Shue (集会)

Shue refers to the council or self-governing body for decision-making of the Buddhist priests in the temples in medieval Japanese temples. It is also called jiinshue (temple's gathering) and soryoshue (priest's gathering).


In Buddhist scripts, there are written records of deciding the important matters through the council which consisted of the members of organization (sangha, shu). However, in ancient times, there were the system of control over the temples and Buddhist priests such as Soniryo (Regulations for Priests and Nuns) and Sogo (Office of Monastic Affairs) and so on, which the nation laid down and it was after the late Heian period that in fact shue functioned as the council institution. During this period, the system of control over the temples and Buddhist priests by the nation lost substance, while the temples got the status of influential families.

Shue differs in its form, depending on the temples to which the Buddhist priests belonged or the structure of each group of Buddhist priests. For example, there existed the shue by each Inge (a branch temple to support services of the main temple) which consisted of the temples or the shue by each status hierarchy, which were contrary to manji shue (all number temples' gathering) which gathered all the members of the temples. However, even though the structure differed, 'nindorishutabun' (anonymous majority rule) called 'tabun no ri' (majority rule) and 'tabun no hyotei' (majority rule) was necessary and the spirit of 'Ichimi Wago' (Mingle together in One) from sangha was emphasized. It was considered that it was a duty for the Buddhist priests who had been entitled to join shue to attend shue as well as attend hoe (Buddhist mass) and absence without due cause was punished. The decision by shue restrained the attendees and regulated one mountain and sometimes the shoen which took the temple as honjo (proprietor or guarantor of manor) by the source of law of the temple law and to enhance the validity, the ceremonies such as the making of kishomon (sworn oath) or Ichimi Shinsui (one taste of the gods' water) and so on were also sometimes done. When the temples made important decisions, shue usually passed resolutions and when direct actions such as direct petitions were carried out, shue passed the resolutions beforehand.

The demise of the shoen system (manorialism) and the establishment of a unified authority collapsed the autonomy function of the temples and during the early-modern times shue became just a council institution in the temples, but the autonomy as seen in the shue in such temples, in the organization called "XXX shu" which had the decision making function by the council system, in the soson (a community consisting of peasants' self-governing association) and in the city during the medieval and the modern period, which, some thought, were linked with the formation of the system of autonomy during the early-modern times in Japan.