A term "Shitsuji" generally means a person who oversees a clerical job, and in the case of prestigious families or temples/shrines, it means a person who presides over household affairs or administration. The Japanese word "shitsuji" corresponds to various job titles overseas.
In English, for example, it corresponds to butler, chamberlain, archdeacon and deacon etc., and the latter two are job titles used in Christianity. Its meaning differs depending on contexts.
Secular shitsuji, the head of employees
It corresponds to the title of employee in Europe and the US. Although there are similar job titles in many countries, butler in the UK is well-known among others. In Japan, shitsuji was introduced by the peerage and wealthy families since the Meiji period, and they wielded great power as the head of employees. At present, shitsuji exists only in royal families and considerably wealthy families.
Male shitsuji who is the head employee is often called 'ji' (literally, old man) in fictional stories.
A Buddhist priest who is stationed at a temple and acts for the chief of temple.
Dai-betto (director general) under the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized governmemt under Ritsuryo code) (the head of directors). Dai-betto wielded strong power. An important post for Mandokoro (the office of administration) of the Kamakura bakufu, which originated from the above.
This post was inherited by the persons of the Nikaido clan and these persons often concurrently served as "rei", the second-highest post of mandokoro.
Shitsuji at Sekkan-ke (the families which produced the Regent and the Chief Adviser to the Emperor)
It refers to a person who was the head of mandokoro keishi (officers in charge of the administration of the family affairs) of Sekkan-ke, which was also the head of Toshi choja (the head of Fujiwara clan), and its another name was shigyo keishi. Persons of Hino line or Kanjuji line, which were powerful among various lines of Fujiwara clan, were appointed to this post and engaged in the management of Sekkan-ke's territory etc.
Shitsuji at the Retired Emperor's office
This post was called either In no shitsushi or Shitsushi-betto and was the head of In no betto (administrator of the Retired Emperor's office). FUJIWARA no Kuniaki, FUJIWARA no Akitaka and FUJIWARA no Mototaka of the Retired Emperor Shirakawa' office, FUJIWARA no Kinnori of the Retired Emperor Toba's office and FJIWARA no Ieaki, FUJIWARA no Takasue and FUJIWARA no Kanemasa of the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa's office are well-known. When in no hyojo (council presided by the Retired Emperor) came to be held regularly in the era of the Retired Emperor Gosaga, a person in this post became a responsible person of a rule by a Retired Emperor as a leading figure among hyojoshu (members of the Retired Emperor's council). Since that time, ministers or court nobles became customarily appointed to this post. Even after the Insei (government by cloistered emperors) declined, this post continued to exist until the end of the Edo Period.
Shitsuji of the Muromachi bakufu
The post of shitsuji was set at Mandokoro and Monchujo of the Kamakura bakufu. After the establishment of the Muromachi bakufu, Moronao KO of Ko clan, which had served as kasai (main retainer) of Ashikaga clan for generations, became responsible for the household management of Ashikaga shogunal family and was called shitsuji. However, since the structure of the bakufu itself had an aspect of the household management organ of shogunal family, he came to be involved in important political matters like onsho (reward grants) and shomusata (trial dealing with land-related issues). After Moronao KO was killed in a war, persons of the Ashikaga clan, such as those of the Niki clan and the Hosokawa clan, were appointed to shitsuji. The title of Kanrei came to be in use when Kiyouji HOSOKAWA was appointed to shitsuji. When Takatsune SHIBA suceeded the position, he called himself 'Kanrei,' gave the title of 'shitsuji' to his eldest son Yoshimasa SHIBA and jointly administered the affairs of state. Needless to say, Takatsune, who was a father and Kanrei, held a real power and Yoshimasa, who was shitsuji, was merely an assistant. In 1367 when Yoriyuki HOSOKAWA became the adviser/guardian of newly-inaugurated shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA according the will of Yoshiakira ASHIKAGA, he seized full power of bakufu as Kanrei. Since then, the title of this post became 'Kanrei' while shitsuji fell into disuse.
At the same time, the head of Mandokoro and Monchujo, the body of bakufu, came to be called 'shitsuji.'
While Monchujo gradually became a mere façade, shitsuji of Mandokoro effectually became the hereditary post of the Ise clan, which achieved a remarkable result in fiscal reconstruction in the late 15th century.
