Pirates in Feudal Japan
Wok'u or Japanese pirates were pirates who raided the coastlines of China and Korea from the thirteenth century onwards. Originally, the Wokou were mainly soldiers, ronin, merchants and smugglers from Japan, but became predominantly from China two centuries later.
The early phase of Wok'u activity began in the 13th century and extended to the second half of the fourteenth century. Japanese pirates from only Japan concentrated on the Korean peninsula and spread across the Yellow Sea to China. Ming China implemented a policy to forbid civil trade with Japan while maintaining governmental trade (Haijin). The Ming court believed that limiting non-government trade would in turn expel the Wok'u. But haijin wasn't successful as it instead forced many Chinese merchants to protect their own interests by trading with Japan illegally. This led to the second major phase of Wok'u activity which occurred in the early to mid-sixteenth century, where Japanese pirates colluded with their Chinese counterparts and expanded their forces. During this period the composition and leadership of the Wok'u changed significantly to become Chinese. At their height in the 1550s, the Wok'u operated throughout the seas of East Asia, even sailing up large river systems such as the Yangtze.
According to the Annals of Joseon Dynasty in 1395,wokou were commanded by a number of small and medium-sized feudal lords of the coastal areas of Japan and consisted of petty farmers and fishermen. Wokou were said to number around 20-400 ships. The lack of political stability in Japan at the time was one of the primary causes of the appearance of wokou.
There were fake wokou as well, who disguised themselves as Japanese. According to the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty,Sejong Sillok (Hangul,Hanja), "in the late period of the Goryeo Dynasty (12th-13th centuries), some Korean bandits disguise themselves as Wo (Japanese). So real wokou are only one or two out of ten at that time; the rest are [Korean] nationals, who dressed as the Wo and cause trouble in gangs." Similarly, the Stories of Japan in the History of Ming states, in relation to one particularly extensive raid, "real Japanese comprise about three in every ten, the rest of seven are the followers".
The first raid by Wokou on record occurred in the summer of 1223, on the south coast of Goryeo. The history book ''Goryeosa'' states that "Japanese (pirates) attacked Gumju". Two more minor attacks are recorded for 1226, and continued intermittently for the next four decades. Most of the Wokou originated from Tsushima Province|Tsushima and Hizen Province|Hizen. Under diplomatic pressure from the Goryeo government, the Kamakura shogunate made an effort to keep seafaring military groups under control. In 1227 Muto Sukeyori, the shogunate's commissioner in Kyushu, had ninety suspected brigands decapitated in front of a Goryeo envoy. In 1263, after Tsushima Wokou raided Ungjin, Japanese negotiators reconfirmed the policies of limiting trade and prohibiting piracy.
The period around the Mongol invasions of Japan was a low point for Wokou activity. This was partly due to the higher degree of military preparedness in Goryeo. They fortified Gumju in 1251 and in 1265. The Kamakura shogunate, for its part, increased its authority in Kyushu and was better able to mobilize and control former Wokou groups against the threat of Mongol invasion.
As the Kamakura shogunate and Goryeo state both declined following the Mongol invasions, the Wokou again became active. In 1323, for example, a largescale raid took place in Jeolla province. Raids such as this developed into fullscale pirate attacks by the end of the fourteenth century.
The Wokou resumed their activities in earnest in 1350, driven by chaotic conditions and the lack of a strong authority in Japan. For the next halfcentury, sailing principally from Iki Province|Iki and Tsushima Province|Tsushima, they engulfed the southern half of Goryeo. The worst period was the decade between 1376 and 1385, when no fewer than 174 instances of pirate raids were recorded in Korea. Some involved bands of as many as three thousand penetrating deep into the Korean interior. The raiders repeatedly looted the Korean capital Gaeseong, and on occasion reached as far north as the mouth of the Taedong River and the general area of Pyongyang. They looted grain stores and took people away for slavery and ransom. The conditions caused by the Wokou greatly contributed to the downfall of the Goryeo Dynasty in 1392. General Yi Seonggye, founder of the Joseon Dynasty, rose to prominence due to his successes against the Wokou.
Goryeo's King U of Goryeo|King U sought redress in 1375 from the Muromachi shogunate and the cooperation of the shogunal deputy (''tandai'' ) in Kyushu, Imagawa Ryoshun. In 1377 the great statesman Jeong Mongju was received warmly by Ryoshun. Several hundred prisoners captured by Wokou were returned to Goryeo. Nevertheless Kyushu was under the sway of the Southern Court, and neither the shogunate nor its deputy could suppress the pirates as requested despite promises to the contrary. In 1381, for instance, the Muromachi shogunate issued an order prohibiting the ''akuto'' (loosely translated as "outlaws," literally "bad gangs" or "evil politicalparties/factions") of the provinces from crossing over to Goryeo and "committing outrages". In 1389 and in 1419, the Koreans attacked the pirate bases on Tsushima themselves and received ineffective assurances from the governor of Tsushima that the pirate raids would be stopped.
The Wokou bands were also active in China, where the earliest record of Japanese pirates is from 1302. In addition, the economic embargo forced upon Japan by Qing and later Ming Dynasty|Ming made pirate trade the only and a lucrative way to secure Chinese goods, as trade through the Ryukyu Kingdom was halted by China, and eventually in 1609 Satsuma domain|Satsuma seized the kingdom. In 1358, and again in 1363, the raids continued along the entire eastern seaboard, but particularly on the coast of what is now Shandong. Toward the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the Wokou threat began to intensify. The first Wokou raid in the Ming Dynasty occurred in 1369, in Zhejiang province.
In response, the Hongwu Emperor sent his commanders to construct a number of forts along the coast and dispatched two envoys to Prince Kanenaga, the Emperor Go-Daigo|Southern Court's "General of the Western Pacification Command" in Kyushu. The first, in 1369, threatened an invasion of Japan unless the Wokou raids were stopped. Unimpressed, Prince Kaneyoshi had the Ming envoy killed and refused the demands. However, when the second envoy arrived in 1370, he submitted to the Ming as a "subject". He sent an embassy the next year, returning more than seventy men and women who had been captured at Mingzhou (Ningbo) and Taizhou.
Ming Dynasty tribute system
In 1392, Yi Seonggye (who had become famous for defeating these pirates) founded the Joseon Dynasty, supplanting the Goryeo regime on the Korean peninsula. In the same year, the conflict between the Southern and Northern courts in Japan was finally resolved under the auspices of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu.
Fang Guozhen and Zhang Shicheng, who held sway in Jiangsu and Zhejiang areas, established bases on the coastal islands. They linked up with the Wokou. There may also have been some Wokou involvement in the rebellion of Hu Weiyong and Liu Xian.
For the Ming, the Wokou were not simply a foreign concern. The Ming reinforced the policy of forbidding Chinese to go overseas and controlled trade with Japan through the tribute system, both policies aimed at monopolising trade and protecting against piracy.
Though diplomatic initiatives brought by China and Korea were successful in gaining the cooperation of the Ashikaga Shogunate at its height, it did not put down the Wokou.
They went on raiding China in force until at least 1419. In that year, a large pirate fleet of more than thirty sail assembled in Tsushima and headed north along Korea's Yellow Sea coast. Kept under observation, it was finally ambushed and smashed off Wanghaiguo in Liaodong by a provincial military commander, who was said to have taken between 700 and 1500 heads. After that, the Wokou steered clear of Liaodong, though they hit other areas of China sporadically.
Oei Invasion of Tsushima by Korean Joseon Dynasty
In Korea, the Wokou were stemmed by action from regional notables of western Japan, whom the Koreans influenced with concessions. From the end of the Goryeo Dynasty to the beginning of the Joseon Dynasty, the coastal regions of Korea were often the subject of Wokou raids. The founder of the Joseon Dynasty, Yi Seonggye, or Taejo of Joseon|King Taejo, made his fame by repelling Wokou. The Joseon Dynasty ordered a strengthening of Korean naval defenses, a strategic response to the constant threat posed by the pirates.
Joseon also asked the Ashikaga Shogunate and its deputy on Kyushu to suppress the activity of the pirates, favoring legitimate traders. In exchange for certain privileges, it gave authority to So Sadashige over ships sailing from Japan to Korea (So clan was the de facto ruler of Tsushima Province). After his death, the power was seized from Sadashige's infant son So Sadamori|Sadamori (Tsutsukumaru) by Soda Saemontaro, a powerful pirate leader. Suffering from famine, pirates on Tsushima invaded Ming Dynasty|Ming China in 1419. On the way to China, they raided Korea's Chungcheong and Hwanghae provinces after their requests for food were dismissed.
After receiving reports of these incidents, the Korean court proposed an invasion of Tsushima. On June 9, 1419, Taejong of Joseon|King Taejong declared a war against Tsushima, citing that it belong to Joseon (Oei Invasion), though it resulted in failure to capture the Tsushima Island. However, the So clan controlled and stopped any coastal pirate raid in exchange with limited trading privileges and access to three coastal Korean ports after the negotiation between Joseon.
Later Wokou raids
The 1550s and 1560s saw a resurgence of the Wokou tide. The period of greatest Wokou activity was during the Jiajing and Wanli eras, also some of the weakest in Ming history. To illustrate, in the period 1369 to 1466, the wokou raided Zhejiang 34 times, on average once every three years. By comparison, in the period 1523 to 1588, they made 66 raids, on average once a year.
In contrast with previous Wokou, however, the pirate bands of the middle sixteenth century no longer consisted preponderantly of Japanese. Although Wokou remained the common label by which they were identified, most of these bandits were in fact, if not in name, Chinese.
The term often used for Japanese pirates was ''bahan'' (Portuguese transcription: ''bafan''). The term is written as ''bafan'' (Hachiman) or ''pofan'' ("tattered sails"). According to the ''Zhouhai Tubian'', Satsuma Province|Satsuma, Higo, and Nagato province|Nagato were the Japanese provinces that were the most prolific breeding grounds of the pirates; next came Osumi|Osumi, Chikuzen, Chikugo Province|Chikugo, Hakata, Hyuga Province|Hyuga, Settsu, Harima, and the island of Tanegashima. Natives of Buzen, Bungo and Izumi Province|Izumi also took part in raids on occasion, often when the opportunity of joining a Satsuma expedition to China presented itself.
An inequitable taxation and property system, combined with endemic corruption, forced many Chinese farmers in Fujian, Guangdong and Zhejiang to seek livelihoods in the sea. The Ming ban on ocean-going, selectively enforced by local authorities, made these people dissidents. Sometimes pirates and sometimes merchants, they used their local knowledge to make successful raiding expeditions. In 1533 the Ming government Ministry of War complained that armed fleets were pillaging at will along the coast. They often also engaged in illegal smuggling operations and raided rival merchant marine. During the 1540s the disparate groups of Chinese pirates and traders became more organized. They gathered on islands off the eastern coastline and colluded with the Japanese.
In this way, the acts of piracy and overseas trade were interconnected. In 1523, for example, the Hosokawa trading party in Ningbo attacked its rival mission from the Ouchi family and then proceeded to loot the city. It seized a number of ships, and set sail. The Ming commander sent in pursuit was killed in a sea battle.
Proposals to appoint a governor with jurisdiction over coastal defense first appeared in 1524 after the Ningbo affray. Supporters argued that the Japanese were as much a threat as the Mongols and that administrative arrangements in effect on the northern borders should therefore be applied to the coast as well. In 1529, after a garrison on the coast had rioted and fled to join pirate bands, a censor was sent to inspect coastal defenses, to coordinate the suppression of piracy, and to punish the leaders of the riot. In 1531 this official was transferred and not replaced.
From 1539, the tribute trade system broke down altogether. The size of Japanese fleets sailing from Japan to trade with private Chinese merchants grew each year and so did the violence associated with it. The typical wokou attack at this time was for the sea-based raiders to make swift attacks from their island strongholds and then retreat to their ships. In many cases violent altercations were the result of conflict over payment of debts by wealthy families to their trading creditors. One of the Xie family's estates in Shaoxing was looted and burned in the summer of 1547 for this reason.
In November 1547 Zhu Wan, was put in charge of Zhejiang and Fujian coastal defense, to eradicate the cause of piracy overseas trade. In February 1548 a large body of pirates raided the coastal counties of Ningbo and Taizhou, killing, burning, and looting without encountering any effective resistance. Zhu arrived in Ningbo in April and shortly thereafter, he led an attack on wokou harbor at Shuangyu Island. In March 1549 he attacked a large merchant fleet anchored off the coast of southern Fujian. Despite Zhu's successes, he was dismissed from office and during impeachment proceedings, he committed suicide in January 1550. His coastal defense fleet was dispersed.
By the 1550s the Chinese merchant Wang Zhi had organized a large trading consortium and commanded a well-armed fleet with sailors and soldiers to protect it. Between 1539 and 1552 he cooperated with local military intendants on several occasions, expecting relaxation of the ban on overseas trade. When the ban was instead tightened in 1551, Wang began organizing large attacks on official establishments, granaries, county and district treasuries, and incidentally on the surrounding countryside, which was thoroughly pillaged. Brigandage along the coast of Zhejiang became so widespread and common that towns and villages had to erect palisades for security.
In the spring of 1552 raiding parties of several hundred people attacked all along the coast of Zhejiang. In the summer of 1553 Wang Zhi assembled a large fleet of hundreds of ships to raid the coast of Zhejiang from Taizhou north. Several garrisons were briefly taken, and several district seats were besieged. Early in 1554 fortified bases were established along the coast of Zhejiang from which larger raiding parties set out on long inland campaigns. By 1555 they were approaching the great cities of the Yangzi Delta, Hangzhou, Suzhou, and Nanjing. Wokou raiders had established fortified bases in various towns and forts on the coast of Zhejiang and garrisoned them with a combined force of 20,000 men.
The two Chinese commanders most famous in resisting the Wokou were Qi Jiguang and Yu Dayou. Both men were from coastal provinces and had good knowledge of naval warfare. Qi organized a force of some 4000, known as the "Qi Family Army", made up mostly of farmers and miners. He won a succession of victories in 1555 in defending Taizhou. Yu Dayou's first significant victory was in 1553, when his marines stormed the island of Putuoshan and expelled the Wokou camp there. Two years later, he killed some two thousand Wokou north of Jiaxing, winning the greatest victory in the Wokou wars.
When Toyotomi Hideyoshi's assumed Regency of Japan in the 1580s, the Ming and the Regent worked together to stop the raids, and were very successful. However, once Hideyoshi ended the bloodline of his last enemy, the Late Hojo clan|Hojo clan in Japan, he demanded from Joseon Dynasty in Korea the right of passage to invade China. Korea refused, and Hideyoshi invaded Korea and Manchuria, the subsequent series of battles being known as the Japanese invasions of Korea (15921598). The term "wokou" was used by both Chinese and Korean troops in reference to the invasion force of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Although initially successful in the land invasion, Japan was to suffer great losses at the hand of Admiral Yi Sunsin of Jeolla (Korean province) forcing Hideyoshi's invading army to retreat.
Decline of the Wokou
The presence of the Wokou eventually declined before disappearing completely. There are several theories about the cause of the decline.
As a general rule, most of the Wokou began returning to more traditional seafaring activities as enforcement of the bans on maritime trade subsided. There is anecdotal evidence that the Portuguese were given permission to settle Macao in the 1550s in exchange for cooperation with the Ming authorities against the Wokou. There are two accounts of anti-piracy activity by the Portuguese. The first dates from the 1520s and is recounted in a letter to Zhu Wan, one of the leaders of the anti-piracy campaigns. The second account is better documented and discusses a 1564 joint Chinese-Portuguese action in the Pearl River Delta.
Additionally, the acceptance of the Portuguese resulted in the relaxing of anti-trade restrictions, particularly in the region surrounding Canton. The mere presence of the better armed Portuguese ships may have served to decrease pirate activity. Additionally, the accommodation with the Portuguese also contributed to the demise of the tribute-trade system, which would have increased opportunities for legitimate Chinese traders as well. More likely, however, is that the Portuguese were able to sell tropical goods from Indonesia and India at a better price than the Wokou, many of whom were smugglers before pirates. The cost of illegal activity made the Wokou unable to compete with the Portuguese and drove the Wokou back into legitimate seafaring activities.
Toyotomi Hideyoshi also served as a great detriment to Wokou activities. Two regulations in particular damaged the Wokou raids, the first of which is the sword hunt put in motion in 1588. The Sword Hunt was a major confiscation of all weaponry in the storage of peasants and turned over to the daimyo. This took away the possibility of making war by people suspect of Hideyoshi. Obscure daimyo whose loyalty was in question or religious establishments that possessed the capabilities to arm a rebellion were all purged in an operation that have parallels with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. In effect, this took away the means by which Wakou could arm and supply themselves. The other, lesser known, ordinance was a move aimed directly at the Wokou. Representatives of the daimyo sought to obtain written oaths that no seafarer partake in piracy. If any daimyo should fail to obey with this order and allow Wokou to continue their craft, his Han (Japan)|fief would be confiscated.
Korea's peace and official trade policy made Wokou under control in late 15C-16C. After Oei invasion by Korea to Tsushima in 1491, Wokou activity in Korea was declined. King Sejong changed offensive policy to peaceful policy so opened 3 ports for official trade with Japan(1426). In 1443, Korea and Japan signed on Treaty of Gyehae as a means of controlling Japanese piracy and legitimizing trade between Tsushima island and a Korean port and decide to set up Japanese trading special region called Waegwan but it was not for permanent residents. By the Joseon's policy of good neighbor, Wokou activity is under control and makes peaceful relationship between Korea and Japan. But Japanese try to expand trading scale and to live permanently in Waegwan more so it became a dispute. In 1510, Japanese revel in 3 open ports and suppressed soon by Korean army in 1510. The 3 ports were closed until 1512. Before Japanese invasion at 1592, only one port at Jaepo was opened for official trading.
Activities and Birth of Japan Past
Japan to 794
People have been living on the islands east of the Korean peninsula for a hundred thousand years. Pottery was used there more than ten thousand years ago. Agriculture and the use of bronze and iron arrived on the island of Kyushu with immigrants from China and Korea in the third century BC. This culture soon spread to the central Kanto plain on the largest island Honshu, and rice supplemented fish as the main food. By the third century CE an aristocratic culture similar to that of Korea was interring their leaders in huge tombs. These horse-riding warriors wore armor, helmets, and used iron swords as well as iron plow-tips. Japanese chronicles claim that human sacrifice ended about 3 CE, but Chinese records of 247 CE mention the Japanese custom; animal sacrifices, usually oxen, lasted until the 7th century. Social differences were indicated by tattooing and body markings. The Chinese history of the Wei dynasty recorded in 297 CE that about a hundred Japanese tribes were ruled by hereditary kings and queens. Wars over royal succession were common.
Shinto religion worshipped spirits (kami) in diverse forms; after the country was unified, the emperor or empress was considered a descendant of the sun goddess Amaterasu. The Japanese were particularly concerned about pollution and dirtiness, emphasizing cleanliness and ritual purity. Their word tsumi for sin or offense derives from covering up or concealing, and shame was more prominent in their consciousness than guilt. According to the Kojiki the divine Izanagi and his wife Izanami produced the first offspring, but the first ones were badly made. The heavenly deities decided that was because the woman spoke first. The ritual was repeated with the man speaking first, and the offspring were all well made. Many deities were created with Amaterasu ruling heaven, Tsukiyomi night, and Susano-o the ocean. The second book of the Kojiki describes how Emperor Jimmu extended his sovereignty over Japan from Yamato to Kyushu. In this source of patriotism an oracle indicates that it is Amaterasu's will that Japan subjugate the land to the west (Korea), and Empress Jingu leads a swift conquest.
Korean scholars were sent to Japan in the fourth century by the king of Paekche, but Japanese military assistance requested against the kingdom of Silla in 391 arrived too late to save Paekche. Japanese Wa people formed the colony of Mimana in the kingdom of Kaya in the southeast corner of the Korean peninsula; but their campaign to defend it was held up by Kyushu chief Iwai in 527, because he was in league with the Korean Silla kingdom. Iwai was defeated, as the Japanese allied themselves with Paekche against Silla. In 538 the king of Paekche sent to the Japanese court at Yamato a bronze statue of the Buddha with scriptures and a letter praising the new religion. The Nakatomi, steeped in native Shinto ritual, and the Mononobe clan of warriors opposed Buddhism; but it was supported by their rival Soga clan, who advocated opposing Silla. The Soga were allowed to practice the new religion, but the image was thrown into a canal during an epidemic. The Silla drove the Japanese off the mainland in 562. Soga Umako built a chapel for his Buddhist experiments with Korean monks and nuns in 570. A succession battle in 585 resulted in Buddhist proponent Yomei becoming emperor, but he died two years later. Umako gathered enough forces to annihilate the Mononobe family at the battle of Shigisen, and Buddhism began to flourish under Emperor Sujun (r. 588-92) and the Soga empress Suiko (r. 593-628).
Umako nominated Prince Shotoku (574-622) as heir to the throne. As regent Shotoku attempted to apply Buddhist and Confucian ethics to government. He did not indict the known murderer of the previous emperor but tried to persuade him of his wrong. In 603 this prince devised a system of twelve court ranks distinguished by caps of different colors based on Korean models; the ranks in order were named after six Confucian values, greater and lesser: virtue, humanity, propriety, integrity, justice, and knowledge. The next year it was said Shotoku wrote the "Seventeen Article Constitution," although scholars believe the document was written later. Its ethical policies may be summarized as follows:
1. "Harmony is to be valued and an avoidance of wanton opposition to be honored."2. "Sincerely reverence the three treasures-Buddha, the Law, and the Priesthood."3. Scrupulously obey imperial commands.4. Ministers and functionaries should make propriety their leading principle.5. Abandoning gluttony and covetous desires, deal impartially with suits.6. Chastise the evil, and encourage the good. Do not conceal the good qualities of others, nor fail to correct wrongs.7. Find the right man for each job. Unprincipled men in office multiply disasters.8. "Let the ministers and functionaries attend the court early in the morning and retire late."9. "Good faith is the foundation of right."10. "Let us cease from wrath and refrain from angry looks, nor let us be resentful when others differ from us."11. "Give clear appreciation to merit and demerit, and deal out to each its sure reward or punishment."12. Do not let provincial authorities tax the people, for the sovereign is the master of all the people in the country.13. "Let all persons entrusted with office attend equally to their functions."14. "Be not envious."15. Do not let private motives and feelings interfere with the public interest.16. "Let the people be employed at seasonable times," not when they are busy with agriculture for food or mulberry trees for clothing.17. Important decisions should not be made by one person but in consultation with others.
The Chinese calendar was adopted in 604. Shotoku sent three missions to the Sui court, but the Chinese emperor disdained to recognize the "emperor of the east" as equivalent. In 624 Japan had 46 Buddhist temples with 816 monks and 569 nuns. After Prince Shotoku died, the Soga clan's power grew more tyrannical as Umako's son Yemishi and his son Iruka treacherously wiped out Yamashiro Oye and his family. Prince Naka Oye got revenge when assassins murdered Iruka at court in front of the empress he had enthroned; Yemishi and his adherents fled, and many were killed. The next day Empress Kogyoku abdicated; as Kotoku (r. 645-55) became emperor, Naka Oye was named crown prince. The Soga Kurayamada, who had joined the plot, was named great minister, and Naka Oye married Kurayamada's daughter; thus the Soga clan that had dominated ceremonial emperors and empresses for the previous half century was greatly weakened.
Nakatomi Kamatari (614-69), who founded the Fujiwara clan, assisted the takeover and devised the great reforms in the reigns of Kotoku, Kogyoku again as Empress Saimei (r. 655-61), and Naka Oye as Tenchi (r. 661-71). The four articles of the Great Reform of 646 increased imperial control by abolishing private ownership of land, appointing provincial and district governors, registering people in order to distribute land to cultivators equally, and replacing old taxes and forced labor with an imperial tax system. Though modified by Japanese customs, these reforms were based on successful Tang dynasty practices of the Chinese. Large landowners were made provincial governors, while landed gentry became district supervisors appointing secretaries, accountants, and tax collectors; but weapons were collected and put in government storehouses.
In 660 Paekche asked for Japan's help against Chinese forces and Silla; but after their army was defeated three years later, Japan withdrew from Korea and exchanged ambassadors with the Tang court. A civil war after Tenchi died was probably stimulated by nobles resenting the reforms; Tenchi's son was killed, but his younger brother became Emperor Temmu (r. 673-86). Temmu promoted Buddhism influenced by ideals from the Golden Light Sutra such as the following:
Know ye, Deva Kings, that the 84,000 rulers of the 84,000 cities, towns and villages of the world shall each enjoy happiness of every sort in his own land; that they shall all possess freedom of action and obtain all manner of precious things in abundance; that they shall never again invade each other's territories; that they shall receive recompense in accordance with their deeds of previous existences; that they shall no longer yield to the evil desire of taking the lands of others; that they shall learn that the smaller their desires the greater the blessing; and they shall emancipate themselves from the suffering of warfare and bondage. The people of their lands shall be joyous, and upper and lower classes will blend as smoothly as milk and water. They shall appreciate each other's feelings, join happily in diversions together, and with all compassion and modesty increase the sources of goodness.
Adjustments to laws that followed the Tang went on for forty years and were promulgated in the Taiho code of 702. The few officials of the third rank or above were not to be punished even if they committed a serious crime. Japan maintained an imperial theocracy by keeping the emperor's department of worship over the council of state; they considered the hereditary emperor more important than the mandate of heaven, and birth still counted more than ability in Japan. The policy that clan status must be considered as well as the service record in promotion was made law in 682. Empress Jito (r. 686-97) selected Fujiwara for the new capital. Japan now had 66 provinces with 592 districts, which were made up of townships of fifty households each. By the year 692 the number of Buddhist monasteries and shrines had increased to 545.
The rice land was divided equally to individuals except that females received only two-thirds as much; slaves, who were less than ten percent of the population, also got two-thirds, female slaves thus getting less than half. Produce was taxed at about five percent, and males were obligated to provide labor or military service. How well this land reform was implemented is questionable. In a 711 law those who could afford the expense were allowed to bring new land into cultivation, and twelve years later they could pass it on to the third generation; in 743 title to such lands was granted in perpetuity, and it could be sold. Land allotments gradually faded away by the end of the 9th century. Buddhist institutions also increased their land, as pious believers, including emperors, made donations. Powerful individuals and institutions managed to get tax exemptions. Government authorities, attempting to raise money, were subject to bribery. Military service was a burden on peasants that could ruin a family, because the men also had to supply their own equipment and sustenance, while the upper classes often were able to evade being drafted. Rural settlers for protection often turned to rich nobles, many of whom lived in the capital.
The capital was moved to Heijo (Nara) in 710, and in the 8th century nine official embassies were sent from there to the Tang court. The ancient records of the Kojiki appeared in 712. In the preface O Yasumaro suggested that by contemplating antiquity manners that had fallen into ruin could be corrected, and laws approaching dissolution could be illumined. The Nihongi chronicles were published in 720. The Taiho law code was revised in 718 to account for native customs. Japan used conscripted armies to subjugate the Edo in the north and the Hayato in southern Kyushu.
Emperor Shomu (r. 724-49) presided over an impressive building campaign of Buddhist temples, abdicating to become a priest. A smallpox epidemic (735-37) carried away about a third of the population and all four prominent Fujiwara brothers. In 736 the Kegon sect based on Huayen Buddhism from China was introduced, and five years later the imperial government endowed a Kegon temple in every province. In 740 the government used 17,000 troops to quell a rebellion led by Fujiwara Hirotsugu, who had resented being posted to Dazaifu in Kyushu and was executed. The 53-foot high Rushana (Vairocana) Buddha took five years to build, used three million pounds of copper, tin, and lead, was gilded with 500 pounds of gold, and "opened its eyes" in 752. Copper had been discovered in 708 and gold in 749. Many of the nobility became Buddhist priests.
Fujiwara Nakamaro (known as Minister Oshikatsu) headed off a coup attempt by executing former crown prince Funado and exiling his own older brother Toyonari to Dazaifu. To win popular support Oshikatsu reduced taxes and the farmers' work for the government from sixty to thirty days. He also planned a line of forts in the north and an immense campaign of 500 ships and 40,000 men against Korea; but the latter caused resentment and was abandoned with his death. A civil conflict in 764 resulted in the capture and execution of Oshikatsu when Empress Koken (r. 749-58) regained the throne as Empress Shotoku. She made her lover, the Buddhist priest Dokyo, great minister and the real power until she died in 770. Then court officials banished Dokyo after he tried to take the throne himself. After the reign (770-81) of Tenchi's grandson Konin, the council refused to allow a woman on the throne, establishing a precedent. Raids in the north were troublesome until under general Tamuramaro Sakanouye conscripted armies were replaced with local militia in 792.
Heian Era 794-1192
Emperor Kammu (r. 781-806) moved the capital twice, strengthened central administration, and reduced Buddhist building and the size of monasteries while distancing the government from the Buddhist temples at Nara. The second move in 794 to the Kyoto plain began the era called Heian, meaning peace, and Japan was fairly peaceful during much of the Heian era's four centuries. General Tamuramaro led campaigns (800-03) that pushed northern borders to Izawa and Shiba; the title of shogun he was given as supreme general would be greatly prized for centuries. Northern lands exempt from taxes were opened to settlers and attracted pioneers who would produce fierce warriors. In 804 the emperor sent an embassy to China that included Saicho (767-822) and Kukai (774-835).
The next year Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) founded Tendai Buddhism at his monastic center of Enryakuji on Mt. Hiei, where it was considered a protector of the capital. Saicho taught that everyone by practicing moral purity and contemplation can gain enlightenment and become a Buddha. He required Tendai monks to remain in seclusion at his monastery for twelve years. Saicho believed that the wise are obliged when any false doctrines are pointed out even in one's own sect, and he valued truth found in other sects. To maintain a partisan spirit by concealing one's own errors and finding faults in others he considered wrong. Nothing could be more stupid than persisting in one's own false views or trying to destroy the right views of others. However, after some interchange with Kukai, he had to refuse to become one of Kukai's "regular students." Like the Chinese Tiantai, Saicho's Tendai sect emphasized the efficacy of the Lotus Sutra.
Kukai's family had opposed the move to the new capital. He studied in a Confucian college, and at 24 he wrote Indications, a dialog between a Confucian, a Daoist, and a Buddhist. The Confucian emphasizes the pleasures of marriage, family, and friendship; the Daoist's goal is to use magic in order to prolong life; and the Buddhist refutes their arguments by showing the impermanence of life, claiming that Mahayana Buddhism is the highest truth. Kukai studied Sanskrit at Chang'an and called his sect the true doctrine after the Sanskrit term Mantrayana, which became Shingon in Japanese. He is credited with using Sanskrit to help invent the Japanese syllabary. In 816 Kukai (Kobo Daishi) founded the Shingon sect of esoteric Buddhism on Mt. Koya. He ranked religions in ten stages as 1) uneducated, 2) Confucian, 3) Hindu and Daoist, 4) direct disciples of Buddha, 5) Hinayana Buddhism, 6) Hosso Buddhism, 7) Sanron Buddhism, 8) Tendai, 9) Kegon, and 10) Shingon. He taught that art is indispensable and reveals perfection. Kukai's emphasis on various arts and esoteric magical methods became quite popular. However, Tendai's third abbot, Ennin, returned from China in 847 and by adding Shingon's magical and esoteric rituals made Tendai the most popular sect in Japan. The Buddhist ethic against killing affected Japanese life by reducing the number of executions and meat eating.
The capital required a police force in 810, and six years later the Kebiishi became official police commissioners. As the Tang dynasty declined, the mission to China in 838 was the last imperial embassy for centuries, though contact continued through trade. The government stopped limiting ordinations in the 9th century, allowing Buddhism unfettered growth. The power of the Fujiwara clan increased by marrying their daughters to emperors and by means of their great wealth and estates in the provinces. Yoshifusa (804-72) was named great minister in 857. The next year when his infant grandson became Emperor Seiwa (r. 858-76), he acted as sessho (regent for a minor) and then became kampaku (regent for an adult or dictator). Fujiwara Mototsune (836-91) served as sessho for Yozei (r. 877-84) and kampaku for Koko (r. 884-87). In this way the Fujiwara clan would dominate the imperial throne for most of the next three centuries, though Emperor Uda (r. 887-97) attempted to break the Fujiwara hold by not appointing a regent when Mototsune died in 891 and by getting Sugawara Michizane appointed minister of the right in 899; but two years later the Fujiwara head Tokihira had Michizane sent into exile as governor of Dazaifu. However, Tokihira made enemies trying to enforce a simpler life at court and to curb the power of the great landowners in the country.
