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Home » 3. Institutions and Administrative Practices » Medieval and Early Modern
Magistrate of Temples and Shrines: Medieval (Jisha bugyō)
The term for the system — which existed from the Kamakura to Edo period — and those responsible in the bakufu for supervising Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Along with the general appellation "Magistrate of Temples and Shrines," the term also refers to specially assigned magistrates in charge of individual temples and shrines and festivals and rites. Although the exact nature of this position changed over time, the term is used to refer to all such positions. Further, magistrates for temporary or non-regular rites also existed. [One of the earliest examples] is found in the Azuma Kagami, when, in 1188, Minamoto no Yoritomo promoted Miyoshi Yasunobu (Dharma name: Zenshin) as magistrate of Sōja and Kokubunji (and also encouraged protectors [shugo] in Tōkaidō to repair the damaged sites). Then, in 1194, Nakahara Suetoki was ordered to "deal with temple and shrine disputes." This is the earliest appearance of evidence citing the Magistrate of Temples and Shrines' role in resolving general temple and shrine conflicts. In the latter part of the Kamakura period, Ōta Tokitsura and Settsu Shinkan occupied this post; evidence that those who had experience in dealing with temple and shrine disputes were often assigned to this position. Further, a separate magisterial position was created in Kyoto's Rokuhara Tandai. On the other hand, evidence for magistrates dealing with specific temples and shrines can be traced back to the creation of a position in charge of the Yoritomo family temples and shrines such as Tsurugaoka Hachimangū, Shochōju-in, and Yōfuku-ji. The prominent retainer Ōba Kageyoshi fulfilled this role.
       With the new Kenmu-era government, another magistrate position was created in Ōshū's chinjufu. In the period of the Muromachi bakufu, as well, the magistrate was in charge of supervising the placement of shinkan and Buddhist priests, in settling disputes, and in charge of forced (i.e, military) repossession of temple and shrine land. From the period of the shogun Yoshimitsu, however, all major temples and shrines were assigned individual magistrates (i.e., the jingū magistrate, the Hachiman magistrate, the Sanmon magistrate, and the Nanto magistrate). In the Edo period, Itakura Katsushige and [the monk] Sūden of Konchi-in were appointed as magistrates (1612), and the permanent position, Magistrate of Temples and Shrines, was officially created in 1635. This system continued until the Meiji era, when it was disbanded.
       Magistrates in charge of ritual were known by such titles as Prayer Magistrates (O-inori bugyō) and Magistrates of Matters Related to the Kami (Shinji bugyō). As the Prayer Magistrate was in charge of supervising rituals dealing with prayers and rituals in the event of upheaval and natural disaster, they were also known as Inori Magistrates and Kitō Magistrates. An early example of this position (1185), was when, based on a prophetic dream seen by Kamakuragon Gorō Kagemasa in which he was warned that Sūtoku-in was cursed, a prayer ritual for pacifying the nation was conducted and a magistrate was placed in charge of the rite. In the ensuing period, the magistrate supervised rituals concerning prayers for rain, star festivals, and prayers for the safety of the Shogun and his family. In 1240, a group of ritual specialists for the Shogunal house was formed who performed kitō. Extant historical documents detailing this position primarily note Buddhist rituals and traditional divination practices; however, there is evidence found in the Azuma Kagami that notes that in 1258 magistrates officiated the offering of sacred swords at two shrines. By the Muromachi period, this position gradually became a permanent one, and was made the hereditary role of the Senshū family. The magistrate of Kami-related affairs was in charge of Hachiman-gū, the shrine worshipped by the shogun's (Yoritomo) family. In the Kamakura period, this magistrate was in charge, for example, of rituals for releasing life (hōjō-e). By the time of the machi bakufu, both samurai and non-samurai retainers served as dual magistrates for this ritual at Iwashimizu Hachiman-gū.

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