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Title: A History of the Japanese People - From the Earliest Times to the End of the Meiji Era
Author: Brinkley, F. (Frank), 1841-1912, Kikuchi, Dairoku, 1855-1917
Language: English
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From the Earliest Times to the End of the Meiji Era



Editor of the "Japan Mail"

With the Collaboration of BARON KIKUCHI

Former President of the Imperial University at Kyoto

With 150 Illustrations Engraved on Wood by Japanese Artists;
Half-Tone Plates, and Maps



It is trite to remark that if you wish to know really any people, it
is necessary to have a thorough knowledge of their history, including
their mythology, legends and folk-lore: customs, habits and traits of
character, which to a superficial observer of a different nationality
or race may seem odd and strange, sometimes even utterly subversive
of ordinary ideas of morality, but which can be explained and will
appear quite reasonable when they are traced back to their origin.
The sudden rise of the Japanese nation from an insignificant position
to a foremost rank in the comity of nations has startled the world.
Except in the case of very few who had studied us intimately, we were
a people but little raised above barbarism trying to imitate Western
civilisation without any capacity for really assimilating or adapting
it. At first, it was supposed that we had somehow undergone a sudden
transformation, but it was gradually perceived that such could not be
and was not the case; and a crop of books on Japan and the Japanese,
deep and superficial, serious and fantastic, interesting and
otherwise, has been put forth for the benefit of those who were
curious to know the reason of this strange phenomenon. But among so
many books, there has not yet been, so far as I know, a history of
Japan, although a study of its history was most essential for the
proper understanding of many of the problems relating to the Japanese
people, such as the relation of the Imperial dynasty to the people,
the family system, the position of Buddhism, the influence of the
Chinese philosophy, etc. A history of Japan of moderate size has
indeed long been a desideratum; that it was not forthcoming was no
doubt due to the want of a proper person to undertake such a work.
Now just the right man has been found in the author of the present
work, who, an Englishman by birth, is almost Japanese in his
understanding of, and sympathy with, the Japanese people. It would
indeed be difficult to find any one better fitted for the task--by no
means an easy one--of presenting the general features of Japanese
history to Western readers, in a compact and intelligible form, and
at the same time in general harmony with the Japanese feeling. The
Western public and Japan are alike to be congratulated on the
production of the present work. I may say this without any fear of
reproach for self-praise, for although my name is mentioned in the
title-page, my share is very slight, consisting merely in general
advice and in a few suggestions on some special points.


KYOTO, 1912.


During the past three decades Japanese students have devoted much
intelligent labour to collecting and collating the somewhat
disjointed fragments of their country's history. The task would have
been practically impossible for foreign historiographers alone, but
now that the materials have been brought to light there is no
insuperable difficulty in making them available for purposes of joint
interpretation. That is all I have attempted to do in these pages,
and I beg to solicit pardon for any defect they may be found to


TOKYO, 1912.



   I.       The Historiographer's Art in Old Japan

   II.      Japanese Mythology

   III.     Japanese Mythology (Continued)

   IV.      Rationalization

   V.       Origin of the Japanese Nation: Historical Evidences

   VI.      Origin of the Nation: Geographical and Archaeological

   VII.     Language and Physical Characteristics

   VIII.    Manners and Customs in Remote Antiquity

   IX.      The Prehistoric Sovereigns

   X.       The Prehistoric Sovereigns (Continued)

   XI.      The Prehistoric Sovereigns (Continued)

   XII.     The Protohistoric Sovereigns

   XIII.    The Protohistoric Sovereigns (Continued)

   XIV.     From the 29th to the 35th Sovereign

   XV.      The Daika Reforms

   XVI.     The Daiho Laws and the Yoro Laws

   XVII.    The Nara Epoch

   XVIII.   The Heian Epoch

   XIX.     The Heian Epoch (Continued)

   XX.      The Heian Epoch (Continued)

   XXI.     The Capital and the Provinces

   XXII.    Recovery of Administrative Authority by the Throne

   XXIII.   Manners and Customs of the Heian Epoch

   XXIV.    The Epoch of the Gen (Minamoto) and the Hei (Taira)

   XXV.     The Epoch of the Gen and the Hei (Continued)

   XXVI.    The Kamakura Bakufu

   XXVII.   The Hojo

   XXVIII.  Art, Religion, Literature, Customs, and Commerce in the
            Kamakura Period

   XXIX.    Fall of the Hojo and Rise of the Ashikaga

   XXX.     The War of the Dynasties

   XXXI.    The Fall of the Ashikaga

   XXXII.   Foreign Intercourse, Literature, Art, Religion, Manners,
            and Customs in the Muromachi Epoch

   XXXIII.  The Epoch of Wars (Sengoku Jidai)

   XXXIV.   Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu

   XXXV.    The Invasion of Korea

   XXXVI.   The Momo-Yama Epoch

   XXXVII.  Christianity in Japan

   XXXVIII. The Tokugawa Shogunate

   XXXIX.   First Period of the Tokugawa Bakufu; from the First
            Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu, to the Fourth, Ietsuna

   XL.      Middle Period of the Tokugawa Bakufu; from the Fifth
            Shogun, Tsunayoshi, to the Tenth Shogun, Ieharu

   XLI.     The Late Period of the Tokugawa Bakufu. The Eleventh
            Shogun,Ienari (1786-1838)

   XLII.    Organization, Central and Local; Currency and the
            Laws of the Tokugawa Bakufu

   XLIII.   Revival of the Shinto Cult

   XLIV.    Foreign Relations and the Decline of the Tokugawa

   XLV.     Foreign Relations and the Decline of the Tokugawa (Continued)

   XLVI.    The Meiji Government

   XLVII.   Wars with China and Russia


      1. Constitution of Japan, 1889

      2. Anglo-Japanese Agreement, 1905

      3. Treaty of Portsmouth, 1905



      Japan about 1337: Northern and Southern Courts

      Japan in Era of Wars, 1577: Distribution of Fiefs

      Japan in 1615: Feudatories

      Japan, Korea and the Mainland of Asia


      Capt. F. Brinkley, R. A.

      The Emperor Jimmu

      The Shrine of Ise

      Prehistoric Remains: Plate A

      Prehistoric Remains: Plate B

      Prince Shotoku

      Kaigen Ceremony of the Nara Daibutsu

      Thirty-six Versifiers (Painting by Korin)

      Cherry-Viewing Festival at Mukojima

      Kamakura Daibutsu

      Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion)

      Court Costumes

      Tokugawa Shrine at Nikko

      The Emperor Meiji (Mutsuhito)

      Sinking of the Russian Battleship Osliabya

      Admiral Togo






IN the earliest eras of historic Japan there existed a hereditary
corporation of raconteurs (Katari-be) who, from generation to
generation, performed the function of reciting the exploits of the
sovereigns and the deeds of heroes. They accompanied themselves on
musical instruments, and naturally, as time went by, each set of
raconteurs embellished the language of their predecessors, adding
supernatural elements, and introducing details which belonged to the
realm of romance rather than to that of ordinary history. These
Katari-be would seem to have been the sole repository of their
country's annals until the sixth century of the Christian era. Their
repertories of recitation included records of the great families as
well as of the sovereigns, and it is easy to conceive that the favour
and patronage of these high personages were earned by ornamenting the
traditions of their households and exalting their pedigrees. But when
the art of writing was introduced towards the close of the fourth
century, or at the beginning of the fifth, and it was seen that in
China, then the centre of learning and civilization, the art had been
applied to the compilation of a national history as well as of other
volumes possessing great ethical value, the Japanese conceived the
ambition of similarly utilizing their new attainment. For reasons
which will be understood by and by, the application of the
ideographic script to the language of Japan was a task of immense
difficulty, and long years must have passed before the attainment of
any degree of proficiency.

Thus it was not until the time of the Empress Suiko (593-628) that
the historical project took practical shape. Her Majesty, at the
instance, doubtless, of Prince Shotoku, one of the greatest names in
all Japan's annals, instructed the prince himself and her chief
minister, Soga no Umako, to undertake the task of compiling
historical documents, and there resulted a Record of the Emperors
(Tennoki), a Record of the Country (Koki), and Original Records
(Hongi) of the Free People (i.e., the Japanese proper as
distinguished from aliens, captives, and aborigines), of the great
families and of the 180 Hereditary Corporations (Be). This work was
commenced in the year 620, but nothing is known as to the date of its
completion. It represents the first Japanese history. A shortlived
compilation it proved, for in the year 645, the Soga chiefs,
custodians of the documents, threw them into the fire on the eve of
their own execution for treason. One only, the Record of the Country,
was plucked from the flames, and is believed to have been
subsequently incorporated in the Kojiki '(Records of Ancient
Things).' No immediate attempt seems to have been made to remedy the
loss of these invaluable writings. Thirty-seven years later the
Emperor Temmu took the matter in hand. One of his reasons for doing
so has been historically transmitted. Learning that "the chronicles
of the sovereigns and the original words in the possession of the
various families deviated from the truth and were largely amplified
with empty falsehoods," his Majesty conceived that unless speedy
steps were taken to correct the confusion and eliminate the errors,
an irremediable state of affairs would result.

Such a preface prepares us to learn that a body of experts was
appointed to distinguish the true and the false, and to set down the
former alone. The Emperor did, in fact, commission a number of
princes and officials to compile an authentic history, and we shall
presently see how their labours resulted. But in the first place a
special feature of the situation has to be noted. The Japanese
language was then undergoing a transition. In order to fit it to the
Chinese ideographs for literary purposes, it was being deprived of
its mellifluous polysyllabic character and reduced to monosyllabic
terseness. The older words were disappearing, and with them many of
the old traditions. Temmu saw that if the work of compilation was
abandoned solely to princely and official littérateurs, they would
probably sacrifice on the altar of the ideograph much that was
venerable and worthy to be preserved. He therefore himself undertook
the collateral task of having the antique traditions collected and
expurgated, and causing them to be memorized by a chamberlain, Hiyeda
no Are, a man then in his twenty-eighth year, who was gifted with
ability to repeat accurately everything heard once by him. Are's mind
was soon stored with a mass of ancient facts and obsolescent
phraseology, but before either the task of official compilation or
that of private restoration had been carried to completion the
Emperor died (686), and an interval of twenty-five years elapsed
before the Empress Gemmyo, on the 18th of September, 711, ordered a
scholar, Ono Yasumaro, to transcribe the records stored in Are's
memory. Four months sufficed for the work, and on the 28th of
January, 712, Yasumaro submitted to the Throne the Kojiki (Records of
Ancient Things) which ranked as the first history of Japan, and which
will be here referred to as the Records.


It is necessary to revert now to the unfinished work of the classical
compilers, as they may be called, whom the Emperor Temmu nominated in
682, but whose labours had not been concluded when his Majesty died
in 686. There is no evidence that their task was immediately
continued in an organized form, but it is related that during the
reign of Empress Jito (690-696) further steps were taken to collect
historical materials, and that the Empress Gemmyo (708-715)--whom we
have seen carrying out, in 712, her predecessor Temmu's plan with
regard to Hiyeda no Are--added, in 714, two skilled littérateurs to
Temmu's classical compilers, and thus enabled them to complete their
task, which took the shape of a book called the Nihongi (Chronicle of

This work, however, did not prove altogether satisfactory. It was
written, for the most part, with a script called the Manyo syllabary;
that is to say, with Chinese ideographs employed phonetically, and it
did not at all attain the literary standard of its Chinese prototype.
Therefore, the Empress entrusted to Prince Toneri and Ono Yasumaro
the task of revising it, and their amended manuscript, concluded in
720, received the name of Nihon Shoki (Written Chronicles of Japan),
the original being distinguished as Kana Nihongi, or Syllabic
Chronicles. The Nihon Shoki consisted originally of thirty-one
volumes, but of these one, containing the genealogies of the
sovereigns, has been lost. It covers the whole of the prehistoric
period and that part of the historic which extends from the accession
of the Emperor Jimmu (660 B.C.) to the abdication of the Empress Jito
(A.D. 697). The Kojiki extends back equally far, but terminates at
the death of the Empress Suiko (A.D. 628).


In the year 713, when the Empress Gemmyo was on the throne, all the
provinces of the empire received orders to submit to the Court
statements setting forth the natural features of the various
localities, together with traditions and remarkable occurrences.
These documents were called Fudoki (Records of Natural Features).
Many of them have been lost, but a few survive, as those of Izumo,
Harima, and Hitachi.


The task of applying ideographic script to phonetic purposes is
exceedingly difficult. In the ideographic script each character has a
distinct sound and a complete meaning. Thus, in China shan signifies
"mountain," and ming "light." But in Japanese "mountain" becomes yama
and "light" akari. It is evident, then, that one of two things has to
be done. Either the sounds of the Japanese words must be changed to
those of the Chinese ideographs; or the sounds of the Chinese
ideographs must alone be taken (irrespective of their meaning), and
with them a phonetic syllabary must be formed. Both of these devices
were employed by a Japanese scholar of early times. Sometimes
disregarding the significance of the ideographs altogether, he used
them simply as representing sounds, and with them built up pure
Japanese words; at other times, he altered the sounds of Japanese
words to those of their Chinese equivalents and then wrote them
frankly with their ideographic symbols.

In this way each Japanese word came to have two pronunciations:
first, its own original sound for colloquial purposes; and second,
its borrowed sound for purposes of writing. At the outset the spoken
and the written languages were doubtless kept tolerably distinct. But
by degrees, as respect for Chinese literature developed, it became a
learned accomplishment to pronounce Japanese words after the Chinese
manner, and the habit ultimately acquired such a vogue that the
language of men--who wrote and spoke ideographically--grew to be
different from the language of women--who wrote and spoke
phonetically. When Hiyeda no Are was required to memorize the annals
and traditions collected and revised at the Imperial Court, the
language in which he committed them to heart was pure Japanese, and
in that language he dictated them, twenty-nine years later, to the
scribe Yasumaro. The latter, in setting down the products of Are's
memory, wrote for the most part phonetically; but sometimes, finding
that method too cumbersome, he had recourse to the ideographic
language, with which he was familiar. At all events, adding nothing
nor taking away anything, he produced a truthful record of the myths,
traditions, and salient historical incidents credited by the Japanese
of the seventh century.

It may well be supposed, nevertheless, that Are's memory, however
tenacious, failed in many respects, and that his historical details
were comparatively meagre. An altogether different spirit presided at
the work subsequently undertaken by this same Yasumaro, when, in
conjunction with other scholars, he was required to collate the
historical materials obtained abundantly from various sources since
the vandalism of the Soga nobles. The prime object of these
collaborators was to produce a Japanese history worthy to stand side
by side with the classic models of China. Therefore, they used the
Chinese language almost entirely, the chief exception being in the
case of the old poems, a great number of which appear in the Records
and the Chronicles alike. The actual words of these poems had to be
preserved as well as the metre, and therefore it was necessary to
indite them phonetically. For the rest, the Nihon Shoki, which
resulted from the labours of these annalists and literati, was so
Chinese that its authors did not hesitate to draw largely upon the
cosmogonic myths of the Middle Kingdom, and to put into the mouths of
Japanese monarchs, or into their decrees, quotations from Chinese
literature. "As a repertory of ancient Japanese myth and legend there
is little to choose between the Records and the Chronicles. The
former is, on the whole, the fuller of the two, and contains legends
which the latter passes over in silence; but the Chronicles, as we
now have them, are enriched by variants of the early myths, the value
of which, for purposes of comparison, is recognized by scientific
inquirers. But there can be no comparison between the two works when
viewed as history. Hiyeda no Are's memory cannot be expected to
compete in fullness and accuracy with the abundant documentary
literature accessible to the writers of the Chronicles, and an
examination of the two works shows that, in respect to the record of
actual events, the Chronicles are far the more useful authority".*

*Aston's Nihongi.

It will readily be supposed, too, that the authors of both works
confused the present with the past, and, in describing the manners
and customs of by-gone eras, unconsciously limned their pictures with
colours taken from the palette of their own times, "when the national
thought and institutions had become deeply modified by Chinese
influences." Valuable as the two books are, therefore, they cannot be
accepted without large limitations. The Nihon Shoki occupied a high
place in national esteem from the outset. In the year following its
compilation, the Empress Gensho summoned eminent scholars to the
Court and caused them to deliver lectures on the contents of the
book, a custom which was followed regularly by subsequent sovereigns
and still finds a place among the New Year ceremonials. This book
proved to be the precursor of five others with which it is commonly
associated by Japanese scholars. They are the Zoku Nihongi
(Supplementary Chronicles of Japan), in forty volumes, which covers
the period from 697 to 791 and was finished in 798; the Nihon Koki
(Later Chronicles of Japan), in forty volumes--ten only
survive--which covers the period from 792 to 833; the Zoku Nihon Koki
(Supplementary Later Chronicles), in twenty volumes, which covers the
single reign of the Emperor Nimmyo (834-850) and was compiled in 869;
the Montoku Jitsu-roku (True Annals of Montoku), in ten volumes,
covering the reign of Montoku (851-858), and compiled in 879, and the
Sandai Jitsu-roku (True Annals of Three Reigns) in fifty volumes,
covering the period from 859 to 887 and compiled in 901. These five
compilations together with the Nihon Shoki are honoured as the Six
National Histories. It is noticeable that the writers were men of the
highest rank, from prime ministers downwards. In such honour was the
historiographer's art held in Japan in the eighth and ninth


Before beginning to read Japanese history it is necessary to know
something of the chronology followed in its pages. There have been in
Japan four systems for counting the passage of time. The first is by
the reigns of the Emperors. That is to say, the first year of a
sovereign's reign--reckoning from the New Year's day following his
accession--became the 1 of the series, and the years were thenceforth
numbered consecutively until his death or abdication. This method
might be sufficiently accurate if the exact duration of each reign
were known as well as the exact sequence of the reigns. But no such
precision could be expected in the case of unwritten history,
transmitted orally from generation to generation. Thus, while
Japanese annalists, by accepting the aggregate duration of all the
reigns known to them, arrive at the conclusion that the first
Emperor, Jimmu, ascended the throne in the year 660 B.C., it is found
on analysis that their figures assign to the first seventeen
sovereigns an average age of 109 years.

The second system was by means of periods deriving their name (nengo)
from some remarkable incident. Thus, the discovery of copper in Japan
was commemorated by calling the year Wado (Japanese copper), and the
era so called lasted seven years. Such a plan was even more liable to
error than the device of reckoning by reigns, and a specially
confusing feature was that the first year of the period dated
retrospectively from the previous New Year's day, so that events were
often recorded as having occurred in the final year of one period and
in the opening year of another. This system was originally imported
from China in the year A.D. 645, and is at present in use, the year
1910 being the forty-third of the Meiji (Enlightenment and Peace)

The third system was that of the sexagenary cycle. This was operated
after the manner of a clock having two concentric dials, the
circumference of the larger dial being divided into ten equal parts,
each marked with one of the ten "celestial signs," and the
circumference of the smaller dial being divided into twelve equal
parts each marked with one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. The
long hand of the clock, pointing to the larger dial, was supposed to
make one revolution in ten years, and the shorter hand, pointing to
the small dial, revolved once in twelve years. Thus, starting from
the point where the marks on the two dials coincide, the long hand
gained upon the short hand by one-sixtieth each year, and once in
every sixty years the two hands were found at the point of
conjunction. Years were indicated by naming the "celestial stem" and
the zodiacal sign to which the imaginary hands happen to be pointing,
just as clock-time is indicated by the minutes read from the long
hand and the hours from the short. The sexagenary cycle came into use
in China in 623 B.C. The exact date of its importation into Japan is
unknown, but it was probably about the end of the fourth century A.D.
It is a sufficiently accurate manner of counting so long as the tale
of cycles is carefully kept, but any neglect in that respect exposes
the calculator to an error of sixty years or some multiple of sixty.
Keen scrutiny and collation of the histories of China, Korea, and
Japan have exposed a mistake of at least 120 years connected with the
earliest employment of the sexagenary cycle in Japan.

The fourth method corresponds to that adopted in Europe where the
number of a year is referred to the birth of Christ. In Japan, the
accession of the Emperor Jimmu--660 B.C.--is taken for a basis, and
thus the Occidental year 1910 becomes the 2570th year of the Japanese
dynasty. With such methods of reckoning some collateral evidence is
needed before accepting any of the dates given in Japanese annals.
Kaempfer and even Rein were content to endorse the chronology of the
Chronicles--the Records avoid dates altogether--but other Occidental
scholars* have with justice been more sceptical, and their doubts
have been confirmed by several eminent Japanese historians in recent
times. Where, then, is collateral evidence to be found?

*Notably Bramsen, Aston, Satow, and Chamberlain.

In the pages of Chinese and Korean history. There is, of course, no
inherent reason for attributing to Korean history accuracy superior
to that of Japanese history. But in China the habit of continuously
compiling written annals had been practised for many centuries before
Japanese events began even to furnish materials for romantic
recitations, and no serious errors have been proved against Chinese
historiographers during the periods when comparison with Japanese
annals is feasible. In Korea's case, too, verification is partially
possible. Thus, during the first five centuries of the Christian era,
Chinese annals contain sixteen notices of events in Korea. If Korean
history be examined as to these events, it is found to agree in ten
instances, to disagree in two, and to be silent in four.* This record
tends strongly to confirm the accuracy of the Korean annals, and it
is further to be remembered that the Korean peninsula was divided
during many centuries into three principalities whose records serve
as mutual checks. Finally, Korean historians do not make any such
demand upon our credulity as the Japanese do in the matter of length
of sovereigns' reigns. For example, while the number of successions
to the throne of Japan during the first four centuries of the
Christian era is set down as seven only, making fifty-six years the
average duration of a reign, the corresponding numbers for the three
Korean principalities are sixteen, seventeen, and sixteen,
respectively, making the average length of a reign from twenty-four
to twenty-five years. It is, indeed, a very remarkable fact that
whereas the average age of the first seventeen Emperors of Japan, who
are supposed to have reigned from 660 B.C. down to A.D. 399, was 109
years, this incredible habit of longevity ceased abruptly from the
beginning of the fifth century, the average age of the next seventeen
having been only sixty-one and a half years; and it is a most
suggestive coincidence that the year A.D. 461 is the first date of
the accepted Japanese chronology which is confirmed by Korean

*Aston's essay on Early Japanese History

In fact, the conclusion is almost compulsory that Japanese authentic
history, so far as dates are concerned, begins from the fifth
century. Chinese annals, it is true, furnish one noteworthy and much
earlier confirmation of Japanese records. They show that Japan was
ruled by a very renowned queen during the first half of the third
century of the Christian era, and it was precisely at that epoch that
the Empress Jingo is related by Japanese history to have made herself
celebrated at home and abroad. Chinese historiographers, however, put
Jingo's death in the year A.D. 247, whereas Japanese annalists give
the date as 269. Indeed there is reason to think that just at this
time--second half of the third century--some special causes operated
to disturb historical coherence in Japan, for not only does Chinese
history refer to several signal events in Japan which find no place
in the latter's records, but also Korean history indicates that the
Japanese dates of certain cardinal incidents err by exactly 120
years. Two cycles in the sexagenary system of reckoning constitute
120 years, and the explanation already given makes it easy to
conceive the dropping of that length of time by recorders having only
tradition to guide them.

On the whole, whatever may be said as to the events of early Japanese
history, its dates can not be considered trustworthy before the
beginning of the fifth century. There is evidently one other point to
be considered in this context; namely, the introduction of writing.
Should it appear that the time when the Japanese first began to
possess written records coincides with the time when, according to
independent research, the dates given in their annals begin to
synchronize with those of Chinese and Korean history, another very
important landmark will be furnished. There, is such synchronism, but
it is obtained at the cost of considerations which cannot be lightly
dismissed. For, although it is pretty clearly established that an
event which occured at the beginning of the fifth century preluded
the general study of the Chinese language in Japan and may not
unreasonably be supposed to have led to the use of the Chinese script
in compiling historical records, still it is even more clearly
established that from a much remoter era Japan had been on terms of
some intimacy with her neighbours, China and Korea, and had exchanged
written communications with them, so that the art of writing was
assuredly known to her long before the fifth century of the Christian
era, to whatever services she applied it. This subject will present
itself again for examination in more convenient circumstances.

ENGRAVING: YUKIMIDORO (Style of Stone Lantern used in Japanese





THE mythological page of a country's history has an interest of its
own apart from legendary relations; it affords indications of the
people's creeds and furnishes traces of the nation's genesis. In
Japan's mythology there is a special difficulty for the
interpreter--a difficulty of nomenclature. It has been the constant
habit of foreign writers of Japan's story to speak of an "Age of
Gods" (Kami no yo). But the Japanese word Kami* does not necessarily
convey any such meaning. It has no divine import. We shall presently
find that of the hundreds of families into which Japanese society
came to be divided, each had its Kami, and that he was nothing more
than the head of the household. Fifty years ago, the Government was
commonly spoken of as O Kami (the Honourable Head), and a feudatory
frequently had the title of Kami of such and such a locality. Thus to
translate Kami by "deity" or "god" is misleading, and as the English
language furnishes no exact equivalent, the best plan is to adhere to
the original expression. That plan is adopted in the following brief
summary of Japanese mythology.

*Much stress is laid upon the point by that most accurate scholar,
Mr. B. H. Chamberlain.


Japanese mythology opens at the beginning of "the heaven and the
earth." But it makes no attempt to account for the origin of things.
It introduces us at once to a "plain of high heaven," the dwelling
place of these invisible* Kami, one of whom is the great central
being, and the other two derive their titles from their productive
attributes. But as to what they produced or how they produced it, no
special indication is given. Thereafter two more Kami are born from
an elementary reedlike substance that sprouts on an inchoate earth.
This is the first reference to organic matter. The two newly born
Kami are invisible like their predecessors, and like them are not
represented as taking any part in the creation. They are solitary,
unseeable, and functionless, but the evident idea is that they have a
more intimate connexion with cosmos than the Kami who came previously
into existence, for one of them is named after the reed-shoot from
which he emanated, and to the other is attributed the property of
standing eternally in the heavens.

*The expression here translated "invisible" has been interpreted in
the sense that the Kami "hid their persons," i.e., died, but the true
meaning seems to be that they were invisible.

Up to this point there has not been any suggestion of measuring time.
But now the record begins to speak of "generations." Two more
solitary and invisible beings are born, one called the Kami who
stands eternally on earth, the other the "abundant integrator." Each
of these represents a generation, and it will be observed that up to
this time no direct mention whatever is made of sex. Now, however,
five generations ensue, each consisting of two Kami, a male and a
female, and thus the epithet "solitary" as applied to the first seven
Kami becomes intelligible. All these generations are represented as
gradually approximating to the exercise of creative functions, for
the names* become more and more suggestive of earthly relations. The
last couple, forming the fifth generation, are Izanagi and Izanami,
appellations signifying the male Kami of desire and the female Kami
of desire. By all the other Kami these two are commissioned to "make,
consolidate, and give birth to the drifting land," a jewelled spear
being given to them as a token of authority, and a floating bridge
being provided to carry them to earth. Izanagi and Izanami thrust the
spear downwards and stir the "brine" beneath, with the result that it
coagulates, and, dropping from the spear's point, forms the first of
the Japanese islands, Onogoro. This island they take as the basis of
their future operations, and here they beget, by ordinary human
processes--which are described without any reservations--first, "a
great number of islands, and next, a great number of Kami." It is
related that the first effort of procreation was not successful, the
outcome being a leechlike abortion and an island of foam, the former
of which was sent adrift in a boat of reeds. The islands afterwards
created form a large part of Japan, but between these islands and the
Kami, begotten in succession to them, no connexion is traceable. In
several cases the names of the Kami seem to be personifications of
natural objects. Thus we have the Kami of the "wind's breath," of the
sea, of the rivers, of the "water-gates" (estuaries and ports), of
autumn, of "foam-calm," of "bubbling waves," of "water-divisions," of
trees, of mountains, of moors, of valleys, etc. But with very rare
exceptions, all these Kami have no subsequent share in the scheme of
things and cannot be regarded as evidence that the Japanese were
nature worshippers.

*The Kami of mud-earth; the Kami of germ-integration; the Kami of the
great place; the Kami of the perfect exterior, etc.

A change of method is now noticeable. Hitherto the process of
production has been creative; henceforth the method is transformation
preceded by destruction. Izanami dies in giving birth to the Kami of
fire, and her body is disintegrated into several beings, as the male
and female Kami of metal mountains, the male and female Kami of
viscid clay, the female Kami of abundant food, and the Kami of youth;
while from the tears of Izanagi as he laments her decease is born the
female Kami of lamentation. Izanagi then turns upon the child, the
Kami of fire, which has cost Izanami her life, and cuts off its head;
whereupon are born from the blood that stains his sword and spatters
the rocks eight Kami, whose names are all suggestive of the violence
that called them into existence. An equal number of Kami, all having
sway over mountains, are born from the head and body of the
slaughtered child.

At this point an interesting episode is recorded. Izanagi visits the
"land of night," with the hope of recovering his spouse.* He urges
her to return, as the work in which they were engaged is not yet
completed. She replies that, unhappily having already eaten within
the portals of the land of night, she may not emerge without the
permission of the Kami** of the underworld, and she conjures him,
while she is seeking that permission, not to attempt to look on her
face. He, however, weary of waiting, breaks off one of the large
teeth of the comb that holds his hair*** and, lighting it, uses it as
a torch. He finds Izanami's body in a state of putrefaction, and amid
the decaying remains eight Kami of thunder have been born and are
dwelling. Izanagi, horrified, turns and flees, but Izanami, enraged
that she has been "put to shame," sends the "hideous hag of hades" to
pursue him. He obtains respite twice; first by throwing down his
head-dress, which is converted into grapes, and then casting away his
comb, which is transformed into bamboo sprouts, and while the hag
stops to eat these delicacies, he flees. Then Izanami sends in his
pursuit the eight Kami of thunder with fifteen hundred warriors of
the underworld.**** He holds them off for a time by brandishing his
sword behind him, and finally, on reaching the pass from the nether
to the upper world, he finds three peaches growing there with which
he pelts his pursuers and drives them back. The peaches are rewarded
with the title of "divine fruit," and entrusted with the duty of
thereafter helping all living people***** in the central land of
"reed plains"****** as they have helped Izanagi.

