Shoen-ryoshu (lord of a manor) (荘園領主)

"Shoen-ryoshu" was a lord that governed a Shoen (manor). The word Shoen-ryoshu was a commonly used term to indicate the honke (patron) and the ryoke (proprietor), the highest classes that governed Shoen. Although the term Shoen-ryoshu is used in historical science in contrast to the term 'zaichi-ryoshu' (resident landholder) who were owners of vast properties of land, this term was not actually used during that time period.


Although Shoen-ryoshu of the medieval period in Japan indicates the so-called 'kenmon-seike' (the great and powerful families) and is often inferential to nobles, temples and shrines, Kamakura-dono (the lord of Kamkura), as the head of samurai warrior families, was also a Shoen-ryoshu who owned vast manors.

As kishinchikei-shoen (donated manors) and shiki (the right of Shoen clerks in a Shoen) were established in the 11th century, within kuge-ryo (territory owned by court nobles), the high-ranked nobles of the Imperial Family and Sekkan-ke (the line of regents and advisers) received land donated by zaichi-ryoshu (resident landholders), concentrated their honke-shiki and ryoke-shiki (economical right as patron and proprietor), and collected nengu and kuji (land tax and public duties) from the land by setting and making use of a domestic governing system such as Keishi (household superindendent) and Mandokoro (an office set up in the houses of powerful aristocrats in the Heian Period for the administration of their vast property estates). However, their authority to collect taxes depended largely on their own political power, so when the power of the Kuge (court noble) Government decreased and samurai families made advances into ryoke-shiki (proprietorships), their influence weakened and with the exception of a few cases of maintaining all of their rights, the nobles were unable to control their land and stop it from falling into fuchigyo (losing land property). In the case of temples and shrines, on the other hand, the Organization of Shomu (management and control of agriculture, taxes, etc in Shoen) had been established at a relatively early period, and a system was taken that allowed temples and shrines of honke or ryoke to manage their property directly. As a result, there were many cases of Shoen that were the property of big temples and shrines which were able to endure even into the latter half of the medieval period.

Meanwhile, after the period of Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), along with the encroachment of the samurai into the rights of Shoen, there were a number of cases of nobles, temples and shrines conversely making inroads toward becoming jito-shiki (stewardship rights) which was lower in position than honke and ryoke, thus, in this case as well, it indicates that the concept of Shoen-ryoshu was collapsing.