Table of Contents
鍜代 敏雄、中世後期の寺社と経済、思文閣出版、京都、一九九九年 (Kitai Toshio, Temples in the Latter Medieval Period and their Finances, Shibunkaku Shuppan, 1999)


鍜代 敏雄、中世後期の寺社と経済、思文閣出版、京都、一九九九年 (Kitai Toshio, Temples in the Latter Medieval Period and their Finances, Shibunkaku Shuppan, 1999)

One of the developments of the Honganji apparatus was the creation of a transport network spanning the Ōmi region, which proved very profitable for the groups of faithful maintaining the various points along the roads and on the ferries taking people to and from the capital (for pilgrimages by Honganji priests or Monto), transporting donations and tithes to the capital, overseeing the transport of groups of Banshū, and ensuring the safety of messengers and traders to and from the capital. In order to streamline the system of transport, it appears as though it was necessary to have each region communicate with others via the groups of believers within the regions themselves. (97)

The transport of particular goods or people to any of the affiliate temples would be designated as a `special envoy to the affiliate temples`, which was to distinguish them from the more common `general envoy to the affiliate temples`. Within the items under investigation in the study outlined here, the creation of the transportation network by Honganji will be the main point of enquiry (97.98) Within the Honganji organization, the practice of 路次安全確保 referred to the appointment of affiliated temples and Monto to protect traffic moving through their area. This basically meant that they were responsible for policing the traffic and for providing information. Particular evidence pointing to this comes from Tenshō 8 and 9, in a letter sent to Shōrenji (照蓮寺) dated for the 26th day of the 10 month, and sent by Shimotsuma Yoriyasu(廉), asking that Shōrenji and two kokujin members of the Monto, a certain Uchigashima and a Yamashita (the hikan of Uchigashima) accompany Shimotsuma Yori(純) on his way back from Kaga to Osaka. From this document (and other similar descriptions), what we can deduce is that the transport system of Honganji related followers was focused on influential affiliate temples in areas deemed of importance to transport and communications. The security of the roads thus lay with both the local affiliate temples and the local landowning class who also happened to be influential Monto members. (98-99) (One minor problem with the examples given at this early stage is that they are primarily focused on the latter part of the Sengoku era, from 1570 onwards, hence it might not give a realistic picture of the transport system in the late Muromachi era).

As for transport itself, according to the `Honpukuji Yuraiki` (and the writing displayed on the back of part of this record), the transport of people by ferry was a business in which the Hossu Jitsunyo held half of the market, with the other half going to various affiliates of Honganji. According to the `Honpukuji Atogaki`, the cost of transport was born by Honganji, who had to pay out a considerable sum whenever one of its boats needed to be repaired. These particular costs were offset by money obtained from Monto members within affiliated temples. The transport of goods over Lake Biwa was one of the areas in which the flotilla of Katata is particularly well-known. On the 19th day of the 5th month in the 3rd year of Tensho, Shimotsuma Yoriyasu and Yoritaki placed their names to a document (stated within the 本光寺文書 増訂 加能古文書) in which rice coming down from Kaga was to be placed on boats heading for Katata through the territory of the Asai.(101)

There are a number of good historical references to the transmission of information via this system. One example is that of a document sent by Kūsei (空誓)of Honshōji (本証寺) for the 23rd day of the 8th month of the year Tensho 18 (found within the record for 本証寺文書 新編 岡崎市史料古代中世6). This record states that:
As for forwarding address for this document has been lost we do not know who it was meant for, however it does report that Toyotomi Hideyoshi has traveled up to the capital, a piece of information requested by Kūsei of the Ikke shū temple Honshōji, in which Kennyo was in exile. This information was to be passed along `via Suruga sō dōjō, a `certain place`, and Yoshida sō dōjō`. Of particular interest is the fact that the cost of maintaining messengers `飛脚` was borne by Honshōji, with various dōjō along the route entrusted with keeping runners ready to pass along the message. This particular type of messenger system, binding various affiliated Monto together, was derived from within the Honganji group during the Sengoku era (or so it is commonly believed).(100-101)

Another point, related more to the practices from the Tenbun era onwards, was the request put by public officials and warriors (in other words, third parties) to Honganji for the safe passage of a person of rank from one station to another. This is detailed on a chart on pgs.104-105. Essentially, once Honganji had agreed to a request for aid, it would send out orders to the temples and Monto in the particular regions to be traveled, ordering them to provide assistance. In an area when there was a strong likelihood that any attempt at transporting goods or people would be interrupted halfway, the relationship that Honganji held with its affiliate temples and Monto meant that whenever Honganji received a request from a third party, it could vouchsafe for the security of the goods or persons passing through the network of combined territories that its temples and Monto had created. It was a system that was highly valued by warrior households.(105)

However, there was a difference when this system was applied to Kaga. As demonstrated by examples 1・20 on the chart, orders for the safe passage of goods through Kaga were not addressed to affiliate temples but to the four `gun` (of Kahoku, Ishikawa, Nōmi, and Enuma). Past researchers, including Inoue Toshio, pointed out that the guarantee of safe passage was not exclusively confined to Kaga, but was followed in a variety of areas. As Kawasaki Chizuru stated, the authority that Honganji wielded over Kaga was a continuation of that of the shugo. Katayama Shinji believed that the examples set out in 1・20 were the abolishment of the 路次狼籍 and 寄船押領 that were found under the Kamakura system of laws. The `guarantee of protection for those passing through the Honganji territory of Kaga` was just one facet of the duties expected of a shugo.(107)