In 914 Confucian scholar and state counselor Miyoshi Kiyotsura criticized the declining public finances, extravagance, and the decaying morals of the ruling class which he blamed on Buddhist and Shinto corruption. He complained that the university had lost the revenues of its rice lands, resulting in starving students and poor education. Tokihira's brother Tadahira revived the regency in 930. That year Taira clan chieftain Masakado began attacking his uncles, and in 935 he defeated Minamoto Mamoru in Hitachi and took control of eight eastern provinces; but after five more years of struggle he claimed to be emperor in a letter to prime minister Tokihira and was defeated at the Shimosa border when his allies failed to support him. At the same time Sumitomo, the former governor of Iyo, raided those shores and others with a thousand small ships. He was defeated in 941 while the Emishi were ravaging the northern province of Dewa. In 954 Sugawara Fumitoki warned the emperor that people were wasting their resources building palaces and monasteries and in acquiring costly clothes and luxuries. He believed that those of high rank should set an example of simplicity, and he criticized the sale of offices and other dishonest conduct.
Diaries from this era reveal both indulgence and a very refined and austere social code. Fujiwara Morosuke, who was minister of the right when he died in 960, wrote the Testamentary Admonitions of Kujo-den, recommending a self-disciplined life to his heirs. He urged them to respect others, not allow self-assertion by restraining speech, and not do anything that has no precedent. He enjoined filial piety and believed that paying homage to the Buddha prevented misfortune. He detailed specific ways of taking care of one's person with pride and dignity. At court he advised solemnity, in private humanity and love. If someone committed a wrong, he suggested strictness and forbearance without giving way to anger. Neither should joy be excessive. He recommended giving one-tenth of the income to charity.
The 13th-century history Gukansho considered 898 the end of an era followed by a transition of shaky imperial power until the Fujiwaras took full control in 967 with the appointment of Saneyori as kampaku for Emperor Reizei. The scholar and poet Oye Masahira (952-1012) complained of many disappointments, although he attained the high fourth rank before he died. In 985 his finger was cut off by the sword of the palace guard Fujiwara Nariaki, who was executed because Fujiwara leaders were opposed to violent solutions to problems. Fujiwara Michinaga had immune estates throughout the country and dominated the court from 995 until his death in 1027. Their Kofukuji monastery was so powerful in the Yamato province that the abbot ruled instead of a governor. Michinaga strengthened his position by allying himself with powerful warriors like those of the Minamoto clan. Under the Fujiwaras family connection was of primary importance, and candidates for office had to find a patron by intrigue, flattery, or other compromising behaviors.
Tendai Buddhists had split in 933 when followers of Enchin at odds with the Ennin faction left Mt. Hiei and went to Miidera. Genshin (942-1017) in Essentials of Salvation taught turning away from hell and seeking the pure land of the western paradise by meditating on the name of Amida. Monasteries began recruiting mercenaries, and the first militant demonstration to the court was by Enryakuji monks in 981. By the end of the 11th century all the great Tendai monasteries and several Shinto shrines had standing armies. The Tendai conflict caused Hiei monks to set fire to the Onjoji monastery at Miidera several times starting in 1081. During the last two centuries of the Heian era militant armed monks from Kofukuji in Nara as well as those of Mt. Hiei frequently stormed the capital with their demands, which were usually about land titles or politics. A peaceful government was thus threatened by powerful religious institutions. In 1113 the Kofukuji monastery sent 20,000 armed men against Enryakuji, and in 1165 those Hiei monks burned down the Hosso stronghold at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto.
Michinaga was succeeded by Yorimichi, who was kampaku for fifty years. Tadatsune led a Taira revolt in 1028 which attacked Kazusa, provincial capital of Awa; but Minamoto Yorinobu suppressed it three years later when Tadatsune surrendered. Efforts by three emperors in 1032, 1040, and 1056 to restore land laws or to resist Fujiwara claims were generally ignored by local authorities. Abe Yoritoki's unauthorized collection of taxes and confiscation of property in Mutsu province brought about the Nine Years War in 1050 with occasional truces until forces led by Minamoto Yoriyoshi and his son Yoshiiye defeated Yoritoki's son Sadato in 1062. The assisting Kiyowara family took over the Abe estates. A Fujiwara named Kiyohira was adopted into the Kiyowara family, became commander of Mutsu and Dewa, and by his death in 1128 had built up an extensive domain. In the capital Go-Sanjo pursued agrarian reform; but he only reigned four years (1068-72). He revived the Insei system of retired emperors exercising power but died the next year.
Yoshiiye was appointed governor of Mutsu in 1083 and put down the Kiyowara family revolt in northern provinces known as the Later Three Years War. After Emperor Shirakawa (r. 1072-86) abdicated, he ruled by Insei (cloister government) as a priest for 43 years until he died in 1129; but he gave up much public land trying to raise money to build monasteries and carve large Buddhist images and for venial extravagance, and the increasing immune estates further weakened the state. Minamoto Yoshiiye's military prestige enabled him to gather so many warriors and so much land that the pious Shirakawa, who opposed violence, issued an edict in 1091 forbidding farmers to give their land to Yoshiiye, and his retainers were not allowed to enter the capital with him. Yoshiiye did return to Kyoto, and with his palace guards he was not afraid of sacrilege when putting down militant monks by force, killing several of their leaders on the streets in 1095. Taira military prestige grew after their general Masamori quelled a revolt in 1108 led by banished Minamoto Yoshichika in Izumo. Masamori governed nine provinces in succession, as did his son Tadamori, who was commissioned to suppress pirates by Emperor Sutoku in 1135.
Shirakawa's cloister rule was continued by his grandson Toba from 1129 until he died in 1156. Then a conflict between retired emperor Sutoku and reigning emperor Go-Shirakawa divided two Fujiwara brothers and members of the powerful Minamoto and Taira clans. Those supporting Go-Shirakawa led by Taira Tadamori's son Kiyomori were victorious over warriors led by Minamoto Tameyoshi. When Minamoto Yoshitomo was ordered to kill his father Tameyoshi, he refused. A Minamoto officer did the deed and then killed himself. About fifty of Sutoku's supporters were executed. Go-Shirakawa abdicated in 1158 in order to rule from a Buddhist cloister. While Kiyomori was on a pilgrimage, Yoshitomo and Nobuyori tried to seize power; but they were defeated by Kiyomori, and Yoshitomo was killed in 1160. Kiyomori married his daughter to Fujiwara Motozane, who served as regent 1158-66. His successor as regent, Motofusa, clashed with Kiyomori's son Shigemori in 1170, while Kiyomori ruled for the cloistered Go-Shirakawa. Kiyomori appointed sixteen of his relatives to high rank at court and thirty to mid-level positions, sending 42 court officials into exile; he also ordered the Inland Sea route repaired and encouraged trade with Song China.
In 1177 Kiyomori persuaded Go-Shirakawa not to attack the Tendai monastery after their monks rescued Miyoun, whom he had arrested. That year a great fire in Kyoto destroyed most of the public buildings and colleges with many books. The next year Kiyomori's daughter, the empress, gave birth to a son who became Emperor Antoku; but Kiyomori's dictatorial ways aroused the Shishigatani conspiracy of Fujiwaras that was revealed by a spy and suppressed. Many believed that executing the monk Saiko brought ghostly vengeance on the Taira house. Kiyomori had moved to Fukuwara; but when Go-Shirakawa confiscated property of Kiyomori's son Shigemori and his daughter Mori-ko when they died in 1179, he marched on the capital with several thousand men. Emperor Takakura abdicated and was succeeded by the infant Antoku. Minamoto Yorimasa appealed for support from the east and north, and for five years the Minamoto and Taira clans fought the Gempei civil war won by the Minamotos. Kiyomori died of disease in 1181 after having attacked and burned the Todaiji and Kofukuji monasteries.
After an initial defeat at Ishibashiyama, Yoritomo rallied Minamoto forces, and Taira Hirotsune supported him with 20,000 men. With these forces from the east Yoritomo won the battle at Fujikawa and pursued the Taira army to the west. The forces of Yoritomo's nephew Yoshinaka entered the capital in 1183, while Yoritomo established his military headquarters (bakufu) at Kamakura in the Kanto plain. Confiscation of estates and plundering soldiers caused cloistered emperor Go-Shirakawa to appeal to Yoritomo, who sent his brothers Yoshitsune and Noriyori to attack Yoshinaka, defeating and killing him. The tactics of Yoshitsune and Noriyori defeated the Taisha at Inchinotani and Yashima; then they completed their triumph in the naval battle at Dannoura in 1185 during which Emperor Antoku was drowned. Yoritomo was irritated by awards that Go-Shirakawa gave to Yoshitsune; hearing rumors of Yoshitsune revolting with Yukiiye, Yoritomo sent a band of assassins, who were defeated at the capital by Yoshitsune. Go-Shirakawa authorized Yoshitsune and Yukiiye to fight against Yoritomo; but the latter with a large force got him to reverse himself completely with an edict for Yoritomo to punish the two who had fled.
Then at court Yoritomo was given the important authority to collect taxes on private and public estates and to appoint stewards (jito) and protectors (shugo), which became hereditary. The child emperor Antoku had been replaced by four-year-old Go-Toba (r. 1184-98), who served as cloistered emperor until banished in 1221. Yoshitsune retreated to the north, where the old lord of Mutsu, Hidehira, had built the lavish Chusonji monastery at Hiraizumi. In 1189 Yoritomo ordered Hidehira's successor Yasuhira to arrest Yoshitsune, who when attacked committed suicide instead of surrendering. Then Yoritomo's army of more than 100,000 men overwhelmed Yasuhira's forces in Dewa, completing his conquest of Japan. Only after Go-Shirakawa died in 1192 was Yoritomo appointed shogun. Undisputed ruler, he made Kamakura his capital. The Heian era that had begun so peacefully ended in civil war and with the establishment of a militaristic feudal system.
Murasaki's Tale of Genji
Japanese literature began with the importation of Chinese writing and developed also emphasizing short poems with natural metaphors, historical chronicles and creating folk origins of place names called fudoki. Poems expressing feelings about nature and love were collected beginning in the 8th century. From 905 to 1439 the imperial government published 21 anthologies of poetry. Early in the 10th century the "Tale of the Bamboo Cutter" emerged from folklore, and Murasaki Shikibu called it the ancestor of all romances. A bamboo cutter finds a tiny baby he raises as his daughter. The beautiful Kaguya-hime disdains marriage and requires five nearly impossible tasks of her five suitors. The first two are caught cheating, and the other three fail to achieve the mythic challenges. Finally Kaguya-hime even refuses the emperor, and having completed her punishment on earth she ascends back to her heavenly moon world.
Sei Shonagon wrote her Pillow Book while serving as a lady-in-waiting for Empress Sadako during the last decade of the 10th century; Murasaki Shikibu soon was serving in the court of a second empress Shoshi. Murasaki was likely influenced by the Pillow Book, and in her diary she called Sei Shonagon self-satisfied and gifted but prone to give free rein to her emotions in inappropriate situations. The Pillow Book is an extraordinarily frank diary of Sei's experiences at court and her feelings about them. She described the manners and attitudes that annoyed her sensitivity and recounted numerous incidents that amused her. For example, she was quite concerned about the manner in which a lover would dress and leave her apartment in the middle of the night. She thought it shameful for a man to seduce a helpless court lady and then abandon her after making her pregnant. As people who seem to suffer she mentioned the nurse looking after a crying baby at night, a man with two mistresses witnessing their jealousy, an exorcist trying to deal with an obstinate spirit, powerful men who never seem to be at ease, and nervous people. She considered sympathy the most splendid quality, especially when it was found in men. She thought it unattractive and absurd of people to get angry when someone gossips about them. She wrote her book in secret for her own amusement and never expected it to become public, which she regretted even though it won praise.
Lady Murasaki Shikibu was born about 973. Her father Tametoki was in the Fujiwara clan and became governor of Echizen about 996 and later of Echigo; in 1016 he retired from government and became a Buddhist priest, outliving his daughter Murasaki. She learned Chinese quickly while helping her brother with his lessons; but finding that scholarship made her unpopular, she hid her writing. In 998 she married a Fujiwara kinsman of the imperial guard named Nobutaka, and she had two daughters, one of whom wrote the novel Tale of Sagoromo. Her husband Nobutaka died in 1001. About four years later she entered the service of Michinaga's daughter, Empress Akiko (Shoshi). Murasaki described her majesty as innocent and impeccable, as she gathered worthy young ladies around her. She asked Murasaki to teach her Chinese secretly because this was considered too strenuous for women. At court Murasaki felt painfully inferior and kept things to herself. She was afraid that by gradually parting with scruples she would eventually come to believe that shamelessness was perfectly natural. Although she was thought to be an ill-natured prig by others, Murasaki herself believed that when someone got to know her, they would realize she is kind and gentle.
Murasaki Shikibu also wrote a diary that describes the birth of Empress Shoshi's first child, Prince Atsuhira, discusses life at court in a letter to a friend, and collects anecdotes of court life. In it she wrote that those who do evil deserve to be talked about and laughed at even though sometimes they do it unintentionally. She went on:
We ought to love even those who hate us, but it is very difficult to do. Even the Buddha of profound mercy does not say that the sins against Buddha, the laws of religion, and priests, are slight. Moreover, in this muddy world it is best to let alone the persons who hate us.
Murasaki began writing The Tale of Genji shortly after her husband died and finished it sometime between 1004 and 1022. The novel is set in the early 10th century and comes up to her own lifetime.
Genji is the Minamoto clan name of a commoner who is given to the emperor's son by a concubine because a Korean physiognomist predicted that if he ruled, there would be disaster. As with the author, his mother dies when he is young. Genji falls in love with his step-mother Fujitsubo because she resembles his mother. Of all the women with whom Genji is intimate, he gets along least well with his older wife Aoi; but she bears him the son Yugiri. Being handsome, accomplished, and of the royal family, Genji is able to have just about any woman he cares to love. Among his illicit affairs Genji's long relationship with the jealous Rokujo leads to her spirit causing Yugao to die strangely in a deserted place; only Genji's friends and retainers helped him avoid a scandal. Recovering from an illness he meets the ten-year-old Murasaki, who somehow moves him deeply. He is able to persuade her relatives that his intentions are honorable, and he takes her to live with him in the palace. Fujitsubo also gives birth to his son, but the Emperor accepts the future emperor Reizei as his because of the family resemblance. Rokujo's jealous spirit possesses his wife Aoi, causing her to die in childbirth. In despair Genji turns to the innocent Murasaki for affection, and they are married. Even after she dies, Rokujo's ghost still torments Murasaki.
When Emperor Suzaku retires to a monastery, Genji marries his third daughter. Even though he loves Murasaki best, she resents Genji's alliance with the Lady of Akashi during his exile and the status of the third princess. Kashiwagi, the son of Genji's friend To Chujo, falls in love with the third princess, and she bears him Kaoru. Murasaki wants to become a nun, but she becomes ill and dies. Kashiwagi is tormented that Genji knows his secret. In the last part of the novel the idealized Genji has died, and the world of Kashiwagi's son Kaoru and Genji's grandson Niou seems to have degenerated. Niou is handsome but not as sensitive, while Kaoru has the sensitivity but cannot win the two women he loves. They compete for the love of Ukifune, who cannot choose between them and attempts suicide.
Murasaki Shikibu's writing is subtle, sensitive, and very descriptive of the courtly life, manners, and customs of this era. The following passage gives an idea of the self-discipline and her style:
But even if a man's fancy should chance indeed to have gone somewhere astray, yet his earlier affection may still be strong and in the end will return to its old haunts. Now by her tantrums she has made a rift that cannot be joined. Whereas she who when some small wrong calls for silent rebuke, shows by a glance that she is not unaware; but when some large offense demands admonishment knows how to hint without severity ,will end by standing in her master's affections better than ever she stood before. For often the sight of our own forbearance will give our neighbor strength to rule his mutinous affections.
Feudal Era 1192-1333
Ill advised by Kagetoki, Shogun Yoritomo had his half-brother Noriyori killed in 1193 for suspected conspiracy, and the next year he ordered the execution of the entire family of Yasuda Yoshisada, even though they had supported the Minamoto in the war. Yoritomo had established a Board of Retainers (Samurai-dokoro) as early as 1180 to assign military duties and decide on rewards and punishments. The Administrative Board (Mandokoro) of the military government (bakufu) at Kamakura was named in 1191 for central policy, and the Board of Inquiry (Monchujo) was made the final court of appeal. Yoritomo contributed to the rebuilding of the Todaiji monastery and other Buddhist projects. While Yoritomo was at Kamakura, Minamoto Michichika at Kyoto replaced the Fujiwara Kanezane and in 1198 appointed Tsuchimikado emperor; before he could react, Yoritomo died the next year.
Yoritomo's son Yoriiye was made shogun in 1202, and the next year the director (shikken) of the Mandokoro was succeeded by Hojo Tokimasa of the Taira clan; thereafter until 1333 that chief political office remained in the Hojo family. Yoriiye became ill and ordered Tokimasa killed; when that failed, Yoriiye abdicated and was murdered the next year, probably by a Hojo assassin. His eleven-year-old brother Sanemoto was made shogun, and Tokimasa became his regent. The next year deputy shogun Hiraga put down an uprising of the Taira clan's Ise family. In 1205 a conspiracy of Tokimasa's wife Makiko was squelched by Yoritomo's widow Masako and her brother Hojo Yoshitoki; Hiraga was killed, and Tokimasa was forced to retire. Yoshitoki became regent for the shogun. More factional strife in 1213 resulted in Wada Yoshimori being killed and replaced as head of the Samurai-dokoro by Yoshitoki. In 1219 after attending a ceremony at the shrine of the Shinto war-god Hachiman, Shogun Sanemoto suddenly had his head cut off by the sword of an assassin.
The famous Tale of the Heike is a long prose epic that concentrates on the political events from 1177 to 1185. According to Yoshida Kenko, it was written by the priest Yukinaga, who probably adapted it from the Gempei Seisuiki. It begins with philosophical reflections on how ambitions and violence do not last.
The bell of the Gion Temple tolls into every man's heartto warn him that all is vanity and evanescence. The faded flowers of the sala trees by the Buddha's death-bed bear witness to the truth that all who flourish are destined to decay. Yes, pride must have a fall, for it is as unsubstantial as a dream on a spring night. The brave and violent man-he too must die away in the end, like a whirl of dust in the wind.
Kamo Chomei wrote The Ten-Foot Square Hut (Hojoki) in 1212. After his petition to succeed his father as the warden of the Kamo shrine in Kyoto was rejected, Chomei retired in the mountains. His little book begins by suggesting that human life is always changing like a flowing river. He described the great fire that burned down a third of Kyoto in 1177. When the capital was moved, he noted that the prevalence of the military portended civil disturbance. He reported how the famine of 1181 was followed by pestilence, and the great earthquake of 1185 had after-shocks for three months. He observed that people with influence were greedy for power while those without it were despised. After inheriting an estate, Chomei constructed a small building that was like a cart-shed and lived there alone for thirty years. Separated from society, he found it easier to follow the Buddhist commandments. He found that the best servant is one's own body, and not using the labor of others he did not have to worry about causing trouble or bad karma. Having less food gave him a better appetite. He became attached to his thatched hut and wondered if his solitary life might be a hindrance to enlightenment.In 1221 cloistered Emperor Go-Toba tried to take power with the help of disappointed warriors, aggrieved landowners, and bitter Taira survivors in eastern Japan by declaring Hojo Yoshitoki an outlaw; but two large armies and cavalry led by Yoshitoki's son Yasutoki smothered the resistance and occupied the imperial city with about 100,000 men. The Bakufu ordered Yasutoki to banish Go-Toba and execute the four generals and other leaders of the revolt. The extensive properties confiscated were assigned to vassals as stewards. Minor uprisings were put down after Yoshitoki died in 1224 and was succeeded by Yasutoki. Bakufu courts settled claims, as land was surveyed and distributed. Complaints of autocratic rule by stewards led to measures that moderated their excesses. In 1226 Yasutoki established a state council (Hyojoshu) to advise him and make decisions for the new shogun, eight-year-old Mitora. For the next century Hojo regents would rule the Bakufu by repeatedly appointing very young shoguns. When a Korean envoy protested piratical raids in 1227, Yasutoki maintained a good relationship with Korea by ordering the pirates arrested and put to death.
Meanwhile drought, famine, disease, earthquakes, floods, and frosts devastated the country. In 1230 a moratorium on debts and obligations was proclaimed, and the next year tax rice was distributed to the poor. Feudal law was established in 1232 with the Joei Formulary that defined land rights and other laws. To prevent vendettas, abusive language and assault were to be severely punished. Women could own land and retain after a divorce what they had before marriage. This law code aimed at "impartial verdicts without discrimination between high and low."5 Armed strife broke out in 1235 between the priests of the Iwashimuzu Hachiman shrine and the Kofukuji monks and between these monks and the mountain Hiyeizan monks, but the Bakufu managed to settle things by the end of 1237. For several decades Japan had a unified state and the rule of law. By the 13th century the old slavery no longer existed except for a few female servants.
Yasutoki died in 1242 and was succeeded by his grandson Tsunetoki, who died four years later and was replaced by his brother Tokiyori. His grandfather Adachi Kagemori, an old warrior turned monk, urged the Hojo forces with Adachi warriors to attack the conspiring Miura clan, resulting in the suicide of 500 Miura warriors in 1247. The ceremonial role of the shogun was reinforced in 1252 when the ten-year-old prince Munetaka was appointed, while his younger brother was serving as emperor. Along with copper coins to improve the money economy, Japan was importing from China luxury goods such as silk, brocades, perfumes, incense, sandalwood, porcelain, and books, while exporting gold, mercury, fans, lacquer ware, screens, swords, and timber.
"Family Instructions" were written by Hojo Shigetoki for his son Nagatoki, who at 18 in 1247 was made deputy shogun. Shigetoki believed in the warrior code of ethics; but he noted that to rule, warriors need not only courage but also understanding of their duties and of principles, such as revering gods and buddhas, obeying one's lord and parents, understanding the law of cause and effect (karma, or in Japanese inga), considering the results for future generations, being careful in relationships, generous, firm and not cowardly, practicing military arts, while being just to all and sympathetic to the poor and weak. Shigetoki reminded his son that the key to discipline is fair treatment in rewards and punishments. One should never act in anger but let someone else administer the punishment; hasty decisions can lead to remorse. Any excess is disadvantageous, if not in this life, then in a future one. A good heart and the moral duty of the warrior are like two wheels of a carriage. Hold to the good even at the cost of one's family, not yielding to the strong. He recommended meeting enmity with kindness and returning good for evil. This may help the bad to reform; even if it does not, one will be rewarded in one's next existence. Shigetoki believed that women could become enlightened and would enter paradise.
Buddhist Honen (1133-1212) suggested chanting the nembutsu exclusively as the way to salvation in 1175, founding the Jodo sect (Pure Land) of Buddhism that grew quickly after the Gempei War ended in 1185. Criticized by established sects, Honen tried to control his followers by issuing in 1204 the Seven-Article Injunction in which he warned that those saying the nembutsu should not encourage sexual indulgence, drinking, or eating meat. Three years later he refused to give up his faith in Amida to avoid exile. The year Honen died Kamo Chomei (1153-1216) wrote "An Account of My Hut" in which he contrasted the miseries caused by the fire of 1177, the typhoon of 1181, the famine the next year, and the earthquake of 1185 with joys of the simple life he chose in a ten-foot square hut.
Eisai (1141-1215) founded Rinzai Zen Buddhism after receiving transmission from the eighth Linji Chan patriarch of China. Eisai returned to Japan in 1191, but his teaching of Zen was prohibited by the court three years later. He wrote The Propagation of Zen as a Defense of the Nation and Drink Tea and Prolong Life. Zen schools concentrated on intuitive experience through meditation, koan study, and the arts of everyday living rather than books, beliefs, and repetitive prayers. The Rinzai placed more emphasis on the transrational understanding of paradoxes in koan stories and problems. In China Mumon Ekai (1183-1260) compiled 48 koans in 1229 to guide monks toward awakening (satori). This Gateless Gate (Mumonkan) was brought back to Japan by Muhon Kakushin (1207-98). Dogen (1200-53) studied with Eisai and imported the Soto sect from China in 1227. Dogen taught that enlightenment can be attained by sitting in meditation (zazen). He irritated Mt. Hiei's clerics as he tried to separate Zen from their political intrigues. He wrote The Significance of the Right Dharma for the Protection of the Nation to argue that Zen meditation was the true Buddhism for Japan. Dogen criticized traditional Buddhists for discriminating against women, and he believed that women should be equal to men in regard to practice and attaining enlightenment.
Shinran (1173-1262) was married and had seven children. He disdained removing his outer robe when eating fish or fowl. Speaking for the Bodhisattva Kannon he wrote the following poem:
When karmic retribution leads the practitioner to violate the precepts of chastity, I will assume the body of a maiden and be the object of that violation. Having adorned his present life, at the time of his death I will guide him to rebirth in the Pure Land of Utmost Bliss.
Shinran joined Honen's band in 1201 and went even farther than his master by noting that the wicked might be more acceptable to Amida than the good because they throw themselves entirely on the mercy of the Buddha. He felt that one sincere invocation is enough and that additional repetitions were giving thanks to Amida.
Since his father killed life in his work as a fisherman, Nichiren (1222-82) was considered an outcast. While people suffered earthquakes, drought, typhoons, famine, and epidemics, he attacked Pure Land and Zen teachings, expounding the Lotus Sutra as the only truth. His Treatise on the Establishment of the True Dharma and the Peace of the Nation was published in 1260. Nembutsu followers in Kamakura attacked Nichiren's hermitage and got the shogun to banish him to Izu the next year. He noted that the Lotus Sutra predicted persecution during a period of dharma decay. Nichiren emphasized one's own efforts in chanting "Namu myoho renge kyo," the name of the Lotus Sutra. He challenged orthodox ideas by stating that good works were not needed for a fortunate rebirth nor did evil deeds obstruct it. He believed evil could be removed by chanting. Nichiren taught human equality and doing away with all class differences. Prophesying the invasion of the Mongols and demanding the suppression of all other Buddhists sects, especially Amida worshipers, Nichiren was sentenced to death for censuring the Hojo regency in Nakamura; but it was said that he was saved when lightning struck the executioner's blade. His preaching and the validation of his prophecy with the Mongol invasion persuaded many followers.
Mongol ruler Khubilai Khan in 1266 began sending envoys from Beijing asking Japan to submit or face invasion, but they were ignored. In 1274 about 15,000 Mongol and Chinese troops with 8,000 Korean troops and 7,000 Korean sailors slaughtered defenders on the islands of Tsushima and Iki and then invaded Kyushu. After a battle with Japanese warriors, the Koreans urged the Mongols to retreat because of a storm, which caused many losses. Further diplomatic demands resulted in regent Tokimune twice executing Mongol envoys. Kyushu retainers (samurai) spent five years building a wall around Hakata Bay. In 1281 about 100,000 or more Mongols, Chinese, and Koreans invaded again; but a seasonal typhoon helped the samurai defeat them by destroying much of their fleet. Many Japanese believed that the prayers of the nation had been answered by the "divine winds" (kamikaze). The nation under the Bakufu government suffered great economic hardship because of the continuing war preparations. Soldiers expecting compensation for their efforts were usually disappointed.
Tokimune died in 1284, and his son Sadatoki who succeeded him as regent was only 14. The next year many in the Adachi family were destroyed by Taira Yoritsune for plotting to make their head Yasumori shogun, but eight years later Yoritsune and his main followers were killed too. When Khubilai Khan died in 1294, the Bakufu decreed that no more rewards for war service would be given. Between 1272 and 1318 the Kamakura Bakufu attempted to mediate competing imperial lines by appointing alternating emperors in Kyoto. In 1297 another Act of Grace tried to prevent the financial ruin of many by canceling debts; but the economic panic caused them to revoke it the next year.
Between 1272 and 1318 the Kamakura Bakufu attempted to mediate competing imperial lines by appointing alternating emperors in Kyoto. Sadatoki retired in 1301 but continued to rule until he died in 1311. His son Takatoki was only eight, and intrigues dominated the regency for five years until he was formally installed; but even then many vassals no longer respected the Hojo regency. In 1318 Go-Daigo was appointed emperor at the mature age of thirty, and three years later he ended the tradition of powerful retired emperors when his father Go-Uda resigned. In 1324 a conspiracy to overthrow the eastern Bakufu regime was discovered; but Go-Daigo stated he had no knowledge of it. The next year the Emperor sent the first official embassy to China in nearly five centuries led by Zen teacher Muso Soseki (1275-1351).
In 1331 Go-Daigo's plans to take over the government were treacherously revealed by his advisor Fujiwara Sadafusa. Go-Daigo's son Morinaga, serving as abbot at the Hiyeizan monastery, learned of a Bakufu expedition to the west; but Go-Daigo's flight to two monasteries did not prevent his capture. The warrior Kusunoki escaped and organized raids against Hojo forces, while Morinaga from the Yoshino mountains sent out appeals to warriors. At Kyoto conspirators were punished, and Go-Daigo was banished to the island of Oki. In 1333 Go-Daigo returned from exile; but when Ashikaga Takauji was sent against him with a large army, he defected to the imperial cause and attacked the Hojo's Rokuhara garrison in Kyoto. Disaffected warriors in the east led by Nitta Yoshisada quickly raised an army and attacked Kamakura; Takatoki ordered Bakufu buildings burned and withdrew with several hundred men to the Toshoji monastery, where they all committed suicide. The Kyushu ruler Hojo Hidetoki was taken and killed, completing the end of Bakufu rule.
Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350) wrote his Essays in Idleness (Tsurezuregusa) in the early 1330s. He had served the Retired Emperor Go-Uda, and after his death entered a Buddhist order in 1324. Kenko participated in the quarterly poetry meetings that began in Go-Daigo's palace in 1346. Kenko wrote down his thoughts in short essays. He considered the uncertainty of life most precious, and he advised guarding against the delusions of the senses that stimulate desires. His greatest pleasure was to read and make friends with people from the past. He found expert knowledge in any art noble and a guide in even trivial matters useful. He rejected the common superstition of unlucky days, believing that good or bad fortune is determined by humans. He agreed with the saying of a priest that when one is in doubt about doing something, it is better not to act. He believed that the most desirable friends are those who give you things, doctors, and the wise. Wisdom is knowing your own capacity and when to stop. Kenko suggested that crime could be reduced by making sure that no one was hungry or cold. People could be helped if those with luxuries protected people and encouraged agriculture. The real crimes are committed by those who have a normal share of food and clothing. He noted that as much as the young are better looking, the old are wiser. Kenko recommended giving up desires and ambitions in order to follow the Way to lasting peace.
Feudal Era 1333-1465
Emperor Go-Daigo declared a new era in 1333; but in distributing Hojo estates favoritism and bribery caused many deserving applicants to go unrelieved, while the Emperor imposed a five percent income tax in order to build himself a new palace. Disgruntled warriors took matters into their own hands. Afraid that Morinaga and Yoshisada were organizing against him, Takauji fortified his Kyoto mansion and then arrested Morinaga and sent him to Kamakura, where he was executed by Takauji's brother Tadayoshi when Kamakura was attacked by Hojo Tokiyuki. When the Emperor refused to authorize him as shogun, Takauji nonetheless joined Tadayoshi in defeating and killing Tokiyuki. As Takauji was rewarding warriors without imperial consent, Go-Daigo appointed his son Takanaga shogun and sent him and Nitta Yoshisada to suppress the eastern rebels led by Takauji and Tadayoshi. These brothers marched on Kyoto and drove the imperial troops from the capital in February, 1336.
That year Takauji issued seventeen articles on good government in the Kemmu Shikimoku. This document held that educated warriors are most able to rule and that they should learn from the early Hojo and emperors of the early 10th century how to rule for the benefit of all. The Bakufu government should redress social evils caused by famine, economic depression, and war devastation. The Kemmu Shikimoku condemned drinking, gambling, and bribery, while enjoining economy, keeping order, basing rewards and punishments on merit, rebuilding with fireproof materials, choosing protectors (shugo) of integrity and discipline, selecting attendants by merit, observing distinctions of rank, rewarding good service, listening to the complaints of the poor, carefully scrutinizing the claims of monasteries, and administering justice firmly and promptly. The Ashikaga Bakufu in Kyoto took over the offices and councils of the Kamakura government, though most decisions were made by the shogun and his officers.
