Kasho (passport) (過所)

Kasho refers to a passport used from the age of the Han dynasty to around the period of Tang Dynasty in China.


In the age of the Han dynasty, Kasho was also called 'Fu,' 'Kei' or 'Shu.'
Kasho in the age of Han dynasty or Jin (dynasty of China) was found from mokkan (a long and narrow wood plate written with a brush) discovered in Central Asia and Dunhuang City.

In the period of Tang Dynasty, a document of Torei (codes in the Tang era) is inexistent because Torei was not conveyed completely, but it is possible to analogize Torei from Ryo (administrative codes) of Japan because it is specified in the Ryo of Japan. However, two copies of Kasho used by Chiso Daishi Enchin who was a nyuto-priest (priest went to China for studying) came down to Onjo-ji Temple (Mii-dera Temple) in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture.
Since these two copies are designated as National Treasures, everyone can see an actual example of Kasho in Tang
It is found that these two copies were issued by Shoshosho (Department of State Affairs, Tang-dynasty China) and Esshutotokufu (Yuezhou Governor-General Office) in 857. And, the form and descriptions of such Kasho were quite similar to those specified in the Japanese Ryo (Kushiki-ryo (law on state documentary forms in the Yoro Code) under the Ritsuryo law). This means, the name of issuing authority was described. Such name for one copy was the office of Shoshosho (Department of State Affairs, Tang-dynasty China), and that for another copy was Esshutotokufu.

Descriptions such as social status, name, age and belongings, destination, purpose of traveling of traveler and attendant, application for issuance, examination for application, date of issuance, and post and name of government official in charge of issuance were contained in Kasho.

Kasho issued by Esshutotokufu contained descriptions that 'Enchin plans to depart from KaiYuanSi Temple in Esshu, make a pilgrimage to Rakuyo, Changan and Wutaishan (China), and return to KaiYuanSi Temple. The application for issuance is made so as not for Enchin to be held culpable by government officials at checking stations in chou (Prefecture in the Han and Qin Dynasties) and xian (district) during his round trip,' and also contained a description to the effect that Esshutotokufu approved the issuance upon examining the contents. At the foot of Kasho, a government post and name of officer at a checking station who conducted checking, and date of checking when Enchin passed through Tong Gate were described, and the autograph (Kao (written seal mark)) which was a signature of government official was affixed there. In fact, copies remaining at Onjo-ji Temple are materials showing that Kasho was used in the same manner as present-day passport.

In addition, "Nitto guho junreiki" ({The Record of a Pilgrimage to China in Search of the Law}) had copies of Kasho and Kugen (official documents authorized by Kokushi (provincial governors) or Gunji (local magistrates) for transfer of the ownership of private property) which were given to Ennin. In 1965, a copy of Kasho was found in front of the 122nd cave in the Mogao Cave. That was a fragment including only seven lines, but had a description of calendar year of 748. Moreover, in 1973, the original of Kasho used by a group including 石染典, a Sogdian merchant, in 732 was found in the 509th tomb in the Astana Cave in Turpan.

And in the Tang Dynasty, 'Kugen' (official documents authorized by Kokushi (provincial governors) or Gunji (local magistrates) for transfer of the ownership of private property existed as an official document similar to Kasho, and was called 'Kubyo' or 'Inkyo' in the late age of the Sung dynasty. In the Qing dynasty, a passport called 'Roin' (for Kijin (the Manchu, the Han and the Mongols belonging to administrative divisions called 'Hakki')) or 'Kuhyo' (for common people) was used.