Jitō (地頭) were medieval land stewards in Japan, especially in the Kamakura and Muromachi shogunates. Appointed by the shōgun, jitō managed manors including national holdings governed by the provincial governor (kokushi).

The term jitō (literally meaning "land head") began to be used in the late Heian period as an adjectival word like "local". For example, a jitō person (地頭人) meant an influential local. Later, the term was sometimes used for persons who managed each local manor. Modern historians cannot clarify the character of the early jitō appointed by Yoritomo, as the conditions of these precursors are not well known.

Jitō were officially established when Minamoto no Yoritomo was appointed to the office of Head of jitō by the Imperial court with the right to their appointment. Yoritomo appointed many jitō nationwide, however mainly in Kantō. During the Kamakura period, the jitō were chosen amongst the gokenin (the shogun's vassals) who handled military affairs. Jitō handled the taxation and administration of the manor to which they were appointed, and directly administrated the lands and the farmers of the manor.

After the Jōkyū War, the shogunate appointed many jitō in Western Japan to the land that the people of the losing side had possessed. At that time, many prominent gokenin, including the Mori clan (1221) and the Ōtomo clan, moved from the east to the west.

The jitō system was officially abolished in the late of 16th century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

703 in Japan

Events from the year 703 in Japan.

Daijō Tennō

Daijō Tennō or Dajō Tennō (太上天皇) is a title for an Emperor of Japan who abdicates the Chrysanthemum Throne in favour of a successor.As defined in the Taihō Code, although retired, a Daijō Tennō could still exert power. The first such example is the Empress Jitō in the 7th century. A retired emperor sometimes entered the Buddhist monastic community, becoming a cloistered emperor. This practice was rather common during the Heian period.

The title Jōkō (上皇) is a shortened form of Daijō Tennō, sometimes used in the past, and currently held by Akihito, who abdicated on 30 April 2019. The official translation of Akihito's title, as designated by the Imperial Household Agency, is "Emperor Emeritus".

Emperor Monmu

Emperor Monmu (文武天皇, Monmu-tennō, 683–707) was the 42nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Monmu's reign spanned the years from 697 through 707.

Emperor Sushun

Emperor Sushun (崇峻天皇, Sushun-tennō, died 592) was the 32nd Emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Sushun's reign spanned the years from 587 through 592.

Emperor Tenmu

Emperor Tenmu (天武天皇, Tenmu tennō, c. 631 – October 1, 686) was the 40th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Tenmu's reign lasted from 673 until his death in 686.

Empress Genmei

Empress Genmei (元明天皇, Genmei-tennō, 660 – December 29, 721), also known as Empress Genmyō, was the 43rd monarch of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Genmei's reign spanned the years 707 through 715 CE.In the history of Japan, Genmei was the fourth of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The three female monarchs before Genmei were Suiko, Kōgyoku/Saimei, and Jitō. The four women sovereigns reigning after Genmei were Genshō, Kōken/Shōtoku, Meishō, and Go-Sakuramachi.

Empress Genshō

Empress Genshō (元正天皇, Genshō-tennō, 683 – May 22, 748) was the 44th monarch of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. She was the only empress regnant in Japan's history to have inherited her title from another empress regnant rather than from a male predecessor.

Genshō's reign spanned the years 715 through 724.In the history of Japan, Genshō was the fifth of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The four female monarchs before Genshō were: Suiko, Kōgyoku, Jitō and Genmei. The three women sovereigns reigning after Genshō were Kōken, Meishō, and Go-Sakuramachi.

Empress Jitō

Empress Jitō (持統天皇, Jitō-tennō, 645 – 13 January 703) was the 41st monarch of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Jitō's reign spanned the years from 686 through 697.In the history of Japan, Jitō was the third of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The two female monarchs before Jitō were Suiko and Kōgyoku/Saimei. The five women sovereigns reigning after Jitō were Genmei, Genshō, Kōken/Shōtoku, Meishō, and Go-Sakuramachi.

Empress Kōgyoku

Empress Kōgyoku (皇極天皇, Kōgyoku-tennō, 594–661), also known as Empress Saimei (斉明天皇, Saimei-tennō), was the 35th and 37th monarch of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Kōgyoku's reign spanned the years from 642 to 645. Her reign as Saimei encompassed 655 to 661. In other words,

642: She ascended the throne as Kōgyoku-tennō, and she stepped down in response to the assassination of Soga no Iruka (see: Isshi Incident).

645: She abdicated in favor of her brother, who would become known as Emperor Kōtoku.

