Seventh Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday, June 21-Sunday 22, 2003
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University



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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 7:
Caste and Clan in Medieval Japan
Organizer / Chair: Akiko Mieda, University of Tokyo


Status, clan and community were intimately connected in medieval Japan, but this is not always easy to recognize in the documents which tend to deal with other issues such as land-holding. The three papers in this panel address the issue from a wide variety of angles. Mieda Akiko's paper uses the hinin and their relationship with the Enryakuji Temple to show that people who had been excluded from normal society could be organized within the setting of a religious community to act as agents and even soldiers in the temples' frequent internecine feuds. Thomas Nelson's paper shows how genin, effectively slaves, were incorporated as a source of bound, unfree labour within warrior houses. They were an economic commodity that could be bought and sold at their master's whim. Shin Mina's paper looks at the apparently arcane subject of the poetry presented at the Daijoe Festival to show how even this tended to mirror the disputes going on within and among aristocratic clans and especially families of Confucian scholars. This reflected ferocious feuds over status, not within the higher ranks of the kuge, but at the lower levels of the aristocracy.

1) Akiko Mieda, University of Tokyo. "The Characteristics of Outcastes (hinin) in Medieval Japan"

This paper uses the outcastes (hinin) as a lens through which the entire social structure of medieval Japan may be viewed. Literally, the word "hinin" means "not a human-being". Hinin, generally beggars, lepers or criminals, were expelled from their communities. This disenfranchised group was then manipulated by various temples and factions within the city.
My paper focuses on one particular group within the hinin, the inujinin (shrine outcastes) of Kyoto. Inujinin were first organized by the Enryakuji temple during the Kamakura period. The temple sought to suppress the rival Jodoshu sect by using a mob of inujinin to burn down the shrine of its founder, Honen. The Enryakuji lay outside Kyoto and was forced to control the inujinin through its local client, the Gion Shrine, which was located within the city.These inujinin also served other functions. For example, as Kiyomizuzaka-hinin they were in charge or organizing funerals.

My central aim in giving this paper is to show, firstly, that the Enryakuji's aim in organizing the inujinin was to use them as a weapon against rival religious establishments and, secondly, that, in the process, hinin in general were relegated to an ambivalent status in which they were both temple people (jinin) and outcastes (hinin) ­ in other words both "in" and "out". It is this difference between "in" and "out" that reflects the political and social realities behind religious power in medieval Japan.

2) Mina Shin, University of Tokyo. "A Clan of Confucian Scholars and their Involvement in the Daijôe Waka Festival"

Waka poems were presented by the two "saikoku" regions of Yuki and Suki at the Daijoe Festival. These are known as Daijoe waka. Two authors, one representing each region, would submit two sets of poems. One set would consist of ten poems celebrating famous landscapes; the other of eighteen poems written on folding screens. Until the reign of the Emperor Sanjo, candidates were chosen exclusively from among leading poets. From the time of Emperor Goichijo onwards, however, Confucians scholars were also involved. These scholars were drawn from the families of Confucian adepts. Each family had its own ideas on how to compose poetry. From the Kamakura period, however, all the poets came from the Hino clan.

The aim of this paper is to understand the changes in the ie structure at court through the politics surrounding the Daijoe Festival. The Sugahara and Oe houses declined and were replaced by the Fujiwara despite the fact that they had been at the centre of Confucian studies ever since the early Heian period. I will focus on the fact that the Hino, who were Fujiwara collaterals and sprang from a clan of Confucian scholars, were elevated to the court aristocracy attaining the status of kugyo. Since waka tended to carry political overtones, these poetry festivals provide a fascinating insight into court life.

3) Thomas Nelson, University of Tokyo. "The Genin Within the Medieval Japanese Warrior Clan"

The medieval Japanese clan contained persons of various castes, all of whom had specific duties and rights. At the head of the clan lay members of the leading family. Lesser members of the lineage might be relegated to the status of rodo, or service lines, which did not have an independent title to land. These service lines would be joined be other non-related families who were often the descendants of defeated clans. However, all these men held the status of samurai. The type of punishment that could be inflicted upon them was different from that which might be meted out to the bulk of the population, the bonge, who farmed the land and did not have personal ties to any particular warrior house. At the bottom of the clan lay the genin, who could be bought and sold freely and put to death at the whim of their lords. They did not usually work in agriculture but performed menial tasks around the main residence. They are not to be confused with the hinin, or non-people, who lived outside the clan structure and took on unclean and ritually taboo tasks. The aim of this paper is to examine size if the genin population, their economic significance within the clan and the changes in their status through the medieval period.


list of panels