Shoten-shoku (Ceremonial staff) (掌典職)

The Shoten-shoku is a section in charge of Court rituals of the Japanese Imperial Household. Their duties are performed in the Three shrines of the Imperial Court.

It used to be a government organization before the war, and at that time, its position was an external bureau of the Imperial Household Ministry.

Shoten-bu (Ceremony Department), Shikibu-shoku (Board of Ceremonies), the Ministry of Imperial Household

When the 'Kunai-sho Kansei' (Imperial Household Ministry Organization) (Article 3 of Koshitsu-rei; the Imperial Families' Act, in 1907) was established, it was under the control of Shikibu-shoku of Imperial Household Agency as 'tenshiki.'
The Shoten-bu was placed under the Shikibu-shoku, and it was decided that this section should consist of a position called shoten-cho (the chief ritualist), a position called shoten-jicho (the vice-chief ritualist), shoten (regular ritualists), nai-shoten (female regular ritualists), and shoten-ho (assistant staff).

The official authority for each position is:

The 'shoten-cho' should be an official personally or directly appointed by the Emperor, and his duties are to serve for Court rituals, to manage tasks of the department and the staff, and to supervise all members in the department.

The 'shoten-jicho' should be an official directly appointed by the Emperor, and his duties are to support the shoten-cho and to take over his responsibility when he is not available.

Shoten' staff consists of 12 members who are officials appointed with the Emperor's approval (such officials were called soninkan, and the position of soninkan was sometimes given as an honorary post), and they take partial charge of Court rituals.

Nai-shoten' and 'shoten-ho' are officials at the position called hanninkan (a junior official), and one of nai-shoten members is given a position of soninkan. Both engage in ceremonies.

Nai-shoten' is a position assigned only to women.

Shoten-shoku (Board of the Ritualists), the Ministry of Imperial Household

In accordance with the 'Shoten-shoku Kansei' (the regulations for the organization of the shoten-shoku), which was announced in the Imperial Household Order No. 4 of 1939, the Ministry of Imperial Household established a department called Shoten-shoku, and they also decided to place the positions in this department as follows: the shoten-cho, the shoten-jicho, shoten, nai-shoten, shoten-ho, administrative officials, and minor officials.

The duties of the shoten-cho, the shoten-jicho, shoten, nai-shoten, and shoten-ho were respectively the same as the ones which had been decided when the previous organization had been established.

Administrative officials, who were at the position of soninkan, were responsible for general affairs in this department, and they were supported by minor officials, who were at the position of hanninkan.

Shoten-shoku as the Imperial Family's private agency

The Shoten-shoku as a governmental organization was abolished due to the abolishment of the Ministry of Imperial Household (this Ministry was demoted to the Imperial Household Office) in accordance with the enforcement of the Constitution of Japan on May 3, 1947.

Subsequently, they put some staff by using the budgeted allowance for the private expenses of the Imperial Family. Nowadays, the staff is regarded as the "staff of the Imperial Court" which is categorized as the private staff of the emperor, not as "staff of the Imperial Household Agency (national service personnel).

They have personnel whose titles are the same as the ones in the Shoten-shoku, the Ministry of Imperial Household, such as the shoten-cho who works as a general manager, the shoten-jicho, shoten, nai-shoten, shoten-ho, and so on.

They have served as a 'chokushi' (imperial messenger) at festivals at Ise-jingu Shrine and chokusai-sha (shrines attended by an Imperial envoy) since 1975.