Go-Daigo managed to escape to the mountains of Yoshino where he established the "Southern Court." He died in 1339 but was succeeded as emperor by his son Norinaga (Go-Murakami) while Kitabatake Chikafusa (1293-1354) tried to organize loyalist support for their imperial cause. Worshipping the divine Emperor, Chikafusa sent princes to rule various regions, though he believed that the sovereign had no right to use force against persons who had not committed an offense. Chikafusa wrote the chronicle Jinno Shotoki, giving Japanese history a Shinto perspective from the gods to the continuous line of emperors. In the first sentence he claimed that only Japan is a divine land. He looked back to the Heian period as an ideal state in which an oligarchy governs for a ceremonial emperor. Chikafusa insisted on traditional class distinctions and expected warriors to be subordinate to courtiers.
Yoshida Kenko (1283-1350) wrote "Essays in Idleness" after renouncing a court position to become a Buddhist monk. He found the beauty of life in its uncertainty. He applauded the frugal who do not covet the world's goods, and he noted there has rarely been a wealthy sage. He advised those who follow the world to judge moods, because an untimely speech hurts feelings and so fails. Yet both priest and layman should not consider moods in accomplishing what is needed. Yoshida found great pleasure in conversing with unseen generations while quietly reading alone.
Japan was changing. Governors were soon replaced with protectors (shugo) or local warlords. For the next six decades the civil war raged between warrior clans throughout Japan, even though Takauji and Tadayoshi planned a stupa at Buddhist chapels in all 66 provinces dedicated to a "country at peace." Zen monk Muso persuaded the Ashikaga government to send a trading expedition to China in 1342 and use the profits to build the Tenryuji monastery, which continued to engage in such trade. Forces led by Ko Moronao and his brother Moroyasu for the Ashikaga Bakufu at Kyoto won a great victory over the loyalists under Masatsura and Chikafusa at Shijo-Nawate in 1348. Yet Moronao's plundering and devastation to force loyalists to submit caused troubles and ill will toward the Bakufu. Chancellor Toin Kinkata described the turbulent warriors in his diary. Many warriors changed sides from selfish interests. Tadayoshi declared allegiance to the Southern Court and proclaimed that Moronao and Moroyasu must be destroyed; the Ko brothers were wounded and were eventually put to death by the son of a man they had murdered.
At Kyoto Tadayoshi was reconciled with his brother Takauji, and he tried to make peace between the courts again in 1351; but renewed sibling conflict resulted in Takauji submitting to the Southern Court, and his brother Tadayoshi eventually surrendered and was poisoned, recompense for his having poisoned young Prince Tsunenaga. The Kyoto capital changed hands several times. Takauji died in 1358 and was replaced by his son Yoshiakira as shogun, that office remaining in the Ashikaga family for the next two centuries. Ten years later the Northern Court's emperor Go-Murakami died, and that year Yoshiakira was replaced by his nine-year-old son Yoshimitsu. Hosokawa Yoriyuki as deputy shogun was guided by the puritanical Kemmu Shikimoku. Prince Kanenaga spent a decade trying to control Kyushu for the loyalists; but in 1370 the Bakufu sent the talented general Imagawa, who took a dozen more years to conquer the island by the time Kanenaga died in 1383. A special tax on arable land imposed in 1371 for the accession ceremony of Go-Enyu was continued and became burdensome to farmers. Many farmers evaded dreaded tax and debt collectors by joining an army.
Shogun Yoshimitsu was occupied putting down warlords; in 1379 he took on a revolt by the Shiba, Toki, and Kyogoku families. In 1390 he destroyed the rebellious shugo of Mino and Owar, and the next year he defeated the Yamana family that controlled eleven provinces in central Japan. In 1392 Yoshimitsu was able to make an agreement with the southern emperor Go-Kameyama, who transferred authority to the northern emperor Go-Komatsu with the understanding the two lines would then alternate. Yoshimitsu retired and built the golden pavilion in Kyoto, where he entertained in splendor. Warlord Ouchi Yoshihiro, who controlled six provinces in the west, was also defeated in 1399. The civil war finally ended, though the agreement to alternate was not kept in 1412 when Go-Komatsu abdicated to his son. While the conflict over emperors was the ostensible reason for the war, hostility between military factions seeking to gain material advantages were probably stronger motives. With warriors off fighting so much of the time, peasant farmers not drafted into an army actually became more independent; as Takauji had decreed that half the income was to go to the military class, this took wealth and power from estate owners and the central government's tax base.
In 1405 Japan promised the Ming government it would suppress piracy in exchange for the Ashikaga Bakufu's monopoly on licensing trade with China. Trade between these countries increased until 1453 when it began to decline. Ashikaga Mochiuji came into conflict with his advisor Uyesugi Ujinori and in 1417 received military aid from the Kyoto Bakufu in putting down the rebellion; but gradually the warriors of the Kanto plain confiscated Ashikaga estates and, as a reward for helping Mochiuji, stopped paying him taxes. Yoshimitsu and his successor Yoshimochi promised Korea they would control Japanese piracy in exchange for a printed copy of the extensive Buddhist scriptures of the Tripitaka, which finally arrived in 1423. A Korean declaration of war four years earlier had stirred alarm; but the situation was resolved, and trade flourished. In 1443 Korea made a trade treaty with the Kyushu deputy to permit fifty Japanese ships each year.
Yoshinori was chosen shogun by lot from the sons of Yoshimitsu in 1428. He had been chief abbot of the Tendai Buddhists but took a hard line in suppressing insubordinate warlords and also brutally disciplined courtiers for venial sins, executing sixty persons. In 1439 Yoshinori sided with the Uyesugi against Ashikaga Mochiuji and helped to exterminate the Kanto branch of that house. Yoshinori was murdered in 1441 at a banquet held by General Akamatsu Mitsusuki, who feared loss of land. The Yamana family was charged with punishing him; after killing Mitsusuki and his kin, they took over Akamatsu domains, giving them control of seven provinces.
The Japanese economy was growing, as sole inheritance was abandoned in favor of dividing land among sons. Manufacturing was organized and controlled by guilds (za), providing opportunities for peasants to become traders and artisans. Samurai and farmers formed leagues for mutual defense against oppressive warlords. Several local uprisings occurred in the second half of the 14th century. In 1428 a revolt of teamsters in Omi province soon spread to Kyoto, Nara, and several provinces as mobs attacked moneylenders, pawnshops, and monasteries to destroy records of debt. As wholesale trade expanded, in 1431 dealers withheld rice from the Kyoto market to raise prices, causing distress; they were arrested and convicted but not punished because the deputy governor of the samurai board was in with them. In 1441 farmers in the Kyoto area once again revolted against landlords. The Bakufu capitulated by canceling all debts, not just those of warriors; but markets were disrupted, and trade almost ceased. In 1447 rioters killed four people in the Toji monastery. The seven-year-old Shogun Yoshimasa was appointed in 1443 and allowed the Bakufu government to relax its vigilance. The royal court had become so poor that it could not even maintain the upkeep of its holiest shrine at Ise.
The death of Ashikaga Mochiuji in 1439 ended the governorship of Kanto, and the powerful Uyesugi family controlled Kamakura until Ashikaga Shigeuji was appointed Kanrei in 1449; but when he had his Uyesugi deputy murdered, that family drove Shigeuji out of Kamakura. After a decade of fighting Shogun Yoshimasa sent his younger brother Masatomo to be Kanrei; but the Shigeuji had their own choice so that there were now two deputies of the Shogun in the east. The Uyesugi family split into three factions and fought each other for the next quarter century until the Onin War ended in 1477.
No Plays of Kannami, Zeami, and Zenchiku
Japanese No theater grew out of Shinto priestesses dancing and "monkey music" (sangaku) skits introduced from China. The farcical kyogen (wild words) interludes derived from the following passage from the Chinese poet Bo Juyi that was made into a popular song:
May the vulgar trade of letters that I have plied in this life, all the folly of wild words and fine phrases, be transformed into a hymn of praise that shall celebrate the Buddha in age on age to come, and cause the great wheel of the law to turn.
In the 11th century the peasant songs and dances called dengaku became so disruptive that they were blamed for the riots in 1096. About a century after Chinese theater began flourishing during the Mongol rule in the 13th century, the Japanese No dramas began to be played at court and in the large cities. All roles were usually performed by males. In 1374 Kannami and his Kanza troupe were invited to perform before the young Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu in Kyoto. Apparently Yoshimitsu fell in love with Kannami's eleven-year-old son Zeami and brought him up at court while sponsoring the No company of his father. A sequence of five No plays was performed in a day beginning with a religious play followed by a warrior play, a woman play, a "madwoman" piece, and concluding with an auspicious play. The main character (shite) wore a mask and did most of the singing and also danced, while the witness (waki) did much of the explaining. His or her companions (tsure) and children (kokata) also appeared and spoke, but the chorus, remaining anonymous on the sideline, would also sing for the shite or the waki.
An early No play by Komparu Gonnokami in the mid-14th century called The Diver is an example of an auspicious play. The story told is of a dragon spirit who answers the chanting of the Lotus Sutra and dives to find a jewel from the Tang court. The jewel in which the Buddha's image appears is given to her son Fujiwara Fusazaki, who is named after the place. The play celebrates the founding of the powerful Fujiwara line and the bringing of Buddhism from China to Japan.
Kannami Kiyotsugu (1333-84) founded the Kanza troupe in Nara and is considered the first No master. His plays, often revised later by his son Zeami, are more realistic and less literary. In Jinen the Priest a girl has sold herself into slavery in order to buy a robe to give to the temple for her dead parents. The priest offers the slave traders the robe in exchange for the girl; but they refuse until he sings and dances for them.
Kannami's Komachi and the Hundred Nights shows the ghosts of Komachi and Shosho telling how she required him to sleep one hundred nights on a bench; but after 99 times he is detained by a death in his family. Then the two lovers refuse the wedding cup of wine, and both enter the Buddhist path. In the more famous play by Kannami, Sotoba Komachi, the old poet Komachi appears herself without Shosho, seeking his spirit for a hundred years. When the monks chide her for sitting on a tree stump sacred to Buddha, she responds with her iconoclastic views. She has little and asks the priests to give her something. Then her voice asks for Komachi, as his spirit takes over her body. Finally she realizes that her unsatisfied love had possessed her, and she prays to enter the Buddhist way, offering her poems as flowers.
In Kannami's Pining Wind, revised by Zeami, a wandering monk comes to learn of two salt-makers, Pining Wind and Autumn Rain, and of Lord Yukihira's poetry, which promised Pining Wind he would return to her if she "pined" for him. Autumn Rain tells Pining Wind that the sin of clinging is keeping her in the world of mad passion. At the end Rain has gone, but Pining Wind lingers on alone. In The Sought-for Grave Kannami portrayed a wintry scene in which Buddhist monks and village girls look for green plants while learning the story of Unai, whose ghost is seeking rest after she rejected two courting men, because they were so equal they both shot the wings of the same bird. The Flower-Basket by Kannami and revised by Zeami shows the Lady Teruhi having received the basket with a letter from her lover, who has become Emperor Keitai (r. 507-31). Going mad, she travels to see him and has her maid present the basket. After she dances the sad story of China's Wu Di, who missed his concubine, the Emperor invites her back to the palace.
More plays by Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443) are in the current No repertory than by any other playwright. For many years he enjoyed the patronage of Shogun Yoshimitsu at the capital. After Yoshimitsu died in 1408, Zeami's talent was not as appreciated at court, and in 1429 he was barred from performances by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshinori. Five years later after one son had became a monk and the other had died, he was banished to the island of Sado, though he returned to the capital a few years before his death. Zeami also wrote about No theater. He found that the underlying spiritual strength of the actor best held the audience and that moments of no action were often the most enjoyable. The inner strength of the actor must not become noticeable to the audience or it is no longer "no action." Actors by clearing their minds may even conceal their own intent from themselves. In linking all artistic powers with the one mind, Zeami sought the elusive quality he called yugen, which means what lies beneath the surface. For Zeami yugen is true beauty and gentleness, tranquility and elegance in personal appearance, grace of language, and music that is smooth and sensitive. By using intelligence the actor makes the presentation beautiful in form and manner.
In the first-category god play Takasago Zeami portrayed the happily married spirits of two pine trees and in doing so implied praise for the reign of the current Shogun Yoshimitsu. The husband's spirit, Sumiyoshi, who is also the god of poetry, dances to celebrate the long lives of pine trees even though many Buddhists do not consider plants sentient. Zeami's Kureha is another god play about the sacred craft of weaving as personified by two weaving maidens. In Saigyo's Cherry Tree by Zeami the spirit of the cherry tree asks the Buddhist poet Saigyo why he blames the tree blossoms for the visitors who come to disturb him, for the eyes that see any part of the world as vexatious depend wholly on the seer's heart. In another play about the gods, Haku Rakuten, the Chinese poet Bo Juyi tries to visit Japan, where his influence is so great; but he is forced to return to China by Japan's own god of poetry, Sumiyoshi.
Atsumori by Zeami is a warrior play in which a priest now called Rensei prays for the soul of Atsumori, whom he had killed in the battle of Ichinotani in 1183. He begins the play by saying, "Life is a lying dream; he only wakes who casts the world aside."8 Rensei finds the spirit of Atsumori among some reapers, and they become friends in Buddha's law according to the proverb, "Put away from you a wicked friend; summon to your side a virtuous enemy."9 At the end Atsumori approaches his old enemy with uplifted sword; but he recognizes that Rensei has obtained salvation, and he asks him to pray for him again. Atsumori's brother Tsunemasa was slain in the same battle, and in Zeami's Tsunemasa a priest's prayers once again invoke the spirit of the dead warrior, this time by playing a lute. However, the anguished spirit is still suffering anger, and in trying to wound another he consumes himself in red waves like flames; he is ashamed of these woes and vanishes.
Tadanori by Zeami tells of another warrior killed in the Inchinotani battle. Tadanori's spirit still haunts a cherry tree, because he wants his name immortalized by having his poetry placed in an imperial anthology. Because the Taira lost the war, his poem was listed as anonymous by editor Toshinari. Tadanori appeals for someone to help, and in fact one of his poems was later put in the 1235 anthology with his name by Toshinari's son Fujiwara Teika. Zeami's Yashima is about a battle after Inchinotani in 1185 when Yoshitsune boldly risked his life to retrieve his bow, although Kanefusa reprimanded him for his foolishness. Yoshitsune's ghost replies that it was a question of honor. In Kagekiyo by Zeami the daughter of the warrior Kagekiyo the passionate travels to find her banished father, who at first though blind says he has not seen Kagekiyo. Later she asks her father to tell of his high deeds in the battle. He does so but concludes still in torment and asks her to pray for him as she goes. Thus Zeami's plays endeavored to heal the warrior spirit so prominent in feudal Japan.
In the woman play Eguchi by Zeami a villager tells a monk the story of the harlot of Eguchi, who was a poet and in reality the Bodhisattva Fugen. Once she refused to entertain the great monk Saigyo for the night and chided him with her poetry for his clinging. Then the lady of Eguchi appears and sings how all things are a moment's refuge. In Zeami's Komachi at Seki-dera a monk discovers that the old woman is the famous poet Komachi. In Zeami's The Feather Mantle the fisherman Hakuryo steals an angel's robe of feathers and refuses to give it back; she will dance for him if he will give it back; but he must trust her enough to give it to her first. In Izutsu by Zeami the husband, who grew up with his wife, visits a woman in another province; but when he finds out how true his wife is to him, he stops going there.
Lady Han by Zeami is a mad-woman play in which this post-station courtesan is driven to despair by her love for an officer that is symbolized by a fan he gave her. In another example of this genre, Semimaru, the blind prince by that name has been abandoned in the wilderness; he does not blame his father for cruelty but believes that because of his karmic impediments he did so in order to help him work through them to achieve his salvation. There Semimaru meets his mad sister Sakagami, who has topsy-turvy hair; but sadly she has to leave him. In Zeami's The Fulling Block a wife missing her husband pounds silk on the fulling block to express her frustration. When he does not return at the time he promised, she dies. Hearing of her death, he comes back; then her ghost scolds him for not knowing her pain.
In Zeami's The Damask Drum an old gardener is attracted to a princess, who tells him to beat the drum hanging from a tree if he wants to see her, but the drum made of cloth makes no sound. In despair the gardener drowns himself in the pond. Then the princess hears the drum and becomes possessed by his spirit. The gardener's ghost is covered in the darkness of the denied anger of lust and sinks again into the whirlpool of desire. In Uto by Zeami a dead hunter asks a monk to take a message to his living wife and child. Then the guilt-ridden ghost of the hunter appears to them and tells how after killing baby Uto birds he was poisoned by the falling tears of their parents. The play strongly supports the Buddhist prohibition of hunting. The Pool-Sacrifice shows how a traveler's daughter is chosen by lot to be sacrificed by a local cult. Hachi No Ki by Zeami shows Lord Tokiyori in disguise as a priest asking for lodging from a couple that even burns miniature plum, cherry, and pine trees to keep him warm. Six months later he mobilizes forces so that he can grant the tattered couple three fiefs.
Zeami's plays about crones include Higaki, which shows the plight of an old woman, who had been a dancer, and Obasute (The Deserted Crone), whose ghost tells how she was abandoned on a mountain by her nephew at the bidding of his wife, who kept her husband from returning in time to save her life. The Mountain Crone by Zeami shows the influence of Zen and discusses the value of different paths up the mountain.
Zeami's oldest son Motomasa, who died in 1432, wrote The Sumida River. A ferryman tells a woman of a trader abandoning a small boy who had become ill on a journey. The woman turns out to be his mother, and the boy's ghost returns from the grave briefly in response to her prayers.
Zeami's son-in-law Komparu Zenchiku (1405-68) wrote Tatsuta for Zeami's troupe probably in 1432. A shrine maiden guides a monk to the Tatsuta shrine so that he can contribute a copy of the Lotus Sutra. Then a lady of the shrine dances in celebration of their famous red leaves of autumn. Zenchiku may also have written The Kasuga Dragon God, which shows how the Buddhist monk Myoe Shonin (1173-1232) is persuaded not to travel to India by the old priest, who argues that if the Buddha were living, it would be noble to go see and hear him; but past events he suggests can be commemorated at various sacred places in Japan. In Aoi No Uye Zenchiku revised an earlier play based on Murasaki's Tale of Genji. A witch determines that the man Princess Rokujo is pining for is no longer alive. The jealous Rokujo is ready to strike her rival with a mallet, but a saint comes in and calms her spirit.
Zenchiku's Kumasaka shows the ghost of a robber disguised as a priest telling how he was killed by the young Yoshitsune. In The Hoka Priests by Zenchiku two brothers discuss Zen and then kill the man who had murdered their father. In Zenchiku's The Valley-Hurling the violent side of religion is shown as a teacher follows the ancient law that anyone who falls sick on this particular pilgrimage has to be thrown into the valley. A boy is so hurled, and after prayers he is carried back by a spirit.
These highly stylized No plays are difficult to appreciate without the operatic singing, dancing, and acting. Yet the spiritual messages come through as so many ghosts or spirits are presented, and the audience is able to see the spiritual laws of karmic responsibility and grace through prayer in action.
Probably in the 15th century Hiyoshi Sa-ami Yasukiyo wrote the play Benkei on the Bridge about the warrior monk Benkei, who fights the famous Ushiwaka (Minamoto Yoshitsune) on the Gojo bridge in Kyoto. Benkei becomes his loyal retainer, and in The Subscription List he fights for this lord. In the next century Miyamasu wrote The Hat-maker in which the young Ushiwaka gets a hat made by a hat-maker familiar with his Minamoto clan, and he fights against the dominating Heike clan.
under Warlords 1465-1568
Succession struggles reflected the rivalries in most families in every province of Japan. By the middle of the 15th century the powerful Yamana family distrusted the Hosokawa clan, which was favored by the Shogun and held the Kanrei position. At age thirty Shogun Yoshimasa wanted to retire after serving 14 years, and Hosokawa favored Yoshimasa's younger brother Yoshimi; but in 1465 the Shogun's wife Tomi-ko gave birth to a son, Yoshihisa, who was supported by Yamana. That year Tendai monks of Enryakuji on Mount Hiei resented the growing influence of Rennyo (1415-99) and his promotion of the True sect (Shinshu) so much that they burned his temple and drove him from Kyoto. In 1467 Yamana asked permission of Shogun Yashimasa to punish Hosokawa for interfering in a dispute between two Hatakeyama candidates for Kanrei. When Yamana took Yoshimi to the Bakufu headquarters and prepared to defend it, both sides mobilized their forces. Shogun Yashimasa tried to prevent a war by saying the first to attack would be proclaimed a rebel. The Ouchi daimyo (lord) led 20,000 men to support Yamana which would tip the balance of forces. A shipment of tax grain to the capital by Yamana troops was seized by Hosokawa soldiers in the Tamba province.
Fires broke out around the capital of Kyoto, and in May 1467 Hosokawa troops attacked the mansion of a Yamana general; many were killed on both sides. However, Hosokawa persuaded the Shogun to declare Yamana the rebel. Yoshimasa ordered his brother Yoshimi to punish them, and he appointed Hosokawa his commanding general. This proclamation gave Hosokawa an edge, and Yamana and Ouchi had to send troops back to protect their provinces; but by September, Yamana and Ouchi had reinforcements that included 500 boats escorted by pirates. Yamana with 50,000 soldiers attacked the Sambo-In monastery next to the imperial palace and took both buildings. Fighting, burning, and looting devastated the capital for several months. Yoshimi went over to Yamana's side, and in 1469 Shogun Yoshimasa declared four-year-old Yoshihisa his heir; Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado pronounced Yoshimi a rebel. By 1472 generals on both sides were leaving the capital to suppress insurrections in their territories, and the next year both Hosokawa and Yamana died; but Ouchi refused to surrender and in 1475 fought Hatakeyama Masanaga. The decade-long Onin War finally ended two years later when Ouchi submitted to Yoshimasa and went home.
A league of local warriors (kokujin) had been formed in Izume province in 1473 and was able to tax the private estates (shoen), often owned by those in the capital. When the Hosokawa shugo (military governor) demanded back the shoen taken by the kokujin during the Onin War in Settsu province, these warriors resisted in 1479 and appealed to the rebel Hatakeyama Yoshinari; but Hosokawa raised a large army and crushed the uprising in 1482 by destroying their home bases of Suita and Ibaragi. The 1485 revolt in southern Yamashiro province against shugo Hatakeyama was tolerated by Hosokawa Masamoto; but four years later he decided to suppress an uprising in his own province of Tamba because it was more anti-shugo. Revolts spread in Hosokawa's Kinai provinces. Troops from Kyoto were used but were not able to quell the rebellion until 1493, ending this series of uprisings.
The Onin War began a century of local conflicts between warlords. The shogun's wife Tomi-ko and her elder brother Hino Katsuakira acquired a fortune by peculation. She extorted taxes at the capital gates, saying they were to repair the imperial palace; but threats by the Yamashiro-Ikki ended this in 1482. Periodic riots induced the shogunate to cancel debts. Soon the Kyoto court not only had little power but little income as well. In 1485 a council of Yamashiro peasants demanded that Hatakeyama armies leave their province and restore estates to their owners, and they were obeyed. The next year 36 Yoshimiro-Ikki leaders set up a provincial government with officers rotating monthly. Rennyo built his True sect into the single-minded (Ikko) sect at Echizen with military organization that defeated the warlord of neighboring Kaga in 1488. Yoshimasa had formally resigned as shogun in 1473, but he patronized and appreciated the arts until he died in 1490. The priest Murata Juko (1422-1502) helped him raise the tea ceremony to a fine art.
Greater self-government by local communities had begun to develop in the 14th century. A decree canceling debts was issued on the Okushima and Kitatsuda private estates in 1441, and this soon led to the historic nationwide Kakitsu debt abrogation decree. In 1494 in Ise province 46 farmers representing self-governing organizations (so) signed a pledge to meet and settle their disputes. Another pledge signed by 350 farmers promised they would neither falsify boundaries nor steal crops. Families with the same name organized self-governing clans and then formed leagues with other clans. They communally managed waterways for regional irrigation and provided security to preserve peace. A decree from a Yamato province so to its shugo requested a debt moratorium after a drought caused damage. By the 16th century these so had united into some powerful leagues in the central provinces.
Ota Dokan, a vassal of the Ogigayatsu branch of the Uyesugi family, built a castle at Edo but was mistakenly taken for a rival and killed by Sadamasa in 1485. After many years of fighting the Ogigayatsu branch was defeated by the Yamanouchi forces in 1505 with help from Constable Fusayoshi of Echigo. His upstart warrior Nagao Tamekage turned against Fusayoshi, killing him two years later. Tamekage became the deputy of the new Echigo constable Uyesugi Akisada; but the warrior Hojo Soun helped Tamekage subdue the Uyesugi in Kanto. Soun had chosen his name with the ambition to become shogun, and on a deer hunt his men captured the castle that made him master of Izu; by 1516 Soun also controlled Sagami. War taxes had been taking half of farmers' crops; but Soun reduced them to 40%. He died in 1519; but his son Ujitsuma led an attack on the castle at Edo in 1524, defeating the divided armies of the Uyesugi clan. Ujitsuma defeated and killed Koga Kubo Yoshiaki in 1539 but died two years later. His son Ujiyasu defeated the Uyesugi in a night attack at Kawagoye in 1542, and by 1560 he had destroyed most of the Uyesugi. By the middle of the 16th century so many peasants had left owing taxes that they were allowed to return if they started paying after that. Ujiyasu sent letters offering to help the Ikko Buddhists, who ruled Kaga until they were expelled by a society of warriors in 1576.
The young Shogun Yoshihisa tried to contain the ambitions of local protectors (shugo) but was killed on the battlefield in 1489. After that, the shoguns became puppets just as the emperors had before. Yoshimi's son Yoshitane was made shogun in 1490 but had to flee three years later. Kanrei Hosokawa Katsumoto appointed Yoshizumi and in 1494 was replaced by his son Hosokawa Masamoto. Yoshitane tried to return to the capital in 1499 but was driven out again by Hosokawa troops, fleeing to Ouchi's capital at Yamaguchi. Ouchi Yoshioki marched on Kyoto, assassinating Masamoto in 1507 and restoring Yoshitane after Yoshizumi fled the following year. Next a war was fought between Masamoto's adopted sons over who was to be Kanrei. Ouchi stayed in the capital protecting Shogun Yoshitane until 1518. The Hosokawa family used the shoguns as puppets until their last Kanrei, Hosokawa Harumoto, was defeated in 1558 by their former vassals, Miyoshi and Matsunaga; but Miyoshi was eventually ousted by his retainer Matsunaga. The Ouchi family was also destroyed by its vassals. In 1551 Suye Harukata defeated Yoshioki's son Yoshitaka; but three years later pirates helped the Mori family, which had replaced the Yamana family, overcome Harukata in a battle during a rainstorm.
This period of civil wars has been called gekokuo, meaning the low oppressing the high; but in addition to vassals seizing power, other trends were also occurring. Many agricultural workers became independent farmers as improved tools, use of draft animals, better irrigation, and new crops such as soy beans and tea increased prosperity. Growing commerce in food, silk, hemp, linen, paper, dyes, and lacquer created a class of merchants and money-lenders, though the only coins used were Chinese. Japan exported many thousands of steel swords to China for strings of coins, silk, porcelain, paintings, medicine, and books. Skilled artisans formed guilds (za) and were protected by a temple or a noble family. Samurai warriors organized associations to resist constables and rural magnates. Otherwise armored warriors no longer had power unless they were leading large numbers of soldiers with pikes for a warlord (sengoku-daimyo), who built castles to control territories. Buddhists of the Ikko sect and the Nichiren followers fought each other several times between 1532 and 1536.
Yet villages organized as mura began to govern themselves locally. After the Onin War about twenty warlords had most of the power, and they proclaimed their strict house laws, collected taxes, and regulated markets and religious institutions, which they protected. To prevent feuds the Takeda family house laws decreed that both parties in a violent quarrel would be punished regardless of who was right. House laws imposed collective responsibility so that an entire village might be punished if anyone did not pay tax or did not apprehend a criminal. After silver was discovered in Iwami, enterprising Hakata merchants sent for skilled workers from China and Korea to improve the smelting process. In 1542 a rich deposit was found in Tajima, and in 1556 the Mori family took over an Iwami silver mine during a military campaign.
Japanese piracy and trade with the Chinese had begun in 1306 and was rampant during most of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), which usually prohibited foreign trade. After Chinese officials were attacked and lost property to the Ouchi at Ningpo in 1523, they voided the agreement they had with the Japanese. A few missions occurred until 1548. Then piracy became a major problem as many Chinese on the coasts who had lost their livelihood because of government restrictions became pirates on their own or on Japanese ships. Pirate raids took grain, silk textiles, copper cash, and captives to sell as slaves. In 1555 Koreans reported that a fleet of seventy pirate ships attacked their peninsula. After a campaign against the pirates, the Ming court about 1560 finally lifted the embargo against foreign trade.
The Portuguese first landed on the island of Tanegashima in 1543, and the firearms the Japanese got from there at first were called Tanegashima. The Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier arrived at Kagoshima in 1549 and was welcomed by the Satsuma daimyo. Xavier made the difficult journey to Kyoto, hoping to find Japan's king; but finding no powerful ruler there, he returned to Yamaguchi. There he presented himself in a splendid costume as an envoy of the Portuguese, and Ouchi Yoshitaka allowed him to preach. Yoshitaka studied Confucianism with the scholar Kiyohara Yorikata and obtained from Korea a complete edition of the five classics annotated by Zhu Xi. Yoshitaka committed suicide in 1551 because of a rebellion by his vassal Sue Takafusa (known later as Sue Harukata). Xavier converted Otomo Sorin, who protected Christians until his death in 1587. Xavier left Japan in 1551 and died of disease the next year on an island waiting to get into China. Gaspar Vilela gained the protection of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshitero in Kyoto and baptized 1300 people, mostly peasants, on the islands of Ikitsukijima and Takushima and around Hirado. In 1558 Takanobu, objecting to Vilela's burning of books and destruction of Buddhist images, expelled him from the Matsuura territory. By 1559 only six Jesuits were in Japan.
The Shogun and his wife and mother were murdered by the Miyoshi faction in 1565; the Zen priests were so intimidated that they did not attend the funeral. Buddhists then persuaded the Emperor to issue an edict expelling all Christian missionaries. The Jesuit Frois stayed in Sakai and got two armies to stop fighting for one day on Christmas in 1567. Two years later Frois was taken to see Nobunaga. In 1571 Portuguese ships made Nagasaki a base for a Jesuit community. Dom Bartolomeu required all to become Christians or leave Omura, and in 1574 he began burning its Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, thus claiming 60,000 Christian converts. Conversion in the late 1570s of the prominent Amakusa Shigehisa and Arima Harunobu influenced thousands to be baptized. Omura Sumitada and his son Yoshiaki signed over Nagasaki to the Society of Jesus in 1580.
Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu 1568-1615
Oda Nobunaga (1534-82) overcame opposition and became the master of Owari in 1559 as the constable fled, and that year he was received in Kyoto by Ashikaga Shogun Yoshiteru. Nobunaga established a fortress at Kiyosu, and in 1560 he defeated an attack by an Imagawa army of 25,000 with a much smaller force by using clever strategy. He consolidated his power with military force and diplomatic marriages. In 1561 Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616) joined Nobunaga and went to Mikawa. The commander Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-98) helped Nobunaga defeat the Mino. After Shogun Yoshiteru was killed by rebellious vassals of Hosokawa in 1565, his younger brother Yoshiaki took refuge with Nobunaga. This ambitious warlord then overcame opposition in the province of Ise, and in November 1568 he entered Kyoto and proclaimed Yoshiaki the Ashikaga shogun. Citizens of the capital were pleased to see that Nobunaga kept his troops under discipline. The new Shogun gave Frois permission to preach Christianity. Nobunaga encouraged free markets and open guilds in towns such as Kano and ordered all toll gates in the provinces abolished. He fixed the ratio between gold, silver, and copper, stopping barter transactions with rice, and he forced Sakai to pay 20,000 kan. Sakai was his main supplier of muskets, ammunition, and other military equipment.
