nihongo|"Kugyō"|公卿 is a collective term for the very few most powerful men attached to the court of the
Emperor of Japanin pre-Meiji eras. In general, this elite group included only three to four men at a time. These were individuals whose experience and background have brought each one of them to the pinnacle of a life's career.
The pre-Meiji emperors were surrounded by a highly organized court structure which is somewhat different than today. The
Imperial Household Agencynow performs only a small part of the functions which would have been considered essential elements of what were once Daijō-kanor "kugyō" activities.
As part of the westernizing Meiji reforms, a single aristocratic class was created in 1869 by merging the "
kuge" (the court nobility in Kyoto) and the " daimyo" (the feudal land holders and warriors). In the 1870s, the organizational structure of the court itself was modernized as well. During the Nara and Heian periods, the formal court exercised considerably more actual power than would become evident in later years. And yet, even as the impact of "kugyō" decision-making does demonstrably wane after the 11th century, there was very little change in the overall framework in which courtiers came to construe their relationships with each other. The hierarchy itself suggests something about the mind-set of the courtiers individually and as a composite institution.
A revealing framework
Any exercise of meaningful powers of court officials in the pre-
Meiji periodreached its nadir during the years of the Tokugawa shogunate, and yet the structure Council of State (" Daijō-kan") did manage to persist. It is not possible to evaluate any individual office without assessing its role in the context of a durable yet flexible network and hierarchy of functionaries. [Ozaki, Yukio. (2001). "The Autobiography of Ozaki Yukio: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in Japan" pp. 10-11.]
The highest positions in the court hierarchy can be cataloged. [Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). "Annales des empereurs du japon," pp. 425-426.] A dry list provides a superficial glimpse inside the complexity of the court structure: [NOTE: In this terse listing, the numbers are an arbitrary addition, intended only to assist in grasping the relative relationships. If these ordinals are perceived as unhelpful, they can be disregarded.]
* 1. nihongo|Chancellor of the Realm or Chief Minister|太政大臣|"
Daijō daijin"Titsingh, p. 425.]
** See also, nihongo|Acting Great Minister of the Council of State|知太政官事|"Chi-daijōkanji".Varley, H. Paul. (1980). "Jinnō Shōtōki," p.272.]
* 2. nihongo|Minister of the Left|左大臣|"
Sadaijin". [see above] ]
* 3. nihongo|Minister of the Right|右大臣|"
Udaijin". [see above] ]
* 4. nihongo|Minister of the Center|中大臣|"
Naidaijin". [see above] ]
* 5. nihongo|Major Counselor|大納言|"
Dainagon". There are commonly three "Dainagon"; [see above] ] sometimes more. [ [http://www.unterstein.net/ Unterstein (in German)] : [http://www.unterstein.net/or/docs/JapanPeers.pdf Ranks in Ancient and Meiji Japan (in English and French)] , pp. 6, 27.]
* 6. nihongo|Middle Counselor|中納言|"
Chūnagon". [see above] ]
* 7. nihongo|Minor Counselor|少納言|"Shōnagon". There are commonly three "Shōnagon". [see above] ]
* 8. nihongo|Director of palace affairs|参議,|"Sangi". This office functions as a manager of activities within the palace.Titsingh, p. 426.]
* 9. nihongo|External Secretariat|外記|"Geki". These are specifically named men who act at the sole discretion of the emperor. [see above] ]
* 10. nihongo|Major Controller of the Left|左大弁|"Sadaiben," [see above] ] This administrator was charged or tasked with supervising four ministries: Center, Civil Services, Ceremonies, and Taxation. [see above] ]
* 11. nihongo|Major Controller of the Right|右大弁|"Udaiben" [see above] ] This administrator was charged or tasked with supervising four ministries: Military, Justice, Treasury and Imperial Household. [see above] ]
* 12. nihongo|First Assistant Controller of the Left|左中弁,|"Satchūben". [see above] ]
* 13. nihongo|First Assistant Controller of the Right|右中弁,|"Utchūben". [see above] ]
* 14. nihongo|Second Assistant Controller of the Left|左少弁,|"Sashōben". [see above] ]
* 15. nihongo|Second Assistant Controller of the Right|右少弁,|"Ushōben". [see above] ]
* 16. nihongo|First Secretary of the Left|左大史,|"Sadaishi". [see above] ]
* 17. nihongo|First Secretary of the Right|右大史,|"Udaishi'. [see above] ]
* 18. nihongo|Assistant Secretaries of the Left or Right|史少丞,|"Shi shō-shō". There are twenty officials with this title. [see above] ]
The Eight Ministries
A mere list of the court titles cannot reveal nearly enough about the actual functioning of the "Daijō-kan"; but at least the broad hierarchical relationships which are drawn here amongst these court offices become more readily identified.
* I. nihongo|Ministry of the Center|中務省,|"Nakatsukasa-shō".Titsingh, p. 427.]
* II. nihongo|Ministry of the Civil Services|式部省,|"Shikibu-shō"; also known as the "Ministry of Legislative Direction and Public Instruction". [see above] ]
* III. nihongo|Ministry of the Ceremonies|治部省,|"Jibu-shō"; also known as the "Ministry of the Interior". [Titsingh, p. 429.]
* IV. nihongo|Ministry of Taxation|民部省,|"Minbu-shō".Titsingh, p. 430.]
* V. nihongo|Ministry of Military|兵部省,|"
Hyōbu-shō". [see above] ]
* VI. nihongo|Ministry of Justice|刑部省,|"Gyōbu-shō". [Titsingh, p. 431.]
* VII. nihongo|Ministry of the Treasury|大蔵省,|"Ōkura-shō". [Titisngh, p. 432.]
* VIII. nihongo|Ministry of the Imperial Household|宮内省,|"Kunai-shō". [Titsingh, p. 433.]
* Asai, T. (1985). "Nyokan Tūkai". Tokyo:
* Ozaki, Yukio. (2001). "The Autobiography of Ozaki Yukio: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in Japan." [Translated by Fujiko Hara] . Princeton:
Princeton University Press. 10-ISBN 0-691-05095-3 (cloth)
* Ozaki, Yukio. (1955). "Ozak Gakudō Zenshū." Tokyo: Kōronsha.
* Screech, Timon. (2006). "Secret Memoirs of the Shoguns: Isaac Titsingh and Japan, 1779-1822." London: Routledge Curzon. ISBN 0-700-71720-X
* Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). [Siyun-sai Rin-siyo/
Hayashi Gahō, 1652] , " Nipon o daï itsi ran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon, tr. par M. Isaac Titsingh avec l'aide de plusieurs interprètes attachés au comptoir hollandais de Nangasaki; ouvrage re., complété et cor. sur l'original japonais-chinois, accompagné de notes et précédé d'un Aperçu d'histoire mythologique du Japon, par M. J. Klaproth." Paris: Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. [http://books.google.com/books?id=18oNAAAAIAAJ&dq=nipon+o+dai+itsi+ran ...Click link for digitized, full-text copy of this book (in French)]
* Varley, H. Paul , ed. (1980). [
Kitabatake Chikafusa, 1359] , " Jinnō Shōtōki("A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa" translated by H. Paul Varley)." New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-04940-4
Sessho and Kampaku
Imperial Household Agency
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