Mandokoro (政所)

Mandokoro was an administrative board for domestic economy that was allowed to be set up by Imperial princes, princesses and court nobles ranked Sanmi (Third Rank) or higher. Mandokoro was opened in the Heian period.

It was one component of the office organization system within the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

It was one component of the office organization system within the Muromachi bakufu as well.

Mandokorocha is a kind of tea leaf that is gathered at the tea plantation in the Eigenji area of Higashiomi City, Shiga Prefecture.
The tea is so famous that there is a song written about it that sings, 'Uji is the center of production and tea is the production of Mandokoro.'

Mandokoro of the Imperial Family and court nobles

Mandokoro is an administrative board in charge of the domestic economy of Japan run by the Imperial Family and court nobles ranked Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) or higher. Officers of the board were called Keishi (household superintendent).

The reason why the wife of a sessho (regent) and kanpaku (chief advisor to the Emperor) were called Kita no Mandokoro (the north Mandokoro) derives from the fact that the wife took initiative in matters of domestic economy in her family (This was also due to the wives' living quarters often being located on the north side of the residence). (In addition, during the Heian period it was common among the aristocracy to have marriages where a man married into his wife's family which meant the residence was handed down from the family to the wife).

With the establishment of the Shoen (private estate) system, the Mandokoro became the institute in charge of estate management affairs. In the Middle Ages when Shoen declined, however, the domestic economy run by the court nobles stagnated and the essence of the Mandokoro was gradually lost.

Theory on 'Mandokoro Politics'

For a period of time, there was a theory on 'Mandokoro Politics' advocated by people like Katsumi KUROITA which argued that prior to World War II, during a period of regency, the sessho and kanpaku (the regent and the chief advisor to the Emperor) were in charge of all State politics. The theory claimed that a kudashibumi (a document issued by a superior or official) issued by the Mandokoro, or a migosho (a document intended to pass on information regarding decisions made by nobles of Third Rank or higher) functioned in place of the Emperor's senshi (imperial decree), politics were carried out at Mandokoro rather than the Daijokan (Grand council of State), and the Imperial Court was only in charge of rituals and ceremonies. However, after World War II, based on the criticisms by people like Naoshige TSUCHIDA, the theory is no longer held as true for the following reasons: Until the early Insei period (the period ruled by the retired Emperor), even if there were differences in strength of authority between the Sessho/Kanpaku and the Emperor, political decisions were made through a consultation of both sides, and there was never a time in which the Sessho and/or Kanpaku arbitrarily took the initiative in political affairs; and orders that related to state politics were issued based on the chain of command through senshi and daijokanpu (official documents issued by the Daijokan and the Grand Council of State) even during the golden days of the regency, and it was revealed that kudashibumi and migosho documents issued by the Mandokoro were only effective for private or internal problems of the sessho and kanpaku themselves.

Mandokoro of Kamakura bakufu

Mandokoro was a governing institution that was part of the Kamakura bakufu. It had been formerly known as the Kumonjo (administration office) organization. This change was brought about by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo who opened up the bakufu to acquire the right to establish Mandokoro, which until then had only been open to court nobles ranked Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) or higher. This event had such significance that his own governing system took on a formal attribute based on the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code). Mandokoro took charge of general political affairs and finance in the Kamakura bakufu.

There are various theories about the moment in which the name was changed from Kumonjo to Mandokoro. There is a theory that the name was changed from Kumonjo to Mandokoro in 1191, and another insists that the name change occurred in 1185 (this theory is based on the fact that MINAMOTO no Yoritomo was promoted from Sanmi to Junii - Junior Second Rank during this year). There is another theory that denies the continuity of Kumonjo and Mandokoro and argues that the functions of Kumonjo were absorbed by Mandokoro as a consequence of OE no Hiromoto being posted as betto (director of a secretariat) in both organizations where a number of his work functions overlapped ('Kamakura-shi' - 'The History of Kamakura City').


Mandokoro betto: Director of the Mandokoro Administrative Board
The first betto was OE no Hiromoto
Later on, the Shikken (shogunal regent) or Rensho (assistant to regents) would double as the betto.

Rei: Deputy director of Mandokoro
The first person to take the post of rei was Yukimasa NIKAIDO (later he and Hiromoto became the betto).
Shohanyaku: (inspector) of documents

Mandokoro shitsuji: Senior official of Mandokoro
Involved with political affairs and took charge of accounting.
A descendant of the Nikaido clan

Shitsujidai: Deputy steward of the office of administration
Anju: Low-level official of Mandokoro
An official to prepare drafts

Chikeji: Low-level official of Mandokoro
An official to prepare drafts

Yoryudo: A clerk in charge of miscellaneous chores.
At first it was also called 'Mandokoro Kujin' (public clerk of Mandokoro)

Mandokoro in the Muromachi period

Position in charge of the financial administration and lawsuits related to territory affairs in Muromachi bakufu.

Shitsuji (Chief of the Mandokoro, the Administrative Board) - became a hereditary post of the Ise clan after 1379, except for a short time to celebrate the genpuku (coming of age) of Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA where Tadayuki NIKAIDO filled the post.


Mandokoro Shitsuji: Chief of Mandokoro, the Administrative Board). The Sasaki clan, Nikaido clan and Kyogoku clan were appointed to the post, but later the Ise clan handed it down as a hereditary post.

Mandokoro Shitsujidai: Deputy Steward of the office of administration
The Saito clan and the Matsuda clan took turns for the post.

Mandokorodai: Proxy Officer of Mandokoro Administrative Board
The Ninagawa clan, a vassal of the Ise clan took the charge as a hereditary post

Yoriudo (a dependent who frequently served a noble house or proprietor): Officer who took part in the Council of State at Mandokoro

Kunin: A clerk in charge of miscellaneous chores.
Also known as 'Mandokoro Gebu' (low-ranked personnel at Mandokoro)

[Original Japanese]