An Ujikofuda from Onominato Shrine [ja]

The Shrine Parishioner Registration act (氏子調, Ujiko shirabe) was a law in Japan that forcibly registered people in Shinto Shrines.[1][2]

It was implemented by the Meiji government from 1871 (Meiji 4) to 1873.[3][4] It is a religious policy that obliged citizens to become parishioners of local shrines (gosha).[1][2]

Previously the status of ujiko was limited to privileged local families, but this system extended it to everyone in the village.[2]

The official name of the law is Daijō-kan Proclamation No. 322 "Investigation of parishioners at large and small shrines" (太政官布告第三二二号「大小神社氏子取調」, Daijōkanfukoku dai san ni ni-gō `daishō jinja ujiko torishirabe').[5]


The law had seven parts. The first part said that when a baby was born, the parents had to tell the village head. Then, they had to take the baby to the local shrine to get a special Amulet (氏子札, Ujikofuda). This amulet had to stay with the baby. If someone did not have this amulet, they had to tell the village head their name, birthdate, where they were born, and their father's name. The village head would then get an amulet for them. The village head would check the amulets every six years when they did a registration exercise. If someone died, their amulet had to go back to the shrine priest.[1]

The law also required all households to hold Jingū taima and as such all households were branch shrines of Ise Jingu.[2]

This meant each household had the "divided spirit" of the Ise deities. Before, households had a simple purification talisman. Shrine registration aimed to unite the nation under the worship of Ise deities.[2] But, it wasn't successful as a census system. Shrines still made local residents their parishioners. This practice increased the support for shrines. It also expanded the idea of shrine affiliation based on where one lived.[2] Talismans continued to be placed in household altars. Before the Meiji era, only a few families were considered shrine parishioners. Now, shrines claimed anyone in their area as a parishioner. These changes in shrine membership became more evident in the twentieth century.[2]

Another set of rules was made at the same time called Regulations for Rural District Shrines. This set of rules said that each district had to have one rural district shrine responsible for overseeing registration. These rules were supposed to register all newborn babies. Some people think that these rules were also supposed to replicate the Danka system which did a similar thing with Buddhist temples. These rules only lasted for two years, but the rules for district shrines lasted until after World War II.[1] The Shrine Consolidation Policy merged shrines together for this purpose.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Inoue, Nobutaka. "Shrine Parishioner Registration (ujiko shirabe)". Kokugakuin University Encyclopedia of Shinto. Archived from the original on 12 Mar 2023. Retrieved 12 Mar 2023.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Berthon, Jean-Pierre (April 1995). "Helen Hardacre, Shinto and the State, 1868-1988, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, « Studies in Church and State », 1989, XVI-203 p." Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales. 50 (2): 28–29. doi:10.1017/s0395264900054135. ISSN 0395-2649. S2CID 165716719.
  3. ^ Thal, Sarah (February 2005). Rearranging the Landscape of the Gods: The Politics of a Pilgrimage Site in Japan, 1573-1912. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-79421-1.
  4. ^ Jaffe, Richard M. (2021-06-08). Neither Monk nor Layman: Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-23109-9.
  5. ^ Beckmann, George M. (1954). "Political Crises and the Crystallization of Japanese Constitutional Thought, 1871-1881". Pacific Historical Review. 23 (3): 259–270. doi:10.2307/3635567. ISSN 0030-8684. JSTOR 3635567.
  6. ^ "Encyclopedia of Shinto - Home : Modern and Contemporary : Jinja gōshi". 2011-05-20. Archived from the original on 2011-05-20. Retrieved 2023-04-09.