A circuit ( or ) was a of and is a historical and modern in . The primary level of of under the and in modern and employs the same as the Chinese and Japanese divisions but, because of its relatively greater importance, is usually translated as province instead.


Circuits originated in China during the and were used as a lower-tier administrative division, comparable to the (, also translated as "districts"). They were used only in the fringes of the Empire, which were either inhabited primarily by non-Han Chinese peoples or too geographically isolated from the rest of the Han centers of power. The system fell into disuse after the collapse of the . The administrative division was revived in 627 when made it the highest level administrative division and subdivided China into ten circuits. These were originally meant to be purely geographic and not administrative. added a further five, and slowly the circuits strengthened their own power until they became powerful regional forces that tore the country apart during the . During the and dynasties, circuits (“dao”) were renamed ''lu'' (), both of which mean "road" or "path". were revived during the . Circuits were demoted to the second level after the established provinces at the very top and remained there for the next several centuries. The Yuan dynasty also had ''lu'' (sometimes translated as "route"), but it was simply the Chinese word used for the Mongolian administrative unit, the ''cölge''. The Yuan ''lu'' had little to do with the circuits (''lu'') in the Song and Jin dynasties and were closer in size to prefectures. Under the , they were overseen by a or (). The was particularly influential. During the era, circuits still existed as high-level, though not top-level, administrative divisions such as Qiongya Circuit (now province). In 1928, all circuits were replaced with committees or simply abandoned. In 1932, ''administrative circuits'' () were reintroduced and lasted until 1949. In 1949, after the founding of the , all the ''administrative circuits'' were all converted into () in 1949 and renamed () in the 1970s.


During the (538–710), Japan was organized into five provinces and seven circuits, known as the (5 ki 7 dō), as part of a legal and governmental system borrowed from the Chinese.Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "''Goki-shichidō''" in ; n.b., Louis-Frédéric is pseudonym of Louis-Frédéric Nussbaum, ''see'
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Though these units did not survive as administrative structures beyond the (1336–1573), they did remain important geographical entities until the 19th century. The seven circuits spread over the islands of , , and : * () "East Sea Circuit": 15  (''kuni'') * () "South Sea Circuit": 6 provinces * () "West Sea Circuit": 8 provinces * () "North Land Circuit": 7 provinces * () "Shaded-side Circuit": 8 provinces * () "Sunny-side Circuit": 8 provinces * () "East Mountain Circuit": 13 provinces In the mid-19th century, the northern island of was settled, and renamed . It is currently the only named with the ''dō'' (circuit) suffix.


Since the late 10th century, the (“province”) has been the primary in . See , , and for details.

See also

* *


{{Terms for types of country subdivisions History of Imperial China