Skip to navigation – Site map
The historical Context

The Position and Role of Provincial Governors at the Height of the Heian Period

De la place et du rôle des gouverneurs de province à l’apogée de l’époque Heian
Francine Hérail

Abstracts

Although the author of the Genji monogatari was the daughter and wife of resident provincial governors, she was little concerned with such officials in her work, and those who do appear in it are often caricatured. The administration of the state and the economic support of the court, however, were wholly dependent on these middle-ranking officials. The topic of provincial governors is addressed in four sections: (1) a governor’s mission, essentially to maintain order and carry out taxation; (2) family background—some governors came from a long line of middle-ranking officials while others were younger sons of high-ranking aristocrats; (3) the processes of a governor’s appointment and performance evaluation, both determined in part by his client relationship to eminent nobles; and (4) the governors’ role—motivated by profit, and aided by subordinates—in the movement of goods. Among his subordinates, a governor’s men at arms (rōdō 郎頭) could be particularly helpful on this front; a rōdō is the subject of a passage from the Shin sarugakuki translated in Appendix 2. As the work of a woman, the Genji monogatari cannot provide an in-depth description of mid-Heian Japan; yet it clearly evokes the growing distance between middle-ranking officials and their aristocratic superiors—men whose attachment to the symbols of power increased in direct proportion to their gradual loss of power itself.

Top of page

Editor’s note

Original release: Francine Hérail, « De la place et du rôle des gouverneurs de province à l’apogée de l’époque Heian », Cipango, Hors-série, 2008, 291-355.
Francine Hérail, « De la place et du rôle des gouverneurs de province à l’apogée de l’époque de Heian », Cipango [En ligne], Hors-série | 2008, mis en ligne le 24 février 2012. URL : http://cipango.revues.org/607 ; DOI : 10.4000/cipango.607

Full text

1The Code provides only a very general view of the role of provincial administrators (kokushi), whose senior official was the head or governor (kami). These men were appointed by the central administration for four-year terms. The governor’s mission was to supervise the cult of deities, register the population, act as a father to the people, foster agriculture and sericulture, rectify wrongs, supervise the police and hear grievances, register households and rice fields, impose taxes and corvée labor, maintain irrigation systems, public buildings, and pastures, and ensure that the province was able to defend itself by means of militias, arms, and signal fires; in short, no aspect of the life of the population was expected to escape his notice. This was predicated, even in sparsely populated provinces, on the presence of a large staff of locally recruited personnel—district administrators (gunji) and junior employees—in addition to the governor, his subordinate officials (comprising from two to six men), and his clerks (shishō), all of whom came from the capital.

2During the eighth and ninth centuries this program was developed and the very broad directives of the Code supplemented and made more specific by means of regulations and decrees. Nearly four hundred regulations and decrees survive from these two centuries, suggesting that originally there were more. By contrast, only a few dozen survive from the period between the first third of the tenth century and the end of the eleventh, and many of these concern fairly minor matters. The abundance of repetitive or contradictory decrees does not suggest a smoothly functioning local administration. At the beginning of the tenth century this legislation was perfected in the Regulations of the Engi Era (Engishiki) and the Regulations Relating to Official Replacements (Kōtaishiki). Provincial budgets, calculated in rice, were established for each province. Provincial tax revenues (shōzei), calculated in rice and collected as a land tax (so), were partially loaned out at interest (suiko). The interest was allocated to various budget items intended either for provincial government use or to be sent to the capital. Handicraft taxes (chōyō), an important part of the tax system, were also meticulously fixed and in principle calculated per individual taxpayer. The Regulations Relating to Official Replacements were quite detailed. They dealt with the drafting of annual population registers, the maintenance of public buildings, religious establishments and irrigation systems, and the administration of tax revenues, principally the rice tax (shōzeitō), which was to be sent in full to the capital at a prescribed time. These documents, as many as several dozen, had to be checked and approved by a supervisory body in the capital. In principle no provincial administrator regardless of rank could receive his next appointment without leaving behind a completely clean slate. As a province had between three and seven administrators, individual accountability soon became an issue, as did distinguishing between responsibility and culpability. When, as occurred frequently, taxes fell into arrears and were not sent to the capital, the responsibility was shared: all the concerned administrators made restitution through salary deductions, while the principal official was held criminally accountable. For the central administration, this presented an excellent means of establishing mutual surveillance among officials. Moralizing discourses on an official’s role as father and educator, which were often delivered to eighth-century provincial appointees, gradually grew more sporadic. With the passage of time, two major concerns of the court became increasingly dominant: the tax system, which supported the capital and its population of officials; and court supervision of local government. At this point it became apparent that the immense effort of codification and the restrictive, detailed rules accumulated over two centuries presented an unwieldy, onerous, and highly impractical solution. Paradoxically, no sooner was the legislation completed than it began to be, if not abolished, more or less misappropriated, and entire legislative barriers collapsed of their own accord. The solution was to have only one person in charge and to provide him with substantial initiatives.

  • 1 The term zuryō 受領 appears very early in administrative parlance: it is mentioned in the Ruijū sanda (...)

3I will begin by discussing what kind of work a governor actually did in his province, followed by how governors were chosen, their relations with the people they governed, and finally how their work was evaluated by the court. The period under consideration is the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, the period in which the Genji monogatari was written. First, a few words about vocabulary. Many officials were invested with one of the kokushi positions, but theirs were pro forma appointments intended to provide a salary or, in junior positions, an exemption. Only one man was considered in charge and accountable: the zuryō,1 he who had received (the meaning of both characters) from his predecessor the governance of the province or, more accurately, of its men and public goods. This person could be called a governor (kami), a supernumerary governor (gon no kami), or even a vice-governor (suke). The three to six other kokushi assigned to each province received an appointment—they were called nin’yō kokushi—but over the course of time such officials went increasingly rarely to their provinces and became absentee administrators (yōnin). Our sole object of concern here is with the zuryō governors.

The Duties of a Zuryō

  • 2 See Heian ibun, doc. 188: these are fragments of a civil status register (kosekichō 戸籍帳) from the v (...)
  • 3 In the eighth and ninth centuries, certain rice fields were called “private” (shiden 私田): these cou (...)

4The Code envisioned a fiscal system founded on the precise knowledge of an eligible population which did not decrease or move; this system was completely disrupted from the tenth century on. Governors were obligated to keep exact records of the people of their province, since the tax burden—handicraft taxes (chōyō) and the corvée labor requirement (zōyō)—was essentially borne by individuals; yet the few surviving fragments of tenth-century civil status registers contain obvious inaccuracies. Certain registers record a population of over 80% women and many old men; in others the proportions are somewhat more normal but the number of non-taxpaying men is either substantial or unknown.2 This suggests that the levying of handicraft taxes could not be carried out according to criteria in accordance with the law, and that it became impossible to allocate “household fields,” lots held by a person for his or her lifetime. Provincial tax revenues (calculated in rice) decreased, as they were increasingly used to make up deficits. The running of a province depended on the interest on that rice, which was lent to proprietors of household fields. The periodic reallocation of household fields is known to have been discontinued in the tenth century, despite Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki’s recommendation in his Twelve Proposals (of reforms, Iken jūnikajō) that accurate population registers be compiled and allocations recommenced. The old lots became the possession of whomever was working them, just as cultivated rice fields were registered under the cultivator’s name. Moreover, the enforced lending of public rice, the interest from which supported the provincial budget, could only be required of those who were able to repay the loan with interest. By the tenth century it was no longer necessary to make real loans with all the attendant procedures. Instead, owners of rice fields were asked to pay interest based on their cultivated area, in effect shifting the basic tax system onto the land. This reduced the burden on provincial storehouse management. In a further measure to obtain revenue to pay the salaries of central government officials, certain rice fields known as “excess fields” (jōden) were declared government rice fields (kanden) and their income allocated to government departments and offices. In certain provinces, rice fields deemed either “excess” or “public” (kōden, so called because they remained under local administrative control after household fields had been allocated), were managed either directly by officials who delegated their cultivation to employees, or indirectly as one-year renewable leases. The proceeds from these rice fields were often used to purchase handicraft produce intended for tax payment, a practice recommended by official decrees. Gradually over the course of the tenth century, the meaning of “public field” (kōden) changed: the important distinction was no longer between rice fields allotted for life and those kept in perpetuity—all of which were called either private fields (shiden) or government-controlled fields (jōden or kōden)—but between the tax-exempt rice fields held by religious establishments or allotted to high-ranking nobles, and the kōden (public fields), which were subject to taxation.3 The situation was complicated by the persistence of old terms and continued reference to old registers, and by the fact that the supervisory bodies in the capital—the Accounting Bureau (Shukeiryō), the Bureau of Tax Revenues (Shuzeiryō), and the Board of Discharge Examiners (Kageyushi)—continued to implement, often rather poorly, guidelines that had generally become obsolete.

5In sum, a governor in charge essentially had to have on hand dependable land registers as well as registers containing the names of the owners of taxable rice fields. He had to levy enough rice for reserves, whether permanent or intended for imminent use, even if the amount was considerably less than that prescribed by the regulations. The most prudent governors officially requested the central administration to confirm the new figures, a procedure that was carried out until the mid-eleventh century. If questioned on the subject, the majority simply said that the rice reserves were already greatly diminished in their predecessor’s time. A governor’s duty was to use this rice to maintain public property: the irrigation system, buildings, storehouses and particularly religious structures. Quite early on, irrigation maintenance was ceded to those using the system, and the number of public storehouses apparently decreased as the amount of rice collected for taxes diminished. In the tenth and eleventh centuries, however, governors frequently ran into trouble with the temples whose fabric they were obliged to maintain. Governors also had to send rice to the capital—the quantity was predetermined for each province—and help defray central administration salaries. They were also required to levy (or, quite often, purchase) handicraft produce destined for the capital in accordance with their orders, in an amount roughly approximating that prescribed by the regulations, on a date not always firmly fixed.

  • 4 See Appendix 1 for a complete translation of this text, Fujiwara no Yasunori den 藤原保則伝, written by (...)

6At the beginning of the tenth century Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki wrote a biography, or rather a hagiography, of Fujiwara no Yasunori (825-895), whom he depicted as a paragon of the virtuous administrator (ryōri). Kiyoyuki, who may have known Yasunori and claimed to base his account on documents and oral evidence, emphasized the latter’s integrity and the benevolence with which he treated his subordinates and the people of the provinces he governed. Yasunori is depicted as a proponent of government by example, an official who displays status and strength in order not to have to use them, a man who resorts to the use of arms as little as possible. When all is said and done, however, the text, larded with Chinese expressions and allusions, provides little specific information about Yasunori’s administration.4

  • 5 Nihon kiryaku, Eien 1.3.4 (987), promulgation of a New Regulation, shinsei 新制. The three articles r (...)

7At the end of the same century, the district administrators and leading residents of Owari Province submitted a petition of complaint, Owari no kuni no gebumi, against their governor, Fujiwara no Motonaga, which explicitly describes his actions and his revenue management in particular. The authors of this petition may have been encouraged to formulate it by the central administration, which the previous year (987) had issued one of the last great texts on the duties of a governor. Of its original thirteen articles, the three that survive in their entirety concern a governor’s responsibility to deliver handicraft produce on a fixed date, and the penalty—dismissal from his post—awaiting a noncompliant governor. Thanks to the Owari petition, the abridged content of seven more articles is known. Three were proclaimed by their governor, Motonaga: a prohibition against using armed men to attack the people, an obligation to pursue thieves, and a prohibition against allowing powerful people to increase their landholdings, as this hindered the district administrators charged with levying taxes. The four articles (there are actually six in the text of the petition, but two appear in a complete version elsewhere) not proclaimed by the governor (probably because he was violating them, in the plaintiffs’ mind) concerned actions forbidden a governor: to do anything to provoke a decrease in population, to employ men not holding government posts or men of the fifth rank, to let his administration take credit for arrears payments made by his predecessor, and not to use money.5 Unlike similar articles of earlier or later date, the thirty-one articles of the Owari petition have been preserved. Although Motonaga may have unduly exploited the province, other governors probably did much the same and yet were clever enough to keep a formal complaint from reaching the capital. For their part, the plaintiffs may have exaggerated the governor’s brutality and the extent of his malfeasance. The text nevertheless provides elements of description relating to zuryō administration.

  • 6 Iken jūnikajō 意見十二箇条, Article 8.

8Evidence as early as the tenth century suggests that the relations between governors and governed were not always smooth. Attacks against a governor’s person were not unknown: nine instances could be given (and these are certainly not all) apart from events connected with Taira no Masakado’s and Fujiwara no Sumitomo’s rebellions. Neither was it unheard-of to resort to legal means and make a formal complaint: Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki’s reform proposals include one on not accepting the formal complaints of subordinates against their superiors.6 Formal complaints normally followed the chain of command and were reviewed by the governor. The Owari petition was able to reach the court due to the action of district administrators or local elites, men who looked after the interests of a senior noble, official, or other patron, and so had protectors in the capital. Informal ties existed between officials of all ranks in the capital and the provinces to which their younger sons had gone to seek their fortunes. These relationships were probably more numerous than is suggested in such fictional works as the Genji monogatari; there, the author clearly seeks to place a tremendous distance between the “dwellers in the clouds” and the rest of humanity.

9Motonaga was accused of using various means to demand more rice—by then the principal tax—than was due him. Without going into detail, the accusations included the levying of taxes mentioned in provincial budget models, such as those intended for aid to the destitute, upkeep of shrine and temple buildings, embankments, and canals, minor officials’ salaries, and officials’ expenditures, despite the fact that some of these categories were no longer operative. He kept other kinds of tax income for himself. Another complaint concerned the levy of the suiko, the interest on obligatory loans; the loan itself was by then notional, but the interest, calculated in proportion to cultivated area, was very real indeed. Motonaga was accused of levying the suiko according to the loan quota given in the Regulations of the Engi Era instead of reducing the amount by about half, as was customary. The plaintiffs also reported that Motonaga did not take into account the difference in taxation between former household rice fields and those formerly rented out on a yearly basis; certain distinctions yielded a slightly better tax situation in the latter case. Through various means, Motonaga tended to equalize the tax burden on the higher side. He also profited from the handicrafts tax, particularly as regards units of silk and miscellaneous products, which were as a rule valued in terms of rice. He would simply fix an arbitrary price for these products, take the equivalent amount of rice from the peasants, and then buy back the products at a lower price. He was accused of sending large quantities of rice and silk to his house in the capital. Nevertheless, it should be noted that governors often used their own storehouses for goods that were later given to the court.

10A final complaint in the petition is that Motonaga’s provincial administration did not use duly appointed local officials, but instead relied mainly on men of his own choosing: family members, allies, and especially rōdō, who were men recruited by him. First mentioned in documents just prior to the mid-tenth century, the rōdō were charged with bearing arms, policing the province, and protecting the governor: “man at arms” is generally a suitable translation. The term was also used to refer to men who carried out administrative tasks for their patron, such as registering land or collecting taxes (in the latter case, it would help that the men were armed). Motonaga had his son with him, as well as men from the capital who were temporarily without an official position—including a man of the fifth rank who normally would not have had the right to leave the home provinces without authorization. Younger sons of middle-ranking officials had no other means of livelihood besides serving as a governor’s rōdō. These were the men Motonaga used to carry out his land survey. The people of the province claimed that the rōdō overstated the area of the rice fields in their register in order to levy higher taxes, and that they dragged out their work while living off the people. The rōdō also resorted to violence in order to collect taxes.

  • 7 Rōdō is the ancient pronunciation; dictionaries also give the pronunciation rōtō, written 郎等 or 郎党; (...)

11As a rule, when a governor in charge first arrived in his province, he would find in place district administrators and junior residential employees who were all well acquainted with the business of preceding administrations. Provincial governments are known to have been organized roughly along the lines of the central administration, and contained what might rather grandly be called bureaus. Although their number and specialization varied according to the province, at least four were found practically everywhere: the Bureau of Land (Tadokoro), which kept the registers of rice fields and their owners’ names, plans, and the results of on-scene inspections; the Bureau of Tax Revenues (Saisho), whose name eloquently expresses its function; the Bureau of Official Documents (or Archives, Kumonjo); and the Bureau of General Affairs (Mandokoro). Of necessity a governor used both his own men (the rōdō) and local men.7

  • 8 Shin sarugakuki 新猿楽記: the fourth son of a Gate Guards official is a rōdō; see Appendix 2 for a tran (...)

