Egoshu (or Kaigoshu) (wealthy merchants who led self-governing organizations in cities from the Muromachi to the Azuchi-Momoyama period) are consultation organizations, or is a term that refers to the members of this organization which possessed a leading role in the self-government of cities from the Muromachi to the Azuchi-Momoyama period. The example in Sakai City is especially famous.
Around the same time, similar organizations were seen in cities such as Yamada (Ise City) (Ise Province), Ominato (Ise City) (Ise Province), Hakata or Sakata City.
Egoshu owes its name to Shue (gathering) at a temple. Egoshu comprised the affluent (influential merchants) in Sakai, and influential merchants such as Notoya and Beniya served as Egoshu.
The name of Egoshu first appears in Sakai City, in the "Shaken nichiroku," a diary written by a Zen priest, Daishuku KIKO. It records that on August 1 in 1484, both the Kasueya (timber merchant, Kazue MIYAKE) and the Isumiya (Izumiya) from among the Egoshu members led the festival at Mimura-sha Shrine (Aguchi-jinja Shrine).
It is said that the number of Egoshu members was thirty-six, but there were ten during the Bunmei era (Japan) ("Shaken nichiroku"). Moreover, some accounts say that ten members as nayashu (warehousing business) were consulting on court cases ("Shiranki"). Therefore it is often said that the ten nayashu were especially powerful among the thirty-six Egoshu members.
Sakai was divided into the Sakaisho region of Settsu Province and the Sakaiminamisho region of Izumi Province, and there were meeting places for Egoshu members in both regions. In the Sakaisho region it was called 'Hokusho Kyodo' (according to the "Shaken nichiroku"), but the location is unknown. The meeting place of the Sakaiminamisho region has been determined through excavations etc. and is assumed to have been at the Nenbutsu-ji Temple (abolished temple) on the precincts of Aguchi-jinja Shrine.
In the same period, the elders of Yamada in Ise, headed a self-government system called "Yamadasanpo," a form of self-government was also found in Egoshu in Ominato, Ise, while in Hakata, twelve Nengyoji (town officials) were administering the city, and in Shonai Sakata the Sanju-roku-nin shu with thirty-six members were in control of town administration; all these are examples of self-government that was suited to their respective cities.