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Chapter Twelve Directly Ruled Territories and their Administration



Chapter Twelve Directly Ruled Territories and their Administration

For feudal lords, territories that were directly under their rule provided an economic basis which directly affected their authority. In the process of creating a territorial system, a large expansion in direct rule was an essential condition for strengthening one`s military and economic power.(147-148) In the case of the Ōtomo, unlike the Ryūzōji of Hizen and the Mōri of the Chūgoku region, both of which had risen to prominence during the era of Gekokujō (or age of upheaveal), the Ōtomo were a shugo daimyō family with traditions dating back to the Kamakura era. They (based their system of rule on) a powerful jitō post affiliated with the position of shugo. Those lands that underwent the most rapid development were directly administered by the Ōtomo, and they formed the core of Ōtomo`s territorial holdings. Hence the Ōtomo were comparatively better off (in terms of access to directly administered land) than other Sengoku daimyō. Professor Fujiki Hisashi has insisted that the term `directly administered land` refers to land attached to branch castles (see 「上杉氏知行制の構造的特質」 歴史雑誌 六九 一二). However the Ōtomo did not have a sufficient number of castles (i.e retainers) with adjacent pieces of land. One can`t say for certain whether castle lands were fully developed, so the author`s opinion on the matter differs somewhat from that of Professor Fujiki (see 外山「大名領国の経済に関する二・三の問題」「長崎大学教育学部社会科学論叢」二三).(148)

To backtrack a bit, two `Chūshinjō` letters (in which the lands and offices held by the Ōtomo in the present and the past were reported to the bakufu) exist, one dated for the 2nd month of Teiji (貞治) 3 (1364) and the other for the 7th month of Eitoku 3 (1383). These documents are intriguing for they reveal what the precedents were for land that would eventually be directly administered by the Ōtomo. When we combine these together with references to a number of lands that appear now and again in documents during the Sengoku era, we can deduce what constituted the directly administered land of the Ōtomo family during the Sengoku era as follows…

豊後 府内
大分郡  挟間村 笠和村 阿南庄 高田庄 稙田(わさだ)庄 荏隈郷(えのくま) 戸次庄
国東郡  安岐郷 国東郷半分 来繩(らいじょう、きなわ)郷 来浦村 田染(たしぶ)庄 田原別府 六郷夷 山小墻(こがき)原名
速見郡  山香郷 日出庄辻間村
大野郡  大野庄 緒方庄 野津院 宇目村 井田郷ヵ 
直入郡  直入郷
海部郡  臼杵 丹生庄 佐賀郷関 津久見

豊前  久保庄 松井五町分 奥畑
筑前  博多東北部半分 志摩郡
筑後  生葉郡 山北八十町 (149)
肥後  豊田 玉名郡関西十五町その他

And so, as can be seen from this list, while the Ōtomo did possess a wide range of territories under their direct control, most of these lands were located in the home province of Bungo. Apart from Funai, a majority of the Ōtomo`s directly administered land was found in Ōita gun, followed by Kunisaki, Ōno, and Hayami gun. As for why there was comparatively more directly administered land located in Kaifu (海部) gun, this stems from Sōrin`s move between Usuki and Tsukumi.(150) Another interesting point about these territories is that they incorporate many major cities, villages, and rivers. We have already seen how Funai, Usuki, and Tsukumi functioned as residences for Sōrin, and there is no real need to explain the presence of Hakata in the list. Oita gun Takada was an abode for many metallurgists, sword, and spear makers, Enokuma was famous for its pottery, while Naoiri gō, Naoiri gun was known for its paper.(150)

As for the formation of rule over direct territories, this came about through argument, extinction of family lines, and reform accompanying punishments. Such reforms extended not only to lands given as reward to the Ōtomo, but also private land captured in battle. A certain person by the name of Shigesada briefly had his lands at Bungo Mudōji (無動寺) and Roku gō Soyama Kogakibara Myō Tabatake Yamano Arano confiscated by the Ōtomo and turned into directly administered territory. However, in Eishō 4 (1507), as a result of fealty displayed towards Ōtomo Yoshinaga, and as a result of the intervention in proceedings by Shinkōji (真光寺), the land was returned (according to the Amase Monjo, or 余瀬文書). It therefore seems that the land was initially confiscated as some form of punishment. Whenever land was confiscated from retainers and made into directly administered territory, a number of persons would emerge to block such moves, hence it was important to gain the assistance of local lords in carrying out such orders.(151)

