Hyojohajime was a ceremony held by an influential house of medieval Japan conducted at the first consultation in the New Year.
Hyojohajime of the bakufu was conducted at the New Year and at the first consultation that convened hyojoshu (the members of the Council of State) after a seii taishogun (lieterally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") assumed the post.
Important policies had been decided by the council since 1225 when the hyojoshu was set up in the Kamakura bakufu, and in the late thirteenth century, hyojohajime began as a New Year ceremony convened with a regent, rensho (assistant to regents), and other subordinates on a day of mid-January every year. After the Shogun passed his decision concerning three issues on the agenda such as divine services in the New Year which was recited by a bugyonin (a magistrate), and the sankon (three trays of drink and food) ceremony was conducted.
The Muromachi bakufu
This ritual, along with the hyojoshu, was inherited by the Muromachi bakufu. On January 11 (old calendar) (since the late Oei era) every year, hyojohajime was conducted through the convening of kanrei (shogunal deputies) and their subordinates with more ritual formalities than in the Kamakura period: yuhitsu (an amanuensis) appointed by bugyonin gave a speech of auspiciousness; kanrei and hyojoshu offered a sword to the Shogun, and the Shogun also granted them swords. Also, since Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA's rein, the shogun decided on most state affairs by having discussions in gozensata (the formal consultation) where he could take the initiative, rather than in hyojo where kanrei and hyojoshu held too much influence against him, so gozensata-hajime (the first gozensata in the New Year) was held as the first work of State in the New Year after having a ritual hyojohajime, which only existed in name after the Onin war.
Hyojohajime in the period of Insei (the cloister government)
In the period of Insei, the Retired Emperor Gosaga began inhyojo (consultation under the cloister government) in 1246 adopting the Kamakura bakufu's practice, and also held hyojohajime. The oldest hyojohajime in record was in 1263. The first hyojohajime after the start of the new government of a retired emperor was called 'Fudonohajime' (文殿始) in particular, which is of special note because it marked the start of Insei in the era of ryoto tetsuritsu (alternate accedence from two ancestries of imperial families) when it was not easy to keep Insei. Although it was still held in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, hyojohajime of Insei became only a name at the end of the 14th century when the Muromachi bakufu took over the government function of Insei.
Hyojohajime of Buddhist temples
Daishu (a group of monks) were convened to hold hyojo to decide important matters in and around a temple, and hyojohajime was one of the ceremonies of the temple in the New Year.