Let’s learn about Toji Hyakugo Monjo!

Nijuu-ikku-kata Hyoujou-Hikitsuke web page
Item 17 of Box-chi “Nijuu-ikku-kata Hyoujou-Hikitsuke,” 1462

Toji Hyakugo Monjo is a collection of “ancient documents.”
You may think of ancient documents as old pieces of paper on which undecipherable kanji characters have been written with a brush and India ink.
You may also think that reading ancient documents requires a great deal of knowledge and effort because you will need to decipher each character in cursive form and look up every word you do not understand in a dictionary.

What do you, on the other hand, think about newspapers? Although the purpose of newspapers is to convey up-to-date information as quickly and widely as possible, if you found an old newspaper issued years ago in the closet, you would find reading it enjoyable because you could learn how things have changed over the years. If you found some old flyers along with the newspaper, you would also enjoy reading them, seeing how different certain products looked, how much cheaper or more expensive they were, or how much lower the quality was a few years ago.
Why we read documents and what we learn from them change as the documents become older. It is similar to how a grocery flyer, whose original purpose was to inform you which foods were on sale that day at the supermarket, allows you to read it from a different perspective after a few years.

This is exactly why we read ancient documents. The documents of Toji Hyakugo Monjo were originally written for day-to-day work, including Buddhist services conducted by Toji or its internal organizations, and for the management of the temple-owned estates, which provided financial resources for the execution of Buddhist services; nevertheless, we read them today to learn what medieval Japanese society was like from the information contained in these documents.
Ancient documents do not necessarily need to be read as objects of study. You can also enjoy reading or even only looking at them like old newspapers or flyers.

The purpose of “Stories……” is to help you enjoy ancient documents, and we will strive to improve its contents to help facilitate your understanding.