Kōan Etiquette


Kōan reisetsu (Kōan etiquette) is a book that prescribed etiquette at the Imperial Court in Japan. It was compiled on the orders of the retired Emperor Kameyama in 1285. Also known under the titles Kōan Reihō (Kōan manners) and Kōan Seifu (Kōan rule book), it includes, for example, the etiquette for greeting someone met on the road or Rotōrei (decorum on the road) and the conventions for writing letters or Shosatsurei (letter-writing rules and etiquette). The Shosatsurei prescribes in detail the terms and format to be used in addressing someone in a letter and for concluding a letter, depending on the official rank and status of the writer and the recipient. Previously this type of etiquette was prescribed for relations between families; the Kōan Etiquette was the first book to officially prescribe etiquette according to rank. It went on to have a major influence long after its compilation. Because the document presented here is written on the back of a guchūreki calendar (an annotated calendar in which the seasons and lucky and unlucky days are written in Chinese) that was used between intercalary July 27 and December 26 of the fourth year of the Kōan period (1281), it is thought to be a copy written in the later stages of the Kamakura period, just after the establishment of Kōan etiquette. Different versions of the work have different contents and different orders in which the contents are presented. This is a particularly valuable copy of the Kōan Etiquette, as it is the oldest surviving copy that shows the content and format of the work at the time of its establishment.

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1 scroll ; 32.4 centimeters


  1. “Material Recently Designated as a National Important Cultural Property—Kōan reisetsu,” National Diet Library Newsletter, number 197 (December 2014). www.ndl.go.jp/en/publication/ndl_newsletter/197/971.html.

Last updated: May 31, 2016