Kannin (officials) (官人)

Kannin (also known as Kanjin, Tsukasabito) means an official and a civil servant.

In the ritsuryo system, Kannin meant officials at the rank of Sakan of Tsukasa (also known as Shi) or above and the court rank of Sixth Rank or below, and in the Heian period, it meant officials at the rank of Jo or below, specifically lieutenant of Konoefu (the Headquarters of the Inner Palace Guards) or under.


In a narrow sense, Kannin means the officials of Shitokan and the officials at the government posts of Honkan, both of which had corresponding court ranks, except for Gunji; and in a broad sense, Kannin collectively means the officials including Gunji and officials without corresponding court ranks such as Tukaibe, Tomobe, and Toneri. In some cases, among the above definition, those at Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade (Fifth Rank) or above may be called the nobles and only those below that court rank may be called Kannin. In that case, as Sanni did not hold the posts of Shitokan or Honkan even when they were at Fifth Rank or above, they were sometimes treated accordingly as Kanjin.

Kannin at Eighth Rank or above were exempted from Soyocho, Yo, and Zoyo, and treated favorably in punishment. Kannin at Fifth Rank or above had privileges of Onni to receive court ranks for their family members, and of receiving paddy fields and the like; and those at higher court ranks had bigger privileges. Apart from them, high-ranking government post holders also had similar privileges. Also Kannin at Initial Rank or below were treated favorably in taxation to some extent.

Bukan (Military officers) and Bunkan (Civil officers)

Bukan was Kannin who bore swords, specifically an officer at the military organizations such as Efu, Meryo, and Tsuwamonogura, a leading officer of an army, and Junsatsudanjo (a patrolling officer) at Danjodai. Bunkan was the civil servant other than Bukan. Only Kannin at Dazaifu and Udoneri, who bore swords, were treated as Bunkan, not Bunkan. Personnel affairs of Bunkan was undertaken by Hyobusho and personnel affairs of Bukan was undertaken by Shikibusho.

Kyokan and Gekan

Kyokan was also called Naikan, meaning Kannin who worked at the national government, and Gekan meant Kannin who worked at local governments. Kannin at Kyoshiki and Settsushiki who attended to government affairs in Kyoto were exceptionally treated as Kyokan.

Shikiji and Sanni

Shikiji was Kannin who had duties, whereas Sanni (also known as Sani) was Kannin who did not have duties, i.e., who only had the court ranks. Most of Sanni were retired Kannin; those who lived in Kyoto and those who were at Fifth Rank or above and lived in local provinces held full-time positions in Sanniryo, and the others alternately worked at respective Kokufu. They were classified into Bunkan, Bukan, Kyokan, and Gekan, and it is considered that Bukan (Busanni) were under the supervision of Hyobusho.

Chokunin, Sonin, Hannin, and Hanpo

Chokunin was a post appointed by the imperial edict (order). Sonin was a post appointed after reporting to the emperor about the appointment. Hannin was a post appointed by Daijokan, and Hanpo was a post appointed by Shikibusho, or Hyobusho in some cases. They were also called Shikibuhanpo. These names were handed down to Chokuninkan and Soninkan in the government before WWII.

Dankan and Nyokan

Dankan were general male Kannin who took charge of politics. Nyokan were female officials working mainly at Kokyu, the women's quarters of the Imperial Palace, and mainly took care of the empress. In the Heian period, Nyokan were allocated in Mizushidokoro other than Kokyu.

Categories of Kannin

Kannin in a broad sense, and, for reference, Shicho (also known as Jicho), workers from local provinces, are shown below.


Kannin who held full-time positions. Chojo were divided into Naichojo and Gaichojo.


Regular officials at respective offices. Kami took charge of decision, Suke took charge of assistance, Jo took charge of audit and clerical work, and Sakan took charge of drafting of documents.


Pronounced Honkan. Civil servants as technical experts belonging to a different official system from Shitokan. They should have been independently established as Shiki, Ryo, and Tsukasa (also known as Shi), however, the number of officials in this category was too small to do so, as a result, Honkan was established. Honkan consisted of doctors at Daigakuryo, Onmyoji at Onmyoryo, judges at Gyoubusho, and the like.

Saigi no Chojo

Technical officials who were in a different official system from Shitokan. Their court ranks were lower than those of Honkan, and most of their duties were related with manufacturing industries. Some of them took command of Tomobe or Shinabe. Saigi no Chojo included Zohitsushu and Zobokushu at Zushiryo, and Tenri at Okurasho.

