Online ISSN : 2424-2616
Print ISSN : 0018-2478
ISSN-L : 0018-2478
The elements of intercession within the judicial institutions of the Kamakura Bakufu
An analysis of kyojo documents
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2019 Volume 128 Issue 1 Pages 1-35


In the research to date on the judicial institutions of the Kamakura Bakufu, written letters of recommendation, called kyojo 挙状 accompanying litigatory petitions, have been treated separately from the practice of seeking a favorable judgment orally(kunyu 口入). However, in the recent research on the judicial practices of the Insei Regimes centered around retired emperors(1086-1221), a reexamination of the image of their court proceedings has been developing, in which kyojo and kunyu recommendation have come to be understood as having equivalent efficacy, as requests or intercessions of a different nature from enforcing the rule of law based on political power.
The present article follows this new trend in a reconsideration of the judicial institutions of the Kamakura warrior government(buke 武家)from the elements of similar intercessions: kyojo, kunyu, mōshiri 申入, etc.
The author begins with an investigation of the honjo kyojo 本所挙状, a recommendation accompanying litigatory petitions submitted to the Bakufu by managerial representatives of shoen estate proprietors(honjo 本所). At its earliest stages, the Bakufu would simply respond to such ligation by summary judgments against its vassal defendants, attesting to the dominant influence of intercession via kyojo recommendations at that time. Then later on during the middle of the regime, marked by the civil disturbances of the Jokyu Era in 1221 and the promulgation of the Bakufu’s code of civil law, the Goseibai Shikimoku 御成敗式目, settling disputes arising between estate proprietors and Bakufu vassals became more adversarial, with judgments being passed in favor of the party with the better case, thus greatly increasing the litigatory success of buke shoen managers and concomitantly decreasing the efficacy of kyojo. recommendations to almost mere introductions to the disputes at hand.
Next, the author turns to the practice referred to as kanto gokunyu関東御口入 and their written versions kanto kyojo 関東挙状, attempts at intercession by the Bakufu in deliberations and judgements by estate proprietors pertaining to issues not under the direct control of Kamakura, such as disputes regarding boundaries of honjo discretionary holdings and the division of shoen in western Honshu and Kyushu. Up through the mid-Kamakura Period, the Bakufu would merely forward any litigation submitted by its vassals to the estate proprietor named requesting his favorable review and judgment, making the kanto- and honjo-kyojo recommendations mirror images of each other. However, during the later years of the Bakufu, along with the rise in the actual political authority of the Kamakura government, such buke requests increased in their potency, resulting in a loss of judicial autonomy on the part of estate proprietors, as the Bakufu began summoning proprietary estate managers and Bakufu representatives to determine beforehand whether a kunyu recommendation would be appropriate or not.
It is in this way that “kyojo addressed to the Bakufu” and “kyojo from the Bakufu” can be depicted as contrasting practices pointing to one significance of warrior governance within a unique realm of authority through intercession rather than direct power to enforce the law.

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