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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And each uji was governed by its own omi or muraji


At the head of all officials were the sa-daijin (minister of the Left), the u-daijin (minister of the Right) and the nai-daijin (minister of the Interior), and after them came the heads of departments, of which eight were established, after the model of the Tang Court in China. They were the Central Department (Nakatsukasa-sho); the Department of Ceremonies (Shikibu-sho); the Department of Civil Government (Jibu-sho); the Department of Civil Affairs (Mimbu-sho); the Department of War (Hyobu-sho); the Department of Justice (Gyobu-sho); the Treasury (Okura-sho), and the Household Department (Kunai-sho). These departments comprised a number of bureaux. All officials of high rank had to assemble at the south gate of the palace in time to enter at sunrise, and they remained there until some time between 11 A.M. and 1 P.M.

In a province the senior official was the governor, and under him were heads of districts, aldermen of homesteads (fifty houses), elders of five households--all the houses being divided into groups of five for purposes of protection--and market commissioners who superintended the currency (in kind), commerce, the genuineness of wares, the justness of weights and measures, the prices of commodities, and the observance of prohibitions. Since to all official posts men of merit were appointed without regard to lineage, the cap-ranks inaugurated by Prince Shotoku were abolished,

inasmuch as they designated personal status by inherited right only, and they were replaced by new cap-grades, nineteen in all, which were distinguished partly by their borders, partly by their colours, and partly by their materials and embroidery. Hair-ornaments were also a mark of rank. They were cicada-shaped, of gold and silver for the highest grades, of silver for the medium grades, and of copper for the low grades. The caps indicated official status without any reference to hereditary titles.


The radical changes outlined above were all effected in the short space of eight years. If it be asked what motive inspired the reformers, the obvious answer is that experience, culminating in the usurpations of the Soga, had fully displayed the abuses incidental to the old system. Nothing more memorable than this flood of reforms has left its mark upon Japan's ancient history. During the first thirteen centuries of the empire's existence--if we accept the traditional chronology--the family was the basis of the State's organization. Each unit of the population either was a member of an uji or belonged to the tomobe of an uji, and each uji was governed by its own omi or muraji, while all the uji of the Kwobetsu class were under the o-omi and all those of the Shimbetsu class, under the o-muraji. Finally, it was through the o-omi and the o-muraji alone that the Emperor communicated his will. In other words, the Japanese at large were not recognized as public people, the only section that bore that character being the units of the hereditary corporations instituted in memory of some Imperial personage and the folk that cultivated the miyake (State domains).

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