Ieyasu controlled eastern Japan for Nobunaga by making peace with Takeda Shingen and by occupying territory formerly held by Imagawa. When Asakura Yoshikage of Echizen did not obey Nobunaga's summons to the capital with the other warlords in 1570, Nobunaga attacked him with an army of 30,000. Ieyasu's army made the difference in defeating Asakura and his ally Asai. The military monks at Enryakuji opposed Nobunaga because his generals confiscated their land. So Nobunaga mercilessly attacked them in 1571, allowing his soldiers to behead women and children as well as monks and laymen while destroying 3,000 buildings. That year Ujiyasu died, and the new Hojo leader joined with the Takeda family in a march on the capital. Their army of 30,000 met Nobunaga's forces in January 1573; Ieyasu fled, and Nobunaga had to sue for peace. When Shogun Yoshiaki sided with Takeda, Nobunaga deposed the Shogun and drove him out of Kyoto. Takeda Shingen died after being wounded in an attack on Ieyasu. Finally in August 1573 after Nobunaga defeated their armies and destroyed their castles, Asakura and Asai committed suicide; Nobunaga gave their lands to Hideyoshi. Nobunaga had roads and bridges improved and ordered pine and willow trees planted along the roads.
Nobunaga was especially cruel to fighting monks, and in 1574 he burned the two strongholds of the Ikko league even after they asked to surrender, killing about 20,000 people. The next year he used 3,000 soldiers armed with muskets to help Ieyasu defeat a much larger force of Takeda warriors, making the advantage of the new technology obvious. In 1576 Nobunaga began disarming peasants and building the strong Azuchi castle that was completed three years later. In 1577 Nobunaga's forces accepted the surrender of the Ikko league in the Kii province. Nobunaga preferred the less militant Pure Land (Jodo) sect of Buddhists and built them the Jogon-In monastery in his new city of Azuchi. Nobunaga also disliked the militant Hokke sect of Nichiren followers and made sure the Jodo won a debate he sponsored in 1579. The next year Nobunaga forced the Ikko to abandon their Honganji fortress in Osaka, greatly reducing the military power of monks in Japan. Meanwhile the Takeda of Kai were conscripting men of all classes between the ages of 15 and 60 into military service; but in 1581 Nobunaga with Ieyasu and Hojo attacked Takeda Katsuyori's army of 20,000 with an army nearly nine times its size. Katsuyori fled and was captured and killed the next year, ending the power of the Takeda family. When the Koyasan monastery gave refuge to his enemies and ejected his envoys, Nobunaga ordered all their wandering friars executed.
Despite the efforts of Hideyoshi, Nobunaga was never able to subjugate the Mori in western Japan. As Nobunaga was going there in 1582, the treachery of Akechi enabled him to ambush and kill Nobunaga before taking the Azuchi castle. Hideyoshi kept the news of his death secret while he made a treaty with Mori. Then Hideyoshi's army attacked and killed Akechi. Four generals took over after Nobunaga's death; but Hideyoshi was the strongest, and with quick movements by the end of 1582 he controlled thirty provinces, ten more than Nobunaga had gained in twenty years. In the east Ieyasu challenged Hideyoshi briefly but made peace with him in 1585. That year Hideyoshi's armies forced the Chosokabe to submit and eliminated the military power of the great monasteries in the central region.
Hideyoshi built his castle at Osaka and destroyed most of the castles in other provinces. He had a land survey begun in 1583, but it was not completed until 1598, the year he died. The actual cultivators were made responsible for paying the taxes on their produce. This made more farmers independent and lessened the influence of the rural gentry, giving Hideyoshi direct control over the 80% of Japan's population who farmed. In 1590 he ordered anyone resisting the inspections to be executed. The state usually took 40% or 50% in the tax, and peasants had to pay their landlords from the rest.
In 1587 Hideyoshi mobilized an army of perhaps 200,000 to subdue the Satsuma armies of Kyushu. Shimazu submitted and was allowed to keep Satsuma, Osumi, and half of Hyuga. The remainder of Kyushu was governed by Hideyoshi's commanders Kato, Konishi, and Kuroda. Next Hideyoshi punished Ujimasa for not coming to his palace. Hojo had been conscripting all the men they could; but they had fewer than 50,000 against Hideyoshi's professional army of 200,000. Ujimasa surrendered in August 1590 and was ordered to commit suicide. Hideyoshi gave Ieyasu the eight Kanto provinces in the east in exchange for Ieyasu's more central territories that Hideyoshi distributed to his trusted vassals. Thus Hideyoshi established his feudal control over all sixty provinces of Japan as all the major daimyos swore fealty to him. He monopolized gold and silver mines and some other state enterprises. Copper, silver, and gold coins were issued. In 1588 he began the "sword hunt" that confiscated weapons from those not in his army. Peasants were told that they would be melted down to be used as nails and bolts in a gigantic image of Buddha. At the end of 1590 Hideyoshi announced a census that would expel from villages vagrants who did not work on farms or for the military.
The Emperor had made Hideyoshi kampaku (regent) in 1585 and chancellor the next year. By 1582 only twenty Jesuits estimated that they had baptized 150,000 people in Japan. In 1587 Hideyoshi ordered the Jesuits to leave Japan within twenty days, accusing them of forcing people to give up their religion, selling slaves to China and Korea, killing animals for food, and destroying Buddhist and Shinto buildings. The edict was not strictly enforced; merchants from Christian countries were allowed to trade; and ten priests were licensed in Nagasaki. By 1596 some 140 Jesuits were still in Japan, and the number of converts had risen to 300,000. After hearing a threatening boast from a shipwrecked Spanish pilot, irritated Hideyoshi had six Spanish Franciscans and nineteen Japanese Christians crucified. Hideyoshi appointed the five elders Ieyasu, Ukita, Mori, Maeda, and Uyesugi for counsel and five commissioners to carry out his policies and help his nephew Hidetsuga, who was officially made regent in 1592. Hidetsuga occupied himself with falconry and women and was so vicious that he was called the murdering regent; in 1595 he was replaced by Hideyoshi's infant son Hideyori. Hideyoshi then ordered Hidetsuga to commit suicide and had his three children and thirty women in his service massacred.
In 1595 priests from the ten Buddhist sects were required to attend the dedication of the large statue of the Buddha at Hoko-ji. The Nichiren sect explained the principle of fuju fuse, that they could not receive from nor give to those who do not believe in the Lotus Sutra. Nichio refused to attend and accurately predicted that others who did attend would in the future be required to keep accepting tainted donations. The more traditional Ju faction won the debate, and in 1600 Nichio was exiled to Tsushima until he was pardoned in 1612.
The ambitious Hideyoshi wanted to take over China and perhaps even India. In April 1592 he ordered the invasion of Korea. The striking force had 158,800 men with a naval force of 9,000 and 75,000 reserves at Nagoya sent by Ieyasu and others. Konishi Yukinaga led the first wave of 18,000 men on 700 vessels that took Pusan in May and the capital at Seoul in June. Supported by other contingents, Konishi's vanguard captured P'yongyang in July 1592. Korea's king appealed to China, and their forces drove the Japanese out of P'yongyang and back south; but these first Chinese forces were trapped and defeated by the Japanese army. Disastrous defeats from a superior Korean navy forced the Japanese occupying army to live off the land, and they faced ferocious guerrilla attacks by Koreans. By early 1593 they had lost a third of their men. Konishi was able to withstand another Chinese army of at least 50,000. They negotiated with the Chinese and agreed to leave the Korean capital. Most of the Chinese went back to China; their diplomats promised that the Ming emperor would recognize Hideyoshi as the king of Japan, and trade would resume. Japan also wanted to keep the southern provinces of Korea, which was not consulted.
The Christian Konishi favored the negotiated peace; but the Buddhist Kato persuaded Hideyoshi to renew the war in 1597, and another 100,000 men were sent to join the 50,000 still in Korea. China responded by sending another army that arrived in 1598 as Hideyoshi was withdrawing half his forces; but Konishi at Pusan with 60,000 men was able to defeat the Chinese, killing a reported 38,000. News in September 1598 that Hideyoshi had died caused a standstill. Then both the Chinese and the Japanese forces withdrew from a devastated Korea. The Japanese gained technical knowledge of Korean printing and pottery by taking skilled workers as captives.
After Hideyoshi died, Ieyasu was the most wealthy and powerful on the council of five. His Kanto holdings in 1590 had yielded a million koku, but now he was worth 2,557,000 koku. The commissioners led by Ishida Mitsunari (1560-1600) accused him of betraying Hideyoshi by arranging political marriages, but this was resolved. However, General Kato learned that Mitsunari was behind two assassination attempts on Ieyasu and went to kill him. Ieyasu dismissed the commissioners and moved into the late Hideyoshi's castle at Osaka. Mitsunari was joined in a military revolt by Uyesugi Kagekatsu, who had not responded to Ieyasu's summons. Mitsunari captured Fushimi castle and gained Shimazu, Ukita, and Konisha as allies; but in 1600 at Sekigahara about 80,000 fought on each side. Kobayakawa went over to Ieyasu's side, and they defeated Konisha and Utika, causing Mitsunari and Shimazu to flee. Mitsunari and Konishi were both captured and executed. Ieyasu rewarded the daimyos on his side with the 7,572,000 koku confiscated. He distributed fiefs so that his trusted allies (Fudai daimyos) could watch over the more dangerous ones (Tozama), whom he kept busy by ordering their men to help build his castles. Hideyoshi's son Hideyori was allowed to keep 650,000 koku.
The wealth of the Tokugawa family increased to 6,400,000 koku (one-fourth of the nation's total revenue) and now included the cities of Edo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagasaki, Yamada, and Nara. Ieyasu took over gold and silver mines and established a mint at Fishimi in 1601. He restored the Bakufu power when the Emperor appointed him shogun in 1603. He made his capital at Edo in his eastern domains of Kanto. An edict of 1603 allowed a peasant to leave his land if he had paid his taxes and the landlord's conduct was abusive. Landlords were also prohibited from using violence against the peasants, and they were instructed to take their disputes to the magistrate's court. Ieyasu's adviser Honda Masanobu wrote that the peasants should be governed with care but that they should be taxed so that they have only enough rice to eat and for seeds to plant the next year. A 1604 edict gave the Bakufu a monopoly over imported raw silk. In 1605 Ieyasu let his son Hidetada replace him as shogun so that he could work on governing. When Matsudaira Tadayoshi died in 1607, four of his pages committed junshi suicide to follow him. Then four retainers did the same for Matsudaira Hideyasu. These examples revived the junshi custom for a time.
Japanese soldiers went out to secure trade with Melaka, Macao, and the Philippines. The English refugee William Adams from a Dutch ship stayed with Ieyasu and oversaw the building of ships. Two Dutch ships were allowed to establish a trading post at Hirado in 1609. Also that year Japan made a trade agreement with Korea, but the Japanese were no longer allowed to travel beyond the port of Pusan. The Portuguese trading monopoly was clearly over the next year when most of the crew on the ship Madre de Deus were put to death for having treated Japanese sailors cruelly at Macao. In 1611 the Tokugawa government prohibited the preaching of Christianity. In 1613 after the Spanish missionary Sotelho built a chapel in Edo, 27 Japanese Christians were executed. The next year following the advice of the monk Suden, Ieyasu issued a formal edict expelling foreign missionaries. Churches in Kyoto were destroyed, and Japanese Christians of high rank were arrested and deported. In 1613 an agent of the British East India Company arrived in Japan, but the English ended their efforts to establish trade ten years later.
Ieyasu received oaths of allegiance from central and western daimyos in 1611 and from those in northern Japan the next year. This edict required them to take action against criminals and rebels. Young Hideyori was gaining strength from masterless samurai; but in 1614 Ieyasu's son Hidetada surrounded his Osaka castle with 70,000 men. Ieyasu levied more forces from his vassals so that they far outnumbered Hideyori's garrison of 90,000. Ieyasu made an agreement, but it was broken when Hidetada's men filled in the moat and pulled down the ramparts. Outnumbered two to one, after a pitched battle Hideyori committed suicide, and his wife Yodogimi (Hidetada's daughter) was killed by a retainer to prevent her capture. His sons were executed, and his older sister became a nun. The Tokugawa allies had lost 35,000 people, but the civil war was over. After his victory at Osaka, Ieyasu decreed that each daimyo could have only one castle.
Ieyasu believed in virtuous government in the ancient Chinese tradition, and the document Honsa Roku warned against ambitious vanity and greedy corruption. Its author believed peasants should have neither too much nor too little, and luxuries such as elaborate tea ceremonies were condemned as not good government. Ieyasu also studied the lessons of Japanese history from 1180 to 1266 in The Mirror of the East (Azuma Kagami). At an assembly of vassals in Fushimi castle in August 1615 Ieyasu promulgated a code of rules for military houses called Buke Shohatto that was drawn up with the advice of the Zen monk Suden. Its first article said that both literature and the military arts were to be studied. Drunkenness, gambling, and lewd behavior must be avoided. Criminals and rebels were not to be harbored. Building work on castles must be reported and approved. Private marriages were forbidden. Clothing and behavior should reflect one's rank and social class. All samurai were to live frugally, and daimyos were to select capable people in governing. Ieyasu was now undisputed master of Japan; he would die the next year, but his Tokugawa family would rule Japan for the next two and a half centuries.
Fujiwara Seika (1561-1619) was a Buddhist monk until he was 37; but after meeting the Korean war captive Kang Hang (1567-1618), he became devoted to the Neo-Confucian philosophy. Seika declined a position in Ieyasu's government but advised him occasionally. He and Kang Hang edited the Confucian classics. He urged samurai to study Neo-Confucian philosophy and argued that Buddhism was impractical and destructive to human relations. As a Kyoto aristocrat he looked down on the warrior class and retired to the mountains in 1615. Influenced by the Neo-Confucians Zhu Xi, Wang Yangming, and Korean thinkers, Seika held that the innate spiritual principle (li in Chinese, ri in Japanese) is innate in everyone's being; but the physical energy (qi in Chinese, ki in Japanese) is what makes moral differences. Most people have impure energy and need moral cultivation; only sages have purified their energy. Seika came to venerate Confucius and Mencius, but he rejected Daoism as well as Buddhism. Yet he still believed that desires cause virtue to decline. He tried to give Shinto a theology with Neo-Confucian concepts. He believed that both intended to rectify the heart and increase human benevolence and compassion. He warned against the hypocrisy of claiming to be virtuous while seeking personal gain. Seika believed that the emperor could govern by spiritual principle as an intermediary between heaven and earth. He argued that if people did not obey the spiritual teachings, the government had a right to make them comply with force and punishment.
Tokugawa Seclusion 1615-1716
Tokugawa Hidetada had been shogun since 1605, but he only began to rule for himself after his father Ieyasu died in 1616. He consolidated his power in the Bakufu by squeezing 4.5 million koku in revenue from his younger brother Matsudaira Tadateru, his nephew Matsudaira Tadanori, and the daimyos Fukushima Masanori and Honda Masanobu. In 1618 the Yoshiwara quarter of Edo was designated for regulated prostitution, which was made illegal anywhere else. Hidetada confirmed the ban on Christianity in 1616 and limited European merchants to the ports of Nagasaki and Hirado. Two Jesuits converted miners at Ezo during a gold rush, and more than fifty Japanese converts were executed in Kyoto and Nagasaki in 1619. No foreign missionaries were executed until 1622, when nine European priests were burned at the stake in Nagasaki along with sixteen Japanese; thirty other converts were beheaded. Missionaries estimated the total number of Christians executed between 1613 and 1626 as about 750. During the same period the Jesuits claimed they baptized 17,000 adult Japanese. Spaniards were expelled from Japan in 1624. Hidetada let his son Iemitsu become shogun in 1623 but kept the power until he died in 1632. Hidetada and Iemitsu confiscated about 3.6 million koku each from the daimyos. In 1628 Hidetada banned the importing of Christian books, and the next year a law was made that required suspected Christians to trample on bronze plaques depicting Christian images; those who refused could be tortured or executed. In 1627 the Shogun decreed that the Emperor would no longer appoint the ecclesiastical office holders. Hidetada's daughter married Emperor Go-Mizunoo in 1620. Their daughter was born in 1623 and was proclaimed Empress Meisho in 1629, when the protesting Go-Mizunoo abdicated.
Shogun Iemitsu (r. 1632-51) began his rule by confiscating half a million koku from his younger brother Tadanaga for having mistreated his vassals. Unemployed bannermen (hatamoto) led men of other classes in gangs to rob and gain from other illicit activities. Some of these had been caught and put to death when watches were put on cross-roads in 1628. In 1632 rules were made for the hatamoto that urged them to practice martial arts while avoiding gambling, extravagance, factions, trade, or naming heirs without permission. Daimyos had been leaving hostages at Edo since the battle of Sekigahara in 1600; after 1633 they were required to live there half each year or every other year while their families remained there all the time.
In 1634 Shogun Iemitsu marched his army of 300,000 to Kyoto, where he raised the retired Emperor's revenue from 7,000 to 10,000 koku and lavished gifts on the citizens. He added provisions to the Buke Shohatto drafted by the Hayashi brothers in 1635 that made the Shogun's decrees the supreme law. Thus the Shogun governed as a military dictator with the help of daimyos and their samurai in the provinces in a continuing feudal system. The daimyos were bound to lead their armies into the field at the Shogun's command. Yet during the peaceful Tokugawa era, no armies were mobilized after 1638 until 1864. All religious matters were put under the authority of the superintendent of temples and shrines. Daimyos governed their own territories by han-seki (land registration) and his samurai retainers (kashindan). A council of these elders (karo) advised the daimyo, and they acted as independent vassals. Only Kaga governed by the house of Maeda had more than a million koku. Twenty-two great daimyos had over 200,000 koku, and more than half the daimyos had territories of less than 50,000 koku. In 1635 the Bakufu sent priests from the five great Zen monasteries in Kyoto to Tsushima to watch how officials managed their relations with Koreans.
After the military aristocracy, the second class was considered to be the farmers. Soldiers were five to seven percent of the population, and the peasants made up about eighty percent. The farmers and the third class of artisans had local self-government by village or ward headmen. Artisans who made armor or weapons were more respected. Guilds were organized according to occupation, and apprenticeships were strict. Merchants were considered the lowest of the four classes, but Japanese law often combined the artisans and merchants as the chonin urban class. In 1642 some merchants and officials were severely punished for attempting to corner a market. Usually only the samurai were allowed to use a surname or carry two swords. A samurai guilty of a crime would often commit ritual suicide (seppuku) to preserve his family name.
Edo had an impregnable castle and grew to about a million people by the end of the 18th century and would be renamed Tokyo. Under the shogun from four to six senior councilors of the Roju were the main administrators. The same number of junior councilors were responsible for the shogun's housemen and bannermen. In 1633 inspectors were sent out to discipline the daimyos. Cities were administered by magistrates, and the Nagasaki magistrate had the added duty of supervising foreign trade as a monopoly for the Bakufu. About three hundred families in the Kyoto palace enclosure made up the kuge. Because of their lineage and court rank, they were considered part of the upper class; they were not wealthy and survived by teaching their artistic crafts or marrying daughters off to rich daimyos. A vendetta between samurai occurred in 1634 when Watanabe Kazuma went after Kawai Matagoro for having murdered his father. By mid-century the Code of One Hundred articles would be drawn up to define the rules of vendetta. The state if notified promptly would give permission to kill a offender if no rioting was involved. However, someone from a lower class who offended might be killed by a samurai immediately.
After the civil wars ended, as many as a half million unemployed samurai (ronin) had few opportunities and were forbidden to live in villages or monasteries. Many gave up their samurai status and became hired workers or farmers. The Christian samurai who had fought for the Christian daimyo Konishi had the most difficult time. Some soldiers settled in other lands such as the Philippines, Siam, Indo-China, Taiwan, the Moluccas, Borneo, Celebes, Java, and the Malay peninsula. The exclusion decrees began in 1633. The 1635 order made the importation of silk a monopoly for the Shogun. Japanese citizens were forbidden to travel abroad without a license and could be executed for having done so. The practice of Christianity was prohibited in all fiefs. The 1637 Shimabara revolt in Kyushu was blamed on Japanese Christians. The next year almost all the 20,000 rebels were killed, while the much larger government forces lost about 10,000 men. In 1639 seven senior councilors signed the final exclusion order. Portuguese vessels were completely banned. Macao sent envoys to negotiate, and 61 Portuguese were beheaded. In 1641 the Japanese limited Dutch merchants to the island of Dejima in Nagasaki. By 1644 no Jesuit missionaries remained in Japan. In 1649 the size of the armed forces under daimyos was set according to the extent of their domain.
One koku of rice was about five dry bushels and the annual consumption by one person. Thus the number of koku indicated the food supply for that number of people. In 1643 the sale or mortgage of arable land was prohibited so that peasants would not migrate to the towns. Peasants were not allowed to travel outside their district without a certificate. In 1649 the Bakufu government issued a document to guide peasant farmers. They were to work hard and remove all weeds, growing beans and other foods on the borders. They should rise early to cut grass, and they were to make straw rope or bags in the evening. The wife should work at the loom day and night. If a wife neglects her household duties, she should be divorced. They should wear hemp or cotton, not silk. They should not buy tea or sake and must not smoke tobacco. The average tax on peasants was half the rice crop, and they could be made to work on roads or supply horses without pay. Villages elected their own headmen, but influential families usually dominated. If taxes were not fully paid, the headman could lose his property or be tortured. In 1641 seven headmen were executed for protesting a land survey in Uwajima. In 1652 the headman Matsumoto Choso insisted on a tax reduction, which was finally granted, but he was executed.
Peasants were organized into groups (goningumi) of five families responsible for mutual aid and for mutual surveillance. A 1642 law made the group responsible for the fields of those who absconded. Anyone helping a peasant escape or another offender could be punished by fines. The Zensho published their duties with specific instructions that included how to receive public officials, clear roads, tie up dogs and cats, clean and repair wells and streams, cultivate all arable land, and keep bridges and roads in order. Permission must be gained to cut bamboo or trees or to build. Ronin, merchants, and beggars were not allowed to spend the night in the village, and strangers must be questioned and reported to authorities. Christians were forbidden entry. A village must help another village in case of fire or robbery. No person under the age of ten was to be sold.
After Shogun Iemitsu died in 1651, more than 3,000 attendants, mostly female, were dismissed as unnecessary. The capable young Hotta Masamori was one of several retainers chosen to accompany his dead overlord in the junshi custom that was finally abolished in 1663. Five years later a vassal of Okudaira Tadumasa committed junshi suicide, and his two children were executed; this was the last junshi recorded. Iemitsu's son Ietsuna was only ten years old and suffered poor health until his death in 1680. Matsudaira Nobutsuna and Abe Tadaaki on the Roju council governed, and they got Confucian advice from Hoshina Masayuki. Local han authorities became more independent. In 1651 the daimyo Matsudaira Sadamasa returned his fief in Mikawa to the Bakufu with all his possessions so that the Shogun would pay the poverty-stricken bannermen (hatamoto). Then he walked through Edo with a begging bowl, but the Bakufu considered him mad, confiscated his estate, and gave it to his elder brother. Two independent samurai, Yui Shosetsu and Marubashi Chuya, taught military skills and sold weapons. After Iemitsu died, they plotted to start a fire in Edo to overthrow the government; but Chuya was arrested, and surrounded Shosetsu and his colleagues committed suicide. Chuya and his accomplices were tortured and executed along with their families. Another ronin conspiracy by restless samurai was discovered and suppressed the next year.
Abe Tadaaki urged a policy that would reduce the number of dangerous ronin. Daimyos were allowed to name an heir on their death-bed to prevent the Bakufu from confiscating their estates. As more of the samurai's sons were educated, they were able to fill positions in government. Those gangs who wore odd costumes and hairstyles were called kabukimono. Townsmen from the class of clerks and shopkeepers formed machi-yakko bands to punish the wrong-doers. These yakko bands often went beyond the law, but in literature and theater they were usually portrayed as heroes. After three hundred in the Daishojingi-Gumi band were caught and their leaders executed in 1686, the yakko bands tended to disintegrate into gamblers and loafers. Because of these bands, vendettas became less frequent among samurai but more common among the other classes.
After the great Edo fire of 1657 that took a hundred thousand lives and burned down the mansions of the great daimyos, the Bakufu provided relief and loans to victims of disasters. In 1658 in Omura 600 Christians were killed, and 200 more would be put to death in Owari in 1683. The han gained most of their income from land taxes that included the production of rice, wheat, barley, and cotton. The production of tobacco had been prohibited but was legalized in 1667. Irrigation from the Tamagawa waters in 1655 and from Lake Hakone in 1670 opened farmlands in the Kanto plain. Sadai Tadakatsu was Tairo from 1638 to 1656 and was succeeded by Sadai Tadakiyo, who became the senior Roju in 1666. He was often reprimanded by the elderly Abe Tadaaki, who died in 1671, and Hoshina's advice ended the next year. The Tokugawa government began running a deficit in 1678. Hotta Masatoshi, son of the Hotta who died after Iemitsu, was appointed Roju in 1679. When Ietsuna died the next year, Masatoshi and Mitsukuni removed Tadakiyo from power and got Iemitsu's fourth son Tsunayoshi named shogun.
Tsunayoshi (r. 1680-1709) appointed Hotta Masatoshi his chief councilor or tairo. In 1681 the Shogun ended a vendetta by ordering Matsudaira Mitsunaga to commit suicide, and he confiscated his fief of 250,000 koku. During his reign Tsunayoshi would confiscate the estates of 46 daimyos and a hundred bannermen. For the first time more fudai daimyos were punished. He had intendants investigated, and 35 were eventually dismissed; some were even executed. In 1682 he ordered commissioners and censors to improve the public morality by banning prostitution and enforcing other sumptuary rules. Daimyos were urged to reduce luxuries, though Tsunayoshi spent much on the temples of Shingon Buddhism. Confucian virtues such as loyalty, filial piety, frugality, and diligence were praised on public notice boards throughout the country. Charitable ordinances were also enacted to protect abandoned children and ill travelers. In 1683 a revised Buke Sho-Hatto ordered private disputes and farmer's complaints to be solved by law officers. Masatoshi did not get along well with subordinates and was murdered by a junior councilor in the council chambers in 1684. Tsunayoshi did not appoint another tairo nor meet with the council but created the new office of chamberlain (sobayonin). The Shogun occupied himself with Buddhist rituals and cultural pursuits. He hired the poet Kitamura Kigin to teach, and Tsunayoshi performed in No plays in his palace. He made officials attend lectures on Confucianism and gave some of them himself. He improved relations between the Bakufu government and the imperial court.
The Genroku era from 1688 to 1704 became famous for its prosperity and cultural achievements. In 1687 Tsunayoshi began issuing decrees for the protection of animals, especially dogs. He was criticized for punishing people who sold or ate birds and other animals, and some townsmen and farmers were even executed for killing or injuring a dog. In 1695 shelters were built and within two years 50,000 dogs were being fed by the state. Tsunayoshi was also unpopular for having sexual affairs with boys as well as women, and promoting his favorite boys set a bad example for the daimyos. With funds nearly exhausted, in 1695 Hagiwara Shigehide persuaded the shogunate to debase the gold and silver pieces and became Finance Commissioner. This scheme gave the Bakufu a temporary profit of five million ryo. (Ryo in money roughly equals koku in rice.) As the public lost confidence in the currency, counterfeiting spread, resulting in five hundred convictions in the next few years. After 1698 the Shogun communicated by his Grand Chamberlain Yanagizawa Yoshiyasu (1658-1714).
In 1701 Kira Yoshinaka tried to teach the Ako daimyo Asano Naganori imperial etiquette; but after mutual insults he ordered Asano to commit suicide (seppuku). Asano's 47 retainers (samurai) became unemployed (ronin), but Oishi Kuranosuke led them in revenge and killed Kira in 1702. The 47 ronin gave themselves up and were ordered to commit seppuku. In this case the emerging Bushido code of the samurai enabled them to punish themselves. Their graves have been venerated, and the popular play Chushingura was based on these events. An earthquake at Edo in 1703 took 150,000 lives and began harder times. In 1705 Yodoya Saburoemon was accused of ostentatious display of wealth and was ruined when the Bakufu canceled the large daimyo debts owed him and confiscated his entire estate. More fires and earthquakes occurred in 1707, when Mount Fuji erupted. The next summer Tsunayoshi announced he would resign in favor of his nephew Ienobu, who became the next shogun early in 1709.
Ienobu (r. 1709-13) had been Kofu daimyo, and he was advised by his tutor Arai Hakuseki. Over nineteen years he lectured Ienobu on the Confucian classics 1,299 times. Hakuseki wrote histories on the larger fiefs from 1600 to 1680. Shogun Ienobu canceled the edicts of his predecessor about animals that had been ridiculed, and in a general amnesty 8,831 prisoners were released. The Buke Sho-Hatto was revised again to eliminate bribery, especially among the chamberlains. Officials were ordered to listen to the complaints of the people. Ienobu's reforms abolished cruel punishments and made the courts more efficient so that cases would not take years as they had before. By 1711 four debasements had reduced the silver coins to 80% copper. That year peasants in Echigo rioted, but Hakuseki persuaded Ienobu to have the causes investigated. Although he listened to the ronin Confucian, Ienobu made the former No actor Manabe Akifusa his chief advisor as chamberlain. Hakuseki also urged the Shogun to strengthen the currency by issuing a new gold coin, and he recommended reducing the loss of silver by limiting foreign trade. The Confucian Arai only approved of importing medicines and books from China. When Commissioner Hagiwara Shigehide advised debasing the currency again in 1713, Hakuseki accused him for the third time of cheating for thirty years to acquire a fortune of 250 million ryo. Shigehide's plan was rejected, and he was removed from office. After Ienobu died, four-year-old Ietsugu was named shogun. In 1714 a pure currency was introduced. The price of rice had been rising, but now it went down sharply for four years.
More fudai daimyos and bannermen were becoming salaried officials. By using monopolies and seclusion from foreign trade the Tokugawa regime denied profits to the western daimyos who might oppose their power. The shogun and daimyos hired procurement merchants and let them build quarters close to the walls of their castles. Many of these were ex-samurai who previously had been in charge of military supplies. The cultivation of land in Japan increased by 82 percent from 1600 to 1720, but after that not much more land could be reclaimed. Improvements in using draft animals, tools, fertilizers, and double-cropping increased yields. Treadmills were used to raise water from ditches, and mechanical devices aided threshing. The annual rice crop increased from 18.5 million koku in 1597 to 25.8 million in 1700, feeding about that many people. As commerce developed, the government allowed the cultivation of cotton, tea, hemp, sugar, tobacco, oil seeds, vegetable wax, indigo, and mulberry for silkworms. Miyazaki Antei studied farming for forty years and wrote The Farmer's Compendium (Nogyo zensho) in 1696. He observed that shortages were not caused by poor soil or lack of effort but occurred because peasants were not aware of farming techniques. By 1700 farmers and merchants had gained confidence and were not as intimidated by samurai.
Confucianism and Religion
Fujiwara Seika's Confucian disciple Hayashi Razan (1583-1657) wrote an account of his debate with a Japanese Jesuit in 1606. That year he became legal adviser to Ieyasu, and he served the military government for the next fifty years. Hayashi taught the ideas of Zhu Xi, and he wrote Honcho hennen-roku, a chronicle of Japanese history that was continued in the Comprehensive Mirror of Our Country (Honcho tsugan), which his son Hayashi Gaho (Shunsai) completed by 1670 in 310 volumes. In 1630 the Hayashi family established a Confucian school that later became the Tokugawa college and was called the School of Prosperous Peace (Shohei-ko). Two years later the Owari daimyo Yoshinao, the ninth son of Ieyasu, had a hall built for the worship of Confucius at Ueno next to his Hayashi school. Razan and his brother Nobuzumi drafted the new laws of 1635. Hayashi Razan believed that the Confucian way of heaven was the same as the Shinto way of the gods, and that when people follow this way, there is no need for military coercion; but military force could be used to restore a disordered society. Razan criticized Buddhism for being less practical than Confucianism, for being of foreign origin, and for having less clear ideas about the mind. He argued that Confucian ideas could be found in ancient Japanese legends and history, and he warned that divine retribution occurred when one violated the Confucian ethics.
