Kokugaku (Educational institutes under the Ritsuryo system) (国学 (律令制の教育機関))

The term Kokugaku means educational institutes established, with the aim of nurturing officials, at each province under the Ritsuryo system (the system of centralized government based on the Riysuryo code). They were almost same as fugaku established at Dazaifu (local government office in Kyushu region).

Their establishment was legislated by the Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code) and each province was obliged to establish one Kokugaku at its kokufu (provincial capital). Although sons of gunji (local magistrate) who were 13 - 16 years old and clever were eligible for entrance, sons of ordinary people were also allowed to enter in some instances. Students were divided into gakusho, candidates for government officials, and isho, candidates for doctors, and the number of students differed depending on the size of province.

Taigoku (major provinces) - gakusho 50 persons isho 10 persons
Jogoku (second biggest provinces next to taigoku) - gakusho 40 persons isho 8 persons
Chugoku (middle-sized provinces) - gakusho 30 persons isho 6 persons
Gekoku (minor provinces) - gakusho 20 persons isho 4 persons

It is contemplated that their curricula were almost the same as those of daigakuryo (the bureau of education)/tenyakuryo (the bureau of medicine) established by the central government. Depending on the results of examinations, graduates from Kokugaku were recruited as local government officials or granted the qualification for entering daigakuryo or tenyakuryo. In the wake of the institutional reforms implemented by the central government in 757, students were further segmented into kogyosho (講経生), densho (傅生), isho, harisho (students of acupuncture), tenmon no sho (students of astronomy), onmyo no sho (students of onmyo), and rekisansho (students of mathematics). Although it was set down that a kuni no hakase and a kuni no ishi should be allocated as teachers at each kokugaku, it was not uncommon, because of the difficulty in finding suitable personnel, to see provinces where kokugau was not established or a case where a teacher taught at several provinces. It is contemplated that this system became full-fledged in all provinces only in the late Nara period. Also, there exists a record proving the fact that kuni no hakase and/or kuni no ishi were treated like shisho (a person doing miscellaneous duties with documents) and were used for jobs of the provincial government.

In association with the collapse of the Ritsuryo system in the Heian period, Kokugaku also declined and ceased to exist by the beginning of the 11th century. As the last record concerning Kokugaku was written in the end of the Heian period (early 12th century), it is believed that Kokugaku were abolished around that time.