*It is unnecessary to comment upon the identity of this incident with
the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice.

**It will be observed that we hear of these Kami now for the first

***This is an obvious example of a charge often preferred against the
compilers of the Records that they inferred the manners and customs
of remote antiquity from those of their own time.

****Again we have here evidence that the story of creation, as told
in the Records, is not supposed to be complete. It says nothing as to
how the denizens of the underworld came into existence.

*****The first mention of human beings.

******This epithet is given to Japan.

This curious legend does not end here. Finding that the hag of hades,
the eight Kami of thunder, and the fifteen hundred warriors have all
been repulsed, Izanami herself goes in pursuit. But her way is
blocked by a huge rock which Izanagi places in the "even pass of
hades," and from the confines of the two worlds the angry pair
exchange messages of final separation, she threatening to kill a
thousand folk daily in his land if he repeats his acts of violence,
and he declaring that, in such event, he will retaliate by causing
fifteen hundred to be born.

In all this, no mention whatever is found of the manner in which
human beings come into existence: they make their appearance upon the
scene as though they were a primeval part of it. Izanagi, whose
return to the upper world takes place in southwestern Japan,* now
cleanses himself from the pollution he has incurred by contact with
the dead, and thus inaugurates the rite of purification practised to
this day in Japan. The Records describe minutely the process of his
unrobing before entering a river, and we learn incidentally that he
wore a girdle, a skirt, an upper garment, trousers, a hat, bracelets
on each arm, and a necklace, but no mention is made of footgear.
Twelve Kami are born from these various articles as he discards them,
but without exception these additions to Japanese mythology seem to
have nothing to do with the scheme of the universe: their titles
appear to be wholly capricious, and apart from figuring once upon the
pages of the Records they have no claim to notice. The same may be
said of eleven among fourteen Kami thereafter born from the pollution
which Izanagi washes off in a river.

*At Himuka in Kyushu, then called Tsukushi.

But the last three of these newly created beings act a prominent part
in the sequel of the story. They are the "heaven-shining Kami"
(Amaterasu-o-mi-Kami), commonly spoken of as the "goddess of the
Sun;" the Kami of the Moon, and the Kami of force.* Izanagi expresses
much satisfaction at the begetting of these three. He hands his
necklace to the Kami of the Sun and commissions her to rule the
"plain of heaven;" he confers upon the Kami of the Moon the dominion
of night, and he appoints the Kami of force (Susanoo) to rule the
sea-plain. The Kami of the Sun and the Kami of the Moon proceed at
once to their appointed task, but the Kami of force, though of mature
age and wearing a long beard, neglects his duty and falls to weeping,
wailing, and fuming. Izanagi inquires the cause of his discontent,
and the disobedient Kami replies that he prefers death to the office
assigned him; whereupon he is forbidden to dwell in the same land
with Izanagi and has to make his abode in Omi province. Then he forms
the idea of visiting the "plain of high heaven" to bid farewell to
his sister, the goddess of the Sun.

*Mr. Chamberlain translates the title of this Kami "brave, swift,
impetuous, male, augustness."

But his journey is attended with such a shaking of mountains and
seething of rivers that the goddess, informed of his recalcitrancy
and distrusting his purpose, makes preparations to receive him in
warlike guise, by dressing her hair in male fashion (i.e. binding it
into knots), by tying up her skirt into the shape of trousers, by
winding a string of five hundred curved jewels round her head and
wrists, by slinging on her back two quivers containing a thousand
arrows and five hundred arrows respectively, by drawing a guard on
her left forearm, and by providing herself with a bow and a sword.

The Records and the Chronicles agree in ascribing to her such an
exercise of resolute force that she stamps her feet into the ground
as though it had been soft snow and scatters the earth about.
Susanoo, however, disavows all evil intentions, and agrees to prove
his sincerity by taking an oath and engaging in a Kami-producing
competition, the condition being that if his offspring be female, the
fact shall bear condemnatory import, but if male, the verdict shall
be in his favour. For the purpose of this trial, they stand on
opposite sides of a river (the Milky Way). Susanoo hands his sword to
Amaterasu-o-mi-Kami, who breaks it into three pieces, chews the
fragments, and blowing them from her mouth, produces three female
Kami. She then lends her string of five hundred jewels to Susanoo
and, he, in turn, crunches them in his mouth and blows out the
fragments which are transformed into five male Kami. The beings thus
strangely produced have comparatively close connexions with the
mundane scheme, for the three female Kami--euphoniously designated
Kami of the torrent mist, Kami of the beautiful island, and Kami of
the cascade--become tutelary goddesses of the shrines in Chikuzen
province (or the sacred island Itsuku-shima), and two of the male
Kami become ancestors of seven and twelve families, respectively, of
hereditary nobles.

On the "high plain of heaven," however, trouble is not allayed. The
Sun goddess judges that since female Kami were produced from the
fragments of Susanoo's sword and male Kami from her own string of
jewels, the test which he himself proposed has resulted in his
conviction; but he, repudiating that verdict, proceeds to break down
the divisions of the rice-fields laid out by the goddess, to fill up
the ditches, and to defile the palace--details which suggest either
that, according to Japanese tradition, heaven has its agriculture and
architecture just as earth has, or that the "plain of high heaven"
was really the name of a place in the Far East. The Sun goddess makes
various excuses for her brother's lawless conduct, but he is not to
be placated. His next exploit is to flay a piebald horse and throw it
through a hole which he breaks in the roof of the hall where the
goddess is weaving garments for the Kami. In the alarm thus created,
the goddess* is wounded by her shuttle, whereupon she retires into a
cave and places a rock at the entrance, so that darkness falls upon
the "plain of high heaven" and upon the islands of Japan,** to the
consternation of the Kami of evil, whose voices are heard like the
buzzing of swarms of flies.

*According to the Records, it is the attendants of the goddess that
suffer injury.

**Referring to this episode, Aston writes in his Nihongi:
"Amaterasu-o-mi-Kami is throughout the greater part of this narrative
an anthropomorphic deity, with little that is specially
characteristic of her solar functions. Here, however, it is plainly
the sun itself which witholds its light and leaves the world to
darkness. This inconsistency, which has greatly exercised the native
theologians, is not peculiar to Japanese myth."

Then follows a scene perhaps the most celebrated in all the
mythological legends; a scene which was the origin of the sacred
dance in Japan and which furnished to artists in later ages a
frequent motive. The "eight hundred myriads" of Kami--so numerous
have the denizens of the "plain of high heaven" unaccountably
become--assemble in the bed of the "tranquil river"* to confer about
a means of enticing the goddess from her retirement. They entrust the
duty of forming a plan to the Kami of "thought combination," now
heard of for the first time as a son of one of the two producing
Kami, who, with the "great central" Kami, constituted the original
trinity of heavenly denizens. This deity gathers together a number of
barn-yard fowl to signal sunrise, places the Kami of the "strong arm"
at the entrance of the cave into which the goddess has retired,
obtains iron from the "mines of heaven" and causes it to be forged
into an "eight-foot" mirror, appoints two Kami to procure from Mount
Kagu a "five-hundred branched" sakaki tree (cleyera Japonica), from
whose branches the mirror together with a "five-hundred beaded"
string of curved jewels and blue and white streamers of hempen cloth
and paper-mulberry cloth are suspended, and causes divination to be
performed with the shoulder blade of a stag.

*The Milky Way.

Then, while a grand liturgy is recited, the "heaven-startling" Kami,
having girdled herself with moss, crowned her head with a wreath of
spindle-tree leaves and gathered a bouquet of bamboo grass, mounts
upon a hollow wooden vessel and dances, stamping so that the wood
resounds and reciting the ten numerals repeatedly. Then the
"eight-hundred myriad" Kami laugh in unison, so that the "plain of
high heaven" shakes with the sound, and the Sun goddess, surprised
that such gaiety should prevail in her absence, looks out from the
cave to ascertain the cause. She is taunted by the dancer, who tells
her that a greater than she is present, and the mirror being thrust
before her, she gradually comes forward, gazing into it with
astonishment; whereupon the Kami of the "strong arm" grasps her hand
and drags her out, while two other Kami* stretch behind her a rope
made of straw, pulled up by the roots,** to prevent her return, and
sunshine once more floods the "plain of high heaven."

*These two are the ancestors of the Kami of the Nakatomi and the
Imibe hereditary corporations, who may be described as the high
priests of the indigenous cult of Japan.

**This kind of rope called shime-nawa, an abbreviation of
shiri-kume-nawa may be seen festooning the portals of any Shinto

The details of this curious legend deserve attention for the sake of
their close relation to the observances of the Shinto cult. Moreover,
the mythology now takes a new departure. At the time of Izanagi's
return from hades, vague reference is made to human beings, but after
Susanoo's departure from the "plain of high heaven," he is
represented as holding direct converse with them. There is an
interlude which deals with the foodstuffs of mortals. Punished with a
fine of a great number of tables* of votive offerings, his beard cut
off, and the nails of his fingers and toes pulled out, Susanoo is
sentenced to expulsion from heaven. He seeks sustenance from the Kami
of food, and she responds by taking from the orifices of her body
various kinds of viands which she offers to him. But he, deeming
himself insulted, kills her, whereupon from her corpse are born rice,
millet, small and large beans, and barley. These are taken by one of
the two Kami of production, and by him they are caused to be used as

*The offerings of food in religious services were always placed upon
small, low tables.

Thereafter Susanoo descends to a place at the headwaters of the river
Hi (Izumo province). Seeing a chop-stick float down the stream, he
infers the existence of people higher up the river, and going in
search of them, finds an old man and an old woman lamenting over and
caressing a girl. The old man says that he is an earthly Kami, son of
the Kami of mountains, who was one of the thirty-five Kami borne by
Izanami before her departure for hades. He explains that he had
originally eight daughters, but that every year an eight-forked
serpent has come from the country of Koshi and devoured one of the
maidens, so that there remains only Lady Wonderful, whose time to
share her sisters' fate is now at hand. It is a huge monster,
extending over eight valleys and eight hills, its eyes red like
winter cherries, its belly bloody and inflamed, and its back
overgrown with moss and conifers. Susanoo, having announced himself
as the brother of the Sun goddess, receives Lady Wonderful and at
once transforms her into a comb which he places in his hair. He then
instructs the old man and his wife to build a fence with eight gates,
placing in every gate a vat of rice wine.

Presently the serpent arrives, drinks the wine, and laying down its
heads to sleep, is cut to pieces by Susanoo with his ten-span sabre.
In the body of the serpent the hero finds a sword, "great and sharp,"
which he sends to the Sun goddess, at whose shrine in Ise it is
subsequently found and given to the famous warrior, Yamato-dake, when
he is setting out on his expedition against the Kumaso of the north.
The sword is known as the "Herb-queller." Susanoo then builds for
himself and Lady Wonderful a palace at Suga in Izumo, and composes a
celebrated verse of Japanese poetry.* Sixth in descent from the
offspring of this union is the "Kami of the great land," called also
the "Great-Name Possessor," or the "Kami of the reed plains," or the
"Kami of the eight thousand spears," or the "Kami of the great land
of the living," the last name being antithetical to Susanoo's title
of "Ruler of Hades."

*"Many clouds arise,
On all sides a manifold fence,
To receive within it the spouse,
They form a manifold fence
Ah! that manifold fence."

Several legends are attached to the name of this multinominal
being--legends in part romantic, in part supernatural, and in part
fabulous. His eighty brethren compel him to act as their servant when
they go to seek the hand of Princess Yakami of Inaba. But on the way
he succours a hare which they have treated brutally and the little
animal promises that he, not they, shall win the princess, though he
is only their baggage-bearer. Enraged at the favour she shows him,
they seek in various ways to destroy him: first by rolling down on
him from a mountain a heated rock; then by wedging him into the cleft
of a tree, and finally by shooting him. But he is saved by his
mother, and takes refuge in the province of Kii (the Land of Trees)
at the palace of the "Kami of the great house."* Acting on the
latter's advice, he visits his ancestor, Susanoo, who is now in
hades, and seeks counsel as to some means of overcoming his eighty
enemies. But instead of helping him, that unruly Kami endeavours to
compass his death by thrusting him into a snake-house; by putting him
into a nest of centipedes and wasps, and finally by shooting an arrow
into a moor, sending him to seek it and then setting fire to the
grass. He is saved from the first two perils through the agency of
miraculous scarves given to him by Princess Forward, Susanoo's
daughter, who has fallen in love with him; and from the last dilemma
a mouse instructs him how to emerge.

*A son of Susanoo. Under the name of Iso-Takeru he is recorded to
have brought with him a quantity of seeds of trees and shrubs, which
he planted, not in Korea, but in Tsukushi (Kyushu) and the eight
islands of Japan. These words "not in Korea" are worthy of note, as
will presently be appreciated.

A curious episode concludes this recital: Susanoo requires that the
parasites shall be removed from his head by his visitor. These
parasites are centipedes, but the Great-Name Possessor, again acting
under the instruction of Princess Forward, pretends to be removing
the centipedes, whereas he is in reality spitting out a mixture of
berries and red earth. Susanoo falls asleep during the process, and
the Great-Name Possessor binds the sleeping Kami's hair to the
rafters of the house, places a huge rock at the entrance, seizes
Susanoo's life-preserving sword and life-preserving bow and arrows as
also his sacred lute,* and taking Princess Forward on his back,
flees. The lute brushes against a tree, and its sound rouses Susanoo.
But before he can disentangle his hair from the rafters, the
fugitives reach the confines of the underworld, and the enraged Kami,
while execrating this visitor who has outwitted him, is constrained
to direct him how to overcome his brethren and to establish his rule
firmly. In all this he succeeds, and having married Princess Yakami,
to whom he was previously engaged,** he resumes the work left
unfinished by Izanagi and Izanami, the work of "making the land."

*Sacred because divine revelations were supposed to be made through a

**In the story of this Kami, we find the first record of conjugal
jealousy in Japan. Princess Forward strongly objects to her husband's
excursions into novel fields.

The exact import of this process, "making the land," is not
discernible. In the hands of Izanagi and Izanami it resolves itself
into begetting, first, a number of islands and, then, a number of
Kami. At the outset it seems to have no more profound significance
for the Great-Name Possessor. Several generations of Kami are
begotten by him, but their names give no indication of the parts they
are supposed to have taken in the "making of the land." They are all
born in Japan, however, and it is perhaps significant that among them
the one child--the Kami of wells--brought forth by Princess Yakami,
is not included. Princess Forward has no children, a fact which
doubtless augments her jealousy of her husband's amours; jealousy
expressed in verses that show no mean poetic skill. Thus, the
Great-Name Possessor on the eve of a journey from Izumo to Yamato,
sings as he stands with one hand on his saddle and one foot in the

   Though thou sayest thou willst not weep
   If like the flocking birds, I flock and depart,
   If like the led birds, I am led away and
   Depart; thou wilt hang down thine head like
   A single Eulalia upon the mountain and
   Thy weeping shall indeed rise as the mist of
   The morning shower.
   Then the Empress, taking a wine-cup, approaches and offers it to
      him, saying:
   Oh! Thine Augustness, the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears!
   Thou, my dear Master-of-the-Great-Land indeed,
   Being a man, probably hast on the various island headlands thou
   And on every beach-headland that thou lookest on,
   A wife like the young herbs. But as for me, alas!
   Being a woman, I have no man except thee; I have no spouse except
   Beneath the fluttering of the ornamented fence,
   Beneath the softness of the warm coverlet,
   Beneath the rustling of the cloth coverlet,
   Thine arms, white as rope of paper-mulberry bark softly patting
      my breast soft as the melting snow,
   And patting each other interlaced, stretching out and pillowing
      ourselves on each other's arms,
   True jewel arms, and with outstretched legs, will we sleep.*

   *B. H. Chamberlain.

"Having thus sung, they at once pledged each other by the cup with
their hands on each other's necks." It is, nevertheless, from among
the children born on the occasion of the contest between the Sun
goddess and Susanoo that the Great-Name Possessor first seeks a
spouse--the Princess of the Torrent Mist--to lay the foundation of
fifteen generations of Kami, whose birth seems to have been essential
to the "making of the land," though their names afford no clue to the
functions discharged by them. From over sea, seated in a gourd and
wearing a robe of wren's feathers, there comes a pigmy, Sukuna
Hikona, who proves to be one of fifteen hundred children begotten by
the Kami of the original trinity. Skilled in the arts of healing
sickness and averting calamities from men or animals, this pigmy
renders invaluable aid to the Great-Name Possessor. But the useful
little Kami does not wait to witness the conclusion of the work of
"making and consolidating the country." Before its completion he
takes his departure from Cape Kumano in Izumo to the "everlasting
land"--a region commonly spoken of in ancient Japanese annals but not
yet definitely located. He is replaced by a spirit whose coming is
thus described by the Chronicles:

After this (i.e. the departure of Sukuna), wherever there was in the
land a part which was imperfect, the Great-Name Possessor visited it
by himself and succeeded in repairing it. Coming at last to the
province of Izumo, he spake and said: "This central land of reed
plains had always been waste and wild. The very rocks, trees, and
huts were all given to violence... But I have now reduced it to
submission, and there is none that is not compliant." Therefore he
said finally: "It is I, and I alone, who now govern this land. Is
there, perchance, anyone who could join with me in governing the
world?" Upon this a divine radiance illuminated the sea, and of a
sudden there was something which floated towards him and said: "Were
I not here, how couldst thou subdue this land? It is because I am
here that thou hast been enabled to accomplish this mighty
undertaking." Then the Great-Name Possessor inquired, saying, "Then
who art thou?" It replied and said: "I am thy guardian spirit, the
wonderous spirit." Then said the Great-Name Possessor: "True, I know
therefore that thou art my guardian spirit, the wonderous spirit.
Where dost thou now wish to dwell?" The spirit answered and said, "I
wish to dwell on Mount Mimoro in the province of Yamato." Accordingly
he built a shrine in that place and made the spirit go and dwell
there. This is the Kami of Omiwa.*

*Aston's Translation of the Nihongi.

After the above incident, another begetting of Kami takes place on a
large scale, but only a very few of them--such as the guardian of the
kitchen, the protector of house-entrances, the Kami of agriculture,
and so forth--have any intelligible place in the scheme of things.





THE dividing line between mythological tradition and historical
legend is now reached. It will have been observed that, after the
descent of Susanoo, the Kami on the "plain of high heaven" took no
further part in "making" or "ruling" the "ever fruitful land of
reed-covered moors, and luxuriant rice-fields," as Japan was called.
Everything was left in the hands of Susanoo, the insubordinate Kami,
who had been expelled from heaven for his destructive violence. His
descendant in the sixth generation, the Great-Name Possessor, now
held supreme sway over the islands, in conjunction with a number of
his own relations, his seat of power being in the province of Izumo.
At this juncture the goddess of the Sun decided that a sovereign
should be sent down to govern the land of many islands, and she chose
for this purpose the son of the eldest* of the five Kami born from
her necklace during the procreation competition with Susanoo.

In the first place, however, it was considered necessary to reduce
the country to order, observation having shown it to be in a state of
tumult. For that purpose the second of the five necklace
Kami--considered "the most heroic" of all the beings on the "plain of
high heaven"--was despatched. But he "curried favour" with the
Great-Name Possessor and took up his abode in Japan. At the end of
three years,** seeing that he had not returned, it was decided by the
Kami in council to send another envoy, the Heavenly Young Prince. But
he proved even more disloyal, for he married the daughter of the
Great-Name Possessor, famous for her beauty,*** and planning to
succeed his father-in-law as sovereign of the land, remained in Izumo
for eight years. A third conclave of the Kami was now convened by the
Sun goddess and her coadjutor, the Great-Producing Kami,* and they
decided to despatch a pheasant to make observations.

*This Kami married a daughter of one of the two Great-Producing Kami
who belonged to the original trinity, and who co-operates with the
Sun goddess throughout.

**This is the first mention of a measure of time in the Records.

***She was called Princess Undershining, because her beauty shone
through her raiment.

The bird flew down and lit on a cassia tree at the gate of the
Heavenly Young Prince's dwelling, whereupon the prince, at the
instigation of a female spy, taking a bow given to him originally by
the Great-Producing Kami, shot a shaft which pierced the bird's bosom,
and, reaching the Milky Way where sat the Sun goddess and the
Great-Producing Kami, was recognized by the latter, who threw it back
to earth, decreeing that it should strike the prince were he guilty
of treason, and leave him unharmed if the blood on the arrow was that
of the earthly Kami whom he had been sent to quell. The shaft struck
the prince and killed him.

At this point the course of the history is interrupted by an
unintelligible description of the resulting obsequies--held in heaven
according to the Chronicles, on earth according to the Records. Wild
geese, herons, kingfishers, sparrows, and pheasants were the
principal officiators; the mourning rites, which included singing,
and dancing,* continued for eight days and eight nights, and the
proceedings were rudely interrupted by the prince's brother-in-law,
who, coming to condole and being mistaken for the deceased, is so
enraged by the error that he draws his sword, cuts down the mortuary
house, and kicks away the pieces.

*It has been conjectured, with much probability, that this singing
and dancing was a ceremony in imitation of the rites performed to
entice the Sun goddess from her cave. The motive was to resuscitate
the dead.

These two failures did not deter the Great-Producing Kami and the Sun
goddess. They again took counsel with the other beings on the "plain
of high heaven," and it was decided to have recourse to the Kami born
from the blood that dropped from Izanagi's sword when he slew the
Kami of fire. To one of these--the Kami of courage--the mission of
subduing the land of many islands was entrusted, and associated with
him in the work was the Kami of boats, a son of Izanagi and Izanami.
The two descended to Izumo. They carried swords ten hand-breadths
long, and having planted these upside down, they seated themselves on
the points and delivered their message to the Great-Name Possessor,
requiring him to declare whether or not he would abdicate in favour
of the newly named sovereign.

The Great-Name Possessor replied that he must consult his son, who
was absent on a hunting expedition. Accordingly, the Kami of boats
went to seek him, and, on being conducted into his father's presence,
the latter declared his willingness to surrender, sealing the
declaration by suicide.* There remained, then, only the second son of
the Great-Name Possessor to be consulted. He did not submit so
easily. Relying on his great strength, he challenged the Kami of
courage to a trial of hand grasping. But when he touched the Kami's
hand it turned first into an icicle and then into a sword-blade,
whereas his own hand, when seized by the Kami, was crushed and thrown
aside like a young reed. He fled away in terror, and was pursued by
the Kami as far as the distant province of Shinano, when he saved his
life by making formal submission and promising not to contravene the
decision of his father and elder brother.

*He stepped on the side of his boat so as to upset it, and with hands
crossed behind his back sank into the sea.

Then the Great-Name Possessor, having "lost his sons, on whom he
relied," agreed to abdicate provided that a shrine were built in
memory of him, "having its pillars made stout on the nethermost
rock-bottom, and its cross-beams raised to the 'plain of high
heaven.'"* He handed over the broad-bladed spear which had assisted
him to pacify the land, and declaring that if he offered resistance,
all the earthly Kami, too, would certainly resist, he "hid in the
eighty road-windings."

*This hyperbolical language illustrates the tone of the Records and
the Chronicles. Applied to the comparatively humble buildings that
served for residences in ancient Japan, the description in the text
is curiously exaggerated. The phrase here quoted finds frequent
reproduction in the Shinto rituals.

Thus, already in the eighth century when the Records and the
Chronicles were compiled, suicide after defeat in battle had become a
recognized practice. The submission and self-inflicted death of the
Great-Name Possessor did not, however, save his followers. All the
rebellious Kami were put to the sword by the envoys from the "plain
of high heaven." This chapter of the annals ends with an account of
the shrine erected in memory of the Great-Name Possessor. It was
placed under the care of a grandson of the Kami born to Izanagi and
Izanami, who is represented as declaring that he "would continue
drilling fire for the Kami's kitchen until the soot hung down eight
hand-breadths from the roof of the shrine of the Great-Producing Kami
and until the earth below was baked to its nethermost rocks; and that
with the fire thus drilled he would cook for him the fish brought in
by the fishermen, and present them to him in baskets woven of split
bamboos which would bend beneath their weight."


It had been originally intended that the dominion of Japan should be
given to the senior of the five Kami born of the five-hundred-jewel
string of the Sun goddess. But during the interval devoted to
bringing the land to a state of submission, this Kami's spouse, the
Princess of the Myriad Looms of the Luxuriant Dragon-fly Island,* had
borne a son, Hikoho no Ninigi, (Rice-Ears of Ruddy Plenty), and this
boy having now grown to man's estate, it was decided to send him as
ruler of Japan. A number of Kami were attached to him as guards and
assistants, among them being the Kami of "thought combination," who
conceived the plan for enticing the Sun goddess from her cave and who
occupied the position of chief councillor in the conclave of high
heaven; the female Kami who danced before the cave; the female Kami
who forged the mirror, and, in short, all the Kami who assisted in
restoring light to the world. There were also entrusted to the new
sovereign the curved-jewel chaplet of the Sun goddess, the mirror
that had helped to entice her, and the sword (herb-queller) which
Susanoo had taken from the body of the eight-headed serpent.

*"Dragon-fly Island" was a name anciently given to Japan on account
of the country's shape.

These three objects thenceforth became the three sacred things of
Japan. Strict injunction was given that the mirror was to be regarded
and reverenced exactly as though it was the spirit of the Sun
goddess, and it was ordered that the Kami of "thought combination"
should administer the affairs of the new kingdom. The fact is also to
be noted that among the Kami attached to Hikoho no Ninigi's person,
five--three male and two female--are designated by the Records as
ancestors and ancestresses of as many hereditary corporations, a
distinctive feature of the early Japan's polity. As to the manner of
Hikoho no Ninigi's journey to Japan, the Chronicles say that the
Great-Producing Kami threw the coverlet of his couch over him and
caused him to cleave his way downwards through the clouds; but the
Records allege that he descended "shut up in the floating bridge of

The point has some interest as furnishing a traditional trace of the
nature of this so-called invasion of Japan, and as helping to confirm
the theory that the "floating bridge of heaven," from which Izanagi
thrust his spear downwards into the brine of chaos, was nothing more
than a boat. It will naturally be supposed that as Hikoho no Ninigi's
migration to Japan was in the sequel of a long campaign having its
main field in the province of Izumo, his immediate destination would
have been that province, where a throne was waiting to be occupied by
him, and where he knew that a rich region existed. But the Records
and the Chronicles agree in stating that he descended on
Kirishimayama* in Tsukushi, which is the ancient name of the island
of Kyushu. This is one of the first eight islands begotten by Izanagi
and Izanami. Hence the alternative name for Japan, "Land of the Eight
Great Islands."

*Takachiho-dake is often spoken of as the mountain thus celebrated,
but Takachiho is only the eastern, and lower, of the two peaks of

It was, moreover, to a river of Tsukushi that Izanagi repaired to
cleanse himself from the pollution of hades. But between Kyushu
(Tsukushi) and Izumo the interval is immense, and it is accentuated
by observing that the mountain Kirishima, specially mentioned in the
story, raises its twin peaks at the head of the Bay of Kagoshima in
the extreme south of Kyushu. There is very great difficulty in
conceiving that an army whose ultimate destination was Izumo should
have deliberately embarked on the shore of Kagoshima. The landing of
Ninigi--his full name need not be repeated--was made with all
precautions, the van of his army (kume) being commanded by the
ancestor of the men who thenceforth held the highest military rank
(otomo) through many centuries, and the arms carried being bows,
arrows, and swords.*

*The swords are said to have been "mallet-headed," but the term still
awaits explanation.

All the annals agree in suggesting that the newcomers had no
knowledge of the locality, but whereas one account makes Ninigi
consult and obtain permission from an inhabitant of the place,
another represents him as expressing satisfaction that the region lay
opposite to Kara (Korea) and received the beams of the rising and the
setting sun, qualifications which it is not easy to associate with
any part of southern Kyushu.

At all events he built for himself a palace in accordance with the
orthodox formula--its pillars made stout on the nethermost
rock-bottom and its cross-beams made high to the plain of heaven--and
apparently abandoned all idea of proceeding to Izumo. Presently he
encountered a beautiful girl. She gave her name as Brilliant Blossom,
and described herself as the daughter of the Kami of mountains one of
the thirty-five beings begotten by Izanagi and Izanami who would seem
to have been then living in Tsukushi, and who gladly consented to
give Brilliant Blossom. He sent with her a plentiful dower--many
"tables"* of merchandise--but he sent also her elder sister,
Enduring-as-Rock, a maiden so ill favoured that Ninigi dismissed her
with disgust, thus provoking the curse of the Kami of mountains, who
declared that had his elder daughter been welcomed, the lives of the
heavenly sovereigns** would have been as long as her name suggested,
but that since she had been treated with contumely, their span of
existence would be comparatively short. Presently Brilliant Blossom
became enceinte. Her lord, however, thinking that sufficient time had
not elapsed for such a result, suspected her of infidelity with one
of the earthly Kami,*** whereupon she challenged the ordeal of fire,
and building a parturition hut, passed in, plastered up the entrance,
and set fire to the building. She was delivered of three children
without mishap, and their names were Hosuseri (Fire-climax), Hohodemi
(Fire-shine), and Hoori (Fire-subside).

*This expression has reference to the fact that offerings at
religious ceremonials were always heaped on low tables for laying
before the shrine.

**The expression "heavenly sovereign" is here applied for the first
time to the Emperors of Japan.

***The term "earthly" was applied to Kami born on earth, "heavenly"
Kami being those born in heaven.


At this stage the annals digress to relate an episode which has only
collateral interest Hosuseri and Hohodemi made fishing and hunting,
respectively, their avocations. But Hohodemi conceived a fancy to
exchange pursuits, and importuned Hosuseri to agree. When, however,
the former tried his luck at angling, he not only failed to catch
anything but also lost the hook which his brother had lent him. This
became the cause of a quarrel. Hosuseri taunted Hohodemi on the
foolishness of the original exchange and demanded the restoration of
his hook, nor would he be placated though Hohodemi forged his sabre
into five hundred hooks and then into a thousand. Wandering
disconsolate,* by the seashore, Hohodemi met the Kami of salt, who,
advising him to consult the daughter of the ocean Kami,** sent him to
sea in a "stout little boat."

