What are the most exciting things about ancient documents?
Deciphering cursive handwritten characters? Appreciating handwriting and brush strokes by famous persons?
The answers will vary. Studies of ancient paper used may be one of them. Today’s story is focused on paper used in ancient documents.
This picture depicts a Shoen (manor) that was located in around the present Suita, Osaka, showing rivers and farm fields throughout Taruminosho. At a close look, some things are drawn between the two islands that are located in the Mikunigawa river (present Kanzakigawa river), which runs from east to west at the top of the picture.
The Toji Hyakugo Archives include several documents titled “Sashizu (差図)”. This term sounds unfamiliar. What does it mean?
For example, the figure below is called “Settsunokuni Taruminosho Sashizu”. It seems like a kind of map. Let’s have a close look at it.
In medieval Japan, figures were often drawn to identify the details of Shoen (manors). Figures of Shoen were drawn for diverse purposes and in various processes, for example, for clarifying who should pay land tax (rice and harvest) and how much the tax should be, and for investigating local situation when a dispute occurred concerning the distribution of water channels to farm fields. Such figures are called “Shoen Ezu (lit. pictorial diagrams of manors)”. Among other Shoen Ezu, plane drawings that depict farm fields and water channels with simplified black ink lines are called “Sashizu”.
“Sashizu” not only signifies Shoen Ezu, but also collectively refers to the premises of residences, temples and towns, the layouts of tools and seats for Buddhist services, and so on.
A sheet of Ezu or Sashizu often reveals the domain of a particular Shoen, life of people living there, and many other historical facts. Here, leaving any academic complexities behind, let’s enjoy visiting the world drawn in Sashizu.
Look at the photos above. This Sashizu depicts Settsunokuni Taruminosho, a manor that was located in the present Osaka, just around the border between Suita and Toyonaka. It was drawn in October 1463, about 550 years ago.
This Sashizu was drawn in Taruminosho when “Kenchu (検注)” was conducted. “Kenchu” refers to measuring land area and designating the owner of the measured land, for the purpose of identifying who should pay land tax (rice and harvest) and how much the tax should be.
Care should be taken as to the directions of the map. In this Sashizu, the bottom is directed to the north.
It seems that this type of manor diagrams were folded out and seen from all sides. A close look at this photo shows that characters and illustrations were entered in various directions, to the top and bottom and to the left and right.
At the top of this drawing, the “Mikunigawa (三国川)” river (present Kanzakigawa (神崎川)) runs from left to right. The road along the river is marked as “三国堤 (Mikuni Tsutsumi (tsutsumi: bank))”. Mikunigawa runs through the north of the Yodogawa river, and flows into the Osaka Bay.
Taruminosho was a manor that covered the northern coast of Mikunigawa. The place name “Mikuni (三国)” remains to date in this area.
Mikunigawa is depicted at the top of this diagram, and something of a crescent shape floats in the top left corner. Let’s turn it upside down:
It is a picture of a boat – a simple vessel just like a leaf boat, and one oar. In those days, ferry boats traveled across Mikunigawa, so this picture may have depicted one of them.
Trees are also drawn here and there. There is one in the top right of the drawing (A), one on another river that runs at the center from north to south (B), and in the bottom left of the drawing (C). A closer look shows that things are also drawn around the temple (帰命寺 (Kimyoji)) and around the shrine in the bottom left area of the photo.
Tree (A) has a thick trunk, and thin leaves that stretch vertically on horizontally spreading branches. It may be a grand pine tree.
Tree (B) has branches that resemble those of (A), though without many leaves.
Tree (C) has branches that grow seemingly upward, in a manner different from those of (A) and (B).
Among the three buildings, Kimyoji is drawn to the left, above the other two. It seems that a bamboo bush surrounds this temple. Bamboo bushes may have always surrounded temples, long time ago and still in the present days.
Near the shrine building is drawn a Torii gateway to show that it is a shrine. In front of the shrine building, something like a hedge is depicted.
To the right of the shrine is depicted another temple, marked as “円隆寺 (Enryuji)”. According to “吹田市史 (History of Suita City)”, Enryuji had a close relationship with the Toji temple, and was the main place of worship in Taruminosho. A gate with doors is drawn, with a part of earthen wall, suggesting a different atmosphere from that of Kimyoji.
While the buildings of the temples and the shrine are drawn in the same manner, items around them clearly indicate their characteristics. All items in the drawing seem simple, but are actually drawn carefully and skillfully.
Ancient documents are usually filled with unfamiliar characters, yet such interesting illustrations are sometimes found!
Last but not least, let’s look at the islands that are located in Mikunigawa.
Two islands are drawn. The larger one is marked as “本嶋 (Honshima) (lit. main island)”, and the smaller one as “新嶋 (Shinsima) (lit. new island)”. Between them are drawn things that look like plants or trees. Are the reeds growing in the river? Well, the true answer is … it’s in another document in the Hyakugo Archives! Look forward to the next story.
