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Kotenseki Descriptive Database

Databases of old books held by Nagoya University, describing bibliography, additionally contents and comments.

About the Kita Shinzaemon family

Yumie Kato

  The Jingu Kogakukan Library of Nagoya University Library is centered around materials formerly owned by the Kita Shinzaemon family, who were priests at the Geku Shrine in Ise. In the past, Oshi were prayer leaders attached to large shrines and temples, who guided pilgrims to the shrine or temple and provided them with conveniences such as prayers and lodging. The oshi of the Kumano Sanzan shrines were active from an early period, but from the late Middle Ages onwards, the oshi of Ise Shrine became the most prominent figure. Furthermore, Oshi are also called "Oshi", but in Ise they are still called "Onshi" today.

 To briefly summarize the historical significance of the activities of the Oshi, it is as follows:

1: The expansion of Ise faith to various classes throughout the country (religious activity). 2: He had parishioners all over the country, distributed talismans and souvenirs from Ise, collected the first fruits of their labor, and also offered his home as lodging for parishioners when they visited the temple (economic activity).  3: They traveled freely throughout the country, transcending space and social status, and disseminated a wide range of information, learning, and culture (cultural activities).

 Now, it was in the early 16th century that the Kita family became priests. The family later split into several branches, and the Shinzaemon family is one of those branches. As an onshi, the family's status was third only to that of the Jingu family and the Mikata family, and was above that of the Heishi family. According to the March 6th year of the An'ei era (1777) "Revised Number of Dankata Families in Various Provinces as Geku Shiki" (included in "Jingu Oshi Materials - Geku Volume 4" compiled by the Historiographical Institute of Kogakuin University), the Kita Shinzaemon family's parishioners included head priests such as Shogoinnomiya, Konoe, Hirohata, Niwata, Tokudaiji, Hirohashi, Takeya, and nobles, as well as parishioners from various provinces, totaling 22,527 households, including 2,500 households in Yamashiro province, 13,840 households in Settsu province, and 4,800 households in Sanuki province. He can be said to be a middle-class master.

 According to information from Mr. Naochika Kita, the current head of the family (the 15th generation), the grounds of the Kita family's estate in Uraguchi-cho (now Ise City) once covered an area of approximately 5,000 m2 and featured a magnificent gate similar to the Kuromon Gate of Jingu Bunko (a relocated gate from the Geku Shrine's Oshioyaki Dayu Fukushima Gate), as well as a kagura hall and storehouse in addition to the magnificent two-story mansion. Unfortunately, the mansion was completely burned down during air raids during World War II, but the Kita family still lives in the same place today. The Kita family collection was donated to the university in July 1945, near the end of the war, by Kita Chikaaki, the 13th head of the family and a professor at Jingu Kogakuin University. Just a few days later, the Kita family home burned down, but the collection of books narrowly escaped destruction.

 Let us briefly show the successive generations of the Kita family up to the end of the Edo period using a single scroll of the "Past Register (working title)" owned by Kita Naochika (... indicates adopted relationships).

   ① Nobuchika died on March 12, 1587 (Tensho 15).  
- ②Nagachika, died August 20, 1603 (Keicho 8)  
- ③Yoshichika died on July 27, 1646 (3rd year of the Shoho Era) at age 63  
- ④Yunchika, died June 10, 1673 (13th year of Kanbun), age 57  
-   Mitsuchika, died May 14, 1669 (9th year of Kanbun) at age 20  
- ⑤Yoshichika, died July 10, 1694 (7th year of Genroku) at age 26  
- ⑥ Norichika, died October 27, 1715 (5th year of the Shōtoku Era), age 27  
- ⑦ Ariyoshi Died on August 19, 1768 (5th year of Meiwa) at age 61  
- ⑧Yorichika Died November 13, 1771 (8th year of Meiwa) Age 27  
…⑨Chikamasa Died on July 28, 1813 (Bunka 10) at age 40  
…⑩ Nobuchika Died on July 5, 1865 (first year of the Keio era) at age 61  
- ⑪Hirochika  

 Looking at the old collection of books, the person who was most notable in the history of the school was the seventh headmaster, Ariyoshi. According to a note in the death register, his childhood name was Kamenosuke. Commonly known as Tosho, Yamashiro, and Shinzaemon, later Toneri. His real name was originally Tanenaga and Chikaminaga, but he later changed it to Ariyoshi. Based on transcriptions and annotations in library books, it is estimated that he changed his name around 1755 (although he continued to use the name Shinshin on occasion after that). The Kita family collection consists largely of copies and collated copies by Arichika, and from their colophons and notes we can see that he was an enthusiastic scholar from his youth right up to his final years.

 At first, I learned things related to my duties as a priest, such as prayers and materials related to the shrine. At the age of 29, around 1736, he became a disciple of Hayami Fusatsugu, a renowned Kyoto court noble family, and thereafter devoted himself entirely to court noble practice and waka poetry. He also introduced the nobles to waka poetry through Fusatsune, who was a friend of the court nobles. His passion for learning never waned throughout his life.

 The background to this devotion to academics must have been the enormous economic power of the Kita family, which had over 20,000 parishioners, as well as their daily interactions with aristocrats and other nobles, including parishioners of the nobles. Furthermore, the strong interest in court customs may have been intended to create an extraordinary world as a kind of service for the visitors who came from all over the country.

 In the Edo period, onshi were unique in that they routinely moved freely across ranks and geographical locations. It is thought that this liminal nature gave the cultural activities of the onshi a complex nature. When considering the fascinating existence of onshi, the Kita family's former collection of books is an invaluable collection of materials.