*"Weeping and lamenting" are the words in the Records.

**One of the Kami begotten by Izanagi and Izanami.

After drifting for a time, he found himself at a palace beside which
grew a many-branched cassia tree overhanging a well. He climbed into
the tree and waited. Presently the handmaidens of Princess Rich Gem,
daughter of the ocean Kami, came to draw water, and seeing a shadow
in the well, they detected Hohodemi in the cassia tree. At his
request they gave him water in a jewelled vessel, but instead of
drinking, he dropped into the vessel a gem from his own necklace, and
the handmaidens, unable to detach the gem, carried the vessel to
their mistress. Then the princess went to look and, seeing a
beautiful youth in the cassia tree, "exchanged glances" with him. The
ocean Kami quickly recognized Hohodemi; led him in; seated him on a
pile of many layers of sealskins* overlaid by many layers of silk
rugs; made a banquet for him, and gave him for wife Princess Rich

*Chamberlain translates this "sea-asses' skins," and conjectures that
sea-lions or seals may be meant.

Three years passed tranquilly without the bridegroom offering any
explanation of his presence. At the end of that time, thoughts of the
past visited him and he "sighed." Princess Rich Gem took note of this
despondency and reported it to her father, who now, for the first
time, inquired the cause of Hohodemi's coming. Thereafter all the
fishes of the sea, great and small, were summoned, and being
questioned about the lost hook, declared that the tai* had recently
complained of something sticking in its throat and preventing it from
eating. So the lost hook was recovered, and the ocean Kami instructed
Hohodemi, when returning it to his brother, to warn the latter that
it was a useless hook which would not serve its purpose, but would
rather lead its possessor to ruin. He further instructed him to
follow a method of rice culture the converse of that adopted by his
brother, since he, the ocean Kami, would rule the waters so as to
favour Hohodemi's labours, and he gave him two jewels having the
property of making the tide ebb and flow, respectively. These jewels
were to be used against Hosuseri, if necessary.

*Pagrus major.

Finally the Kami of the ocean instructed a crocodile to carry
Hohodemi to his home. This was accomplished, and in token of his safe
arrival, Hohodemi placed his stiletto on the crocodile's neck for
conveyance to the ocean Kami.

The programme prescribed by the latter was now faithfully pursued, so
that Hosuseri grew constantly poorer, and finally organized a fierce
attack upon his younger brother, who, using the tide-flowing jewel,
overwhelmed his assailants until they begged for mercy, whereupon the
power of the tide-ebbing jewel was invoked to save them. The result
was that Hosuseri, on behalf of himself and his descendants for all
time, promised to guard and respectfully serve his brother by day and
by night. In this episode the hayabito had their origin. They were
palace guards, who to their military functions added the duty of
occasionally performing a dance which represented the struggles of
their ancestor, Hosuseri, when he was in danger of drowning.


After the composition of the quarrel described above, Princess Rich
Gem arrived from the castle of the ocean Kami, and built a
parturition hut on the seashore, she being about to bring forth a
child. Before the thatch of cormorants' feathers could be completed,
the pains of labour overtook her, and she entered the hut, conjuring
her husband not to spy upon her privacy, since, in order to be safely
delivered, she must assume a shape appropriate to her native land.
He, however, suffered his curiosity to overcome him, and peeping in,
saw her in the form of an eight-fathom crocodile. It resulted that
having been thus put to shame, she left her child and returned to the
ocean Kami's palace, declaring that there should be no longer any
free passage between the dominions of the ocean Kami and the world of
men. "Nevertheless afterwards, although angry at her husband's having
wished to peep, she could not restrain her loving heart," and she
sent her younger sister, Good Jewel, to nurse the baby and to be the
bearer of a farewell song to Hohodemi.

The Records state that the latter lived to the age of 580 years and
that his mausoleum was built to the west of Mount Takachiho, on which
his palace stood. Thus for the first time the duration of a life is
stated in the antique annals of Japan. His son, called Fuki-ayezu
(Unfinished Thatch), in memory of the strange incident attending his
birth, married Princess Good Jewel, his own aunt, and by her had four
sons. The first was named Itsuse (Five Reaches) and the youngest,
Iware (a village in Yamato province). This latter ultimately became
Emperor of Japan, and is known in history as Jimmu (Divine Valour), a
posthumous name given to him many centuries after his death.* From
the time of this sovereign dates and events are recorded with full
semblance of accuracy in the Chronicles, but the compilers of the
Records do not attempt to give more than a bald statement of the
number of years each sovereign lived or reigned.

*Posthumous names for the earthly Mikados were invented in the reign
of Kwammu (A.D. 782-805), i.e., after the date of the compilation of
the Records and the Chronicles. But they are in universal use by the
Japanese, though to speak of a living sovereign by his posthumous
name is a manifest anomaly.


According to the Chronicles, the four sons of Fuki-ayezu engaged in a
celebrated expedition from Tsukushi (Kyushu) to Yamato, but one
alone, the youngest, survived. According to the Records, two only
took part in the expedition, the other two having died before it set
out. The former version seems more consistent with the facts, and
with the manner of the two princes' deaths, as described in the
Records. Looking from the east coast of the island of Kyushu, the
province of Yamato lies to the northeast, at a distance of about 350
miles, and forms the centre of the Kii promontory. From what has
preceded, a reader of Japanese history is prepared to find that the
objective of the expedition was Izumo, not Yamato, since it was to
prepare for the occupation of the former province that the Sun
goddess and her coadjutors expended so much energy. No explanation
whatever of this discrepancy is offered, but it cannot be supposed
that Yamato was regarded as a halfway house to Izumo, seeing that
they lie on opposite coasts of Japan and are two hundred miles

The Chronicles assign the genesis of the enterprise to Prince Iware,
whom they throughout call Hohodemi, and into whose mouth they put an
exhortation--obviously based on a Chinese model--speaking of a land
in the east encircled by blue mountains and well situated, as the
centre of administrative authority. To reach Yamato by sea from
Kyushu two routes offer; one, the more direct, is by the Pacific
Ocean straight to the south coast of the Kii promontory; the other is
by the Inland Sea to the northwestern coast of the same promontory.
The latter was chosen, doubtless because nautical knowledge and
seagoing vessels were alike wanting.

It is not possible, however, to speak with confidence as to the
nature of the ships possessed by the Japanese in early times. The
first mention of ships occurs in the story of Susanoo's arrival in
Japan. He is said to have carried with him quantities of tree seeds
which he planted in the Eight Island Country, the cryptomeria and the
camphor being intended to serve as "floating riches," namely ships.
This would suggest, as is indeed commonly believed, that the boats of
that era were simply hollow trunks of trees.

Five centuries later, however, without any intervening reference, we
find the Emperor Sujin urging the construction of ships as of
cardinal importance for purposes of coastwise transport--advice which
is hardly consistent with the idea of log boats. Again, in A.D. 274,
the people of Izu are recorded as having built and sent to the Court
a vessel one hundred feet long; and, twenty-six years later, this
ship having become old and unserviceable, was used as fuel for
manufacturing salt, five hundred bags of which were distributed among
the provinces with directions to construct as many ships.

There is no mention in either the Chronicles or the Records of any
marked change in the matter of marine architecture during all these
years. The nature of the Kyushu expeditionary ships must therefore
remain a matter of conjecture, but that they were propelled by oars,
not sails, seems pretty certain. Setting out from some point in
Kyushu probably the present Kagoshima Bay the expedition made its way
up the east coast of the island, and reaching the Bungo Channel,
where the tide is very rapid, obtained the services of a fisherman as
pilot. Thence the fleet pushed on to Usa in the province of Buzen, at
the north of Kyushu, when two local chieftains built for the
entertainment and residence of the princes and their followers a "one
pillared palace"--probably a tent. The next place of call was Oka (or
Okada) in Chikuzen, where they passed a year before turning eastward
into the Inland Sea, and pushing on to one of the many islands off
the coast of Aki, they spent seven years before proceeding to another
island (Takashima) in Kibi, as the present three provinces of Bingo,
Bitchu, and Bizen were then called. There they delayed for eight
years the Chronicles say three--in order to repair the oars of their
vessels and to procure provisions.

Up to this time there had been no fighting or any attempt to effect a
lodgment on the mainland. But the expedition was now approaching the
narrow westerly entrance to the present Osaka Bay, where an army
might be encountered at any moment. The boats therefore sailed in
line ahead, "the prow of each ship touching the stern of the other."
Off the mouth of the river, now known as the Yodo, they encountered
such a high sea that they called the place Nami-hana (Wave
Flowers), a name subsequently abbreviated to Naniwa. Pushing
on, the expeditionary force finally landed at a place--not now
identifiable--in the province of Kawachi, which bounds Yamato on the

The whole voyage had occupied four years according to the Chronicles,
sixteen according to the Records. At Kusaka they fought their first
battle against the army of Prince Nagasune and were repulsed, Prince
Itsuse being wounded by an arrow which struck his elbow. It was
therefore decided to change the direction of advance, so that instead
of moving eastward in the face of the sun, a procedure unpleasing to
the goddess of that orb, they should move westward with the sun
behind them. This involved re-embarking and sailing southward round
the Kii promontory so as to land on its eastern coast, but the
dangerous operation of putting an army on board ship in the presence
of a victorious enemy was successfully achieved by the aid of
skilfully used shields.

On the voyage round Kii, where stormy seas are frequent, the fleet
encountered a heavy gale and the boats containing two of the princes
were lost.* Prince Itsuse had already died of his wound, so of the
four brothers there now remained only the youngest, Prince Iware. It
is recorded that, at the age of fifteen, he had been made heir to the
throne, the principle of primogeniture not being then recognized, and
thus the deaths of his brothers did not affect that question. Landing
ultimately at Kumano on the southeast of Kii, the expeditionary force
was stricken by a pestilence, the prince himself not escaping. But at
the behest of the Sun goddess, the Kami of thunder caused a sword of
special virtue to come miraculously into the possession of an
inhabitant of Kii, who carried it to the prince, and at once the
sickness was stayed. When, however, the army attempted to advance
into the interior, no roads were found and precipitous mountains
barred the progress. In this dilemma the Sun goddess sent down the
three-legged crow of the Sun** to act as guide.

*In the Chronicles the two princes are represented as having
deliberately entered the stormy sea, angered that such hardships
should overtake the descendants of the ocean Kami.

**The Yang-wu, or Sun-crow (Japanese Yata-garasu), is a creature of
purely Chinese myth. It is supposed to be red in colour, to have
three legs, and to inhabit the sun.

Thus indiscriminately are the miraculous and the commonplace
intermixed. Following this bird, the invading force pushed on into
Yamato, receiving the allegiance of a body of men who fished with
cormorants in the Yoshino River and who doubtless supplied the army
with food, and the allegiance of fabulous beings with tails, who came
out of wells or through cliffs. It is related that the invaders
forced the elder of two brothers into a gyn which he had prepared for
their destruction; and that on ascending a hill to reconnoitre,
Prince Iware observed an army of women and a force of eighty
"earth-hiders (Tsuchi-gumo) with tails," by which latter epithet is
to be understood bandits or raiders who inhabited caves.

How it fared with the amazons the annals do not say, but the eighty
bandits were invited to a banquet and slaughtered in their cups.
Still the expeditionary force encountered great opposition, the roads
and passes being occupied by numerous hostile bands. An appeal was
accordingly made for divine assistance by organizing a public
festival of worship, the vessels employed--eighty platters and as
many jars--being made by the hands of the prince himself with clay
obtained from Mount Kagu in Yamato.* Several minor arrangements
followed, and finally swords were crossed with the army of Nagasune,
who had inflicted a defeat on the invaders on the occasion of their
first landing at Kusaka, when Prince Itsuse received a mortal wound.
A fierce battle ensued. Prince Iware burned to avenge his brother's
death, but repeated attacks upon Nagasune's troops proved abortive
until suddenly a golden-plumaged kite perched on the end of Prince
Iware's bow, and its effulgence dazzled the enemy so that they could
not fight stoutly.**

*The Chronicles state that the prince made ame on the platters. Ame
is confectioned from malted millet and is virtually the same as the
malt extract of the Occident.

**This tradition of the golden kite is cherished in Japan. The "Order
of the Golden Kite" is the most coveted military distinction.

From this incident the place where the battle occurred was called
Tabi-no-mura, a name now corrupted into Tomi-no-mura. It does not
appear, however, that anything like a decisive victory was gained by
the aid of this miraculous intervention. Nagasune sought a conference
with Prince Iware, and declared that the ruler of Yamato, whom he
served, was a Kami who had formerly descended from heaven. He offered
in proof of this statement an arrow and a quiver belonging to the
Kami. But Prince Iware demonstrated their correspondence with those
he himself carried. Nagasune, however, declining to abstain from
resistance, was put to death by the Kami he served, who then made act
of submission to Prince Iware.

The interest of this last incident lies in the indication it seems to
afford that a race identical with the invaders had already settled in
Yamato. Prince Iware now caused a palace to be built on the plain of
Kashiwa-bara (called Kashihara by some historians), to the southwest
of Mount Unebi, and in it assumed the imperial dignity, on the first
day of the first month of the year 660 B.C. It is scarcely necessary
to say that this date must be received with all reserve, and that the
epithet "palace" is not to be interpreted in the European sense of
the term. The Chronicles, which alone attempt to fix the early dates
with accuracy, indicate 667 B.C. as the year of the expedition's
departure from Kyushu, and assign to Prince Iware an age of
forty-five at the time. He was therefore fifty-two when crowned at
Kashiwa-bara, and as the same authority makes him live to an age of
127, it might be supposed that much would be told of the last
seventy-five years of his life.

But whereas many pages are devoted to the story of his adventures
before ascending the throne, a few paragraphs suffice for all that is
subsequently related of him. While residing in Kyushu he married and
had two sons, the elder of whom, Tagishi-mimi, accompanied him on his
eastward expedition. In Yamato he married again and had three sons,
the youngest of whom succeeded to the throne. The bestowing of titles
and rewards naturally occupied much attention, and to religious
observances scarcely less importance seems to have been attached. All
references to these latter show that the offices of priest and king
were united in the sovereign of these days. Thus it was by the
Emperor that formulae of incantation to dissipate evil influences
were dictated; that sacrifices were performed to the heavenly Kami so
as to develop filial piety; and that shrines were consecrated for
worshiping the Imperial ancestors. Jimmu was buried in a tumulus
(misasagi) on the northeast of Mount Unebi. The site is officially
recognized to this day, and on the 3rd of April every year it is
visited by an Imperial envoy, who offers products of mountain, river,
and sea.


What traces of Chinese or foreign influence are to be found in the
legends and myths set down above? It is tolerably certain that
communication existed between China and Japan from a date shortly
prior to the Christian era, and we naturally expect to find that
since China was at that time the author of Asiatic civilization, she
contributed materially to the intellectual development of her island
neighbour. Examining the cosmogonies of the two countries, we find at
the outset a striking difference. The Chinese did not conceive any
creator, ineffable, formless, living in space; whereas the Japanese
imagined a great central Kami and two producing powers, invisible and
working by occult processes.

On the other hand, there is a marked similarity of thought. For, as
on the death of Panku, the giant toiler of Chinese myth on whom
devolved the task of chiselling out the universe, his left eye was
transmitted into the orb of day and his right into the moon, so when
the Japanese Kami returned from his visit to the underworld, the sun
emerged from the washing of his left eye and the moon from the
washing of his right. Japanese writers have sought to differentiate
the two myths by pointing out that the sun is masculine in China and
feminine in Japan, but such an objection is inadequate to impair the
close resemblance.

In truth "creation from fragments of a fabulous anthropomorphic being
is common to Chaldeans, Iroquois, Egyptians, Greeks, Tinnehs,
Mangaians, and Aryan Indians," and from that fact a connexion between
ancient Japan and West Asia might be deduced by reference to the
beings formed out of the parts: of the fire Kami's body when Izanagi
put him to the sword. On the other hand, the tale of which the birth
of the sun and the moon forms a part, namely, the visit of Izanagi to
hades in search of Izanami, is an obvious reproduction of the
Babylonian myth of Ishtar's journey to the underworld in search of
Du'uzu, which formed the basis of the Grecian legend of Orpheus and
Eurydice. Moreover, Izanami's objection to return, on the ground of
having already eaten of the food of the underworld, is a feature of
many ancient myths, among which may be mentioned the Indian story of
Nachiketas, where the name Yama, the Indian god of the lower world,
bears an obvious resemblance to the Japanese yomi (hades), as does,
indeed, the whole Indian myth of Yami and Yama to that of Izanagi and

Is it not also more than a mere coincidence that as all the Semitic
tribes worshipped the goddess Isis, so--the Japanese worshipped, for
supreme being, the goddess of the Sun? Thus, here again there would
seem to have been some path of communication other than that via
China between Japan and the west of Asia. Further, the "river of
heaven"--the Milky Way--which so often figures in Japanese mythology,
is prominent in Chinese also, and is there associated with the
Spinning Damsel, just as in the Japanese legend it serves the Kami
for council-place after the injury done by Susanoo's violence to the
Sun goddess and her spinning maidens. It has been remarked
[Chamberlain] that the chop-stick which Susanoo found floating down
a river in Izumo, and the sake (rice-wine) which he caused to be made
for the purpose of intoxicating the eight-headed serpent, are
obviously products of Chinese civilization, but as for the rescue of
the maiden from the serpent, it is a plain replica of the legend of
Perseus and Andromeda, which, if it came through China, left no mark
in transit.

Less palpable, but still sufficiently striking, is the resemblance
between the story of Atalanta's golden apples and the casting down of
Izanagi's head-dress and comb as grapes and bamboo sprouts to arrest
the pursuit of the "hag of hades." But indeed this throwing of his
comb behind him by Izanagi and its conversion into a thicket are
common incidents of ancient folk-lore, while in the context of this
Kami's ablutions on his return from hades, it may be noted that Ovid
makes Juno undergo lustration after a visit to the lower regions and
that Dante is washed in Lethe when he passes out of purgatory. Nor is
there any great stretch of imagination needed to detect a likeness
between the feathered messenger sent from the Ark and the three
envoys--the last a bird--despatched from the "plain of high heaven"
to report upon the condition of disturbed Japan. This comparison is
partially vitiated, however, by the fact that there is no tradition
of a deluge in Japanese annals, though such phenomena are like ly to
occur occasionally in all lands and to produce a great impression on
the national imagination. "Moreover, what is specially known to us as
the deluge has been claimed as an ancient Altaic myth. Yet here we
have the oldest of the undoubtedly Altaic nations without any legend
of the kind." [Chamberlain.]

It appears, further, from the account of the Great-Name Possessor's
visit to the underworld, that one Japanese conception of hades
corresponded exactly with that of the Chinese, namely, a place where
people live and act just as they do on earth. But the religion out of
which this belief grew in China had its origin at a date long
subsequent to the supposed age of the Gods in Japan. The peaches with
which Izanagi pelted and drove back the thunder Kami sent by Izanami
to pursue him on his return from the underworld were evidently
suggested by the fabulous female, Si Wang-mu, of Chinese legend, who
possessed a peach tree, the fruit of which conferred immortality and
repelled the demons of disease. So, too, the tale of the palace of
the ocean Kami at the bottom of the sea, with its castle gate and
cassia tree overhanging a well which serves as a mirror, forms a page
of Chinese legendary lore, and, in a slightly altered form, is found
in many ancient annals.

The sea monster mentioned in this myth is written with a Chinese
ideograph signifying "crocodile," but since the Japanese cannot have
had any knowledge of crocodiles, and since the monster is usually
represented pictorially as a dragon, there can be little doubt that
we are here confronted by the Dragon King of Chinese and Korean
folk-lore which had its palace in the depths of the ocean. In fact,
the Japanese, in all ages, have spoken of this legendary edifice as
Ryu no jo (the Dragon's castle).

The eminent sinologue, Aston, has shrewdly pointed out that the term
wani (crocodile) may be a corruption of the Korean word, wang-in
(king), which the Japanese pronounced "wani." As for the "curved
jewels," which appear on so many occasions, the mineral jade, or
jadelike stone, of which many of them were made, has never been met
with in Japan and must therefore have come from the continent of
Asia. The reed boat in which the leech, first offspring of Izanagi
and Izanami, was sent adrift, "recalls the Accadian legend of Sargon
and his ark of rushes, the biblical story of Moses as an infant and
many more," though it has no known counterpart in Chinese mythology.

It is noticeable that in spite of the honour paid to the stars in the
Chinese cosmogony, the only star specially alluded to in Japanese
myth is Kagase, who is represented as the last of the rebellious Kami
on the occasion of the subjugation of Izumo by order of the Sun
goddess and the Great-Producing Kami. So far as the Records and the
Chronicles are concerned, "the only stars mentioned are Venus, the
Pleiades, and the Weaver," the last being connected with a Chinese
legend, as shown above.

Two other points remain to be noticed. One is that divination by
cracks in a deer's roasted shoulder blade, a process referred to more
than once in the Records and the Chronicles, was a practice of the
Chinese, who seem to have borrowed it from the Mongolians; the other,
that the sounding arrow (nari-kabura) was an invention of the Huns,
and came to Japan through China. It had holes in the head, and the
air passing through these produced a humming sound. As for the
Chronicles, they are permeated by Chinese influence throughout. The
adoption of the Chinese sexagenary cycle is not unnatural, but again
and again speeches made by Chinese sovereigns and sages are put into
the mouths of Japanese monarchs as original utterances, so that
without the Records for purposes of reference and comparison, even
the small measure of solid ground that can be constructed would be
cut from under the student's feet.






THE southwestern extremity of the main island of Japan is embraced by
two large islands, Kyushu and Shikoku, the former lying on the west
of the latter and being, in effect, the southern link of the island
chain which constitutes the empire of Japan. Sweeping northward from
Formosa and the Philippines is a strong current known as the
Kuro-shio (Black Tide), a name derived from the deep indigo colour of
the water. This tide, on reaching the vicinity of Kyushu, is
deflected to the east, and passing along the southern coast of Kyushu
and the Kii promontory, takes its way into the Pacific. Evidently
boats carried on the bosom of the Kuro-shio would be likely to make
the shore of Japan at one of three points, namely, the south, or
southeast, of Kyushu, the south of Shikoku or the Kii promontory.

Now, according to the Records, the first place "begotten" by Izanagi
and Izanami was an island called Awa, supposed to be in the vicinity
of Awaji. The latter is a long, narrow island stretching from the
northeast of Shikoku towards the shore of the main island--which it
approaches very closely at the Strait of Yura--and forming what may
be called a gate, closing the eastern entrance to the Inland Sea.
After the island of Awa, the producing couple gave birth to Awaji and
subsequently to Shikoku, which is described as an island having four
faces, namely, the provinces of Awa, Iyo, Tosa, and Sanuki.

Rejecting the obviously allegorical phantasy of "procreation," we may
reasonably suppose ourselves to be here in the presence of an
emigration from the South Seas or from southern China, which debarks
on the coast of Awaji and thence crosses to Shikoku. Thereafter, the
immigrants touch at a triplet of small islands, described as "in the
offing," and thence cross to Kyushu, known at the time as Tsukushi.
This large island is described in the Records as having, like
Shikoku, one body and four faces, and part of it was inhabited by
Kumaso, of whom much is heard in Japanese history. From Kyushu the
invaders pass to the islands of Iki and Tsushima, which lie between
Kyushu and Korea, and thereafter they sail northward along the coast
of the main island of Japan until they reach the island of Sado.

All this--and the order of advance follows exactly the procreation
sequence given in the Records--lends itself easily to the supposition
of a party of immigrants coming originally from the south, voyaging
in a tentative manner round the country described by them, and
establishing themselves primarily on its outlying islands.

The next step, according to the Records, was to Yamato. About this
name, Yamato, there has been some dispute. Alike in ancient and in
modern times the term has been applied, on the one hand, to the whole
of the main island, and, on the other, to the single province of
Yamato. The best authorities, however, interpret it in the latter
sense for the purposes of the Izanagi-and-Izanami legend, and that
interpretation is plainly consistent with the probabilities, for the
immigrants would naturally have proceeded from Awaji to the Kii
promontory, where the province of Yamato lies. Thereafter--on their
"return," say the Records, and the expression is apposite--they
explored several small islands not identifiable by their names but
said to have been in Kibi, which was the term then applied to the
provinces of Bingo, Bitchu, and Bizen, lying along the south coast of
the Inland Sea and thus facing the sun, so that the descriptive
epithet "sun-direction" applied to the region was manifestly

In brief, the whole narrative concerts well with the idea of a band
of emigrants carried on the breast of the "Black Tide," who first
make the circuit of the outlying fringe of islands, then enter the
mainland at Yamato, and finally sail down the Inland Sea, using the
small islands off its northern shore as points d'appui for
expeditions inland.


Japanese euhemerists, several of whom, in former times as well as in
the present, have devoted much learned research to the elucidation of
their country's mythology, insist that tradition never intended to
make such a demand upon human credulity as to ask it to believe in
the begetting of islands by normal process of procreation. They
maintain that such descriptions must be read as allegories. It then
becomes easy to interpret the doings of Izanagi and Izanami as simple
acts of warlike aggression, and to suppose that they each commanded
forces which were to have co-operated, but which, by failing at the
outset to synchronize their movements, were temporarily unsuccessful.
It will seem, as we follow the course of later history, that the
leading of armies by females was common enough to be called a feature
of early Japan, and thus the role assigned to Izanami need not cause
any astonishment. At their first miscarriage the two Kami, by better
organization, overran the island of Awaji and then pushed on to
Shikoku, which they brought completely under their sway.

But what meaning is to be assigned to the "plain of high heaven"
(Takama-ga-hara)? Where was the place thus designated? By a majority
of Japanese interpreters Takama-ga-hara is identified as the region
of Taka-ichi in Yamato province. The word did not refer to anything
supernatural but was used simply in an honorific sense. In later ages
Court officials were called "lords of the moon" (gekhei) or
"cloud-guests" (unkaku), while officials not permitted to attend the
Court were known as "groundlings" (jige); the residence of the
Emperor was designated "purple-clouds hall" (shishin-deri); to go
from the Imperial capital to any other part of the country was to
"descend," the converse proceeding being called to "ascend," and the
palace received the names of "blue sky" and "above the clouds."

To-day in Yamato province there is a hill called Takama-yama and a
plain named Takama-no. The Records say that when the Sun goddess
retired to a rock cave, a multitude of Kami met at Taka-ichi to
concert measures for enticing her out, and this Taka-ichi is
considered to be undoubtedly the place of the same name in Yamato.
But some learned men hold that Takama-ga-hara was in a foreign
country, and that the men who emigrated thence to Japan belonged to a
race very superior to that then inhabiting the islands. When,
however, the leader of the invaders had established his Court in
Yamato the designation Takama-ga-hara came to be applied to the
latter place.

Whichever theory be correct--and the latter certainly commends itself
as the more probable--it will be observed that both agree in
assigning to Takama-ga-hara a terrestrial location; both agree in
assigning the sense of "unsettled and turbulent" to the "floating,
drifting" condition predicated of the country when the Kami first
interested themselves in it, and both agree in interpreting as an
insignium of military authority the "jewelled spear" given to Izanagi
and Izanami--an interpretation borne out by the fact that, in
subsequent eras of Japanese history, it was customary for a ruler
to delegate authority in this manner. Applying the same process
of reasoning to the socalled "birth" of Kami, that process
resolves itself very simply into the creation of chieftains and


It would seem that from Yamato the invaders prosecuted their campaign
into the interior, reaching Izumo on the west coast. The Records
say that after Izanami's death in giving birth to the Kami of fire,
she was buried at Mount Kagu on the confines of Izumo and Hoki.
Now the land of Yomi generally interpreted "underworld"--which
Izanagi visited in search of Izanami, was really identical with
Yomi-shima, located between the provinces of Hoki and Izumo, and
Ne-no-Kuni*--commonly taken to mean the "netherland"--subsequently
the place of Susanoo's banishment, was in fact a designation of
Izumo, or had the more extensive application of the modern Sanin-do
and Sanyo-do (districts in the shadow of the hill and districts on
the sunny side of the hill), that is to say, the western provinces
and the south coast of the Inland Sea.

*In the language of ancient Japan ne meant "mountain," and Ne-no-Kuni
signified simply "Land of Mountains."

What the allegory of the visit to hades would seem to signify,
therefore, was that Izanami was defeated in a struggle with the local
chieftains of Izumo or with a rebellious faction in that province;
was compelled to make act of submission before Izanagi arrived to
assist her--allegorically speaking she had eaten of the food of
hades--and therefore the conference between her and Izanagi proved
abortive. The hag who pursued Izanagi on his retreat from Yomi
represents a band of amazons--a common feature in old Japan--and his
assailant, the Kami of thunder, was a rebel leader.

As for the idea of blocking the "even pass of hades" with rocks, it
appears to mean nothing more than that a military force was posted at
Hirasaka--now called Ifuyo-saka in Izumo--to hold the defile against
the insurgent troops under Izanami, who finally took the field
against Izanagi. It may be inferred that the struggle ended
indecisively, although Izanagi killed the chieftain who had
instigated the rebellion (the so-called "Kami of fire"), and that
Izanami remained in Izumo, becoming ruler of that province, while
Izanagi withdrew to the eastern part of Tsukushi (Kyushu), where he
performed the ceremony of grand lustration.


The story of Susanoo lends itself with equal facility to
rationalization. His desire to go to his "mother's land" instead of
obeying his father and ruling the "sea-plain" (unabara)--an
appellation believed by some learned commentators to apply to
Korea--may easily be interpreted to mean that he threw in his lot
with the rebellious chiefs in Izumo. Leading a force into Yamato, he
laid waste the land so that the "green mountains were changed into
withered mountains," and the commotion throughout the country was
like the noise of "flies swarming in the fifth month." Finally he was
driven out of Yamato, and retiring to Izumo, found that the local
prefect was unable to resist the raids of a tribe from the
north under the command of a chief whose name--Yachimata no
Orochi--signified "eight-headed serpent."

