Japan Village Records

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Village Records (Murakata Kiroku)[edit | edit source]

What they are[edit | edit source]

Japanese villages were responsible for several types of records that can be of significant genealogical value, especially when the religious inquisition census records (shumoncho) are unavailable. They cover the time period from 1600 to 1868.

Use these records to[edit | edit source]

These records are used to identify individuals. You can obtain generational linkage, as well as names, places, and dates for village inhabitants. Some list only males, but others list both males and females, and some include children. Personal seals affixed to documents can be very helpful for differentiating between men who had identical given names. You may also find collateral lines that you cannot find in the koseki.


Content[edit | edit source]

These include:

  • Land and property records (Denbata Kiroku or Kenchicho)
Research use: Land registers provide names, dates and places for landowners and tenants. Generational linkage is possible through transfer records.
Record type: Village land and property records including title deeds, land transfers and records of tenancy.
Content: Title deeds: names of individuals, village, date. Transfers: village, date, names and relationships of individuals in line of transmission. Tenancy: names of tenants, landowner, village, date. Tax assessments: description of property, property owners, amount of taxes.
Population coverage: 40%.
  • Tax records (who paid taxes, etc.) (Nengu or Zeisei Kiroku)
Research use: Tax records are an extensive source of names. They have particular value for identifying male villagers.
Record type: Records of individuals who paid taxes, kept on a village level.

Content: Names of individuals, village, date, amount of taxes paid.

Population coverage: 40%.
  • Population and status records (a type of census) (Jinko Iekazu Shirabe, Ninbetsu Mura Okurijo and Debito Iribito)
Research use: These records can provide help in following persons who moved from other villages. They can provide generational linkage as well as names, places, and dates.
Record type: These are various types of village records which keep track of people who moved into or moved out of the community.
Content: Name, age, father’s name, village of origin and/or destination, event dates. May include details concerning the person such as social status, livelihood, criminal activity, and so forth.
Population coverage: 15%.
  • Disaster and Relief Lists (Saigai Oyobi Kyusai Kiroku)
Research use: Because most village record types are male-centered, these lists are especially useful as they include the names of female (young and old) villagers. These records are necessary for research of collateral lines since the koseki enable only direct-line research.
Record type: Miscellaneous records generated at the village level.
Content: village, event date, and names of villagers who lost property or lives.
Population coverage: 20%.
  • Lists of people who were drafted into the military - conscription lists (Chohei Meibo)
Research use: Conscription lists are one of the best sources of data for males other than religious census records and koseki. These lists provide valuable clues to family composition.
Record type: Village records which list potential military personnel in the village.
Content: List of males between 18 and 49 years of age: occupation, name, position in family (head of household, other males in birth order), birth date, age, village.
Population coverage: 20%.
  • Financial records (Zaisei Kiroku)
Research use: Village financial records are useful for finding names of persons who do not appear in land or tax records.
Record type: Financial records generated at the village level.
Content: Loan agreements: Village, date, names of applicant, guarantor, and village headman. Grain sales agreements: Village, date, names of sellers and buyers.
Population coverage: 20%.
  • Conservation project records (Dashininsokucho)
Research use: Useful for names of persons who do not appear in land or tax records.
Record type: Village records kept in connection with various water, soil, and forest conservation projects.
Content: Village, date, and names of individuals who participated in the conservation projects.
Population coverage: 20%.
  • Medical records (Goyodome)
Research use: Medical records provide the names of female villagers and young males who did not live long enough to leave their names behind on military records, land records, or tax records.
Record type: Records of village medical patients.
Content: Name, birth date, birth order, village, father’s name and occupational class; may include death date.
Population coverage: 5%.
  • Personnel records
  • Lists of donors to shrines, and so forth (Kishinhonocho)
Research use: Donation rosters can provide the names of non-farmers, female villagers, and others who do not appear in higher priority records.
Record type: Donation rosters of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines.
Content: Names of individuals, place, and event places.
Population coverage: 15% to 25%.

How to obtain them[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has some of these records. You can also obtain them from:

  • Public, university, and private libraries
  • Prefectural and municipal archives
  • Village offices
  • Homes of descendants of village headmen throughout Japan[1]

Online[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Japan,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2001.