Hyojosho (conference chamber) (評定所)

The Hyojosho is an institution that handled lawsuits before modern times, or the place where such institution was located. It was divided into two types according to the period.

It was the name of the place where hyojoshu (members of the Council of State) in the Kamakura and Muromachi periods had conferences.

In the Edo period, it was the Supreme Court of the Edo Shogunate. See below.

Summary of the Hyojosho of the Edo Shogunate

Having been located at Tatsuno-guchi, outside the Edo-jo Castle, the institution handled important government issues, suits among Daimyo (Japanese feudal lords) and Hatamoto (direct retainers of the Edo Shogunate), and trials for cross-jurisdictional problems that involved one or more Bugyo (the shogunate administrators). It consisted of a Machi-bugyo (town magistrate), Jisha-bugyo (magistrate of temples and shrines), Kanjo bugyo (commissioner of finance), and a Roju (senior councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate). An Ometsuke (chief inspector of the Edo shogunate) and a Metsuke (inspector of foot soldiers) also attended trials and the Kanjo-bugyo was in charge of practical work. The Jisha-bugyo, Machi-bugyo, and Kanjo-bugyo were called san Bugyo (three magistrates) and they were major members of the Hyojosho. Sobayonin (lord chamberlain) and those who stayed in Edo on business, such as Kyoto shoshidai (The Kyoto deputy), Osaka jodai (the keeper of Osaka Castle), and the Ongoku-bugyo (the collective name of the magistrates placed at important areas directly controlled by the government in the Edo period) attended later.

Generally, the Hyojosho held trials for the samurai who were under the control of the Edo Shogunate. If the regulating authority of the plaintiff is different from that of the defendant, the trial took place in the Hyojosho. Examples are trials between different social status such as samurai and common people, or the plaintiff and defendant having different lords, such as trials between the Edo townspeople and people of religion controlled by the Jisha-bugyo and between people of the shogun's demesne and people of the land of domains.

In history, the Hyojosho was considered to be established in the time of the act of November 1635. Among some theories about its location, the most common one suggests that it would have been placed in the compartment in the denso-yashiki (a residence for the imperial envoy) after residences of Sakai Uta no kami (the Sakai clan, Director of Music) and Ukyo no suke (Assistant Master of the Western Capital Offices), where the trials had been held were burnt down by the Great Fire of Meireki (according to Ryosuke ISHII, Koji FUKUHIRO and others). This was mentioned in the document submitted by the Hyojosho, by request from the government in the Kyoho era (1716-1735). It was also widely written, for example, in general introductory textbooks.

However, Joji FUJII, who studied the 'Daily records of the Edo bakufu' in detail, pointed out that 'Yoriai' (a meeting) had taken place in the denso-yashiki on December 3, 1636 ("Studies of the process of the formation of the roju system in the Edo Shogunate"). Fujita also figured out the number of times and the places the 'Yoriai' had been held from the records. It shows that, before the denso-yashiki was used, the yoriai had been held in the residences of Toshikatsu DOI and Tadakatsu SAKAI.

The document submitted by the Hyojosho in the Kyoho era should be reviewed because it was made after the Hyojosho had burned down in 1717.

In the act of 1636, the Hyojosho was referred to as 'Yoriaijo;' the name of the Hyojosho was not necessarily used from the beginning. The term of 'Hyojosho' in the acts by the Edo Shogunate first appeared in May 1652 while the term had not been seen in 'Meyasubako uragaki' (the endorsement of the written complaint) until October 1654.

In around the Kanbun era (1661-1672), the yoriai was divided into 'shikijitsu meeting,' 'tachiai meeting,' and 'uchiza meeting' with different members and agendas on each day. Shikijitu was set as a day of consultation for important government issues, and the Roju, who initially had been a major member, came to attend only the shikijitsu, the day of consultation. The number of days Roju attended decreased to once a month in 1720. Tachiai was a trial day, and the Sobayonin and those who stayed in Edo on business, such as Kyoto shoshidai, Osaka jodai, and the Ongoku-bugyo, sometimes attended as well. Uchiza yoriai was a meeting day for three Bugyo without Roju and others. Uchiza yoriai was sometimes held in the Bugyo's residence, and thus it was not always categorized as the Hyojosho.

Shikijitsu, Tachiai, and Uchiza yoriai each had a meeting three days a month.

Summary of the Hyojosho of each domain

Each domain had an institution referred to as 'Hyojosho' or 'Goyoyashiki' (a residence for official business) to judge samurai who were under the control of its domain.