This tribe had invaded the province and taken possession of the hills
and valleys in the upper reaches of the river Hi, whence tradition
came to speak of the tribe as a monster spreading over hills and
dales and having pine forests growing on its back. The tribute of
females, demanded yearly by the tribe, indicates an exaction not
uncommon in those days, and the sword said to have been found by
Susanoo in the serpent's tail was the weapon worn by the last and the
stoutest of Orochi's followers.

There is another theory equally accordant with the annals and in some
respects more satisfying. It is that Susanoo and his son, Iso-takeru,
when they were expelled from Yamato, dwelt in the land of
Shiragi--the eastern of the three kingdoms into which Korea was
formerly divided--and that they subsequently built boats and rowed
over to Izumo. This is distinctly stated in one version of the
Chronicles, and another variant says that when Iso-takeru descended
from Takama-ga-hara, he carried with him the seeds of trees in great
quantities but did not plant them in "the land of Han" (Korea).
Further, it is elsewhere stated that the sword found by Susanoo in
the serpent's tail was called by him Orochi no Kara-suki (Orochi's
Korean blade), an allusion which goes to strengthen the reading of
the legend.


Omitting other comparatively trivial legends connected with the age
of Susanoo and his descendants, we come to what may be called the
second great event in the early annals of Japan, namely, the descent
of Ninigi on the southern coast of Tsukushi (Kyushu). The Records and
the Chronicles explicitly state that this expedition was planned in
the court at Takama-ga-hara (the "plain of high heaven"), and that,
after sending forces to subdue the disturbed country and to obtain
the submission of its ruler, the grandson (Ninigi) of the Sun goddess
was commissioned to take possession of the land. It is also clearly
shown that Izumo was the centre of disturbance and that virtually all
the preliminary fighting took place there. Yet when Ninigi descends
from Takama-ga-hara--a descent which is described in one account as
having taken place in a closed boat, and in another, as having been
effected by means of the coverlet of a couch--he is said to have
landed, not in Izumo or in Yamato, but at a place in the far south,
where he makes no recorded attempt to fulfil the purpose of his
mission, nor does that purpose receive any practical recognition
until the time of his grandson Iware. The latter pushes northward,
encountering the greatest resistance in the very province (Yamato)
where his grandfather's expedition was planned and where the Imperial
Court was held.

It is plain that these conditions cannot be reconciled except on one
of two suppositions: either that the Takama-ga-hara of this section
of the annals was in a foreign country, or that the descent of Ninigi
in the south of Japan was in the sequel of a complete defeat
involving the Court's flight from Yamato as well as from Izumo.

Let us first consider the theory of a foreign country. Was it Korea
or was it China? In favour of Korea there are only two arguments, one
vague and the other improbable. The former is that one of Ninigi's
alleged reasons for choosing Tsukushi as a landing-place was that it
faced Korea. The latter, that Tsukushi was selected because it
offered a convenient base for defending Japan against Korea. It will
be observed that the two hypotheses are mutually conflicting, and
that neither accounts for debarkation at a part of Tsukushi
conspicuously remote from Korea. It is not wholly impossible,
however, that Ninigi came from China, and that the Court which is
said to have commissioned him was a Chinese Court.

In the history of China a belief is recorded that the Japanese
sovereigns are descended from a Chinese prince, Tai Peh, whose father
wished to disinherit him in favour of a younger son. Tai Peh fled to
Wu in the present Chekiang, and thence passed to Japan about 800 B.C.
Another record alleges that the first sovereign of Japan was a son of
Shao-kang of the Hsia dynasty (about 850 B.C.), who tattooed his body
and cut off his hair for purposes of disguise and lived on the bank
of the Yangtsze, occupying himself with fishing until at length he
fled to Japan.

That Ninigi may have been identical with one of these persons is not
inconceivable, but such a hypothesis refuses to be reconciled with
the story of the fighting in Izumo which preceded the descent to
Tsukushi. The much more credible supposition is that the Yamato
Court, confronted by a formidable rebellion having its centre in
Izumo, retired to Tsukushi, and there, in the course of years,
mustered all its followers for an expedition ultimately led by the
grandson of the fugitive monarch to restore the sway of his house.
This interpretation of the legend consists with the fact that when
Jimmu reached Yamato, the original identity of his own race with that
of the then ruler of the province was proved by a comparison of


With regard to the legend of the ocean Kami, the rationalists
conceive that the tribe inhabiting Tsukushi at the time of Ninigi's
arrival there had originally immigrated from the south and had
gradually spread inland. Those inhabiting the littoral districts were
ultimately placed by Ninigi under the rule of Prince Hohodemi, and
those inhabiting the mountain regions under the sway of Prince
Hosuseri. The boats and hooks of the legend are symbolical of
military and naval power respectively. The brothers having quarrelled
about the limits of their jurisdictions, Hohodemi was worsted, and by
the advice of a local elder he went to Korea to seek assistance.
There he married the daughter of the Ocean King--so called because
Korea lay beyond the sea from Japan--and, after some years'
residence, was given a force of war-vessels (described in the legend
as "crocodiles") together with minute instructions (the tide-ebbing
and the tide-flowing jewels) as to their skilful management. These
ships ultimately enabled him to gain a complete victory over his
elder brother.


These rationalizing processes will commend themselves in different
degrees to different minds. One learned author has compared such
analyses to estimating the historical residuum of the Cinderella
legend by subtracting the pumpkin coach and the godmother. But we are
constrained to acknowledge some background of truth in the annals of
old Japan, and anything that tends to disclose that background is
welcome. It has to be noted, however, that though many learned
Japanese commentators have sought to rationalize the events described
in the Records and the Chronicles, the great bulk of the nation
believes in the literal accuracy of these works as profoundly as the
great bulk of Anglo-Saxon people believes in the Bible, its
cosmogony, and its miracles.

The gist of the Japanese creed, as based on their ancient annals, may
be briefly summarized. They hold that when the Sun goddess handed the
three sacred objects to Ninigi--generally called Tenson, or "heavenly
grandchild"--she ordained that the Imperial Throne should be coeval
with heaven and earth. They hold that the instructions given with
regard to these sacred objects comprised the whole code of
administrative ethics. The mirror neither hides nor perverts; it
reflects evil qualities as faithfully as good; it is the emblem of
honesty and purity. The jewel illustrates the graces of gentleness,
softness, amiability, and obedience, and is therefore emblematic of
benevolence and virtue.* The sword indicates the virtues of strength,
sharpness, and practical decision, and is thus associated with
intelligence and knowledge. So long as all these qualities are
exercised in the discharge of administrative functions, there can be
no misrule.

*It must be remembered that the jewel referred to was a piece of
green or white jade.

They further hold that when the Sun goddess detailed five Kami to
form the suite of Ninigi, these Kami were entrusted with the
ministerial duties originally discharged by them, and becoming the
heads of five administrative departments, transmitted their offices
to generation after generation of their descendants. Thus Koyane was
the ancestor of the Nakatomi family who discharged the priestly
duties of worship at the Court and recited the Purification Rituals;
Futodama became the ancestor of the Imibe (or Imbe), a hereditary
corporation whose members performed all offices connected with
mourning and funerals; Usume became ancestress of the Sarume, whose
duties were to perform dances in honour of the deities and to act as
mediums of divine inspiration; Oshihi was the ancestor of the Otomo
chief who led the Imperial troops, and Kume became the ancestor of
the Kumebe, a hereditary corporation of palace guards. Further, they
hold that whereas Ninigi and his five adjunct Kami all traced their
lineage to the two producing Kami of the primal trinity, the special
title of sovereignty conferred originally on the Sun goddess was
transmitted by her to the Tenson (heavenly grandchild), Ninigi, the
distinction of ruler and ruled being thus clearly defined. Finally
they hold that Ninigi and these five adjunct Kami, though occupying
different places in the national polity, had a common ancestor whom
they jointly worshipped, thus forming an eternal union.




IN considering the question of the origin of the Japanese nation four
guides are available; namely, written annals, archaeological relics,
physical features, and linguistic affinities.


The annals, that is to say, the Records and the Chronicles, speak of
six peoples; namely, first, Izanagi and his fellow Kami, who, as
shown above, may reasonably be identified with the original
immigrants represented in the story of the so-called "birth" of the
islands; secondly, Jimmu and his followers, who re-conquered the
islands; thirdly, the Yemishi, who are identical with the modern
Ainu; fourthly, the Kumaso; fifthly, the Sushen; and sixthly the
Tsuchi-gumo (earth-spiders). By naming these six separately it is not
intended to imply that they are necessarily different races: that
remains to be decided. It will be convenient to begin with the


The Sushen were Tungusic ancestors of the Manchu. They are first
mentioned in Japanese annals in A.D. 549, when a number of them
arrived by boat on the north of Sado Island and settled there, living
on fish caught during spring and summer and salted or dried for
winter use. The people of Sado regarded them as demons and carefully
avoided them, a reception which implies total absence of previous
intercourse. Finally they withdrew, and nothing more is heard of
their race for over a hundred years, when, in A.D. 658, Hirafu, omi
of Abe and warden of Koshi (the northwestern provinces, Etchu,
Echizen, and Echigo), went on an expedition against them.

Nothing is recorded as to the origin or incidents of this campaign.
One account says that Hirafu, on his return, presented two white
bears to the Empress; that he fought with the Sushen and carried back
forty-nine captives. It may be assumed, however, that the enterprise
proved abortive, for, two years later (660), he was again sent
against the Sushen with two hundred ships. En route for his
destination he took on board his own vessel some of the inhabitants
of Yezo (Yemishi) to act as guides, and the flotilla arrived
presently in the vicinity of a long river, unnamed in the annals but
supposed to have been the Ishikari, which debouches on the west coast
of Yezo. There a body of over a thousand Yemishi in a camp facing the
river sent messengers to report that the Sushen fleet had arrived in
great force and that they were in imminent danger. The Sushen had
over twenty vessels and were lying in a concealed port whence Hirafu
in vain sent messengers to summon them.

What ensued in thus told in the Chronicles: "Hirafu heaped up on the
beach coloured silk stuffs, weapons, iron, etc.," to excite the
cupidity of the Sushen, who thereupon drew up their fleet in order,
approached "with equal oars, flying flags made of feathers tied to
poles, and halted in a shallow place. Then from one of their ships
they sent forth two old men who went round the coloured silk stuffs
and other articles which had been piled up, examined them closely,
whereafter they changed the single garments they had on, and each
taking up a piece of cloth went on board their ship and departed."
Meanwhile the Japanese had not made any attempt to molest them.
Presently the two old men returned, took off the exchanged garments
and, laying them down together with the cloth they had taken away,
re-embarked and departed.

Up to this Hirafu seems to have aimed at commercial intercourse. But
his overtures having been rejected, he sent to summon the Sushen.
They refused to come, and their prayer for peace having been
unsuccessful, they retired to "their own palisades." There the
Japanese attacked them, and the Sushen, seeing that defeat was
inevitable, put to death their own wives and children. How they
themselves fared is not recorded, nor do the Chronicles indicate
where "their own palisades" were situated, but in Japan it has always
been believed that the desperate engagement was fought in the Amur
River, and its issue may be inferred from the fact that although the
Japanese lost one general officer, Hirafu was able on his return to
present to the Empress more than fifty "barbarians," presumably
Sushen. Nevertheless, it is recorded that in the same year (A.D.
660), forty-seven men of Sushen were entertained at Court, and the
inference is either that these were among the above "savages"--in
which case Japan's treatment of her captured foes in ancient times
would merit applause--or that the Sushen had previously established
relations with Japan, and that Hirafu's campaign was merely to repel

During the next sixteen years nothing more is heard of the Sushen,
but, in A.D. 676, seven of them arrived in the train of an envoy from
Sinra, the eastern of the three kingdoms into which Korea was then
divided. This incident evokes no remark whatever from the compilers
of the Chronicles, and they treat with equal indifference the
statement that during the reign of the Empress Jito, in the year A.D.
696, presents of coats and trousers made of brocade, together with
dark-red and deep-purple coarse silks, oxen, and other things were
given to two men of Sushen. Nothing in this brief record suggests
that any considerable intercourse existed in ancient times between
the Japanese and the Tungusic Manchu, or that the latter settled in
Japan in any appreciable numbers.


The Yemishi are identified with the modern Ainu. It appears that the
continental immigrants into Japan applied to the semi-savage races
encountered by them the epithet "Yebisu" or "Yemishi," terms which
may have been interchangeable onomatopes for "barbarian." The
Yemishi are a moribund race. Only a remnant, numbering a few
thousands, survives, now in the northern island of Yezo. Nevertheless
it has been proved by Chamberlain's investigations into the origin of
place-names, that in early times the Yemishi extended from the north
down the eastern section of Japan as far as the region where the
present capital (Tokyo) stands, and on the west to the province now
called Echizen; and that, when the Nihongi was written, they still
occupied a large part of the main island.

We find the first mention of them in a poem attributed to the Emperor
Jimmu. Conducting his campaign for the re-conquest of Japan, Jimmu,
uncertain of the disposition of a band of inhabitants, ordered his
general, Michi, to construct a spacious hut (muro) and invite the
eighty doubtful characters to a banquet. An equal number of Jimmu's
soldiers acted as hosts, and, at a given signal, when the guests were
all drunk, they were slaughtered. Jimmu composed a couplet expressing
his troops' delight at having disposed of a formidable foe so easily,
and in this verselet he spoke of one Yemishi being reputed to be a
match for a hundred men.

Whether this couplet really belongs to its context, however, is
questionable; the eighty warriors killed in the muro may not have
been Yemishi at all. But the verse does certainly tend to show that
the Yemishi had a high fighting reputation in ancient times, though
it will presently be seen that such fame scarcely consists with the
facts revealed by history. It is true that when next we hear of the
Yemishi more than seven and a half centuries have passed, and during
that long interval they may have been engaged in a fierce struggle
for the right of existence. There is no evidence, however, that such
was the case.

On the contrary, it would seem that the Japanese invaders encountered
no great resistance from the Yemishi in the south, and were for a
long time content to leave them unmolested in the northern and
eastern regions. In A.D. 95, however, Takenouchi-no-Sukune was
commissioned by the Emperor Keiko to explore those regions. He
devoted two years to the task, and, on his return in 97, he submitted
to his sovereign this request: "In the eastern wilds there is a
country called Hi-taka-mi (Sun-height). The people of this country,
both men and women, tie up their hair in the form of a mallet and
tattoo their bodies. They are of fierce temper and their general name
is Yemishi. Moreover, the land is wide and fertile. We should attack
it and take it." [Aston's translation.] It is observable that the
principal motive of this advice is aggressive. The Yemishi had not
molested the Japanese or shown any turbulence. They ought to be
attacked because their conquest would be profitable: that was

Takenouchi's counsels could not be immediately followed. Other
business of a cognate nature in the south occupied the Court's
attention, and thirteen years elapsed before (A.D. 110) the
celebrated hero, Prince Yamato-dake, led an expedition against the
Yemishi of the east. In commanding him to undertake this task, the
Emperor, according to the Chronicles, made a speech which, owing to
its Chinese tone, has been called apocryphal, though some, at any
rate, of the statements it embodies are attested by modern
observation of Ainu manners and customs. He spoke of the Yemishi as
being the most powerful among the "eastern savages;" said that their
"men and women lived together promiscuously," that there was "no
distinction of father and child;" that in winter "they dwelt in holes
and in summer they lived in huts;" that their clothing consisted of
furs and that they drank blood; that when they received a favour they
forgot it, but if an injury was done them they never failed to avenge
it, and that they kept arrows in their top-knots and carried swords
within their clothing. How correct these attributes may have been at
the time they were uttered, there are no means of judging, but the
customs of the modern Ainu go far to attest the accuracy of the
Emperor Keiko's remarks about their ancestors.

Yamato-dake prefaced his campaign by worshipping at the shrine of
Ise, where he received the sword "Herb-queller," which Susanoo had
taken from the last chieftain of the Izumo tribesmen. Thence he
sailed along the coast to Suruga, where he landed, and was nearly
destroyed by the burning of a moor into which he had been persuaded
to penetrate in search of game. Escaping with difficulty, and having
taken a terrible vengeance upon the "brigands" who had sought to
compass his destruction, he pushed on into Sagami, crossed the bay to
Kazusa and, sailing north, reached the southern shore of Shimosa,
which was the frontier of the Yemishi. The vessels of the latter
assembled with the intention of offering resistance, but at the
aspect of the Japanese fleet and the incomparably superior arms and
arrows of the men it carried, they submitted unconditionally and
became personal attendants on Yamato-dake.

Three things are noticeable in this narrative. The first is that the
"brigands of Suruga" were not Yemishi; the second, that the Yemishi
offered no resistance, and the third, that the Yemishi chiefs are
called in the Chronicles "Kami of the islands" and "Kami of the
country"--titles which indicate that they were held in some respect
by the Japanese. It is not explicitly recorded that Yamato-dake had
any further encounter with the Yemishi, but figurative references
show that he had much fighting. The Chronicles quote him as saying,
after his return to Kii from an extended march through the
northeastern provinces and after penetrating as far as Hi-taka-mi
(modern Hitachi), the headquarters of the Yemishi, that the only
Yemishi who remained unsubmissive were those of Shinano and Koshi
(Echigo, Etchu, and Echizen). But although Yamato-dake subsequently
entered Shinano, where he suffered much from the arduous nature of
the ground, and though he sent a general to explore Koshi, he
ultimately retired to Owari, where he died from the effects of
fatigue and exposure according to some authorities, of a wound from a
poisoned arrow according to others. His last act was to present as
slaves to the shrine of Ise the Yemishi who had originally
surrendered and who had subsequently attached themselves to his
person. They proved so noisy, however, that the priestess of the
shrine sent them to the Yamato Court, which assigned for them a
settlement on Mount Mimoro. Here, too, their conduct was so turbulent
that they received orders to divide and take up their abode at any
place throughout the five provinces of Harima, Sanuki, Iyo, Aki, and
Awa, where, in after ages, they constituted a hereditary corporation
of Saeki (Saekibe).

These details deserve to be recorded, for their sequel shows
historically that there is an Yemishi element in the Japanese race.
Thus, in later times we find the high rank of muraji borne by a
member of the Saekibe. Fifteen years (A.D. 125) after the death of
Yamato-dake, Prince Sajima was appointed governor-general of the
fifteen provinces of Tosan-do (the Eastern Mountain circuit); that is
to say, the provinces along the east coast. He died en route and his
son, Prince Mimoro, succeeded to the office. During his tenure of
power the Yemishi raised a disturbance, but no sooner was force
employed against them than they made obeisance and threw themselves
on the mercy of the Japanese, who pardoned all that submitted.

This orderly condition remained uninterrupted until A.D. 367, when
the Yemishi in Kazusa made one of the very few successful revolts on
record. They killed Tamichi, a Japanese general sent against them,
and they drove back his forces, who do not appear to have taken very
effective measures of retaliation. In 482 we find the Yemishi
rendering homage to the Emperor Kenso, a ceremony which was repeated
on the accession of the Emperor Kimmei (540).

But, though meek in the presence of peril, the Yemishi appear to have
been of a brawling temperament. Thus, in 561, several thousands of
them showed hostility on the frontier, yet no sooner were their
chiefs threatened with death than they submitted. At that time all
the provinces in the northeast and northwest--then included in Mutsu
and Dewa--were in Yemishi possession. They rebelled again in 637, and
at first gained a signal success, driving the Japanese general,
Katana, into a fortress where he was deserted by his troops. His wife
saved the situation. She upbraided her husband as he was scaling the
palisades to escape by night, fortified him with wine, girded his
sword on herself, and caused her female attendants--of whom there
were "several tens"--to twang bowstrings. Katana, taking heart of
grace, advanced single handed; the Yemishi, thinking that his troops
had rallied, gave way, and the Japanese soldiers, returning to their
duty, killed or captured all the insurgents.

No other instance of equally determined resistance is recorded on the
part of the Yemishi. In 642, several thousands made submission in
Koshi. Four years later (646), we find Yemishi doing homage to the
Emperor Kotoku. Yet in 645 it was deemed necessary to establish a
barrier settlement against them in Echigo; and whereas, in 655, when
the Empress Saimei ascended the throne, her Court at Naniwa
entertained ninety-nine of the northern Yemishi and forty-five of the
eastern, conferring cups of honour on fifteen, while at the same time
another numerous body came to render homage and offer gifts, barely
three years had elapsed when, in 655, a Japanese squadron of 180
vessels, under the command of Hirafu, omi of Abe, was engaged
attacking the Yemishi at Akita on the northwest coast of the main

All this shows plainly that many districts were still peopled by
Yemishi and that their docility varied in different localities. In
the Akita campaign the usual surrender was rehearsed. The Yemishi
declared that their bows and arrows were for hunting, not for
fighting, and the affair ended in a great feast given by Hirafu, the
sequel being that two hundred Yemishi proceeded to Court, carrying
presents, and were appointed to various offices in the localities
represented, receiving also gifts of arms, armour, drums, and flags.*

*It is related that these flags had tops shaped like cuttlefish.

An interesting episode is recorded of this visit. One of the Yemishi,
having been appointed to a high post, was instructed to investigate
the Yemishi population and the captive population. Who were these
captives? They seem to have been Sushen, for at the feast given by
Hirafu his Yemishi guests came accompanied by thirty-five captives,
and it is incredible that Japanese prisoners would have been thus
humiliated in the sight of their armed countrymen. There will be
occasion to recur to this point presently. Here we have to note that
in spite of frequent contact, friendly or hostile, and in spite of so
many years of intercourse, the Yemishi seem to have been still
regarded by the Japanese as objects of curiosity. For, in the year
654, envoys from Yamato to the Tang Emperor of China took with them a
Yemishi man and woman to show to his Majesty.

The Chinese sovereign was much struck by the unwonted appearance of
these people. He asked several questions, which are recorded verbatim
in the Chronicles; and the envoys informed him that there were three
tribes of Yemishi; namely, the Tsugaru* Yemishi, who were the most
distant; next, the Ara Yemishi (rough or only partially subdued), and
lastly, the Nigi Yemishi (quiet or docile); that they sustained life
by eating, not cereals, but flesh, and that they dispensed with
houses, preferring to live under trees and in the recesses of
mountains. The Chinese Emperor finally remarked, "When we look at the
unusual bodily appearance of these Yemishi, it is strange in the

*The Story of Korea, by Longford.

Evidently whatever the original provenance of the Yemishi, they had
never been among the numerous peoples who observed the custom of
paying visits of ceremony to the Chinese capital. They were
apparently not included in the family of Far Eastern nations. From
the second half of the seventh century they are constantly found
carrying tribute to the Japanese Court and receiving presents or
being entertained in return. But these evidences of docility and
friendship were not indicative of the universal mood. The Yemishi
located in the northeastern section of the main island continued to
give trouble up to the beginning of the ninth century, and throughout
this region as well as along the west coast from the thirty-eighth
parallel of latitude northward the Japanese were obliged to build six
castles and ten barrier posts between A.D. 647 and 800.

These facts, however, have no concern with the immediate purpose of
this historical reference further than to show that from the earliest
times the Yamato immigrants found no opponents in the northern half
of the island except the Yemishi and the Sushen. One more episode,
however, is germane. In the time (682) of the Emperor Temmu, the
Yemishi of Koshi, who had by that time become quite docile, asked for
and received seven thousand families of captives to found a district.
A Japanese writing alleges that these captives were subjects of the
Crown who had been seized and enslaved by the savages. But that is
inconsistent with all probabilities. The Yamato might sentence these
people to serfdom among men of their own race, but they never would
have condemned Japanese to such a position among the Yemishi.
Evidently these "captives" were prisoners taken by the Yamato from
the Koreans, the Sushen, or some other hostile nation.


There has been some dispute about the appellation "Kumaso." One high
authority thinks that Kuma and So were the names of two tribes
inhabiting the extreme south of Japan; that is to say, the provinces
now called Hyuga, Osumi, and Satsuma. Others regard the term as
denoting one tribe only. The question is not very material. Among all
the theories formed about the Kumaso, the most plausible is that they
belonged to the Sow race of Borneo and that they found their way to
Japan on the breast of the "Black Tide." Many similarities of custom
have been traced between the two peoples. Both resorted freely to
ornamental tattooing; both used shields decorated with hair; both
were skilled in making articles of bamboo, especially hats; both were
fond of dancing with accompaniment of singing and hand-clapping; and
both dressed their hair alike. Japanese annals use the word "Kumaso"
for the first time in connexion with the annexation of Tsukushi
(Kyushu) by the Izanagi expedition, when one of the four faces of the
island is called the "land of Kumaso." Plainly if this nomenclature
may be taken as evidence, the Kumaso must have arrived in Japan at a
date prior to the advent of the immigrants represented by Izanagi and
Izanami; and it would further follow that they did not penetrate far
into the interior, but remained in the vicinity of the place of
landing, which may be supposed to have been some point on the
southern coast of Kyushu. Nor does there appear to have been any
collision between the two tides of immigrants, for the first
appearance of the Kumaso in a truculent role was in A.D. 81 when they
are said to have rebelled.

The incident, though remote from the capital, was sufficiently
formidable to induce the Emperor Keiko to lead a force against them
in person from Yamato. En route he had to deal with "brigands"
infesting Suwo and Buzen, provinces separated by the Inland Sea and
situated respectively on the south of the main island and the north
of Kyushu. These provinces were ruled by chieftainesses, who declared
themselves loyal to the Imperial cause, and gave information about
the haunts and habits of the "brigands," who in Suwo had no special
appellation but in Buzen were known as Tsuchi-gumo, a name to be
spoken of presently. They were disposed of partly by stratagem and
partly by open warfare. But when the Yamato troops arrived in Hyuga
within striking distance of the Kumaso, the Emperor hesitated. He
deemed it wise not to touch the spear-points of these puissant foes.
Ultimately he overcame them by enticing the two daughters of the
principal leaders and making a show of affection for one of them. She
conducted Japanese soldiers to her father's residence, and having
plied him with strong drink, cut his bow-string while he slept so
that the soldiers could kill him with impunity. It is recorded that
Keiko put the girl to death for her unfilial conduct, but the
assassination of her father helped the Japanese materially in their
campaign against the Kumaso, whom they succeeded in subduing and in
whose land the Emperor remained six years.

The Kumaso were not quelled, however. Scarcely eight years had
elapsed from the time of Keiko's return to Yamato when they rebelled
again, "making ceaseless raids upon the frontier districts;" and he
sent against them his son, Yamato-dake; with a band of skilled
archers. This youth, one of the most heroic figures in ancient
Japanese history, was only sixteen. He disguised himself as a girl
and thus gained access to a banquet given by the principal Kumaso
leader to celebrate the opening of a new residence. Attracted by the
beauty of the supposed girl, the Kumaso chieftain placed her beside
him, and when he had drunk heavily, Yamato-dake stabbed him to the
heart,* subsequently serving all his band in the same way. After
this, the Kumaso remained quiet for nearly a century, but in the year
193,** during the reign of the Emperor Chuai, they once more
rebelled, and the Emperor organized an expedition against them. He
failed in the struggle and was killed by the Kumaso's arrows.
Thenceforth history is silent about them.

*The Chronicles relate that when the Kumaso was struck down he asked
for a moment's respite to learn the name of his slayer, whose prowess
astounded him. On receiving an answer he sought the prince's
permission to give him a title, and declared that instead of being
called Yamato Oguna, the name hitherto borne by him, he should be
termed Yamato-dake (Champion of Japan) because he had conquered the
hitherto unconquerable. The prince accepted the name, and then gave
the Kumaso his coup de grace.

**It should be understood that these dates, being prehistoric, are
not wholly reliable.

Who, then, were they? It is related in the Chronicles that, after
breaking the power of the Kumaso, the Emperor Keiko made a tour of
inspection in Tsukushi (Kyushu), and arriving at the district of
Kuma, summoned two brothers, princes of Kuma, to pay homage. One
obeyed, but the other refused, and soldiers were therefore sent to
put him to death. Now Kuma was the name of the three kingdoms into
which the Korean peninsula was divided in ancient times, and it has
been suggested [Aston] that the land of Kuma in Korea was the parent
country of Kuma in Japan, Kom in the Korean language having the same
meaning (bear) as Kuma in the Japanese. This, of course, involves the
conclusion that the Kumaso were originally Korean emigrants; a theory
somewhat difficult to reconcile with their location in the extreme
south of Kyushu.

The apparent silence of the annals about the subsequent career of the
tribe is accounted for by supposing that the Kumaso were identical
with the Hayato (falcon men), who make their first appearance upon
the scene in prehistoric days as followers of Hosuseri in his contest
with his younger brother, Hohodemi, the hero of the legend about the
palace of the sea god. Hohodemi according to the rationalized version
of the legend having obtained assistance in the shape of ships and
mariners from an oversea monarch (supposed to have reigned in Korea),
returned to Tsukushi to fight his brother, and being victorious,
spared Hosuseri's life on condition that the descendants of the
vanquished through eighty generations should serve the victor's
descendants as mimes.

"On that account," says the Chronicles, "the various Hayato,
descended from Hosuseri to the present time, do not leave the
vicinity of the Imperial palace enclosure and render service instead
of watch-dogs." The first mention of the name Hayato after the
prehistoric battle in Kyushu, occurs in the year 399, when Sashihire,
one of the tribe, was induced to assassinate his master, an Imperial
prince. This incident goes to show that individual members of the
tribe were then employed at Court; an inference confirmed fifty-one
years later, when, on the death of Emperor Yuryaku, "the Hayato
lamented night and day beside the misasagi (tomb) and refused the
food offered to them, until at the end of seven days they died."

It can scarcely be doubted that we have here a reversion to the old
custom which compelled slaves to follow their lords to the grave. The
Hayato serving in the Court at that epoch held the status generally
assigned in ancient days to vanquished people, the status of serfs or
slaves. Six times during the next 214 years we find the Hayato
repairing to the Court to pay homage, in the performance of which
function they are usually bracketted with the Yemishi. Once (682) a
wrestling match took place in the Imperial presence between the
Hayato of Osumi and those of Satsuma, and once (694) the viceroy of
Tsukushi (Kyushu) presented 174 Hayato to the Court.