12There are three points to be mentioned with regard to zuryō—in addition to the fact that they indeed went to the province entrusted to them, even if they did not always reside there continuously if the province was reasonably close to the capital. The first point is that zuryō were allowed some freedom in the way they raised taxes, a freedom due partly and paradoxically to legislation that was excessive, never repealed and frequently inconsistent. Conversely, the same legislation required that governors be at least externally rigorous, which led them to falsify many registers. This practice in turn swelled the ranks of scribes and copyists, a large, poorly understood group, working in province and capital alike. A governor was seen to have performed his duty so long as he supplied the needs of the court, needs which, though not arbitarily set, were also not in conformance with the early tenth-century regulations. Up to the first third of the eleventh century a governor could apparently contend effectively with the great houses, which sought to enlarge their property holdings and obtain tax exemptions, while managing to maintain the contributory capacity of his province. My second point is that the zuryō and their men were essentially tradesmen—handicraft produce, intended for taxes, was very often purchased—and that their management of the flow of goods, though difficult to gauge precisely, was undoubtedly quite important. The rōdō mentioned in Shin sarugakuki illustrates this point.8 This man serves successive governors and amasses all kinds of goods in his house in the capital, where people come to buy from him. His patron probably shared some of his earnings with him. My third point is that a zuryō had to earn more than his regular salary, especially when he was in a sense employing most of the local government staff. Motonaga’s example, however, demonstrates that governors who wanted to avoid trouble also had to rely on their district administrators and locally-recruited employees. They therefore needed to use tact and diplomacy to bring out the best in their two groups of subordinates and so ensure that they would coexist in mutual harmony and contentment. We must also take into consideration the fact that many zuryō were not continuously employed throughout their careers: they needed enough to live on during the times when they held no official position, a period that could last decades.

The Selection of Zuryō

  • 9 Taira no Chikanobu presents the only example from the early eleventh century. He was governor of Aw (...)
  • 10 Makura no sōshi, 25, “Discouraging Things.” One might also mention the dashed hopes of Sugawara no (...)

13At the beginning of the Heian period, an official career included postings in both the capital and the provinces, and in the case of very fortunate or worthy officials, it culminated in admission to the senior nobility. This possibility had almost completely disappeared by the eleventh century;9 meanwhile, a still not fully formed specialization in provincial administration was beginning to take shape. When a high-ranking father obtained a zuryō position for one of his sons, he was mapping in advance a career that, at best, would include governorships of important provinces and would end no higher than the fourth rank. Zuryō posts were greatly sought after. Literary texts well describe the excitement in the capital when those appointments were made. The Makura no sōshi depicts the house of a hopeful candidate: as hordes of visitors begin celebrating early, servants are sent to the palace gates to hear the news and report back immediately. The noise of the senior nobles’ processions leaving the palace signals that the appointments session is over; when the servants are slow to return and word spreads that their host will remain an ex-governor, the guests leave, while the senior servants calculate how many positions are likely to open up that year.10

  • 11 Shunki, Chōkyū 1.1.25. Sukefusa mentions men who would normally have been appointed (gōkaku 合格) in (...)

14Theoretically, all officials of the fifth rank and above who had served a requisite number of years could submit an application or request (mōshibumi) prior to a regular appointments session or whenever a position became available. The wiser path, however, was to apply under the auspices of the office or department in which one was serving, or after having either already proven oneself as a zuryō or displayed exceptional merit. Being nominated by a retired emperor or an empress could sometimes influence a decision. Thus the four criteria considered for an appointment were nomination by a central administrative organ, a record of previous service in provincial administration, recommendation by a member of the imperial house, and demonstration of exceptional merit. These criteria are apparent in the list of zuryō appointed in early 1040, as recorded by Fujiwara no Sukefusa. Sukefusa, head of the Imperial Secretariat, had helped sort through the applications and so was well acquainted with each appointee’s circumstances. He mentions individuals whose record of previous service qualifies them for an appointment, distinguishing between those who served a full term in their previous post and those who did not. He then lists men recommended by the dowager empress, now a nun, and by the former crown prince, and those sponsored by the Ministry of Personnel, the Ministry of Popular Affairs, the Gate Guards, the Secretariat of the Council of State, and the Controllers’ Office. A former governor was given another provincial governorship and another man was appointed in recognition of his exceptional service.11

  • 12 Shōyūki, Shōryaku 3.1.20, records the appointment of Minamoto no Tokiakira, household steward of th (...)

15Among the factors taken into account in choosing a zuryō, the procedure known as recommendation by an empress or a retired emperor (gokyū) will be considered separately. Royalty, though entitled to recommend only third-class officials for provincial positions, nevertheless sometimes made recommendations for zuryō appointments. In 992 Emperor Ichijō’s mother, having become a nun, had one of her household stewards appointed resident governor of Sanuki; and when the imperial prince Atsuakira stepped down as crown prince in 1017, he asked to retain the right to appoint a zuryō, a request approved by Michinaga. One such appointment was even made posthumously, by the retired emperor En’yū.12 This right could evidently not be exercised yearly, however, and such appointments were not common.

  • 13 Honchō monzui, Book 6, records Taira no Kanemori’s application dated Tengen 2.7.22 (977). See also (...)

16Laws which were not part of officially promulgated texts enabled some central administrative organs to sponsor a member for a zuryō post on a variable basis. Early evidence of this practice appears in a request for a zuryō post submitted by an official in 977: it mentions members of the Imperial Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Council of State, and the Controllers’ Office; third-class officials from the Ministries of Personnel, Popular Affairs, and the Treasury; the director of the Weaving Office; and members of the Bureau of Police. Not much later, however, the only item on the agenda of an appointments session was a batch of applications submitted to members of the Council by the Secretariat of the Council of State, the Controllers’ Office, the Ministries of Personnel and Popular Affairs, and the Gate Guards for its third-class officials, some of whom served concurrently as police inspectors.13 In all cases, these requests concerned men who had reached the fifth rank.

  • 14 Ono no Fumiyoshi entered the Council of State Secretariat in 1007; he must have left in late 1021, (...)
  • 15 The Shōyūki, Manju 4.1.27 (1027), records a dispute between two men over whose turn it was for a zu (...)

17Senior secretaries in the Council of State (daigeki) and those based in the Controllers’ Office (sadaishi and udaishi) often served twenty years or more in mostly minor positions entailing minimal responsibility. Once they had been promoted to the fifth rank they were usually given governorships in small or distant provinces, including Izu, Tosa, Higo, and Chikugo. One example of such an official is Ono no Fumiyoshi, a specialist in law who worked in the Council of State Secretariat from 1007 to 1022 before being appointed to Tosa; another is Sugano no Atsuyori, a mathematician who became governor of Chikugo after eighteen years of service.14 There is evidence that a zuryō appointment was given every year to a third-class official in the Ministry of Personnel, while the Ministry of Popular Affairs, not to mention the Gate Guards, were not granted a yearly appointment. A man’s chances were thus improved by taking his turn through the Ministry of Personnel, a turn jealously guarded by each potential candidate.15 Upon promotion to the fifth rank, third-class officials in these two ministries could also transfer to another administrative organ in the capital, but the post of zuryō was considered far preferable. It is difficult to tell from such cases whether a new position was granted immediately after promotion, or whether the successful candidate lived briefly without a government post.

  • 16 Kyūri 旧吏: when a zuryō submitted his performance report, the last phase of the process was the ruli (...)

18Men who had already governed a province—they were known as old governors (kyūri)—were often favored for their experience. This was true particularly during supplementary appointment sessions, which took place on an ad hoc basis separate from the great appointment session at the beginning of the year. An old governor had to have completed the performance report for his most recent administration and obtained a due discharge before he could place himself in consideration for a new posting. For this reason, the First Month appointment sessions were preceded by meetings at which senior nobles either granted or withheld the final document (kōka no sadame).16

  • 17 Shōyūki, Eiso 1.2.1 (989): in addition to Minamoto no Akimasa, Fujiwara no Sadamasa (also known as (...)

19“Exceptional services” (bekkō) is simply a euphemism for buying a post. Jōgō, a related term signifying “accomplishment of a (meritorious) act,” was used in reference to an official’s personal underwriting of construction expenses for public buildings or religious establishments whose maintenance was the court’s responsibility. Venality was the norm in the case of minor posts: emperors, imperial princes, empresses, and senior nobles all had recommendation rights for provincial offices that conferred status without accountability. Their recommendations were for sale at prices that were common knowledge. With respect to the office of zuryō, however, the language was more acceptable and the process carried out in a less blatant, more varied fashion. A man usually achieved special merit by assuming either construction costs for the court or underwriting expenses for a festival; this act qualified him to be appointed despite a lack of seniority or previous gubernatorial experience. Occasionally a rich, highly placed father would assume the expenses on behalf of his son, as was apparently the case for the minister of state Minamoto no Shigenobu and his son Akimasa: the latter was appointed governor of Echizen for the meritorious act of rebuilding the Ministry of Personnel. The director of the Library Bureau was appointed governor in 1027 after he had commissioned the making of Buddhist ritual objects and thirteen thousand images. It was even conceivable that a senior noble would broker his own resignation in exchange for a zuryō appointment for his son. The direct purchase of a zuryō position through payment of rice and cloth was never acknowledged; instead, clients whose appointment depended on their patron’s intervention did him financial favors and, once they were appointed, gave him substantial gifts. One cannot help but notice that, in the year following their appointment, some governors brought or sent cloth, rice, and provincial products to the ministers of state, and also gave them horses and oxen. Some of the more significant examples follow. The governor of Sanuki sent Michinaga 1,200 bushels of rice in 1004; the minister himself went out to watch the arrival of the hundred-and-sixty-cart procession. In 1013 the governor of Shinano, appointed the previous year, gave ten horses to Michinaga. The governor of Mutsu, appointed in 1010, sent at least twenty-nine horses to Michinaga during his tenure, twenty of which were given the year after his arrival in the province. The term baikan, literally “purchasing an administrative position,” was used only in connection with minor postings that generally involved no responsibilities. There is nevertheless the colorful example of a commander in charge of pacification in the north who, in 1014, drew a mob of spectators by leading through town a procession of twenty horses, some in complete harness, and men bearing great quantities of quivers, feathers, gold powder, bolts of silk, silk floss, and hempen cloth, all destined for Michinaga. This, the commander’s payment for his appointment decree, moved Sanesuke to lament that he lived in a time when public office was for sale.17

  • 18 The term konsō 懇奏 appears repeatedly in the Shōyūki, notably in Eiso 1.2.1; I interpret its meaning (...)

20A closer look at what preceded an appointments session reveals that candidates frequently informed ministers and senior nobles of their aspirations, either by having a retainer of the great man speak on their behalf, or by making a personal visit to his house. Sanesuke often records visits paid him by office-seekers. Candidates not only sought to present a strong case for themselves, they also obtained a written recommendation in the form of an apostil. Even if success was not assured due to competition from numerous qualified candidates, one did well to submit an application in compliance with the necessary criteria. As head of the Imperial Secretariat, Fujiwara no Sukefusa was at the center of preparations for the jimoku or appointment sessions, the most important of which, held at the beginning of the year, lasted about three days. Before the sessions began, Sukefusa received application files daily for consideraton. These documents were reviewed in advance by government organs—in this case, the Secretariat of the Council of State—which could hold back an application for reasons of form, not content. Sukefusa sorted the applications and transferred them to scroll format, attaching to each a piece of paper or large tag briefly stating the contents of the file. Minor postings were generally not discussed. On the other hand, applications for zuryō positions or important central government offices were reviewed in advance by the regent and considered on the final day. After the senior nobles reached an agreement, their proposed decisions were sent to the emperor. Sometimes the emperor could choose among applicants for a given post, but usually he received only as many proposals as there were posts available. The regent, as chief advisor, could generally count on successful results for his favored candidates, but some openings were left for the clients of other senior nobles. When a senior noble wanted an appointment for his son or a close relative, he appended to the application a document called a konsō (a report regarding an application), addressed to the emperor.18 The journals of the senior nobles Michinaga, Sanesuke, and Sukefusa often provide insights into the discussions on choosing zuryō.

  • 19 Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 3.10.2 (1006); the successful candidate was one of Michinaga’s clients (kenin(...)

21In 1006 a single post became available due to a vacancy. Of the thirty applications for the position, Michinaga decided to present four to the emperor, three of which were submitted by former governors and one by a man claiming meritorious service. The ensuing council discussion considered only the former governors: in all cases their paperwork was in order, but two had not held any office for a long time. The palace minister Kinsue rejected one candidate and had him replaced by another. On being briefed on the preliminary selection, the emperor was surprised not to see the names of any of the individuals who had been mentioned to him as likely candidates at the time of the previous appointments. The deliberations resumed; in the end the senior nobles included among their four proposed candidates a man who had been unsuccessful at the time of the previous appointments and the man proposed by Kinsue, who insisted on his candidate even though the man himself said he was not interested in the post. Contrary to appearances, this was definitely not a charade. However, in the end Michinaga went alone to the emperor to propose the four agreed-upon names and returned to the session with an appointment. The successful candidate was the only one not named during the deliberations; Michinaga had clearly supported him from the start, though he was apparently silent during the discussions. Another short appointment session, described by Sanesuke in 1014, provides an idea of what such meetings were like. There were two open posts and many applications. The senior nobles deliberated under the leadership of Michinaga and the palace minister, Kinsue. They made a short list of seven applications, including one claiming exceptional merit which Michinaga immediately removed from consideration. Murasaki Shikibu’s father, Fujiwara no Tametoki, was the outgoing governor of Echigo; when the post was awarded to Fujiwara no Nobutsune, Tametoki’s nephew, Sanesuke suspected that Tametoki had arranged the matter before leaving office. There were doubtless other such examples.19

  • 20 For Fujiwara no Korenori, ca. 963-1033, see his entry in Kugyō bunin. His success and Michinaga’s p (...)

22The selection of candidates was often but not always discussed informally before the council met, and all council members were unofficially aware of the regent’s opinions. The successful candidate in the deliberations of 1006 was Michinaga’s client (kenin); most if not all successful candidates were either clients or keishi, officials serving in the household of a minister or other senior noble. The most dazzling careers were enjoyed by Michinaga’s household officials, foremost among whom was Fujiwara no Korenori. He reached the fifth rank in 985, aged approximately twenty-two, after serving in the Ministry of the Treasury. His career as zuryō began in 1001 with an appointment to Inaba, followed in quick succession by postings to Kai and Ōmi. Michinaga placed him on the private staff of Michinaga’s oldest grandson, the future emperor Goichijō. Korenori was promoted to the senior fourth rank, junior grade in 1013 by virtue of his being Michinaga’s keishi; as a further sign of his patron’s confidence he was appointed assistant director of the household of the crown prince, the future Gosuzaku Tennō. Around 1020 Korenori was appointed governor of Harima. His career reached its zenith in 1023 when he was made advisor at large and sent to Kyūshū as senior assistant governor-general following the death of the governor (sochi). He had complete administrative responsibility for Kyūshū from 1023 until a new governor was appointed in 1029. Korenori returned to the capital in 1029, laden with riches which were, according to Sanesuke, the fruit of plunder.20

  • 21 From the late tenth century until about 1035, out of approximately 143 Fujiwara zuryō, sixty-two ha (...)

23If we consider the distribution of zuryō positions by family, the Fujiwara naturally occupy the largest proportion at slightly under half; the combined number of zuryō in the Minamoto, Taira, Tachibana, Takashina, Ōe, and Sugawara families do not equal the total number of Fujiwara zuryō. The remainder comprise a miscellaneous group drawn from the secretariats. Most zuryō had only one posting, and those with more than three were very much in the minority. Minamoto no Yorinobu, who governed the same province for six terms, was something of a champion among early eleventh-century governors. Taira and Minamoto zuryō, considered expert in maintaining order, were often appointed to eastern and northern provinces as well as to those in Kyūshū. They were not, however, trusted by the senior nobility: in 1019 Sanesuke had Minamoto no Yorinobu’s posting changed from Tōtōmi to Iwami. Up to that point Yorinobu had received only eastern governorships.21

  • 22 The appointment decree is called ninpu 任符 or senpu 籖符; the document needed to obtain it is known as (...)

24After the appointments were made public, the successful candidates went to express their gratitude to their patrons. Having presented their compliments, the zuryō next needed to obtain an appointment decree (ninpu), a document bearing the great government seal. Certain procedures normally had to be carried out in order to obtain this document: in particular, appointees were required to present a discharge document issued by the administrative organ in which they had previously served. Frequently, however, new appointees asked to be exempted from the requirement of furnishing a discharge. In fact, a document from 1044 concerning a deliberation has an appended request from the director of the Bureau of Housekeeping, a newly-appointed zuryō, asking that he be granted his decree without showing a discharge document. It appears that a discharge was not required from those whose central administration office which did not involve financial accountability. For former zuryō, it sufficed to present the discharge issued after their most recent performance report.22 However, given the usual errors committed by a previous administration, the obligation to present a discharge had not been abolished; in order to be exempted from obtaining it, new appointees first had to follow several steps to obtain the decree that permitted them to leave for their province.

  • 23 Michinaga’s and Sanesuke’s journals contain many references to visits from zuryō who are taking lea (...)

25Once their appointments were granted, the zuryō prepared for their journey. They took leave of the ministers and senior nobles who were their patrons; the latter might respond by giving them a horse or some clothing. Patrons who were especially fond of their keishi would host a small farewell gathering for them: the event, which included poetry composition, was reminiscent of the custom among Chinese officials. Women and children could come on the journey; wives, especially those in service at the palace, also received gifts from ministers and empresses.23 When one such lady, a female official in the Back Palace, took her leave, Michinaga noted that she displayed a manly resolution. It seems to me, however, that her resolve stemmed from the fact that she was leaving behind the court for life in a province, rather than because the journey was particularly dangerous.

Arrival in the Province and Relations with the People

  • 24 Chōya gunsai, Book 22, an undated text entitled Kokumu jōjō no koto 国務条々事. Note the use of the term (...)

