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guest prefect (shika 知客)

Literally, "in charge of" (chi, shi 知) "guests" (ka 客). An officer in a monastic bureaucracy; one of the six prefects (roku chōshu 六頭首). In Song dynasty Chinese and medieval Japanese Zen monasteries, the position of guest prefect was subordinate to that of rector (ino 維那). The guest prefect handled all visitors to a monastery, including itinerant monks who might or might not want to register for a retreat, lay patrons who came to attend services or sponsor special offerings and feasts, lay pilgrims who sought temporary lodging, and government officials. In contemporary Soto Zen, only training monasteries (Eiheiji and Sōjiji foremost among them) have a functioning office of guest prefect held by a senior monk who actually deals with lay and monk visitors. The position of guest prefect survives, for the most part, only as a honorific title and seating position in various ritual observances, which some senior monk holds for the duration of the ceremony. →"six prefects."