Nakae Toju (1608-48) criticized Razan for not practicing the rules of conduct that he taught. In 1634 Toju renounced his samurai status and left the fief to take care of his aging mother in Omi. He believed in devotion to the Supreme Lord. He studied Confucian writings but eventually abandoned Zhu Xi to read Wang Yangming. In 1645 he acquired the complete works of Wang Yangming, and during the last three years of his life he promoted his idealist philosophy. In his dialog Okina mondo Toju focused on the internal moral sense that comes from intuitive knowledge and guides right action. The inner light of conscience is the divine reasoning that guides one by sincerity and reverence instead of being swayed by one's desires. Toju believed that the mind is neither good nor evil, but these result from the will. He believed that all humans are given divine light to tell good from bad, and everyone hates injustice and is ashamed of evil because they are born with intuitive knowledge. Thus all humans are equal. An inferior person by watching over oneself may realize an error and turn to good, thus becoming a superior person. Toju argued that controlling the mind is also important for women, and he considered it a mistake to think that this is not a woman's business. He wrote,
If a wife's disposition is healthy and pious, obedient, sympathetic, and honest, then her parents and children, brothers and sisters, and, in fact, every member of her family,will be at peace and the entire household in perfect order, so that even lowly servants benefit from her gracious kindness. That kind of family is certain to enjoy lasting happiness, and succeeding generations will continue to prosper as a result.
Toju emphasized filial piety and the debt of gratitude everyone owes to their parents for their affection and the moral nature they inherit. He expanded the concept of filial piety to include gratitude for all of life. Toju was loved by the poor for his simple philosophy and was called the sage of Omi.
Kumazawa Banzan (1619-91) studied with Nake Toju. In 1647 Banzan went to Ikeda in the Bizen province and implemented administrative reforms. His advice led to using riparian water works for irrigation and forest development. He also organized the first clan school for the Okayama. After being promoted by Ikeda Mitsumasa, he was criticized by the tairo Sakai Tadakatsu for proposals he made in his writings. Banzan recommended the land reforms he had introduced in the Ikeda fief, and he suggested ending the policy of making the daimyos spend half their time in the capital so that the money saved could be used to help the ronin. Banzan had to resign in 1656 and went to Kyoto, but he was driven from one post to another because of his radical reforms. He criticized governmental autocracy and urged individuals to act with autonomy. Hayashi Gaho called Banzan a heretic. In 1687 Banzan submitted a reform program to the Shogun, but it aroused such controversy that he was kept under surveillance for the rest of his life. He believed that true wealth is using the world's goods for the benefit of all. This is the great principle by which the shogun could make the entire country happy and peaceful.
The Fuju Fuse faction of the Nichiren sect lost another debate in 1630, and Nichiju was exiled. In the 1660s Mount Minobu petitioned the commissioner of temples to prosecute the Fuju Fuse, and temple lands were only given to those who renounced the Fuju Fuse faction. In 1669 the Fuju Fuse temples were prohibited from having parishioners because they were not allowed to certify their religious affiliations. In 1687 the General Temple Regulations proscribed Christianity, Fuje Fuse, and two other Nichiren sects. Fuju Fuse congregations would continue to suffer persecution, especially in the years 1718 and 1794.
In 1628 the Bakufu attempted to regulate the Zen temples of Daitokuji and Myoshinji by forbidding the wearing of purple vestments and requiring abbots to have thirty years experience and to have mastered 1700 koans. When Takuan Soho (1573-1645) submitted a written protest, he was sent into exile; Emperor Go-Mizunoo resigned. After Shogun Hidetada died in 1632, Takuan returned and became a friend of Shogun Iemitsu's sword-master Yagyu Munenori. He lectured to Go-Mizunoo and others on human origins. Takuan found that Buddhism had much in common with Confucianism and Shinto. He urged all classes to practice the social ethics of Confucianism, and he criticized merchants for being greedy and lacking kindness. He wrote about how Zen teachings can improve the martial arts such as archery and swordsmanship. In The Mysteries of the Unmoved Prajna he warned that illusions and egotism can cause paralyzing anxiety. In a letter to Yagyu he explained how to preserve the fluidity of the mind by keeping it free of intellectual and emotional disturbances. Takuan also wrote that the art of serving tea is a harmonious blending of Heaven and Earth in order to establish peace. Propriety in practical living means gentle manners and respectful relationships.
Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655) wrote Right Action for All (Bammin tokuyo) in order to make Buddhist teachings more accessible to the common people. Shosan had been a samurai and fought at Sekigahara in 1600 and at Osaka in 1614, but he became a Zen monk at age 42. He refused to follow a master and therefore was never accepted into the Soto or Rinzai orders. He helped to build a network of Soto Zen temples. Shosan believed that fulfilling one's vocation was attaining one's true nature, even if one was a peasant or a merchant. He believed that one should work in the world not for money or power but as a religious experience of doing good. He criticized monastic retreats and refused to ordain monks, hoping to found a new and practical Buddhism. He suggested that working can be meditative, and he advocated living without fear of death by "practicing dying" and imagining life-threatening circumstances. He felt that people should act out of gratitude to the protector and peacemaker of a just and orderly state, and he wanted the government to help restore Buddhism.
In the Rinzai sect Shido Bunan (1603-76) was a disciple of Gudo Toshoku but was not ambitious. However, Shido developed a popular way of teaching ordinary citizens. In his poetry he wrote that the names of Buddha, God (Shinto), and the heavenly way (Confucian) all point to the nothingness of the mind. By always living in the mind of complete nothingness, evils that come to one will dissipate entirely. Bankei Eitaku (1622-93) recommended rigorous Zen training to attain "nonbirth" or the original mind. His teachings were said to have won over fifty thousand people. Hakuin Ekaku (1685-1768) revived the importance of meditation (zazen) and the koan used by the Rinzai sect.
Yamazaki Ansai (1618-82) was a Zen monk and studied Confucianism. In 1647 his Refutation of Heresies (Hekii) praised the Neo-Confucianism of Zhu Xi and denounced Buddhism. In 1655 he established a private school in Kyoto and wrote commentaries on Zhu Xi. He was conservative in that he emphasized adhering to one's social function and obeying one's superiors. He also criticized the Hayashi family, but later in life he turned to Shinto and founded the Suika school. His teacher had called Ansai suika, which means "divine descent and protection." He found Confucian virtues in the Japanese legends recorded in the Kojiki and Nihon shoki and even identified the spiritual kami with Confucian principle. He started a movement for national learning (kokugaku). Ansai was said to have had six thousand followers, but most of them continued to follow the Confucian faction that he rejected. Nakae Toju also wrote The Meaning of Shinto, and Kumazawa Banzan said that Shinto was more suited to Japan than Confucianism.
Yamaga Soko (1622-85) was a military instructor for the Ako daimyo, and in 1661 he returned to Edo, where he wrote The Essential Teachings of the Sages (Seikyo yoroku) in 1665, calling for a return to the original teachings of Confucius and Mencius. The Bakufu government preferred Zhu Xi's emphasis on loyalty and duty; they considered Yamaga's repudiation of Neo-Confucianism offensive and banned him from the capital. He went back to Ako and wrote The Way of the Warrior (Shido), which applied Confucian philosophy to samurai ethics, preparing the way for the Bushido teachings that combined martial discipline with civil arts. Although the samurai does not do ordinary work, he practices duty and in using self-discipline teaches by example. Yamaga urged warriors to cultivate clean and sober habits to purify themselves for the duty of leading society. In the peaceful Tokugawa era they gradually changed from military functions to being civil officers, who guided the people. Soko wrote that the samurai should not consider reward, but he himself declined employment that paid less than 10,000 koku. He moved from the study of strategy to the ethics needed in government. He wrote that the true warrior keeps to the ways of peace in his heart while outwardly keeping his weapons ready. He warned against the weakness of only seeing one's own side, instead of having an open mind to see the other's side. In 1675 Yamaga wrote An Autobiography in Exile (Haisho zampitsu) that described his intellectual development from Neo-Confucianism through Daoism and Buddhism before turning back to the original Confucianism and Shinto. He argued that Japan was superior because its imperial line descended from the sun goddess without a break and because foreigners had never conquered their land.
Ito Jinsai (1627-1705) was from the merchant class, but he studied and opened the School of Ancient Meanings (Kogido) using the classics. He taught that individuals should be guided by their inner moral sense. Jinsai and Yamaga Soko formed the branch of Ancient Learning (Kogaku-Ha) that opposed Neo-Confucianism or deviations from the ancient Confucianism. His son Ito Togai explained his father's teachings in his Changes in Confucian Teaching, Past and Present (Kokon gakuhen). They believed that Neo-Confucianism had become more Buddhist and Daoist than Confucian by adopting such concepts and practices as the relationship between principle (ri) and material energy (ki), recovering one's original nature, following the way of sages, and using the meditation techniques of quiet sitting and sustained reverence. Ito Jinsai agreed with Mencius that human nature is good, and he believed in the importance of personal and social ethics developing the four humane virtues of loyalty, faithfulness, reverence, and forgiveness, all of which must be combine with duty (gi).
In 1690 Shogun Tsunayoshi ordered the Shokei Academy constructed in Kanda as a center for the worship of Confucius and as a university for the Tokugawa family, their Fudai daimyos, and their hatamoto retainers. Confucians were then allowed to be independent of the Buddhist establishment. Confucian advisors founded schools in various domains. Confucian political and ethical concepts helped the Japanese government move from rule by men to the rule of law by administrative institutions. The shogun and daimyos were urged to benefit the people, who were expected to be loyal to the political order as well as their fathers.
Kaibara Ekken (1630-1714) was a physician from Kyushu, and he applied the Confucian ethics to women and children. He treated his wife Token as an equal, and she probably wrote The Greater Learning for Women (Onna daigaku). In Japan women had to submit to their parents, to their husband, and even to their sons when they grew old. After passing the age of seven, boys and girls were not even allowed to sit together. Men often divorced their wives for not producing a child, for loose behavior, or disease, and they could also do so for disharmony with his family's customs. A husband divorced his wife simply by handing her a short note of four lines. In his Instructions for Children (Doji-kun) Kaibara warned parents that they may have to overcome their instinct for affection to instill discipline in their children, who must accept the censure of their parents in silence without resentment. He believed the head of the family is responsible for the family name and has the right to punish any member of the family. Kaibara wrote that filial piety should be extended to nature, the source and sustainer of life, which we should revere as much as our parents. He encouraged people to cherish all living things and avoid killing animals or plants. The books he wrote included Catalogue of Vegetables, Catalogue of Flora, and Medicinal Herbs of Japan. His last book was How to Live Well.
Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1700) wrote the History of Great Japan (Dai Nihonshi) to educate samurai by drawing moral lessons. He invited others to help, including the Chinese scholar Zhu Shunshui in Nagasaki. As leader of the Mito group, Tokugawa Tsunaeda wrote the preface in 1715 and emphasized loyalty to the imperial house. Muro Kyoso (1658-1734) in his Conversations (Shundai zatsuwa) defended Zhu Xi and criticized samurai who became avaricious. He wrote that the ideal warrior places duty even before his life and especially before possessions, and he practices frugality. He supported the Tokugawa shoguns and argued that the mandate of heaven had been conferred upon Ieyasu for serving the interests of the people. He believed that the ruler should honor the people as heaven, while the people depend on food.
Arai Hakuseki (1657-1725) gave lectures on history to Shogun Ienobu in 1712, and the notes from these were published in the Tokushi Yoron. From the 9th century he described nine phases of the developing warrior class and then five phases when they became supreme in the Tokugawa era. He showed how the emperors gradually lost power after the Fujiwaras because of their incompetence. Using the Confucian concept of the mandate of heaven, Hakuseki argued that the Southern Court eventually failed because of Go-Saigo's lack of virtue. In 1715 Arai published A Report on the Occident (Seiyo kibun) based on his interviews with the Italian priest Giovanni Sidotti, who had been caught in the country and imprisoned. Arai admired western science but concluded that Christianity was too irrational to influence Japan. In his autobiography Hakuseki described his father's strict samurai self-discipline and quiet dignity. To maintain his samurai family line, Hakuseki refused the marry the daughter of a rich merchant. After serving Hotta Masatoshi for two years until his murder, he became the student and chief disciple of the Confucian Kinoshita Junan. Then he became the tutor of the future shogun Ienobu.
In contrast to Confucianism in China, in Japan the bushido way of the samurai and the chonindo way of the merchant were also important. Buddhism and Shinto continued to provide for the religious needs of the Japanese people, and the Tokugawa house officially patronized their temples. Buddhist ceremonies were generally used in weddings and funerals. The Pure Land (Jodo) sect became most popular, and by the end of the 17th century they had more than six thousand temples. Temple authorities could be used to try to find Christians after 1640, when the Shogun ordered everyone to register with a Buddhist temple except for a few families that were allowed to register at a Shinto shrine. Temple validation was required for marriages, employment, change of residence, and travel permits. The Emperor continued to be the high priest of Shinto and represented the religion of the nation. The Shinto priest Watarai Nobuyoshi (1615-90) worked to reform the Ise Shrine and urged devotion to one's social duties.
The samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo (1659-1719) developed the philosophy of the influential Hagakure. He retired to live in a grass hut as a hermit in 1700, but the young samurai Tsuramoto Tashiro wrote down his ideas in eleven volumes. The first two volumes, The Recorded Words of the Hagakure Master, cover seven years and were completed in 1716. As a Nabeshima samurai, Yamamoto was determined to serve the Nabeshima house. The four vows he took were to never fall behind in the way of the warrior, to serve his lord well, to be filially pious, and to be deeply compassionate and help all human beings. Book One begins with the famous statement, "I discovered the Way of the Samurai is death."1 If a samurai faces a crisis in which life and death are equal, he should choose death. The samurai who is completely prepared for death has mastered the Way and may devote his life to serving his lord. As long as one bases reasoning on the self, one will be wily instead of wise. Correcting the faults of others is important, but one must do so in the proper way at the proper time and with tact.
Criticism must begin after one has discerned whether or not the person will accept it, after one has become his friend, shared his interests, and behaved in such a way as to earn his complete trust so that he will put faith in whatever one says.
Otherwise one merely embarrasses the person. One should restrain oneself or cover one's mouth while yawning or sneezing. The enlightened samurai investigates ahead of time all possible situations and solutions so that one may perform brilliantly.
Yamamoto was concerned that men were losing their virility and becoming like women and that they were becoming preoccupied with money matters. One may learn one's faults by contemplation, but this is done better by talking with others. The samurai must know his shortcomings and spend his life improving himself. Learning from others helps one discern the situation and form resolution before the crisis occurs. One should model oneself after the best qualities in others such as propriety, courage, eloquence, ethics, integrity, and decisiveness. Anyone can be one's teacher. In order to excel, one should ask for criticism from others. Most people use their own judgment and make little progress. Ultimately the resolution of the moment is most important. One must discipline oneself to be clean and pure. Hardships and difficulties increase human abilities and help one develop special talents. The samurai should not speak ill of others nor praise them but say as little as possible. Victory over oneself is achieved by vanquishing the body with the spirit.
Saikaku's Stories of Sex and Money
Hirayama Togo was born into a wealthy merchant family of Osaka in 1642. He started writing haikai (linked verse) when he was fourteen and became a haikai master by 1662. He used the pen-name Ihara Kakuei and followed the classical Danrin style of Nishiyama Soin (1605-82), though Ihara's poetry was criticized as strange by calling him Dutch. He changed his given name to Saikaku, which means ingenuity. In 1675 his wife died of a fever and left behind three young children including a blind daughter. Five days later Ihara composed in one day a thousand-verse requiem, which was published. He retired from business and participated in haikai writing sessions. Saikaku wrote a record four thousand verses in one day in 1680, and on another occasion he claimed to have composed 23,500 verses in a day and a night. He traveled and concentrated on prose writing, only returning to haikai in his last years before he died in 1693. Saikaku wrote only one play in 1684, but Chikamatsu's version the next spring was a greater success. Although ethical themes are clearly evident, Saikaku's main purpose in writing stories seems to have been merely to amuse and entertain. He is credited with developing the floating world (ukiyo-zoshi) literary trend that was initiated by the Tales of the Floating World by Asai Ryoi, who was more of a social critic but not as good a writer.
Ihara Saikaku published his first novel, Life of an Amorous Man, in 1682, and two years later it was followed by a sequel of stories in the courtesan-critiquing (yujo hyobanki) genre. The Tale of Wankyu's Life (1685) was based on a true story of a rich man who let his obsession for a courtesan lead him to madness and death. Saikaku wrote prolifically and published thirteen books of stories in the next four years. Five Women Who Loved Love (1686) contains five novellas about daughters and wives of merchants who sacrificed their respectability for romance. Four months later Saikaku published The Life of an Amorous Woman, which is about a woman who enjoyed sex. The Great Mirror of Manly Love (1687) describes the prevalence of pederasty and sodomy among samurai and in the kabuki theater. Apparently sodomy had spread among samurai during the long wars of the 14th and 15th centuries, and it was also found among Buddhist monks.
Also in 1687 Saikaku wrote Twenty Breaches of Filial Piety in This Land, showing how unethical behavior is punished. Critics have suggested that these stories were commenting on the hypocrisy of Tsunayoshi, who was posing as a Confucian ruler while behaving in an opposite manner, though Saikaku did not include any stories about Edo. In A Record of Traditions of the Warrior's Way (Budo Denraiki) 32 stories of samurai vengeance were presented in a realistic manner and were followed up by Tales of Samurai Duty (Buke Giri Monogatari) in 1688. Saikaku objected to the samurai tendency to throw away one's life over a private quarrel of the moment without a thorough examination of the facts. That year he also published New Records of Strange Events and The Japanese Family Storehouse or the Millionaires' Gospel Modernized, which describes how merchants attain riches. In 1689 his Judgments Made under the Cherry Blossoms in This Land narrated detective and crime stories that reached their conclusions in the courts of two historical judges, giving the new Japanese genre a literary form. In the last work published during his lifetime, Saikaku's This Scheming World (1692) revolved around the collecting of debts from townsmen (chonin) at the end of the year. After his death other collections of stories were edited and completed by his disciple Hojo Dansui. They focused on the evil consequences of rich patrons of brothels, money-making, alcoholism, and haikai poets that Saikaku had known.
The Life of an Amorous Man by Saikaku contains 54 sections describing incidents each year in Yonosuke's life from the age of seven. He is from a wealthy merchant family in the Osaka area. As a boy he spies on a woman bathing. A girl tells him that poverty forced her into prostitution, and at age eleven he visits her parents and buys her freedom. He learns how to call on lonely widows, and one gets pregnant and leaves her baby on a doorstep in Kyoto. He realizes virtue does exist after a wife resents his attentions and hits him on the head with wood. Yonosuke travels to Edo and leads a dissipating life as a playboy, but a letter from his mother informs him that his father has disowned him. Yonosuke travels to Osaka and stays with the family of a prostitute. At Kyoto he recruits concubines for a retired merchant. He struggles to survive and observes an annual orgy at the Mt. Kurama temple. When Yonosuke tries to force himself on a woman, her husband returns and cuts his head, leaving a scar. He is arrested by police looking for a robber and meets a woman in prison. After an Edo amnesty the woman's husband is jealous, and she is killed.
Yonosuke is haunted by the ghosts of four women he had induced to sign amatory pledges. He experiences deep sadness (mono no aware). After his father dies, his mother turns over to him a fortune in 25,000 gold kan.
In the second part Yonosuke falls in love with the refined courtesan Yoshino, pays her ransom, and marries her. After she demonstrates her skill at playing koto, serving tea, reciting poetry, and arranging flowers, his family accepts her as his wife. However, Yonosuke soon becomes restless and begins visiting courtesans with his friend Kanroku. After tiring of provincial prostitutes, he visits the top courtesans in the big cities. The deep feelings of Mikasa are contrasted to the cold business of her owner Gonzaemon. When she and Yonosuke threaten suicide, Gonzaemon is motivated by the fear of being haunted to let her go. Tired of his roving infidelities, his wife Yoshino leaves him. Yonosuke has various encounters with the most expensive courtesans. As his hair turns gray, he begins giving away his wealth to Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, the poor, houses for destitute actors, and paying ransoms to free prostitutes. As his health declines, he has no legitimate children, family, or heir, and so he gives away most of his remaining property, hoping to be saved by Buddha's mercy. Finally with six friends he boards a ship to go to an island inhabited only by women. This novel reflects the pleasure-seeking of the wealthy merchants in a society in which men are honored while women are usually treated with contempt.
Saikaku's Five Women Who Loved Love contains five tales based on actual events. In the first story Seijuro falls in love with the courtesan Minakawa; he is disinherited by his father, is taken to a temple to prevent him from killing himself, and learns of Minakawa's suicide. Young Onatsu discovers Seijuro's love letters sewn in his sash and desires him. She writes him passionate letters, and they elope. However, they are caught on a boat, and he is beheaded for seduction, kidnapping, and theft. Onatsu cuts off her hair to become a nun. In Chikamatsu's 1709 play Seijuro is executed for having wounded his former master. Saikaku apparently wanted to emphasize the love story and left out the actual attempted murder.
In the second story a cooper writes love letters to the maid Osen, and old Nanny arranges for her to meet him. The servant Kyushichi also desires Osen, and the four travel together. Osen marries the cooper and has a child; but when she is falsely accused of adultery with the elderly Chozaemon by his wife, she actually does it and then commits suicide. This actual incident occurred in 1685.
Beautiful Osan marries an almanac maker in the third story. While he is away, Osan writes love letters for her maid Rin to young Moemon, who is running the business. Osan takes Rin's place in bed at night at the meeting with Moemon. Osan decides to run off with him and die. Eventually they are arrested and executed. They were in fact crucified in 1683, but in Chikamatsu's 1715 play based on this incident a priest prevents the execution of the lovers.
In Saikaku's fourth story young Oshichi falls in love with Kichisaburo at a local temple, where her family finds refuge during a fire. After her mother takes her home, Oshichi misses Kichisaburo and starts a fire so that she can see him again. She is caught and executed for arson. Kichisaburo is persuaded to join the priesthood.
In the fifth story about women who gave themselves to love, Gengobei is a priest who loves boys, two of whom died. Fifteen-year-old Oman falls in love with Gengobei, clips her hair, and dresses as a boy. Gengobei is attracted to Oman and while making love discovers she is female. In passion he decides it makes no difference. Her parents want them to marry and give Gengobei numerous treasures. Thus the last story of the book concludes with a happy ending. In real life the two lovers committed suicide; but Saikaku disapproved of love suicides, considering them a cowardly escape. In all his dozens of stories only one of his earliest stories is about a love suicide.
The narrative of Saikaku's Life of an Amorous Woman is in the first person and has one main character, while most of his other books are collections of stories. Young men ask an old woman about her past, and she tells them of her wanton ways. She believes that love is the most important thing in life. At the age of twelve she receives love letters from a warrior and gives her body to him, but he is caught and put to death. She thinks of suicide but after a few days forgets about him. She becomes a dancer but avoids selling her body. She is betrothed but seduces her fiancé's father, who then sends her home. She is hired to be a concubine; but her master is impotent, and she is discharged. She becomes a courtesan and calls it the world's saddest profession. Shaving her head, she disguises herself as a monk to become the wife of a Buddhist monk, who teaches her how to have abortions. She lives in a corner of his apartment and visits his bed at night. After the ghost of his previous wife appears to her, she pretends to be pregnant and leaves.
She begins to teach calligraphy and letter writing and has an affair with a man who wants love letters written. She takes a position as a maid and pretends to be innocent, but she seduces the master and tries to get him to divorce his wife. Frustrated, she reveals her deceit and shame before leaving. At a jealousy meeting women release their anger by attacking a doll and then burning it. She warns that women should guard against jealousy. Next a lady hires her as a hairdresser; but when asked to give up her own hair, she is not allowed to quit. So she teaches a cat to remove the lady's wig, embarrassing her and ruining her marriage; then she seduces her husband. Her next job is as a seamstress, which is a quiet life until she finds erotic art on a man's under-robe. She offers herself to any man coming to her house. She takes a job in a shop and is told to sleep with her mistress. They both wish to be reborn as men to enjoy pleasure. As she ages, she takes a position managing courtesans; but her frequent criticisms cause them to dislike her. She lives alone in squalor and has a vision of all the children she aborted. She tries to sell her body in the dark but finally gives up. In a window she sees statues of the Buddha's disciples, who remind her of all the men she knew. She thinks of drowning herself, but an old acquaintance persuades her to purify her heart and enter the Buddha's path. She concludes,
I have revealed my whole life to you,from the day when the lotus of my heart first opened, until its petals withered. I may have lived in this world by selling my body, but is my heart itself polluted?
The short Millionaires' Gospel (Choja Kyo) was published anonymously in 1627. This pamphlet advised on how to be successful and argued that every Buddha had to learn. Becoming rich requires extraordinary effort. One millionaire (choja) explains how he charged thirty percent interest. Nabaya says that to expect to become rich right away is a basis for poverty. Izumiya observes that our credit from former lives is limited while our appetites are endless. A painless life of too much pleasure causes bad results; we must endure some pain with patience. The Choja Kyo lists the following ten principles to cherish:
1. To use common sense.2. To act with honesty.3. To endure with patience.4. To regard every man as a thief, every fire as a conflagration.5. To abandon pride and listen to advice.6. To know that remorse serves no purpose.7. That conceit is anathema.8. That small-talk leads nowhere.9. That moderation is only half a virtue.10. That playing bosom-friend to all is pointless.
In The Japanese Family Storehouse or the Millionaires' Gospel Modernized Saikaku wrote thirty stories about real people that convey the lessons of thrift, hard work, and schemes that entrepreneurs have used to become wealthy while showing how extravagance and luxuries dissipate wealth. The first story emphasizes the importance of honesty, thrift, perseverance, humanity, and justice. In the country men must dig in the fields and women weave at looms. A merchant calculates that a temple that gets one hundred percent interest can gain a million in thirteen years. A son inherits a million, but in trying to return a coin to a prostitute in the Shimabara gay quarter he begins by drinking sake and in five years has blown his fortune. Osaka has become a great center of trade by honoring sales and purchases. A woman sweeps up lost rice and builds up a large nest-egg for her son. He collects discarded bales and weaves strings for cash. Then he sets up a shop changing petty silver to copper coins (zeni), and he becomes a daimyo's agent and marries into a merchant family. Another businessman achieves success by foregoing inflated charges on credit sales and accepts only cash. One must be careful in arranging a marriage because the marriage-broker claims ten percent of the dowry.
Daikokuya's son Shinroku is thrown out for wasting his money in brothels. His failure in a new business makes him regret he gave up what he knew. He blames his parents for teaching him the arts while neglecting to instruct him how to make a living. He realizes that he can get nowhere in Edo without capital. Beggars suggest buying cotton and selling hand towels. He starts small but makes a profit, and in ten years he is worth a considerable amount. The harpoon master Gennai makes a million by extracting the oil from one large whale. Then he invents whale-nets and builds up a fleet of eighty whaling boats.
According to Saikaku the millionaire prescription includes early rising, family trade, work after hours, economy, and sound health. The list of luxuries from which one must abstain is long. Jinbei collects scraps of wood by following carpenters and carves them into chopsticks. Eventually he goes into the timber business and buys a forest. Saikaku concluded this story by suggesting that men save in youth and spend in old age. No one can take money to heaven, but it is essential on Earth. He noted that bankruptcies for large amounts were becoming common in Kyoto and Osaka. Izuya surrenders his assets which amount to 65% of his debt. Then he works hard for seventeen years and pays off all the rest. Saikaku found no parallel for this remarkable achievement.
Many of Saikaku's stories show how dishonesty and cheating eventually cause ruin once they are discovered. Some Osaka merchants soak their tobacco in water to increase its weight before shipping it to Nagasaki. The Chinese are upset but purchase ten times as much. When the large shipment arrives, they reject them all. The tobacco ends up rotting. Saikaku believed that the gods assist the honest and that swindlers will fail. Risuke buys used tea leaves and mixes them with his fresh stock. For a while he prospers, but he brags of his success. People find out and avoid him. He becomes ill, and his money cannot save him. Saikaku draws the lesson and indicates some of the disreputable tricks.
It is easy enough, as may be observed, to make money by shady practices.Pawning other people's property,dealing in counterfeit goods,plotting with confidence tricksters to catch a wife with a large dowry, borrowing piecemeal from the funds of innumerable temples, and defaulting wholesale on a plea of bankruptcy, joining gangs of gambling sharks, hawking quack medicines to country bumpkins, terrorizing people into buying paltry ginseng roots, conniving with your wife to extort money from her lovers, trapping pet dogs for skins, charging to adopt unweaned babies and starving them to death, collecting the hair from drowned corpses-all these are ways of supporting life. But if we live by subhuman means we might as well never have had the good fortune to be born human. Evil leaves its mark deep in a man's heart, so that no kind of villainy seems evil to him any longer; and when he has reached that stage he is indeed in a pitiful state of degradation. The only way to be a man is to earn your livelihood by means not unfitted to a man. Life, after all, is a dream of little more than fifty years, and, whatever one does for a living, it is not difficult to stay so brief a course.
Saikaku felt that the Chinese were not as quick to make money as the Japanese. The clock was invented in China, but it took three generations to complete the invention that helped mankind. Saikaku concluded this book hoping that future generations would profit by keeping the stories in their storehouse for their family's posterity.
Saikaku's last book published during his lifetime was This Scheming World in which every story is set on the last day of the calendar year when debts are collected. Many people have debts and try various means of avoiding bill collectors. Small expenditures day by day add up to a large amount at the end of the year. Saikaku believed, "People who refuse to pay their debts are no better than daylight burglars in disguise."6 He noted that the cheap pawnbroker in the slums could understand the misery in this world. Though people often say the rich are lucky, Saikaku suggested that people thrive by ability and foresight. The young should be alert; in one's prime one should earn much money; then in the time of discretion one may pile up a fortune; and in old age one could turn business over to a son and retire. In one story a man refuses to pay bill collectors by threatening suicide; but a young apprentice says lumber is not paid for and begins removing the gate post. He is quickly paid and suggests the technique of quarreling with one's wife and tearing up important papers.
A millionaire advises people not to forget their business, not even in their dreams. An agent takes away a wet nurse from a baby and says to blame it on money and her good breasts. A master was influenced by a novel about a poor ronin who could not pay and killed his wife, child, and himself. Most methods of avoiding bill collectors are not that drastic. Two housemasters would trade places on the last day of the year, claiming that the other owes him money. Finally after surviving the debt collections people optimistically celebrate the New Year.
In an era before magazines and newspapers Saikaku's stories provided valuable lessons as well as entertainment in the developing urban culture that was learning about business and the pleasures and dangers of spending money. His well described accounts of so many incidents imply the doctrine of karma by showing how actions have their consequences.
In the later 16th century Japanese theater began a major transformation. No and Kyogen plays were still performed at courts but were becoming ritual music. Shogun Hideyoshi, who had risen from humble origins, not only mastered the tea ceremony, but he also acted in No plays. Kabuki, which means bent or deviant, came to describe a new form of entertainment that was started by the lowest class (eta) and prostitutes. In 1603 Okuni, who claimed to be a Shinto priestess, danced and performed provocative skits while invoking the name of the Buddha. These shows tended to lapse into prostitutes dancing to attract customers. Yoshiwara was established as a quarter for prostitution in Edo in 1626, and three years later a brawl broke out between samurai while the prostitute Yoshino was performing in a No play in Kyoto. In reaction the Bakufu government banned women from performing in plays. In the next half century more than a hundred quarters would be licensed for brothels in Japan. In 1644 using names of actual people in plays was forbidden. Young men (wakashu) performed in kabuki plays, which were patronized by Shogun Iemitsu; but after he died, the wakashu dancing was also prohibited. Plays about the Shimabara quarter for licensed prostitutes in Kyoto became popular, but the name Shimabara was also associated with a popular rebellion in 1637. The Shimabara plays were banned in 1664. By then continuous kabuki plays of up to four acts were being performed.
Puppet theater developed in the 15th century and was called Joruri after a popular character who had a love affair with the hero Minamoto Yoshitsune. In the 1590s the Joruri brought together the stories, music on the samisen instrument, and puppets. By 1614 puppet plays were being performed in the palace of the retired Emperor Go-Yozei. These plays developed literary value and were recited by one or more chanters to the actions of the puppets. Uji Kaganojo (1635-1711) was a chanter who aimed to lift the Joruri plays up to the literary level of the No drama.
In the 1680s most kabuki plays were about troubles in a great household and were called oiemono. They often depicted a contemporary family intrigue or scandal, but the names were changed. The theatrical business tended to be romantic (wagoto), admonitory (ikengoto), martial (budogoto), or rough (aragoto). The first play about lovers' suicide was performed in Osaka in 1683. These gossip plays about current events were called sewamono. The history plays were called jidaimono and were more popular in Edo. Sakata Tojuro (1644-1709) was a Kyoto actor who specialized in playing a young gentleman who falls in love with prostitutes.
