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Top > Publications > NDL Newsletter > No. 214, October 2017

National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 214, October 2017

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Browsing library materials—A look at documents from medieval Japan, Part 3
A document within a document?

Ryoma Kinoshita
Personnel Division
Administrative Department

This article is a translation of the article in Japanese of the same title
in NDL Monthly Bulletin No. 675 / 676 (July / August 2017).

Following the previous articles below, we will decipher a kantogechijo, one of the old documents from medieval Japan.

Kantogechijo dated in May 27, 1318
From Kamakuradonogejijo, NDL Call No. WA25-43
*Available in the National Diet Library Digital Collections

Like the article in the last issue, kantogechijo (the document shown above), a judgment (saikyojom) issued by the Kamakura Shogunate on May 27, 1318 is covered here. The heading, called kotogaki in Japanese, tells us that the document is on a trial between Tsunekiyo, deputy lord and procedural attorney (zassho) of a manor (shoen) named Tomiyasunosho in the province of Kii, the owner of which was in Kyoto, and Yoriyuki, secretary of a military land steward of shoen (jitodai) designated by the Kamakura Shogunate. We will call the former "the side of the manorial lord" and the latter, "the side of the military land steward" in what follows.


<<Left: military land steward; Right: manorial lord>>

The main text of this document looks very long due to the quoted passages from another document. The phrase "如 A 者 B 云々" is often used for quotation. The document’s title gets into A and the content of A is quoted in B.

In the beginning of the main text of this document, it is written as "如六波羅執進去々年正和五閏十月廿五日両方連暑和与状者". "六波羅執進去々年正和五閏十月廿五日両方連暑和与状" means "Wayojo with the signature of the plaintiff and the defendant that the local agency of the Kamakura Shogunate in Kyoto (六波羅探題) sent the year before last (leap month October 25, 1316)".

Though I will give an explanation of the meaning of wayojo later, where is the end of the quotation of this wayojo? "云々" showing the end of the quotation finally comes in the lower part of the third line from the last. In short, almost all this document is a quotation from one wayojo.

The structure of this document is shown below. Wayojo, which is quoted in the part marked 3, can be called a document within a document. In fact, only the part marked 4 is the judgment of the Kamakura Shogunate, which means "Therefore, both should follow this wayojo without breaking the promise."


<<Kantogechijo printed in type and structure of the document (inserting line feeds conveniently)
For the definitions of the words marked with asterisks (*), please refer to the previous article.>>

Now I will give an explanation about wayojo. Wayo means "reconciliation". When the parties involved in a lawsuit arrive at a compromise, wayojo (letter of reconciliation) is created as a proof of compromise. Both sides, the manorial lord named Tomiyasunosho and the military land steward who are on trial at the Kamakura Shogunate completed a reconciliation and rejected the case. As long as we read the quotation of this document, it carries two agreed items and concludes with the sentence, "Both sides promise to follow this wayojo and not depart from it. Either or both of the parties who renege on it shall be punished." (quoted in the last paragraph, marked 3). Presumably the wayojo was signed by both sides. As a wayojo which was merely agreed to by both sides lacks effectiveness, it was submitted to the Kamakura Shogunate and given a judgment document to be legally effective.

Column: Domination of shoen seen from the content of the wayo

While the manorial lord criticized the military land steward (jito) regarding the unpaid land tax of Tomiyasunosho, there might be some discrepancies between them for their understanding of jurisdiction on the domination of shoen which affected the amount of land tax. It came to a conclusion that jito would do all the clerical jobs of the shoen and the land owner living in Kyoto would get a fixed amount of money, 50 kanmon, per this wayo. This document reflects the trends of the expanding power of the jito where they were entrusted with the domination of the shoen entirely (it is called jitouke) and the development of a monetary economy where all the land taxes were paid in money (a system called daisenno).


<<The manorial lord and military land steward decide to reach a reconciliation,
obeying the judgment of the Kamakura shogunate.>>

(Illustrations by Satsuki Shobo, translated by Rie Watanabe)

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