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Home » 3. Institutions and Administrative Practices » Medieval and Early Modern
§ Outline of institutions and systems of medieval and early modern period
The medieval period was centered on the system, founded in the mid-Heian period, of offerings to the twenty-two shrines of the central imperial court (nijūni-sha), the operation of provincial shrines (ichinomiya/sōja) located throughout the country, and the observance of imperial ritual (saishi). The twenty-two shrine (nijūni-sha) system lasted until the late Muromachi period as part of court ritual. The ichinomiya/sōja system was often found in locales in which administrative duties had changed from the hands of provincial governors (kokushi ) to the provincial representatives of the shogunal government (shugo). The basis of the medieval shrine system followed the ritsuryō codes, but it was further based on a system developed in the middle of the Heian period that was continued into the medieval period. There are several regulations concerning shrines in the large number of laws promulgated between the tenth and fourteenth centuries in the Kamakura period; these were part of the statutes regarding the new system of court nobles. In the imperial court, a tensō was established to present shrine disputes to the emperor and to mediate these conflicts, but with the rise of the shogunal government (bakufu), the responsibility of the position became to communicate with the bakufu and receive its approval in such cases. Those such as the jingū tensō (Ise Jingū Messenger) and kamo tensō (Kamo Messenger) were responsible for these collaborative judgments, which focused mainly on large or "great" shrines (taisha).
       Although an antagonistic relationship between court nobles and the warrior class led to differences in operational styles in the medieval shrine system, Kamakura bakufu legal codes were generally applied along with the maintenance of the original imperial court-centered system of the Heian period. In the first article of the fundamental bakufu legal text, the Goseibaishimoku, the duty of "repairing shrines and devoting one's self to shrine ritual" is cited as being the responsibility of Kantō-based direct retainers of the shōgun. Under the bakufu's new Kantō system, amendments stipulating that retainers promote shrine activities, prevent immoral and violent practices by the jinin (lower-ranking shrine workers), and so forth were added. By the late medieval period, a number of additional laws found in such works as the kenmu shikimoku were further created. Passages from such texts show the creation of further legal provisions for maintaining the sanctity of shrine and temple grounds, rules for the warrior class, and regulations concerning shrine control in the case of sub-division of land. Further, laws governing local villages were created with the development of autonomous governing bodies in local villages. These laws often defined shrines as being symbols of village unity.
       The bakufu became more vocal as it began to usurp power from the imperial court, and its influence was felt in such matters as economic considerations concerning imperial court ritual, supervision of estates, and the practice of donations. The bakufu also influenced policies concerning shrine succession. In the Kamakura and Muromachi periods, the bakufu established the office of the jisha bugyō (magistrate of temples and shrines), which settled shrine and temple disputes and also supervised religious ritual. Further, large or great shrines (taisha) were assigned their own individual magistrates. From this, we can note the significance of shrines in medieval society.
       The pre-modern Edo bakufu further consolidated the bakuhan (feudal) system and came to hold a great deal of power. Even the imperial court became a target for bakufu surveillance. The 1665 Shosha negi kannushi hatto (Regulations Governing All Shintō Shrines, Suppliant Priests, and Other Shrine Functionaries) stipulated the proper execution of ritual and also prohibited the buying and selling of shinryō (shrine land). Along with this, permission to wear shinshoku (priest) accoutrement now required a certificate from the Yoshida household. Thus, the bakufu publicly recognized Yoshida Shintō's control over other shinshoku, and helped to propel the expansion of Yoshida Shintō teachings. Further, through the recognition of Yoshida Shintō, shrines and priests were able to receive titles from the imperial court (e.g. shinkai and kan'i ). With these rights, the Yoshida family was able to long maintain its power. Legal texts such as the Kujigata osadamegaki and the Ofuregaki shūsei further stipulated shrine-related legal matters and helped to complete bakufu regulations. The bakufu control over shrines and temples was an important matter, and three magistrates under the direct supervision of the shōgun (the jisha bugyō ) were placed in charge of administering and controlling these sites.

— Okada Shōji
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8440, Japan
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