Sugimori Nobumori, who later took the stage name Chikamatsu Monzaemon, was born in the province of Echizen in 1653. Ten years later his samurai father lost his position and became a ronin. The family moved to Kyoto, and in 1671 Chikamatsu published some poetry. In 1683 he wrote The Soga Heir for Kaganojo's puppet theater and won over audiences by adding farcical elements to a traditional story of revenge. Chikamatsu wrote a kabuki play for Tojuro in 1684. He wrote the Joruri play Kagekiyo Victorious in 1686 for Kaganojo's young rival Takemoto Gidayu (1651-1714). Kagekiyo leaves his wife Ono and escapes his enemies by flying away. He swears he loves Akoya, but she discovers his love note to Ono and betrays him to his enemies. To stop soldiers from torturing Ono, Kagekiyo surrenders. Akoya and her two children visit him in prison to ask forgiveness. After he refuses and disowns the children, she kills their children and herself. Kagekiyo breaks free but returns to his cell to protect Ono. In the ahistorical ending the goddess Kwannon substitutes her head for Kagekiyo's, and he is reconciled with his enemy.
Between 1688 and 1703 Chikamatsu wrote mostly kabuki plays for Tojuro. Actors in these plays used improvisation, and only summaries of Chikamatsu's kabuki plays exist. However, complete scripts of most of his Joruri plays are extant. In February 1703 the 47 ronin committed hara-kiri, and twelve days later a kabuki play depicted the Ako story. Three days after the opening, the government closed the play and banned dramatizations of contemporary events involving samurai.
In May 1703 a young merchant and a prostitute committed suicide at the Sonezaki shrine in Osaka. Chikamatsu was visiting the city, and a month later his puppet play The Love Suicides at Sonezaki was produced. In his puppet plays Chikamatsu used dialog to portray realistic characters. He once wrote that art is between the real and the unreal. Between the lines of dialog the narrator describes the scene, actions, feelings and thoughts of the characters. In The Love Suicides at Sonezaki 25-year-old Tokubei tells the 19-year-old courtesan Ohatsu that he is refusing to marry the woman picked out for him and must return the money advanced to him. However, he loaned the money to the oil merchant Kuheiji, who denies this and says that Tokubei must have found his seal to put on the promissory note. They fight, and Ohatsu tries to stop them. While she is hiding Tokubei, she tells Kuheiji that Tokubei will commit suicide, her lover indicating he will. She joins him, and in the final scene Tokubei stabs Ohatsu and then cuts his own throat. The narrator concludes, "They have become true models of love."
Chikamatsu's The Drum of the Waves of Horikawa was performed in 1706 and was based on events of the previous year. The villainous samurai Isobe is added and makes the plot more ironic. The samurai Hirokuro must leave his wife Otane to spend a year at Edo. He has adopted Otane's younger brother Bunroku as their son. Isobe tells Otane that he loves her and threatens to kill her if she does not give in. She pretends to go along and tells him to come back, but the drum teacher Gen'emon hears her. He gives her sake and uses this to seduce her. Four months later Hirokuro returns, and Otane's sister Ofuji gives him a sealed letter. He refuses to divorce Otane to marry her, and Otane jealously attacks her sister. Ofuji accuses Otane of being pregnant and taking abortion medicine. Hirokuro's sister Yura tells him that Isobe caught Otane and Gen'emon and clipped their sleeves, and the maid Orin admits she bought abortion medicine with bad coins. Bunroku says he sent men to kill Gen'emon but that he had returned to Kyoto. Otane in despair stabs herself, and Hirokuro finishes her off. In the third act Hirokuro, Bunroku, Ofuji, and Yura find Gen'emon and kill him, telling the neighbors who have them arrested that this is official vengeance. The play indicates that for adultery a family could notify authorities and enforce the harsh law themselves. The tragedy also shows the double standard that allowed a samurai to have a concubine while away from his wife, who was expected to remain faithful during his absence.
Yosaku from Tamba by Chikamatsu is based on a ballad and events of 1708 when it was performed. Ten-year-old Princess Shirabe is refusing to go to Edo, but playing a map game changes her mind. The eleven-year-old horse driver Sankichi learns that her governess Shigenoi is his mother, but Shigenoi refuses to accept him. Driver Hachizo demands that driver Yosaku pay him the money he owes. They fight, and the prostitute Koman intervenes. Sankichi hides Yosaku and steals for him, not knowing Yosaku is his father. An officer arrests Sankichi and looks for his accomplices. The chief retainer Honda lets off Sankichi, who then cuts off Hachizo's head and is arrested again. Yosaku learns that Sankichi is his son. The samurai Sanai explains that the princess has spared Sankichi's life, taken Koman into her household, and returned Yosaku to samurai status, preventing him from committing suicide.
Chikamatsu's Love Suicides in the Women's Temple was also produced in 1708 and takes place within the milieu of Shingon Buddhism. The Kichijo Temple on Mount Koya is a home for the secrets of pederasty, and page Hananojo is mocked as "the wife of the high priest." A messenger gives page Kumenosuke a letter from Oume, who wants him to join her; but she accidentally put this letter in the envelope to the high priest, and Kumenosuke gets the forged letter to the high priest asking to let him leave. The envoy Sen'emon tells Kumenosuke that he has not sought vengeance for his killing his brother only because he was going to become a priest. When the high priest reads the love letter, he orders Kumenosuke beaten. After Kumenosuke leaves the temple, Sen'emon ritually hits him with the back of his sword and says his grudge is ended in order to fulfill the samurai code. Her parents wed reluctant Oume to the merchant Sakuemon; but the lights are doused, and she escapes with Kumenosuke. They go to the women's temple, where they find his sister Satsu. Oume says he is dead, and they plan their double suicide. Kumenosuke kills Oume, and Satsu shouts, "Murder!" Then Kumenosuke cuts his own throat. Once again socially unacceptable romance ends in mutual self-destruction.
The Courier from Hell by Chikamatsu was first performed in 1711. Chubei runs a courier service, and his friend Hachiemon asks for his fifty ryo that has arrived. Chubei admits he gave it as a down-payment to ransom the prostitute Umegawa. Chubei's mother tells him to hand over the money, and he gives Hachiemon a jar of hair oil labeled fifty ryo. Chubei goes off to deliver 300 ryo to a daimyo but decides to see Umegawa. In the Shimmachi quarter Chubei overhears Hachiemon telling the whores what Chubei has done. Emotionally upset, Chubei gives fifty ryo to Hachiemon, who refuses to take it so that Chubei will not get in trouble. Chubei pretends that the 300 ryo is his own money and pays 110 ryo to ransom Umegawa. He admits the truth to her, and they realize that they must eventually kill themselves. They try to hide at the house of his father's neighbor Chuzaburo, whose wife goes looking for him. Chubei's father Magoemon slips in the mud, and Umegawa helps him. He knows his son is in trouble and says he would have provided the money. Chuzaburo arrives to warn Chubei and Umegawa, but they are captured. Chubei asks that his face be covered, and the narrator concludes that two more people gave their lives for love. This tragedy shows the increasing importance of finances and the dangerous temptations of capital.
Chikamatsu's most popular history play, The Battles of Coxinga, was produced in 1715, ran for seventeen months, and was often revived. Coxinga was the European name for Zheng Chenggong, but only parts of the play are historical. In the court of the Ming emperor at Nanjing in May 1644 the Tartar (Mongol) prince Bairoku calls China a beast-land for failing to relieve hunger. Ri Toten cuts out his own left eye, and Bairoku is mollified; but Ri Toten is actually Bairoku's ally, and they attack. Go Sankei leads the Chinese forces, but Ri Toten and his brother Ri Kaiho seize the Emperor and cut off his head. Go Sankei kills Ri Kaiho and takes the sash and seal from the Emperor's body. After the fully pregnant Empress is killed by a bullet, Go Sankei cuts out the baby and then kills his own infant, putting it in the dead Empress's abdomen. The fisherman Watonai has a Chinese father and a Japanese mother, but learning of China's need from Princess Sendan he goes to help. His mother tames a tiger that attacked him, and with the tiger they defeat Chinese soldiers. They visit his half-sister Kinshojo. Her husband General Kanki refuses to help his wife's family; so Kinshojo kills herself. Kanki then joins Watonai and renames him Coxinga. In the fourth act Sendan and Coxinga's father Ikkan join Go Sankei. They escape on a bridge of clouds from the Tartars, who follow and die when the bridge collapses. In the final battle Coxinga is victorious; the Mongol king is beaten half to death and allowed to escape, and Coxinga beheads Ri Toten. The young prince is proclaimed emperor. This larger than life drama appealed to patriotic sentiments.
Gonza the Lancer by Chikamatsu was based on recent events and was produced in 1717. Gonza is a 25-year-old samurai who accepts a sash made by 18-year-old Oyuki as a token of their engagement. Osai, the wife of absent tea master Asaka Ichinoshin, urges her 13-year-old daughter Okiku to marry Gonza. To win over Gonza, Osai promises to teach him the secret tea ceremony. Osai complains of receiving love letters from the infatuated Bannojo. Oyuki's governess wants Osai to be go-between to arrange Oyuki's wedding with Gonza. Osai is enamored of Gonza but tells herself to put aside jealousy. In the evening she receives Gonza alone in the teahouse while Bannojo uses a barrel to sneak in through a thorny hedge. Osai sees Gonza's engagement sash and jealously throws it into the garden. She gives him her sash, but he throws it into the garden. Bannojo picks up both and accuses them of adultery. Gonza draws his sword and kills Bannojo's servant Namisuke, but Osai stops him from killing himself, saying that Bannojo is the criminal. She asks Gonza to become her lover so that her husband Ichinoshin can regain his reputation by killing them. In despair Gonza accepts her as his wife, and while escaping they get stuck in the barrel. Osai's father Chutabei finds her possessions delivered to his door. He orders them destroyed so that they will not pollute a samurai's house. In a chest they find Osai's two young daughters. Chutabei wants to kill Bannojo, but Ichinoshin persuades him not to and promises to defend Chutabei. Ichinoshin tells Osai's mother that he lost his position, and Osai's brother Jimbei shows Ichinoshin the head of Bannojo. Finally at a bridge Ichinoshin kills Gonza and Osai, showing that a samurai tea master could still wield his sword.
Chikamatsu's play, The Uprooted Pine, was first performed in 1718 during the New Year's holidays. In Osaka's brothel-licensed quarter of Shimmachi courtesan Azuma is in love with Yojibei and offers poor and infatuated young Yohei money to find another woman. When he rejects it, she takes off Yojibei's under-robe and gives it to him. Then he plans to use the money to start an oil business. Yohei quarrels with tobacco merchant Hikosuke, kicks him, and slashes his face with a dagger. Hikosuke shouts that Yojibei stabbed him, and Yojibei is put under house arrest. Yojibei's wife Okiku asks his rich father Jokan to help his son by paying off Hikosuke. Azuma brings a letter to Yojibei, but Okiku intercepts it, finding a razor and a double suicide proposal. Okiku blames Azuma for ruining her husband's life. Azuma says she only intends to save Yojibei from disgrace. Okiku then lets Azuma see Yojibei. Jokan by threatening suicide persuades his son Yojibei to escape even though his father may be punished for it. Yojibei runs off with Azuma but misses his wife and father. Yohei returns with his profits to ransom Azuma. Hikosuke with money from Jokan also wants to ransom her, and Okiku's father Jibuemon offers a sword for the same purpose. Azuma and Yojibei emerge from two trunks. Jibuemon makes Hikosuke inform the police that Jokan is innocent. Yohei ransoms Azuma and scatters his extra money as they all celebrate. This drama has a happy ending to celebrate the new year.
The Girl from Hakata by Chikamatsu was produced in 1719 and was inspired by news of arrested smugglers and prostitutes. On a ship near Kyushu the Kyoto merchant Soshichi tells Kezori and other smugglers that he plans to ransom the courtesan Kojoro of Hakata. Kezori suggests they throw him overboard, but Soshichi survives. Kojoro welcomes the destitute Soshichi, but Kezori and the smugglers come in and have ransomed six top courtesans. Kojoro persuades Kezori to loan ransom money for her. Kezori forces Soshichi to join the smugglers and finances his wedding Kojoro. In Kyoto all the furniture in Soshichi's house is sold at auction before his father Sozaemon arrives. Soshichi returns to find the house empty and gives his last money to the servants he dismisses. He learns that his father took a key document. Kezori with a sword demands this identification pass, and Soshichi manages to get it from his father. Kojoro thanks Sozaemon, who warns about dishonest gain and begs his son to be honest even if has to do menial labor. Soshichi is disinherited and leaves Kyoto with Kojoro. He is arrested and stabs himself. Then Kojoro is arrested and wants to die. Police have also arrested the smugglers, but the superintendent lets the courtesans go. The smugglers are to have their faces mutilated so that they can do no more mischief. This play indicates the serious consequences facing those who violated Japan's seclusion laws.
The long history plays took most of a day to perform. Chikamatsu's Twins at the Sumida River is set during the reign (1086-1107) of Emperor Horikawa and was produced in 1720. Yoshida's mistress Hanjo has given birth to identical twins, Umewaka and Matsuwaka. Yoshida sees two Lady Yoshidas and thinks he kills the goblin (tengu), but the remaining tengu says he killed his wife. Loyal Kanenari takes the blame by killing himself. Kageyu supports Lady Yoshida's brother Momotsura and says he has been ordered to plant one hundred thousand new cedars on Mount Hira for having felled sacred trees. Kageyu kills Yoshida and is then cut down by Gunsuke. Momotsura wants his son to succeed and says that Yoshida stole 10,000 gold pieces, but Takekuni counters that Toshikanu squandered it on a courtesan. Precedents are found for a woman inheriting the power, but Hanjo seems to be mad. By the Sumida River the ronin Sota has been reduced to selling children as slaves. Umewaka refuses to be sold farther from the capital, and Sota beats him to death. Takekuni comes looking for Umewaka. Sota admits he has been selling children to pay back 10,000 gold pieces he owes his master and then commits hara-kiri. Toshikanu kills himself to become a demon and find Matsuwaka. Hanjo is wandering in search of her sons and is helped by Sato's wife Karaito, who explains how Sato mistakenly killed his master Umewaka. Hanjo and Karaito pray at their graves, and a tengu says he guided Hanjo as a mountain priest and returns to her Matsuwaka. The narrator begins the last act with the comment, "Arrogance is the disease of fools; it brings its own calamity."9 Hanjo and Karaito use fireworks to attack stealthily Momotsura's forces. Finally Masafusa announces that the Emperor has decreed Matsuwaka the owner of Yoshida's estate.
Chikamatsu's The Love Suicides of Aijima was first performed in January 1721 and has been called his masterpiece. Tahei is competing with Kamiya Jihei to ransom the courtesan Koharu. A samurai suspects that she and Jihei intend a love suicide, but she asks for help in staying alive. Jihei overhears this and stabs through the lattice, but the samurai ties his hands. The samurai throws down Tahei. When Jihei is untied, he recognizes his brother Magoemon. Jihei says he has broken with Koharu and returns 29 written oaths, but Magoemon takes an important letter. Ten days later Magoemon makes Jihei sign an oath he has severed ties to Koharu, and his wife Osan is relieved. Osan reveals that she wrote a letter asking Koharu to give up Jihei; now she fears that Koharu will kill herself, and she asks Jihei to save her. Osan gives him money and their clothes to pawn so that he can ransom her before Tahei does. Osan's father Gozaemon arrives to take her home, telling Jihei to divorce her. Jihei replies that he is grateful to Osan and cannot divorce her. Gozaemon discovers the missing clothes. Jihei still refuses to divorce but says goodbye to Osan, who will not accept divorce either. Gozaemon forces her to leave with him as her children awake. Mogoemon tries to find Jihei, but he stealthily runs off with Koharu. She wishes that she could protect women of her profession so that no more love suicides would occur. Jihei tells her he has divorced Osan. At Amijima he cuts off his hair to be a monk and then cuts off her hair. Finally he stabs her to death and then hangs himself. This repeated plot of suicides with prostitutes seems to imply some romantic union in death as an escape from this world.
An excellent history play is Chikamatsu's Lovers Pond in Settsu Province, which was first performed in early 1721. The subtitle claims it is from the Go-Taiheiki, a work known for criticizing the corruption of rulers and ministers that led to the fall of the Ashikaga and the civil wars. In 1564 at the Muromachi palace in Kyoto, younger brother Yoshiaki takes the place of Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru at court and is pulled down by the indignant Kuninaga. Brash Kanemori then grabs Kuninaga. Yoshiaki cuts off his hair and explains that his brother Yoshiteru is drunk. Ashamed Kuninaga goes to his father Chokei, who cuts off his head. Yoshiaki says he has his own reasons for following the spiritual path. Mikinoshin explains to Lady Yoshiteru that Chokei is planning to ransom the courtesan Oyodo, adopt her, and bring her to the palace as Yoshiteru's main consort. Kanemori attacks Oyodo's palanquin but finds her with Yoshiteru, who orders Kanemori beaten. Pregnant Lady Yoshiteru escapes while Kanemori slays one of Chokei's men. Mikinoshin presides at an investigation into the murder of a woman that evidence indicates is Lady Yoshiteru. Mikinoshin privately doubts this and rules her case is under Chokei's Miyoshi jurisdiction. Umegae tells how Oyodo and Yoshiteru had a woman beheaded for fun. Before she is killed, Umegae vows to pursue the demon-woman in future lives. Chokei has arrested a man, who admits that he killed Yoshiteru's wife for him, but Mikinoshin announces the arrival of Lady Yoshiteru. Chokei explains his plot. Fujitaka stabs Oyodo, who reveals Chokei's coup and confesses her reluctant sins before she dies. In the palace struggle Kiyotaki kills her father Iwanari. Matsunaga kills Yoshiteru, but Fujitaka escapes.
Mikinoshin travels with Kiyotaka, who gives birth on the roadside. Mikinoshin takes her to his father Bunjibei, who assures him many will fight against Chokei. Bunjibei learns that Kiyotaki is the daughter of Iwanari and tells Mikinoshin to kill Kiyotaki. She explains she was adopted by Iwanari, and Bunjibei's wife realizes that Kiyotaki is her daughter. Thinking they have committed incest like animals, Mikinoshin and Kiyotaki plan to drown themselves. However, Bunjibei explains that he is not the father of Mikinoshin, but his wife stops Bunjibei from drowning himself. Mikinoshin's father Komagata was killed, and he promises to avenge him. Then Bunjibei admits he killed Komagata to get his wife. Mikinoshin refuses to kill Bunjibei; but Bunjibei's wife cuts her throat, and Bunjibei commits suicide also. Yoshiaki has become the priest Keigaku. After Kanemori beats him for refusing, he returns to secular life. Fujitaka leads their forces, and Keigaku dreams of the palace. The spirit Shiragiku says, "Life in this world flashes past like a bolt of lightning. How could we waste time in hating others? Nor should we ever be sad."10 Yoshiteru and Oyodo are in agony, and then Keigaku wakes up and puts on armor to protect the young prince and overthrow Chokei. In 1569 during the battle Mikinoshin kills Matsunaga, and Kanemori slays Chokei with a spear. One theme of this play is indicated by Kanemori's comment that too great a gulf divides the low from those on high.
In August 1721 Chikamatsu produced The Woman-Killer and the Hell of Oil based on a recent murder. The young oil merchant Yohei gets into a fight over the courtesan Kogiku and splatters mud on passing samurai. One of them is his uncle Moriemon, who says he must cut off Yohei's head on their way back from the temple. Yohei's attractive neighbor Okichi is the mother of three, and she gives him a needed bath, angering her husband Shichizaemon. Moriemon catches Yohei on their return, but the samurai Oguri says that mud does not disgrace him unless it falls on his good name. Yohei's brother Tahei reads to their step-father Tokubei a letter from Moriemon who says he must restore his honor. Tahei tells Tokubei that Yohei needs discipline. Yohei lies to Tokubei that Moriemon needs money because he embezzled, and he offers to take it to him. His half-sister Okachi pretends to be ill and refuses to marry, but then she admits Yohei put her up to it. Yohei's mother Osawa makes him leave the house and disinherits him, and Tokubei complains that Yohei squandered what he has given him. The Boys' Festival is the last day to collect bills, and Shichizaemon gathers 580 me. Kohei tells Yohei he must pay the 200 me he borrowed or owe 1,000 the next day. Yohei asks to borrow this in new silver from Okichi, saying he would commit suicide except that his debt would ruin his parents. When she refuses, he stabs her to death and takes the 580 me. Moriemon tracks down Yohei, and evidence incriminates Yohei, who is arrested and dragged to the execution ground. Yohei's fate is learned by many, and the narrator hopes that it may be a lesson to all.
Chikamatsu's Battles at Kawa-nakajima was first performed three weeks after The Woman-Killer. In 1559 Shingen's son Katsuyori meets Terutora's daughter Emon at a shrine ceremony. Murakami has asked to marry Emon and accuses them of having a secret affair. Katsuyori and Emon escape. Shingen and Terutora find their retainers Heisuke and Kohei fighting and make them exchange loyalties. Both masters receive messages about the young lovers and agree to fight at Shinano. Katsuyori meets the ronin Kansuke, who is wounded by a wild boar that Katsuyori kills. Kansuke contemptuously kills Murakami's samurai Tota. Shingen wants Kansuke as his strategist and is interviewed by his clever mother. Shingen and Terutora unite briefly to defeat Murakami, who flees. After suffering a tactical defeat, Terutora wants Kansuke on his side and sends Sanetsuna with his wife Karaginu, who is Kansuke's sister. Kansuke's mother rejects Terutora's robe and kicks over a tray of food onto him. Kansuke realizes that he has been lured by his filial duty to his mother and blames his stuttering wife Okatsu for letting them mimic her handwriting. Okatsu blames Karaginu, and the two women fight with swords until Kansuke's mother takes their swords and stabs herself. She confesses her impropriety with the food tray and dies. Terutora blames himself, cuts off his hair, and changes his name to Kenshin. Kansuke cuts off his hair and takes the name Doki. Because Murakami has blocked Shingen from getting salt, Kenshin says he will send Shingen salt. After separating, in 1561 Katsuyori and Emon meet at a bridge. Shingen sees Emon and is grateful for the salt her father sent. Katsuyori fights Murakami and cuts off his head. In the fifth battle Kansuke is dressed like Shingen and is wounded by Kenshin. Kansuke offers his head to end the war. Kenshin and Shingen agree to stop fighting and pardon their children, who bring peace to their houses.
Chikamatsu's last contemporary play, Love Suicides on the Eve of the Koshin Festival, was produced in 1722. The old samurai Gozaemon says that a frugal government makes the people more comfortable by reducing demand and prices. He dismisses Hanbei for cutting up a large yam, but Hanbei gives a good explanation. Hanbei discourages homosexual lovers of his brother by asking who will join him in death. Ochiyo has been married twice before and is four months pregnant with Hanbei's child. She tells her older sister Okaru that she has been divorced again because of her mother-in-law. Ochiyo's father Hei'emon begs Hanbei not to divorce her. Hanbei says he has not divorced her and is ready to show his samurai spirit by killing himself. He promises never to send her away again. Hanbei's father Iemon is devoted to a religious life, but his wife (Hanbei's foster mother) dislikes Ochiyo and does not want her in the house. She tells Hanbei he must divorce his wife, or she will kill herself. So Hanbei tells Ochiyo he must divorce her, but he whispers he will follow her. They leave the house forever and go to the Buddhist festival. Momentarily Hanbei regrets the pain he will cause his family, but Ochiyo tells him to kill her. She prays for her unborn child, and then Hanbei stabs her to death before committing hara-kiri. That all of these romantic suicide plays were based on actual incidents indicates that Chikamatsu's dramatizations of them reflects a fad if not a trend in Japanese society in which the samurai code of self-discipline and ruthless violence has turned inward.
Chikamatsu's last and longest play, Tethered Steed and the Eight Provinces of Kanto, was produced early in 1724, the year he died. At the imperial palace in 988 Shogun Minamoto no Yorimitsu must choose his heir. Kocho tells the Shogun's brother Yorinobu that she is in love with him, but Yorinobu asks her to tell Eika of his love for her. Kocho jealously vows revenge against Eika. While Lady Yorimitsu conducts a vote with the lights out, Tomozuma molests Kocho, who cuts off his cap-string. However, Yorihira has everyone cut off their hat-strings. Yorinobu wins the election over his younger brother Yorihira. Kocho persuades Yorihira to sleep with Eika, who thinks he is Yorinobu. She accepts Yorihira and suggests they flee her Ebumi residence that is raided by brigands. Imperial guardians Tsuna and Kintoki kill the robbers. Iyo no Naishi is chosen to be Yorinobu's bride, and Kocho plots to kill her with a spider. Kocho spies on Yorimitsu for her brother Yoshikado by communicating through a water pipe; but she is wounded by Lady Yorimitsu, and Hosho cuts off Kocho's head. Yoshikado escapes. Yorihira catches a bandit but is captured by Yoshikado, who claims he is Shogun Taro. He threatens to kill Eika if Yorihira does not swear to join him. Yorihira agrees to attack his brother Yorinobu so that Yoshikado can revenge his sister Kocho. Yorihira and Eika are captured by Tsuna and Tomozuna and are taken to Yorinobu.
Yorimitsu sentences his brother Yorihira to death, and Eika's parents are demoted to commoners. An old warrior appeals directly to Yorimitsu and, when she takes off her clothes, is revealed to be Tomozuna's mother, Aunt Mita. She nursed Yorihira, and Yorimitsu promised her a favor; so he grants Yorihira a reprieve for seven days to change his loyalty. Tomozuna castigates Eika for not pleading with Yorihira. Aunt Mita pleads with Yorihira, who explains his honor is to keep his pledge to Yoshikado. Eika asks her mother Hagi to accept their karma, but Hagi wants to behead Yorihira to redeem her husband Ebumi. Eika tells her she will know Yorihira in the dark by his hair; but this results in Hagi stabbing Tomozuna. He tells Kintoki that her intention proves Hagi's loyalty and uses the embedded sword for hara-kiri. The dying Tomozuna explains that Yorihira saved his reputation after he had molested Kocho. He and Aunt Mita urge Yoshihira to break his vow to the enemy, and Yoshihira does renounce the pact. Taro Yoshikado is captured, but Yoshihira gets his life spared so that he can fight him as an enemy. Lady Iyo is ill and terrified by spiders. The women pray to Amida for the salvation of all lost souls and struggle against the malevolent spirit of Kocho in spiders. Yorinobu and Yorihira attack Yoshikado, and Kintoki fights millions of spiders with a broom. Finally Yoshikado and the evil spider are vanquished, and the brothers are reunited. Especially in this play the line between life and death is blurred as Chikamatsu portrays the working out of the karmic patterns. Perhaps his philosophy of government is summarized by the following words of Tsuna:
If there is love and compassion insid eand we keep a careful guard on the outside, then we have no need to use the sword ,and people will follow the way of virtue and govern themselves.
Takeda Izumo, Namiki Senryu, and Miyoshi Shoraku combined to write nine puppet (Joruri) plays between 1745 and 1749. Several of their plays have been adapted into kabuki and have been revived many times. The most popular three of these are Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy (1746), Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees (1747), and Chushingura or The Treasury of Loyal Retainers (1748).
Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy was presented in Osaka. Sugawara no Michizane was born in 845 and was appointed to the second highest position in the government as Minister of the Right in 899. The historical drama begins the next year. When a Chinese priest arrives at court, Minister of the Left Fujiwara no Shihei offers to stand in for the ill Emperor, but Sugawara objects and suggests Prince Tokiyo, who says that the Emperor wants Sugawara to transmit his calligraphy secrets to a disciple. Sakuramaru and his wife Yae arrange for a meeting of the lovers Yokiyo and Kariya, Sugawara's adopted daughter, and they are discovered. Sugawara's calligraphy disciple Mareyo tries to love the maid Katsuno, who resists. Genzo and his wife Tonami return to Sugawara's house after being banished for marrying without permission. To Mareyo's consternation, Sugawara passes his calligraphy secrets to the poor Genzo, who has been teaching school and is still banished. Sugawara is put under house arrest for plotting to place Tokiyo and Kariya on the throne. Mareyo changes his loyalty to Shihei, but Genzo knocks out Mareyo and kills Chikara.
Tokiyo and Kariya learn that Sugawara has been exiled to Yasui and plan to go there. Kariya asks Terukini to punish her instead of her father. Tokiyo parts with Kariya for the sake of Sugawara. Kariya's mother Kakuju arranges a farewell meeting with Sugawara, and Kakuju's oldest daughter Tatsuta tells her mother not to punish Kariya. Taro and his father Hyoe plan to abduct and kill Sugawara with a counterfeit escort that arrives early. When Taro's wife Tatsuta objects, Taro kills her. Hyoe gets a cock to crow early, and Sugawara enters the palanquin. However, Kakuju's servant Takunai traces the blood and finds Tatsuta's corpse in the pond. Taro pretends to investigate and accuses Takunai. Kakuji sees a scrap of Taro's robe in Tatsuta's mouth, borrows Taro's sword, and stabs him. Terakuni arrives with the escort, and the other escort leader brings back a wooden statue of Sugawara, but the living Sugawara gets out of the palanquin. Hyoe sees his son Taro wounded and admits he planned to kill Sugawara for Shihei. Terukini fights Hyoe, and the false escort flees from Terukini's men. Kakuju kills Taro and cuts off her hair to become a Buddhist nun. Terukini executes Hyoe.
The triplets Sakuramaru, Umeomaru, and Matsuomaru are associated with cherry, plum, and pine respectively. Matsuomaru is a groom for Shihei and is opposed by Tokiyo's groom Sakuramaru and Sugawara's groom Umeomaru. Their father Shiradayu was given tax-free land for them by Sugawara. Their wives celebrate Shiradayu's birthday with him, but the three sons are late. Matsuomaru chides Umeomaru for not having a stipend, but the wives stop them from fighting. Umeo asks to go to Sugawara, but Shiradayu tells him to find Lady Sugawara and her son Shahu. Shiradayu agrees to disown Matsuo and reprimands him for obeying his master regardless of good and bad. Shiradayu plans to go to Sugawara. Sakuramaru arrives and tells his wife Yae that he must die for causing the troubles of Tokiyo and Sugawara. Yae appeals to Shiradayu, but he explains that his prayers for Sakuramaru failed. Sakuramaru commits hara-kiri as Umeo and his wife Haru return.
Sugawara has a strange dream and goes to the Anraku Temple. Umeomaru tells Shiradayu that Heima plans to kill Sugawara, who beheads Heima. Sugawara explains that he must die and become a thunder god to clear his name at the capital. Lady Sugawara tells Haru and Yae that she also dreamt of the Anraku Temple and saw Sugawara going to destroy Shihei. Shihei's retainer Hoshizaka kills Yae, but a priest rescues Lady Sugawara. Sugawara's son Shusai is staying with Genzo and his wife Tonami and attending their school. Matsuomaru's wife Chiyo brings their son Kotaro to enroll in the school. Genzo says that Matsuo and Shihei's retainer Genba have ordered him to cut off the head of Shusai, but he tells Tonami he will cut off Kotaro's head. Tonami questions the retribution that kills a child and wonders if it is for misdeeds from a previous life. Matsuo arrives and lets the other children go but identifies his own son's head as Shusai's. Chiyo returns and explains that they offered their son to save Shusai. Matsuo says he has paid his debt to Sugawara and that he was the priest who rescued Lady Sugawara. Finally Tokiyo returns to court with a pardon for Shusai and the house of Sugawara from the Retired Emperor. Shihei tries to fight and decapitates Genba for negligence. Mareyo's body is burned by lightning. Shihei appeals to Buddha but is infested by snakes and dies as the ghosts of Sakuramaru and Yae appear.
The village school beheading scene has been criticized for extolling feudal loyalty, and the play was banned during the American occupation in the late 1940s.
Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees by Takeda, Miyoshi, and Namiki was first performed in Osaka in 1747. Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159-89) was the brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-99), who founded Japan's first military government in Kamakura but does not appear in the play. Emperor Go-Shirakawa retired as a priest in 1158 but still holds the power. Yoshitsune is suspected by Yoritomo of rebelling, and his irascible retainer Benkei accuses Tomokata of taking a Heike wife. Tomokata tells Yoshitsune that the Emperor wants him to attack his brother Yoritomo. Yoshitsune accepts the Hatsune drum from the Emperor but refuses to strike it. Heike general Koremori is believed dead, and his wife Wakaba no Naishi and her son Rokudai are hiding with a nun. Naishi learns that her husband is alive on Mount Koya. Tomokata's officer Inokuma intends to torture the truth out of the nun. At the Horikawa mansion Yoshitsune urges his wife Kyo no Kimi and his mistress Shizuka to restrain Benkei's rowdy behavior. Kyo's father Kawagoe asks Yoshitsune why he falsely claimed he had turned in the heads of the Tairas Tomomori, Koremori, and Noritsune, and Yoshitsune explains that he wanted people to believe that the Heike clan was wiped out in order to establish peace. Yoshitsune says that Kawagoe is a coward for not acknowledging he is the real father of Kyo, who was adopted by Taira Tokitada. Insulted Kawagoe tries to kill himself, but Kyo grabs the sword and cuts her throat. Kyo asks that her head be taken to Yoritomo to reconcile him with his brother. Kawagoe warns Yoshitsune not to fight Yoritomo's forces, and Yoshitsune restrains his men.
Yoshitsune reprimands Benkei for killing Kamakura men but forgives him for his loyal defense. Yoshitsune leaves Shizuka behind tied up with the drum. Tota finds her and takes the drum, but Yoshitsune's retainer Tadanobu rescues Shizuka. Tomomori gives up his disguise as the shipping agent Ginpei, serves Emperor Antoku, and aims to kill Yoshitsune. Tsubone, who had posed as Ginpei's wife Oryu, dresses the Emperor. They learn that Yoshitsune has defeated Tomomori. Yoshitsune grabs her and tells Tomomori that he will protect the Emperor. Tsubone considers Yoshitsune's Genji clan her enemy, and she cuts her throat. Tomomori is more philosophical and, before he drowns himself, says, "Yesterday's enemy is today's ally. But now my heart is at peace. I am happy."
Koremori's retainer Kokingo is traveling with Naisha and her son, but Gonta cheats them out of twenty ryo in gold. Gonta's wife Kosen cannot persuade him to stop swindling. Inokuma mortally wounds Kokingo and is killed by him. Gonta's father Yazaemon finds Kokingo dead and cuts off his head. Yazaemon's daughter Osata wants to marry Yasuke, who is actually Koremori. Gonta pretends he was robbed and says he will commit suicide in order to get his mother to give him money, which they put in a sushi tub. Yazaemon wraps the head and puts it in a sushi tub also. Koremori tells Osata who he is and that he cannot marry her because he has a wife and child. He is reunited with Naisha and Rokudai, and he tells Osata he felt obligated to her parents. An officer gives Kajiwara orders, and Gonta tells Osato he is turning in Naishi, Rokudai, and Koremori. Yazaemon says he cut off Koremori's head and gives Kajiwara Kokingo's head. Gonta claims he killed Koremori and captured Naishi and her son. Kajiwara offers to pardon Gonta's father Yazaemon, but Gonta says he prefers money. Disgusted with his evil son, Yazaemon stabs Gonta, who explains that he turned in his own wife and son in order to save Naisha and Rokudai. Koremori cuts off his hair to become a Buddhist monk, and Yazaemon is distraught that he killed his own son.
Tadanobu and Shizuka travel through the Yoshino mountains. Chief priest Kawatsura learns that the Retired Emperor has ordered Yoritomo to hunt down Yoshitsune. Kawatsura tests his followers, tells them to give Yoshitsune refuge, but says he will kill him. Yoshitsune is reunited with Shizuka and Tadanobu at Kawatsura's mansion. Yoshitsune says that Shizuka may strike the drum, and she attacks Tadanobu, who is revealed to be a fox. Kawatsura captures Yoshitsune, who is rescued by his retainer Kamei. Yoshitsune confronts the Zen master Kakuhan by identifying him as Noritsune. Young Emperor Antoku says that Yoshitsune arranged the meeting. Noritsune fights Tadanobu. Yoshitsune runs in and says that Emperor Antoku is retiring to be a priest. Kawagoe arrives with Tomokata under arrest for advising the Emperor to make Yoshitsune attack Yoritomo. Finally Tadanobu decapitates Noritsune, vanquishing the Heike clan and bringing peace.
Two weeks after the 47 ronin were buried in 1703, a play about a night attack was presented in Edo; but authorities closed it after three performances. In 1706 Chikamatsu's Goban Taiheiki that included revenge against General Moronao in the 14th century was presented in Osaka, where censorship was less strict. Namiki wrote the play Loyal Retainers in 1732, but the famous Chushingura was written by him, Takeda Izumo, and Miyoshi Shoraku and was presented in 1748.
Chushingura uses the setting chosen by Chikamatsu and begins in 1338. Enya Hangan's wife Kaoyo identifies the helmet of the late Yoshisada by its smell of incense. When Moronao slips a letter into her sleeve, she throws it back at him. Wakasanosuke tells his retainer Honzo that he resents the tyrannical manner of Moronao, who was appointed advisor by Emperor Takauji. To prevent conflict, Honzo shows Moronao's retainer Bannai a list of gifts from Wakasanosuke. The young woman Okaru asks Kampei to return a poem to Moronao, and she pushes away Bannai for trying to be too familiar. Moronao apologizes to Wakasanosuke, and Hangan returns a letter box from his wife Kaoyo to Moronao, who ridicules Hangan. The insulted Hangan uses his sword to slash the head of Moronao, but Honzo stops him from doing more. Kampei wants to leave with Okaru and is able to fight off Bannai. Hangan is under house arrest, and Kaoyo blames herself for angering Moronao. The Shogun's envoy tells Hangan his lands are confiscated and orders him to commit seppuku. Hangan only regrets that he did not kill Moronao, and he asks for vengeance as he leaves his dagger to his chief retainer Yuranosuke. The envoy Yakushiji takes possession and orders the retainers to leave. Kudayu suggests turning over the mansion, but Yagoro wants to stay and fight. Yuranosuke advises they should not fight Ashikaga, but he promises to kill Moronao with the dagger.
Yagoro meets Kampei and tells him they are raising money for a memorial to Hangan. Kampei wants to be a samurai again and hopes to get money from Okaru's parents. The brigand Sakuro robs an old man on the road of fifty ryo and kills him. Kampei shoots at a boar but discovers he killed a man and takes his money. Ichimonjiya brings the other fifty ryo to buy Okaru for 100 ryo from her parents, saying he gave the other fifty to her father. Kampei arrives, and the money wallet indicates he may have shot his father-in-law. Ichimonjiya takes Okaru away, and hunters tell her mother that Okaru's father is dead. She blames Kampei. Yagoro and Goemon return the money to Kampei because Yuranosuke suspected it was wrongly obtained. Kampei stabs himself; but then Yagoro and Goemon realize that Kampei shot the highwayman and enroll him in their league before he cuts his throat.
Moronao has sent Bannai to the capital to spy on Yuranosuke, who has been drinking with prostitutes. Heiemon reports to Yuranosuke that he went to try to kill Moronao but could not get near him. Yuranosuke's son Rikiya learns that Moronao is returning home. Kudayu suspects that Yuranosuke is pretending to be dissipated to attack his enemy but tells Bannai that Yuranosuke even ate octopus on the anniversary of Hangan's death. Yuranosuke asks Okaru to be his wife even if only for three days. Her brother Heiemon tells Okaru that her father and Kampei are dead. Because she read the secret letter, he offers to kill her; but Yuranosuke stops her from killing herself. Yuranosuke drives his sword between mats to skewer Kudayu, who was listening below the floor, and he has Heiemon slash Kudayu all over his body. Honzo's wife Tonase wants her daughter Konami to marry Yuranosuke's son Rikiya, but his mother Oishi rejects the marriage. Konami refuses to marry anyone else, and Yuranosuke approves her marriage to his son. Oishi wants Honzo's head for having stopped Hangan from killing Moronao. Honzo comes in and pushes down Oishi, and Rikiya wounds Honzo with a lance. Yuranosuke says that Honzo got his wish to be struck down by his son-in-law. Yuranosuke follows the Confucian idea of hating the crime, not the offender. He reveals two monuments that portend his death and Rikiya's. Tonase and Oishi apologize to each other, and Honzo gives Rikiya a plan of Moronao's mansion.
The merchant Gihei helps the ronin get supplies and is tortured by the police, who threaten his son. Gihei is willing to strangle the boy himself when Yuranosuke stops him, commending his determination. To save Gihei's daughter from being married, Yuranosuke cuts off her hair. Yuranosuke tells his men that they only intend to kill Moronao. Jutaro captures him alive, and they all cut off Moronao's head. Yuranosuke gives the top honors to Jutaro and Kampei. Yuranosuke says they should withdraw to die at Hangan's tomb, but while escaping they kill Yakushiji and Bannai. This revenge play indicates how the samurai code of honor could result in extensive violence, most of it self-inflicted and not shown, as the group seppuku is left to the audience's imagination.
When Tokugawa Yoshimune (r. 1716-45) became shogun, he had already learned much as the daimyo of Kii, having handled debts, a costly visit from the Shogun, disastrous fires, and a tsunami. He dismissed Arai Hakuseki and replaced him with Muro Kyuso. In implementing major reforms he governed himself and urged direct appeals to him. Yoshimune restrained spending because of the depleted Bakafu treasury. He reversed the debased currency by minting pure coins, and he proclaimed a moratorium on financial suits by merchants against samurai. In 1716 he announced that no suggestions had been helpful and that unsolicited opinions would now be punished; but this policy was reversed three years later, and a suggestion box was put out three times a month starting in 1721. Some 21 officials had their stipends confiscated in 1719 to reimburse the government for embezzlement.
The process of codifying Bakufu laws began in 1720, and it was completed in 1742. To reduce the number of lawsuits, Yoshimune encouraged the settlement of disputes by the mediation of headmen. He lifted the ban on foreign books in Chinese translations except those on Christianity. The Shogun assigned twenty agents to gather information on daimyos and shogunate officials. His 1721 decree stopped the practice of automatically charging with complicity the families of the common people guilty of serious crimes. Banishment sentences were commuted to fines. A five-year census started in 1721, the year Yoshimune began licensing merchant associations (kabunakama). The craft guilds for artisans were called nakama. Yoshimune ordered officials to reduce the expenditures of their departments, and he called upon daimyos and hatamoto to be more frugal in their private spending.
After two poor harvests, in 1722 Shogun Yoshimune reduced the stipends of the bannermen (hatamoto) and housemen (go-kenin). When the price of rice shot up to 80 momme per koku, he called upon the daimyos to contribute one percent of their revenues to the Bakufu to pay the debts of his housemen and bannermen; but he reduced the alternating attendance requirements of the daimyos to six months every other year. He urged land reclamation and the growing of new crops. Wealthy merchants were invited to finance drainage and embankments to provide more cultivable land, and specialists were employed to improve irrigation. In 1723 the Shogun ordered that raises in stipends for promotion be temporary and conditional in order to make bureaucrats more accountable. In 1727 the tax on crops was raised from 40% to 50%. The next year the Shogun made a procession to the Nikko mausoleum of Ieyasu, whom he emulated, and he canceled the one percent tax on daimyos' revenue. In 1729 the government announced that because of the low price of rice, those on rice stipends would only have to pay five percent interest on their debts. The price of rice reached a low of 22 momme, and this especially affected the military class, which received their stipends in rice. Yoshimune ended the monthly rotation of roju duties and appointed a finance commissioner; by 1735 that was the largest government office.
In the summer of 1732 an attack of locusts destroyed crops in western Japan. More than two million people suffered hunger, and the government supplied rice from large storehouses; yet more than ten thousand died of starvation. Market prices shot up to 150 momme per koku and caused riots in Edo and other towns in 1733 because angry citizens believed that speculators were withholding food. For the first time urban riots in Japan turned to property smashing (uchikowashi). That year the Bakufu sanctioned warehouse notes by establishing its own rice storehouse at Osaka. A good harvest the next year brought the price back down, but that squeezed the military class. In 1734 the Confucian scholar Aoki Konyo proposed growing sweet potatoes. In 1735 the government set a base price of one ryo for 1.4 koku of rice. Nonetheless the price of rice fluctuated wildly for the next decade despite government efforts. In 1736 the Bakufu debased the currency again to stop the price of rice from falling. In the next ten years six billion copper coins were minted, more than doubling what had been issued before. No more gold or silver coins were issued until 1819.
Yoshimune set fixed agricultural taxes and had them rigorously collected. Since the taxes were fixed for several years in advance, farmers by increasing their yields could lower their tax rates. This also eliminated exacting annual assessments. The Roju in charge of finance, Kan'o Haruhide, said, "Peasants are like sesame seeds. The more you squeeze them the more oil you get."13 These efforts increased government revenues to a high of 1,800,000 koku in 1744. However, in 1739 about 84,000 peasants rebelled in Iwakitaira, and later that year it took troops from thirteen daimyos to put down a revolt by silver miners at Ikuno. The new law code of 1742 allowed peasants to sell their land for the first time since 1643. Yoshimune had an observatory constructed in Edo in 1744. He retired in 1745 and was guardian for his son Ieshige until his death in 1751.
Ieshige (r. 1745-60) became shogun at the age of 35, but he stammered and let his Grand Chamberlain Ooka Tadamitsu speak for him. Land taxes increased government reserves from one million gold pieces in 1742 to 2.5 million in 1753. After two poor harvests, peasants in Dewa asked for grain in 1747; but after the rice was dispensed, the leaders were questioned under torture and executed by orders from the Bakufu. In the 1750s several prominent daimyos were accused of misrule and had their estates confiscated, and 32 officials were dismissed or had their stipends withdrawn. One month after Ooka Tadamitsu died in 1760, Ieshige resigned and let his son Ieharu become shogun. Ieshige died the following year.
Shogun Ieharu (r. 1760-86) began ruling at the age of forty, but his favorite Tanuma Okitsuga (1719-1788) rose to become the senior chamberlain by 1767. Matsudaira Takemoto was president of the elders council and restrained Tanuma somewhat until he died in 1779. Tanuma gained as a mistress a friend of Ieharu's favorite woman, and through her he bribed ladies-in-waiting and concubines. He considered the bribes he received indications of loyalty. Tanuma encouraged commercial activity and gained revenue by licensing more trade associations. He established monopolies on silver, copper, lime, and vegetable oil. Foreign trade at Nagasaki was promoted by exporting more copper as well as dried shark fins, sea slugs, and seaweed from Hokkaido. The Sumitomo house served as agents for the copper monopoly in the Kansai area. By 1761 Japan had more than two hundred large commercial houses. That year the Bakufu prohibited daimyos from issuing promissory notes they could not redeem, and in 1767 Osaka merchants were ordered not to accept such notes. Taxes burdened the people, and in 1764 about 200,000 people from Mushashi and Kozuke marched on Edo to protest a special tax imposed to pay for the Shogun's visit to Nikko. Most were appeased, but many roamed the country and smashed storehouses in Kumagai before the disorder was suppressed in Kanto. Peasant uprisings spread to other areas. Daimyos called on neighboring domains for help, but they were forbidden to use firearms until the riots in Hida became more serious in 1773. The Bakufu rewarded spies by raising them into the samurai class.
After two years of drought, Edo suffered a major fire in 1772 that was followed by a year of floods. The next year an epidemic took about 200,000 lives and spread north to Sendai, where 300,000 died of starvation and disease. Conspiracies to give the imperial court at Kyoto more power were punished in 1766 and 1774, and Matsudaira Sadanobu exposed peculation there in 1778. Floods affected Kyoto and Kyushu that year and were followed by the eruption of two volcanoes. In 1781 merchants set quality standards for silk and cotton, issuing certificates in the market towns of Musashi and Kotsuke and charging examination fees. However, buyers refused to pay the higher prices, and three thousand peasants attacked the examination stations and marched to the castle of Takasaki. The examination stations were abolished. The great Temmei famine began in 1782 and spread to most provinces, lasting until 1787. Rioters burned down warehouses and residences of dealers, whom Tanuma had allowed to buy up rice supplies during the famine. Tanuma's son Okitomo was murdered in 1784. Russians had requested trade in 1777, and in 1785 Tanuma sent a commission to investigate how to promote northern trade with Russia by developing Hokkaido and Sakhalin. He also encouraged Dutch studies. Government reserves reached a high of three million gold pieces in 1770 but fell to 2.2 million by 1788. Shogun Ieharu died in 1786, and the next year the Roju councilors replaced Tanuma with Shirakawa's daimyo Matsudaira Sadanobu, who during the famine had prevented any deaths by starvation in Shirakawa by providing rice.
During the first six years of Ienari's long reign (1787-1837), Yoshimune's grandson Matsudaira Sadanobu (1758-1829) directed policy and tried to go back to his grandfather's era by restricting trade. After the riots of 1787, the Roju approved of Sadanobu's reforms. The next year there were 117 revolts. He suppressed bribery and other corruption that characterized the Tanuma regime. Former finance commissioners and some top councilors were fined and reduced in rank; other guilty officials and merchants were executed or banished. In 1788 the Bakufu government faced a deficit for the first time, and so Sadanobu reduced expenditures. To pay for rebuilding the palaces that had been burned in the fires at Kyoto, in 1789 he revived Yoshimune's method of making the daimyos contribute. He canceled samurai debts and reduced the rate of interest that the brokers (fudasashi) charged for loans to the Shogun's retainers. Yet in 1795 the hatamoto rioted against the brokers in the streets, and the Tokugawa samurai had to punish their own people to restore order.
Sadanobu supervised the Osaka rice merchants and ordered all daimyos to set aside rice reserves to prevent famine. He eliminated most of the corvée labor imposed on the peasants. However, his efforts to stop peasants from moving into the towns or inducements offered for them to return to the land from Edo and other cities had little effect, as did his attempts to get farmers to reduce their subsidiary crops such as tobacco and indigo. Village officials and mutual responsibility groups (goningumi) were ordered to take special care of pregnant women in order to increase rural population, and in 1800 the Bakufu government spent 150,000 gold pieces trying to rebuild rural Japan. Instead of helping the poor directly, wealthy farmers and merchants were loaned money, and the interest was used to help orphans and others.
In 1790 Matsudaira Sadanobu tried to exclude doctrines that deviated from Zhu Xi's teachings at the Confucian college (Shohei Gakumonjo). Pornography and books ridiculing the government were also banned. In 1791 the comic writer Santo Kyoden was punished, and works by Hayashi Shihei that mentioned the Russians in the north were suppressed. However, the new restrictions on foreign books were reversed by 1811, when the Bakufu established an office for translating western books in the shogunate's astronomical observatory. In 1792 annual examinations for samurai began. Mogami Tokunai (1755-1836) led the exploration of the northern islands, and he emphasized the need to conciliate the indigenous Ainu, who were rebelling. In 1792 a Russian vessel reached Nemuro to return Japanese castaways. Adam Laxman was informed that the Russians must apply for permission to enter Japan at Nagasaki. Sadanobu reacted in 1793 by ordering coastal defenses prepared, and the next year he resigned his office. He wrote a memoir (Uge no hitogoto) of his public service to instruct his descendants.
Ienari came of age and began ruling for himself in 1793. He spent money liberally and did not try to control commerce. The shogunate began mapping and colonizing the northern island of Ezo (Hokkaido) in 1798 and took it over in 1802. The Russian warship Nadezhda arrived at Nagasaki in 1804, but several months later ambassador Vasilii Rezanov was told to leave. In 1807 Russian naval officers Khostov and Davydov attacked settlements in Sakhalin and Ezo, leaving a letter threatening to attack again if Japan did not agree to terms. The next year a British vessel asked for food and supplies at Nagasaki, whose governor was so ashamed of their lack of defenses that he committed suicide. This incident led to improvement of the defenses. In 1811 captain Vasilii Golovnin and his men were captured at Kunashiri and were held for two years before the Japanese learned that Khostov and Davydov had acted against their orders. The Russians captured the merchant Takadaya Kahei, who had a Bakufu monopoly, and traded him for Golovnin.
After Nobuaki died in 1812, Mizuno Tadanari by flattery and influence with the women became Shogun Ienari's main advisor. Ienari had one wife and twenty concubines, fathering 55 children. His seraglio also included forty principal ladies and nine hundred female attendants. The weddings of his daughters were celebrated extravagantly, and daimyos had to contribute. Many of the daimyos also lived extravagantly during this era of pleasure as trade flourished in the towns. Theaters were well attended, and prostitution spread to more areas. The Bakufu's reserves of gold and silver fell from one million ryo in 1798 to 650,000 in 1830. Most daimyos and samurai had growing debts. They sold the right to use a surname and carry two swords to prosperous farmers. Peasants were forced to pay heavier taxes, sometimes in advance. Uprisings occurred, but the samurai retained military supremacy. More incidents with English ships led to an expulsion order in 1825. Local authorities were ordered to arrest or kill "without a second thought" anyone who lands.
While Japan experienced economic and cultural development, the shogunate suffered fiscally. The Bakufu government saved nearly half its expenditures temporarily by debasing the currency nineteen times between 1819 and 1837, but this caused price inflation and hardship on the samurai. In 1827 the Bakufu imposed laws that required village officials to crack down on pawn shops, alcohol, gambling, and luxurious life-styles. The sumptuary laws ordered prostitutes arrested, and the government even tried to clamp down on bath-houses, barbers, and hairdressers, using spies to arrest customers. The Mitsui house became the financial agent for the shogunate, the imperial house, and several daimyos. The Konoiki house acquired wealth from shipping and handled financial affairs for about three dozen daimyos. The shipping enabled the urban centers to grow. As the population of Edo approached one million, Osaka and Kyoto neared 400,000 each. Paper currency took the form of han rice or silver certificates. Merchants increased their affluence and became creditors at the expense of the rural and urban poor. The annual rice crops had leveled off at about 30 million koku, while population only increased gradually to about 32 million because of infanticide. In Choshu in 1831 a hundred thousand people demonstrated against the daimyo's cotton monopoly and attacked houses of the rich, stores, granaries, breweries, and pawnshops.
A devastating four-year famine provoked a peasant rebellion in 1837 led by Osaka magistrate Oshio Heihachiro. His father had been a police inspector in Osaka, and Heihachiro inherited his position. In the 1820s he cleaned out corruption in Buddhist temples, secret religious groups, and prostitution rings, thus gaining a reputation as the best police censor in Osaka. After the corrupt Atobe became city magistrate, Oshio resigned and began educating disciples. He studied and taught the ideas of Wang Yangming, which in Japan were called Oyomei studies, and his famous lectures were published in 1834. He was also inspired by the philosophy of Nakae Toju who said, "Do right for the sake of doing right."14 Like his friend, Rai San'yo (1780-1832) who wrote the influential General History of Japan (Nihon gaishi), Oshio admired the defenders of the Kemmu restoration of 1333. The historian feared Oshio's fate and urged him to sheath his sword. Oshio blamed the Tokugawa shogunate for failing to provide just and moral government, and he wanted to save the people from the hell of the past in order to establish a paradise. He accused the bureaucrats of combining with the huge merchant houses of Osaka to hoard the supply of rice in Edo while famine spread. Unafraid of the government over them and wanting to help the people, Oshio and his followers aimed to bring truth and justice under an emperor. He blamed the Bakufu for not sending rice to the Kyoto court. In 1836 more than a hundred thousand people were reported to have starved to death in the Tohoku. That year the number of rural disputes, peasant uprisings, and urban riots reached their peak.
As the famine became worse, Oshio sent a memorial to Magistrate Atobe, but his petition was ignored. Oshio distributed and posted on temples and shrines in Osaka the manifesto "Punishment from Heaven," and he urged his followers to kill any official who learned of their revolt. He planned to set fire to the large merchant houses to confiscate their gold, silver, copper, and bales of rice, but Magistrate Atobe learned of the plot the day before it started. Oshio set fire to his own house in order to burn the magistrates in the house opposite. The fire burned the merchant district of Osaka for two days in February 1837 and destroyed 3,300 houses. Hundreds of swords Oshio had distributed were used to sack silk and sake shops, and Bakufu troops hunted down the rebels. Most of them were tortured to death before the trial was completed. Oshio fled, and a month later he was found and committed suicide. The historian Okamoto Ryoichi has argued that Oshio's radicalism did not coordinate his followers into a unified protest. Ikuta Yorozu was a disciple of Hirata Atsutane, and he also led a rebellion at Niigata during the famine of 1837.
Nishikawa Joken (1648-1724) was an astronomer in Nagasaki, and he wrote the popular Bagful for Merchants (Chonin bukuro) in 1719 and the Bagful for Peasants (Hyakusho bukuro) in 1721. He offered much practical advice that included warning people about consuming red meats and wines as Europeans do. He saw all human beings as part of the natural order with the same inner connection with the absolute. Therefore he rejected the social hierarchy and inequality. He argued that commerce served the entire country, and he believed that money belonged to everyone. He found that nature blessed everyone without prejudice so that none were inherently inferior or wicked. In 1728 Kada Azumamaro submitted a memorial to the Bakufu government for a school of national learning.
Ogyu Sorai (1666-1728) became an advisor to Yoshimune and published his Political Essays (Seidan) in 1727, urging reforms but under the absolute authority of the shogun. He studied the ancient classics of China, and he criticized Jinsai for missing the original teachings in the Analects of Confucius. He valued the study of history and considered it the ultimate form of scholarly knowledge. He believed that human history is not natural because it is created artificially. Sorai emphasized the importance of separating selfish desires by keeping them in the private sphere and out of public service. He challenged hereditary systems and urged that appointments be made based on ability. He criticized the domination the Hayashi family had over state education. He observed that the men in authority lacked the virtue to govern, and he predicted that men of talent and wisdom emerging from below would overthrow the order. He was still holding the Confucian view that merchants contributed little, but his student Dazai Shundai (1680-1747) believed that a money economy would produce economic growth. In his book on political economy (Keizairoku) Dazai proposed creating wealth by trading plentiful goods to where they are needed.
Ishida Baigan (1685-1744) was a merchant from Kyoto, but he combined Shinto beliefs with Buddhist and Confucian ideas to form a new religion he called Heart Learning (Shingaku). He urged people to accept the four social classes as natural and recommended each person fulfill one's duty with diligence, love, and honesty. Baigan taught that exchanging goods of reliable quality developed trust between people and benefited society. He affirmed the human spirit that found aspects of all the major religions valid. Ando Shoeki (1707-55) urged identification with nature, and he affirmed the indigenous community in northern Japan. All are human, and he believed that status distinctions between male and female or high and low should not exist.
Tominaga Nakamoto (1715-46) studied at the merchant academy in Osaka. Many of his writings were lost because of the Prohibition Act of 1790, but his Historical Survey of Buddhism (Shutsujo kogo) and Testament of an Old Man (Okina no fumi) survived. In the lost book, Failings of the Classical Philosophers (Seppei), he had criticized the ancient Chinese philosophers. This book caused him to be expelled from his father's Confucian school and from his own home before he was even twenty years old. At the Zen monastery of Uji he got a job proofreading the enormous Buddhist scriptures in the Tripitaka. This enabled him to write his Historical Survey in which he observed how additional contributions helped the religion to spread. Thus innovations constantly change religion as different schools, sects, and denominations form. He was skeptical of universal statements and argued that ethical texts should be understood in the context of their cultural history.
Tominaga Nakamoto also analyzed how Confucian rhetoric tended to distort knowledge by exaggerating, generalizing, reducing meaning of specific cases by using abstractions, and using contrasts in deceptive ways. Nakamoto criticized the mysticism in Buddhism, the scholasticism of Confucianism, and the superstitions in Shinto. He also questioned whether the cultural history of one country could be transferred to another. He noted that Buddhism was distorted as it moved from India to China and Japan, which he felt also suffered from adopting Chinese scholasticism. He suggested that the way of truthfulness could be found in ethical filial relationships among the living rather than from past texts. In his Testament of an Old Man, Tominaga tried to synthesize the three religions into an ethical culture of true fact. The old man found it pitiful and ridiculous that ignorant people become partisans of one teaching and start violent controversies. He also criticized Shinto for devising secret transmissions for selfish gain.
Goi Ranju (1697-1762) followed the philosophy of Kaibara Ekken and taught merchants in Osaka. He disagreed with the elitism of Sorai that most people could not understand certain truths. Ranju, like Ishida Baigan, believed that all people could grasp the order of nature and understand ethical values. He believed that human goodness could be realized more by daily interactions than by solitary meditation.
Nakai Chikuzan (1730-1804) was a merchant in Osaka and a student of Goi Ranju. In his book on political economy (Sobo kigen) he called for major reforms, including abandoning the hostage system for regional daimyos at Edo and terminating guaranteed stipends for the aristocracy. He proposed a unified school system for all classes with promotion based on ability and achievement. He suggested educating students in Edo for administration, and in the Kyoto-Osaka area he recommended cultural studies to include history, ethics, and literature. Chikuzan's brother Nakai Riken (1732-1817) agreed on the value of universal education, but he argued that the decline of virtue because of warlords seeking power in conflict with an imperial center was not inevitable. Riken condemned the betrayal of the Tokugawa shogunate and withdrew to become a scholarly recluse.
Yamagata Daini (1725-67) agreed that ambitious men betrayed the privileged aristocracy, but he advocated action to change the system. He proposed that a popular army could be raised to revolt against the Bakufu government. He believed that the government's punishing people was illegitimate and thus criminal behavior. In 1767 his plot to burn down Edo was discovered, and 22 people were arrested and punished, most being banished to the islands of Idzu. The Bakufu convicted Yamagata of treason and beheaded him.
Japanese intellectuals began studying Dutch books, and in 1745 Aoki Konyo produced a Dutch-Japanese dictionary. Miura Baien (1723-89) studied Dutch science, and he offered the economic theory that social utility is what creates economic value. A lantern that can light homes is more useful than precious stones in a mighty castle. He reasoned that gold, silver, and copper could be replaced by paper money. Baien urged local peasants to organize themselves into mutually helpful communes in order to nurture life from below, instead of waiting for political generosity from above. His skeptical analyses encouraged scientific thought, and his disciples Waki Guzan and Hoashi Banri would recommend the use of western science in the 19th century. In 1791 the Dutch specialist Hayashi Shihei wrote a book that urged developing European military technology to defend the north against the advancing Russians with the education of samurai while bringing about domestic reforms in agriculture and trade. The Bakufu ordered Hayashi arrested and destroyed the blocks that printed his book.
Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) found deep emotion (mono no aware) in the ancient legends of the Kojiki and in Murasaki's medieval novel The Tale of Genji. He spent 34 years studying and reconstructing the Kojiki to reveal Japan's ancient way. He believed that an authentic life experienced deep emotion, and he criticized Buddhism for dismissing feelings and renouncing the world. He believed that love is the most powerful emotion, and that is why most poetry is about love. Poetry is a natural way to express one's deep feelings. Norinaga found emotion to be spontaneous, and he believed that humans had little rational control over good and evil. However, he suggested that people could act morally by following natural Shinto and thus be mystically guided by the gods (kami).
Sugita Gempaku (1733-1817) and others translated Dutch books. Sugita studied medicine and became a surgeon. He wrote The Beginnings of Dutch Studies (Rangaku Kotohajime). He found that Dutch studies of anatomy were more accurate than Confucian concepts, and in 1771 he observed the dissection of a condemned criminal's corpse. Otsuki Gentaku (1757-1827) opened a school for studying Dutch and western subjects, publishing his Explanation of Dutch Studies in 1788. After surveying for seventeen years, Ino Tadataka (1745-1818) made an accurate map of Japan. Kaiho Seiryo (1755-1817) gave up his samurai status and moved to Osaka. He lectured on his Daoist philosophy of play and wrote on economics, urging the samurai government to gain wealth by commerce just as the king of Holland benefited from commercial ventures. He argued that merchants precisely measure exchanges of value in their profit calculations. He believed that the polity should be reformed so that high and low are united in a community that is dedicated to the peace and well being of all.
