Toshoke (堂上家)

Toshoke, also referred to as Dojoke, in the history of Japan, means family of court nobles hereditary qualified to be admitted to Tenjo no Ma chamber located under the eaves on the south side of the Seiryoden (Literally "Limpid Cool Hall," an imperial summer palace)
It represents court nobles other than jigeke (family status of non-noble retainers who are not allowed into the Emperor's living quarters in the imperial palace). There were 137 families at the end of the Edo Period.

Summary

As, in the middle of the Heian Period, the system of shoden (to enter the court) commenced and the family lineage that can become kugyo (court nobility) were fixed since the insei period (during the period of the government by a retired Emperor), discrimination among kuge (court nobles) between toshoke for which shoden was allowed and jigeke for which shoden was not allowed was established. Generally, if one becomes kugyo, shoden was allowed but, in rare cases, kugyo which was jige (shoden not allowed) existed.

In a broad sense, it was a generic name of sekke, seigake, daijinke, urinke, meike (kuge), and hanke (kuge) that were eligible to become kugyo. In a narrow sense, it denoted urinke or lower ranks among them and it was also called hiratosho.

Since the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, discrimination between "nainai" and "tozama" was created according to the closeness to the then current emperor. Tsumesho (station) in the Imperial Palace when attended the office were different and treatment from the emperor was also different.

It was also classified in 65 kyuke (literally, old families) whch had been formed by the Tensho era (1573-1591), during the Azuchi-Momoyama Period, and shinke (literally, new family) which was established after that.

On July 7, 1884, among hiradojo, families from which many were promoted to Dainagon (Chief councilor of state) were appointed to count and others to viscount.

List of toshoke

* According to "Unjo meiran" (books giving a detailed view of the Imperial family and Court nobles), 1863 version