“Documents” contain not only text. Today, let’s look at how history is recorded in drawings.
“Iyonokuni Yugeshimanosho (伊予国弓削島荘)” was an area known for salt production, and had been widely known as a “Shoen (manor) of salt”. This manor is located on the Yugeshima island(弓削島) and the Hyakkanjima island(百貫島), Kamijima-cho(上島町), Ochi-gun(越智郡), Ehime(愛媛) in the present day, at the easternmost tip of the Geiyo Islands that range from Hiroshima Prefecture to Ehime Prefecture (Google Maps ). Turn the Sashizu (map) north up, and compare it with the present map (Geospatial Information Authority of Japan ). The L-shaped island is Yugeshima, and “辺屋路島 (Heyajijima)” drawn to the northeast of Yugeshima equals to today’s Hyakkanjima. The shapes are simplified, but clearly represent the geographic characteristics of the two islands.
Ashikaga Takauji(足利尊氏) narrowly won the battle, thanks to the protection of the Toji Chinju-Hachimangu shrine(東寺鎮守八幡宮). However, fights continued in Kyoto and in Hieizan (Mt. Hiei), and the war situation was unpredictable. As Takauji keenly wanted to achieve his fervent wish, he contributed an estate of his to Toji Chinju-Hachimangu on the day following the “release of sacred arrows by the deity”, praying for further protection.
The Todaimon(東大門) gate quietly stands to the northeast of the five-storied pagoda of Toji. Todaimon is also called “Akazunomon(不開門) (lit. never-opened gate)”. As its name suggests, the doors of this gate are not opened except on special occasions. Do you know why?
Kobo Daishi Kukai (弘法大師空海)(774 – 835) was the founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, and has been worshipped by a large number of people even after his death. Numerous picture scrolls have also been created depicting his life and profile.
The Onin War refers to a battle that started in 1467 and continued for about a decade, fought in Kyoto by the eastern army and western army of military governors. It is recorded in “Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke” (Box Hiragana CHI, No. 19) that Toji Temple sent its treasures and documents to the Daigo-ji Temple (醍醐寺) for shelter in September 1467, shortly after the war started, for the purpose of protecting them from the fires of war. “Nijuikku-kata” (廿一口方) refers to an in-house organization of Toji Temple in medieval times, which consisted of 21 monks. “Hikitsuke” (引付) means minutes of meetings (“Hyojo”) held by such organizations.
When Toji brought disputes to court presided by Miyoshi Nagayoshi (三好長慶) in the Sengoku period, they concluded an agreement for consultancy with Yasui Soun (安井宗運), for the purpose of enabling efficient proceedings. Therefore, Soun, as the representative of Toji visited Matsunaga Hisahide (松永久秀) many times, a vassal of Miyoshi Nagayoshi who often handled trials involving Toji.
When a dispute occurred in the Sengoku period, the Toji temple asked Miyoshi Nagayoshi (三好長慶), a powerful figure who prevailed in the Muromachi bakufu (室町幕府, Muromachi shogunate) and across the Kansai and Shikoku regions, to preside over trials.
There are documents called anmon (案文). Although the word today means “a draft” in Japanese, anmon is actually a manuscript copy of shomon (正文, the original document). Anmon was not only kept as a spare, but also used in a wide range of situations.
Monks who were assigned to protect the statue of Kukai (空海) at Sai-in Mieido (西院御影堂) were called hijiri (聖). They were also called sanshonin (三聖人, lit. three saints) as the quota of hijiri was three. The position of hijiri is believed to have been established when the statue of Kukai was enshrined in Sai-in Kyozo (西院経蔵, Sai-in Library) in 1233.
Kuso (供僧) refers to a group of monks of Toji who were allowed to attend hyojo (評定, meetings) and conduct Buddhist services as members of monastic organizations, including Nijuikku-kata (廿一口方), Gakushu-kata (学衆方), and Chinjuhachimangu-kata (鎮守八幡宮方). The prescribed number of kuso varied depending on the organization, and a new kuso monk was chosen only when there was a vacancy.
Hyojo-hikitsuke (評定引付), records of meetings organized by kuso (供僧) monks, allows us to understand the situation of Japanese society in medieval times.
The hyojo-hikitsuke above was written by kuso monks of Nijuikku-kata （廿一口方） around when the Onin and Bunmei War ended. The chapter of March 4, 1478, states that when the country was at peace, in other words, when there was no war, Toji collected 40-50 kanmon in offerings a day, and that the number of visitors was expected to increase on sunny days. This allows us to presume that Toji was worshipped by a great number of people crowding the premises of the temple.
Item (41) of Box-re is a record of hyojo held by Chinjuhachimangu-kata. The nengyoji (referred to as nenyo in this document) was elected by ballot from among kuso monks, the leading members of the organization.