Honda Toshiaki (1744-1821) believed the seclusion policy was a mistake and urged Japan to develop its northern frontier by allowing colonization. He compared the advancing scientific and technical knowledge of the western nations with the moral aphorisms of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Shinto, which he denounced as pedantic and superstitious. In 1798 he wrote Secret Proposals on Political Economy (Keisei hisaku) in which he recommended manufacturing explosives to use for creating ports, waterways, and rice fields as well as for military purposes. Second, he proposed mining metals to increase national power. Third, he suggested constructing a national merchant marine for centrally owned trading. Finally, he advised applying technology to explore neighboring islands for defensive purposes. He warned that western naval powers could soon be encroaching on Japan. He recommended that the western alphabet be used for writing instead of the numerous Chinese characters. He believed that Japan could become like England by developing scientific technology. Toshiaki summarized the duty of the prince as alleviating the people's suffering. He emphasized the need to produce more food in order to prevent starvation of increasing population. He blamed private merchants and the failure of the government for making the economic conditions of the samurai and farmers worse because of lack of sea transport. He observed that famines caused people to turn to crime, and he hoped that better government would lead to prosperity.
The Osaka banker Yamagata Banto (1748-1821) managed the finances of the Sendai domain. He studied the Nakai brothers and was fascinated by western science. He rejected dreams and believed that universal principle did not favor one country or region over another. He criticized the Confucian hierarchy that placed the aristocracy on top and the merchants on the bottom.
Sato Nobuhiro (1768-1850), like Honda Toshiaki, was also from the north. He studied Dutch books on science and history and then traveled around urging daimyos to apply agricultural improvements. He wrote a brief history of the western powers and found that scientific ideas undermined out-of-date Confucian theories. Sato worked on developing firepower for weapons and ships. He recommended having departments of education, religion, and justice. Under these would be the six bureaus of agriculture, natural resources (forestry and mining), manufacture, finance, army, and navy. He suggested that universities teach philosophy, religion, social institutions, music, law, military defense, medicine, astronomy, geography, and foreign languages. Soto was concerned about infanticide and abortion, and he estimated the number of children killed each year was sixty or seventy thousand in Mutsu and Dewa alone. He found that infanticide was rare in Echigo, where prostitution of girls over the age of seven was widespread. He believed that scientific agriculture could help produce abundant harvests. He warned that if the state did not improve, divine punishment was inevitable. If the wealth of the nations was shared by all, then no harm would come from having a large family. In his Outline of Heaven's Law (Tenkei yoroku), he advocated uniting the whole world in peace. Thus geography needs to be studied in order to save the people. However, in his plan for world unification Soto argued that Japan should subjugate China, Burma, and India and could command all the nations. After retiring, Soto became interested in the ideas of Hirata Atsutane.
Tsuruya Nanboku IV (1755-1829) adopted the name of his father-in-law in 1811 and wrote more than 120 plays for the kabuki theater that reflected popular tastes and changing cultural values. Whereas the plays of Chikamatsu and others emphasized duty (giri) and its conflicts with feelings (ninjo), in the 19th century the characters and audiences were motivated by the desires for money and sex, which was more overtly depicted. Nanboku's erotic melodrama, The Scarlet Princess of Edo, was produced in 1817. Lady Sakura falls in love and asks to be the wife of the robber Gonsuke who raped her. The priest Seigen believes that she is the reincarnation of his homosexual lover who committed suicide, and he takes care of her abandoned baby. A couple tries to murder ill Seigen for money. Gonsuke returns and sells his wife Sakura to a brothel. Seigen wants to kill Sakura but stabs himself and dies. His ghost prevents her from sleeping with men. Sakura learns that Gonsuke killed her father and in revenge kills their child and him. She cuts off her hair to become a nun, and in the final scene her family scroll is found and restores her as a princess just as she is being caught for murder. Thus the traditional happy ending is ironic because every main character has degenerated morally.
Nanboku's most famous play is Ghost Story at Yotsuya, which was produced in 1825 over two days between the two halves of the famous Chushingura. Iemon has been living with pregnant Oiwa and asks her father for permission to marry, but he refuses because Iemon was a retainer of Enya Hangan but did not join the vendetta. Enraged Iemon kills the old man. Naosuke is in love with Oiwa's step-sister Osode and kills a supposed rival. Iemon and Naosuke deny their crimes and promise to get revenge. Oiwa's face is disfigured after she takes medicine. The doctor Ito Kihei tells Iemon that he sent the poison so that his granddaughter Oume could marry Iemon, who agrees to leave Oiwa to marry Oume. Kihei says he will recommend Iemon to his master Moronao. Iemon sends the masseur Takuetsu to seduce Oiwa, who pulls out her hair and accidentally cuts her throat and dies. Iemon kills his servant Kohei for having stolen a family heirloom. Then Iemon marries Oume, but he sees Oiwa's face on her and decapitates her. When he thinks Kihei is Kohei eating his baby, Iemon cuts off his head too. In the third act the ghosts of Oiwa and Kohei haunt Iemon. Osode marries Naosuke to get revenge, but she learns he is a murderer and kills herself. Naosuke discovers that Osode is his sister and also commits suicide. The ghost of Oiwa uses rats to torture Iemon. This horrific melodrama thrilled audiences.
Ninomiya Sontoku (1787-1856) was a self-educated peasant who believed that other peasants could also control their destiny by gaining knowledge. Poverty is best alleviated by developing virtue from below. He helped peasants organize mutual trust cooperatives to manage their own affairs more effectively. He advised farmers to keep statistics so that they could budget their expenses. He suggested a planned agrarian economy so that some of the good harvests could be set aside for the bad years. Sontoku believed that human life should be a continuing act of gratitude for the providence of heaven, earth, and humans. He found the root of virtue in work, and its loss in idleness. Labor is what creates civilization and human advancement. Everyone must contribute to the general welfare, and mutual aid is what protects all. In addition to labor, his practical virtue included thrift and sharing with others. Sontoku became known as the peasant sage of Japan.
Aizawa Yashushi (Seishisai) wrote New Proposals (Shinron) in 1825. This manuscript was circulated and discussed by important people and became even more popular when it was published in 1857. He emphasized the divine line of kings going back to the sun goddess Amaterasu, and he found moral values in the Japanese tradition. He argued that the state should be defended by armed preparation. He wrote that the ancients were blessed because they lived as though their enemy was right on the border. His writing greatly stimulated Japanese nationalism (kokutai). His ideas were taken up by samurai intellectuals such as Fujita Yukoku and his son Toko in the Mito domain of Tokugawa Nariaki. Aizawa quoted the advice from Sun'zi's Art of War about the importance of preparations for defense. He argued that the national government needed military strength to defend the people because of the trend in international affairs and that education is the way to develop this strength and prosperity. He combined Confucian ethics with the filial piety of Shinto worship while criticizing shamans, Buddhists, and the sophistries of pseudo-Confucians. He observed that westerners found strength not only in their scientific technology but also in their common Christian God. He warned
The subversion of the people and overthrowing of the stateare taught as being in accord with the God's will.So in the name of all-embracing love the subjugation of the land is accomplished.Though greed is the real motive, it masquerades as a righteous uprising.
The ideas of Hirata Atsutane (1776-1843) were so aggressively nationalistic that he favored making Shinto the only national religion and the emperor Japan's only ruler; the Shogun had him put under house arrest in 1841. Hirata emphasized the divinity of the emperor and recommended worshipping him daily by facing the imperial palace in Kyoto. His valuing of work and family attracted a following of farmers and local officials, and he found the ancient way exemplified in the lives of the common people. He identified everyday work with the original creation by the gods, and work is the offering people make to the gods. He believed that government and religion should be one and the same. He held the kami Takami-musubi to be the creator god. Hirata moved away from Motoori Norinaga's theory of deep emotion, and he replaced Motoori's concept of the underworld with a permanent Heaven, where believers go after they die.
Schooling greatly increased in Japan during the middle of the 19th century. Only 57 private academies (shijuku) existed by 1789, and in the next forty years 207 more established; but 796 were founded between 1830 and 1867. The number of parish schools (terakoya) was 241 in 1789, and 1,286 more were established by 1829; another 8,675 began teaching by 1867.
New religions began springing up that gained large followings among the peasants. Kurozumi Munetada (1780-1850) had a vision during a severe illness and in 1814 founded a sect based on devotion to the sun goddess Amaterasu. In the early 1840s he wrote about serving the way of the circular deity of light. He promised that the age of the gods (kami) had come and they would be compassionate to all at the end of the world.
In 1838 a farmer's wife with healing powers named Nakayama Miki (1798-1887), who had been oppressed by her family and husband, began relieving the suffering of others and started the Tenri movement. She chanted, fell into trances, and demonstrated shamanic powers. During a three-day trance she was told to abandon her family to become a vehicle and messenger of the divine work. She gave up her possessions and distributed her family land to the poor. She taught that one must fall into poverty to find relief from pain. She believed that people evolved from monkeys and are equal. She warned that failing to work for universal relief in accordance with divine law would bring down the wrath of the kami. Miki taught that pride is the basic human evil that produces the desire, regret, sweetness, greed, arrogance, hatred, resentment, and anger that she associated with the powerful. She envisioned frugal peasants working together in community.
The farmer Kawate Bunjiro (1814-83) founded the Konkokyo sect in Bitchu. He made pilgrimages to the Shinto shrine at Ise in 1830 and 1846. He believed he was transformed into a kami of love and took the name Konko Daijin in 1859. He also gave up all his possessions. Konko emphasized August intelligence (oshirase), but he advised rejecting the clever learning of society. He said that by listening and understanding, the body would become a reservoir and agent for the intention of the divine. He disapproved of religious austerities and said that eating and drinking are important for the body. Konko also recommended relieving and helping others in need. Mutual help is what makes humans different from other species. He exalted women and said they are close to the gods. Konko emphasized the importance of farming and doing one's household duties.
Tokugawa Nariaki (1800-60) had become Mito daimyo in 1829. He was influenced by Aizawa Seishisai's ideas to revere the emperor and repel the barbarians. After the Oshio rebellion in 1837 and especially after learning of the British Opium Wars against China in 1840, Nariaki and his Confucian adviser Fujita Toko (1806-55) implemented reforms in Mito by conducting a land survey, realigning tax quotas, using new agricultural techniques, and recalling samurai from Edo.
Choshu had a huge debt of 85,000 kan of silver and troubles since the peasant uprising of 1831. Murata Seifu was appointed in 1840 and relieved the peasants with a new land survey and a more equitable tax. The domain's debt was adjusted to allow payments over a longer period of time. The Choshu government sold its monopoly rights on salt, sake, cotton, and other products to merchant guilds. Shipping for the Ryuku trade provided funds to buy western equipment and improve defenses. Zusho Hirosato in Satsuma told creditors that the domain's debt of 70,000 kan or five million ryo would be paid off over 250 years without interest. Satsuma established a sugar monopoly and made enormous profits in Osaka. They also made high profits by trading illegally with the Luchu Islands. Both Choshu and Satsuma used the mercantilist methods of commercial profits and military capability.
Many of the 264 domains reformed themselves economically and began to provide their own defenses. The Shogun headed the Bakufu government that was six times larger than the largest daimyo, but their territory was scattered over most of Japan. Uprisings in their areas had occurred in Gunnai in 1836, in Osaka, Edo, and Kashiwazaki in 1837, and in Sado in 1838. The Dutch scholar Takano Nagahide (1804-50) wrote a pamphlet in 1838 opposing the exclusion policy and suggesting the advantages of foreign trade. When Watanabe Noboru (Kwazan), a talented poet and painter, was summoned by a magistrate in 1839, he warned Takano, who refused to hide and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Takano later escaped during a fire in 1844 but committed hara-kiri after killing a police officer in 1850. Kwazan was also imprisoned and committed suicide in 1841 in order to protect his feudal lord. Takashima Shuhan (1798-1866) sent a memorial to the Nagasaki governor urging military reform, but this was criticized by Torii Yozo, who was the son of the official Confucian scholar Hayashi Jussai. Torii was a chief magistrate in Edo; he hated anything foreign and was called the Demon. After Takashima's successful demonstration of guns in 1841, Torii had him arrested, tried, and imprisoned. In 1840 Hirose Tanso wrote Cirumlocutions (Ugen) criticizing the corruption of the daimyos and samurai class.
Mizuno Tadakuni (1793-1851) had become senior councilor (roju) in 1834. Even though Shogun Ienari had retired in 1837, his control prevented Bakufu reforms until his death in 1841. Then Shogun Ieyoshi (r. 1837-53) let Mizuno govern. He dismissed a thousand officials and issued new sumptuary laws. Female hairdressers could get one hundred days in jail, and in 1842 restaurants and teahouses were closed for allowing lewd behavior. Erotic and heretical books were banned, and publishers had to submit writing for prior approval. This censorship caused the arrest of the comic writer Tamenaga Shunsui (1790-1843), and he died in prison after his hands were cut off. The celebrated actor Danjuro VII was arrested and was not pardoned until 1849, and actor Nakamura Tomijuro died in exile. Takashima Shuhan urged adopting western military technology, and in 1842 Egawa Hidetatsu was assigned to train one hundred musketeers. Three daimyos were ordered to exchange their domains, but for the first time they were allowed to refuse.
Mizuno Tadakuni tried to have more land reclaimed and make peasants return to farms. Ninomiya Sontoku was consulted on agriculture, and most of the officials in eastern Japan were dismissed. The monopolies that the Bakufu had licensed were abolished, but the commercial associations were eventually reinstated in 1851. Mizuno decreed a 20% decrease in prices, wages, and rents; but in the confusion prices went even higher. After another recoinage he compelled seven hundred merchants in Edo, Osaka, Kyoto, and other cities to loan the Bakufu two million ryo to the Bakufu treasury. To refurbish Tokugawa prestige he made a costly procession to Nikko in 1843. Money changers were ordered not to handle copper coins minted in the domains nor local paper currency, and daimyos were required to surrender farmland around Edo.
After officials learned about the Opium Wars and the Treaty of Nanjing, Sato Nobuhiro, who had been banished from Edo in 1832, was allowed to return. In 1843 the restrictions on using western artillery were removed. Nariaki believed that Mizuno was more corrupt than Tanuma Okitsugu, but Nariaki was confined in 1844. That year angry crowds attacked the residence of Mizuno, and he resigned. He was investigated and reinstated for a few months, and then most of his property was confiscated while he remained under house arrest. In 1845 Torii Yozo was accused of corruption and sent into exile. Abe Mashiro replaced Mizuno, and he held conferences to discuss the high prices, financial problems, and the concerns of defense and foreign policy. In 1845 Fujita Toko wrote a book to apply the lessons of the Chinese Opium Wars and recommended first repelling the barbarian and then opening the country. He advised national unity by cultivating loyalty to the Emperor. In 1848 the French warship Samarang negotiated with the Luchu Islands, and Satsuma purchased weapons from the French, a violation of the 1639 exclusion laws.
In 1850 Japan established its first modern blast furnaces in Saga and four years later in Satsuma. By 1853 a hundred cannons were in place around Edo Bay, but the next year the Americans noted that their small caliber was not formidable. After Torii's exile, in 1846 Takashima was released to a mild house arrest. After Perry's first visit in 1853 Takashima was pardoned and appointed the Bakufu's maker of ordinance. That year 15,000 peasants rebelled in the Nambu domain demanding equality.
The American merchant ship Morrison had entered Edo Bay in 1837 to deliver Japanese castaways and had been driven off by Uraga batteries. In 1842 Mizuno canceled the order to fire on all foreign ships. In 1844 the Dutch envoy at Nagasaki brought a letter for the Shogun warning that modern technology and international trends were making it impossible for Japan to resist foreign trade. American whaling ships needed ports for supplies. In 1846 Commodore Biddle with two American vessels was also turned away. In 1852 United States President Millard Fillmore sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry to open up Japan. In July 1853 Perry anchored off Uraga and insisted on delivering a letter from President Fillmore before leaving and promising to return the following year with more ships.
Sakuma Shozan (1811-64) studied the Confucian classics under Sato Issai in the Hayashi school, but he was influenced by the intuitive philosophy of Wang Yangming that united knowledge and action. Sakuma served Sanada Yukitsura, who in 1841 was put in charge of Japan's coastal defenses. A few months after Wei Yuan had recommended western learning for China in 1842, Sakuma wrote a similar proposal for Japanese maritime defense. Sakuma studied gunnery with Takashima Shuhan and Egawa Tan'an, and he submitted an eight-point program to Sanada that included equipping strategic fortifications with artillery, suspending the export of copper so that it could be used in guns, building large merchant ships, supervising maritime trade, building modern warships and training naval officers, establishing widespread schools for men and women, making governmental rewards and punishments clear, and employing men based on ability. Sakuma studied Dutch, and with an encyclopedia he learned how to use chemicals to cast cannon and small arms in 1848.
His friend Yoshida Shoin stowed away on one of Perry's ships in 1854. Both were arrested, and after a year in jail they were kept in domiciliary confinement. Sakuma became a proponent of opening the country and called for the union of the civil and military government. He was released in 1862 and was on a mission to the Kyoto court in 1864 when he was assassinated by an enemy of the reconciliation. Sakuma made famous the slogan, "Eastern ethics and western science." He wrote about his thoughts in prison, but because of his criticism of the current regime it was not published until after 1867. He noted how mathematics is the basis of science and advanced military tactics. He recommended combining the objective scientific techniques on the material side of life with the spiritual ethics. Yoshida Shoin wrote on leadership, emphasizing the importance of will and determination. He advised openly expressing one's resentments and anger straightforwardly to clear the air. In addition to studying history he learned about conditions in the world in order to see the trends so that they could be rectified first in one's own domain, then in others. Yoshida observed that most people are selfish and indulge their desires, but he called on grass-roots heroes to rise up.
Yokoi Shonan (1809-68) led the Practical Party and favored western science, but he was resented by traditional physicians. He urged Japan to prosper by using mercantilist methods, and he advocated a strong navy. In his 1860 book Kokuze sanron he criticized Tokugawa despotism. He defined leadership as what helps the public interest. He believed that agriculture is the basis of prosperity but argued that a market system was needed to regulate exchange and the distribution of products. He admired the political model of the United States and proposed that a federal system could provide unity while allowing for domain interests.
During the crisis of 1853 Abe Masahiro sent out letters to all the daimyos asking their advice. Most wanted to reject Perry's request; some advised conciliation; Nariaki and seven others recommended military action; and only Ii Naosuke and one other were for opening up to foreign trade. In March 1854 at Kanagawa both Abe and Perry compromised on a treaty that opened up the ports at Shimoda and Hakodate to American ships. In the next twenty months Japan made similar agreements with the British, Russians, and Dutch. Abe appointed Nariaki commissioner of national defense, and he removed the limits on han military defenses. While improving national defense, this put the Bakufu in greater internal danger. For the first time in the Tokugawa era the imperial court at Kyoto issued a major order to melt down temple bells for guns. In 1855 a naval training school with Dutch instructors opened at Nagasaki while modern military training began at Edo. The next year a new translation bureau for western books was established. New village schools (terakoya) were opening in large numbers at this time. The United States envoy Townsend Harris was allowed to meet the Shogun in person in December 1857, and the new roju chairman Hotta Masayoshi negotiated a trade treaty with Harris in 1858. Its fourteen provisions called for diplomatic relations and trade with a conventional tariff at Kanagawa (Yokohama), Nagasaki, Niigata, and Hyogo as well as at Shimoda and Hakodate. Foreigners could reside in Osaka and Edo, and extraterritorial jurisdiction was granted. In 1860 a mission of eighty samurai officials went to the United States to ratify the treaty, and others went to Europe in 1862 and 1863.
In 1858 Shogun Iesada died without an heir. Powerful Ii Naosuke favored Tokugawa Yoshitomi of Kii, but others supported Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu (Keiki), son of Nariaki who appealed to the imperial court. The roju named Ii Naosuke tairo. He signed the American treaty without consulting the Emperor and made Yoshitomi shogun. The new treaty took effect in July 1859, and foreigners began arriving. The Bakufu purged many of its enemies, beheading Yoshida Shoin in October 1859. In 1860 those wanting to "expel the barbarians" began making terrorist attacks on foreigners. Nariaki was blamed and punished, but in revenge Mito and Satsuma clansmen assassinated Ii Naosuke at an Edo castle gate in March 1860. The imperial court approved continued threats against the Bakufu, and samurai attacked the American and British legations. In 1862 the roju chief Ando Nobumasa was critically wounded. A bodyguard of the Satsuma daimyo killed an Englishman named Richardson, and in retaliation the British shelled Kagoshima and burned the city. As a concession in 1862 Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu was made regent of the Shogun, and the next year the Shogun went to the court of Kyoto for the first time since Iemitsu went there with 300,000 troops in 1634.
In 1863 Choshu samurai attacked foreigners in Yokohama and burned the British legation. Later that year Choshu batteries bombarded American, French, and Dutch ships in the Shimonoseki Straits, but in 1864 these allies and the British destroyed Choshu's coastal batteries to reopen the straits. The Choshu forces tried to protect the Emperor from the Bakufu by taking over Kyoto, but Satsuma and other clans helped the Bakufu defeat them. However, when the Bakufu tried to destroy the Choshu clan, Satsuma gave them military aid. In November 1865 nine allied ships entered Hyogo Bay and forced the Bakufu officials at Osaka to make the Emperor sign the treaties. In March 1866 daimyo agents Saigo Takamori and Okubo Toshimichi of Satsuma made a secret alliance with Kido Koin and Takasugi Shinsaku of Choshu. The Shogun found the vassals were not supporting the attack on Choshu, and the Bakufu suffered a significant defeat in July 1866. Shogun Iemochi died in August at Osaka. Yoshinobu Keiki succeeded him and appealed for unity. Emperor Komei died in February 1867 and was succeeded by his 14-year-old son Mutsuhito. The French minister Leon Roches had been trying to prop up the Bakufu in Edo since 1864 by using French administrative methods, but these were too little and too late. In 1866 a government edict banned plays about thieves and prostitutes. The actor Kodanji was ill, got worse, and died; but the playwright Mokuami (1816-93), whose popular plays had portrayed robbers, blackmailers, and swindlers as heroes, decided to turn to historical plays.
In November 1867 Shogun Keiki agreed to resign and be prime minister under the Emperor and a daimyo council, and the Tokugawa house was to retain its lands. Satsuma and Choshu leaders did not accept this, and on January 3, 1868 their forces joined by Echizen, Owari, Tosa, and Aki seized the palace and proclaimed the restoration of the Emperor and the Meiji era. A council that excluded the Tokugawa abolished the shogunate and confiscated their lands. Keiki accepted this and withdrew his troops to Osaka. Some of his commanders tried to retake Kyoto on January 27, but they were defeated by the Satsuma, Choshu, and Tosa forces. Prince Arisugawa was put in command of a new imperial army, made up of mostly Satsuma and Choshu forces, that marched on Edo, where Keiki peacefully surrendered. Some Tokugawa forces held out north of Edo until they capitulated in November. Yokoi Shonan was murdered in February 1869. The shogunate navy retreated to Hokkaido but surrendered in May 1869.
Meiji Restoration 1868-75
After the restoration of the Emperor and proclamation of the Meiji era in January 1868, the city of Edo changed its name to Tokyo, meaning eastern capital, and became the seat of the new government. Faced with foreign threats and the need to reform the Bakufu government, the Japanese nation rallied around the Emperor with the slogan "to prosper the state and strengthen the armed forces" (fukoku-kyohei). About two dozen young intellectuals with good Confucian educations, mostly from Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, Hizen, and the imperial court provided the leadership that made this revolutionary transition with little violence. The Meiji leaders wanted to apply western science and technology while keeping to their ethical traditions. In 1868 the territories of the Tokugawa house were reorganized as prefectures and municipalities with new governors. The Choshu samurai Kido Koin persuaded the daimyos of Satsuma, Choshu, Tosa, and Hizen to return their domain titles to the Emperor. The two princes Iwakura Tomomi and Sanjo Sanetomi provided civilian authority under the 15-year-old Emperor.
In March 1868 delegates from all the domains formed an assembly, and the next month they agreed to the following charter oath that was drafted by Yuri Kimimasa, Fukuoka Kotei, and Kido Koin:
1. An assembly widely convoked shall be established, and all matters of state shall be decided by public discussion.2. All classes high and low shall unite in vigorously promoting the economy and welfare of the nation.3. All civil and military officials and the common people as well shall be allowed to fulfill their aspirations so that there may be no discontent among them.4. Base customs of former times shall be abandoned, and all actions shall conform to the principles of international justice.5. Knowledge shall be sought throughout the world, and thus shall be strengthened the foundation of the imperial polity.
Fukuoka and Soejima Taneomi began working on a constitution that was hastily completed by June. The central organ of government was called the Dajokan, and it had legislative, executive, and judicial branches. A Justice Department was established for the separation of powers, and the Legislative Department was bicameral with an upper Council and an ineffective lower Assembly made up of han representatives. The other departments were Executive, Shinto, Finance, War, Foreign Affairs, Civil Affairs, Public Works, and Education. All officials were to be changed after serving four years, and they had to pay one-thirtieth of their salaries as tax.
In early 1869 the Emperor moved to the capital Tokyo. Income from the Tokugawa lands was already financing half of the government's expenditures. Omura Masujiro was put in charge of the War Department. He founded military schools and arsenals, but his request for conscription was denied. Omura was assassinated in 1869, and he was replaced by Yamagata Aritomo from Choshu. By 1871 the old han guards had been nationalized, and the Imperial Guard had 10,000 men drawn from the armies of Satsuma, Choshu, and Tosa. The Conscription Act in January 1873 required all twenty-year-old males to register for military service. Men were liable for three years active service plus four years in the reserves. Exceptions included family heads, heirs, and some professions, or one could pay 270 yen to be exempt. An army of 46,000 was planned, but at first men were drafted in Tokyo. This system effectively erased the social distinction between samurai and commoners. In promulgating the ordinance Yamagata noted that the occidentals called this obligation a "blood tax." Some farmers resisted, and there were nearly thirty rural uprisings a year during this period.
After a secret meeting of the leaders in August 1871 the old domains (han) were reorganized as 72 prefectures and three municipalities with new governors. Most of the daimyos of the 273 han domains were retired on pensions along with their armies and guards. The daimyos were ordered to move with their families to the capital. The central government confiscated the castle headquarters of the daimyos, and the old han debts and paper currencies were taken over by the new government. The collection of taxes continued, and to make a more accurate census the entire country was divided into uniform squares called ku. However, local administration based on these units failed and was abolished in 1877. The Tokyo government hired many of the former samurai and capable village headmen. Assemblies were also formed by the prefectures, districts, and villages; but they were primarily for debate while the central government had the power. In 1871 Kido started a weekly newspaper to explain why feudalism was being abolished. That year the sale of girls as prostitutes or geishas was banned.
Ito Hirobumi and Okuma Shigenobu changed the currency to a decimal system with the yen as the standard coin and equivalent of the United States dollar. The han debts amounted to 78,130,000 yen, and the pension obligations for the daimyos and samurai were 190 million yen in bonds and 200 million in currency. A new banking system was modeled after the United States Federal Reserve, and England loaned Japan 2.4 million pounds. By 1873 the land tax gave the new government financial stability. Taxes were now paid directly to the central government by individuals based on the value of the land instead of the crop. Certificates of ownership were issued to those who had paid the taxes before, but common lands were taken over by the government. Wealthy landlords owned much of the land; in 1873 a quarter of the land was worked by tenant farmers, and this increased in the years ahead. In 1874 the land tax provided 83% of the government's revenue. An effort to get samurai voluntarily to accept smaller pensions failed and provoked rebellions.
In 1869 the system of four social classes was simplified into kwazoku (daimyos and courtiers), shizoku (samurai and soldiers), and heimin or commoners (everyone else); but soon the distinction between soldiers and commoners disappeared as commoners were allowed to use surnames and change their occupations and residences. After 1871 samurai and commoners were allowed to intermarry. In 1872 some peasants rioted against abolishing the classification of pariahs (eta and hinin). The next year some objected to the new Gregorian calendar and changes in dress. In Tottori peasants destroyed official buildings and schools because they feared higher taxes. Ex-samurai were allowed to marry nobles, and they retained less than half their previous stipends as pensions. Samurai were no longer required to wear swords, and the topknot was abandoned for short hair.
In 1872 Iwakura Tomomi led a mission of forty officials to the United States and Europe in order to revise what they considered the "unequal treaties" of 1858 so that they could raise import and export duties; but this effort failed because all the "most favored nations" would not agree. They hired foreign experts, and by 1875 the Japanese government had five hundred foreign advisers. David Murray of Rutgers helped Japan develop an elementary school system, and in 1872 the Education Ordinance mandated modern elementary education, proclaiming, "Learning is the key to success in life."17 Erasmus P. Smith advised Japan's foreign minister Soejima Taneomi on diplomatic technology. The British provided technical expertise on railways, telegraphy, and public works. The Japanese navy was based on British models, while its army used French instructors. Gustave Boissonade recommended French legal codes, and Italian painters and sculptors taught art. Western communities were established in Yokohama, Kobe, and other ports with their own churches, schools, and hospitals. Many Japanese took quickly to western technology and styles.
Even Christian missionary activity was permitted in 1873. That year Mori Arinori founded the Meirokusha to promote education. One of the proponents of this "civilization and enlightenment" was Fukuzawa Yukichi (1834-1901), who had spent several years in America and Europe since 1860. He published Conditions in the Western World (Seiyo-jijo) in 1866, Encouragement of Learning (Gakumon no susume) in 1872, and Outline of Civilization (Bunmeiron no gairyaku) in 1875. He argued that heaven created no person above another, and he called for liberation through courage and intellect. In 1871 Nakamura Masanao translated Self-Help by Samuel Smiles and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty. Smiles taught that heaven helps those who help themselves. In 1872 the Mainichi in Yokohama became Japan's first daily newspaper, and by 1875 Japan had more than a hundred periodicals. Nakamura argued that western technology and art were hollow without Christianity, and Nishima Jo, after studying in the United States, founded the Doshisha as a Christian college.
In 1871 Japan made a commercial treaty on equal terms with China, and the next year the Japanese asserted their control over the Ryukyu Islands. While Okubo Toshimichi, Iwakura Tomomi, and other leaders were traveling abroad in 1873, a decision was made to threaten Korea with war. Saigo Takamori volunteered to go to Korea as an envoy, knowing he would probably be put to death, in order to provoke a war. After returning from abroad, Iwakura argued that confronting the Russian threat was more pressing, and Okubo persuaded them that internal reform and economic growth were more important. They did send a naval expedition with 3,000 samurai to Taiwan in 1874 in retaliation for its aborigines killing Ryukyuan sailors. Nonetheless Saigo, Itagaki Taisuke, Eto Shimpei, Goto Shojiro, and Soejima left the government in protest. They formed the Public Party of Patriots (Aikokukoto) and petitioned for an elective assembly in January 1874. Itagaki argued that the people who pay taxes have a right to share in the government's decisions by electing a council. Princes Sanjo and Iwakura remained in the highest offices, and Okubo, Ito, and Okuma held important positions. Kido Koin opposed radical changes and the attack on Taiwan and so also withdrew from the government. Enomoto Takeaki was imprisoned for proclaiming a republic in Hokkaido, but in 1872 he was released to go to St. Petersburg for negotiations. The Japanese evacuated Sakhalin, and in the 1875 treaty Russia ceded the Kurile Islands to Japan.
Shima Yoshitake was the head of the Party of Patriots (Yukokuto). The Attack Korea Party (Seikanto) enrolled a thousand members in December 1874, and two months later Shima and Eto Shimpei, who had chaired the translation committee that coined the term minken for civil rights, agreed to lead them in a hopeless cause. Eto led 2,500 Hizen samurai in the revolt that was easily suppressed by an expeditionary force and garrison troops led by Okubo; Eto and other leaders were executed, and about a hundred were sentenced to three or more years in prison. Saigo had declined to join them. He and Shimazu Hisamitsu had been refusing to cooperate with the modernizing program in Satsuma since 1870. Saigo established a system of private military academies in Satsuma. After the government prohibited the wearing of swords in public, in 1877 Saigo led a major rebellion in Satsuma with 22,000 samurai; 65,000 troops and six months were needed to quell the revolt. About 18,000 rebels were killed, and the imperial forces lost about 6,000 killed and 10,000 wounded; Saigo committed suicide. The historian Sansom considered this event the final demise of feudalism in Japan after six centuries. The Satsuma rebellion cost the new government 42 million yen, which was eighty percent of its budget for that year.
In 1875 at a meeting in Osaka a group led by Itagaki formed an opposition party called the Association of Patriots (Aikokusha). When Okubo promised gradual progress, Itagaki, Goto, and Kido rejoined the government. Enforcement of the Press Law of 1875 curtailed free expression and resulted in the jailing of editors. Kido persuaded Okubo to accept the idea of representative government, and a Senate (Genroin) was appointed to draft a constitution. A Supreme Court (Daishin-in) was also established in 1875.