the emperor had a cold then). On January 3, 1870, a religious service was conducted, and Emperor Meiji sent Sanetomi SANJO to the service. In this temporary shrine, the spirits of all the emperors in the past, that of the gods of heaven and earth were also enshrined in addition to the eight gods worshipped by Jingikan in the Ritsuryo system. At this time, the emperor declared the execution of the religious service and the start of a nation-wide shinto campaign, having the religious services in Hassinden and the religious promotion policies of the missionary executed by an imperial order, but the status of the shrine remained "temporary" and no effective measures for the religious promotion polices were forthcoming.

Although it is generally understood that the main members of Jingikan during the Meiji period were the scholars of Japanese classical literature influenced by Atsutane Hirata, it was in fact before Jingikan was restored that they participated in the movement actively, and it was the scholars influenced by Takamasa OKUNI, such as Bisei FUKUBA, that in fact dominated Jingikan after Jingikan was restored. Although this naturally depended on the political power balance at that time, it is also considered that, against Japanese classical scholars following HIRATA who strongly insisted only on the restoration of Jingikan in instituting a Jingi system, those in the Tsuwano group who had newer and more advanced visions suitable for the new era of Meiji were favorably accepted. Harumichi YANO, Tadayuki TSUNODA, Sakura MARUYAMA and Naosuke GONDA, Japanese classical scholars following HIRATA and who assumed important governmental posts were expelled from the government in 1871 on suspicion of a crime against the State, and therefore, there are aspects that Jingikan in the Meiji period were not totally committed to HIRATA followers.

Ministry of Jingi
In July of 1871, Jingikan was down-graded to the Ministry of Jingi and was placed under Dajokan. Seemingly appearing to have lowered the position of the Jingi administration, this measure was in fact taken aiming at a closer unity of religion and state. Due to this reason Sanetomi SANJO, grand minister of state, assumed the post of Jingi-haku when Jingikan was going to be downgraded to ministry of Jingi. In the ministry of Jingi, religious services in shrines by senior, middle and junior officer in charge of the religious services and religion-promoting activities by missionaries were clearly separated. On October 27, 1871, the emperor instructed to place Jingi in a safe place and the spirists of the past emperors were moved from Hasshinden to the palace. On November 11, 1871, mikannagi (a female engaging festivals) and gon-mikannagi (vice-mikannagi) were placed in Jingikan and on the following day, November 12, the spirits of the past emperors were moved to Kashikodokorao (Palace Sanctuary).

Abolishment of the ministry of Jingi and establishement of Kyobusho (Ministry of Religion)
On April 21, 1872, the ministry of Jingi was abolished. As advocated by Bisei FUKUBA concerning the construction of the shrine described above, it was said that the emperor himself had to conduct religious services for the unity of religion and state in the new era and that it was ideal that the emperor himself, and not officers in charge of Jingi, did religious services concerning Jingi. To achive this, the ministry of Jingi was abolished and it was decided that Shikiburyo (department of rites), which existed during the early Meiji period (1869 to 1885), of the Imperial Household Ministry should conduct religious services. The gods enshrined in Hasshinden, except for the spirits of the past emperors which had been previously transferred, were temporarily moved to Kashikodokoro in the palace on April 25, 1872, the construction of Shinden (a shrine) and Korei-den (the Imperial Ancestors' Shrine) was completed on December 27, 1872, the eight gods were enshrined together with the gods of heaven and earth, and the spirits of the past emperors were moved form Kashikodokoro to Koreiden. It was judged that religious promotion centered on the study of Japanese classical literature and Confucism was impossible, and a system of promoting Shinto, Buddhism and Confucism together was introduced to use the base and promotion power of the Buddhist group, with Kyobusho established as an organization specialized in religious education of the Japanese.

Movements after the establishment of Kyobusho
However, corresponding to improvement of the school-based education system, the role of Kyobusho dimished, and Kyobusho was abolished on January 11, 1877, with some of its roles inherited by the Bureau of shrines and temples in the Interior Ministry. However, since the movement for restoring Jingikan gained force, the Bureau of Shinto shrines was established in 1900 separated from the Bureau of shrines and temples. In 1940, Jingi-in was established replaceing Bureau of Shinto shrines for events commemorating the 2,600-th anniversary of the start of the emperor system. However, the war ended before Jingi-in produced any marked results administratively. Jingi-in was abolished on February 2, 1946, and the right of controlling shrines in Japan was inherited by Jinja Honcho (Association of Shinto Shrines) established on the next day.

[Original Japanese]