654: Kōtoku died and the throne was vacant.

655: She re-ascended, beginning a new reign as Saimei-tennō.

661: Saimei ruled until her death caused the throne to be vacant again.The two reigns of this one woman spanned the years from 642 through 661.In the history of Japan, Kōgyoku/Saimei was the second of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The sole female monarch before Kōgyoku/Saimei was Suiko-tennō. The six women sovereigns reigning after Kōgyoku/Saimei were Jitō, Genmei, Genshō, Kōken/Shōtoku, Meishō, and Go-Sakuramachi.

Empress Kōken

Empress Kōken (孝謙天皇, Kōken-tennō, 713 – August 28, 770), also known as Empress Shōtoku (称徳天皇, Shōtoku-tennō), was the 46th (with Empress Kōken name) and the 48th monarch of Japan (with Empress Shōtoku name), according to the traditional order of succession.Empress Kōken first reigned from 749 to 758, then, following the Fujiwara no Nakamaro Rebellion, she reascended the throne as Empress Shōtoku from 765 until her death in 770. Empress Kōken was involved in an affair with priest Dōkyō and appointed him Grand Minister in 764. In 766, he was promoted to Hōō (priestly emperor) and in 770 had tried to ascend the throne by himself. The death of the Empress and resistance from the aristocracy destroyed his plans. This incident was a reason for the later move of the Japanese capital from Nara (Heijō).

In the history of Japan, Kōken/Shōtoku was the sixth of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The five female monarchs before Kōken/Shōtoku were Suiko, Kōgyoku/Saimei, Jitō, Genmei, and Genshō; and the two women sovereigns reigning after Kōken/Shōtoku were Meishō, and Go-Sakuramachi.

Empress Meishō

Empress Meishō (明正天皇, Meishō-tennō, January 9, 1624 – December 4, 1696) was the 109th Imperial ruler of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. Her reign lasted from 1629 to 1643.In the history of Japan, Meishō was the seventh of eight women to become empress regnant. The six who reigned before her were Suiko, Kōgyoku/Saimei, Jitō, Genmei, Genshō, and Kōken/Shōtoku. Her sole female successor was Go-Sakuramachi.

Empress Suiko

Empress Suiko (推古天皇, Suiko-tennō) (554 – 15 April 628) was the 33rd monarch of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.Suiko reigned from 593 until her death in 628.In the history of Japan, Suiko was the first of eight women to take on the role of empress regnant. The seven women sovereigns reigning after Suiko were Kōgyoku/Saimei, Jitō, Genmei, Genshō, Kōken/Shōtoku, Meishō and Go-Sakuramachi.


Fujiwara-kyō (藤原京) was the Imperial capital of Japan for sixteen years, between 694 and 710. It was located in Yamato Province (present-day Kashihara in Nara Prefecture), having been moved from nearby Asuka. However, the name Fujiwara-kyō was never used in the Nihon Shoki. During those times it was recorded as Aramashi-kyō (新益京).

As of 2006, ongoing excavations have revealed construction on the site of Fujiwara-kyō as early as 682, near the end of the reign of Emperor Tenmu. With a brief halt upon Emperor Tenmu's death, construction resumed under Empress Jitō, who officially moved the capital in 694. Fujiwara-kyō remained the capital for the reigns of Emperor Monmu and Empress Genmei, but in 710 the Imperial court moved to the Heijō Palace in Nara, beginning the Nara period.


A gokenin (御家人) was initially a vassal of the shogunate of the Kamakura and the Muromachi periods. In exchange for protection and the right to become shugo (governor) or jitō (manor's lord), in times of peace a gokenin had the duty to protect the imperial court and Kamakura, in case of war had to fight with his forces under the shōgun’s flag. From the middle of the thirteenth century, the fact that gokenin were allowed to become de facto owners of the land they administered, coupled to the custom that all gokenin children could inherit, brought to the parcelization of the land and to a consequent weakening of the shogunate. The gokenin class ceased to be a significant force during the Muromachi period and was supplanted by the figure of the daimyō. During the successive Edo period, the term finally came to indicate a direct vassal of the shōgun below an omemie (御目見), meaning that they did not have the right to an audience with the shōgun.

Jitō period

The Jitō period is a chronological timeframe during the Asuka period of Japanese history. The Jitō period describes a span of years which were considered to have begun in the 1347th year of the Yamato dynasty.This periodization is congruent with the reign of Empress Jitō, which is traditionally considered to have been from 686 through 697.