Becchoku no Chojo

Becchoku no Chojo was appointed by the imperial individual order (becchoku). Details about this kind of officials are unknown, but it is supposed that they were entertainers and the like.


Kannin to work in shifts. In a broad sense, Banjo included Zoshikinin, Sanni, Shicho, Onshi, and Ishi.


Pronounced Zonin. Low-ranking Kannin who served as underworkers and clerks at individual offices. Zonin were opposite to Shikiji consisted of Shitokan and Honkan, and high-ranking Kannin including Saigi no Chojo. Chonai, the imperial kin, and Shijin, retainers at Fifth Rank or above, corresponded to Zonin. The officials were appointed by Hanpo at Shikibusho, worked on a shift system, and did not have a corresponding court rank. They had a privilege of being exempted from Kaeki (distribution of assignments). They were annually rated using the three-point scale of Jo, Chu, Ge, and were conferred on the ranks higher by up to three based on the rating of eight years (according to the law in 706, this rule was operated based on a six years rating in fact). Zonin had subcategories as below.

They were in charge of clerical work. Shisho were originally placed in some offices such as Daijokan, Jingikan, the eight ministries, Shuzeiryo, and Shukeiryo; however, as the administration became complicated, Shisho were additionally placed in other offices.

They were in charge of proofreading and making fair copies. During the Heian period, they were placed in the eight ministries and Dazaifu, and gained importance.

They worked between Shisho and Tsukaibe, ordering Tsukaibe to carry out miscellaneous business. Sho was suffixed onto the respective office names like Kansho, Shosho, and in the later ages, Sho were placed in a lot of offices of Shiki and Ryo.
(Shikisho, Ryosho, and the like)

Tsukaibe (also known as Shibu)
Kannin in charge of miscellaneous business in the respective offices. Tukaibe were placed in all offices of the national government. Sons of Kannin at Sixth Rank or below were classified into three ranks, by the lowest of which Tsukaibe were originally held. The highest ranked sons were appointed Otoneri, and the middle ranked sons were appointed Hyoe.

Kannin who were in charge of miscellaneous business and guarding of very important persons. Toneri included Udoneri, Otoneri, Chugutoneri, Togutoneri, Saigutoneri, and the like; among them, the sons of high-ranking Kannin were appointed Udoneri and used the post as their stepping-stone toward higher posts.

Soldiers who belonged to Hyoefu. They took charge of personal protection of the emperor as a kind of Toneri.

Tomobe (also known as Tomonomiyatsuko, Banbu)
Tomobe originated from Tomonomiyatsuko before the ritsuryo legal code system, and like Kudaratebito, most of them supervised especially the industrial branches at the work-site operations leading Shinabe and Zakko. As an exception, Shurai in Nairaishi were not engaged in work-site operation. Most of them were streamlined by merger and abolition or declined under the pressure of Naishoryo.


Shinabe and Zakko were generically called Zoshikinin. As their social standing was low, they were discriminated. Most of them were engaged in handicraft manufacturing.

Shinabe (also known as Tomobe)
Some Shinabe originated from Shinabe before the Taika Reforms. Shinabe were handicraftsmen with special skills as represented by Kamiko of Zushiryo and Komahe of Okurasho. Shinabe disappeared when the ritsuryo legal code system was collapsed.

Officials with special skills in military affairs. They were ranked as Goshiki no sen (five lowly castes of the ritsuryo system) and discriminated correspondingly. Examples of Zakko included Zoukobe of Zoheishi and Takabe of Shuyoshi. Zakko disappeared when the ritsuryo legal code system was collapsed.

Shicho (also known as Jicho)

Pronounced Shicho or Jicho. Two persons were commandeered from each village to serve in Kyoto for a year. As provisions for them were saddled on their villages, Shicho were a great burden for the villages.

Kannin who served as a laborer at the respective offices. They were allocated in all offices of the national government except for Shugokushi.

Kannin who were allocated to large scale work-site operations and served as a laborer. They were allocated to Mokuryo and Daizenshiki.

Shicho were in charge of preparing meals and doing miscellaneous business for Rittei (Jikicho, Kushicho.)

Two persons were commandeered as carpenters from each village mainly of Hida province. They were also called Hida no Takumi. They were allocated to Mokuryo.