Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


vol.15 (2019)

Organization and Hierarchy of Regional Shinto
Priests in Middle and Early Modern Times:

The Case of Bingo Nuka County


Department of Japanese History
School of Cultural and Social Studies
SOKENDAI (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies)

Key words:

Ichinomiya, Yoshida family Shinto saikyojo (license proof for a Shinto priest), Tayu, Ooujigami (dominant shrine), Perspective of Status Marginality

In this paper, the authors elucidate the historical transition from the end of the medieval period to the early modern era in Bingo Nuka County (currently Tojo-cho, Saijo-cho in Shobara-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture) and discuss the organization and hierarchy of the Shinto priests. It was determined that the change from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern era brought about certain changes regarding Shinto priests.

The first change concerned the method of guaranteeing the position as a priest. At the end of the Middle Ages, certification of the position was issued by attendance at a religious festival held at the Bingo Ichinomiya Shrine and the issuance of an address letter from the local lords. Later. in the early modern era, Shinto court letters were acquired from the Yoshida family in Kyoto.

The second change concerns the authority and functions of the Bingo Ichinomiya Shrine, which is thought to have originated during the Middle Ages. In the early modern era, the influence of Ichinomiya on Shinto priests diminished. Instead, the priests of the Hiroshima domain in Bingo began to be dominated by the Hiroshima domain.

The third change regards organization of the priesthood in Nuka County. In the beginning of the early modern era, several Shinto organizations that jointly conducted Shinto rituals were formed for each Ooujigami (dominant shrine) in the county. Subsequently, in the middle of the early modern era, the hierarchical organization of Shinto priests in the Hiroshima domain was reorganized under the influence of the Yoshida family and subsidiary organizations for the respective counties were newly formed.

Among those involved in shrine rituals in modern Nuka county were Yoshida Donosaikyonokan who obtained a license from the Yoshida family and conducted rituals, and Kagitori who managed the shrine on a daily basis. Furthermore, there was a hierarchy among Yoshida Donosaikyonokan based on family status since the Middle Ages.