26The mostly formal duties performed by a zuryō on arrival in his province are listed in an undated text in forty-two articles written prior to 1132. Some of its instructions correspond to known eleventh-century practices. The duties can be grouped into three sections. The first concerns the journey and arrival in the province, and the choice of auspicious days for leaving the capital, crossing the border, moving into the residence, and beginning work. The governor’s party was made up of several dozen people; it was thus advisable to decide in advance where to stop for the night and to ensure that the men at arms behaved appropriately. The formal installation consisted of a visit to the principal sanctuary of the province and a greeting by the local government employees, who provided the new governor with the provincial seal and the keys to the government storehouses. The second section concerns the transfer of powers, assuming that the outgoing governor had waited for his successor. The new governor had to familiarize himself with the records, inspect the storehouses to see if their contents corresponded to the information given in the registers, and make a general assessment of his predecessor’s management so as to avoid being held responsible for any of his arrears or shortages. The third section describes conduct befitting a good governor: he should be knowledgeable of his subordinates’ abilities, keep his distance, be frugal, and make a good choice for his mokudai (his right-hand man and replacement during his absences); he should not use rōdō of the fifth rank, but should have on his staff men who write a good hand, an efficacious monk, and one or two good warriors—this last in spite of the fact that a good governor (ryōri) ordinarily need not resort to force. Unlike the eighth- and ninth-century government decrees, these recommendations are very general, and make no specific recommendations with regard to provincial governance.24

  • 25 Shōyūki, Kankō 5.7.26 (1008) and Kannin 2.12.7 (early 1019).

27In fact, a good zuryō knew how to respond to a situation, maintain order, and satisfy the court by his revenue shipments as well as, perhaps, satisfactory reports and registers. He had to avoid conflicts with the people of the province and, as sometimes occurred, with neighboring provinces. In the period under consideration a few governors were either murdered or committed murder, often from personal motives. A few conflicts occurred between governors and powerful local elites and between governors and major religious establishments. An interesting example from Nagato Province demonstrates how local elites, who were also minor provincial officials, could very well know senior nobles and so were far from helpless in confrontations with the governor. On his return to the capital in 1008, the governor complained that a local elite had laid siege to his residence and wounded three of his men at arms. The man was summoned to the capital for questioning, but the matter went no further: according to Sanesuke, he was pardoned through the intercession of Takashina no Naritō, one of Michinaga’s favorite clients (kenin). But in early 1019, Naritō’s son Naritoshi was relieved of his duties as governor of Nagato due to a complaint made by a Minting Office official who was the son of the local elite questioned in 1008. Sanesuke was surprised that Naritoshi was dismissed without either a thorough inquiry or legal consultation; he adds that the local elite gave Michinaga a yearly gift of oxen.25

  • 26 See Midō kanpakuki, Kannin 1.3.15 (1017), for the dismissal of Minamoto no Yorichika; Fusō ryakki, (...)

28It was not easy being governor of Yamato, where the Kōfukuji was a major landowner; in Michinaga’s time, however, the governor was never sacrificed to the monks’ interests. This was not the case later in the eleventh century. The example of Minamoto no Yorichika demonstrates how a governor’s dealings with a religious establishment were much more serious than those with a private individual. Yorichika lost his post as governor of Awaji in 1017 after being found at fault in a man’s death. It was common knowledge among the senior nobility that he had instigated the murder. Although the penal law punished incitation to murder, Yorichika was not prosecuted and continued his career. In early 1050, while governor of Yamato, Yorichika was attacked by monks of Kōfukuji; he vigorously repulsed them, killing several monks. Less than a month later he was sentenced to exile. This is a vivid illustration of the problems inherent in tangling with the great Yamato temples in the time of Fujiwara no Yorimichi. At the Dazaifu in Kyūshū, relations between the governors of the island’s provinces and the governor-general’s administration were not always harmonious. Moreover, two great religious establishments, the Usa Shrine and the Kanzeonji, often created difficulties for the governor-general or his deputy.26 The government wanted to control the management of support households granted to this shrine and temple, while the latter strove to transform them into purely tax-exempt property.

  • 27 A zenjō 善状 (good letter) was often a request that the governor’s term be extended; this apparently (...)
  • 28 See Shōyūki, Jian 3.12.23 (early 1024), for the fire at the governor of Tanba’s house, and Chōgen 1 (...)
  • 29 Complaints (urei or shūso 愁訴) that resulted in the loss of a post, in addition to the example of (...)
  • 30 Gonki, Chōhō 3.12.2 (1001), a complaint against the governor of Yamato, who remained in office; Mid (...)
  • 31 Midō kanpakuki, Chōwa 5.8.25 (1016), a complaint by the people of Owari was accepted but the result (...)

29Governors risked becoming, like Motonaga, the object of complaints by local administrators and elites. A possibly incomplete inventory from 987 to 1041 lists eleven complaints (urei) delivered to the capital and known to us, and at least fifteen favorable letters—known as “good letters” (zenjō)—written by people of the provinces. The latter kind of document did not warrant that a governor ruled wisely and with restraint, only that he was capable of doing so with certain people in his province. In 1014 the governor of Kaga was the subject of a complaint in thirty-two articles drafted by his district administrators and sent to the capital; a little later the governor arrived, escorted by other district administrators (or perhaps the same ones, whom he had meanwhile won over to his side) who testified to the integrity of his conduct. Similarly, in 1019 some of the people of Tanba, who had come to the capital two months earlier to complain about their governor, arrived at a palace gate with a good letter.27 The number of people’s complaints is not significant, considering that they were made over a sixty-plus-year period in a country with more than sixty provinces. Significantly, most of the complaints concern provinces located fairly close to the capital: the senior nobility probably had the most interests in these provinces, and so would have known some of the local elites. In the eastern and northern provinces, on the other hand, conflicts were apparently often resolved on site. This is borne out by one of Fujiwara no Sanesuke’s journal entries. In early 1024 he learned that the house of the governor of Tanba, whom the provincial population had evidently accused of cruelty, had been burned down by a group of horsemen; Sanesuke concluded that the capital was adopting the ways of the eastern provinces. In another entry Sanesuke, writing of a complaint made contrary to accepted procedure, informs us that complaints made by the people of a province, while not lawful, were tolerated by custom. In 1028, residents of the capital had their nights disturbed by people from Tajima Province who gathered noisily around the regent’s residence. This prompted Sanesuke, surprised by this behavior, to comment that by longstanding precedent the people of a province were to submit their complaint at the palace gate during the daytime. In fact, there was no written complaint in this case: the entire event had been orchestrated by one of Sanesuke’s kenin, a man whose ownership of property in Tajima had led to a dispute with its governor.28 Out of eleven known complaints, only four resulted in a governor’s dismissal, and none was punished further.29 In the remaining cases, either the governor was kept on30 or the end result is not known.31 Getting into a conflict with a great religious establishment was certainly far more dangerous for a zuryō than being the object of a complaint by his people: the worst outcome in the latter case was that he would have to leave his post somewhat earlier than anticipated. Many such matters were apparently intertwined with local disputes which the governor did not handle well. In sum, a complaint made against a governor by his people was probably not a very serious matter, and rarely spelled the end of his career.

Leaving Office and Making a Performance Report

  • 32 The terms employed, chōnin 重任 (reappointment) and ennin 延任 (extension), are peculiar to Japanese ad (...)
  • 33 Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 2.12.21 (early 1006), records the granting of the governor of Harima’s reques (...)

30Near the end of a period ranging from two to five years, a governor needed to give thought to leaving office and preparing a performance report. At this point some governors would request a renewal of their appointment (chōnin), or an extension (ennin), in order to arrive at the most favorable moment for their performance report. Such preferential treatment was obtained in principle by following a specific procedure, which was in fact often circumvented: the author of the Hokuzanshō, finding the precedents mutually contradictory, admits to uncertainty.32 In principle, a governor could obtain a reappointment only if his name appeared in an appointments list (which implied that his most recent administrative performance had been reviewed); this was not necessary for an extension. According to the Hokuzanshō, an extension was awarded to governors who had met the fiscal obligations of the province, rehabilitated a bankrupt province, or suffered the destruction of the provincial government seat by fire at the end of a term. In early 1006 the governor of Harima requested a reappointment and his case was examined by the senior nobles. Some were of the opinion that a reappointment could not be made without first reviewing the governor’s preceding administrative record. For his part, the governor made an interesting proposition: he undertook to reconstruct two palace buildings, and this at a time when the entire palace needed to be rebuilt. The senior nobles added one more building to the bargain and approved the reappointment. When the governor of Ōmi requested reappointment in 1026, the regent Fujiwara no Yorimichi knew very well that his administrative record should first be reviewed. But because the governor had rebuilt the Seta Bridge, the procedure was simplified and a decree issued by the Council of State granting him a new term. Twenty years earlier, the governor of Tanba’s appointment was renewed by an imperial command, which was issued as a document without a seal. In all extant examples from the early eleventh century, the applicant had already either underwritten construction or committed himself to do so on behalf of the court.33 It is no easy matter to pinpoint the number of years spent by zuryō in their provinces, as some seem to have requested an extension well before finishing their term.

  • 34 A geyujō 解由状 is a document stating the grounds for releasing an outgoing governor from office (Chin (...)
  • 35 The case of the governor of Ōsumi is found in Shōyūki, Chōwa 3.2.26 (1014), and that of Hironari in (...)

31An apparent objective in requesting an extension—which could vary from two to four years—was to give a departing official sufficient time to prepare his performance report. The old laws mandated that a governor could not return to the capital before his successor’s arrival, that there must be a thorough inquiry into the condition of the province, and that a discharge document (geyujō) had to be signed by both the departing and the incoming zuryō. This document could not be drafted unless the public and religious buildings were in satisfactory condition, the permanent rice reserves were full, receipts were presented demonstrating that all fiscal obligations had been met, and the attesting registers had been audited and approved. Only then could the outgoing governor return to the capital. This ideal state of affairs was never realized: an outgoing governor could not resolve everything in one hundred and twenty days, and he could not remain in the province. Instead, the two men simply took note of what the outgoing governor owed, and signed a document stating the grounds for non-deliverance of a discharge document (fuyogeyujō). Sometimes, particularly in urgent circumstances during the eleventh century, an incoming governor would give his predecessor a pro forma discharge (honnin geyu or honnin hōkan) so that the latter could return to the capital before carrying out his review of the provincial condition. That was performed later in the capital, using written documents. An outgoing zuryō was generally able to return to Heiankyō by means of a document in lieu of discharge.34 Men whose presence was urgently required in the capital returned with a pro forma discharge. One such instance occurred in 1014 when Emperor Sanjō fell ill and the governor of Ōsumi, a physician, was hastily summoned to court. He arrived with a document discharging him from his provincial position (honnin hōkan), a document that Sanesuke himself requested from the governor’s successor so that the physician could enter the palace and treat the emperor. The proper forms were duly observed in the early eleventh century, as is shown by another event in 1014. Michinaga wanted Fujiwara no Hironari, a literatus, to have the honor of conducting the first lesson of the crown prince, Michinaga’s grandson. Hironari was summoned from his post in Iyo—but his successor had not given him his honnin geyu. Though furious with the successor, Michinaga did not give Hironari the palace position, as his documents were not in order. Somewhat later, though, during Yorimichi’s regency, Sanesuke repeatedly complained that men returned to the capital without the honnin hōkan gateway document but still received another post right away. A former governor of Mino became deputy master of the Crown Prince’s Household without obtaining the document. This was also true for a former governor of Dewa, who was given one appointment in the Library Bureau and another in the regent’s household; Sanesuke comments that this did not conform with the laws of the court.35 A former governor could always return to the capital, but in principle he could not hold a central administrative position without a pro forma discharge. On the other hand, a definitive discharge was required of aspirants to a new zuryō post.

  • 36 The office of inspector in charge of transition (kōtaishi 交替使) appears with those of other envoys i (...)

32On leaving office, in principle a governor, acting together with his successor, defined his remaining responsibilities—property damage that required repair, unsatisfied arrears—so as to avoid future disputes. This scenario was not always possible, however. When it became difficult to carry out the administrative formalities of a transition, whether due to disagreement or because the predecessor was dead, had become a Buddhist renunciate, or returned to the capital too soon, the new governor would request the presence of an inspector in charge of transition, kōtaishi,36 who would make a record of the transition process.

  • 37 The document in lieu of discharge was submitted in duplicate, one copy for the Bureau of Accounting (...)

33Having returned to the capital with a document in lieu of discharge, a governor commenced negotiations with the government auditing organs, the Bureau of Accounting and the Bureau of Tax Revenues. He had to submit receipts for three kinds of registers: those attesting to the good condition of public buildings in the province, including the government seat, the provincial storehouses, and all registered temples and shrines; those affirming the payment of all levies due the court and the beneficiaries of tribute-paying households; and those recording the holdings of provincial storehouses. This was significantly less documentation than was required of an outgoing governor under the laws relating to the transition of provincial administrators. He also had to submit decrees authorizing tax remittances or reductions in tax revenues, and giving permission to go no further in the records than the final year of his predecessor’s term so as to avoid responsibility for decades of arrears. After the audit, the reviewing bodies and the Board of Discharge Examiners produced a general synthesis during a conference sometimes called the grand consultation (daikanmon). The senior nobles did not base their decision on this consultation alone, however. They had on hand the governor’s entire file, including receipts, consultations, and documentary evidence; among other items, this last category contained zokubun, abstracts of precedents relating to preceding administrations as well as decrees obtained by the governor during his term.37

  • 38 On the role of the Controllers’ Office in decisions concerning submission of a file, see Gonki, Chō (...)

34A governor was responsible for compiling his own file and demonstrating that he had fulfilled all his obligations. He then submitted a request for a definitive discharge. The file was sent to the emperor, who immediately forwarded it to the Controllers’ Office. There it underwent a preliminary review to make sure that it was complete; at this stage, the Controllers’ Office could terminate the process. This happened in 1003 to Ōnakatomi no Sukechika’s file, removed by the senior controller Fujiwara no Yukinari from those marked for Council consideration because it was missing an attached document. He came to regret his action, as his zeal displeased Sukechika’s patron Michinaga. The senior nobles generally met just before the appointment session days, sometimes on those very mornings, to decide on the submitted files. The deliberations for each seem to have been recorded, a procedure which probably began in the early tenth century. Gōke shidai, a late eleventh-century manual of protocol, describes these sessions, which were usually chaired by a senior counselor. Members of the Controllers’ Office were present, often as lectors, while an advisor served as secretary for the session. Each file was considered in connection with certain major areas: provincial rice management, permanent rice reserves, steamed and parched rice, remittance of the consolidated tax portion, and the condition of provincial shrines and temples. The Chōya gunsai contains a governor’s discharge request dated 1072 (which may be only an exemplar), which contains the following sections: four years’ receipts for a series of registers submitted for review; annual receipts for delivery of the consolidated tax portion, consisting of 5,400 sheaves per annum; documents attesting that each year three hundred bushels of rice were put into reserves and that an (insignificant) acreage of one tan one hundred thirty bu of new rice fields was established; evidence that religious buildings had been repaired, an item which also appears in the document given in lieu of discharge; and a declaration to carry out construction projects for the palace without using tax revenues, meaning that they would be underwritten by the governor himself. The applicant points out that he made improvements to the province, which he had found in poor condition. Many kinds of registers are listed in the first section: they record the populace, handicraft taxes, the emissary to the imperial assembly, granaries for the poor, tax revenue rice, government rice loans, general land tax, and land tax for tribute-paying households. Several must be mock registers, since by this date granaries for the poor, for instance, had long ceased to exist. The Chōya gunsai reveals that, in the twelfth century at least, scribes working in the Bureau of Accounting and the Bureau of Tax Revenues were responsible for preparing many provincial registers.38 An offer to carry out construction for the court seems to have been a significant factor in deliberations on a governor’s management performance, even though the Gōke shidai does not mention it in its protocol.

  • 39 For the case of the governor of Ise who left office in 1006, see Shōyūki, Chōwa 2.1.22 (1013), whic (...)

35One or more cases, and often between three and five, were processed during the sessions inquiring into zuryō performance. Despite being of necessity well prepared, a file was sometimes held back; in such cases the applicant could not receive his discharge until the following year. It took at least one year to receive a favorable decision. There are instances of much longer waiting periods: a governor of Ise who left office in 1006 did not receive a definitive discharge until 1013, and other decisions were reached three, four, or five years after a zuryō left office. The patronage of a minister of state sometimes made it possible for a man with an unsatisfactory file to obtain a definitive discharge from the Council. In 1017, the Board of Discharge Examiners was not in favor of granting a discharge request by one of Michinaga’s clients. The senior nobles in the Council session exchanged glances, but all held their tongues; in the end the management performance of this former governor of Shinano was found to be impeccable. But Michinaga was not omnipotent. In 1014 one of his clients, the former governor of Bingo, submitted an incomplete file which the Council of senior nobles was inclined to let pass—except for Sanesuke, who was opposed. Informed of the incident, Michinaga backed down and blamed the Controllers’ Office for not having done its job. Sanesuke rebuts this argument in his journal, observing that Michinaga, who was vested with private inspection powers (nairan), had also seen the file. The matter was resolved several months later.39

  • 40 For Minamoto no Yorichika’s 1017 dismissal, see Midō kanpakuki, Kannin 1.3.15; for his failure to d (...)

