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Home » 3. Institutions and Administrative Practices » Shrine Economics
Shinryō
Land owned by a shrine, usually used especially to refer to land providing a shrine's economic support from the medieval through the early modern period. Shinryō can be divided into the sub-categories of sharyō shōen, mikuriya, and shuinchi. As private land ownership of shōen (estates) increased from the late ancient period, the majority of the shōen owned by shrines (sharyō shōen) were dedicated to them by the emperor, the nobility, warriors, or others with authority. Under the Ritsuryō system of the ancient period, some shrines had been granted kanbe (households serving a shrine) by the imperial court. When the Ritsuryō system declined, shrines began to administer the kanbe autonomously, and turned kubunden (the land alloted to the members of these households according to the Ritsuryō system) into their shōen. Shrines especially esteemed by the ruling class, such as the Grand Shrines of Ise (Ise Jingū), Kamo Jinja, Kasuga Jinja, and Iwashimizu Hachimangū, owned shōen throughout the country, and the huge income they generated subsidized the operation of the shrines. Seaside shōen provided the fish and other sea products used as offerings (shinsen). This practice is the discerning characteristic of sharyō shōen. Those sharyō shōen in which fishermen were the majority population were also refered to as mikuriya (shrine kitchens), an appelation that was taken from the name for structures erected for the preparation of shrine offerings. However, the mikuriya belonging to the Grand Shrines of Ise and the Kamo Jinja are the only such cases that can be documented. Shōen declined at the end of the medieval period and came to an end with the Taikō cadastral survey (1582-98). Thereafter, shuinchi (lit., "vermilion seal land") came to provide an economic basis for shrines. Because the vermilion seal land-grant deeds issued by Toyotomi Hideyoshi confirmed shrines in the possession of their lands, the land itself came to be called shuinchi. The practice of issuing such deeds was perpetuated by the Tokugawa shogunate, and it continued until the end of the Edo period. One interpretation holds that kanbe and shingun should be regarded as varieties of shinryō, but because control of land rested on a different basis in those cases, they should be strictly distinguished from shinryō.

— Ōzeki Kunio
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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