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Home » 6. Belief and Practice » Associations and Organizations
Ujiko
Generally, a group from the land surrounding the areas dedicated to the belief in and worship of one shrine; or, the constituents of that group. Because that shrine's kami is called the ujigami, the corresponding term ujiko is used. There is another term for ujiko, sūkeisha, but often it is the case that the two are distinguished by a geographical classification with ujiko referring to the person from that shrine's ujiko district and sūkeisha referring to the person from outside the district. However, there are also occasions when they are used interchangeably. Article ninety-nine of the present Shūkyō hōjin jinja honchō chōki dictates "Following precedent, we call believers who bear the obligation of supporting the shrine, that shrine's ujiko or sūkeisha, and these persons are to be registered in the respective ujiko and sūkeisha lists." However, that article is for establishing registration lists, and in article fifteen of the Jinja honchō kenshō it states, "The ujiko is, traditionally, a person who resides in the ujiko district, and the other believers are sūkeisha. Ujiko and sūkeisha are the foundation of shrine support, and the parental body supporting its growth." So, rather than the organizational concept of registration lists, it is defining ujiko emphasizing the traditional concept of naming as ujiko all who reside in the ujiko district. Also in article fourteen it dictates, "The shrine district is a district traditionally determined by each shrine, and shrines must mutually respect ujiko districts." Long ago, the relationship between the shrine and its worship groups and believer groups was a relationship focused on the ujibito (clan member) and the ancestral kami as the ujigami; however, along with that, elements of the chinjugami and the ubusunagami were added and concepts such as ujibito, ubuko (ubusunagami's follower) and ujiko were mixed and came to develop in combination. Even by the middle of the Muromachi period it was written in (Urabe) Kanekuni Hyakushukashō, "Generally, the Gion Shrine officials call an ujiko someone who is born in the area between the Gojō area to the south and the Nijō area in the north, and call a person from the area north of Nijō up to Ōharaguchi a Mitama ujiko," showing that the clear classification of ujiko districts by city areas had been born. Furthermore, in the farm villages at this time, along with the creation of self-governing villages called gōson, shrines came to be managed as pieces of village property. It is also thought that at this time (hand in hand with the development of the miyaza) the concepts of the ujigami and ujiko came to be firmly established. In the Meiji period, the ujiko tradition was taken very serious in the governments shrine policies, and while the ujiko shirabe system from Meiji four (1871) was soon halted due to its being limited to partial enforcement, soon afterward the ujiko sōdai system was installed alongside the administrational institutions for towns and villages in the countryside. In that way, the foundation of present day shrine operations was established. Due to today's Religious Corporation Law (Shūkyō Hōjinhō), the shrine ujiko system has lost its administrative regulations and has turned into something maintained only by practice and belief. We can also see the phenomenon that movement of the population; the development of large scale housing areas; the redevelopment of city areas; land reclamation and other types of engineering enterprises; and changes in administrative sectioning, among other things, cause various problems for traditional ujiko districts and the retention of ujiko consciousness.
See sūkeisha , Shrine Parishioner Registration (ujiko shirabe)

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