36Resignation did not exempt a governor from having to submit a performance report, but if he died in office the court usually only required that his successor pay any arrears from the former administration. Evidently a dismissed governor could easily evade difficulties resulting from non-delivery of products due the court. Minamoto no Yorichika, the governor of Awaji, was dismissed in 1017 after being involved in a dispute and found responsible for a man’s death. At the end of that year Sanesuke, who looked after the business interests of the Kamo Priestess, demanded that Yorichika send her the silk he owed her, and thought it odd when Yorichika replied that the court had not ordered him to send it in 1017. We do not know how the matter ended, but it seems likely that Yorichika did not settle his debt. He nevertheless obtained a discharge in 1019.40

37Governors who became Buddhist renunciates while in office present a more complicated case. Entry into religious life could occur incidentally, as it were, in the course of an illness. That is what happened to Minamoto no Kunitaka, who had not remitted what his province owed to the Kamo Priestess. Although Sanesuke put pressure on him to pay, Kunitaka looked for loopholes. A man who had become a renunciate posed a dual problem. First, he was no longer civilly liable: he could not use his personal name or the provincial seal. Second, it was common knowledge that many zuryō posts were allocated because the candidate had committed to use his own assets (often acquired by exploiting a province in the name of the court) to carry out projects for the court, an arrangement which became increasingly common after the first third of the eleventh century. In these circumstances, the man’s wife and children were held responsible. It was apparently legal, on the grounds of blood relationship, to make them pay private and public assets into the governors’ storehouses; part of the latter group of assets was intended to satisfy court demands. In 1025 Sanesuke began discussing with Michinaga, via his son Yorimichi, the matter of three governors who had become Buddhist renunciates without first having settled their debts to the court. The descendants (shison) had already been issued a preliminary order to pay. Michinaga’s opinion was that the obligation should rest with the goke, on the grounds that the wife would know better than the children where the new renunciate’s assets were located. (The assets—rice, cloth, oil— were easily concealed, as they were transportable and dispersed among many storehouses). Sanesuke reluctantly accepted the new formulation. Although, in the eleventh century, goke generally signified a widow or a wife left at home after her husband became a Buddhist renunciate, it could also refer collectively to a widow and her children.

  • 41 Shōyūki, Chōwa 4.4.9 and 18 (1015), records how Kunitaka, recently become a Buddhist renunciate, qu (...)

38Problems were also posed by governors who died in office under conditions similar to those of officials who became renunciates. In the former case, however, a widow’s or child’s obligation to pay arrears seems to have been determined arbitrarily. Fujiwara no Sukefusa found this out when his father-in-law died in 1039 before completing his term as governor of Mimasaka. The widow, who was on good terms with the regent Yorimichi, was granted a messenger to bring back to the capital those assets left behind in the province by the late governor; and, hoping that Yorimichi would order the sons to pay the arrears, she spread a rumor that they had plundered one of their father’s storehouses. This affair led Sukefusa to cite the case of two governors who, though renunciates, continued to benefit from their assets, with nothing having been demanded of them or their families: the men were Fujiwara no Chikatada, the governor of Mino, who was one of Yorimichi’s household officials, and a certain Tameyori of whom nothing more is known.41 Sukefusa’s problems reveal that a governor’s fortune was largely transportable and fairly easily concealed, particularly when it was kept in the storehouses of men at arms or other subordinates.

Conclusion

39Aided by a few out of many possible examples, I have attempted to demonstrate how resident governors, who were often the clients of senior nobles, carried out extremely important duties at the height of the Fujiwara regency: the maintenance of law and order in the country was dependent on them, as was the funding for the material life of the court and its religious and social activities. They are frequently mentioned in the journals of ministers and other senior nobles; some were in fact the sons of ministers. The most eminent men of the time, beginning with Michinaga and Sanesuke, were the grandsons of governors who spent their early childhood with their grandfathers. They continued to seek out marital alliances between their sons and the daughters of zuryō. Fujiwara no Sanesuke himself negotiated the marriages of his adopted son Sukehira and his grandson Sukefusa to the daughters of governors, to ensure that the young men’s fathers-in-law would support them well. By Yorimichi’s generation, however, ministers’ and senior counselors’ sons preferred to take their wives from the families of imperial princes and senior nobles, thus closing off social access to the heart of the court. Yet when his principal wife could not produce an heir, some men chose to ensure the continuation of their line through a secondary wife. Witness the example of Morozane, who succeeded his father Yorimichi as regent: he was adopted by Yorimichi’s princess-wife, but was in fact the maternal grandson of a zuryō.

  • 42 Sukefusa, an advisor, and his father Sukehira, a middle counselor, skipped a Council session in ord (...)

40In the sphere of government, the most important administrative work carried out by senior nobles was the task of choosing governors judiciously, a task carried out by familiarizing themselves with applications and performance report files during appointments sessions. The senior nobles were well aware that every aspect of court life—palace and temple construction, the coordination of festivals and ceremonies—depended on the skill with which governors managed their provinces. Until the mid-eleventh century the position of zuryō remained an enviable one—so long as the landed estates in a governor’s province were not so extensive that they impeded his tax-collecting mission, and so long as he avoided excessive conflict with individuals, religious establishments, or other institutions that could use their court connections to go over a governor’s head. Many found contentment in the provinces: there were the pleasures of being in command, greater freedom in one’s daily life, an active lifestyle, new scenery, encounters with foreigners in Kyūshū, and the diversion of hunting. Despite the dangers posed by living in the Kyūshū provinces, which were restless and vulnerable to seaborne threats, even senior nobles asked for the post of governor-general, and a certain Fujiwara no Takaie acquitted himself most honorably there against attacks by Toi pirates. The principal attraction of a provincial post was the opportunity for large profits afforded those with sufficient skills. Less affluent senior nobles were thoroughly disdainful of this wealth, which they also envied. In 1054, Sukefusa was moved to melancholy when he visited the beautiful residence Fujiwara no Kunitsune had built for himself in the capital: “A rich man can make his every whim come to pass. Whenever we see such things we are saddened at being unable to realize our own dreams.” To be sure, not all governors were so successful or affluent.42

  • 43 Genji’s spending the night at the governor of Kii’s house in the “Hahakigi” chapter of Genji monoga (...)

41Although resident governors were an important presence in Heian society and played an essential role both in national administration and court life, they are given little space in the fictional universe created by Murasaki Shikibu, the daughter, sister, cousin, and wife of zuryō. They make only brief appearances: as the owner of a residence where Genji goes to avoid an unlucky direction and by chance becomes interested in the women of the house; or as a Buddhist renunciate such as the former governor of Harima, driven by unreasonable ambitions for his daughter; or as anonymous figures who come to work at the protagonist’s house. Ukifune’s stepfather, the governor of Hitachi, who is probably the only governor given a more developed character, is also one of the most ridiculous, a nouveau riche man with bad manners and no taste. Although he comes from a fairly good family, the governor is cut off from the world of the court and is utterly ignorant of its sophisticated ways, due to his having lived among people who were thought uncouth and his need to employ violent men at arms.43

42Yet Murasaki Shikibu must have been aware that the zuryō class of officials included men whose education, knowledge of regional affairs, poetic ability, and aesthetic discernment surpassed those of most senior nobles, and that zuryō daughters had a nimbler wit, a better command of literature, and as much sophistication as the daughters of the senior nobility. The objective of fiction is obviously not an accurate description of the society in which the story takes place; and readers—especially women readers—were bound to be pleased by having the the world of the high aristocracy, and that of the protagonists in particular, somewhat idealized. I would hazard another hypothesis. Ever since the system of Codes was formulated, the order and peace of the country had depended on the maintenance of a hierarchical society; yet until the tenth century, a certain degree of promotion and change in status could be obtained through merit. The practice of hereditary offices developed in Murasaki Shikibu’s time: might her narrative, with its patronizing, even contemptuous treatment of those outside the highest court circle, reflect early eleventh-century society, a time of rigidifying social strata and minimal social mobility? Might it even be said to constitute a discreet criticism?

Appendix 1. An Exemplary Zuryō: The Biography of Fujiwara no Yasunori (825-895) by Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki44

  • 44 Despite the author’s protestations of complete veracity, this is in fact an exemplary biography whi (...)
  • 45 This text by Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki 三善清行, 847-918, a future Council of State advisor like his hero Fuj (...)
  • 46 The phrase “men lay by the roadside, dead of starvation” is incomplete. There is a two-character la (...)
  • 47 According to the Nihon sandai jitsuroku, the year Yasunori arrived in Bitchū, Jōgan 8.10.8 (866), i (...)
  • 48 Asano no Sadayoshi governed the province from 857 to 862. The bad governor’s brutality is a common (...)

43[Lacuna]45 Rice fields and meadows were ravaged by drought. Famine was widespread and men lay by the roadside, dead of starvation.46 Robber bands operated openly everywhere and people were abandoning their villages. The districts of Aga and Teta lay in the heart of a mountainous region, far from the provincial seat. Their inhabitants either engaged in acts of violence, theft, and murder, or ran away to avoid paying land taxes.47 Not a single taxable adult was left in these rugged lands. The preceding governor, Asano no Sadayoshi, had been a brutal administrator. He put district officials in irons for minor misconduct. Men of the province were arrested, judged, and put to death for the least offense.48 The prisons were filled with prisoners and the roads choked with corpses.

  • 49 Kiyoyuki uses Chinese clichés, roughly applicable to the Japanese context, to describe the governor (...)
  • 50 Zuryō were expected to send land tax revenue (so ) to the capital, but payments were often in arre (...)

44Upon his arrival in the province to which he had been appointed, Yasunori did his best to govern humanely: he was lenient with minor faults and considered only important matters. He freed men who had been reduced to slavery, distributed aid generously, stimulated agriculture and sericulture, and discouraged and stopped all pleasure-related expenditures. And so the inhabitants returned with their children to live under his administration. Everywhere rice fields and gardens were developed and the population prospered. Gates were no longer closed at night, and barking dogs were no longer heard in the villages. The provincial storehouses were full and there was more and more tax revenue.49 In short, Yasunori obtained [from the central government] receipts for thirty-four years of land taxes and eleven years of handicraft taxes.50 Nothing like this had ever been seen before.

  • 51 In Bizen as in Bitchū, Yasunori was the zuryō whether his formal title was vice-governor (suke) or (...)
  • 52 The use of shame to change a man’s character is discussed in Book 2 of the Lunyu, and the image of (...)

45In the thirteenth year [of the Jōgan era, 871] he was promoted to the junior fifth rank, upper grade, and reassigned as vice-governor of Bizen Province; he became its supernumerary governor in the sixteenth year [874].51 While in office he applied the same principles as in Bitchū, governing humanely and taking care to encourage moral conduct among the people. If one of his subordinate officials acted wrongfully, he would not reveal his misdeeds to everyone. Instead he would speak to him in confidence, away from prying eyes, and say, “After long hard years of study in the state schools, you have embarked on your career and obtained this post. You must strive to win a good reputation by acting with integrity. Why settle for stagnating in a junior provincial position? The fact is that you are bound first to support your parents and secondly to provide for the needs of your wife and children. You have defiled yourself with this misdeed, because you have distorted your nature [which is good] and warped your spirit. Indeed, those who act justly should be restrained by the cries of the poor. I have but a small salary, but I would like to give you what you need. Do not steal what belongs to the state!” Then he would give the guilty man a generous part of his salary. He knew how to change men by shaming them, and he influenced them as a wind flattens grasses.52 Both his officials and the people he governed loved and respected him, calling him their father.

  • 53 Kibitsu Jinja was the principal sanctuary of the province and its deity consequently held the secon (...)

46The sanctuary of the deity Kibitsuhiko lies on the border between Bizen and Bitchū. During the drought Yasunori had public prayers said, whereupon the deity graciously relented and answered the prayers in no time at all. Troublemakers in the province soon found the deity wreaking his punishment on them. One day he appeared to Yasunori and said, “I am moved to see how you use your virtue to change people, and I take great delight in it. I wish to help you govern so that your term will yield good results.” Aided by the deity, Yasunori governed these two provinces with an eye to improving them: the harvests were plentiful every year, and the people lived in peace and happiness.53

  • 54 The dictionary Iroha jiruishō defines fukun 府君 (lord of a provincial seat) as a governor. In China (...)
  • 55 Normally provisions for a journey were given to those transporting handicraft produce. Yasunori sho (...)

47One day, on a mountain road, a robber from Aki Province ambushed a convoy from Bingo Province and seized forty units of tax silk. He fled into the tall grasses, and later stopped at the inn of Iwanasu District in Bizen. Chatting with the aged innkeeper, the thief asked what the administration of the province was like now that the great governor had changed it. The old innkeeper replied, “The lord governor has transformed the people through benevolence and justice alone. That is why all the people of the province say he is a new Boyi.54 His charity and sincerity quite naturally attracted those of the deity. This is why the deity Kibitsuhiko promptly punishes any troublemakers in our province.” His detailed description of how the governor influenced the province rang true in all respects. The thief’s complexion changed color and he appeared ashamed and fearful. All night long he wept and sighed, tossing and turning, unable to sleep. When dawn arrived he ran to the gate of the governor’s residence and, kneeling and touching his forehead to the ground, turned himself in, saying, “I am the wretch who dared to seize forty units of silk belonging to the government of Bingo. I wish to mend my ways and be punished for my crime. Take my life, I beg you!” At these words, the governor summoned the robber and said to him, “Since you know enough to turn to what is good, then when all is said and done, you are not so wicked.” He thereupon gave him provisions for the journey.55 He stamped the silk as stolen goods and entrusted it to the thief to return to Bingo Province. All his subordinates said, “The man is a robber, he will never go to Bingo.” The governor replied, “This man has already mended his ways and his conversion is heartfelt. Why do you wish him to change yet again?” Ignoring their objections, he handed the thief a report and sent him to the government seat of Bingo. The governor of Bingo at this time was Ono no Takaki; astonished and delighted, he discharged the thief. The latter returned to Bizen of his own accord; kneeling in the courtyard of the governor’s residence, he offered his thanks. This is an example of how Yasunori’s virtue changed men, to the admiration of all.

  • 56 The provincial people who wish to keep their good governor and the old people who offer him saké ar (...)
  • 57 The phrase kantō no iainaku 無甘棠之遺愛 (lit., not leaving behind a pleasant memory such as that left by (...)
  • 58 A kōji 講師 (provincial instructor) was a monk appointed by the central government to supervise Buddh (...)
  • 59 Yasunori no doubt realized that he had been wrong to accept the rice.

48In the autumn of the seventeenth year [of the Jōgan era, 875], Yasunori left his post and returned to the capital. The people of the provinces of Bizen and Bitchū barred his way, weeping and wailing. All along the road, aged villagers bowed their white heads and offered him saké and side dishes.56 The governor said that there could be no mistaking the sentiments of these elders. That was why, during the several days of his stay, people came one after another in such numbers that it seemed they would never end. Thinking that if this continued he would be there for months, the governor had a small boat secretly outfitted and, casting off the mooring ropes, silently rowed away. He had made arrangements to meet his entourage, but as they had not yet arrived he dropped anchor for a time at the harbor of Katakami in Wake District. Then the officials of Bizen District, learning that the governor had outfitted a boat but lacked supplies, came to the harbor to offer him two hundred bushels of white rice. The grateful governor said to them, “Unlike Zhaobo, the minister who reposed under the pear tree, I will not be remembered as a good administrator; yet here I am receiving a gift worthy of that great man.57 But how can I not gladly accept what you offer willingly?” And so he did not refuse their gift. When the district officials had come to the harbor they had expected the governor to be much too honest to accept the gift, and they thought he would refuse it. They returned home greatly pleased by his response. A little later, the governor sent a message to the provincial instructor which said, “Ever since the boat has been in port we have experienced strange things. The wind and the waves exceed all measure and we are truly experiencing great difficulties. I would like you to come to us at the harbor, together with some monks to pray for a safe passage.” At this, the provincial instructor hastened to the harbor, bringing with him a lector and monks from the state temple. The governor asked that several monks each recite the sūtra of the Heart of the Perfection of Transcendent Wisdom with sufficient efficacy.58 The monks acceded to his wish and completed their recitation of the Heart Sūtra. Yasunori gave the two hundred bushels of rice as alms to those who had recited the sūtra.59 The boat set sail and left the harbor that night, never to return.

  • 60 Yasunori uses the example of Gao Yao 皐陶 to explain his belief in the perilous nature of juridical a (...)
  • 61 Shōfu (or tani 商布) is a unit of hempen cloth used as exchange currency. According to the Shoku Niho (...)