Directly administered territory was broadly referred to as `kōryō` (公領, or `public land`). The land itself was divided up into kurairi (蔵入) and kyūbun (給分). Kurairi became the basic financial basis (or source of income) for the Ōtomo family, and was variously called sōnō (倉納), chokunō (直納), chokumu (直務), or ryōsho (料所). On the other hand, kyūbun referred to land that had been parceled out to retainers of the Ōtomo. Both kurairi and kyūbun were established as separate entities, yet occasionally they intermingled. For example, the village of Tsujima (辻間) located in Hiji shō, Hayami gun functioned as a ryōsho, thus making it part of the kurairi system, whereas Naoiri gō in Naoiri gun had the following characteristics:
木原左衛門四郎入道 (151)
In this instance, Kibara Saei`mon Shirō Nyūdō, a direct vassal of the Ōtomo, was (provisionally) meant to receive a stipend (or kyūbun) of land totaling 10 kanmon, yet in reality half of that amount would be paid directly into the coffers of the Ōtomo family, with Kibara pocketing the remaining 5 kanmon. (152)

The Ōtomo aimed to expand the number of territories under their direct rule. They attempted to limit the amount of personal income (or kurairi) their retainers could receive and tried (as far as possible) to create positions in which retainers were directly answerable to them. They also had a policy of distributing half of their land as kyūbun. A consequence of this policy saw an unstable relationship emerge between the Ōtomo and regional landlords, for the Ōtomo were forced to rely on retainers only loyal to them and directly tied to their household. These measures did increase in the amount of lands under direct Ōtomo administration. Yet the Ōtomo were not a particularly wealthy daimyō family. The priest Alessandro Valignano had the following to say on this point;


This passage cuts right to the heart of the matter. Sōrin`s great grandfather, Ōtomo Chikaharu, who opened up the Ōtomo`s path to becoming a Sengoku daimyō, complained about his financial straits during the Bunki era (文亀年間), citing a `lack of funds from households` (世帯不弁) and lamenting that he faced `starvation` (飢にのぞむ). One must take this background into account if one is to correctly interpret the financial decisions made by the Ōtomo.(152-153)

Revenue system of the Ōtomo

The revenue from the territory of a daimyō generally came in the form of tribute, although we have already seen how unstable this system could be. The most basic forms of revenue that provided support to the Ōtomo household were known as either tansen (段銭) or mabechisen (間別銭). Tansen had originally been a form of payment made by a shugo to either the court or bakufu and was based on the exercise of supreme authority. However gradually a form of `shugo tansen` emerged within the Ōtomo territories (meaning that payment was made directly to the shugo and not to higher authorities). When we look at methods of revenue collection, one example stands out from the 2nd month of the 2nd year of Kōshō (康正, 1456). In this month, the Ōtomo received a request for funds from the bakufu which would be used to construct the Dairi (or residential quarters within the imperial palace). The shugo daimyō of Bungo at the time, Ōtomo Chikashige (大友親繁) passed the duty of providing funds onto his retainers Nagatomi (永富) and Ōtsuru (大津留). What is particularly noteworthy about this transaction is a reference made to it in the Yusuhara Hachimangū Monjo (柞原八幡宮文書) which states;
The Zudenchō (図田帳) mentioned above was also known as the Ōtafumi (大田文) and was a record pertaining to cadastral surveys carried out throughout Japan during the Kamakura period.(153-154)

The Ōtomo family used the records within the Zudenchō as a reference when creating tansen levy ledgers. That we know this was the case from evidence relating to a kenshi official within Buzen province in the 10th month of Eiroku 8 (1565), who was encouraged to …`rely on previous examples` (from the Sada Monjo, or 佐田文書). Even though Kyushu was regarded as economically stagnant, it is obvious that there was a discrepancy between the cadastral records of the Kamakura period and the reality of the Muromachi and Sengoku periods. The fact that such records came to be relied on is a tell tale sign that it was impossible to carry out landed surveys within Ōtomo territories. This is backed up by an okibumi (置文) written by the Ōtomo retainer Genjū Shigeyori (元重鎮頼) to his grandson during the 8th month of Tenshō 2 (1574). In this letter, Shigeyori urged his grandson not to cooperate with any orders regarding land surveys that stemmed from those higher up in authority, and that any such move should invite retaliation from Ōtomo retainers. Needless to say, this situation made it nigh-on impossible to collect revenue from land that should otherwise have been surveyed. Hence the revenue system became fixed on charging one tan for every piece of land. This accounts for why the collection of tansen relied more on charging people as `guests` living on Ōtomo land.(154)