In ancient Japan there was a class of men to whom the epithet
"Tsuchi" (earth-spiders) was applied. Their identity has been a
subject of much controversy. The first mention made of them in
Japanese annals occurs in connexion with the slaughter of eighty
braves invited to a banquet by the Emperor Jimmu's general in a
pit-dwelling at Osaka.* The Records apply to these men the epithet
"Tsuchi-gumo," whereas the Chronicles represent the Emperor as
celebrating the incident in a couplet which speaks of them as
Yemishi. It will be seen presently that the apparent confusion of
epithet probably conveys a truth.

*This incident has been already referred to under the heading
"Yemishi." It is to be observed that the "Osaka" here mentioned is
not the modern city of Osaka.

The next allusion to Tsuchi-gumo occurs in the annals of the year
(662 B.C.) following the above event, according to the chronology of
the Chronicles. The Emperor, having commanded his generals to
exercise the troops, Tsuchi-gumo were found in three places, and as
they declined to submit, a detachment was sent against them.
Concerning a fourth band of these defiant folk, the Chronicles say:
"They had short bodies and long legs and arms. They were of the same
class as the pigmies. The Imperial troops wove nets of dolichos,
which they flung over them and then slew them."

There are four comments to be made on this. The first is that the
scene of the fighting was in Yamato. The second, that the chiefs of
the Tsuchi-gumo had Japanese names--names identical, in two cases,
with those of a kind of Shinto priest (hafuri), and therefore most
unlikely to have been borne by men not of Japanese origin. The third,
that the presence of Tsuchi-gumo in Yamato preceded the arrival of
Jimmu's expedition. And the fourth, that the Records are silent about
the whole episode. As for the things told in the Chronicles about
short bodies, long limbs, pigmies, and nets of dolichos, they may be
dismissed as mere fancies suggested by the name Tsuchi-gumo, which
was commonly supposed to mean "earth-spiders." If any inference may
be drawn from the Chronicles' story, it is that there were Japanese
in Yamato before Jimmu's time, and that Tsuchi-gumo were simply bands
of Japanese raiders.


They are heard of next in the province of Bungo (on the northeast of
Kyushu) where (A.D. 82) the Emperor Keiko led an army to attack the
Kumaso. Two bands of Tsuchi-gumo are mentioned as living there, and
the Imperial forces had no little difficulty in subduing them. Their
chiefs are described as "mighty of frame and having numerous
followers." In dealing with the first band, Keiko caused his bravest
soldiers to carry mallets made from camellia trees, though why such
weapons should have been preferred to the trenchant swords used by
the Japanese there is nothing to show. (Another account says
"mallet-headed swords," which is much more credible). In dealing with
the second, he was driven back once by their rain of arrows, and when
he attacked from another quarter, the Tsuchi-gumo, their submission
having been refused, flung themselves into a ravine and perished.

Here again certain points have to be noticed: that there were
Tsuchi-gumo in Kyushu as well as in Yamato; that if one account
describes them as pigmies, another depicts them as "mighty of frame,"
and that in Kyushu, as in Yamato, the Tsuchi-gumo had Japanese names.
Only once again do the annals refer to Tsuchi-gumo. They relate
curtly that on his return from quelling the Kumaso the Emperor Keiko
killed a Tsuchi-gumo in the province of Hizen. The truth seems to be
that factitious import has been attached to the Tsuchi-gumo. Mainly
because they were pit-dwellers, it was assumed for a tune that they
represented a race which had immigrated to Japan at some date prior
to the arrival of the Yemishi (modern Ainu). This theory was founded
on the supposed discovery of relics of pit-dwellers in the islands of
Yezo and Itorop, and their hasty identification as Kuro-pok-guru--the
Ainu term for underground dwellers--whose modern representatives are
seen among the Kurilsky or their neighbours in Kamchatka and
Saghalien. But closer examination of the Yezo and Itorop pits showed
that there was complete absence of any mark of antiquity--such as the
presence of large trees or even deep-rooted brushwood;--that they
were arranged in regular order, suggesting a military encampment
rather than the abode of savages; that they were of uniform size,
with few exceptions; that on excavation they yielded fragments of
hard wood, unglazed pottery, and a Japanese dirk, and, finally, that
their site corresponded with that of military encampments established
in Yezo and the Kuriles by the Japanese Government in the early part
of the nineteenth century as a defence against Russian aggression.

Evidently the men who constructed and used these pit-dwellings were
not prehistoric savages but modern Japanese soldiers. Further very
conclusive testimony has been collected by the Rev. John Batchelor,
who has devoted profound study to the Ainu. He found that the
inhabitants of Shikotan, who had long been supposed to be a remnant
of pre-Ainu immigrants, were brought thither from an island called
Shimushir in the Kurile group in 1885 by order of the Japanese
Government; that they declared themselves to be descended from men of
Saghalien; that they spoke nothing but the Ainu language, and that
they inhabited pits in winter, as do also the Ainu now living in
Saghalien. If any further proof were needed, it might be drawn from
the fact that no excavation has brought to light any relics whatever
of a race preceding and distinct from the Yemishi (Ainu), all the
pits and graves hitherto searched having yielded Yamato or Yemishi
skulls. Neither has there been found any trace of pigmies.

An Ainu myth is responsible for the belief in the existence of such
beings: "In very ancient times, a race of people who dwelt in pits
lived among us. They were so very tiny that ten of them could easily
take shelter beneath one burdock leaf. When they went to catch
herrings they used to make boats by sewing the leaves together, and
always fished with a hook. If a single herring was caught, it took
all the strength of the men of five boats, or ten sometimes, to hold
it and drag it ashore, while whole crowds were required to kill it
with their clubs and spears. Yet, strange to say, these divine little
men used even to kill great whales. Surely these pit-dwellers were

*"The Ainu and their Folk-lore," by Batchelor.

Evidently if such legends are to be credited, the existence of
fairies must no longer be denied in Europe. Side by side with the
total absence of all tangible relics may be set the fact that,
whereas numerous place-names in the main island of Japan have been
identified as Ainu words, none has been traced to any alien tongue
such as might be associated with earlier inhabitants. Thus, the
theory of a special race of immigrants anterior to the Yemishi has to
be abandoned so far as the evidence of pit-dwelling is concerned.
The fact is that the use of partially underground residences
cannot be regarded as specially characteristic of any race or as
differentiating one section of the people of Japan from another. To
this day the poorer classes in Korea depend for shelter upon pits
covered with thatch or strong oil-paper. They call these dwellings um
or um-mak, a term corresponding to the Japanese muro. Pit-dwellers
are mentioned in old Chinese literature, and the references to the
muro in the Records and Chronicles show that the muro of those days
had a character similar to that of the modern Korean um-mak [Aston].
We read of a muro being dug; of steps down to it; and we read of a
muro big enough to hold 160 persons at one time. The muro was not
always simply a hole roofed over: it sometimes contained a house
having a wooden frame lashed together with vine-tendrils, the walls
lined with sedges and reeds and plastered with a mixture of grass and
clay. The roof was thatched with reeds; there was a door opening
inwards, and a raised platform served for sleeping purposes. A
dwelling closely resembling this description was actually unearthed
near Akita in O-U, in 1807. Muro were used in ancient times by the
highest as Well as the poorest classes. Susanoo is said by the Izumo
Fudoki to have made for himself a muro; Jimmu's sort is represented
as sleeping in a great muro, and the Emperor Keiko, when (A.D.82)
prosecuting his campaign in Kyushu, is said to have constructed a
muro for a temporary palace. "In fact, pit-dwelling in northern
climates affords no indication of race."


Thus the conclusion suggested by historical evidence is that the
Japanese nation is composed of four elements: the Yamato; the Yemishi
(modern Ainu); the Kumaso (or Hayato), and the Sushen. As to the last
of these, there is no conclusive indication that they ever immigrated
in appreciable numbers. It does not follow, of course, that the
historical evidence is exhaustive, especially Japanese historical
evidence; for the annalists of Japan do not appear to have paid any
special attention to racial questions.


ENGRAVING: FUTAMI-GA-URA (The Husband and Wife Rocks)




THE group of islands forming Japan may be said to have routes of
communication with the continent of Asia at six places: two in the
north; two in the southwest, and two in the south. The principal
connexion in the north is across the narrow strait of Soya from the
northwest point of Yezo to Saghalien and thence to the Amur region of
Manchuria. The secondary connexion is from the north-east point of
Yezo via the long chain of the Kuriles to Kamchatka. The first of the
southwestern routes is from the northwest of Kyushu via the islands
of Iki and Tsushima to the southeast of Korea; and the second is from
the south of the Izumo promontory in Japan, by the aid of the current
which sets up the two southern routes. One of these is from the
southwest of Kyushu via the Goto Islands to southeastern China; the
other is from the south of Kyushu via the Ryukyu Islands, Formosa,
and the Philippines to Malaysia and Polynesia. It has also been
proved geologically* that the islands now forming Japan must at one
time have been a part of the Asiatic continent. Evidently these
various avenues may have given access to immigrants from Siberia,
from China, from Malaysia, and from Polynesia.

*There have been found in the gravel Tertiary mammals including
elephas primigenius, elephas Namadicus, stegodon Clifti, and unnamed
varieties of bear, deer, bison, ox, horse, rhinoceros, and whale.
(Outlines of the Geology of Japan; Imperial Geological Survey).


Archaeological research indicates the existence of two distinct
cultures in Japan together with traces of a third. One of these
cultures has left its relics chiefly in shell-heaps or embedded in
the soil, while the remains of another are found mainly in sepulchral
chambers or in caves. The relics themselves are palpably distinct
except when they show transitional approach to each other.

The older culture is attested by more than four thousand residential
sites and shell-heaps. Its most distinctive features are the absence
of all metallic objects and the presence of pottery not turned on the
wheel. Polished, finely chipped, and roughly hewn implements and
weapons of stone are found, as are implements of bone and horn.

It was, in short, a neolithic culture. The vestiges of the other
culture do not include weapons of stone. There are imitations of
sheath-knives, swords, and arrow-heads, and there are some models of
stone articles. But the alien features are iron weapons and hard
pottery always moulded on the wheel. Copper is present mainly in
connexion with the work of the goldsmith and the silversmith, and
arrow-heads, jingle-bells, mirrors, etc., are also present. The
former culture is identified as that of the aboriginal inhabitants,
the Yemishi; the latter belongs to the Yamato race, or Japanese
proper. Finally, "there are indications that a bronze culture
intervened in the south between the stone and the iron phases."*

*Munro's Prehistoric Japan.


The neolithic sites occur much more frequently in the northern than
in the southern half of Japan. They are, indeed, six times as
numerous on the north as on the south of a line drawn across the main
island from the coast of Ise through Orai. The neighbourhood of the
sea, at heights of from thirty to three hundred feet, and the
alluvial plains are their favourite positions. So far as the
technical skill shown by the relics--especially the pottery--is
concerned, it grows higher with the latitude. The inference is that
the settlements of the aborigines in the south were made at an
earlier period than those in the north; which may be interpreted to
mean that whereas the stone-using inhabitants were driven back in the
south at an early date, they held their ground in the north to a
comparatively modern era.

That is precisely what Japanese history indicates. Jimmu's conquests,
which took place several centuries before the Christian era, carried
him as far as the Ise-Omi line, but Yamato-dake's expedition against
the Yemishi north of that line was not planned until the second
century after Christ. Apart from the rough evidence furnished by the
quality of the relics, calculations have been made of the age of an
important shell-heap by assuming that it originally stood at the
seaside, and by estimating the number of years required to separate
it by the present interval from the coast at a fixed annual rate of
silting. The result is from five thousand to ten thousand years. A
book (the Hitachi Fudoki), published in A.D. 715, speaks of these
kaizuka (shell-heaps) as existing already at that remote period, and
attributes their formation to a giant living on a hill who stretched
out his hand to pick up shell-fish. This myth remained current until
the eighteenth century, and stone axes exhumed from the heaps were
called thunder-axes (rai-fu) just as similar relics in Europe were
called elf-bolts or thunder-stones.

There is great diversity of size among the shell-heaps, some being of
insignificant dimensions and others extending to five hundred square
yards. They are most numerous in the eight provinces forming the
Kwanto. In fact, in these ancient times, the Yamato race and the
aborigines had their headquarters in the same localities,
respectively, as the Imperial and Feudal governments had in mediaeval
and modern times. But there are no distinct traces of palaeolithic
culture; the neolithic alone can be said to be represented. Its
relics are numerous--axes, knives, arrow-heads, arrow-necks,
bow-tips, spear-heads, batons, swords, maces, sling-stones, needles,
drill-bows, drill and spindle weights, mortars and pestles, paddles,
boats, sinkers, fishing-hooks, gaffs, harpoons, mallets, chisels,
scrapers, hoes, sickles, whetstones, hammers, and drills.

It must be premised that though so many kinds of implements are here
enumerated, the nomenclature cannot be accepted as universally
accurate. The so-called "hoe," for example, is an object of disputed
identity, especially as agriculture has not been proved to have been
practised among the primitive people of Japan, nor have any traces of
grain been found in the neolithic sites. On the other hand, the
modern Ainu, who are believed to represent the ancient population,
include in their religious observances the worship of the first cakes
made from the season's millet, and unless that rite be supposed to
have been borrowed from the Yamato, it goes to indicate agricultural

There is, indeed, one great obstacle to any confident differentiation
of the customs and creeds prevalent in Japan. That obstacle consists
in the great length of the period covered by the annals. It may
reasonably be assumed that the neolithic aborigines were in more or
less intimate contact with the invading Yamato for something like
twenty-five centuries, an interval quite sufficient to have produced
many interactions and to have given birth to many new traditions. An
illustration is furnished by the mental attitude of the uneducated
classes in Japan towards the neolithic implements. So completely has
all memory of the human uses of these implements faded, that they are
regarded as relics of supernatural beings and called by such names as
raifu (thunder-axe), raitsui (thunder-club), kitsune no kuwa
(fox-hoe), raiko (thunder-pestle), and tengu no meshigai (rice-spoon
of the goblins). Many of the neolithic relics show that the people
who used them had reached a tolerably high level of civilization.

This is specially seen in the matter of ceramics. It is true that the
wheel was not employed, and that the firing was imperfect, but the
variety of vessels was considerable,* and the shapes and decorations
were often very praiseworthy. Thus, among the braziers are found
shapes obviously the originals of the Japanese choji-buro
(clove-censer) and the graceful rice-bowl, while community of
conception with Chinese potters would seem to be suggested by some of
the forms of these ancient vases. Particularly interesting are
earthenware images obtained from these neolithic sites. Many of them
have been conventionalized into mere anthropomorphs and are rudely
moulded. But they afford valuable indications of the clothing and
personal adornments of the aborigines.

*Cooking-pots and pans, jars and vases, bowls and dishes, cups,
bottles, nipple pots, lamps, braziers, ewers, strainers, spindles or
drill weights, stamps, ornaments, images, and plaques (Munro's
Prehistoric Japan).

What end these effigies were intended to serve remains an unsettled
question. Some suggest that they were used as substitutes for human
sacrifices, and that they point to a time when wives and slaves were
required to follow their husbands and masters to the grave. They may
also have been suggested by the example of the Yamato, who, at a very
remote time, began to substitute clay images for human followers of
the dead; or they may have been designed to serve as mere mementoes.
This last theory derives some force from the fact that the images are
found, not in graves or tombs, but at residential sites. No data have
been obtained, however, for identifying burying-places: sepulture may
have been carried out in the house of the deceased. Whichever
explanation be correct, the fact confronts us that these clay
effigies have no place in the cult of the modern Ainu. History
teaches, however, that degeneration may become so complete as to
deprive a nation of all traces of its original civilization. Such
seems to have been the case with the Ainu.


Traces of a culture occupying a place intermediate between the
primitive culture and that of the Yamato are not conclusive. They are
seen in pottery which, like the ware of the neolithic sites, is not
turned on the wheel, and, like the Yamato ware, is decorated in a
very subdued and sober fashion. It is found from end to end of the
main island and even in Yezo, and in pits, shell-heaps, and
independent sites as well as in tombs, burial caves, and cairns of
the Yamato. Thus, there does not seem to be sufficient warrant for
associating it with a special race. It was possibly supplied to order
of the Yamato by the aboriginal craftsmen, who naturally sought to
copy the salient features of the conquering immigrants' ware.


There are also some bronze vestiges to which considerable interest
attaches, for evidently people using bronze weapons could not have
stood against men carrying iron arms, and therefore the people to
whom the bronze implements belonged must have obtained a footing in
Japan prior to the Yamato, unless they came at the latter's
invitation or as their allies. Moreover, these bronze relics--with
the exception of arrow-heads--though found in the soil of western and
southern Japan, do not occur in the Yamato sepulchres, which feature
constitutes another means of differentiation. Daggers, swords,
halberds, and possibly spear-heads constitute the hand-weapons. The
daggers have a certain resemblance to the Malay kris, and the swords
and halberds are generally leaf-shaped. But some features, as
overshort tangs and unpierced loops, suggest that they were
manufactured, not for service in battle but for ceremonial purposes,
being thus mere survivals from an era when their originals were in
actual use, and possibly those originals may have been of iron. Some
straight-edged specimens have been classed as spear-heads, but they
closely resemble certain ancient bronze swords of China. As for
bronze arrow-heads, they occur alike in Yamato sepulchres and in the
soil, so that no special inference is warranted in their case. The
bronze hand-weapons have been found in twelve provinces of southern
and western Japan: namely, five provinces of northwest Kyushu; three
on the Inland Sea; one facing Korea and China, and the rest on the
islands of Iki and Tsushima.

These localities and the fact that similar swords have been met with
in Shantung, suggest that the bronze culture came from central and
eastern Asia, which hypothesis receives confirmation from the
complete absence of bronze vestiges in the southern provinces of
Kyushu, namely, Osumi and Satsuma. Bronze bells, of which there are
many, belong to a separate page of archaeology. Though they have been
found in no less than twenty-four provinces, there is no instance of
their presence in the same sites with hand-weapons of bronze. In
Kyushu, Higo is the only province where they have been seen, whereas
in the main island they extend as far east as Totomi, and are
conspicuously numerous in that province and its neighbour, Mikawa,
while in Omi they are most abundant of all. They vary in height from
about one foot four inches to four and a half feet, and are of highly
specialized shape, the only cognate type being bells used in China
during the Chou dynasty (1122-225 B.C.) for the purpose of giving
military signals. A Chinese origin is still more clearly indicated by
the decorative designs, which show a combination of the circle, the
triangle, and the spiral, obviously identical with the decorative
motive* on Chinese drums of the Han dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 220). The
circle and the triangle occur also in the sepulchral pottery of the
Yamato sites, and considering the fact together with the abundance of
the bells in districts where the Yamato were most strongly
established, there seems to be warrant for attributing these curious
relics to the Yamato culture.

*This resemblance has been pointed out by a Japanese archaeologist,
Mr. Teraishi. Dr. Munro states that the same elements are combined in
an Egyptian decorative design.

To this inference it has been objected that no bells have been found
in the tombs of the Yamato. The same is true, however, of several
other objects known to have belonged to that people. If, then, the
bells be classed as adjuncts of the Yamato culture, shall we be
justified in assigning the bronze weapon to a different race? On the
whole, the most reasonable conclusion seems to be that all the bronze
relics, weapons, and bells alike, are "vestiges of the Yamato
procession at a time anterior to the formation of the great dolmens
and other tombs" [Munro]. A corollary would be that the Yamato
migrated from China in the days of the Chou dynasty (1122-225 B.C.),
and that, having landed in the province of Higo, they conquered the
greater part of Tsukushi (Kyushu), and subsequently passed up the
Inland Sea to Yamato; which hypothesis would invest with some
accuracy the date assigned by the Chronicles to Jimmu's expedition
and would constitute a general confirmation of the Japanese account
of his line of advance.


The ancient Yamato are known chiefly through the medium of relics
found in their sepulchres. Residential sites exist in comparatively
small numbers, so far as research ha hitherto shown, and such sites
yield nothing except more or less scattered potsherds and low walls
enclosing spaces of considerable area. Occasionally Yamato pottery
and other relics are discovered in pits, and these evidences,
combined with historical references, go to show that the Yamato
themselves sometimes used pit-dwellings.

The tombs yield much more suggestive relics of metal, stone, and
pottery. Some four thousand of such sepulchres have been officially
catalogued, but it is believed that fully ten times that number
exist. The most characteristic is a tomb of larger dimensions
enclosing a dolmen which contains a coffin hollowed out from the
trunk of a tree, or a sarcophagus of stone,* the latter being much
more commonly found, as might be expected from its greater
durability. Burial-jars were occasionally used, as were also
sarcophagi of clay or terracotta,** the latter chiefly in the
provinces of Bizen and Mimasaka, probably because suitable materials
existed there in special abundance. Moreover, not a few tombs
belonged to the category of cists; that is to say, excavations in
rock, with a single-slabbed or many-slabbed cover; or receptacles
formed with stone clubs, cobbles, or boulders.

*The stone sarcophagus was of considerable size and various shapes,
forming an oblong box with a lid of a boatlike form.

**The terracotta sarcophagi were generally parallel, oblong or
elongated oval in shape, with an arched or angular covering and
several feet. One has been found with doors moving on hinges.

There is great difficulty in arriving at any confident estimate of
age amid such variety. Dolmens of a most primitive kind "exist side
by side with stone chambers of highly finished masonry in
circumstances which suggest contemporaneous construction" so that
"the type evidently furnishes little or no criterion of age," and,
moreover, local facilities must have largely influenced the method of
building. The dolmen is regarded by archaeologists as the most
characteristic feature of the Yamato tombs. It was a chamber formed
by setting up large slabs of stone, inclined slightly towards each
other, which served as supports for another slab forming the roof.
Seen in plan, the dolmens presented many shapes: a simple chamber or
gallery; a chamber with a gallery, or a series of chambers with a
gallery. Above the dolmen a mound was built, sometimes of huge
dimensions (as, for example, the misasagi* of the Emperor Tenchi--d.
A.D. 671--which with its embankments, measured 5040 feet square), and
within the dolmen were deposited many articles dedicated to the
service of the deceased. Further, around the covering-mound there are
generally found, embedded in the earth, terracotta cylinders
(haniwa), sometimes surmounted with figures or heads of persons or

*By this name all the Imperial tombs were called.

According to the Chronicles, incidents so shocking occurred in
connexion with the sacrifice of the personal attendants* of Prince
Yamato at his burial (A.D. 2) that the custom of making such
sacrifices was thenceforth abandoned, clay images being substituted
for human beings. The Records speak of a "hedge of men set up round a
tumulus," and it would therefore seem that these terracotta figures
usually found encircling the principal misasagi, represented that
hedge and served originally as pedestals for images. Within the
dolmen, also, clay effigies are often found, which appear to have
been substitutes for retainers of high rank. Had the ancient custom
been effectually abolished in the year A.D. 3, when the Emperor
Suinin is recorded to have issued orders in that sense, a simple and
conclusive means would be at hand for fixing the approximate date of
a dolmen, since all tombs containing clay effigies or encircled by
terracotta haniwa would necessarily be subsequent to that date, and
all tombs containing skeletons other than the occupants of the
sarcophagi would be referable to an earlier era. But although
compulsory sacrifices appear to have ceased from about the first
century of the Christian era, it is certain that voluntary sacrifices
continued through many subsequent ages. This clue is therefore
illusory. Neither does the custom itself serve to connect the Yamato
with any special race, for it is a wide-spread rite of animistic
religion, and it was practised from time immemorial by the Chinese,
the Manchu Tatars, and many other nations of northeastern Asia.

*They are said to have been buried upright in the precincts of the
misasagi. "For several days they died not, but wept and wailed day
and night. At last they died and rotted. Dogs and crows gathered and
ate them." (Chronicles. Aston's translation.)

The substitution of images for living beings, however, appears to
have been a direct outcome of contact with China, for the device was
known there as early as the seventh century before Christ. It would
seem, too, from the researches of a learned Japanese archaeologist
(Professor Miyake), that the resemblance between Japanese and Chinese
burial customs was not limited to this substitution. The dolmen also
existed in China in very early times, but had been replaced by a
chamber of finished masonry not later than the ninth century B.C. In
the Korean peninsula the dolmen with a megalithic roof is not
uncommon, and the sepulchral pottery bears a close resemblance to
that of the Yamato tombs. It was at one time supposed that the highly
specialized form of dolmen found in Japan had no counterpart anywhere
on the continent of Asia, but that supposition has proved erroneous.

The contents of the sepulchres, however, are more distinctive. They
consist of "noble weapons and armour, splendid horse-trappings,
vessels for food and drink, and various objects de luxe," though
articles of wood and textile fabrics have naturally perished. Iron
swords are the commonest relics. They are found in all tombs of all
ages, and they bear emphatic testimony to the warlike habits of the
Yamato, as well as to their belief that in the existence beyond the
grave weapons were not less essential than in life. Arrow-heads are
also frequently found and spear-heads sometimes.* The swords are all
of iron. There is no positive evidence showing that bronze swords
were in use, though grounds exist for supposing, as has been already
noted, that they were employed at a period not much anterior to the
commencement of dolmen building, which seems to have been about the
sixth or seventh century before Christ. The iron swords themselves
appear to attest this, for although the great majority are
single-edged and of a shape essentially suited to iron, about ten per
cent, are double-edged with a central ridge distinctly reminiscent of
casting in fact, a hammered-iron survival of a bronze leaf-shaped
weapon.** Occasionally these swords have, at the end of the tang, a
disc with a perforated design of two dragons holding a ball, a
decorative motive which already betrays Chinese origin. Other swords
have pommels surmounted by a bulb set at an angle to the tang,*** and
have been suspected to be Turanian origin.

*The most comprehensive list of these objects is that given in
Munro's Prehistoric Japan: "Objects of iron--(1), Swords and daggers;
(2), Hilt-guards and pommels; (3), Arrow-heads; (4), Spear-heads and
halberd-heads; (5) Armour and helmets; (6), Stirrups and bridle-bits;
(7), Ornamental trappings for horses; (8), Axes, hoes, or chisels;
(9), Hoes or spades; (10), Chains; (11), Rings; (12), Buckles; (13),
Smith's tongs or pincers; (14), Nails; (15), Caskets, handles,
hinges, and other fittings. Objects of copper and bronze--(1),
Arrow-heads; (2), Spear-heads; (3), Hilt-guards and pommels; (4),
Scabbard-covers and pieces of sheet-copper for ornamental uses; (5),
Helmets; (6), Arm-and-leg guards; (7), Shoes; (8), Horse-trappings;
(9), Belts; (10), Mirrors; (11), Bracelets and rings; (12), Various
fittings. Silver and gold were employed chiefly in plating, but fine
chains and pendants as well as rings of pure gold and silver have
been met with.

"The stone objects may be divided into two classes, viz:

"A. Articles of use or ornaments--(1), Head-rest; (2), Mortar and
pestle; (3), Caskets and vessels; (4), Cups and other vessels; (5),
Bracelets; (6), Magatama; (7), Other ornaments; (8), Plumb-line
pendant; (9), Spindle-weight; (10), Objects of unascertained

"B. Sepulchral substitutes--(1), Swords and daggers; (2),
Sheath-knife; (3), Arrow-head; (4), Spear-head; (5), Shield; (6);
Armour; (7), Wooden dogs; (8), Mirror; (9), Comb; (10), Magatama;
(11), Cooking-knife; (12), Sickle or scythe-blade; (13), Hoe or
chisel; (14), Head of chisel or spear; (15), Bowl; (16), Table; (17),
Sword-pommel; (18), Nondescript objects." The above list does not
include pottery.

**The leaf-shaped bronze sword is found over all Europe from the
Mediterranean to Lapland, but generally without a central ridge.

***Mr. Takahashi, a Japanese archaeologist, suggests that these
weapons were the so called "mallet-headed swords" said to have been
used by Keiko's soldiers (A.D. 82) against the Tsuchi-gumo. The name,
kabutsuchi, supports this theory, kabu being the term for "turnip,"
which is also found in kabuya, a humming arrow having a turnip-shaped
head perforated with holes.

Yet another form--found mostly in the Kwanto provinces and to the
north of them, from which fact its comparatively recent use may be
inferred--was known in western Asia and especially in Persia, whence
it is supposed to have been exported to the Orient in connexion with
the flourishing trade carried on between China and Persia from the
seventh to the tenth century. That a similar type is not known to
exist in China proves nothing conclusive, for China's attitude
towards foreign innovations was always more conservative than
Japan's. Scabbards, having been mostly of wood, have not survived,
but occasionally one is found having a sheeting of copper thickly
plated with gold. Arrow-heads are very numerous. Those of bronze
have, for the most part, the leaf shape of the bronze sword, but
those of iron show many forms, the most remarkable being the
chisel-headed, a type used in Persia.

Spear-heads are not specially suggestive as to provenance, with the
exception of a kind having a cross-arm like the halberd commonly used
in China from the seventh century before Christ. Yamato armour
affords little assistance to the archaeologist: it bears no
particularly close resemblance to any type familiar elsewhere. There
was a corset made of sheet iron, well rivetted. It fastened in front
and was much higher behind than before, additioned protection for the
back being provided by a lattice-guard which depended from the helmet
and was made by fastening strips of sheet iron to leather or cloth.
The helmet was usually of rivetted iron, but occasionally of bronze,
with or without a peak in front. There were also guards of copper or
iron for the legs, and there were shoulder-curtains constructed in
the same manner as the back-curtain pendant from the helmet. Shoes of
copper complete the panoply.

The workmanship of these weapons and armour is excellent: it shows an
advanced stage of manufacturing skill. This characteristic is even
more remarkable in the case of horse-trappings. The saddle and
stirrups, the bridle and bit, are practically the same as those that
were used in modern times, even a protective toe-piece for the
stirrup being present. A close resemblance is observable between the
ring stirrups of old Japan and those of mediaeval Europe, and a much
closer affinity is shown by the bits, which had cheek-pieces and were
usually jointed in the centre precisely like a variety common in
Europe; metal pendants, garnished with silver and gold and carrying
globular jingle-bells in their embossed edges, served for horse
decoration. These facts are learned, not from independent relics
alone, but also from terracotta steeds found in the tumuli and
moulded so as to show all their trappings.