49In the First Month of the eighteenth year [of the Jōgan era, 876] Yasunori was appointed supernumerary first lieutenant in the Gate Guards, right section, with a concurrent position as police inspector. He then said to one of his friends,“Long ago, during the reign of Emperor Yao, in all the people’s houses there were men worthy of office. In those days, because of his great wisdom Gao Yao was made head of the prison system. When there was a doubtful case, a unicorn would help him discover the crime. Under such circumstances, how could the punishment not fit the crime? Moreover, all the punishments were public and the sentences were not harsh. Under such circumstances, how could men be ruled by hatred? And yet those who give thought to such matters believe that the principalities of Ying and Liao did not remain in the hands of Gao Yao’s descendants because he committed misdeeds in governing the prisons.60 [If a sage of old could err,] how much more might this happen in our degenerate age, weak in virtue and rich in flatterers! At the moment of pronouncing sentence, one sometimes causes both sides to lose. A man may be motivated by great compassion [in performing police duties], but his acts may still have [unfortunate] consequences for his descendants.” He tendered his resignation two or three times, and did not take up his duties. Shortly afterwards [in the Second Month], he was transferred to the post of vice-minister for Popular Affairs. Among all the precedents relating to the management of this ministry, great importance is given the treatment of the high-quality hempen cloth used as a medium of exchange, as it serves to obtain rice to feed officials during their period of service.61 Although it is called an exchange, it is in fact a way of increasing taxes. This system causes great suffering to the provincial peasantry. During the year that he served in the Ministry, Yasunori did not eat a single meal [from the food allowance allotted officials for their period of service].

  • 62 The Nihon sandai jitsuroku, Gangyō 2.3.29 (878), records the governor Fujiwara no Okiyo’s report of (...)
  • 63 Fujiwara no Kajinaga, the leader of the counterattack, was the principal third-class official of Mu (...)

50In the first year of the Gangyō era [877] he was appointed middle controller, right section. In the Second Month of the second year [878], the Ebisu staged a revolt in Dewa Province and attacked the Akita fortress. The vice-governor charged with defending the fortress, Yoshimine no Chikashi, could not hold it. He fled and hid himself in the tall grasses. The rebels set fire to the fortress and burned it down, destroying the military equipment and weapons in the space of an hour. The massed rebels, numerous as ants, divided their forces and encircled several fortifications. The governor of the province, Fujiwara no Okiyo, abandoned the fortified provincial seat and fled [further south].62 The prime minister, Lord Shōsen [Fujiwara no Mototsune], was regent at the time. He had an imperial edict sent to Mutsu Province ordering three thousand soldiers to be mustered and dispatched to Dewa as reinforcements. The governor of Mutsu had to recruit many men from his province to put in place one thousand elite horsemen and two thousand infantrymen. More than ten thousand men, it seems, had to find themselves helmets, armor, and food. Fujiwara no Kajinaga, a third-class official, was put in command and, together with the Dewa troops, was charged with subduing the rebels. In Dewa Province the third-class officials [of Dewa] Fujiwara no Munetsura, Fun’ya no Arifusa, and Ono no Haruzumi raised another two thousand men, infantry and mounted; having joined the Mutsu troops, they set up camp not far from the Akita River. Just then the rebels, whose number had swelled to over one thousand, came down the river in light, rapid boats and staged a surprise attack on the government troops. Kajinaga and his men began to fight. There was fog and no one could see a thing. Several hundred armed rebels suddenly appeared at the army’s rear and, screaming, hurled themselves on the soldiers. Surprised and panicked, the government troops scattered. Profiting from their advantage, the rebels struck to right and left and put the government army to flight. In short, they massacred the master archer of Dewa Province, Kanhatori no Saneo, and several dozen junior officers from the two northern provinces. Several hundred government soldiers were killed or taken prisoner. As for equipment, armor, and helmets, the rebels seized everything. Unnumbered dead were trampled underfoot on all the roads. Fun’ya no Arifusa was wounded and left for dead. Ono no Haruzumi was able to hide among the dead and so escaped with his life. Fujiwara no Kajinaga hid himself in the tall grasses and went five days without food; after the rebels left he returned on foot to Mutsu Province.63

  • 64 The modest phrase crafted for Fujiwara no Mototsune by Kiyoyuki was certainly not uttered at the ti (...)
  • 65 This phrase is apparently taken from the Nihon shoki, Kōgyoku 1.9 (642), which records that several (...)
  • 66 Sakanoue no Tamuramaro 坂上田村麻呂, 758-811. In 787 he was a captain of the Inner Palace Guards. He was (...)
  • 67 The Nihon sandai jitsuroku entry for Jōgan 12.3.29 (870) records that Ono no Harukaze 小野春風 asked fo (...)

51On the second day of the Fifth Month couriers arrived in the capital. The news astonished Lord Shōsen who, with Yasunori, made recommendations on how to manage the situation. He said to him, “I would like you to command the eastern armies.” Having thanked him, Yasunori said, “I am a civil servant who never learned how to ride a horse or draw a bow. Although I have no attachment to my paltry life, I fear that I would bring the court nothing but shame.” Lord Shōsen replied, “Since the reign of Emperor Tenchi, the Fujiwara house has distinguished itself for generation on generation and has always been the support of the court. Though I am neither Yi Yin or Gong Dan of Zhou,64 I was appointed regent. That a revolt has broken out during my tenure is, for the court, an attack on my honor, and for the country, [lacuna]. By virtue of our close common origin, you too ought to serve your country. I ask you, try to come up with a good solution—don’t be modest.” Yasunori then said to him, “As I cannot avoid implementing a plan of my own making, allow me to speak my mind, withholding nothing. Then Your Excellency will probably want no more to do with me.” At these words Lord Shōsen replied: “All I want is a way out of this; I have no other ideas.” Yasunori then said, “The Ebisu made their submission almost two hundred years ago;65 fearing the influence of our court, they did not revolt. But I have heard that the official in command of the Akita fortress, Yoshimine no Chikashi, constantly imposes heavy taxes and exploits the Ebisu in a thousand ways. Their anger and resentment grew so great against him that in the end a revolt broke out. The Ebisu have many tribes: altogether, the rebels would number in the thousands. If they are pushed to the limit and begin a fight to the death, one man will fight with the strength of a hundred and combat will be difficult. Even if a commander like Sakanoue no Tamuramaro66 were to return from the dead, in our present situation he could not successfully pacify the region. But if the people were to be instructed in conformance with the Way, treated firmly and confidently, made aware of the virtue of our sovereign, and their rebellious spirit transformed, then without the use of force the rebellion would subside of its own accord.” Lord Shōsen concurred with these words. Yasunori continued: “The Ebisu must now be pacified by gentleness and confidence. If, among this host of rebels, there are some who will not submit, then they must be threatened with arms. Ono no Harukaze,67 former captain of the Inner Palace Guards, comes from a family that boasts many military leaders. His valor is unmatched. In recent years he has often been slandered: without a court position, he spends his days at home. First of all, I request that you put Harukaze at the command of a good army, where he will make the rebels listen to reason through the prestige of the court. Then, if they are won over by virtue, the rebellion will soon be over.”

  • 68 Sakanoue no Yoshikage 坂上好陰 was a descendant of Tamuramaro; his father was governor of Mutsu.

52Lord Shōsen was greatly pleased. On the fourth day of that month he raised Yasunori to the senior fifth rank, lower grade and made him governor of Dewa in addition to his post as middle controller, right section. Under special circumstances, Harukaze was appointed general in charge of pacification and given the junior fifth rank, lower grade. He was placed under Yasunori’s command, together with Sakanoue no Yoshikage, the vice-governor of Mutsu Province.68 A few days after he received the imperial edict Yasunori set off, travelling day and night. On his way north he encountered a series of couriers bringing news to the court: the rebel forces were growing stronger, the government army had suffered several defeats, fortresses and fortifications had been lost and its battalions routed. The dozen horsemen accompanying Yasunori were so distraught that they lost their senses. But Yasunori kept his composure, showing neither fear nor cowardice. He soon arrived in Dewa Province. He gave his orders to Harukaze and Yoshikage, urging both to take five hundred of the best Mutsu horsemen and boldly penetrate rebel territory; there they were to summon the chieftains and, armed with the prestige of the court, speak with them and win their confidence.

  • 69 Literally “captives” (toriko ). A related term, in use from the eighth century, is fushū 俘囚, both (...)
  • 70 The subjugation of the Ebisu thus appears to have been rapidly accomplished: Yasunori arrived at th (...)

53The rebels, more than ten thousand in number, were entrenched in rugged terrain when they heard that a royal army was coming to fight them. As a youth Harukaze had lived in these frontier regions and knew the Ebisu language well. Alone, without armor or helmet, bow or arrows, he went to the army of these northern men whom we call “subjugated barbarians.”69 Following Yasunori’s orders, he spoke at length of the intentions of the court. Then the Ebisu knelt, bowing their heads to the ground, and said, “The administrator who dwelt in the Akita fortress was so greedy and brutal that we could never satisfy him; his greed was like an abyss. If we did not meet his demands, however small, we were immediately and cruelly punished. This is why we revolted: we could no longer endure his savage governance. But now, to our good fortune, the general has told us of the emperor’s benevolent intentions. We wish to return to the right path and submit ourselves to the general’s authority.” And they vied over who would bring saké and food to regale the government army. Taking with him several dozen chieftains, Harukaze went to the provincial seat of Dewa. Yasunori summoned them to his presence and treated them kindly. The rebels then released all the prisoners and all the weapons which they had previously seized. Only two chieftains refused to submit. Yasunori said to the assembled Ebisu leaders,“Two barbarians who submitted in the past have not come here. What is your opinion on this matter?” The chieftains unanimously responded, “As this concerns a specific task, we ask your brief indulgence.” Several days later they returned, presenting Yasunori with the heads of the two Ebisu. Yasunori sent delegates with seed rice for the fields. All the Ebisu tribes from Tsugaru to Watarishima, even those which had never before made an act of submission, placed themselves under the rule of our court.70 Yasunori rebuilt the fortress of Akita in this region, with twice the number of fortifications, towers and moats as before.

  • 71 Because the northern region was far from the court and subject to somewhat different laws than thos (...)

54In the third year [of the Gangyō era, 879], he moved from supernumerary governor to governor, while keeping his position as middle controller, right section. He was enjoined by imperial command to stay for a time in the province to complete its pacification. In the province of Dewa, Ebisu live together with our people in the same villages. The earth is very fertile and its products are varied and excellent. Officials and elites join forces to exploit the people to the full, raising taxes as they please and arbitrarily imposing additional corvées. Added to this is the behavior of sons from prominent families who go there, thick as clouds, to search for fine horses and good falcons, and who stir up trouble.71 The inhabitants of this region are naive: they do not know how to submit a complaint and they simply give whatever is asked of them, not daring to speak out about their heavy tax burden. For this reason, those who work the fields face destitution while clever scoundrels enrich themselves. But Yasunori governed in accordance with the regulations set down by the court: he instructed the peasants and rigorously upheld the laws, making sure they were not violated. When someone acted illegally, he had him arrested and judged his case; thus the peasants lived in peace and the Ebisu were governed with equity. While he was governor of Dewa, the Ebisu of Mutsu would come to him to obtain a ruling on a complaint. Early in his career, when Yasunori was governor of Bizen and Bitchū, he improved the provinces solely through benevolence and kindness. When he went to govern Dewa, he also used firmness and the influence [of power]. When officials or men of the people committed an offense, he let nothing pass and made no allowance for extenuating circumstances in his judgments. In the Fourth Month of the fourth year [880], by government decree Yasunori was permitted to return to the capital. On his arrival, ministers and counselors congratulated him on his meritorious service. Yet he protested that he had done nothing, and attributed all that had taken place to the prestige of the court. Everyone expected that the court would surely promote him to a rank commensurate with the accomplishment of quelling a great revolt without using a single soldier. The court, however, took advantage of Yasunori’s modesty and did not give him a single honor. As for Yoshimine no Chikashi, whose greed and abuse of power had sparked the revolt, he was not reprimanded at all. Lord Shōsen was blamed for these events and criticized as unable to mete out just punishments and rewards. By nature, Yasunori loved quiet and tranquility, disliking turmoil. He often submitted his resignation as controller to Lord Shōsen. In the Seventh Month he was appointed governor of Harima, but declined this post and did not leave for the province.

  • 72 Shutara abidon 修多羅阿毘曇, two of the three storehouses ( ) holding Buddhist texts. Shutara refers t (...)
  • 73 Sanuki was known for providing legal specialists to the government. Yu and Rui were Chinese states (...)

55In the First Month of the sixth year [882], Yasunori was promoted to the junior fourth rank, lower grade. He then declared, “I have grown old. Why should I not acquire merit for the life to come? I understand that Sanuki Province has paper and many good copyists. I shall go there and have many sūtras and doctrinal treatises copied.”72 And so in the Second Month he left for Sanuki as governor. The inhabitants of this province are all interested in law and love to argue about the interpretation of legal texts. They are constantly litigating over earthworks and village borders. As soon as Yasunori went into the province they became conciliatory, as ashamed of their previous conduct as Yu and Rui had once been.73 Yasunori finished his term and returned to the capital. No longer desirous of serving, he retired to a secluded house in the western hills.

  • 74 There was no resident governor-general (sochi ) when Yasunori was appointed senior assistant gover (...)
  • 75 Kyūshū was always vulnerable to attack from Silla pirates; one such attack may have occurred in 893 (...)
  • 76 The original expression is taken from a verse in the Classic of Poetry (Shijing), 自応食椹改音 (onozukara (...)

56In the Second Month of the third year of the Ninna era [887] he was appointed governor of Iyo. He declined this post and did not go to the province. In the Eighth Month he became senior assistant governor-general of Kyūshū74 and, in the Tenth Month, was promoted to the junior fourth rank, upper grade. He did not want to leave and several times pleaded illness. But the court, lavishing praise, compelled him to go. On duty in Kyūshū, he transformed the people solely through integrity and gentle conduct. And so the officials, like the people, freely submitted themselves to him, and he governed and instructed them. The region has always attracted daredevils; these treated the three provinces of Chikuzen, Chikugo and Hizen as their personal larder. They preyed on isolated villages and hamlets. When the inhabitants had food in reserve, they were murdered. When travel provisions were collected, the province was not at peace. The preceding year, officials of the government-general and the governors of the involved provinces had raised troops, and had captured and executed several bandits. But the robber bands flourished more than before and the authorities could not destroy them. When Yasunori took charge of the government-general, everyone told him that he must raise a large force to eradicate the robbers. He replied, “I completely understand. Generally speaking, though, robber chiefs do not belong to duly registered households, but instead live far from their legal residence; or they are sons of good family who are driven by greed; or they are men who came in an official’s entourage and happened to marry a local woman. They have lived in the region for some time and have put down roots. Yet the harvest is not always good, losses occur. Men with no means of support join forces to get by; they arm themselves and fall in with a band of robbers. This is how more than half the population of these provinces has become thieves. If we capture and kill them all, peace will surely reign—but in deserted villages. And if threats arise from neighboring lands, how will we staff our fortifications?75 Not all the men in robber bands are necessarily wicked: cold and hunger drove many of them to do wrong. If they are governed with kindness and given something to eat, they will behave like honest men.”76 Yasunori then took some of his salary and distributed generous alms in the three provinces. His compassion made it possible for everyone to have a decent livelihood. Delighted, the robbers said to one another, “Since the lord governor treats us like a father, how can we fail to respond as sons?” And giving themselves up one after the other, they became soldiers.

  • 77 The missing section probably describes the last years of Yasunori’s career. He returned to the capi (...)

57In the Fourth Month of the third year of the Kanpyō era [891] Yasunori was recalled to the capital to take the post of senior controller, left section. A few months after his return, the court received a report from the government-general [announcing an attack from Silla?] [Lacuna].77

  • 78 Ono no Fujio 小野葛絃 was Takamura’s son and the father of the calligrapher Michikaze. He reached the f (...)
  • 79 Sugawara no Michizane 菅原道真, 845-903, was appointed governor of Sanuki in 886. The most brilliant li (...)

58Yasunori’s complete integrity transformed everything with which he came in contact. A subordinate guilty of corruption was admonished with complete candor. If the man did not mend his ways, Yasunori had no more to do with him. On witnessing someone doing a good deed, however small, he would show his satisfaction by praising and commending the person, and so supported his good conduct. He had a knack for choosing the right men for a task: it was as if he possessed a mirror that showed him what was inside each man. When Yasunori was in Bitchū, Ono no Fujio78 became a third-class official at a very young age. Yasunori praised him, saying, “You will surely become a just official.” Later, when Yasunori was governor of Sanuki and Sugawara no Michizane was chosen to succeed him, he declared in confidence, “It is beyond my abilities to judge the scholarly merit of the great man who has been appointed the new governor, as he is one of the finest intellectuals of our time. And yet I am truly quite disturbed by what I perceive of his character.”79 His evaluations were always confirmed by fact. Many was the time he displayed his ability to encourage and chastise.

59Upon reaching the age of fifty, Yasunori no longer had intimate relations with his wife. He gave himself over wholeheartedly to reading Buddhist works, and made particular progress in contemplating the Void. He regularly recited the Sūtra of the Diamond-Sharp Perfection of Wisdom, never growing weary of it. He collected various commentaries on this sūtra and made them into a book; so deep was his understanding of the sūtra that nothing escaped him. He led a life of utter purity and detachment, taking no thought for himself. This was certainly the result of his training in the knowledge of perfect wisdom, which leads to comprehending the Void and the nonexistence of individual natures. One day when he was ill and could not sleep, he suddenly declared, “The hour of my death has not yet come. Why end my life in worldly travails and filth?” He then had a dwelling readied for him on the eastern slope of Mt. Hiei. The following day, without further ado he rose, ordered a palanquin and left for his cell. His head was shaved and he entered the Way, reciting the Invocation day and night. After several months had passed, he was taken away forever. He left behind intact the body [which his parents had given him]. In his last hour, when a silk thread was brought near his mouth to see if he was still breathing, Yasunori remained completely tranquil. Turned toward the west, he was absorbed in invocations. The monks marvelled to think of the good reward he would soon obtain.

