Guards of Toji: the Akazunomon gate and the Toji Chinju-Hachimangu shrine

東寺境内図
Map of the Toji precincts

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?

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Ryoyu, a Buddhist monk recorded on a stone pagoda

羅城門跡地付近出土石塔
Stone pagoda unearthed near the site of the Rajomon gate, owned by the Museum of Kyoto
* This image is not provided with a CC BY license.

An excavation in 1961 unearthed a stone pagoda near the presumed site of the Rajomon gate (羅城門), close to Toji Temple. On this stone pagoda, the following letters were recorded:

天正八年
(Sanskrit alphabet “Ā”) 権僧正亮祐大和尚位 (Gonnosojo Ryoyu Daiwajoi)
壬三月十八日

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Treasures and documents that were sent to a shelter during the Onin War were lost in a fire

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.

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Takiyamajo castle in the Sengoku period, as seen by Yasui Soun

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.

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“Hijiri”: monks who supported the management of documents

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.

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How to become a kuso monk

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.

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Hyojo-hikitsuke reveals Japan of medieval times

Nijuikku-kata Hyojo-hikitsuke Web Page
Item (41) of Tenchi-no-bu, “Nijuikku-kata Hyojo-hikitsuke,” Chapter of March 4, 1478

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.

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Nengyoji

Each monastic organization within Toji had a leader called nengyoji (年行事, also called bugyo “奉行” or nenyo “年預”.) The nengyoji was chosen from among kuso monks, the leading members of the organization, and assumed responsibility for operating the organization for a year.

Nijuikku Nenyo-ki
Item (3) of Tsuika-no-bu, “Nijuikku Nenyo-ki,” 1404

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Discard or preserve

Nijuikku-kata Meio-ku-nen-chu Hogono-uchi-yo Sutebun-bunsho Mokuroku web page
Item (206) of Box-ke, “Nijuikku-kata Meio-ku-nen-chu Hogono-uchi-yoshabun-bunsho Mokuroku,” 1500

The document above, written in 1500, is a list of documents the bugyo of Nijuikku-kata planned to discard but decided not to. Sorting out documents to preserve from a large number of documents brought from inside and outside the organization was one of the bugyo’s duties. The documents preserved in the Sai-in Library were a few that had survived the selection by the successive bugyo.
The list includes 24 documents, 17 of which are extant today.

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Removal and return of documents

The documents housed in Sai-in Bunko (西院文庫, Sai-in Library) of Mieido (御影堂) were sometimes removed from the library to study previous precedents or to use as evidence at trial. Any person who removed documents from the library was required to write his signature in a book called “Sai-in Bunsho Suito-cho (西院文庫出納帳),” which still provides details of what documents were removed and returned by whom 500 years ago.

Monjo Suito-nikki web page
Item 113 of Box-sa “Monjo Suito-nikki,” December 6, 1459

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The rules of hyojo: Being late or absent was prohibited

The monastic organizations established within Toji were operated independently and each organization decided important matters in meetings called hyojo (評定). The documents of Hyakugo Monjo show how hyojo was organized by leading members of the organization, who were referred to as kuso (供僧).

Toji Chinjuhachimangu Kuso Hoshiki Jo-jo web page
Item (10) of Box-hi, “Toji Chinjuhachimangu Kuso Hoshiki Jo-jo,” February 1342

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The management of documents (including a 500-year-old document) at Toji in medieval times

Hozo Hason Monjo-nado Shoshutsu-nikki web page
Item (14) of Box-ko, “Hozo Hason Monjo-nado Shoshutsu-nikki,” July 14, 1402

The document above is a record of documents removed from the treasure house for restoration work in 1402, around the middle of the Muromachi period. The document reveals that six documents and a bound book were removed from the treasure house. One of the six documents was “Shobo-betto Bunin-kanpu (聖宝別当補任官符),” an official document appointing Shobo, a monk who founded Daigo-ji Temple, to a position called bonso-betto (凡僧別当, head monk) of Toji in 902. Toji had preserved this 500-year-old document and restored it for future use. Toji had a strict management system to preserve and utilize its documents.

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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.

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