The was one iteration of several codes or governing rules compiled in early Nara period in Classical Japan. It was compiled in 718, the second year of the Yōrō regnal era by Fujiwara no Fuhito et al., but not promulgated until 757 under the regime of Fujiwara no Nakamaro under Empress Kōken. The penal code portions (''ritsu'') were largely lost, although they have been reconstructed. The content of the civil code portions (''ryō'') are preserved nearly fully, copied out in later texts.


The Yōrō Code was a revision of the Taihō Code of 701, and differences may have been limited. Still, when Nakamaro put the laws into effect in 757, it was unpopular among the nobility as it "slowed down the promotion schedule for officials."

State of preservation

While the precursor code (Taihō Code) does not survive, a substantial amount of Yōrō Code is preserved in the piece, (833), especially the civil codes. In English-language scholarly literature, some commentators merely state that the code is preserved in a fragmentary state, but other academics do note preservation is nearly complete for the civil code portion. The ''Ryō no gige'' contains the full text of the ''ryō'' (or civil/administrative code part) except for two chapters according to a Kadokawa publishing house history dictionary,out of 30 chapters, 10 fascicules the missing portions being the and the , and even this lacuna can be partly be filled from a collections of fragments of the codes. The ''ritsu'' or the penal code portion was largely lost, but a compilation of fragments from various codes, entitled the , in 8 volumes, was compiled by 1760–1821. The resulting text, including the fragments, are printed in the volume on Ritsuryō texts in the historical text series. Other sources agree, adding that for the civil code, almost all of the text that runs to Article 955 has been restored. Relying on the Tang dynasty penal code that survives, a complete reconstruction of the Yōrō penal code has also been undertaken., crediting Niida Noboru and Shiga Shūzō for the reconstruction from the T'ang.

Tang dynasty model

The ritsuryō codes were modeled after the civil and penal codes of the Tang dynasty, in particular, the code of the era passed in 651 which was then current is named by scholars as the basis of the two ritsuryō codes.

Period in force

The Code remained in effect until the early 10th century, after which it became an obsolete dead letter law code, but not formally repealed and hence valid at least "in paper" until the Meiji Restoration. During the feudal age in Japan, various ministerial offices were awarded to as formality to samurai (e.g., Ishida Mitsunari as ''jibu-no-shō''; Furuta Oribe, Ii kamon-no-kami, Sakai uta-no-kami etc.) without any responsibilities or authorities vested in the office under the code.

See also

* Ritsuryō * Taihō Code * Ōmi Code * Asuka Kiyomihara Code

Explanatory notes


Further reading

;Texts and translations * ** * ** (2010) Volume 2, ''Der Yōrō-Kodex,.. Bücher 2-10'' ** (2012) Volume 3, ''Der Yōrō-Kodex, die Verbote. Übersetzung des Yōrō-ritsu''. * (Excerpted translation, summaries, notes) ;Studies * (Book review) ;Additional reading * * * ** e-text a
Cornell digital collection

External links

* (.Lzh compressed file) by and , available at th

page, admin , Meiji University Research Institute for Japanese Ancient Studies site. {{DEFAULTSORT:Yoro Code Category:Legal history of Japan Category:718 Category:757 Category:8th century in Japan Category:Legal codes Category:8th century in law