Kyujin (給人)

Kyujin (upper class retainers)

The term kyujin was used to mean a samurai who owned territory but was not a kuramaidori (a rank of retainers) from the Muromach period to the early Edo period.

It was one of the family statuses and the social standings of a family for feudal retainer of domains in the Edo period.

In the Edo period the term kyujin was also used as a general term to collectively mean a tax collector.


A samurai was strongly attached to owning land. They tended to desire having their own land even if it was only a few koku. In the Sengoku period (period of warring states), a samurai who did not have their governing land but accepted horoku (salary) was considered as a lower-ranking samurai. While, a lord of small manor could not get stable harvesting and were often bothered by insect damage such as locusts and maize weevils, as well as by natural disasters such as wind or storm damage, flood disaster, and cold weather damage.

In the Edo period, the lord of each domain tried to change the fief system of their vassal from a local enforcement system in which the land was provided directly for the vassal and the vassal collected tax individually into kuramaichigyo in which the lord of the domain collected rice and farm products collectively and provided them for their vassal who, in turn, changed them into money through a dealer, in order to extend their ruling power. This reform provoked high-ranked vassals' antipathy in particular those who were afraid of being weakened. Even the middle or lower-ranked vassals disliked this reform because it could have diminished their territory substantially.

Decisive action or proposition of this change often created a disturbance of the domain duties, contributing to the internal squabbles (over headship rights) in a daimyo family. Representative examples included the Echigo riot by the Takada clan and the Date riot by the Sendai clan.

Thus, in the domains in which the system had been converted into the kuramaichigyo, the samurai who had status which would have been enforced in the conventional system were honorably granted the designation of kyujin or a social status of Kakaku (family status) of kyujin. The feudal retainer of the status who was designated kyujin was from the families which were generally called 'lower of the upper' in the Edo period. The feudal retainer who was designated as higher-ranked than kyujin had a status called Kakaku (family status) and usually not called kyujin. The fact was that the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) did not intend to use or settle this designation of kyujin, however, there existed a status or Kakaku called kyujin or kyujin-seki in many domains.

Kyujin was roughly adopted into the following grades:
(1) Karo (chief retainer)
(2) Toshiyori (a management position in the Edo bakufu), Churo
(3) Yojin (lord chamberlain), Bangashira (head clerk)
(4) Monogashira (Miliary Commanders), Ometsuke (chief inspector of the Edo shogunate)
(5) Toritsugi (an attendant who serves Shogun by informing of a visitor and convey the message), Sosha (a person in charge of informing a shogun or daimyo of the name of visitors)
(6) Kyujin (upper class retainers), Metsuke (inspector)
(7) Nakakosho (Groom and/or stableman)
(8) Umamawari (horse guards)
(9) Yuhitsu (private secretary), Daikan (local governor)
(10) Kachi metsuke (inspector of foot soldiers), Yoriki (a police sergeant)
(11) Kachi (Foot Guards), Doshin (a police constable)
(12) Chugen (temporary soldier), Komono (private servant)
In many domains, people ranked higher than kyujin were allowed to ride a horse.