Kuni no miyatsuko (regional governor in ancient Japan) (国造)

Kuni no miyatsuko was a post, or an official to the post, placed to govern regions across Japan before the Ritsuryo legal code system was introduced. It is said that the Japanese reading 'miyatsuko' came from 'Miyatsuko' meaning servants or 'Miyatsuko' meaning retainers of the monarch.


Kuni no miyatsuko means the head of kuni, an administrative district of the Yamato Kingdom, although the borders of each Kuni are not clearly known because the Ryoseikoku system, or provinces of Japan, was still not well developled. It is considered that the territories that powerful regional clans had long ruled became recognized as countries (kuni) as they were. The prescribed number of Kuni no miyatsuko was not necessarily one; it is supposed that sometimes two or more Kuni no miyatsuko ruled one Kuni. Unlike Agata no nushi, who were highly loyal to the Yamato Kingdom, each Kuni no miyatsuko was originally the regional powerful clan called Kuninushi (lord of the country), and was later appointed as kuni no miyatsuko of his 'country' by the Yamato Kingdom when the 'country' submitted to the Kingdom, being granted to use one of the official family titles of the Kingdom, such as Omi (臣), Muraji (連), Kimi (君), Kimi (公), or Atai (直); and thus each of the district governed by kuni no miyatsuko was autonomous accordingly. For that reason, the official power of Kuni no miyatsuko was so broad that it covered military forces and jurisdiction. It is known that kuni no miyatsuko were involved in various affairs: the kuni no miyatsuko in Togoku took charge of managing Bemin (the people controlled by the authority through various classifications) and Miyake (lands directly held by the Yamato Kingdom); the one in Izumo conducted religious ceremonies to govern the territory by religion; and the one in Ki got involved in foreign affairs. And there were some Kuni no miyatsuko who oppsed to the Yamato Kingdon, including the one in Tsukushi, who conquered the entire northern Kyushu.

There is an opinion that the Yamato Kingdom had a well-organized Kokkensei system (country-province system), in which each Kuni ruled by Kuni no miyatsuko included subdistricts called Agata. The actual conditions of regional rule before introduction of the ritsuryo system is not apparent, because there are a lot of things unknown including the actual conditions of the Kuni no miyatsuko system and the relationship between Kuni no miyatsuko and the powerful clans in the capital.

After the Taika reform, the positions of Kuni no miyatsuko became honorary, succeeded by heredity, as many kuni no miyatsuko dedicated themselves to preside over religious ceremenies, and the conventional duties of Kunino no miyatsuko were took over by Gunji accordingly
Regions ruled by kuni no miyatsuko were gradually reorganized and merged, or divided to replaced by a 'country' (kuni or province) designated in the legal system (Ritsuryo) of the ancient Japan

There is 'Kuni no miyatsuko Hongi' ('Sendai kuji hongi' Vol. 10), which is a record on the periods of establishment of 135 Kuni no miyatsuko across the country which was founded in the 9th century and the persons who were appointed Kuni no miyatsuko.

Kuni no miyatsuko hongi ko'
Kuni no miyatsuko hongi ko' written by Hiroshi KURITA in 1861 provides the origin of the document 'Kuni no miyatsuko', indication that it is a forged book, and detailed commentaries on the respective Kuni no miyatsuko. It has been pointed out that 'Kuni no miyatsuko hongi' was a highly esteemed document and not spread widely.

Kuni no miyatsuko that continued after the Taika reform (latter half of the 7th century)
Main new Kuni no miyatsuko

Izumo no Kuni no miyatsuko - The highest priest of the Izumo-taisha Shrine, worshiped as a living god. Izumo no Kuni no miyatsuko was divided into the Senge family and the Kitajima family during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, and both families have been survived as the hereditary priestly families.

Kii no Kuni no miyatsuko - The hereditary priestly families of Hinokuma Jingu and Kunikakasu Jingu. During the first half of the Heian period and the middle of the Edo period, the family lost its heirs but managed to survive by the female line. Now, the family takes the family name of Fujiwara.

Families of kuni no miyatsuko, having been inherited as priestly families

Asaka no kuni no miyatsuko (written as 阿尺国造 or 安積国造) - The Ando family that is the priestly family in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture. The family claims that it is descended from Asaka no Kuni no miyatsuko and takes the family name of Asaka.

Iwase no kuni no miyatsuko

Musashi no kuni no miyatsuko

Izu no kuni no miyatsuko

Owari no kuni no miyatsuko

Kumano no kuni no miyatsuko

Tsunuga no kuni no miyatsuko

Tajima no Kuni no miyatsuko

Tanba no kuni no miyatsuko - The Kaifu family that is the priestly family of the Kono-jinja Shrine in Miyazu City, Kyoto Prefecture. The present chief priest of the shrine calls himself the 82nd Tanba no kuni no miyatsuko.

Oushikochi clan

Kayo no kuni no miyatsuko

Minu no kuni no miyatsuko

Nuta no Kuni no miyatsuko - The priestly family of the Nuta-jinja Shrine. In ancient times, the family ruled the area of the present Nuta in Mihara City, Hiroshima Prefecture.

Oki no Kuni no miyatsuko

Usa no Kuni no miyatsuko

Aso no Kuni no miyatsuko

Hyuga no Kuni no miyatsuko

Inaba no kuni no miyatsuko - The Ifukube clan, a family of the priest of the Ube-jinja Shrine, took the name of Inaba no Kuni no miyatsuko; but the Inaba clan (Inaba no kuni no miyatsuko clan) was the real kuni no miyatsuko and the Ifukube clan was a branch family of the Inaba clan.

[Original Japanese]