Other kinds of expert iron-work have also survived; as chains, rings
and, buckles, which differ little from corresponding objects in
Europe at the present day; and the same is true of nails, handles,
hinges, and other fittings. Tools used in working metal are rarely
found, a fact easily accounted for when we remember that such objects
would naturally be excluded from sepulchres.

There is another important relic which shows that the Yamato were
"indebted to China for the best specimens of their decorative art."
This is a round bronze mirror, of which much is heard in early
Japanese annals from the time of Izanagi downwards. In China the art
of working in bronze was known and practised during twenty centuries
prior to the Christian era; but although Japan seems to have
possessed the knowledge at the outset of the dolmen epoch, (circ. 600
B.C.), she had no copper mine of her own until thirteen centuries
later, and was obliged to rely on Korea for occasional supplies. This
must have injuriously affected her progress in the art of bronze

Nevertheless, in almost all the dolmens and later tombs mirrors of
bronze were placed. This custom came into vogue in China at an early
date, the mirror being regarded as an amulet against decay or a
symbol of virtue. That Japan borrowed the idea from her neighbour can
scarcely be doubted. She certainly procured many Chinese mirrors,
which are easily distinguished by finely executed and beautiful
decorative designs in low relief on their backs; whereas her own
mirrors--occasionally of iron--did not show equal skill of technique
or ornamentation. Comparative roughness distinguished them, and they
had often a garniture of jingle-bells (suzu) cast around the rim, a
feature not found in Chinese mirrors. They were, in fact, an inferior
copy of a Chinese prototype, the kinship of the two being further
attested by the common use of the dragon as a decorative motive.
Bronze vases and bowls, simple or covered, are occasionally found in
the Yamato sepulchres. Sometimes they are gilt, and in no case do
their shapes differentiate them from Chinese or modern Japanese

It might be supposed that in the field of personal ornament some
special features peculiar to the Yamato civilization should present
themselves. There is none. Bronze or copper bracelets,* closed or
open and generally gilt, recall the Chinese bangle precisely, except
when they are cast with a garniture of suzu. In fact, the suzu
(jingle-bell) seems to be one of the few objects purely of Yamato
origin. It was usually globular, having its surface divided into
eight parts, and it served not only as part of a bangle and as a
pendant for horse-trappings but also as a post-bell (ekirei), which,
when carried by nobles and officials, indicated their right to
requisition horses for travelling purposes.

*Jasper also was employed for making bracelets, and there is some
evidence that shells were similarly used.

To another object interest attaches because of its wide use in
western Asia and among the Celtic peoples of Europe. This is the
penannular (or open) ring. In Europe, it was usually of solid gold or
silver, but in Japan, where these metals were very scarce in early
days, copper, plated with beaten gold or silver, was the material
generally employed. Sometimes these rings were hollow and sometimes,
but very rarely, flattened. The smaller ones seem to have served as
earrings, worn either plain or with pendants.

Prominent among personal ornaments were magatama (curved jewels) and
kudatama (cylindrical jewels). It is generally supposed that the
magatama represented a tiger's claw, which is known to have been
regarded by the Koreans as an amulet. But the ornament may also have
taken its comma-like shape from the Yo and the Yin, the positive and
the negative principles which by Chinese cosmographists were
accounted the great primordial factors, and which occupy a prominent
place in Japanese decorative art as the tomoye.* The cylindrical
jewels evidently owed their shape to facility for stringing into
necklaces or chaplets. The Chronicles and the Records alike show that
these jewels, especially the magatama, acted an important part in
some remarkable scenes in the mythological age.** Moreover, a sword,
a mirror, and a magatama, may be called the regalia of Japan. But
these jewels afford little aid in identifying the Yamato. Some of
them--those of jade, chrysoprase, and nephrite***--must have been
imported, these minerals never having been found in Japan. But the
latter fact, though it may be held to confirm the continental origin
of the Yamato, gives no indication as to the part of Asia whence they

*Professor Takashima has found magatama among the relics of the
primitive culture, but that is probably the result of imitation.

**The goddess of the Sun, when awaiting the encounter with Susanoo,
twisted a complete string, eight feet long, with five hundred
magatama. Lesser Kami were created by manipulating the jewels. When
Amaterasu retired into a cave, magatama were hung from the branches
of a sakaki tree to assist in enticing her out. Several other
reverential allusions are made to the jewels in later times.

***The jewels were of jasper, agate, chalcedony, serpentine,
nephrite, steatite, quartz, crystal, glass, jade (white and green),
and chrysoprase. Mention is also made of rakan, but the meaning of
the term is obscure. Probably it was a variety of jade.


The pottery found in the Yamato tombs is somewhat more instructive
than the personal ornaments. It seems to have been specially
manufactured, or at any rate selected, for purposes of sepulture, and
it evidently retained its shape and character from very remote if not
from prehistoric times. Known in Japan as iwaibe (sacred utensils),
it resembles the pottery of Korea so closely that identity has been
affirmed by some archaeologists and imitation by others. It has
comparatively fine paste--taking the primitive pottery as
standard--is hard, uniformly baked, has a metallic ring, varies in
colour from dark brown to light gray, is always turned on the wheel,
has only accidental glaze, and is decorated in a simple, restrained
manner with conventionalized designs. The shapes of the various
vessels present no marked deviation from Chinese or Korean models,
except that, the tazzas and occasionally other utensils are sometimes
pierced in triangular, quadrilateral, and circular patterns, to which
various meanings more or less fanciful have been assigned.

There is, however, one curious form of iwaibe which does not appear
to have any counterpart in China or Korea. It is a large jar, or
tazza, having several small jars moulded around its shoulder,* these
small jars being sometimes interspersed with, and sometimes wholly
replaced by, figures of animals.** It is necessary to go to the
Etruscan "black ware" to find a parallel to this most inartistic kind
of ornamentation.

*This style of ornamentation was called komochi (child-bearing), the
small jars being regarded as children of the large.

**Mr. Wakabayashi, a Japanese archaeologist, has enumerated seven
varieties of figures thus formed on vases: horses, deer, wild boars,
dogs, birds, tortoises; and human beings.

With regard to the general decorative methods of the iwaibe potters,
it is noticeable, first, that apparent impressions of textiles are
found (they are seldom actual imprints, being usually imitations of
such), and, secondly, that simple line decoration replaces the rude
pictorial representations of a primitive culture and suggests
propagation from a centre of more ancient and stable civilization
than that of the Yamato hordes: from China, perhaps from Korea--who
knows? As for the terracotta figures of human beings and sometimes of
animals found in connexion with Yamato sepulchres, they convey little
information about the racial problem.* The idea of substituting such
figures for the human beings originally obliged to follow the dead to
the grave seems to have come from China, and thus constitutes another
evidence of intercourse, at least, between the two countries from
very ancient times.

*Chinese archaic wine-pots of bronze sometimes have on the lid
figures of human beings and animals, but these served a useful

It has been remarked that "the faces seen on these images by no means
present a typical Mongolian type; on the contrary, they might easily
pass for European faces, and they prompt the query whether the Yamato
were not allied to the Caucasian race." Further, "the national
vestiges of the Yamato convey an impression of kinship to the
civilization which we are accustomed to regard as our own, for their
intimate familiarity with the uses of swords, armour, horse-gear, and
so forth brings us into sympathetic relation to their civilization."


It will be seen from the above that archaeology, while it discloses
to us the manners and customs of the ancient inhabitants of Japan,
does not afford material for clearly differentiating more than three
cultures: namely, the neolithic culture of the Yemishi; the iron
culture of the Yamato, and the intermediate bronze culture of a race
not yet identified. There are no archaeological traces of the
existence of the Kumaso or the Tsuchi-gumo, and however probable it
may seem, in view of the accessibility of Japan from the mainland,
not only while she formed part of the latter but even after the two
had become separate, that several races co-existed with the Yemishi
and that a very mixed population carried on the neolithic culture,
there is no tangible evidence that such was the case. Further, the
indications furnished by mythology that the Yamato were
intellectually in touch with central, if not with western Asia, are
re-enforced by archaeological suggestions of a civilization and even
of physical traits cognate with the Caucasian.






HOWEVER numerous may have been the races that contributed originally
to people Japan, the languages now spoken there are two only, Ainu
and Japanese. They are altogether independent tongues. The former
undoubtedly was the language of the Yemishi; the latter, that of the
Yamato. From north to south all sections of the Japanese nation--the
Ainu of course excepted--use practically the same speech. Varieties
of local dialects exist, but they show no traits of survival from
different languages. On the contrary, in few countries of Japan's
magnitude does corresponding uniformity of speech prevail from end to
end of the realm. It cannot reasonably be assumed that, during a
period of some twenty-five centuries and in the face of steady
extermination, the Yemishi preserved their language quite distinct
from that of their conquerors, whereas the various languages spoken
by the other races peopling the island were fused into a whole so
homogeneous as to defy all attempts at differentiation. The more
credible alternative is that from time immemorial the main elements
of the Japanese nation belonged to the same race, and whatever they
received from abroad by way of immigration became completely absorbed
and assimilated in the course of centuries.

No diligent attempt has yet been made to trace the connexion--if any
exist--between the Ainu tongue and the languages of northeastern
Asia, but geology, history, and archaeology suffice to indicate that
the Yemishi reached Japan at the outset from Siberia. The testimony
of these three sources is by no means so explicit in the case of the
Yamato, and we have to consider whether the language itself does not
furnish some better guide. "Excepting the twin sister tongue spoken
in the Ryukyu Islands," writes Professor Chamberlain, "the Japanese
language has no kindred, and its classification under any of the
recognized linguistic families remains doubtful. In structure, though
not to any appreciable extent in vocabulary, it closely resembles
Korean, and both it and Korean may possibly be related to Mongol and
to Manchu, and might therefore lay claim to be included in the
so-called 'Altaic group' In any case, Japanese is what philologists
call an agglutinative tongue; that is to say, it builds up its words
and grammatical forms by means of suffixes loosely soldered to the
root or stem, which is invariable."

This, written in 1905, has been supplemented by the ampler researches
of Professor S. Kanazawa, who adduces such striking evidences of
similarity between the languages of Japan and Korea that one is
almost compelled to admit the original identity of the two. There are
no such affinities between Japanese and Chinese. Japan has borrowed
largely, very largely, from China. It could scarcely have been
otherwise. For whereas the Japanese language in its original form--a
form which differs almost as much from its modern offspring as does
Italian from Latin--has little capacity for expansion, Chinese has
the most potential of all known tongues in that respect. Chinese may
be said to consist of a vast number of monosyllables, each expressed
by a different ideograph, each having a distinct significance, and
each capable of combination and permutation with one or more of the
others, by which combinations and permutations disyllabic and
trisyllabic words are obtained representing every conceivable shade
of meaning.

It is owing to this wonderful elasticity that Japan, when suddenly
confronted by foreign arts and sciences, soon succeeded in building
up for herself a vocabulary containing all the new terms, and
containing them in self-explaining forms. Thus "railway" is expressed
by tetsu-do, which consists of the two monosyllables tetsu (iron) and
do (way); "chemistry" by kagaku, or the learning (gaku) of changes
(ka); "torpedo" by suirai, or water (sui) thunder (rai); and each of
the component monosylables being written with an ideograph which
conveys its own meaning, the student has a term not only appropriate
but also instructive. Hundreds of such words have been manufactured
in Japan during the past half-century to equip men for the study of
Western learning, and the same process, though on a very much smaller
scale, had been going on continuously for many centuries, so that the
Japanese language has come to embody a very large number of Chinese
words, though they are not pronounced as the Chinese pronounce the
corresponding ideographs.

Yet in spite of this intimate relation, re-enforced as it is by a
common script, the two languages remain radically distinct; whereas
between Japanese and Korean the resemblance of structure and
accidence amounts almost to identity. Japanese philologists allege
that no affinity can be traced between their language and the tongues
of the Malay, the South Sea islanders, the natives of America and
Africa, or the Eskimo, whereas they do find that their language bears
a distinct resemblance to Manchu, Persian, and Turkish. Some go so
far as to assert that Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit are nearer to
Japanese than they are to any European language. These questions
await fuller investigation.


The Japanese are of distinctly small stature. The average height of
the man is 160 centimetres (5 feet 3.5 inches) and that of the woman
147 centimetres (4 feet 10 inches). They are thus smaller than any
European race, the only Occidentals over whom they possess an
advantage in this respect being the inhabitants of two Italian
provinces. [Baelz.] Their neighbours, the Chinese and the Koreans,
are taller, the average height of the northern Chinese being 168
centimetres (5 feet 7 inches), and that of the Koreans 164
centimetres (5 feet 5.5 inches). Nevertheless, Professor Dr. Baelz,
the most eminent authority on this subject, avers that "the three
great nations of eastern Asia are essentially of the same race," and
that observers who consider them to be distinct "have been misled by
external appearances." He adds: "Having made a special study of the
race question in eastern Asia, I can assert that comity of race in
general is clearly proved by the anatomical qualities of the body. In
any case the difference between them is much smaller than that
between the inhabitants of northern and southern Europe."

The marked differences in height, noted above, do not invalidate this
dictum: they show merely that the Asiatic yellow race has several
subdivisions. Among these subdivisions the more important are the
Manchu-Korean type, the Mongol proper, the Malay, and the Ainu. To
the first, namely the Manchu-Korean, which predominates in north
China and in Korea, Baelz assigns the higher classes in Japan; that
is to say, the men regarded as descendants of the Yamato. They have
"slender, elegant and often tall figures, elongated faces with not
very prominent cheek-bones, more or less slanting eyes, aquiline
noses, large upper teeth, receding chins, long slender necks, narrow
chests, long trunks, thin limbs, and often long fingers, while the
hair on the face and body is scarce." Dr. Munro, however, another
eminent authority, holds that, "judging from the Caucasian and often
Semitic physiognomy seen in the aristocratic type of Japanese, the
Yamato were mainly of Caucasic, perhaps Iranian, origin. These were
the warriors, the conquerors of Japan, and afterwards the
aristocracy, modified to some extent by mingling with a Mongoloid
rank and file, and by a considerable addition of Ainu." He remarks
that a white skin was the ideal of the Yamato, as is proved by their
ancient poetry.

As for the Mongol-proper type, which is seen in the lower classes and
even then not very frequently, its representative is squarely built,
and has prominent cheek-bones, oblique eyes, a more or less flat nose
with a large mouth. The Malay type is much commoner. Its
characteristics are small stature, good and sometimes square build, a
face round or angular, prominent cheek-bones, large horizontal eyes,
a weak chin, a short neck, broad well-developed chest, short legs,
and small delicate hands. As for the Ainu type, Dr. Baelz finds it
astonishing that they have left so little trace in the Japanese
nation. "Yet those who have studied the pure Ainu closely will
observe, particularly in the northern provinces, a not insignificant
number of individuals bearing the marks of Ainu blood. The most
important marks are: a short, thickly set body; prominent bones with
bushy hair, round deep-set eyes with long divergent lashes, a
straight nose, and a large quantity of hair on the face and body all
qualities which bring the Ainu much nearer to the European than to
the Japanese proper."


In addition to physical characteristics which indicate distinctions
of race among the inhabitants of Japan, there are peculiarities
common to a majority of the nation at large. One of these is an
abnormally large head. In the typical European the height of the head
is less than one-seventh of the stature and in Englishmen it is often
one-eighth. In the Japanese is it appreciably more than one-seventh.
Something of this may be attributed to smallness of stature, but such
an explanation is only partial.

Shortness of legs in relation to the trunk is another marked feature.
"Long or short legs are mainly racial in origin. Thus, in Europe, the
northern, or Teutonic race--namely Anglo-Saxons, North Germans,
Swedes, and Danes--are tail; long-legged, and small-headed, while the
Alpine, or central European race are short of stature, have short
legs and large heads with short necks, thus resembling the Mongolian
race in general, with which it was probably originally connected."

In the Japanese face, too, there are some striking points. The first
is in the osseous cavity of the eyeball and in the skin round the
eye. "The socket of the Japanese eye is comparatively small and
shallow, and the osseous ridges at the brows being little marked, the
eye is less deeply set than in the European. Seen in profile,
forehead and upper lid often form one unbroken line." Then "the shape
of the eye proper, as modelled by the lids, shows a most striking
difference between the European and the Mongolian races; the open eye
being almost invariably horizontal in the former but very often
oblique in the latter on account of the higher level of the outer
corner. But even apart from obliqueness the shape of the corner is
peculiar in the Mongolian eye. The inner corner is partly or entirely
covered by a fold of the upper lid continuing more or less into the
lower lid. This fold, which has been called the Mongolian fold, often
also covers the whole free rim of the upper lid, so that the
insertion of the eyelashes is hidden. When the fold takes an upward
direction towards the outer corner, the latter is a good deal higher
than the inner corner, and the result is the obliqueness mentioned
above. The eyelashes are shorter and sparser than in the European,
and whereas in the European the lashes of the upper and the lower lid
diverge, so that their free ends are farther distant than their
roots, in the Japanese eye they converge, the free ends being nearer
together than the insertions. Then again in the lower class the
cheek-bones are large and prominent, making the face look flat and
broad, while in the higher classes narrow and elongated faces are
quite common. Finally, the Japanese is less hairy than the European,
and the hair of the beard is usually straight." [Baelz.]


It may well be supposed that the problem of their nation's origin has
occupied much attention among the Japanese, and that their
ethnologists have arrived at more or less definite conclusions. The
outlines of their ideas are that one of the great waves of emigration
which, in a remote age, emerged from the cradle of the human race in
central Asia, made its way eastward with a constantly expanding
front, and, sweeping up the Tarim basin, emerged in the region of the
Yellow River and in Manchuria. These wanderers, being an
agricultural, not a maritime, race, did not contribute much to the
peopling of the oversea islands of Japan. But in a later--or an
earlier--era, another exodus took place from the interior of Asia. It
turned in a southerly direction through India, and coasting along the
southern seaboard, reached the southeastern region of China; whence,
using as stepping-stones the chain of islands that festoon eastern
Asia, it made its way ultimately to Korea and Japan.

Anterior to both of these movements another race, the neolithic
Yemishi of the shell-heaps, had pushed down from the northeastern
regions of Korea or from the Amur valley, and peopled the northern
half of Japan. The Korean peninsula, known in Chinese records as Han,
appears in the form of three kingdoms at the earliest date of its
historical mention: they were Sin-Han and Pyon-Han on the east and
Ma-Han on the West. The northeastern portion, from the present
Won-san to Vladivostok, bore the name of Yoso, which is supposed to
have been the original of Yezo, the Yoso region thus constituting the
cradle of the Yemishi race.

Japanese ethnologists interpret the ancient annals as pointing to
very close intercourse between Japan and Korea in early days,* and
regard this as confirming the theory stated above as to the
provenance of the Yamato race. Connexion with the colonists of
northern China was soon established via Manchuria, and this fact may
account for some of the similarities between the civilization as well
as the legends of the Yamato and those of Europe, since there is
evidence that the Greeks and Romans had some hazy knowledge of China,
and that the Chinese had a similarly vague knowledge of the Roman
Empire,** possibly through commercial relations in the second century

*The annals state of Princes Mikeno and Inahi, elder brothers of
Prince Iware (afterwards Jimmu Tenno). that the former "crossed over
to the Eternal Land" (Tokoyo-no-kuni) and the latter went down to the
sea plain, it being his deceased mother's land. Japanese
archaeologists identify "mother's land" as Shiragi in Korea, and
Tokoyo-no-kuni as the western country where the sun sets, namely
China. They further point out that Susanoo with his son, Itakeru,
went to Shiragi and lived at Soshi-mori, for which reason Susanoo's
posthumous title was Gozu Tenno, gozu being the Japanese equivalent
for the Korean soshi-mori (ox head). Susanoo is also quoted as
saying, "there are gold and silver in Koma and it were well that
there should be a floating treasury;"* so he built a vessel of pine
and camphor-wood to export these treasures to Japan. The "Korea" here
spoken of is the present Kimhai in Kyongsan-do. It is further
recorded that Susanoo lived for a time at Kumanari-mine, which is the
present Kongju. Again, a Japanese book, compiled in the tenth century
A.D., enumerates six shrines in the province of Izumo which were
called Kara-kuni Itate Jinja, or shrine of Itakeru of Korea. A much
abler work, Izuma Fudoki, speaks of Cape Kitsuki in Izumo as a place
where cotton-stuffs were imported from Shiragi by Omitsu, son of
Susanoo. There are other evidences to the same effect, and taken in
conjunction with the remarkable similarity of the Korean and Japanese
languages, these facts are held to warrant the conclusion that the
most important element of the Japanese nation came via Korea, its Far
Eastern colony being the ultima thule of its long wanderings from
central Asia.

**See Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Vol. 6, p. 189 b.

The first mention of Japan in Chinese records is contained in a book
called Shan-hai-ching, which states that "the northern and southern
Wo* were subject to the kingdom of Yen." Yen was in the modern
province of Pechili. It existed as an independent kingdom from 1 122
to 265 B.C. That the inhabitants of Japan were at any time subject to
Yen is highly improbable, but that they were tributaries is not
unlikely. In other words, intercourse between Japan and northern
China was established in remote times via the Korean peninsula, and
people from Japan, travelling by this route, carried presents to the
Court of Yen, a procedure which, in Chinese eyes constituted an
acknowledgement of suzerainty. The "northern and southern Wo" were
probably the kingdom of Yamato and that set up in Kyushu by Ninigi, a
supposition which lends approximate confirmation to the date assigned
by Japanese historians for the expedition of Jimmu Tenno. It is also
recorded in the Chronicles of the Eastern Barbarians, a work of the
Han dynasty (A.D. 25-221), that Sin-Han, one of the three Korean
kingdoms, produced iron, and that Wo and Ma-Han, the western of these
Korean kingdoms, traded in it and used it as currency. It is very
possible that this was the iron used for manufacturing the ancient
double-edged swords (tsurugi) and halberds of the Yamato, a
hypothesis strengthened by the fact that the sword of Susanoo was
called Orochi no Kara-suki, Kara being a Japanese name for Korea.

*This word was originally pronounced Wa, and is written with the
ideograph signifying "dwarf." It was applied to the Japanese by
Chinese writers in earliest times, but on what ground such an epithet
was chosen there is no evidence.




If it be insisted that no credence attaches to traditions unsupported
by written annals, then what the Records and the Chronicles, compiled
in the eighth century, tell of the manners and customs of Japan
twelve or thirteen hundred years previously, must be dismissed as
romance. A view so extreme is scarcely justified. There must be a
foundation of truth in works which, for the most part, have received
the imprimatur of all subsequent generations of Japanese. Especially
does that hold as to indications of manners, customs, and
institutions. These, at least, are likely to be mirrored with a
certain measure of accuracy, though they may often reflect an age
later than that to which they are referred, and may even have been
partially moulded to suit the ideas of their narrators. In briefly
epitomizing this page of history, the plan here pursued is to adhere
as far as possible to Japanese interpretations, since these must of
necessity be most intelligent.


At the basis of the social structure stand the trinity of Kami,
mythologically called the Central Master (Naka-Nushi) and the two
Constructive Chiefs (Musubi no Kami). The Central Master was the
progenitor of the Imperial family; the Constructive Chiefs were the
nobility, the official class. What was originally involved in the
conception of official functions, we learn from incidents prefatory
to the expedition conducted by Ninigi for the subjugation of Japan.
Amaterasu (the Sun goddess) attached to the person of her grandson
four chiefs and one chieftainess. To two of the former (Koyane and
Futodama) she entrusted all matters relating to religious rites, and
they became respectively the ancestors of the Nakatomi and the Imibe
families. To the female Kami (Usume) was entrusted the making of
sacred music and she founded the Sarume family. Finally, all military
functions were committed to the chiefs, Oshihi and Kume, whose
descendants constituted the Otomo and Kume families.

In every case these offices were hereditary for all time, and the
families of their holders constitute the aristocracy of the nation,
marrying among themselves and filling the highest offices from
generation to generation. Their members bore the title of hiko (son
of the Sun) and hime (daughter of the Sun), and those that governed
towns and villages were called tomo no miyatsuko, while those that
held provincial domains were entitled kuni no miyatsuko.

This was the origin of the Japanese polity. The descendants of
Amaterasu, herself a descendant of the Central Master, occupied the
throne in unbroken succession, and the descendants of the two
Constructive Chiefs served as councillors, ministers, and generals.
But the lineage of all being traceable to three chiefs who originally
occupied places of almost equal elevation, they were united by a bond
of the most durable nature. At the same time it appears that this
equality had its disadvantage; it disposed the members of the
aristocratic families to usurp the administrative power while
recognizing its source, the Throne, and it encouraged factional
dissensions, which sometimes resulted disastrously. As to the middle
and lower classes, no evidence bearing on their exact composition is
forthcoming. It is plain, however, that they accepted a subordinate
position without active protest, for nothing like a revolt on their
part is alluded to, directly or indirectly, in the Records or the
Chronicles. The term for all subjects was tomobe.


The palace of the sovereign--called miya or odono--corresponded in
appearance and construction with the shrines of the deities. It was
built by erecting central pillars--originally merely sunk in the
ground but in later times having a stone foundation--from which
rafters sloped to corner posts, similarly erected, the sides being
clapboarded. Nails were used, but the heavy timbers were tied
together with ropes made by twisting the fibrous stems of climbing
plants. A conspicuous feature was that the upper ends of the rafters
projected across each other, and in the V-shaped receptacle thus
formed, a ridge-pole was laid with a number of short logs crossing it
at right angles. This disposition of timbers was evidently devised to
facilitate tying and to impart stability to the thatch, which was
laid to a considerable thickness.

It is not certain whether in the earliest times floors were fully
boarded, or whether boarding was confined to a dais running round the
sides, the rest of the interior being of beaten mud. Subsequently,
however, the whole floor was boarded. Chimneys were not provided;
charcoal being the principal fuel, its smoke did not incommode, and
when firewood was employed, the fumes escaped through openings in the
gable. For windows there were holes closed by shutters which, like
the doors, swung upon hooks and staples. Rugs of skin or of rush
matting served to spread on the boarded floor, and in rare cases silk
cushions were employed.

The areas on which buildings stood were generally surrounded by
palisades, and for a long time no other kind of defence save these
palings seems to have been devised. Indeed, no mention of castles
occurs until the first century B.C., when the strange term
"rice-castle" (ina-ki) is found; the reference being apparently to a
palisade fortified with rice-bags, or to a rice-granary used as a
fortress. The palace of the sovereign towered so high by comparison
that it was termed Asahi-no-tada-sasu-miya (miya on which the morning
sun shines direct), or Yuhi-no-hiteru-miya (miya illumined by the
evening sun), or some other figurative epithet, and to the Emperor
himself was applied the title 0-mikado (great august Gate). The
dwellings occupied by the nobility were similarly built, though on a
less pretentious scale, and those of the inferior classes appear to
have been little better than huts, not a few of them being partially
sunk in the ground, as is attested by the fact that the term "enter"
took the form of "creep in" (hairu).


In the instruction said to have been given by Amaterasu to her
grandson Ninigi, on the eve of his expedition to Japan, the words are
recorded: "My child, regard this mirror as you regard me. Keep it in
the same house with yourself, and make it the mirror of purity."
Accordingly the insignia--the mirror, the jewel, and the sword--were
always kept in the main hall of the palace under the care of the
Nakatomi and the Imibe families. An ancient volume (Kogo-shui)
records that when the palace of Kashihara was reached by Jimmu's
army, the grandson of the founder of the Imibe family--cutting timber
with a consecrated axe (imi-ono) and digging foundations with a
consecrated spade (imi-suki)--constructed a palace in which he placed
the mirror, the jewel, and the sword, setting out offerings and
reciting prayers to celebrate the completion of the building and the
installation of the insignia.

"At that time the sovereign was still very close to the Kami, and the
articles and utensils for the latter were little distinguished from
those for the former. Within the palace there stood a store house
(imi-kura), the Imibe family discharging daily and nightly the duties
relating to it." Thus it is seen that in remote antiquity religious
rites and administrative functions were not distinguished. The
sovereign's residence was the shrine of the Kami, and the term for
"worship" (matsuri) was synonymous with that for "government."


The ceremony spoken of above--the Odono matsuri, or consecration of
the palace--is the earliest religious rite mentioned. Next in
importance was the "harvest festival." In the records of the
mythological age it is related that Amaterasu obtained seeds of the
"five cereals," and, recognizing their value as food, caused them to
be cultivated, offering a part to the Kami when they were ripe and
eating some herself. This became a yearly custom, and when Ninigi set
out to conquer Japan, his grandmother gave rice seed to the ancestors
of the Nakatomi and the Imibe families, who thenceforth conducted the
harvest festival (nii-name, literally "tasting the new rice") every
autumn, the sovereign himself taking part, and the head of the
Nakatomi reciting a prayer for the eternity of the Imperial line and
the longevity of the Emperor. Other important rites were the "great
purification" (Oharai) performed twice a year, on the last day of the
sixth month and the last day of the twelfth month; the "fire-subduing
fete," the "spirit-tranquillizing fete," etc.

Of all these rites the principal features were the recitation of
rituals and the offering of various objects, edible or otherwise
useful. The rituals (norito) being, in several cases, set formulas,
lent themselves with special facility to oral transmission from
generation to generation. It is certain that they were familiar to
the compilers of the Records and the Chronicles, and they contain
expressions dating from such a remote era as to have become
incomprehensible before history began to be written in Japan. In the
year A.D. 927, seventy-five of the norito were transcribed into a
book (Yengi-shiki, or Ceremonial Law) which contains, in addition to
these rituals, particulars as to the practice of the Shinto religion;
as to the organization of the priesthood--which included ten virgin
princesses of the Imperial family, one each for the two great temples
of Watarai in Ise and Kamo in Yamashiro--and as to the Shinto shrines
qualified to receive State support. These shrines totalled 3132,
among which number 737 were maintained at the Emperor's charges.
Considering that the nation at that time (tenth century) did not
comprise more than a very few millions, the familiar criticism that
the Japanese are indifferent to religion is certainly not proved by
any lack of places of worship. The language of the rituals is
occasionally poetic, often figurative and generally solemn,* but they
are largely devoted to enumeration of Kami, to formulae of praise for
past favours, to petitions for renewed assistance, and to
recapitulations of the offerings made in support of these requests.
As for the offerings, they comprise woven stuffs, and their raw
materials, models of swords, arrows, shields, stags' antlers, hoes,
fish (dried and fresh), salt, sake, and, in some cases, a horse, a
cock, and a pig. In short, the things offered were essentially
objects serviceable to living beings.