  • 80 In his final paragraph Kiyoyuki divulges his sources and objectives in writing his exemplary biogra (...)

60When I was appointed secretary in the Ministry of Residential Palace Affairs, I was able, thanks to notes taken during the Gangyō era, to learn how Yasunori pacified the east. When I was vice-governor of Bitchū Province I heard old men sing his praises, and was told in detail of the meritorious acts he performed in the western provinces. I have recorded my findings in an accurate account. I have refrained from using the old men’s terms when they reported how society praised Yasunori’s virtue; what I have written neither distorts nor embellishes, as the least embellishment would mar the beauty of his life. Long ago Sima Qian wrote Yanzi’s biography; I would do anything to emulate him, even with my poor abilities, [by writing Yasunori’s biography]. Cai Boxie wrote an inscription for Guo Tai: he found in him nothing but unclouded virtue. Recalling these exemplary men, I have written this biography of Yasunori with the desire to follow in his footsteps.80

61Seventh year of the Engi era [907], on the first day of spring
Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki, Doctor of Chinese Letters

Appendix 2. Portrait of a Man at Arms (Rōdō), from the Section on the Fourth Son in the Shin sarugakuki81

  • 81 The Shin sarugakuki 新猿楽記 is a kanbun text written, near the end of his life, by Fujiwara no Akihira (...)
  • 82 Shishi ha shuppen no zu nari 刺史執鞭之図. Shishi (Ch. cishi) is a Chinese synonym for a provincial gover (...)
  • 83 Although clearly exaggerated, the sentence indicates that this man at arms does not serve only one (...)
  • 84 All these operations are prescribed in an undated text in Book 22 of the Chōya gunsai. An auspiciou (...)
  • 85 Mokudai 目代, a trusted employee of the governor who stood in for him during his absences.
  • 86 The author lists a variety of local administrative offices, not all of which were always present. T (...)
  • 87 The list of provincial goods overlaps with more than three-quarters of the items mentioned in the R (...)
  • 88 The manuscript versions have either “he is visited [first],” 被尋来, or “he is sought out [first],” 被尋 (...)

62The fourth son is a man at arms in the service of a resident governor; it is he who precedes the governor, wielding his whip.82 There is no place he has not travelled to, whether in the home provinces or those reached by the seven highways, and no spot he has not visited in the sixty provinces.83 On board ship he gauges how long a storm will last; on horseback he skillfully finds his way across moor and mountain. He is not bad at archery, nor is he mystified by arithmetic or writing. Whatever it may concern—the ceremonial entrance into the government seat upon arrival in the province, the ritual of offering respects to the local deities, the protocol for taking office, the preparations that need to be made by a good governor dedicated to provincial administration, the division of responsibilities upon relieving a predecessor, the document in lieu of discharge, the examination of official papers—in all these areas84 he might be equalled, but none can surpass him. Also, without actively seeking it, he is quite naturally invested as the governor’s proxy,85 or made the steward who supervises all the offices in the provincial government center—be it the office charged with checking tax receipts, or the secretariat, or the offices of local troops, police, rice fields, storehouse management, handicraft produce, production and repairs, the stables, servants, kitchens, or general administration. What is more, he is responsible for inspecting rice fields and collecting taxes, as well as for products acquired through exchange, rice fields under direct administration, and miscellaneous levies.86 Yet he excels in completing all his public duties without exhausting the people’s resources, and all the while avoids loss and makes a profit for his patron. Thus his services are sought by all and his house is never empty. There he amasses the products of the provinces, filling it with the goods he has accumulated. There you will find silk from Awa, silk floss from Echizen, silk of great length and fine quality from Mino (as well as persimmons); damask from Hitachi, tightly woven silk from Kii, many colors of cloth from Kai, silk pongee from Iwami, paper from Tajima, ink from Awaji, staffs from Izumi, needles from Harima, swords from Bitchū, fine boxes from Iyo (as well as whetstones, bamboo blinds, and sardines); mats from Izumo, round straw cushions from Sanuki, cruppers from Kazusa, stirrups from Musashi, cauldrons from Noto, pots from Kawachi (as well as soy sauce); wooden beams from Aki, iron from Bingo, cattle from Nagato, horses from Mutsu (as well as paper); pears from Shinano, chestnuts from Tanba, parched rice from Owari, carp from Ōmi, acorns from Wakasa, salmon from Echigo (as well as lacquer); rushes from Bizen, mackerel from Suō, large sardines from Ise, abalone from Oki, eggplant from Yamashiro, melons from Yamato, seaweed from Tango, rice cakes from Hida, and rice from Tsukushi.87 Gifts and produce pile up, making his house a market where carts and people come in quick succession. That is why, on the day after the official appointments are made, it is he who is visited first,88 whether or not he is a close connection [to those who have just obtained a post].

Top of page

Notes

1 The term zuryō 受領 appears very early in administrative parlance: it is mentioned in the Ruijū sandai kyaku as early as Daidō 4.2.2 (809), although used only in its general sense of “succeeding” an outgoing official, whose office is being passed to his successor (bunpu 分付). In early 849, the Shoku Nihon kōki for Kashō 1.12.12 notes that at the end of a provincial administrator’s term in office only the chief official (chōkan 長官) should wait for zuryō no hito 受領之人, that is, the man who is coming to receive the position in his place. The Seiji yōryaku frequently mentions zuryō no ri 受領之吏, an official who receives a position. In senior nobles’ journals, however, the term zuryō is used exclusively to signify a governor in charge who is subject to making a performance report and is resident in the province (many examples of this usage appear in the Midō kanpakuki and the Shōyūki, the oldest of which appears in the Shōyūki entry for Tengen 5.2.25 [982]). The officials nominally appointed, nin’yō kokushi 任用国司, whether styled governors, supernumerary governors, or deputy governors, never went to their province; these were absentee officials, yōnin 遥任. Nevertheless they received salaries included in provincial budgets. In senior nobles’ journals, the provincial governors who were actually in charge are called kami, zuryō, or occasionally suke. Absentee governors held another position, in the Controllers’ Office or the palace guards, and were known by this position. This is apparently the usage adopted by Murasaki Shikibu in the Genji monogatari.

2 See Heian ibun, doc. 188: these are fragments of a civil status register (kosekichō 戸籍帳) from the village of Tanokami in Itano District, Awa Province (Shikoku), dated Engi 2 (902); and doc. 199, which is a kosekichō fragment from the village of Kuga in Kuga District, Suō province, dated Engi 8 (908). Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki, in his preamble to the Twelve Proposals, also states that from Kibi no Makibi’s time a certain district in Bitchū Province was said to have had 1,900 taxpayers, while Fujiwara no Yasunori, governor of the province at the end of the ninth century, could find no more than seventy names on the tax rolls.

3 In the eighth and ninth centuries, certain rice fields were called “private” (shiden 私田): these could be “household fields” belonging to ordinary subjects (kubunden 口分田), fields held by officials by virtue of their rank (iden 位田), or reclaimed fields given in perpetuity to those who worked them (konden 墾田). All were subject to a land tax (so ) which provided the rice tax revenue (shōzeitō 正税稲) lent to farmers at interest (suiko 出挙). The interest was used to fund provincial government expenditures, pay arrears in handicraft taxes owed to the central government, pay provincial administrators’ salaries, etc. Non-allocated rice fields, called either “excess” (jōden 乗田) or public (kōden 公田), were rented upon request for one year in return for a fee (jishi 地子) of, in theory, one-fifth of the harvest. Part of this rice was hulled and sent to the capital for official provisions. The Seiji yōryaku has decrees (Enchō 3.12.14 [925] and Tengyō 5.12.29 [early 943]) advocating the use of rental income from public rice fields to buy handicraft produce intended for tax payment (chōyō 調庸).

4 See Appendix 1 for a complete translation of this text, Fujiwara no Yasunori den 藤原保則伝, written by Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki 三善清行 in 907.

5 Nihon kiryaku, Eien 1.3.4 (987), promulgation of a New Regulation, shinsei 新制. The three articles relating to the delivery of handicraft taxes are slightly earlier and appear in Book 51 of the Seiji yōryaku. Two are included among the six articles which the Owari residents complain that their governor did not proclaim; this is the object of Article 31 of their petition, Owari no kuni no gebumi 尾張国解文, or Owari no gunji hyakushōra no ge 尾張国郡司百姓等解. The text was presented to the court in 988 (Eien 2.11.8) and is found in Heian ibun, doc. 339.

6 Iken jūnikajō 意見十二箇条, Article 8.

7 Rōdō is the ancient pronunciation; dictionaries also give the pronunciation rōtō, written 郎等 or 郎党; another variant is rōjū 郎従. is used in various Chinese terms concerning minor officials; it also means “man,” and the use of indicates a group. The term apparently first appears in the Tosa nikki: during the banquet given by the new governor to the departing officials in Jōhei 4.12.26 (early 935), the rōdō are also rewarded with gifts. There is nothing in the text to suggest that these men were guards. On the other hand, in Jōhei 7 (937), Taira no Yoshikane promised to reward the man who succeeded in killing Taira no Masakado by making him a mounted man at arms (jōba no rōdō 乗馬之郎等; Shōmonki, Mittei Koharumaru). This demonstrates that combat was the vocation of this group from its origins. Among the many terms used to designate provincial government bureaus, the most significant seem to have been the Tadokoro 田所, the Saisho, written 税所 or 済所, the Kumonjo 公文所, and the Mandokoro 政所.

8 Shin sarugakuki 新猿楽記: the fourth son of a Gate Guards official is a rōdō; see Appendix 2 for a translation of this passage.

9 Taira no Chikanobu presents the only example from the early eleventh century. He was governor of Awa (977), Ōmi (985), and Echizen (991), and later Dazai Daini (1010). Yet his promotion in 1001 to advisor at large (hisangi) was chiefly due to having underwritten construction projects for the court; his promotion to advisor in 1015 took place shortly before his death.

10 Makura no sōshi, 25, “Discouraging Things.” One might also mention the dashed hopes of Sugawara no Takasue, the father of the Sarashina nikki author.

11 Shunki, Chōkyū 1.1.25. Sukefusa mentions men who would normally have been appointed (gōkaku 合格) in keeping with their status, but who had not served long enough in their previous posting (ningen gerō 任限下臈); a man whose turn it was to be sponsored by the Ministry of Personnel (Shikibu no jun 式部巡), and another sponsored by the Bureau of Police, which is to say the Gate Guards; men sponsored by the Ministry of Popular Affairs, the Imperial Secretariat, the Council of State Secretariat, and the Controllers’ Office; and an individual appointed because of his exceptional service (bekkō 別功). A man sponsored by the Ministry of Personnel surpassed one whose turn it was (chōetsu 超越), as the former was considered to be more experienced professionally.

12 Shōyūki, Shōryaku 3.1.20, records the appointment of Minamoto no Tokiakira, household steward of the lady of Higashi Sanjō, a nun, by virtue of her gift (gokyū 御給); and, very likely the same day, the appointment of a member of the household of Emperor En’yū (who had died the previous year) as governor of Hyūga. Due to a lacuna, the term gokyū does not appear in the latter case. Midō kanpakuki, Kannin 1.8.6, records the request of the prince later known as Koichijōin. Another example is provided by Fujiwara no Takasuke, who on promotion to the fifth rank was made zuryō of Hōki on the recommendation of the retired emperor Sanjō in Kannin 1.1.24 (1017); see Kugyō bunin, Kōhei 2.

13 Honchō monzui, Book 6, records Taira no Kanemori’s application dated Tengen 2.7.22 (977). See also Shōyūki, Kankō 8.2.1 (1011), Chōwa 2.1.24 (1013), and Jian 1.1.24 (1021). Shōyūki, Eiso 1.1.28 (989) has further information concerning a specific batch of applications forwarded by the Secretariat of the Council of State, the Controllers’ Office, the Ministries of Personnel and Popular Affairs, and the Gate Guards. It is possible, though, that only candidates from the Secretariat of the Council of State and the Ministry of Personnel were sponsored yearly.

14 Ono no Fumiyoshi entered the Council of State Secretariat in 1007; he must have left in late 1021, because after this date his name no longer appears in the Shōyūki, which had regularly mentioned the daigeki up to then. He does not reappear in the Shōyūki as daigeki until 1028 (Chōgen 2.3.2). His absence was certainly due to his having been made governor of Tosa: in Chōgen 1.12.30 he is called the former governor of Tosa in the Sakeiki. Sugano no Atsuyori began his career in 983 and, according to the Geki bunin, entered the Council of State Secretariat in 993; in 996 he was promoted to the fifth rank and in 1001 was appointed governor of Chikugo. On returning to the capital he resumed his post as daigeki, leaving it again to govern Higo. His long career ended no earlier than 1040.

15 The Shōyūki, Manju 4.1.27 (1027), records a dispute between two men over whose turn it was for a zuryō appointment: one had been appointed and promoted before the other, but he had not taken office at this point.

16 Kyūri 旧吏: when a zuryō submitted his performance report, the last phase of the process was the ruling by senior nobles on the merits and faults of his governance (kōka no sadame 功過定).

17 Shōyūki, Eiso 1.2.1 (989): in addition to Minamoto no Akimasa, Fujiwara no Sadamasa (also known as Sadatsugu), Arikuni’s son, at the time a senior controller who was held in great favor, was appointed after having constructed the Sushin’in and some buildings in the Kamo sanctuaries; Manju 4.12.19 (early 1028): the director of the Library Bureau since 1016 requested a zuryō post after having had made a number of sacred images. He seems to have been granted it. Shōyūki, Chōwa 1.8.17 (1012): Fujiwara no Suketō planned to forge a letter from his father, a middle counselor, stating that he would resign in exchange for Suketō becoming governor of Shinano. Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 1.3.4 (1004): the arrival of rice from Sanuki; Chōwa 2.4.19 (1013): the gift of horses from the zuryō of Shinano, appointed the previous year; Kankō 7.8.23 (1010): the departure of one of Michinaga’s keishi for Mutsu; during his time in office, which ended in 1013, he gave Michinaga at least twenty-nine horses in addition to twenty mares given while he was preparing his performance report, Chōwa 4.7.15 (1015). Selling administrative positions, baikan 買官, a practice which Sugawara no Fumitoki had asked to be banned in early 958 (Honchō monzui, Tentoku 1.12.27), was also called shokurō 贖労 (the illicit purchase of services facilitating an appointment), or, more simply, ninryō 任料 (the price for an appointment). Bekkō 別功 (exceptional service) differed in that there was no set price. In the eleventh century the term jōgō 成業 is mentioned with increasing frequency; it is more or less synonymous with bekkō and refers in particular to construction carried out on behalf of the court. Shōyūki, Chōwa 3.2.7: an instance of what Sanesuke calls the purchase of a decree appointing the general in charge of the Pacification and Defense Headquarters (chinjufu shōgun 鎮守府将). Incidentally, this decree seems to have already been issued, but probably after arrangements had been made.

18 The term konsō 懇奏 appears repeatedly in the Shōyūki, notably in Eiso 1.2.1; I interpret its meaning as “a report to the emperor regarding an application.”

19 Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 3.10.2 (1006); the successful candidate was one of Michinaga’s clients (kenin 家人). See Shōyūki, Chōwa 3.6.17 (1014), for the appointment of Tametoki’s successor.

20 For Fujiwara no Korenori, ca. 963-1033, see his entry in Kugyō bunin. His success and Michinaga’s protection earned him much enmity. Sanesuke accuses him of having robbed a Chinese merchant (Shōyūki, Chōgen 1.10.10 [1028]) and notes his return to the capital loaded down with riches (Chōgen 2.7.11 [1029]).

21 From the late tenth century until about 1035, out of approximately 143 Fujiwara zuryō, sixty-two had only one posting, forty-eight had two, seventeen had three, and sixteen had more than three. Serving as resident governors during the same period were sixty Minamoto, twenty-seven Taira, twenty-two Tachibana, eleven Takashina, ten Ōe, and six Sugawara. Forty men from miscellaneous families make up the rest: the Abe, Nakahara, Kiyohara, Sugano, Shigeno, Ki, and others generally governed minor provinces. Although everyone expected Yorinobu to be appointed to Tōtōmi, Sanesuke made sure that he was posted to Iwami (Shōyūki, Kannin 3.1.22 and 24).

22 The appointment decree is called ninpu 任符 or senpu 籖符; the document needed to obtain it is known as honnin hōkan 本任放還. The document, dated Chōkyū 5.2.28 (1044), in Book 22 of Chōya gunsai, is a deliberation concerning the irrelevance of a discharge for officials who do not manage public funds.

