Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
Chinzei-mai and the financial structure of Todaiji Temple in early medieval Japan
Shinji MIWA
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2018 Volume 127 Issue 4 Pages 41-66


In the present article the author discusses the formation process and characteristic features of the financial structure of Todaiji Temple during the 12th and 13th centuries, based mainly on the historical source, Todaiji Nenjugyoji 東大寺年中行事 (The Yearly Events of Todaiji Temple), which lists the materiel and the persons donating it for the Temple’s Buddhist ceremonies and other scheduled events throughout the year, making it an excellent source for obtaining an overall grasp of the institution’s financial structure.
The author begins with an historiographical analysis of his source, summarizing how it was recorded and its content, indicating its function as a notebook for the Temple’s Shigyo 執行, or business affairs manager. Special attention is also paid to how the allotments of Chinzei-mai 鎮西米, a brand of rice collected as the land tax by the central government from the island of Kyushu (mainly Chikuzen Province), were recorded.
Next, the author takes up the Temple’s main sources of income recorded in Nenjugyoj…shoen 荘園 (proprietary estates), public Chinzei-mai funds and kishinden (donated rice paddy) …categorizing its shoen in terms of function and indicating the supplemental relationship of Chinzei-mai allotments to the Temple’s directly managed estates in its home province of Yamato-no-Kuni 大和国 and elsewhere. Although Chinzei-mai allotments did not match shoen sources of income in terms of quantity, it was the main source for enhancing the solemnity of Buddhist rituals and supporting the Temple’s resident sangha groups, making it an important income source in maintaining the Todaiji’s internal social order.
The author also examines the relationship between Chinzei-mai and its predecessors, fuko 封戸 and fumotsu 封物, allotments to aristocrats, bureaucrats, temples, shrines, et. al. from public tax revenue sources under the ancient Ritsuryo system. A comparison between the amounts and types of fumotsu allotments during the 11th and 12th centuries with those of Chinzei-mai during the 12th and 13th centuries, reveals a definite decrease in quantity over time; but the actual items allotted remained mostly the same, indicating that 1) Chinzei-mai functioned as a replacement source of income for fumotsu and 2) despite stricter limits on variety, the quantities of Chinzei-mai for the 12th and 13th centuries were identical and thus continuous.
Finally, the author turns to Todaiji’s expansion of its training system during the 12th century, marked by the appearance of shoen devoted exclusively to student stipends and of kishinden for paying sangha to preside at Buddhist events, in order to show how the Temple’s sources of income were becoming more specialized and diversifying. It was this definite division of labor between Chinzei-mai, formerly fumotsu, and shoen and kishinden sources devoted to specific purposes that characterized the formation of the Temple’s financial structure as seen in Todaiji Nenjugyoji. Moreover, the author is of the opinion that it was this structure, fully formed by the 13th century, that determined the Temple’s dual governance organization, comprised of a mandokoro 政所 (central political affairs bureau) and a soji 惣寺 (an assembly of different sangha groups residing in the Temple).

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© 2018 The Historical Society of Japan
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