Meryo (Bureau of Horses) (馬寮)

Meryo (or Uma no tsukasa) refers to one of the government officials in the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code). Its Tang name was Tenkyu (Minister of Horses). It was divided into Samaryo (or Sameryo) (Left Division of Bureau of Horses) and Umaryo (or Umeryo) (Right Division of Bureau of Horses).

Official duties

Meryo was in charge of raising and training horses which were presented as a tribute from Maki (the ground to raise houses and cattle) in ryoseikoku (province), and were owned by the Imperial Court.

Horses collected from provinces were fed in horse boxes or Maki (ryomaki and kintomaki [pasture where animals were sent to graze]) under the direct control of Meryo, and were also fed in the Kinai region (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara) and surrounding provinces by orders given to such provinces. Subsequently, Meryo also controlled the management of chokushimaki (mandate pastures, Imperial pastures). And, it led horses as required for military affairs and rites, and supplied them to a department requiring them.

Government officials (esp. one of low to medium rank) in Meryo were treated as military officer, and were allowed to wear a sword. They were sometimes in charge of business of maintaining security of capital by assisting kebiishi (officials with judicial and police powers) later. It is considered that the reason why samurai was appointed to a government post below Kami (Director) later was that it had an element of police.

As Kanjin Zonin (lower-ranking government official), Mebu which actually raised horses existed, and retained and governed Shiko which was in charge of raising horses.

History

Samaryo and Umaryo were established under the Taiho Code. Initially, a Kami (Director) (Sama no kami [Captain of Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses] and Uma no kami [Captain of Umaryo, Right Division of Bureau of Horses]) was appointed as a headman. However, in 711, Prince Katsuragi (later TACHIBANA no Moroe) who was a member of the Imperial family although his rank was Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) was appointed as Meryogen (the chief of the Bureau of Horses) which was Ryoge no kan (class outside of the Ritsuryo system), from the viewpoint of military importance, and controlled the right and left divisions of Meryo. Meryokan was established on a nonpermanent basis, and then was established for Samaryo and Umaryo, respectively.

When Konoefu (the Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards) was established in 765, Naikyuryo handling horse boxes in the Imperial Court was departed simultaneously, and government officials of Konoefu basically took this position concurrently. Remaining Samaryo and Umaryo were integrated into Shumeryo (Bureau of Imperial Mews) in 781, and ISE no Okina whose rank was Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) was assigned to Shume no kami, the head of Shumeryo.

In 808, the initial names under the Ritsuryo system were revived by changing the name from Shumeryo to Samaryo, and from Naikyuryo to Umaryo, and Samaryo and Umaryo absorbed Hyomashi (Office of Military Horses) which had belonged to Hyobusho (Ministry of Military). Thereafter, Meryogen was also revived as Meryo gogen (or mikan) (Inspector of the Bureau of Horses), but, its official duties were limited only to reporting to the Emperor about horses at the time of rite which were supplied from Sama no kami and Uma no kami, and the fact was that only the name was succeeded. However, since it was conventional to double as Konoe no daisho (Major Captain of the Palace Guards), its equivalent official court rank was largely promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), and was the highest in Meryo nominally.

After the late Heian period, by reason that prominent samurai of Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) was successively assigned to Sama no kami and Uma no kami which were substantially the highest post, the post of Meryo was regarded as one of the government posts longed for by samurai (it is said that the full number of Daijo (Senior Secretary) and Shojo (Junior Secretary) was 20 in total as regulated in the Kakushiki code (amendments and enforcement regulations (of the ritsuryo)) at the end of Heian period).

In the Muromachi and Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") concurrently took the post of Meryo gogen ranked higher than it.

Kamakura period

MINAMOTO no Sanetomo was appointed to Samaryo gogen (Inspector of the Samaryo, Left Division of Bureau of Horses).

Muromachi period
Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA was appointed to Umaryo gogen (Inspector of the Umaryo, Right Division of Bureau of Horses).

Taking it as a good example that Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA was appointed to Sama no kami, Sama no kami in the Muromachi period was regarded as a government post taken by Kokenshoku (post of guardian) of Shogun (existence like vice-shogun) or by Shogun-in-waiting. As examples of persons who were appointed to Sama no kami, but could not be Shogun, Yoshitsugu ASHIKAGA, Yoshimi ASHIKAGA and Yoshitsuna ASHIKAGA were taken. There was another example of keeping an ear close to the ground by assigning Sama no kami to both Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA (later the 15th shogun), Yoshiteru's younger brother, and Yoshihide ASHIKAGA (later the 14th shogun), Yoshiteru's cousin, who declared bid for a successor after the Eiroku Incident in which Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA was killed.

Motonari MORI and Terumoto MORI were appointed to Uma no kami.

Edo period

Ieyasu TOKUGAWA was appointed to Samaryo gogen, and Iemitsu TOKUGAWA was appointed to Umaryo gogen. Tsunashige TOKUGAWA was appoitned to Sama no kami, and Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA was appointed to Uma no kami.

Personnel

Gogen (equivalent to Jusanmi [Junior Third Rank]; Ryogekan*): One each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Kami (equivalent to Jugoinojo [Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade]): One each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Suke (equivalent to Shorokuinoge [Senior Sixth Rank, Lower Grade]): One each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Daijo (equivalent to Shoshichiinoge [Senior Seventh Rank, Lower Grade]): One each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Shojo (equivalent to Jushichiinojo [Junior Seventh Rank, Upper Grade]): One each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Daisakan (Senior Clerk) (equivalent to Juhachiinojo [Junior Eighth Rank, Upper Grade]): One each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Shosakan (Junior Clerk) (equivalent to Juhachiinoge [Junior Eighth Rank, Lower Grade]): One each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Horse doctor (equivalent to Juhachiinojo [Junior Eighth Rank, Upper Grade]): Two each for Samaryo and Umaryo

* Sakone no daisho (Major Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) doubled as Samaryo gogen and Ukone no daisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards) doubled as Umaryo gogen.

Shisho (a person doing miscellaneous duties around documents): Two (four at a later time) each for Samaryo and Umaryo

Mebu: 60 each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Shibu (low rank bureaucrats): 20 each for Samaryo and Umaryo
Jikicho (factotum): Two each for Samaryo and Umaryo

Shicho (person who took care of horses)