*The Norito of the Great Purification Service has been translated by
Mr. W. G. Aston in his Japanese Literature.


The Kami may be broadly divided into two groups, namely, those
originally regarded as superior beings and those elevated to that
rank in consideration of illustrious deeds performed during life. Of
the former group the multitudinous and somewhat heterogenous
components have been supposed to suggest the amalgamation of two or
more religious systems in consequence of a blending of races alien to
one another. But such features may be due to survivals incidental to
the highest form of nature religion, namely, anthropomorphic

There were the numerous Kami, more or less abstract beings without
any distinguishing functions, who preceded the progenitors of the
Yamato race, and there was the goddess of the Sun, pre-eminent and
supreme, together with deities of the Moon, of the stars, of the
winds, of the rain, of fire, of water, of mountains, of mines, of
fields, of the sea, of the trees, and of the grass--the last a female
divinity (Kaya-no-hime). The second group those deified for
illustrious services during life--furnished the tutelary divinities
(uji-gami or ubusuna-Kami) of the localities where their families
lived and where their labours had been performed. Their protection
was specially solicited by the inhabitants of the regions where their
shrines stood, while the nation at large worshipped the Kami of the
first group. Out of this apotheosis of distinguished mortals there
grew, in logical sequence, the practice of ancestor worship. It was
merely a question of degrees of tutelary power. If the blessings of
prosperity and deliverance could be bestowed on the denizens of a
region by the deity enshrined there, the same benefits in a smaller
and more circumscribed measure might be conferred by the deceased
head of a family. As for the sovereign, standing to the whole nation
in the relation of priest and intercessor with the deities, he was
himself regarded as a sacred being, the direct descendant of the
heavenly ancestor (Tenson).


That the religion of ancient Japan--known as Shinto, or "the way of
the gods"--had not fully emerged from therianthropic polytheism is
proved by the fact that, though the deities were generally
represented in human shape, they were frequently conceived as
spiritual beings, embodying themselves in all kinds of things,
especially in animals, reptiles, or insects. Thus, tradition relates
that the Kami of Mimoro Mountain appeared to the Emperor Yuryaku
(A.D. 457-459) in the form of a snake; that during the reign of the
Emperor Keitai (A.D. 507-531), a local deity in the guise of a
serpent interfered with agricultural operations and could not be
placated until a shrine was built in its honour; that in the time of
the Emperor Kogyoku, the people of the eastern provinces devoted
themselves to the worship of an insect resembling a silkworm, which
they regarded as a manifestation of the Kami of the Moon; that the
Emperor Keiko (A.D. 71-130) declared a huge tree to be sacred; that
in the days of the Empress Suiko (A.D. 593-628), religious rites were
performed before cutting down a tree supposed to be an incarnation of
the thunder Kami; that on the mountain Kannabi, in Izumo, there stood
a rock embodying the spirit of the Kami whose expulsion from Yamato
constituted the objective of Ninigi's expedition, and that prayer to
it was efficacious in terminating drought, that the deity
Koto-shiro-nushi became transformed into a crocodile, and that "the
hero Yamato-dake emerged from his tomb in the shape of a white swan."

Many other cognate instances might be quoted. A belief in amulets and
charms, in revelations by dreams and in the efficacy of ordeal,
belongs to this category of superstitions. The usual form of ordeal
was by thrusting the hand into boiling water. It has been alleged
that the Shinto religion took no account of a soul or made any
scrutiny into a life beyond the grave. Certainly no ideas as to
places of future reward or punishment seem to have engrossed
attention, but there is evidence that not only was the spirit (tama)
recognized as surviving the body, but also that the spirit itself was
believed to consist of a rough element (am) and a gentle element
(nigi), either of which predominated according to the nature of the
functions to be performed; as when a nigi-tama was believed to have
attached itself to the person of the Empress Jingo at the time of her
expedition to Korea, while an ara-tama formed the vanguard of her

Some Japanese philosophers, however--notably the renowned
Motoori--have maintained that this alleged duality had reference
solely to the nature of the influence exercised by a spirit on
particular occasions. Shinto has no sacred canon like the Bible, the
Koran, or the Sutras. Neither has it any code of morals or body of
dogma. Cleanliness may be called its most prominent feature.
Izanagi's lustrations to remove the pollution contracted during his
visit to the nether world became the prototype of a rite of
purification (misogi) which always prefaced acts of worship. A
cognate ceremony was the harai (atonement). By the misogi the body
was cleansed; by the harai all offences were expiated; the origin of
the latter rite having been the exaction of certain penalties from
Susanoo for his violent conduct towards the Sun goddess.* The two
ceremonies, physical cleansing and moral cleansing, prepared a
worshipper to approach the shrine of the Kami. In later times both
rites were compounded into one, the misogi-harai, or simply the
harai. When a calamity threatened the country or befell it, a grand
harai (o-harai) was performed in atonement for the sins supposed to
have invited the catastrophe. This principle of cleanliness found
expression in the architecture of Shinto shrines; plain white wood
was everywhere employed and ornamentation of every kind eschewed. In
view of the paramount importance thus attached to purity, a
celebrated couplet of ancient times is often quoted as the unique and
complete canon of Shinto morality,

*His nails were extracted and his beard was plucked out.

   "Unsought in prayer,
   "The gods will guard
   "The pure of heart."*

   *Kokoro dani
    Makoto no michi ni
    Kanai naba
    Inorazu tote mo
    Kami ya mamoran.

It is plain, however, that Shinto cannot be included in the category
of ethical religions; it belongs essentially to the family of nature


The acts which constituted crimes in ancient Japan were divided into
two classes: namely, sins against heaven and sins against the State.
At the head of the former list stood injuries to agricultural
pursuits, as breaking down the ridges of rice-fields, filling up
drains, destroying aqueducts, sowing seeds twice in the same place,
putting spits in rice-fields, flaying an animal alive or against the
grain, etc. The crimes against the State were cutting and wounding
(whether the living or the dead), defilement on account of leprosy or
cognate diseases, unnatural offences, evil acts on the part of
children towards parents or of parents towards children, etc. Methods
of expiating crime were recognized, but, as was the universal custom
in remote times, very cruel punishments were employed against
evil-doers and enemies. Death was inflicted for comparatively trivial
offences, and such tortures were resorted to as cutting the sinews,
extracting the nails and the hair, burying alive, roasting, etc.
Branding or tattooing seems to have been occasionally practised, but
essentially as a penalty or a mark of ignominy.


As is usually the case in a nation where a nature religion is
followed, divination and augury were practised largely in ancient
Japan. The earliest method of divination was by roasting the
shoulder-blade of a stag and comparing the cracks with a set of
diagrams. The Records and the Chronicles alike represent Izanagi and
Izanami as resorting to this method of presaging the future, and the
practice derives interest from the fact that a precisely similar
custom has prevailed in Mongolia from time immemorial. Subsequently
this device was abandoned in favour of the Chinese method, heating a
tortoise-shell; and ultimately the latter, in turn, gave way to the
Eight Trigrams of Fuhi. The use of auguries seems to have come at a
later date. They were obtained by playing a stringed instrument
called koto, by standing at a cross-street and watching the passers,
by manipulating stones, and by counting footsteps.


It has been related that when the "heavenly grandson" undertook his
expedition to Japan, the military duties were entrusted to two
mikoto* who became the ancestors of the Otomo and the Kume families.
There is some confusion about the subsequent differentiation of these
families, but it is sufficient to know that, together with the
Mononobe family, they, were the hereditary repositories of military
authority. They wore armour, carried swords, spears and bows, and not
only mounted guard at the palace but also asserted the Imperial
authority throughout the provinces. No exact particulars of the
organization of these forces are on record, but it would seem that
the unit was a battalion divided into twenty-five companies, each
company consisting of five sections of five men per section, a
company being under the command of an officer whose rank was

*"August being," a term of respect applied to the descendants of the


No mention is made of such a thing as currency in prehistoric Japan.
Commerce appears to have been conducted by barter only. In order to
procure funds for administrative and religious purposes, officers in
command of forces were despatched to various regions, and the
inhabitants were required to contribute certain quantities of local
produce. Steps were also taken to cultivate useful plants and cereals
and to promote manufactures. The Kogo-shui states that a certain
mikoto inaugurated the fashioning of gems in Izumo, and that his
descendants continued the work from generation to generation, sending
annual tribute of articles to the Court every year. Another mikoto
was sent to plant paper-mulberry and hemp in the province of Awa (awa
signifies "hemp"), and a similar record is found in the same book
with regard to the provinces of Kazusa and Shimosa, which were then
comprised in a region named Fusa-kuni. Other places owed their names
to similar causes.

It is plain that, whatever may have been the case at the outset, this
assignment of whole regions to the control of officials whose
responsibility was limited to the collection of taxes for the uses of
the Court, could not but tend to create a provincial nobility and
thus lay the foundations of a feudal system. The mythological
accounts of meetings of the Kami for purposes of consultation suggest
a kind of commonwealth, and recall "the village assemblies of
primitive times in many parts of the world, where the cleverness of
one and the general willingness to follow his suggestions fill the
place of the more definite organization of later times."* But though
that may be true of the Yamato race in the region of its origin, the
conditions found by it in Japan were not consistent with such a
system, for Chinese history shows that at about the beginning of the
Christian era the Island Empire was in a very uncentralized state and
that the sway of the Yamato was still far from receiving general
recognition. A great Japanese scholar** has contended that the
centralization which prevailed in later ages was wholly an imitation
of Chinese bureaucracy, and that organized feudalism was the original
form of government in Japan. The annals appear to support that view
to a limited extent, but the subject will presently be discussed at
greater length.

*B. H. Chamberlain.

**Hirata Atsutane.


In the use of clothing and the specialization of garments the early
Japanese had reached a high level. We read in the ancient legends of
upper garments, skirts, trousers, anklets, and head-ornaments of
stones considered precious.* The principal material of wearing
apparel was cloth woven from threads of hemp and mulberry bark.
According to the annals, the arts of spinning, weaving, and dyeing
were known and practised from the earliest age. The Sun goddess
herself is depicted as seated in the hall of the sacred loom, reeling
silk from cocoons held in her mouth, and at the ceremony of enticing
her from her retirement, the weaving of blue-and-white stuffs
constituted an important adjunct. Terms are used (akarurtae and
teru-tae) which show that colour and lustre were esteemed as much as
quality. Ara-tae and nigi-tae were the names used to designate coarse
and fine cloth respectively; striped stuff was called shidori, and
the name of a princess, Taku-hata-chiji, goes to show that corrugated
cloth was woven from the bark of the taku. Silken fabrics were
manufactured, but the device of boiling the cocoons had not yet been
invented. They were held in the mouth for spinning purposes, and the
threads thus obtained being coarse and uneven, the loom could not
produce good results. Silk stuffs therefore did not find much favour:
they were employed chiefly for making cushions, cloth woven from
cotton, hemp, or mulberry bark being preferred for raiment. Pure
white was the favourite colour; red, blue, and black being placed in
a lower rank in that order. It has been conjectured that furs and
skins were worn, but there is no explicit mention of anything of the
kind. It would seem that their use was limited to making rugs and
covering utensils.** Sewing is not explicitly referred to, but the
needle is; and in spite of an assertion to the contrary made by the
Chinese author of the Shan-hai-ching (written in the fourth century
A.D.) there is no valid reason to doubt that the process of sewing
was familiar.

*B. H. Chamberlain.

**In China the case was different. There, garments made of skins or
covered with feathers were worn in remote antiquity before the art of
weaving had become known. The Records recount that in the age of the
Kami "there came" (to Japan) "riding on the crest of the waves, a
kami dressed in skins of geese," and this passage has been quoted as
showing that skins were used for garments in Japan. But it is pointed
out by Japanese commentators that this Kami Sukuna-bikona is
explicitly stated to have come from a foreign country, and that if
the passage warrants any inference, it is that the visitor's place of
departure had been China.

As to the form of the garments worn, the principal were the hakama
and the koromo. The hakama was a species of divided skirt, used by
men and women alike. It has preserved its shape from age to age, and
is to-day worn by school-girls throughout Japan. The koromo was a
tunic having tight sleeves reaching nearly to the knees. It was
folded across the breast from right to left and secured by a belt of
cloth or silk tied round the loins. Veils also were used by both
sexes, one kind (the katsugi) having been voluminous enough to cover
the whole body. "Combs are mentioned, and it is evident that much
attention was devoted to the dressing of the hair."* Men divided
theirs in the middle and bound it up in two bunches, one over each
ear. Youths tied theirs into a top-knot; girls wore their locks
hanging down the back but bound together at the neck, and married
ladies "dressed theirs after a fashion which apparently combined the
last two methods." Decoration of the head was carried far on
ceremonial occasions, gems, veils, and even coronets being used for
the purpose. "There is no mention in any of the old books of cutting
the hair or beard except in token of disgrace; neither do we gather
that the sexes, but for this matter of head-dress, were distinguished
by a diversity of apparel or ornamentation."*

*B. H. Chamberlain.


Rice was the great staple of diet in ancient, as it is in modern,
times. The importance attaching to it is shown by the fact that the
Sun goddess herself is represented as engaging in its cultivation and
that injuring a rice-field was among the greatest offences. Barley,
millet, wheat, and beans are mentioned, but the evidence that they
were grown largely in remote antiquity is not conclusive. The flesh
of animals and birds was eaten, venison and wild boar being
particularly esteemed. Indeed, so extensively was the hunting of deer
practised that bows and arrows were often called kago-yumi and
kago-ya (kago signifies "deer"). Fish, however, constituted a much
more important staple of diet than flesh, and fishing in the
abundantly stocked seas that surround the Japanese islands was
largely engaged in. Horses and cattle were not killed for food. It is
recorded in the Kogo-shui that the butchering of oxen to furnish meat
for workers in a rice-field roused the resentment of a Kami called
Mitoshi. There does not appear to have been any religious or
superstitious scruple connected with this abstention: the animals
were spared simply because of their usefulness. Vegetables occupied a
large space in the list of articles of food. There were the radish,
the cabbage, the lotus, the melon, and the wild garlic, as well as as
several kinds of seaweed. Salt was used for seasoning, the process of
its manufacture having been familiar from the earliest times. Only
one kind of intoxicating liquor was ever known in Japan until the
opening of intercourse with the Occident. It was a kind of beer
brewed* from rice and called sake. The process is said to have been
taught by Sukuna, who, as shown above, came to Japan from a foreign
country--probably China--when the Kami, Okuni-nushi, was establishing
order in the Japanese islands.

*The term for "brew" being kamu or kamosu, the former of which is
homonymous with the equivalent for "to chew," some commentators have
supposed that sake was manufactured in early times by grinding rice
with the teeth. This is at once disproved by the term for "yeast,"
namely, kabi-tachi (fermenting).


From time immemorial there were among the officials at the Imperial
Court men called kashiwa-de, or oak-leaf hands. They had charge of
the food and drink, and their appellation was derived from the fact
that rice and other edibles were usually served on oak leaves.
Earthenware utensils were used, but their surface, not being glazed,
was not allowed to come into direct contact with the viands placed on
them. In this practice another example is seen of the love of
cleanliness that has always characterized and distinguished the
Japanese nation. Edibles having been thus served, the vessels
containing them were ranged on a table, one for each person, and
chop-sticks were used. Everything was cooked, with the exception of
certain vegetables and a few varieties of fish. Friction of wood upon
wood provided fire, a fact attested by the name of the tree chiefly
used for the purpose, hi-no-ki, or fire-tree. To this day the same
method of obtaining a spark is practised at the principal religious
ceremonials. Striking metal upon stone was another device for the
same purpose, and there is no record in Japan, as there is in China,
of any age when food was not cooked. Various vessels of unglazed
pottery are mentioned in the Records, as bowls, plates, jars,
and wine-holders, the last being often made of metal. These
were all included in the term suemono, which may be translated


It has already been stated that archaeological research shows the
Yamato race to have been in possession of iron swords and spears, as
well as metal armour and shields, from a very early period, probably
the date of these colonists' first coming to Japan. They also used
saddles, stirrups, bridles, and bits for horses, so that a Yamato
warrior in full mail and with complete equipment was perhaps as
formidable a fighting man as any contemporary nation could produce.
Bows and arrows were also in use. The latter, tipped with iron or
stone and feathered, were carried in a quiver. The swords employed by
men were originally double-edged. Their names* show that they were
used alike for cutting and thrusting, and that they varied in length
from ten "hands" to five. There was also a small single-edged sword**
carried by women and fastened inside the robe. The value attached to
the sword is attested by numerous appellations given to blades of
special quality. In later times the two-edged sword virtually fell
out of use, being replaced by the single-edged.

*Tsurugi (to pierce) and tachi (to cut).

**This was originally called himo-kala-ha, which literally means
"cord single edge." subsequently kala-ha became katana, by which term
all Japanese swords are now known.

Sometimes a spear was decorated with gems. It is curious that gems
should have been profusely used for personal adornment in ancient
times by people who subsequently eschewed the custom well-nigh
altogether, as the Japanese did. The subject has already been
referred to in the archaeological section, but it may be added here
that there were guilds of gem-makers (Tama-tsukuri-be) in several
provinces, and that, apart from imported minerals, the materials with
which they worked were coral, quartz, amber, gold, silver, and
certain pebbles found in Izumo.


It appears that when the Yamato immigrants reached Japan, the coast
lands were overgrown with reeds and the greater part of the island
was covered with primeval forests. Fabulous accounts are given of
monster trees. Thus, in the Tsukushi Fudoki we read of an oak in
Chikugo which towered to a height of 9700 feet, its branches shading
the peaks of Hizen in the morning and the mountains of Higo in the
evening. The Konjaku Monogatari tells of another oak with a stem
measuring 3000 feet in circumference and casting its shadow over
Tamba at dawn and on Ise at sunset. In the Fudoki of other provinces
reference is made to forest giants in Harima, Bungo, Hitachi, etc.,
and when full allowance has been made for the exaggerations of
tradition, there remains enough to indicate that the aboriginal
inhabitants did not attempt any work of reclamation.

Over regions measuring scores of miles perpetual darkness reigned,
and large districts were often submerged by the overflow of rivers.
There is no mention, however, of a deluge, and Professor Chamberlain
has called attention to the remarkable fact that a so-called "Altaic
myth" finds no place in the traditions of "the oldest of the
undoubtedly Altaic nations."

The annals are eloquent in their accounts of the peopling of the
forests by wild and fierce animals and the infesting of the vallies
by noxious reptiles. The Nihongi, several of the Fudoki, the Konjaku
Monogatari, etc., speak of an eight-headed snake in Izumo, of a
horned serpent in Hitachi, and of big snakes in Yamato, Mimasaka,
Bungo, and other provinces; while the Nihon Bummei Shiryaku tells of
wolves, bears, monkeys, monster centipedes, whales, etc., in Harima,
Hida, Izumo, Oki, Tajima, and Kaga. In some cases these gigantic
serpents were probably bandit chiefs transfigured into reptiles by
tradition, but of the broad fact that the country was, for the most
part, in a state of natural wilderness there can be little doubt.

Under the sway of the Yamato, however, a great change was gradually
effected. Frequent allusions are made to the encouragement of
agriculture and even its direct pursuit by the Kami. The Sun goddess
is represented as having obtained seeds of the five cereals from the
female Kami, Ukemochi,* and as having appointed a village chief to
superintend their culture. She had three regions of her own specially
devoted to rice growing, and her unruly brother, Susanoo, had a
similar number, but the latter proved barren. The same goddess
inaugurated sericulture, and entrusted the care of it to a princess,
who caused mulberry trees to be planted and was able to present silk
fabrics to Amaterasu. In the reign of Jimmu, hemp is said to have
been cultivated, and Susanoo, after his reformation, became the
guardian of forests, one of his functions being to fix the uses of
the various trees, as pine and hinoki (ground-cypress) for house
building, maki (podocarpus Chinensis) for coffin making, and
camphor-wood for constructing boats. He also planted various kinds of
fruit-trees. Thenceforth successive sovereigns encouraged
agriculture, so that the face of the country was materially changed.

*The Sun goddess, Amaterasu, and the goddess of Food (Ukemochi no
Kami) are the two deities now worshipped at the great shrine of Ise.

In the matter of farming implements, however, neither archaeology nor
history indicates anything more than iron spades, wooden hoes shod
with bronze or iron, hand-ploughs, and axes. As to manufacturing
industries, there were spinners and weavers of cotton and silk,
makers of kitchen utensils, polishers of gems, workers in gold,
silver, copper, and iron, forgers of arms and armour, potters of
ornamental vessels, and dressers of leather. In later eras the
persons skilled in these various enterprises formed themselves into
guilds (be), each of which carried on its own industry from
generation to generation.

The fact that there must have been an exchange of goods between these
various groups is almost the only indication furnished by the annals
as to trade or commerce. In the name of a daughter of Susa (Princess
Kamu-o-ichi) we find a suggestion that markets (ichi) existed, and
according to the Wei Records (A.D. 211-265) there were, at that time,
"in each province of Japan markets where the people exchanged their
superfluous produce for articles of which they were in need." But
Japanese history is silent on this subject.

About the be, however, a great deal is heard. It may be described as
a corporated association having for purpose the securing of
efficiency by specialization. Its members seem to have been at the
outset men who independently pursued some branch of industry. These
being ultimately formed into a guild, carried on the same pursuit
from generation to generation under a chief officially appointed.
"Potters, makers of stone coffins, of shields, of arrows, of swords,
of mirrors, saddlers, painters, weavers, seamstresses, local
recorders, scribes, farmers, fleshers, horse-keepers, bird-feeders,
the mibu who provided wet-nurses for Imperial princes, palace
attendants, and reciters (katari) were organized into be under
special chiefs who were probably responsible for their efficient
services. It would appear, however, that 'chief of be' was sometimes
a title bestowed for exceptional service and that it was occasionally


Be were also organized for the purpose of commemorating a name quite
irrespective of industrial pursuits. "The religious be were for
general or special purposes. For instance, there was a be of
sun-worshippers, while the Imibe, a body of abstainers, were obliged
to avoid ritual contamination or impurity. They carried out a
technique of spiritual aseptics, both in their persons and through
the utensils which they employed, much as a modern surgeon guards
against infection of his patient. Thus they were prepared to perform
sacred functions."*



No information is obtainable as to the nature of the boats used in
very early times, but it may reasonably be inferred that the Yamato
and other immigrant races possessed craft of some capacity. Several
names of boats are incidentally mentioned. They evidently refer to
the speed of the craft--as bird-boat (tori-fune), pigeon-boat
(hato-fune)--or to the material employed, as "rock-camphor boat"
(iwa-kusu-bune). "The presence of neolithic remains on the islands
around Japan proves that the boats of the primitive people were large
enough to traverse fifty miles, or more, of open sea."* Only one
distinct reference to sailing occurs, however, in the ancient annals.
On the occasion of the alleged expedition to Korea (A.D. 200) under
the Empress Jingo, the Chronicles say, "Sail was set from the harbour
of Wani." At a date nearly three centuries earlier, there appears to
have been a marked deficiency of coasting vessels, for the Chronicles
quote an Imperial decree issued B.C. 81, which says: "Ships are of
cardinal importance to the Empire. At present the people of the
coast, not having ships, suffer grievously by land transport.
Therefore let every province be caused to have ships built;"* and it
is related that, a few months later, the building of ships was begun.
Again, in A.D. 274, a vessel (the Karano) one hundred feet in length,
was constructed in the province of Izu, and twenty-six years later,
according to the Chronicles, the Emperor issued this order: "The
Government ship named Karano was sent as tribute by the Lord of Izu.
It is rotten and unfit for use. It has, however, been in the
Government use for a long time, and its services should not be
forgotten. Shall we not keep the name of that ship from being lost
and hand it down to after ages?" The Karano was then broken and her
timbers being employed as firewood for roasting salt, the latter was
given to the various provinces, which, in return, were caused to
build ships for the State, the result being a fleet of five hundred

*Aston's Nihongi.

It would seem that there was always an abundance of fishing-boats,
for fishing by traps, hooks, and nets was industriously carried on. A
passage in the Records speaks of a thousand-fathom rope of
paper-mulberry which was used to draw the net in perch fishing.
Spearing was also practised by fishermen, and in the rivers
cormorants were used just as they are to-day.


It does not appear that the marriage tie possessed any grave
significance in ancient Japan, or that any wedding ceremony was
performed; unless, indeed, the three circuits made by Izanagi and
Izanami prior to cohabitation round a "heavenly august pillar" be
interpreted as the circumambulatory rite observed in certain
primitive societies. Pouring water over a bride seems, however, to
have been practised and is still customary in some provinces, though
as to its antiquity nothing can be said. An exchange of presents is
the only fact made clear by the annals. There did not exist in Japan,
as in China, a veto on marriages between people of the same tribe,
but this difference does not signify any reproach to Japan: the
interdict was purely political in China's case, and corresponding
conditions did not exist in Japan.

On the other hand, the Japanese system permitted a degree of licence
which in the Occident is called incest: brothers and sisters might
intermarry provided that they had not been brought up together. To
understand this condition it is necessary to observe that a bride
generally continued to live in her family dwelling where she received
her husband's visits, and since there was nothing to prevent a
husband from contracting many such alliances, it was possible for him
to have several groups of children, the members of each group being
altogether unknown to the members of all the rest. In a later, but
not definitely ascertained era, it became customary for a husband to
take his wife to his own home, and thereafter the veto upon such
unions soon became imperative, so that a Prince Imperial in the fifth
century who cohabited with his sister forfeited the succession and
had to commit suicide, his conduct being described in the Chronicles
as "a barbarous outrage."

In all eras sisters might marry the same man, and polygamy was
common. A Chinese book, compiled in the early years of the Christian
epoch, speaks of women being so numerous in Japan that nobles had
four or five wives and commoners two or three. Of course, the reason
assigned for this custom is incorrect: not plenitude of females but
desire of abundant progeny was primarily the cause. It is notable
that although the line between nobles and commoners was strictly
drawn and rigidly observed, it did not extend to marriage in one
sense: a nobleman could always take a wife or a concubine from the
family of an inferior. In fact, orders were commonly issued to this
or that province to furnish so many ladies-in-waiting (uneme)--a term
having deeper significance than it suggests--and several instances
are recorded of sovereigns summoning to court girls famed for beauty.
That no distinction was made between wives and concubines has been
alleged, but is not confirmed by the annals. Differentiation by rank
appears to have been always practised, and the offspring was
certainly thus distinguished.


A child in ancient Japan was born under considerable difficulties:
its mother had to segregate herself in a parturition hut (ubuya),
whence even light was excluded and where she was cut off from all
attendance. This strange custom was an outcome of the Shinto canon of
purity. Soon after birth, a child received from its mother a name
generally containing some appropriate personal reference. In the
most ancient times each person (so far as we can judge) bore one
name, or rather one string of words compounded together into a sort
of personal designation. But already at the dawn of the historical
epoch we are met by the mention of surnames and of "gentile names
bestowed by the sovereign as a recompense for some noteworthy deed."*
These names constantly occur. The principal of them are suzerain
(atae), departmental suzerain (agata-no-atae), departmental lord
(agata-no-nushi), Court noble (ason), territorial lord (inaki), lord
(iratsuko), lady (iratsume), duke (kimi), ruler (miyatsuko), chief
(muraji), grandee (omi), noble (sukune), and lord (wake). In the case
of the Emperors there are also canonical names, which were applied at
a comparatively late date in imitation of Chinese usages, and which
may be said to have completely replaced the names borne during life.
Thus, the Emperor known to posterity as Jimmu was called Iware in
life, the Emperor named Homuda while he sat on the throne is now
designated Ojin, and the Emperor who ruled as Osazaki is remembered
as Nintoku. In the Imperial family, and doubtless in the households
of the nobility, wet-nurses were employed, if necessary, as also were
bathing-women, washing-women, and rice-chewers.**

*B.H. Chamberlain.

**"Rice, which is mainly carbohydrate, is transformed into grape-sugar
by the action of the saliva. This practice is still common in China
and used to be so in Japan where it is now rarely met with. It was
employed only until dentition was complete." (Munro.)

"To what we should call education, whether mental or physical, there
is absolutely no reference made in the histories. All that can be
inferred is that, when old enough to do so; the boys began to follow
one of the callings of hunter or fisherman, while the girls stayed at
home weaving the garments of the family. There was a great deal of
fighting, generally of a treacherous kind, in the intervals of which
the warriors occupied themselves in cultivating patches of ground."*

*B.H. Chamberlain.


Burial rites were important ceremonials. The house hitherto tenanted
by the deceased was abandoned--a custom exemplified in the removal of
the capital to a new site at the commencement of each reign--and the
body was transferred to a specially erected mourning-hut draped
inside with fine, white cloth. The relatives and friends then
assembled, and for several days performed a ceremony which resembled
an Irish wake, food and sake being offered to the spirit of the dead,
prayers put up, and the intervals devoted to weird singing and solemn
dancing. Wooden coffins appear to have been used until the beginning
of the Christian era, when stone is said to have come into vogue.

At the obsequies of nobles there was considerable organization. Men
(mike-hito) were duly told off to take charge of the offerings of
food and liquor; others (kisari-mochi) were appointed to carry the
viands; others (hahaki-mochi) carried brooms to sweep the cemetery;
there were females (usu-me) who pounded rice, and females (naki-me)
who sung dirges interspersed with eulogies of the deceased. The
Records mention that at the burial of Prince Waka a number of birds
were used instead of these female threnodists. It appears, further,
that those following a funeral walked round the coffin waving
blue-and-red banners, carrying lighted torches, and playing music.

In the sepulchres the arms, utensils, and ornaments used daily by the
deceased were interred, and it was customary to bury alive around the
tombs of Imperial personages and great nobles a number of the
deceased's principal retainers. The latter inhuman habit was
nominally abandoned at the close of the last century before Christ,
images of baked clay being substituted for human sacrifices, but the
spirit which informed the habit survived, and even down to modern
times there were instances of men and women committing suicide for
the purpose of rejoining the deceased beyond the grave. As to the
nature of the tombs raised over the dead, the main facts have been
stated in Chapter VI.