23 Michinaga’s and Sanesuke’s journals contain many references to visits from zuryō who are taking leave. Some examples follow. Midō kanpakuki, Kannin 3.2.18 (1019): Minamoto no Yorimitsu leaves for Iyo; Michinaga gives him a horse and clothing which he himself wore during the emperor’s progress to the Tsuchimikado. Kankō 6.8.23 (1009): Fujiwara no Nariie, Michinaga’s keishi, leaves for Mutsu; Michinaga gives him clothing for his wife and himself, a saddled horse for his wife, another horse, and assorted equipment. Kankō 6.9.2 (1009): a female official in the Back Palace is going to Izumo Province with her husband, the newly appointed governor; she takes leave of the empress, who gives her clothing.

24 Chōya gunsai, Book 22, an undated text entitled Kokumu jōjō no koto 国務条々事. Note the use of the term ryōri 良吏 in the article on the need for good warriors. Whereas, in the early tenth century, a certain Yasunori was supposed to avoid using force, late eleventh-century zuryō could not help but resort to force and considered this the normal state of affairs.

25 Shōyūki, Kankō 5.7.26 (1008) and Kannin 2.12.7 (early 1019).

26 See Midō kanpakuki, Kannin 1.3.15 (1017), for the dismissal of Minamoto no Yorichika; Fusō ryakki, Eishō 4.12.28, for the Kōfukuji attack on his residence, and Eishō 5.1.25 (1050) for his sentence of exile. In Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 6.8.9 (1009), the governor of Chikugo returned to the capital to submit a complaint in twenty articles on illegal actions committed by the Dazaifu; Shōyūki mokuroku, Kankō 6.9.14, records that the Dazaifu deputy lost his post; in Midō kanpakuki, Chōwa 2.11.17 (1013), the governor of Bungo complains about the chief deputy. Two governors-general of the Dazaifu were recalled in the wake of a conflict: Taira no Korenaka after a dispute with the Usa Shrine, despite his excellent relations with Michinaga (Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 1.3.24 [1004]; Nihon kiryaku, Kankō 1.12.28), and Fujiwara no Sanenari after a dispute with the Anrakuji (Hyakurenshō, Chōryaku 2.2.19 [1038]). Sanenari also lost his position as middle counselor.

27 A zenjō 善状 (good letter) was often a request that the governor’s term be extended; this apparently yielded few positive responses. Nihon kiryaku, Eien 1.7.26 (987), Mino Province; Gonki, Chōhō 2.2.22 (1000), the governor of Mino, previously relieved of his duties, regained his post. The inhabitants of the province came to the capital to request this; the request did not use the term “good letter.” Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 6.9.12 (1009), Ōmi; Chōwa 1.9.22 (1012), Yamato; Chōwa 2.12.9, (early 1014), Owari; Sakeiki, Kannin 1.8.5 (1017), Etchū; Kannin 1.11.12 (1017), Ise; Kannin 3.9.23 (1019), Tanba; Shōyūki, Manju 1.8.21, Noto; Shōyūki mokuroku, Manju 2.1.29 (1025), Ise; Shōyūki, Manju 4.5.8 (1027), Hitachi; Chōgen 2.2.11 (1029), Bizen; Shōyūki mokuroku, Chōgen 3.7.27, Kaga; Chōgen 5.1.21 (1032), Mimasaka; Chōgen 5.6.29, Owari; Shunki, Chōryaku 2.11.1 (1038), Tajima. The Kaga affair of 1014 does not seem to have involved a good letter but rather oral testimony; see note 30.

28 See Shōyūki, Jian 3.12.23 (early 1024), for the fire at the governor of Tanba’s house, and Chōgen 1.7.24 (1028) for the purely oral complaint against the governor of Tajima.

29 Complaints (urei or shūso 愁訴) that resulted in the loss of a post, in addition to the example of Motonaga, governor of Owari, recalled in 988, include the following. Shōyūki, Chōhō 1.7.16 and 1.9.25 (999), the governor of Awaji was replaced after questioning; Gonki, Kankō 4.7.23 and 4.10.29 (1007), the governor of Inaba murdered a deputy, a local man, provoking a complaint by the people: he was summoned for questioning and replaced without further punishment. One could add to these three instances an entry in Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 5.2.27 (1008): after a complaint was filed against him, the governor of Owari was warned to mend his ways; he was replaced the following year, perhaps as a result of the complaint.

30 Gonki, Chōhō 3.12.2 (1001), a complaint against the governor of Yamato, who remained in office; Midō kanpakuki, Chōwa 1.9.22 (1012), a mutual complaint in thirty-two articles by the governor of Kaga against his people and the people against the governor, unresolved inquiry; Chōwa 2.12.9 (early 1014), the same governor, accompanied by district administrators and employees, defended himself and was found innocent by the Council. He was a client of Michinaga, who asked that the complete set of files not be given to the emperor; Shōyūki, Kannin 3.6.20 (1019), the submission of a complaint by the people of Tanba resulted in a brawl at the palace gates because the governor wanted to arrest them; the complaint was accepted but the governor remained in office, while the people went to repair his house gates; Sakeiki, Kannin 3.9.24, the people of a province brought a good letter to their governor; Shunki, Chōkyū 1.6.3, the gunji officials versus the governor of Sanuki; he was replaced, though he seems to have been already at the end of his term; no punishment.

31 Midō kanpakuki, Chōwa 5.8.25 (1016), a complaint by the people of Owari was accepted but the results are unknown; Shōyūki mokuroku, Manju 3.2.22 (1026), a complaint by the people of Iga against their governor; Sakeiki, Manju 3.3.29, a complaint by the governor of Iga against a scribe, results unknown; Shunki, Chōkyū 1.12.23 and 2.2.1, a complaint by the people of Izumi presented to the emperor’s palanquin, and later to the regent as he was passing by; results unknown.

32 The terms employed, chōnin 重任 (reappointment) and ennin 延任 (extension), are peculiar to Japanese administrative vocabulary. In China and Japan up to the eighth century the characters 重任, read jūnin, signified an important official appointment. The first example of the use of chōnin to indicate “reappointment” dates from 864, when some Buddhist dignitaries asked for renewal of their official appointments (Heian ibun, doc. 142, Jōgan 6.1.13). In the sphere of provincial officials the first examples do not appear until the end of the tenth century. The Hokuzanshō guidelines are found in Book 10.

33 Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 2.12.21 (early 1006), records the granting of the governor of Harima’s request; Kankō 2.12.25 records that a reappointment request from the governor of Bizen and extension requests from the governors of Sanuki and Iyo were authorized because these men offered to help underwrite the palace reconstruction. Sakeiki, Manju 3.2.29 (1026), records the granting of the governor of Ōmi’s request. Midō kanpakuki, Kankō 1.9.intercal.5 and 13 (1004), records a reappointment granted by imperial command (senji 宣旨); the applicant was a favorite of Michinaga.

34 A geyujō 解由状 is a document stating the grounds for releasing an outgoing governor from office (China apparently began using the term after it had entered into use in Japan); the terms honnin geyu 本任解由 and honnin hōkan 本任放還 were also used. Fuyogeyujō 不与解由状 is a document given in lieu of a discharge.

35 The case of the governor of Ōsumi is found in Shōyūki, Chōwa 3.2.26 (1014), and that of Hironari in Shōyūki, Chōwa 3.11.28. Those dating from Yorimichi’s regency are the case of the governor of Mino, in Shōyūki, Jian 1.8.8 (1021), and that of the governor of Dewa, in Shōyūki, Manju 4.5.15 (1027); Sanesuke’s comment is chōken nashi 無朝憲.

36 The office of inspector in charge of transition (kōtaishi 交替使) appears with those of other envoys in a decree dated Tenchō 2.5.10 (825) in the Ruijū sandai kyaku. Another name for the position is kenkōtaishi 検交替使.

37 The document in lieu of discharge was submitted in duplicate, one copy for the Bureau of Accounting (Shukeiryō 主計寮) and the Bureau of Tax Revenues (Shuzeiryō 主税寮), the other for the Board of Discharge Examiners (Kageyushi 勘解由使). Among the additional documents making up the “attached documents” (zokubun 続文) were authorizations for rice reductions from tax revenues (gensei 減省) and decrees (kanpu 官符, or possibly commands, senji 宣旨) permitting a governor to concern himself only with his own and his predecessor’s records—more precisely, records for his predecessor’s final year in office—while ignoring the backlog left by more distant predecessors (an authorization called okkan 越勘).

38 On the role of the Controllers’ Office in decisions concerning submission of a file, see Gonki, Chōhō 5.1.13 (1003). The process of inquiry into and determination of the management performance of a zuryō is known as kōka no sadame 功過定. Those are the characters used by the Hokuzanshō and Fujiwara no Michinaga; Fujiwara no Sanesuke instead writes 功課定. The description of a session is found in Gōke shidai, Book 4, and the zuryō’s discharge request is in Chōya gunsai, Book 28, Enkyū 4.1 (1072). The Chōya gunsai, Book 27, also contains texts from Eikyū 6.2.15 (1118) and Ten’ei 1.12.17 (early 1111) on the subject of various kinds of registers produced in the bureaus and presented for audit; the order was given to clerks called saiji 済事.

39 For the case of the governor of Ise who left office in 1006, see Shōyūki, Chōwa 2.1.22 (1013), which mentions the final decision on his management performance. In Shōyūki, Kannin 1.9.1 (1017), the governor of Shinano obtained his discharge despite having an unsatisfactory file. Entries for Chōwa 3.1.23 and 24 (1014) record that the file of the former governor of Bingo was not accepted; this finally happened in Chōwa 3.10.15. Many similar examples could be cited.

40 For Minamoto no Yorichika’s 1017 dismissal, see Midō kanpakuki, Kannin 1.3.15; for his failure to deliver the silk demanded by Sanesuke, see Shōyūki, Kannin 1.12.26, and Kannin 3.1.23 (1019) for Yorichika’s receipt of a definitive discharge.

41 Shōyūki, Chōwa 4.4.9 and 18 (1015), records how Kunitaka, recently become a Buddhist renunciate, quibbled over settling an arrears of silk. The entry for Manju 2.2.26 has a discussion on drafting an order to make the family pay the arrears due by a zuryō who had become a Buddhist renunciate; the term goke 後家 was adopted in place of shison 子孫. In Shunki, Chōryaku 3.10.15 (1039), Sukefusa cites the case of the two zuryō who had recently become renunciates and whose families were spared paying their arrears.

42 Sukefusa, an advisor, and his father Sukehira, a middle counselor, skipped a Council session in order to visit the residence of Kunitsune, a zuryō who had already held several provincial assignments (Shunki, Tengi 2.5.3).

43 Genji’s spending the night at the governor of Kii’s house in the “Hahakigi” chapter of Genji monogatari is completely consistent with the practices of senior nobles: they made free use of zuryō residences, which were usually spacious and attractive. There are some historically accurate aspects to the story of the former governor of Harima in “Akashi,” who becomes a Buddhist renunciate and retires to Akashi. Younger sons of ministers and their sons by secondary wives might become zuryō. As they aged, such men increasingly disliked being superseded by younger, better placed relatives, and becoming a renunciate presented an acceptable means of escape. It was rare but not unheard of for former governors to choose to live in a province, but such zuryō tended to be warriors who by preference lived either in the north or in Kyūshū. The most fictionalized aspects of the Akashi renunciate are his decision to live far from the capital and his persisting in having great ambitions for his daughter despite having broken off all relations with court society. The zuryō portrayed in greatest detail is the governor of Hitachi, the husband of Ukifune’s mother, in the “Azumaya” chapter. Though not charming, he is entirely plausible. In their journals Michinaga and Sanesuke made few allowances for men such as Minamoto no Yorinobu and his brother Yorichika, though they often employed them; the journals reveal contempt for men who were accustomed to the turmoil of the eastern provinces and who had little respect for human life. On the other hand their brother Yorimitsu, who was also considered a good warrior, refurnished the Tsuchimikado residence in fine style and was on fairly familiar terms with certain senior nobles, including Michinaga’s own half-brother Michitsuna. Most zuryō mentioned in senior nobles’ journals were not warrior governors, however. This is particularly true for Fujiwara no Sanesuke’s Shōyūki, in which many zuryō appear as interesting contacts, as his only connection to a region, or as the source for everything a minister needed to know about the management of a given province. Many governors, moreover, were able to compete with distinction in poetry competitions.

44 Despite the author’s protestations of complete veracity, this is in fact an exemplary biography which has more to say about the ideology of the good provincial governor than of the actual work accomplished by Yasunori. Fujiwara no Yasunori den 藤原保則伝 (in kanbun) is in Kodai seiji shakai shisō, vol. 8 of the Nihon shisō taikei series (Tōkyō: Iwanami Shoten, 1979). The text is based on the Sonkeikaku Library manuscript, with modern Japanese translation and notes by Ōsone Shōsuke.

45 This text by Miyoshi no Kiyoyuki 三善清行, 847-918, a future Council of State advisor like his hero Fujiwara no Yasunori, begins with a lacuna marking what would originally have been a summary of Yasunori’s early career. His father belonged to the Southern lineage of the Fujiwara, and his mother was an Abe. According to the Kugyō bunin, Yasunori was born in 825, received his first post in 855, and held successive third-class positions in the Ministries of Civil Affairs, Popular Affairs and, in 863, Personnel. He attained the lower fifth rank, lower grade in 864 and was appointed supernumerary vice-governor of Bitchū in 866; this was in fact a zuryō position.

46 The phrase “men lay by the roadside, dead of starvation” is incomplete. There is a two-character lacuna in the text: the words “roadside” and “dead of starvation” (dōkin) are missing, and only the characters ainozomu 相望 remain. The phrase, taken from the Zuo zhuan, describes a famine in which the road was obstructed by corpses. Kiyoyuki’s text is filled with expressions from the Lunyu, the Hanshu, the Hou Hanshu, the Shiji, and the Wen Xuan, all works that were studied in the literary curriculum. There are too many such allusions to list individually.

47 According to the Nihon sandai jitsuroku, the year Yasunori arrived in Bitchū, Jōgan 8.10.8 (866), its two northern districts were granted a land tax exemption because of drought and disease.

48 Asano no Sadayoshi governed the province from 857 to 862. The bad governor’s brutality is a common theme. It should be noted that a governor was not empowered to pronounce a death sentence, though he could sentence a man to one hundred blows from a staff.

49 Kiyoyuki uses Chinese clichés, roughly applicable to the Japanese context, to describe the governor’s humane administration (jinsei 仁政). Hence the expression “He freed men who had been reduced to slavery” contains torei 徒隷, a term not used by the Japanese bureaucracy; nor is there evidence that governors had this power. The Lunyu advocates pardoning minor misdeeds, and likewise notes the prosperity of those living under good government (Book 13).

50 Zuryō were expected to send land tax revenue (so ) to the capital, but payments were often in arrears, and a governor was only rarely able to make up his predecessors’ arrears. This having been done, the governor would submit the appropriate registers to the central government, which in turn would send him a receipt (henshō 返抄). Yasunori’s conduct is thus exceptional and borders on the incredible. A similar situation applied to the handicraft taxes (chōyō 調庸).

51 In Bizen as in Bitchū, Yasunori was the zuryō whether his formal title was vice-governor (suke) or supernumerary governor (gon no kami).

52 The use of shame to change a man’s character is discussed in Book 2 of the Lunyu, and the image of grasses bending in the wind is in Book 12.

53 Kibitsu Jinja was the principal sanctuary of the province and its deity consequently held the second court rank. In 855 (Saikō 2.2.13), prior to Yasunori’s arrival, the sacred bells and mirror sounded three times in one night (Montoku jitsuroku). The deity’s appearance to the governor may be a pious invention, but China has further examples of good governors who enlisted divine aid; see J. Lévi, “Les fonctionnaires et le divin,” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie, 1986.

54 The dictionary Iroha jiruishō defines fukun 府君 (lord of a provincial seat) as a governor. In China it was the title of a provincial governor under the Han. Boyi 伯夷 appears in the “Wanzhang, Part 2” chapter of the Mencius (or Mengzi). Boyi only accepted posts from good princes and wished to govern none but virtuous people. A simple innkeeper was unlikely to have known about Boyi.

55 Normally provisions for a journey were given to those transporting handicraft produce. Yasunori shows his clemency by treating the thief in like fashion.

56 The provincial people who wish to keep their good governor and the old people who offer him saké are both common elements in Chinese biographies of good administrators. In the section on honest administrators in the Hou Hanshu, a certain Mengchang 孟嘗 restored a region ravaged by famine; when he left, the people held his carriage back, so that he had to leave instead by boat. In Yasunori’s case, might not the old people have similarly expressed the inhabitants’ regret at losing a good governor? Ordinarily governors were feted on their arrival. As old people were highly respected, even an honest governor could not refuse their gifts of food.

57 The phrase kantō no iainaku 無甘棠之遺愛 (lit., not leaving behind a pleasant memory such as that left by the man [who reposed] under the wild pear tree) alludes to a passage in the Classic of Poetry (Shijing) which mentions Zhaobo 召伯, a good minister of state in the time of the Zhou.

58 A kōji 講師 (provincial instructor) was a monk appointed by the central government to supervise Buddhism-related matters in the province; he lived in the provincial state temple. The Hannya shingyō 般若心経 is a short sūtra that concludes with apotropaic spells.

