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.
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.
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).
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.
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.