Ministry of the Imperial Household

This article is about the Imperial Household of Japan before 1947. For after 1947, see Imperial Household Agency. For Qing Dynasty organization, see Imperial Household Department. For the generalized concept, see Imperial Household.
Pre-modern Japan
Part of a series on the politics and
government of Japan during the
Nara and Heian periods

Chancellor / Chief Minister
Minister of the Left Sadaijin
Minister of the Right Udaijin
Minister of the Center Naidaijin
Major Counselor Dainagon
Middle Counselor Chūnagon
Minor Counselor Shōnagon
Eight Ministries
Center Nakatsukasa-shō  
Ceremonial Shikibu-shō
Civil Administration Jibu-shō
Popular Affairs Minbu-shō
Military Hyōbu-shō
Justice Gyōbu-shō
Treasury Ōkura-shō
Imperial Household Kunai-shō

The Ministry of the Imperial Household (宮内省 Kunai-shō) was a division of the eighth century Japanese government of the Imperial Court in Kyoto,[1] instituted in the Asuka period and formalized during the Heian period. The Ministry was reorganized in the Meiji period and existed until 1947, before being replaced by the Imperial Household Agency.


The needs of the Imperial Household has changed over time. The ambit of the Ministry's activities encompassed, for example:


When this government agency was initially established in 645, it functioned as a tax collector on Imperial land.[3] The organization and functions of the Imperial Household were refined and regulated in the Taiho Code, which was promulgated in 701-702 during the reign of Emperor Monmu. The fundamental elements of this system evolved over the course of centuries, but the basic structures remained in place until the Meiji Restoration.[4]

This Ministry came to be responsible for everything to do with supporting the Emperor and the Imperial Family.[3] Significant modifications were introduced in 1702, 1870, and 1889.[5] It was reorganized into the Imperial Household Office (宮内府 Kunai fu) in 1947, with its staff size was downscaled from 6,200 to less than 1,500, and the Office was placed under the Prime Minister of Japan. In 1949, the Imperial Household Office became the Imperial Household Agency (the current name), and placed under the fold of the newly created Prime Minister's Office (総理府 Sōrifu), as an external agency attached to it.

In 2001, the Imperial Household Agency was organizationally re-positioned under the Cabinet Office (内閣府 Naikakufu).


The court developed a supporting bureaucracy which was exclusively focused on serving the needs of the Imperial Household .[6] Among the ritsuryō officials within this ministry structure were:

This is a dynamic list and may never be able to satisfy particular standards for completeness. You can help by expanding it with reliably sourced entries.

The deliberate redundancies at the top are features of each position in this remarkably stable hierarchic schema. Many positions would mirror the -kyō, -taifu, -shō, -jō, and -sakan pattern.[13]

See also


  1. Kawakami, Karl Kiyoshi. (1903). The Political Ideas of the Modern Japan, pp. 36-38., p. 36, at Google Books
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Kawakami, p. 38 n3,, p. 38, at Google Books citing Ito Hirobumi, Commentaries on the Japanese Constitution, p. 87 (1889).
  3. 1 2 Nussbaum, Louis Frédéric et al. (2005). "Kunaishō" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 574., p. 574, at Google Books
  4. Imperial Household Agency: History
  5. "Ministry of the Imperial Household", Catholic Encyclopedia.
  6. Ministry of Emperor's Household, Sheffield.
  7. Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 272.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du japon, p. 433., p. 433, at Google Books
  9. Samurai Archives: "Ritsuryō Government Positions."
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Titsingh, p. 434., p. 434, at Google Books
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Titsingh, p. 435., p. 435, at Google Books
  12. Titsingh, p. 435: n.b., this courtier doesn't actually serve the emperor directly; rather, he is only the overseer of those who are actual cupbearers (buzen).
  13. Titsingh, pp. 425-435., p. 425, at Google Books


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