The system of independent tansen collection spread throughout all of the Ōtomo lands, and was used for various purposes. As shall be revealed later on, Sōrin, through the mediation of the Ashikaga family, managed to entice the Nō performer Kanze Daibu (観世大夫) to Bungo. In order to pay for Kanze`s expenses, Sōrin levied a tansen on Chikugo province.(155) Mabechisen, on the other hand, was a little different. Mabechisen was originally collected from the Nambokuchō era onwards as part of building operations for Yusuhara Hachiman shrine, a tutelary deity of the Ōtomo family. This was declared to be a `general tax`. The money itself was not collected for any other purpose than paying for the building costs of the shrine, and was limited to collection within Bungo province. . However, Yusuhara shrine, like Usa Hachiman shrine, had to be rebuilt every thirty-three years. It appears, however, that this task was not being carried out according to schedule (according to the Yusuhara Hachiman Monjo). The fact that mabechisen could only be collected for the sole purpose of building Yusuhara shine made it particularly hard to turn into a regular yearly tax. Hence one can see a trend towards making tansen a periodic tax, yet this was by no means rigourously enforced.(155)

Another factor in the collection of tansen involved the appointment of tansen bugyō and kenshi. The general revenue rate for both of these positions was 50 mon for every half of 1 han (or 4.9587 acres), and 5 mon for every half of 1 ma (or 0.905 metres). Yet what about public taxes (or kuji, 公事)? This tax was sporadically collected from retainers of the Ōtomo. For example, Ōtomo Yoshiaki collected taxes on lacquerware from lands around the Mie gō belonging to the Fukuda and Koshō families. He also did the same when wood was needed from Kusu gun for use in constructing buildings. In such instances he drew revenue from the Kusu gun shū under the leadership of the Hoashi family (帆足). When Yoshiaki needed timber for the construction of Daichiji (大智寺) in Funai, he taxed the wood and iron sent by the Kibe (岐部) family of Kunisaki gun. He also taxed the Manai shū chū (真那井衆中) of Ōga mura (大神村) in Hayami gun for the cost of their boats and fishing nets. As for Kusano Tarō of Chikugo province, Yoshiaki ordered him to proceed with all haste in collecting revenue from the carp trade along Chikugo`s rivers.(155-156)

The areas and goods that were subject to taxation were gradually fixed. According to the `Nenchū Sakuhō Nikki` (年中作法日記), dried chestnuts collected on the 1st day of the 1st month were products of Tsumori mura and Inukaiyama in Ōita gun. Furthermore, pottery was a product of Enokuma gō (again of Ōita gun) while paper came from Naoiri gō. We have seen how both of these gō were located in directly administered territories of the Ōtomo (and were thus subject to taxation under the kuji system).(156)

However, the following document sheds a different light on the payment of kuji;
二月十六日、                義右(花押)
田北六郎殿                 (原漢文、田北文書)(156-157)

This document was sent by Ōtomo Yoshisuke to Takita Rokurō Chikayuki asking for payment in timber. The interesting thing about the document is that it does not ask for this material as kuji (see above), but instead expects that it shall be offered as hōshi (a type of gift or offering). As for the reasons why this was so, payment in timber, if clearly meant as a form of kuji, might exempt the payer from having to perform military duties. There are many examples of the Ōtomo expecting gifts that were disassociated with kuji. For example, from around the 8th year of Eiroku, Sōrin was on particularly friendly terms with Shimai Sōshitsu (島井宗室), a wealthy merchant from Hakata. As will be discussed later, Sōrin possessed a tendency to hoard items, and he had Sōshitsu send him many fine clothes, pictures, seals, and tea bowls.(157) The Sagara family of Higo also send a great number of `gifts` to Ōtomo Yoshiaki, his wife, and retainers (according to the Sagara Monjo). The Tajiri family of Chikugo sent an enormous number of gifts to Yoshiaki, Sōrin, and other Ōtomo retainers in Funai whenever one of their sons succeeded to the head of the family and was granted a name (according to the Tajiri Monjo). (157)

One of the articles of the Ōtomo Yoshinaga Jōjo states that;
一、進物の類、油断なく求めらるべき事。   (原漢文)(158)
It appears, then, that the earliest laws of the Ōtomo household contained an expectation of payment in offerings. It can be difficult to simply divide payments into either kuji or gifts, however it does appear that kuji were no more than offerings that had undergone systemization.(158)

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© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in February 2012