Jiden fields (寺田)

Jiden (also called terada) fields indicate, in Japan, rice fields whereby output was used for operating Buddhist temples.


It is said that Buddhism was brought to Japan in the era of Emperor Kinmei, or in the middle era of the sixth century, and it is in the era of Empress Suiko, or the era from around the end of the sixth century to the first half of the seventh century, that temples were built in earnest and Buddhism started flourishing. Cost was naturally necessary for operating a temple, and jiden fields became set as a source of the incomes for the temples. In the latter half of the seventh century when the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based upon the ritsuryo code) was established, farmland became integrated into the system of Handen Shuju ho (the law of periodic reallocations of farmland), such as kubunden (farmland given to each farmer in the Ritsuryo system). However, jinden fields (as well as shinden - also called kamita or kanda) fields where the output was used for operating shrines) alone were excluded from handen fields (allotted farmland). This was because it was recognized that jiden fields or shinden fields were not owned by temples or shrines but belonged to Buddha or gods. Therefore, it was prohibited to buy or sell the jiden fields and shinden fields that belonged to temples and shrines, respectively.

In Taiho Code and Yoro Code established in the eighth century, regulations concerning jiden fields that were specified in Soni ryo (regulations for monks and nuns) and Denryo (regulations for farmland). In these regulations, it was stipulated that jiden fields were excluded from farmland for which allocation was made every six years, or were specified for Fuyusoden (the farmland for which tax was exempted). On the other hand, it was prohibited to donate farmland to temples personally.

However, during the middle era of the eighth century when Konden einen shizai Law (law allowing farmers who developed new arable land to own it permanently) was enforced, dominant temples and shrines actively developed arable land, acquiring shoen (manors) this way. Such development of arable land was promoted by the Ritsuryo code-based government to make Buddhism more prosperous. For example, many historical documents indicating that local kokushi (provincial governors) developed manors for Todai-ji Temple have been found. Temples insisted that the manors developed in this way constituted jiden fields, acquiring Fuyu no ken (in Japan) (the right of tax exemption).

Even after the collapse of the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code) in the ninth century to tenth century, Fuyu no ken continued being applied to jiden fields. Therefore, Tato (powerful farmers), or the owners of newly developed arable land, who acquired large tracts arable land through development or buying land, donated their farmland to dominant temples (or dominant shrines) to obtain Fuyu no ken. Consequently, dominant temples or shrines had many manors donated.

Around the eleventh to the thirteenth century when shoen koryo sei (the system of public land and private estates) was established, jiden fields were dealt with in the same way as that for joden fields (fields for which tax was exempted) of manors or Kokugaryo (territories governed by provincial government offices). The nengu (land tax) and kuji (public duties) levied on jiden fields did not become incomes of the territorial lord, but were used for operating the temples concerned.

Geographical names and family names

Jiden or Terada remaining as geographical names in Japan originated in the jiden or terada described above. Because jiden fields existed throughout Japan, Jiden or Terada as geographical names remain throughout Japan as well.

Furthermore, Jiden or Terada as a family name also originated in jiden or terada described above.