Honganji was aware that it needed to perform the same function of a shugo within the territory it controlled – that is, the protection of sea and land routes. However this was not a task that Honganji could perform by itself, for within Kaga lay the core units of `gun`. It was these groups that made the protection of transport a possibility, hence any orders relating to the protection of transport were addressed to the `gun`. Hence any understanding of the system of protection for transportation within Kaga by Honganji has to consider the question of what function the gun held in the protection of transport. Supposing that the `gun` was made up of local landowners (of warrior background) such as Suzuki Dewa no Kami (in reference to Kaga Yamanouchi Shōen). The protection of the roads within the `gun` was achieved through the control of such roads by the members who made up the gun. This system of protection was formed within the gun itself, yet responded to calls to serve Honganji.(107)

Hence the broad system of transportation and communications maintained by the Honganji group was derived from the communications between the Monto and the dōjō and temples that stood on the periphery of the organization, and the religious ties of subservience that existed within the organization. In regions where the faith of Honganji was particularly developed, influential affiliate temples became the focal points for the system of communications. With their ties to local Monto groups, they could plan for a guarantee of safe conduct and rapidity of communications, which was further aided by the communications network that lay further away from the capital. Moreover, Honganji had seen to placing lodgings in areas that were close to communication centers and similar establishments. By maintaining a profit and guaranteeing personal safety, as well as its obligation to maintain runners, more people became actively involved in using the Honganji service. Honganji was also able to negotiate with local warrior families and landlords that controlled territory along which paths of communication ran, thereby extending the communications network beyond its own lands. This system thus allowed for the rapid transmission of missives from Honganji to the regions, which accounted for the transport of men and goods, weapons, and payment to Osaka during the siege of Ishiyama Honganji. (108)

The control of lake traffic by Katata:

Within Katata there is a record pertaining to Kyosho Torao(居初 寅夫). The Kyosho were of jizamurai class within the sō that ruled over Katata. During the early modern period, they were signatories to a union of Gō samurai known as the `Sendōgō` (船道郷), and thus played an important role as rulers over the bays and village. This particular knowledge comes by way of the `Kyosho Ke Monjo` (居初家文書). This document relates to the security and taxation gates surrounding Okijima (沖島), which was part of Katata sō`s territory. Thus using this document, we may examine the control of lake traffic exercised by Katata in its capacity as owner of the toll gates on the island.(298)

Katata is predominantly known as a focal point for studies into the ikkō ikki, and in recent years Amino Yoshihiko had arranged his studies in relation to Katata, drawing attention to the facets of its character as an independent town. Later work by Shingyō 新行 Norikazu and Mito Hideo spread further light on the question of Katata`s rights to lake traffic, which was summarized as follows. In the latter half of the 11th century, Katata became the Mikuriya (御厨) of Shimogamo shrine, thus securing the right to free passage (自由通行権). In the latter 13th century, it became part of the Sanmon Yokogawa territory, known as Katata Ura (堅田浦). Shingyō explains this period by stating that from here on “Yokogawa, as the owner of Katata shōen, also included Katata Mikuriya within its sphere of influence”. According to Shingyō, the `right to lake passage` including `1. the right to fishing, 2.the right to transport, 3.the right to collect tolls, and 4.the right to passage`. Of these rights, both 3 and 4 are of particular interest.(298-299)

In the 8th day of 11th month of the 18th year of Ōei (1411), the Bakufu issued an order to the Sanmon, which was the owner of the toll gates of `Okushima(奥嶋), Katata, and six gates in Sakamoto`, in relation to (勘過) tithes by these areas to Myōhōin (妙法院). From this text, we know that gates existed within Okushima, Katata, and Sakamoto for the purpose of collecting monies for use of the lake. On the other hand, `the right to passage` referred to a right to collect a fee that would guarantee passage across the lake. In the 15th century, the position of `上乗` (Kaminori) was responsible for ensuring that the flags on a boat flew as a sign that it had paid its toll to Katata. This position then became the object for the collection of tokubun, and would eventually end up as the source of contention as it was sold and fought over. Finally, the various bays and inlets of the lake apparently all fell under the auspices of the Katata `right to passage`.(299)

Next, we should take a look at the relationship between the shugo of Ōmi province, the Rokkaku family, and the state in Katata. Relations between the Rokkaku and Katata seem to have started no later than Meiō 7 (1498). By the end of the 15th century, the Rokkaku were issuing directives on the coming and going of Katata boats, thus giving an indication that Rokkaku were planning to take control of the right to traverse the lake for themselves(299) (Note that map on pg.301 gives an indication of the placement of taxation collection points on the eastern and western shores of Lake Biwa, thus showing the extent to which Katata imposed taxes on the inlets of the lake).

It appears that the most commonly applied tax was that of `the right of passage`, thereby guaranteeing safe passage. It is important to note that this was collected just once per year. Another interesting point is that the amounts imposed on inlets differed, which suggests that the `right to passage` tax was calculated based on the number of boats available in a certain inlet.(302)

© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in December 2011