Tsuikahô 200 : That the followers of monks in Kamakura shall be forbidden long and short swords

Translated by Sachiko Kawai, Emily Warren, Matthew Keller, and Chris Bovberg

Item: That the followers of monks in Kamakura shall be forbidden long and short swords

It is said that the followers of monks regularly engage in brawls which result in many deaths. The followers of warriors do not even commit such outrages. Why should the followers of monks? The reason is that [the monks] are wont to recruit those who are violent and unruly, and do not restrain them at all. Henceforth, the wearing of long and short swords 1 by the monks’ temple servant boys 2 , accompanying samurai, middle-ranking servants 3 , child servants 4 , and tonsured laborers 5 shall cease entirely. If, disobeying this prohibition, one wounds or kills someone, a fine will be levied on the master 6 It is ordered that the attendant monks be informed that this order shall be thoroughly understood and that there shall be no violation. Accordingly, the directive is thus.

Ninji 3rd year [1242], 3rd month, 3rd day

Former Governor of Musashi [Hōjō Yasutoki] 7 [cipher]

The Venerable Ōmidō Executor 8

The Venerable Wakamiya Director 9

The Venerable Director Dharma Bridge 10

The above was written and issued separately to each of the three 11

Additional Command

The Board of Retainers functionaries are commanded that the swords of the people at issue are to be taken on sight and donated to [the casting of] the Great Buddha. Similarly, this order shall be commanded and heard.
A contemporary image of the Great Buddha at Kamakura.

A contemporary image of the Great Buddha at Kamakura.

Original Text 原文
一 可被止鎌倉中僧徒従類太刀腰刀等事






   仁治三年三月三日              前武蔵守(北条泰時)在御判



    大夫法橋御房 以上三ケ所各別書下之




Kundoku 訓読

一つ 鎌倉中僧徒そうと従類じゅうるい太刀たち腰刀こしがたな等を止めらるべきの事

右、僧徒の所従、常に闘乱を致し、多く殺害に及ぶと云々。武士の郎従、猶以て此の如き の狼藉に及ばず。何況なんぞいわんや僧徒の所従に於いておや。是れ則ち、好みて武勇ぶゆう不調ふじょうの輩を召し仕い、もっぱ禁遏きんあつ加えざる之故也。自今以後に於いては、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、一向之を停止するべし。若し此の制止にそむき、刃傷にんじょう・殺害に及ばば、宜しく主人に過怠を処せらるべし。堅く此の旨を存じ、違犯すべからずの由。供僧ぐそう等に相触れしめ給うべしの旨、候う所なり。仍って執達件の如し。

   仁治三年三月三日                                        前武蔵守(泰時)在御判ざいごはん



    大夫法橋ほっきょう御房 以上を三ヶ所各別に之を書き下す。追って仰す


Modern 現代語訳

一 鎌倉中の僧徒の従類の太刀や腰刀等を禁止すべき事


   仁治三年(1242)三月三日              (ここに)前武蔵守(北条泰時)の花押あり



    大夫(だいぶ)法橋御房 以上三ケ所、それぞれ別にこれを書き下す。




  1. This document draws a sharp distinction between long and short swords and the method of attachment. Short sword were worn by many commoners, tucked into their pants. Samurai typically preferred long swords, which were worn off the hip.

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

  1. Middle-ranking servants (chūgen) 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) 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. These fines would be administered by the temple, but paid to the Kamakura bakufu.

  1. 1183-1242. Eldest son of Hojo Yoshitoki, he succeeded his father as the third regent of the Kamakura bakufu (r.1224-1242).

  1. The head of Shōchōju-in, founded by Minamoto Yoritomo in 1184 to memorialize his father, Yoshitomo.

  1. Actually the head of Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine, the family shrine of the Minamoto.

  1. Likely the head of Yōfukuji. “Director” here does not indicate a position, but a nickname likely derived from the position of his father.

  1. The three, all founded or relocated by Minamoto Yoritomo, represented the largest and most important religious institutions in Kamakura at the time.