In the meantime, the post of Kanto-kubo (governor-general of the Kanto region) (Kamakura-kubo) and Kanto shitsuji were set at Kamakurafu (Government office in Kamakura), and KO no Morofuyu, Noriaki UESUGI, Kunikiyo HATAKEYAMA and KO no Moroari were appointed to Kanto-shitsuji one after another. After Noriaki UESUGI returned to the post of Kanto-shitsuji, his son Toshinori UESUGI succeeded this post and it became the hereditary post of the Uesugi clan. Since then, this post came to be called Kanto-Kanrei modeled after the central government. When Kamakura-kubo (Koga-kubo) Shigeuji ASHIKAGA, who was at odds with Kanto-Kanrei Uesugi clan in Kyotoku War, was searched and killed by the bakufu, Masatomo ASHIKAGA, a younger brother of shogun Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, was appointed as new Kamakura-kubo. At that time, Noritomo UESUGI and Yoshikane SHIBUKAWA were ordered to support Masatomo and were appointed to the post of Kanto-shitsuji. However, Yoshikane became upset with the Kanto-kanrei Uesugi clan because he killed Noritomo UESUGI with the aim of depriving the Uesugi clan of its power. As a result, Masatomo and Yoshikane were refused to enter Kamakura and Masatomo was forced to call himself Horikoshi-kubo in Izu Province. After Yoshikane lost his position because of this incident, Masanori UESGI, the eldest son of Noritomo UESUGI, succeeded the position and made efforts to reconcile with Kanto-Kanrei. However, he later came to odds with Masatomo and was ordered to kill himself. Thereafter, no successor was appointed and the post of Kanto-shitsuji was abolished when Horikoshi-kubo was destroyed by Moritoki ISE (Soun HOJO).
A post of Protestantism, Christianity
In the process of the Reformation, Jean Calvin created shitsuji as a church post, and the Anglican Church also set this as a post.
At the Anglican Church, shitsuji means a clergyman who supports a priest.
At gerontocracy churches (e.g. the Reformed Church, the Presbyterian Church), shitsuji means a post assumed by ordinary believers that is responsible for accounting and welfare matters.
At congregational churches, shitsuji means ordinary believers who serve the church (God and church members).
(A pastor is included in shitsuji in a broad sense since he is deemed to be a believer, too)
An executive of the Orthodox Church of Christianity
A post of Protestantism
Shitsuji means 'diaconus' in Latin and it is called so because the post originates from the post that was created at the original church in order to bring relief to the Apostles from odd jobs, such as 'preparation of meal', so that they can concentrate on propagation (chapter six of the Acts of Apostles). Josai (deacon) of the Catholic Church and hosai (deacon) of the Orthodox Church are also deemed to be a post having the same origin as the above. Although the word 'shitsuji' is used as a Japanese translation for the title of a position in both the episcopalian Anglican Church and the Reformed Church/ the Presbyterian Church, the positions themselves are completely different. In the case of the congregational churches, all executives are called shitsuji except for some specialists.
Shitsuji of the Anglican Church is similar to the josai of the Catholic Church. This post is granted by a bishop through ordination. Shitsuji is not allowed to preside over the Eucharist. Provided, however, that shitsuji is allowed to preside bunsan （distribution of the emblems in Communion） when allowed by a bishop. Although shitsuji's clothes were used for a church service similar to those of bishops, shitsuji can be distinguished by stola which he put obliquely on his left shoulder.
Shitsuji of the Presbyterian Church is one of four posts advocated by Calvin (pastor, instructor of theology, dean and shitsuji). Shitsuji is in charge of church accounting, preparation of the Eucharist and distribution jobs such as mutual-aid and welfare. This is a post that is assumed by ordinary believers, not by the clergy. According to the theory of the Reformation, this post is not a newly created one, but was restored based on the Bible because the original one at the original church had been distorted by the Roman Catholic clergy system.
Based on the principle of universal priesthood, executive position is regarded as a role, not a post. Therefore, all people who serve the church, including those who are called superintendents or deans in other sects, are called shitsuji. At most churches, Shitsuji is appointed through the election by its members and serve his/her tenure.
A post of the Orthodox Church
At the Orthodox Church, a post called diakonosu in Greek is currently called hosai (deacon).
Believers other than the clergy who are engaged in the management of church are called 'shitsuji.'
As shitsuji of the Anglican Church corresponds to hosai of the Orthodox Church while church executives in other sects correspond to shitsuji of the Orthodox Church, caution is required when using a term 'shitsuji.'