Tsukahô 201 : On Monks Engaging in Brawls

Translated by Lisa Kochinski and Sachiko Kawai

Item: It is said that resident monks of Shōchōjuin 1 are engaging in brawls, which frequently result in deaths. Even the followers of warriors do not commit such outrages. Why should the followers of monks? This results from the fact that [the monks] are wont to recruit those who are violent and unruly, and they do not restrain them at all. Additionally, there are rumors that samādhi-monks 2 do nothing but hold lavish drinking parties and live immoderately. Not only do they break the precepts 3 , they even disobey ordinary law 4 . Henceforth, the wearing of long and short swords by monks’ temple servant boys 5 , accompanying samurai, middle-ranking servants 6 , child servants 7 , and tonsured laborers 8 shall cease entirely. If anyone disregards this restraining command, and wounds or kills someone, the {offender’s} master should be fined. Each of you should inform {your subordinates} that this should be thoroughly understood and there should be no violations. Accordingly, the directive is thus.

Ninji 3 (1242), third month, third day.

Former governor of Musashi (Hōjō) Yasutoki

Humbly submitted to: Director of the Ministry of Finance 9 , Superintendent of Monks

Postscript: as in previous 10
The monks are not brawling in this picture: a snapshot of Kamakura Period circumambulating monks in the  Ippen hijiri e  ( Creative Commons ).

The monks are not brawling in this picture: a snapshot of Kamakura Period circumambulating monks in the Ippen hijiri e (Creative Commons).

Original Text 原文

一 勝長寿院僧房連々有闘乱事、度々及殺害云々、武士之郎従猶以不及如此之狼藉、






   仁治三年三月三日              前武蔵守(北条)泰時

 謹上 大蔵卿僧正御房


Kundoku 訓読

一 勝長寿院しょうちょうじゅいん僧房連々闘乱有る事、度々殺害に及ぶと云々。武士の郎從ろうじゅう、猶以て此の如きの狼藉ろうぜきに及ばず。何ぞ況や僧徒の従類じゅうるいにや。是れ則ち好みて武勇ぶゆう不調ふちょうの輩を召仕い、專ら禁遏きんあつを加えざるの所致しょち也。加之しかのみならず、三昧僧等ひとえに好みて酒宴を事とし、あわせて、其のせつうとむの由、風聞ふうぶん有り。啻にただに破戒行はかいぎょうのみにあらず、あまつさ尋常じんじょうの法に背く。自今以後、僧徒の児、共侍、中間、童部、力者りきしゃ法師、雄剱を横たえ、腰刀を差し、一向之を停止ちょうじするべし。若し猶制止にかかずらわらず、刃傷にんじょう・殺害に及ばば、宜しく主人を過怠に処せらるべし。堅く此の旨を存じ、更に違犯すべからざるの由、各、相触れしめ給うべきの由、候う所なり。仍って執達件の如し。



 謹上 大蔵卿おおくらきょう僧正御房

  1. Shōchōjuin 勝長寿院 (also known as Ōmidō 大御堂 and Minamimidō 南御堂) was established by Minamoto no Yoritomo 源頼朝 (1147–1199) in 1185 as a mortuary temple for his father Minamoto no Yoshitomo 源義朝 (11123–1160). (Nihon kokugo daijiten)

  1. Samādhi-monks (sanmai sō 三昧僧) are monks who practice the Lotus Samādhi (hokke sanmai 法華三昧) in a Lotus Hall or the Mindfulness Samādhi (nenbutsu sanmai 念仏三昧) in a Hall of Constant Practice (jōgyōdō 常行堂). DDB.

  1. Hakaigyō 破戒行:breaking the precepts

  1. These fines were to be administered by the offender’s religious institution and forwarded to the shogunate.

  1. Temple servant boys (chigo 児, also 稚児) were young male servants at temples, often chosen for their good looks.

  1. Middle-ranking servants (chūgen 中間) represents a status distinction, not a profession. These men held a social position between samurai and komono.

  1. Anyone who had had not yet formally come of age was eligible for the position of child servant (warawabe 童部). While mostly children, there were also some adults.

  1. Tonsured laborers (rikisha hōshi 力者法師) worked in the service of a religious institution or person, though they were not necessarily ordained themselves. They were distinguished from regular laborers by their shaved heads. Originally litter-bearers, their duties expanded over time; in this instance, they were primarily charged with leading horses. Chusei seiji shakai shiso, p.114.

  1. The Superintendent of monks was Ryōshin 良親 (1173–1253). Director of the Ministry of Finance (Ōkura kyō 大蔵卿) is a courtesy title given to the Superintendent of Monks because a relative, most likely his father, held that position. We would suggest that the courtesy title refers specifically to Fujiwara Chikafusa, as an entry for him in Sompi Bunmyaku lists a son named Ryōshin 良親 who entered Ninnaji 仁和寺.

  1. Tsuika 200 ordered the melting of confiscated swords for the casting of the Great Buddha image.