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro (柿本 人麻呂 or 柿本 人麿; c. 653–655 – c. 707–710) was a Japanese waka poet and aristocrat of the late Asuka period. He was the most prominent of the poets included in the Man'yōshū, the oldest waka anthology, but apart from what can be gleaned from hints in the Man'yōshū, the details of his life are largely uncertain. He was born to the Kakinomoto clan, based in Yamato Province, probably in the 650s, and likely died in Iwami Province around 709.

He served as court poet to Empress Jitō, creating many works praising the imperial family, and is best remembered for his elegies for various imperial princes. He also composed well-regarded travel poems.

He is ranked as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals. Ōtomo no Yakamochi, the presumed compiler of the Man'yōshū, and Ki no Tsurayuki, the principal compiler of the Kokin Wakashū, praised Hitomaro as Sanshi no Mon (山柿の門) and Uta no Hijiri (歌の聖) respectively. From the Heian period on, he was often called Hito-maru (人丸). He has come to be revered as a god of poetry and scholarship, and is considered one of the four greatest poets in Japanese history, along with Fujiwara no Teika, Sōgi and Bashō.

Nihon Shoki

The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀), sometimes translated as The Chronicles of Japan, is the second-oldest book of classical Japanese history. The book is also called the Nihongi (日本紀, "Japanese Chronicles"). It is more elaborate and detailed than the Kojiki, the oldest, and has proven to be an important tool for historians and archaeologists as it includes the most complete extant historical record of ancient Japan. The Nihon Shoki was finished in 720 under the editorial supervision of Prince Toneri and with the assistance of Ō no Yasumaro dedicated to Empress Genshō.The Nihon Shoki begins with the Japanese creation myth, explaining the origin of the world and the first seven generations of divine beings (starting with Kuninotokotachi), and goes on with a number of myths as does the Kojiki, but continues its account through to events of the 8th century. It is believed to record accurately the latter reigns of Emperor Tenji, Emperor Tenmu and Empress Jitō. The Nihon Shoki focuses on the merits of the virtuous rulers as well as the errors of the bad rulers. It describes episodes from mythological eras and diplomatic contacts with other countries. The Nihon Shoki was written in classical Chinese, as was common for official documents at that time. The Kojiki, on the other hand, is written in a combination of Chinese and phonetic transcription of Japanese (primarily for names and songs). The Nihon Shoki also contains numerous transliteration notes telling the reader how words were pronounced in Japanese. Collectively, the stories in this book and the Kojiki are referred to as the Kiki stories.The tale of Urashima Tarō is developed from the brief mention in Nihon Shoki (Emperor Yūryaku Year 22) that a certain child of Urashima visited Horaisan and saw wonders. The later tale has plainly incorporated elements from the famous anecdote of "Luck of the Sea and Luck of the Mountains" (Hoderi and Hoori) found in Nihon Shoki. The later developed Urashima tale contains the Rip Van Winkle motif, so some may consider it an early example of fictional time travel.

Prince Kusakabe

Prince Kusakabe (草壁皇子, Kusakabe no miko) (662 – May 10, 689) was a Japanese imperial crown prince from 681 until his death. He was the second son of Emperor Tenmu. His mother was the empress Unonosarara, today known as Empress Jitō.

He was the sole child of his mother. According to Nihon Shoki, in 681 he was appointed the crown prince. In the summer of 686 his father, Emperor Temmu, fell ill and gave the imperial authority to his wife Empress Jitō and the crown prince Kusakabe. After the death of his father, he surprisingly did not ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne. He led the funeral ceremony and the construction of Emperor Temmu's tomb but before the coronation, died in 689 at the age of 28. He was posthumously titled Emperor Okanomiyagyou (岡宮御宇天皇, Okanomiyagyou Tennō).

The location of his tomb is uncertain. Some suppose it to be in Takatori, Nara.

He married his paternal cousin and maternal aunt, Princess Abe, the daughter of Emperor Tenji. They had at least three children, Prince Karu, Princess Hidaka and Princess Kibi. After his death, his mother Empress Jitō ascended to the throne. Later, Karu and Hidaka reigned as Emperor Monmu and Empress Genshō. Asakura clan claimed to be from his lineage.


Shuchō (朱鳥), alternatively read as Suchō or Akamitori, was a Japanese era name (年号, nengō, "year name") after a gap following Hakuchi (650–654) and before another gap lasting until Taihō (701–704). This Shuchō period briefly spanned a period of mere months, June through September 686. The reigning sovereigns were Tenmu-tennō (天武天皇) and Jitō-tennō (持統天皇).


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