59 Yasunori no doubt realized that he had been wrong to accept the rice.

60 Yasunori uses the example of Gao Yao 皐陶 to explain his belief in the perilous nature of juridical and police duties. According to Book 1 of the Book of Documents (Shujing), Gao Yao was in put in charge of the justice system by Yao , the mythical emperor and founder of civilization. In Book 2, the proper administration of justice is characterized by public punishments (xiangxing 象刑), an expression which has also been interpreted as “to show an image of the punishment” (so as not to have to administer it). Yasunori, however, uses the expression in the sense of punishment which is administered publicly and is therefore exemplary. In Japan the police were indeed authorized to put convicts in chains and administer public beatings. In China a just magistrate was aided by a quasi-divine force, represented by the mythical xiezhi or unicorn, which would point out miscreants and so help officials distinguish the guilty. In Book 2 of the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji), when Shun’s successor Yu looked for someone to succeed him, he thought of Gao Yao. As the latter had died, Yu gave Gao Yao’s descendants the principalities of Ying and Liao; these were destroyed at the end of the seventh century B.C.E. (Shiji, Book 36). Book 8 of the Chunqiu Zuo zhuan mentions the destruction of principalities ruled by Gao Yao’s descendants, and comments that Gao Yao is no longer venerated, the traces of past sages are disappearing, and no one comes to the aid of the people. It is Yasunori’s interpretation, however, that Gao Yao’s descendants suffered their fate because of duties performed by their forebear. This interpretation was current in Japan and was accepted by members of the Royal Police, who feared the vengeance of the convicts’ angry spirits.

61 Shōfu (or tani 商布) is a unit of hempen cloth used as exchange currency. According to the Shoku Nihongi, Wadō 7.2.2 (714), a unit of shōfu cloth should measure two and six shaku, or 7.66 meters. Hempen cloth intended as handicrafts taxes had a unit measure of five and two shaku, or 15.38 meters. Early tenth-century texts provide evidence that ten sheafs (soku) of grain were equivalent to one unit of shōfu. These units were widely used to purchase ranks, for alms, and as gifts. In the provinces, officials levied rice in order to purchase shōfu units which were then sent to the capital; there they were exchanged for rice to feed officials during their period of service. Each operation provided another opportunity to demand more rice from taxpayers.

62 The Nihon sandai jitsuroku, Gangyō 2.3.29 (878), records the governor Fujiwara no Okiyo’s report of the Ebisu revolt. Okiyo, a member of the Southern lineage of the Fujiwara, first served as a governor in 851 and had governed several provinces besides Mutsu. Although replaced after his defeat in the revolt, he was later made governor of Ise; he died in 891. His vice-governor commanded the Akita fortress, built in 733 and reconstructed after an earthquake in 830. Nothing is known of Yoshimine no Chikashi. The provincial seat (kokufu 国府, in the text fu no shiro 府城) was located in the district of Dewa. According to the Sandai jitsuroku entry for Gangyō 5.4.25 (881), since the attack of Gangyō 2, 161 public buildings had been destroyed along with eighty watchtowers and fortifications.

63 Fujiwara no Kajinaga, the leader of the counterattack, was the principal third-class official of Mutsu Province with the mission title of ōryōshi 押領使 (commander of troops charged with pacifying the region). Despite his defeat he was apparently later appointed governor of Izumo. The three chiefs of the Dewa contingent were Fujiwara no Munetsura, who seems in fact to have been a second-class official at the time; Fun’ya no Arifusa, recently appointed a third-class official, whose family had held appointments in the north since the beginning of the century; and Ono no Haruzumi, a supernumerary third-class official. The new army camped north of the Akita River. The Sandai jitsuroku account for Gangyō 2.6.7 describes the defeat of the the government army, which had reoccupied the site of the Akita fortress, after some small skirmishes and the death in battle of Fun’ya no Arifusa. With regard to master archers (doshi 弩師), the Ruijū sandai kyaku for Kōnin 3.4.2 (812) records the first appointment of a master archer in the north, at the Chinjufu 鎮守府; in 828 (Tenchō 5.1.23) it specifies that a doshi is appointed by the Ministry of Military Affairs and has the same status as a scribe. Such men may have originally been simple taxpaying individuals. The defeat, according to the Sandai jitsuroku, resulted in the loss of three hundred sets of armor and 1,500 horses, in addition to clothing and rice provisions.

64 The modest phrase crafted for Fujiwara no Mototsune by Kiyoyuki was certainly not uttered at the time, since Mototsune did not yet know that he would follow the example of Yi Yin and force an emperor (Yōzei) to abdicate. Yi Yin 伊尹, minister to the founder of the Shang dynasty, deemed his lord’s successor unworthy and temporarily served as regent. The Duke of Zhou (Gong Dan 公旦), younger brother of the founder of the Zhou dynasty, also served briefly as regent. At the beginning of Emperor Uda’s reign a question arose over giving Mototsune the title A Heng (J. Akō 阿衡), which was once held by Yi Yin. This led to the well known Akō Controversy (Akō jiken) between Uda and Mototsune.

65 This phrase is apparently taken from the Nihon shoki, Kōgyoku 1.9 (642), which records that several thousand Ebisu submitted themselves to government authority; but this event occurred a little more than two hundred years before 878. Between 642 and 878 several expeditions were made against the Ebisu, particularly in the early ninth century.

66 Sakanoue no Tamuramaro 坂上田村麻呂, 758-811. In 787 he was a captain of the Inner Palace Guards. He was sent to fight the Ebisu in 791; in 795 he became governor of Mutsu and, in 797, was appointed seiitaishōgun 征夷大将軍. He pushed the Ebisu who had not submitted farther north, building a new fortress at Izawa 胆沢 as a defense against them and making it the headquarters of the government organ in charge of pacification (Chinjufu 鎮守府). In 803 he moved farther north to build the Shiwa 志波 fortress. In 805, as reward for his pacification of the North, he was appointed advisor, followed by middle counselor and senior counselor.

67 The Nihon sandai jitsuroku entry for Jōgan 12.3.29 (870) records that Ono no Harukaze 小野春風 asked for and received the armor of his father, who had suppressed a northern revolt; Harukaze was governor of Tsushima at the time. In Gangyō 2.6.8, the day after the news of Kajinaga’s defeat reached court, he was appointed general in charge of pacification, chinjufu shōgun, although he held no court office, and was put in command of five hundred government troops. In Gangyō 2.7.10, Yasunori in Dewa asked for reinforcements, which were refused; he was instead advised to use the Chinese strategy of making the rebels fight among themselves. Harukaze was later director of the Royal Table, and in 887 governor of Settsu.

68 Sakanoue no Yoshikage 坂上好陰 was a descendant of Tamuramaro; his father was governor of Mutsu.

69 Literally “captives” (toriko ). A related term, in use from the eighth century, is fushū 俘囚, both characters of which signify toriko. The word refers to northern barbarians, Emishi 蝦夷 or Ebisu , who had submitted themselves to court authority. The text indicates that the rebels had earlier sworn allegiance to the court. Nothing is known of their language. The specialists are undecided on whether the Ebisu were ancestors of the Ainu or men resembling the inhabitants of the rest of the archipelago. The Ainu thesis, formerly in decline, seems to be taking on new life.

70 The subjugation of the Ebisu thus appears to have been rapidly accomplished: Yasunori arrived at the provincial seat on the tenth day of the Seventh Month, 878, and Harukaze entered the rebellious region in the Eighth Month. Early in the Twelfth Month the subjugation was more or less complete; the court received news of the pacification early in the Third Month of the following year, 879. So expeditious a process cannot but raise questions. Can it be convincingly attributed solely to Yasunori’s benevolent policies? Other factors probably entered in: Yasunori’s subordinates, who knew the region well, may have skillfully divided the rebels.

71 Because the northern region was far from the court and subject to somewhat different laws than those of other provinces, it tended to attract adventurers, as did incidentally the island of Kyūshū. Kiyoyuki never travelled to the north. He evidently felt a need to praise its richness simply because Yasunori had governed one of its provinces.

72 Shutara abidon 修多羅阿毘曇, two of the three storehouses ( ) holding Buddhist texts. Shutara refers to sūtras and abidon or abhidharma to commentaries or treatises.

73 Sanuki was known for providing legal specialists to the government. Yu and Rui were Chinese states in the time of the Duke of Zhou. Always quarrelling, the lords of these states came to request the duke’s mediation. When they saw that in his land there were no quarrels over embankments or roads, they returned home ashamed. See Shiji, Book 4.

74 There was no resident governor-general (sochi ) when Yasunori was appointed senior assistant governor-general (Dazai daini 太宰大弐); he thus held principal authority on the island.

75 Kyūshū was always vulnerable to attack from Silla pirates; one such attack may have occurred in 893 (Nihon kiryaku, Kanpyō 5.5.22). The lacuna below probably credits Yasunori with preparing the island to repulse a pirate attack.

76 The original expression is taken from a verse in the Classic of Poetry (Shijing), 自応食椹改音 (onozukarani kuwa no mi wo kuchiite koe wo aratamubeshi), which literally means, “Quite naturally they eat the mulberries, and their voices are improved.” That is, just as birds that come to the woods in the principality of Lu eat its fruit and so sing more beautifully, so will barbarians become civilized when they eat the produce of a civilized country.

77 The missing section probably describes the last years of Yasunori’s career. He returned to the capital in 891 and the following year, Kanpyō 4.4.28, aged sixty-seven, he was appointed advisor (sangi) while retaining his position as senior controller, left section. In 893 he left the Controllers’ Office to direct the Ministry of Popular Affairs. According to the Kugyō bunin, he died in 895 without officially resigning from this last post.

78 Ono no Fujio 小野葛絃 was Takamura’s son and the father of the calligrapher Michikaze. He reached the fifth rank in 877 and served as governor of Kaga and Echizen. He was also senior assistant governor-general of Kyūshū during Sugawara no Michizane’s exile. Is this why Kiyoyuki cites him as a good official singled out by Yasunori?

79 Sugawara no Michizane 菅原道真, 845-903, was appointed governor of Sanuki in 886. The most brilliant literatus of his day, he was the first doctor of Chinese letters to reach ministerial rank. Yasunori’s biographer Kiyoyuki was not Michizane’s pupil: he studied instead with another doctor of letters. Kiyoyuki thus suffered at Michizane’s hands: as his examiner, Michizane began the process by rejecting his final dissertations. Kiyoyuki belonged to a group of literati-officials who were critical of Michizane’s elevation to ministerial rank. He is clearly not unhappy to describe his hero Yasunori’s negative judgment of Michizane. Or might Kiyoyuki be putting his own opinion in Yasunori’s mouth?

80 In his final paragraph Kiyoyuki divulges his sources and objectives in writing his exemplary biography: to describe a ryōri (a just official) and inspire others to imitate him. Kiyoyuki’s career, which culminated in the post of advisor, rather resembled Yasunori’s. His appointment to the secretariat of the Ministry of Residential Palace Affairs in 886 enabled him to consult the archives, particularly the imperial edicts issued during the unrest in the north, and perhaps the records used in compiling the Nihon sandai jitsuroku. Kiyoyuki was appointed vice-governor (zuryō) of Bitchū in 893, over twenty years after Yasunori left the province, but he could possibly have spoken with men who remembered Yasunori. He insists on the complete veracity of his account. He refrains from embellishing his portrait of a ryōri 良吏, but as a literatus he cannot help but use recondite Chinese expressions drawn from the Lunyu, the Shiji, the Hanshu, the Hou Hanshu, and other classics. He compares Yasunori to Yanzi 晏子, whose biography is found in the second liechuan in Book 8 of the Shiji. Yanzi served the three princes of Qi ; he was known for his thrift, sobriety and zeal, and for his good counsel to the prince. Yasunori’s virtues could thus be compared to Yanzi’s. In Book 5 of the Lunyu Confucius says, “Yanzi knew how to treat people. The more one knew him, the more one respected him.” By alluding to a passage in Book 7 of the Lunyu, Kiyoyuki expresses a wish to do for Yasunori what Sima Qian did for Yanzi: in the passage Confucius asserts that, if any means of escaping poverty presented itself he would do it, even if it meant being someone who holds a whip, that is, a man of lowly status. The meaning of his statement is that one must be willing to do anything in order to reach a desired objective. Kiyoyuki then compares himself to a Chinese literatus, Cai Boxie 蔡伯諧, 133-192, a writer of inscriptions. In the biography of Guo Tai 郭太, whose name Kiyoyuki writes 郭泰, Cai Boxie says, “I have written many inscriptions, but in all of them virtue is shadowed by shame. Only Guo Tai’s path is completely free of shame” (Hou Hanshu, Book 98). Guo Tai, 128-169, was an upstanding literatus with many disciples, but he held no government office and lived in seclusion in his village. Kiyoyuki chooses this example because of Guo Tai’s integrity, not because it concerns a just official.

81 The Shin sarugakuki 新猿楽記 is a kanbun text written, near the end of his life, by Fujiwara no Akihira 藤原明衡, 989-1066, an academic official and doctor of Chinese Letters. The text is found in the Gunsho ruijū, vol. 136, and in Kodai seiji shakai shisō, vol. 8 of the Nihon shisō taikei series, with annotations by Ōsone Shōsuke.

82 Shishi ha shuppen no zu nari 刺史執鞭之図. Shishi (Ch. cishi) is a Chinese synonym for a provincial governor. The expression shuppen no zu (Ch. zhibian zhi tu) may be taken from Book 7 of the Lunyu, in which a subordinate officer wields a whip, probably to clear the way for his superior. In the Lunyu, though, the junior officer is called shi rather than zu/tu as in the Shin sarugakuki; might the author have chosen the character for its sound while actually intending zu/tu ? Its use would be all the more apposite because, in Book 7 of the Lunyu, Confucius says that if it were possible to get rich by honest means, he would not hesitate to take up the whip (to clear the way for his superior). This rōdō, however, uses his position as a zuryō’s subordinate to enrich himself. The above interpretation appears in the Nihon shisō taikei edition. The Gendai Shichōsha edition instead suggests reading shuppen no zu as 鞭をとり馬をのりまわす計画をすすめる (muchi wo tori uma wo norimawasu keikaku wo susumeru), “to advance the plan of holding a whip and riding the governor’s horse.” The former interpretation seems better.

83 Although clearly exaggerated, the sentence indicates that this man at arms does not serve only one governor, but instead works for whomever he thinks will give him the most advantageous work.

84 All these operations are prescribed in an undated text in Book 22 of the Chōya gunsai. An auspicious day was chosen for the governor’s formal installation at the provincial seat; prior to this he would have presented his appointment decree. That same day the new zuryō received the provincial seal and keys. The governor also chose an auspicious day to pay his first respects to the local deities. He and his entourage were often welcomed with three days’ entertainment; a good governor might begin his term by sparing his people the trouble and instead announcing that he would make his own preparations. The transition process began after the new governor had paid his respects to the deities.

85 Mokudai 目代, a trusted employee of the governor who stood in for him during his absences.

86 The author lists a variety of local administrative offices, not all of which were always present. The tokoro was an administrative body with one or more employees. The kinds of tokoro mentioned here are: Saisho 済所 (office of taxes or tax receipts); Anju 案主 (documents officer, secretariat); Kondeisho 健児所 ( office of local troops); Kebiisho 検非違所 (office of police); Tadokoro 田所 (office of rice fields); Suitōsho or Suinōsho 出納所 (office of storehouse management); Chōsho 調所 (office of handicraft taxes); Saikusho 細工所 (office of production); Shuri 修理 (office of repairs); Mimaya 御厩 (office of the stables); Kotonerisho 小舎人所 (office of servants); Zensho 膳所 (office of the kitchen); and Mandokoro 政所 (general administrative office, directed either by the mokudai or by a steward, bettō 別当). The most important offices dealt with land registry and rice field inspection (kendenshi 検田使), levying land tax (shūnōshi 収納使), products acquired by exchange (kōekishi 交易使), rice fields under direct official administration (tsukudashi 佃使), and miscellaneous levies (rinji zōyaku 臨時雑役, which were ordered by the court).

87 The list of provincial goods overlaps with more than three-quarters of the items mentioned in the Regulations of the Engi Era and in other contemporary texts. The exceptions are: silk pongee from Iwami, ink from Awaji, staffs from Izumi, and needles from Harima, the last of which may be a play on words.

88 The manuscript versions have either “he is visited [first],” 被尋来, or “he is sought out [first],” 被尋求. Should the interpretation be that zuryō come to seek his services, or perhaps that they come looking for gifts to give their patrons?

Top of page

References

Electronic reference

Francine Hérail, « The Position and Role of Provincial Governors at the Height of the Heian Period », Cipango - French Journal of Japanese Studies [Online], 3 | 2014, Online since 12 October 2015, connection on 10 December 2016. URL : http://cjs.revues.org/658 ; DOI : 10.4000/cjs.658

Top of page

About the author

Francine Hérail

Director emerita at the Écoles Pratiques des Hautes Études

Top of page

Copyright

Creative Commons License
Cipango – French Journal of Japanese Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Top of page
  • Logo Centre d’Etudes Japonaises | Inalco
  • Les cahiers de Revues.org