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Home » 3. Institutions and Administrative Practices » Medieval and Early Modern
Magistrate of Temples and Shrines: Pre-modern (Jisha bugyō)
The position and Bakufu agency in charge of bureaucratic matters concerning shrines and temples. Under the Kamakura and Muromachi Bakufu magistrates — who were in charge of supervising temple and shrine repairs and prayers and ritual, and solving disputes — were created on an individual basis for large temples and shrines. Tokugawa Ieyasu first appointed two monks, Shōtai and Genkitsu, and Itakura Katsushige as magistrates. Following the death of Genkitsu (1612), the monk Sūden and Itakura were appointed to this role. Bakufu retainers took over this role from November of 1635, when Andō Shigenaga, Matsudaira Katsutaka, and Hori Toshishige were assigned to the role. Later, the position was comprised of four magistrates. In 1658, with the dual appointment of Itakura Shigesato and Inoue Masatoshi, magistrates were almost entirely selected from the sōshaban [Samurai in charge of settling disputes]. In the Edo period, the magistrate role was referred to as being one of the "three magistrate positions," a term which also included the magistrate of domain finances and the municipal magistrate. While the latter two magisterial positions were controlled by the shogun's elder councilors (hatamoto rōjū), the magistrate of temple and shrines was under direct control of the shogun himself. After 1662, candidates were selected from the fudai daimyō, with many candidates having a kokudaka rank of some 50,000 to 80,000 koku.
       Along, of course, with being in charge of government documentation and judicial decisions concerning temples and shrine, the magistrates were also in charge of a wide-range of groups of administrative sites such as the shintōkata, Momijiyama, renga poets, priests of the Fuke school (komusō), and Shōgi, Tokugawa family-related provincial sites, and the merchant and manufacturing classes. The magistrates were also responsible for settling private land disputes in the eight Kanto provinces and also temple- and shrine-related land disputes that involved Edo. The basic pattern of work assignment revolved around a month-long assignment. Over time, there came to be certain tasks (such as the administration of specific regions or religious groups) that came to be administered by various factions within the bureaucracy. Magistrates tended to appoint their successors from within their own faction. Although the monthly system called for that month's magistrate to deal with and rule on disputes, consensus with other magistrates was often reached in the magistrate's quarters. In disputes concerning domain control, the magistrate would first perform an in-court examination and then pass judgment on a separate and officially decided day. At the examination, the four temple and shrine magistrates, in contradistinction to the magistrate of domain finances and the municipal magistrate, would sit on an elevated platform alongside the Daimyō — a sign of their authority and jurisdiction in judicial matters. Further, as many magistrates used their own domiciles for administrative facilities, there are cases were conference chambers and courtrooms were built in their homes.
       In the Edo period, temple and shrine magistrates were assigned to almost all provinces, where they supervised and administered kokuinchi and non-tariff temple and shrine land, construction and repairs, rites, the construction of parishioner registries, disputes, judicial penalties, Buddhist and Shinto priests.
       The Nikkō magistrate was included as one of Edo Bakufu's outlying land magistrates and was responsible for the supervision of the Nikkō Tōshōgū and security for the Tayū-in mausoleum. After 1791, along with the Nikkō administrative position, the magistrate took direct administrative control of the shrine's grounds itself. In 1700 two magistrates presided; a single magistrate fulfilled this role from 1862 onward.
       Similarly, the Yamada magistrate was one administrative position in the Bakufu's outlying province system. This position, along with the Ise village magistrate, was established during the Keichō period (1596-1615). Despite a temporary absence of an official administrator, the position was reestablished in 1624 and generally was filled by a single individual. This magistrate was in charge of security for the Grand Shrines of Ise (Ise Jingū), the periodical demolition and rebuilding of the shrines, management of Bakufu land in Ise, and the monitoring of vessels entering Toba Bay. The Temple and Shrine Magistrate system was abolished during the Meiji Reformation.

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