The habit of blackening the teeth has long prevailed among married
women in Japan, but the Yamato tombs have thus far furnished only one
example of the practice, and no mention occurs in the ancient annals.
Face painting, however, would seem to have been indulged in by both
sexes. Several of the pottery images (haniwa) taken from the tombs
indicate that red pigment was freely and invariably used for that
purpose. It was applied in broad streaks or large patches, the former
encircling the face or forming bands across it; the latter, covering
the eyes or triangulating the cheeks. It is probable that this
bizarre decoration was used only on ceremonial occasions and that it
appears in a greatly accentuated form on the haniwa.


As to amusements in prehistoric times little information is
furnished. Hunting the boar and the stag was the principal pastime,
and hawking is described as having been practised in the fourth
century of the Christian era. Music and dancing seem to have been in
vogue from time immemorial, but there is nothing to tell what kind of
musical instruments were in the hands of the early Yamato. The koto,
a kind of horizontal lute, and the flute are spoken of in the
Chronicles, but the date of their introduction is not indicated.
Wrestling, cockfighting (with metal spurs), picnics, a kind of
drafts, gambling with dice, and football are all referred to, and
were probably indulged in from a very early date.


The institution of slavery existed among the Yamato. It will be
presently spoken of.


There is evidence to show that in the prehistoric age a high position
was accorded to women and that their rights received large
recognition. The facts that the first place in the Japanese pantheon
was assigned to a goddess; that the throne was frequently occupied by
Empresses; that females were chiefs of tribes and led armies on
campaign; that jealous wives turned their backs upon faithless
husbands; that mothers chose names for their children and often had
complete charge of their upbringing--all these things go to show that
the self-effacing rank taken by Japanese women in later ages was a
radical departure from the original canon of society. It is not to be
inferred, however, that fidelity to the nuptial tie imposed any check
on extra-marital relations in the case of men: it had no such effect.






IT is held by eminent Japanese historians that the Emperor Jimmu,
when he set out for Yamato, did not contemplate an armed campaign but
merely intended to change his capital from the extreme south to the
centre of the country. This theory is based on the words of the
address he made to his elder brothers and his sons when inviting them
to accompany him on the expedition "Why should we not proceed to
Yamato and make it the capital?"--and on the fact that, on arriving
in the Kibi district, namely, the region now divided into the three
provinces of Bizen, Bitchu, and Bingo, he made a stay of three years
for the purpose of amassing an army and provisioning it, the
perception that he would have to fight having been realized for the
first time. Subsequently he encountered strongest resistance at the
hands of Prince Nagasune, whose title of Hiko (Child of the Sun)
showed that he belonged to the Yamato race, and who exercised
military control under the authority of Nigihayahi, elder brother of
Jimmu's father. This Nigihayahi had been despatched from the
continental realm of the Yamato--wherever that may have been--at a
date prior to the despatch of his younger brother, Ninigi, for the
purpose of subjugating the "land of fair rice-ears and fertile reed
plains," but of the incidents of his expedition history takes no
notice: it merely shows him as ruling in Yamato at the time of
Jimmu's arrival there, and describes how Nigihayahi, having been
convinced by a comparison of weapons of war that Jimmu was of his own
lineage, surrendered the authority to him and caused, Prince Nagasune
to be put to death.

From a chronological point of view it is difficult to imagine the
co-existence of Jimmu and his great-granduncle, but the story may
perhaps be accepted in so far as it confirms the tradition that, in
prosecuting his Yamato campaign, Jimmu received the submission of
several chieftains (Kami) belonging to the same race as himself.
Reference to these facts is essential to an understanding of the
class distinctions found in the Japanese social system. All the
chieftains who led the expedition from Kyushu were subsequently
designated Tenshin--a term which may be conveniently rendered "Kami
of the descent"--and all those who, like Nigihayahi, had previously
been in occupation of the country, were styled kum-tsu-Kami,
or "territorial Kami." Another method of distinguishing was
to include the former in the Kwobetsu and the latter in the
Shimbetsu--distinctions which will be more fully explained
hereafter--and after apotheosis the members of these two classes
became respectively "deities of heaven" and "deities of earth," a
distinction possessing historical rather than qualificatory force.

As for subdivisions, the head of a Kwobetsu family had the title of
omi (grandee) and the head of a Shimbetsu family that of muraji
(chief). Thus, the organization of the State depended primarily on
the principle of ancestor worship. The sceptre descended by divine
right without any regard to its holder's competence, while the
administrative posts were filled by men of the same race with a
similar hereditary title. Aliens like the Yezo, the Tsuchi-gumo, and
the Kumaso were either exterminated or made slaves (nuhi).


As to the term "Yamato," it appears that, in the earliest times, the
whole country now called Japan was known as Yamato, and that
subsequently the designation became restricted to the province which
became the seat of government. The Chinese, when they first took
cognizance of the islands lying on their east, seem to have applied
the name Wado--pronounced "Yamato" by the Japanese--to the tribes
inhabiting the western shores of Japan, namely, the Kumaso or the
Tsuchi-gumo, and in writing the word they used ideographs conveying a
sense of contempt. The Japanese, not unnaturally, changed these
ideographs to others having the same sounds but signifying "great
peace." At a later time the Chinese or the Koreans began to designate
these eastern islands, Jih-pen, or "Sunrise Island," a term which, in
the fifteenth century, was perverted by the Dutch into Japan.


In attempting to construct coherent annals out of the somewhat
fragmentary Japanese histories of remote ages, the student is
immediately confronted by chronological difficulties. Apart from the
broad fact that the average age of the first seventeen Emperors from
Jimmu downwards is 109 years, while the average age of the next
seventeen is only sixty-one and a half years, there are
irreconcilable discrepancies in some of the dates themselves. Thus,
according to the Records, the eighth Emperor, Kogen, died at
fifty-seven, but according to the Chronicles he ascended the throne
at fifty-nine and reigned fifty-six years. Again, whereas the ninth
sovereign, Kaikwa, is by the Records given a life of only sixty-three
years, the Chronicles make him assume the sceptre at fifty-one and
wield it for fifty-nine years. Such conflicts of evidence are fatal
to confidence. Nor do they disappear wholly until the beginning of
the fifth century, at which time, moreover, the incidents of Japanese
history receive their first confirmation from the history of China
and Korea.

It is therefore not extravagant to conclude that the first ten and a
half centuries covered by Japanese annals must be regarded as
prehistoric. On the other hand, the incidents attributed to this long
interval are not by any means of such a nature as to suggest
deliberate fabrication. An annalist who was also a courtier, applying
himself to construct the story of his sovereign's ancestors, would
naturally be disposed to embellish his pages with narratives of great
exploits and brilliant achievements. Neither the Records nor the
Chronicles can be said to display such a propensity in any marked
degree. The Chronicles do, indeed, draw upon the resources of Chinese
history to construct ethical codes and scholarly diction for their
Imperial figures, but the Records show no traces of adventitious
colour nor make an attempt to minimize the evil and magnify the good.

Thus, while it is evident that to consolidate Jimmu's conquest and to
establish order among the heterogeneous elements of his empire he
must have been followed by rulers of character and prowess, the
annals show nothing of the kind. On the contrary, the reigns of his
eight immediate successors are barren of all striking incident. The
closing chapter of Jimmu himself is devoted chiefly to his amours,
and the opening page in the life of his immediate successor, Suisei,
shows that the latter reached the throne by assassinating his elder
brother. For the rest, the annals of the eight sovereigns who reigned
during the interval between 561 and 98 B.C. recount mainly the
polygamous habits of these rulers and give long genealogies of the
noble families founded by their offspring--a dearth of romance which
bears strong witness to the self-restraint of the compilers. We learn
incidentally that on his accession each sovereign changed the site of
his palace, seldom passing, however, beyond the limits of the
province of Yamato, and we learn, also, that the principle of
primogeniture, though generally observed, was often violated.


A Japanese tradition assigns to the seventy-second year of the reign
of Korei the advent of a Chinese Taoist, by name Hsu Fuh. Korei,
seventh in descent from Jimmu, held the sceptre from 290 to 215 B.C.,
and the seventy-second year of his reign fell, therefore, in 219 B.C.
Now, to the east of the town of Shingu in Kii province, at a place on
the seashore in the vicinity of the site of an ancient castle, there
stands a tomb bearing the inscription "Grave of Hsu Fuh from China,"
and near it are seven tumuli said to be the burial-places of Hsu's
companions. Chinese history states that Hsu Fuh was a learned man who
served the first Emperor of the Chin dynasty (255-206 B.C.), and that
he obtained his sovereign's permission to sail to the islands of the
east in search of the elixir of life. Setting out from Yentai (the
present Chefoo) in his native province of Shantung, Hsu landed at
Kumano in the Kii promontory, and failing to find the elixir,
preferred to pass his life in Japan rather than to return
unsuccessful to the Court of the tyranical Chin sovereign, burner of
the books and builder of the Great Wall. A poem composed in the Sung
dynasty (A.D. 960-1280) says that when Hsu Fuh set out, the books had
not been burned, and that a hundred volumes thus survived in his
keeping. Of course, the date assigned by Japanese tradition to the
coming of Hsu may have been adapted to Chinese history, and it
therefore furnishes no evidence as to the accuracy of the Chronicles'
chronology. But the existence of the tomb may be regarded as proving
that some communication took place between China and Japan at that
remote epoch.*

*The route taken by Hsu Fuh namely, from Chefoo down the China Sea
and round the south of Japan is difficult to understand.


The reign of this sovereign (97-30 B.C.) is the first eventful period
since the death of Jimmu. It is memorable for the reorganization of
religious rites; for the extension of the effective sway of the
Throne, and for the encouragement of agriculture. When the first
Emperor installed the sacred insignia in the palace where he himself
dwelt, the instinct of filial piety and the principle of ancestor
worship were scarcely distinguishable. But as time passed and as the
age of the Kami became more remote, a feeling of awe began to pervade
the rites more strongly than a sense of family affection, and the
idea of residing and worshipping in the same place assumed a
character of sacrilege. This may have been directly suggested by a
pestilence which, decimating the nation, was interpreted as implying
the need of greater purity. A replica of the sacred mirror was
manufactured, and the grandson of the great worker in metal
Mahitotsu, the "One-eyed" was ordered to forge an imitation of the
sacred sword. These imitations, together with the sacred jewel, were
kept in the palace, but the originals were transferred to Kasanui in
Yamato, where a shrine for the worship of the Sun goddess had been
built. But though the pestilence was stayed, it brought an aftermath
of lawlessness and produced much unrest in the regions remote from
Yamato. Sujin therefore organized a great military movement, the
campaign of the Shido shogun, or "Generalissimo of the four

*The term "do" indicates a group of provinces.

The leaders chosen for this task were all members of the Imperial
family--a great-uncle, an uncle, a younger brother, and a first
cousin of the Emperor--and the fields of operation assigned to them
were: first, to the west along the northern shore of the Inland Sea;
secondly, to the northwest into Tamba, Tango, and Tajima; thirdly, to
the north along the sea of Japan, and finally to the east along the
route now known as the Tokaido. No attempt is made by the writers of
either the Records or the Chronicles to describe the preparations for
this extensive campaign. Tradition seems to have preserved the bare
fact only.

One interesting interlude is described, however. Before the first
body of troops had passed beyond range of easy communication with
Mizugaki in Yamato, where the Court resided, the prince in command
heard a girl singing by the wayside, and the burden of her song
seemed to imply that, while foes at home menaced the capital, foes
abroad should not be attacked. The prince, halting his forces,
returned to Mizugaki to take counsel, and the Emperor's aunt
interpreted the song to signify that his Majesty's half-brother,
Haniyasu, who governed the adjacent province of Yamato, was plotting
treason. Then all the troops having been recalled, preparations to
guard the capital were made, and soon afterwards, news came that
Haniyasu, at the head of an army, was advancing from the direction of
Yamashiro, while his wife, Ata, was leading another force from Osaka,
the plan being to unite the two armies for the attack on Yamato. The
Emperor's generals at once assumed the offensive. They moved first
against Princess Ata, killed her and exterminated her forces; after
which they dealt similarly with Haniyasu. This chapter of history
illustrates the important part taken by women in affairs of State at
that epoch, and incidentally confirms the fact that armour was worn
by men in battle.

The four Imperial generals were now able to resume their temporarily
interrupted campaigns. According to the Chronicles they completed the
tasks assigned to them and returned to the capital within six months.
But such chronology cannot be reconciled with facts. For it is
related that the generals sent northward by the western seaboard and
the eastern seaboard, respectively, came together at Aizu,* one
reaching that place via Hitachi, the other via Echigo. Thus, it would
result that Yamato armies at that remote epoch marched hundreds of
miles through country in the face of an enemy within a few months.
Further, to bring the aboriginal tribes into subjugation, an isolated
campaign would have been quite inadequate. Some kind of permanent
control was essential, and there is collateral evidence that the
descendants of the four princely generals, during many generations,
occupied the position of provincial magnates and exercised virtually
despotic sway within the localities under their jurisdiction. Thus in
the provinces of Omi, of Suruga, of Mutsu, of Iwashiro, of Iwaki, of
Echigo, of Etchu, of Echizen, of Bizen, of Bitchu, of Bingo, of
Harima, of Tamba, and elsewhere, there are found in later ages noble
families all tracing their descent to one or another of the Shido
shoguns despatched on the task of pacifying the country in the days
of the Emperor Sujin. The genealogies which fill pages of the Records
from the days of Jimmu downwards point clearly to the growth of a
powerful feudal aristocracy, for the younger sons born to successive
sovereigns bear, for the most part, names indicative of territorial
lordship; but it seems justifiable to conclude that the first great
impetus to that kind of decentralization was given by Sujin's
despatch of the Shido shoguns.

*Hence the term "Aizu," form, signifies "to meet."


The digging of reservoirs and tunnels for irrigating rice-fields
received unprecedented attention in the reign of this Emperor, and
mention is for the first time made of taxes--tributes of "bow-notches
and of finger-tips," in other words, the produce of the chase and the
products of the loom. A census was taken for taxation purposes, but
unhappily the results are nowhere recorded. The Court gave itself
some concern about maritime transport also. A rescript ordered that
ships should be built by every province, but nothing is stated as to
their dimensions or nature. In this rescript it is mentioned that
"the people of the coast not having ships, suffer grievously by land
transport." What they suffered may be inferred from a description in
the Chronicles where we read that at the building of the tomb of a
princess, "the people, standing close to each other, passed the
stones from hand to hand, and thus transported them from Osaka to


Korea, when Japanese history is first explicitly concerned with it,
was peopled by a number of semi-independent tribes, and the part of
the peninsula lying southward of the Han River--that is to say,
southward of the present Seoul--comprised three kingdoms. Of these
Ma-Han occupied the whole of the western half of the peninsula along
the coast of the Yellow Sea; while Sin-Han and Pyong-Han formed the
eastern half, lying along the shore of the Sea of Japan. The three
were collectively spoken of as Sam-Han (the three Han). But Japan's
relations with the peninsula did not always involve these major
divisions. Her annals speak of Shiragi (or Sinra), Kara, Kudara, and
Koma. Shiragi and Kara were principalities carved respectively out of
the southeast and south of Pyong-Han. Thus, they lay nearest to
Japan, the Korea Strait alone intervening, and the Korea Strait was
almost bridged by islands. Kudara constituted the modern Seoul and
its vicinity; Koma, (called also Korai and in Korea, Kokuli), the
modern Pyong-yang and its district. These two places were rendered
specially accessible by the rivers Han and Tadong which flowed
through them to the Yellow Sea; but of course in this respect they
could not compare with Shiragi (Sinra) and Kara, of which latter
place the Japanese usually spoke as Mimana.

There can scarcely be any doubt that the Korean peninsula was largely
permeated with Chinese influences from a very early date, but the
processes which produced that result need not be detailed here. It
has been also shown above that, in the era prior to Jimmu,
indications are found of intercourse between Japan and Korea, and
even that Susanoo and his son held sway in Shiragi. But the first
direct reference made by Japanese annals to Korea occurs in the reign
of Sujin, 33 B.C. when an envoy from Kara arrived at the Mizugaki
Court, praying that a Japanese general might be sent to compose a
quarrel which had long raged between Kara and Shiragi, and to take
the former under Japan's protection. It appears that this envoy had
travelled by a very circuitous route. He originally made the port of
Anato (modern Nagato), but Prince Itsutsu, who ruled there, claimed
to be the sole monarch of Japan and refused to allow the envoy to
proceed, so that the latter had to travel north and enter Japan via
Kehi-no-ura (now Tsuruga.)

Incidentally this narrative corroborates a statement made in Chinese
history (compiled in the Later Han era, A.D. 25-220) to the effect
that many Japanese provinces claimed to be under hereditary rulers
who exercised sovereign rights. Such, doubtless, was the attitude
assumed by several of the Imperial descendants who had obtained
provincial estates. The Emperor Sujin received the envoy courteously
and seemed disposed to grant his request, but his Majesty's death (30
B.C.) intervened, and not until two years later was the envoy able to
return. His mission had proved abortive, but the Emperor Suinin,
Sujin's successor, gave him some red-silk fabrics to carry home and
conferred on his country the name Mimana, in memory of Sujin, whose
appellation during life had been Mimaki.

These details furnish an index to the relations that existed in that
era between the neighbouring states of the Far East. The special
interest of the incident lies, however, in the fact that it furnishes
the first opportunity of comparing Japanese history with Korean. The
latter has two claims to credence. The first is that it assigns no
incredible ages to the sovereigns whose reigns it records. According
to Japanese annals there were only seven accessions to the throne of
Yamato during the first four centuries of the Christian era.
According to Korean annals, the three peninsular principalities had
sixteen, seventeen, and sixteen accessions, respectively, in the same
interval. The second claim is that, during the same four centuries,
the histories of China and Korea agree in ten dates and differ in two
only.* On the whole, therefore, Korean annals deserve to be credited.
But whereas Japanese history represents warfare as existing between
Kara and Shiragi in 33 B.C., Korean history represents the conflict
as having broken out in A.D. 77. There is a difference of just 110
years, and the strong probability of accuracy is on the Korean side.

*For a masterly analysis of this subject see a paper on Early
Japanese History by Mr. W. G. Aston in Vol. XVI of the "Translations
of the Asiatic Society of Japan."


Suinin, second son of his predecessor, obtained the throne by a
process which frankly ignored the principle of primogeniture. For
Sujin, having an equal affection for his two sons, confessed himself
unable to choose which of them should be his successor and was
therefore guided by a comparison of their dreams, the result being
that the younger was declared Prince Imperial, and the elder became
duke of the provinces of Kamitsuke (now Kotsuke) and Shimotsuke.
Suinin, like all the monarchs of that age, had many consorts: nine
are catalogued in the Records and their offspring numbered sixteen,
many of whom received local titles and had estates conferred in the
provinces. In fact, this process of ramifying the Imperial family
went on continuously from reign to reign.

There are in the story of this sovereign some very pathetic elements.
Prince Saho, elder brother of the Empress, plotted to usurp the
throne. Having cajoled his sister into an admission that her brother
was dearer than her husband, he bade her prove it by killing the
Emperor in his sleep. But when an opportunity offered to perpetrate
the deed as the sovereign lay sleeping with her knees as pillow, her
heart melted, and her tears, falling on the Emperor's face, disturbed
his slumber. He sought the cause of her distress, and learning it,
sent a force to seize the rebel. Remorse drove the Empress to die
with Prince Saho. Carrying her little son, she entered the fort where
her brother with his followers had taken refuge. The Imperial troops
set fire to the fort--which is described as having been built with
rice-bags piled up--and the Empress emerged with the child in her
arms; but having thus provided for its safety, she fled again to the
fort and perished with her brother. This terrible scene appears to
have given the child such a shock that he lost the use of speech, and
the Records devote large space to describing the means employed for
the amusement of the child, the long chase and final capture of a
swan whose cry, as it flew overhead, had first moved the youth to
speech, and the cure ultimately effected by building a shrine for the
worship of the deity of Izumo, who, in a previous age, had been
compelled to abdicate the sovereignty of the country in favour of a
later descendant of the Sun goddess, and whose resentment was
thereafter often responsible for calamities overtaking the Court or
the people of Japan.


Two events specially memorable in this reign were the transfer of the
shrine of the Sun goddess to Ise, where it has remained ever since,
and the abolition of the custom of junshi, or following in death. The
latter shocking usage, a common rite of animistic religion, was in
part voluntary, in part compulsory. In its latter aspect it came
vividly under the notice of the Emperor Suinin when the tomb of his
younger brother, Yamato, having been built within earshot of the
palace, the cries of his personal attendants, buried alive around his
grave, were heard, day and night, until death brought silence. In the
following year (A.D. 3), the Empress having died, a courtier,
Nomi-no-Sukune, advised the substitution of clay figures for the
victims hitherto sacrificed. Nominally, the practice of compulsory
junshi ceased from that date,* but voluntary junshi continued to find
occasional observance until modern times.

*Of course it is to be remembered that the dates given by Japanese
historians prior to the fifth century A.D. are very apocryphal.


The name of Nomi-no-Sukune is associated with the first mention of
wrestling in Japanese history. By the Chronicles a brief account is
given of a match between Nomi and Taema-no-Kuehaya. The latter was
represented to be so strong that he could break horns and straighten
hooks. His frequently expressed desire was to find a worthy
competitor. Nomi-no-Sukune, summoned from Izumo by the Emperor, met
Kuehaya in the lists of the palace of Tamaki and kicked him to death.
Wrestling thereafter became a national pastime, but its methods
underwent radical change, kicking being abolished altogether.


It is believed by Japanese historians that during the reign of Suinin
a local government station (chinju-fu) was established in Anra
province of Mimana, and that this station, subsequently known as
Nippon-fu, was transferred to Tsukushi (Kyushu) and named Dazai-fu
when Japan's influence in Mimana waned. The first general (shoguri)
of the chinju-fu was Prince Shihotari, and the term kishi--which in
Korea signified headman--was thenceforth incorporated into his family
name. To the members of that family in later generations was
entrusted the conduct of the Empire's foreign affairs. But it does
not appear that the Imperial Court in Yamato paid much attention to
oversea countries in early eras. Intercourse with these was
conducted, for the most part, by the local magnates who held sway in
the western regions of Japan.

It was during the reign of Suinin, if Japanese chronology be
accepted, that notices of Japan began to appear in Chinese history--a
history which justly claims to be reliable from 145 B.C. Under the
Later Han dynasty (A.D. 25-220), great progress was made in
literature and art by the people of the Middle Kingdom, and this
progress naturally extended, not only to Korea, which had been
conquered by the Chinese sovereign, Wu-Ti, in the second century
before Christ and was still partly under the rule of Chinese
governors, but also to the maritime regions of Japan, whence the
shores of Korea were almost within sight. China in those ages was
incomparably the greatest and most enlightened country in the Orient,
and it had become the custom with adjacent States to send emissaries
to her Court, bearing gifts which she handsomely requited; so that
while, from one point of view, the envoys might be regarded as
tribute-carriers, from another, the ceremony presented the character
of a mere interchange of neighbourly civilities. In Japan, again,
administrative centralization was still imperfect. Some of the local
magnates had not yet been brought fully under the sway of the Yamato
invaders, and some, as scions of the Imperial family, arrogated a
considerable measure of independence. Thus it resulted that several
of these provincial dukes--or "kings," as not a few of them were
called--maintained relations with Korea, and through her despatched
tribute missions to the Chinese Court from time to time.

In these circumstances it is not surprising to find the Chinese
historians of the first century A.D. writing: "The Wa (Japanese)
dwell southeast of Han* (Korea) on a mountainous island in midocean.
Their country is divided into more than one hundred provinces. Since
the time when Wu-Ti (140-86 B.C.) overthrew Korea, they (the
Japanese) have communicated with the Han (Korean) authorities by
means of a postal service. There are thirty-two provinces which do
so, all of which style their rulers 'kings' who are hereditary. The
sovereign of Great Wa resides in Yamato, distant 12,000 li (4000
miles) from the frontier of the province of Yolang (the modern
Pyong-yang in Korea). In the second year of Chung-yuan (A.D. 57), in
the reign of Kwang-wu, the Ito** country sent an envoy with tribute,
who styled himself Ta-fu. He came from the most western part of the
Wa country. Kwang-wu presented him with a seal and ribbon." [Aston's

*It is necessary to distinguish carefully between the Han dynasty of
China and the term "Han" as a designation of Korea.

**The ideographs composing this word were pronounced "I-to" at the
time when they were written by the Hou-Han historians, but they
subsequently received the sound of "Wo-nu" or "wa-do."

These passages have provoked much discussion, but Japanese annalists
are for the most part agreed that "Ito" should be read "I-no-na,"
which corresponds with the ancient Na-no-Agata, the present Naka-gori
in Chikuzen, an identification consistent with etymology and
supported by the fact that, in 1764, a gold seal supposed to be the
original of the one mentioned above, was dug out of the ground in
that region. In short, Na-no-Agata is identical with the ancient
Watazumi-no-Kuni, which was one of the countries of Japan's
intercourse. Further, the Yamato of the Hou-Han historians is not to
be regarded as the province of that name in central Japan, but as one
of the western districts, whether Yamato in Higo, or Yamato in
Chikugo. It has been shrewdly suggested* that the example of Korea
had much influence in inducing the local rulers in the western and
southern provinces to obtain the Chinese Court's recognition of their
administrative status, but, whatever may have been the dominant
motive, it seems certain that frequent intercourse took place between
Japan and China via Korea immediately before and after the beginning
of the Christian era. Again, that Koreans came freely to Japan and
settled there is attested by the case of a son of the King of Shiragi
who, coming to the Tajima region, took a Japanese wife and
established himself there, founding a distinguished family. The
closing episode of the Emperor Suinin's life was the despatch of
Tajima Mori, this immigrant's descendant, to the country of Tokoyo,
nominally for the purpose of obtaining orange-seeds, but probably
with the ulterior motive of exploration.

*By Dr. Ariga, an eminent Japanese authority.

The reader is already familiar with this Tokoyo-no-Kuni (Eternal
Land). We hear of it first as the home of "long-singing birds"
summoned to take part in enticing the Sun goddess from her cave. Then
it figures as the final retreat of Sukuna-hikona, the Aescalapius of
the mythological age. Then we find one of Jimmu's elder brothers
treading on the waves to reach it. Then we hear of it as the
birthplace of the billows that make Ise their bourne, and now it is
described by Tajima Mori in his death-song as the "mysterious realm
of gods and genii," so distant that ten years were needed to reach it
and return. It appears in fact to have been an epithet for China in
general, and the destination of Tajima Mori is believed to have been
Shantung, to reach which place by sea from Japan was a great feat of
navigation in those primitive days. Tajima Mori returned to find the
Emperor dead, and in despair he committed suicide.


The reclamation of land for purposes of rice cultivation went on
vigorously during Suinin's reign. More than eight hundred ponds and
aqueducts are said to have been constructed by order of the sovereign
for irrigation uses throughout the provinces. It would seem, too,
that the practice of formally consulting Court officials about
administrative problems had its origin at this time. No definite
organization for the purpose was yet created, but it became customary
to convene distinguished scions of the Imperial line and heads of
great subject-families to discuss and report upon affairs of State.
Another innovation referred to in this era was the offering of
weapons of war at the shrines. We read of as many as a thousand
swords being forged to form part of the sacred treasures at the
shrine of Ise-no-Kami, and the occasion was seized to organize a
number of hereditary corporations (be) of arm-makers and armourers.
These were placed under the control of Prince Inishiki, another of
the captains of the Imperial life-guards (mononobe-no-Obito). It is
thus evident that something more than a religious rite was involved
in these measures.


According to the Records, Keiko was ten feet two inches high, and his
shank measured four feet one inch. His nomination as Prince Imperial
was an even more arbitrary violation of the right of primogeniture
than the case of his predecessor had been, for he was chosen in
preference to his elder brother merely because, when the two youths
were casually questioned as to what they wished for, the elder said,
"a bow and arrows," and the younger, "the empire." The delusive
nature of the Nihongi's chronology in these prehistoric epochs is
exemplified in the annals of this sovereign, for he is represented as
having been in his eighty-third year when he ascended the throne,
yet, in the third year of his reign, he took a consort who bore him
thirteen children, and altogether his progeny numbered eighty sons
and daughters by seven wives. His plan of providing for these
numerous scions constituted the first systematization of a custom
which had been observed in a fitful manner by several of his
predecessors. They had given to their sons local titles and estates
but had not required them to leave the capital. Keiko, however,
appointed his sons, with three exceptions, to the position of
provincial or district viceroy, preserving their Imperial connexion
by calling them wake, or branch families. This subject will present
itself for further notice during the reign of Keiko's successor.

One of the most memorable events in this epoch was the Emperor's
military expedition in person to quell the rebellious Kumaso (q.v.)
in Kyushu. There had not been any instance of the sovereign taking
the field in person since Jimmu's time, and the importance attaching
to the insurrection is thus shown. Allowance has to be made, however,
for the fact that the territory held by these Kumaso in the south of
Kyushu was protected by a natural rampart of stupendous mountain
ranges which rendered military access arduous, and which, in after
ages, enabled a great feudatory to defy the Central Government for
centuries. In connexion with this expedition a noteworthy fact is
that female chieftains were found ruling in the provinces of Suwo and
Bingo. They were not aliens, but belonged to the Yamato race, and
their existence goes far to account for the appellation, "Queens'
Country," applied by Chinese historians to the only part of Japan
with which the people of the Middle Kingdom were familiar, namely,
Kyushu and the west-coast provinces. Keiko's reign is remarkable
chiefly for this expedition to the south, which involved a residence
of six years in Hyuga, and for the campaigns of one of the greatest
of Japan's heroes, Prince Yamato-dake. The military prowess of the
sovereign, the fighting genius of Yamato-dake, and the administrative
ability of Takenouchi-no-Sukune, the first "prime minister" mentioned
in Japanese history, combined to give signal eclat to the reign of

Arriving at this stage of the annals, we are able to perceive what an
influence was exercised on the fortunes of the country by its
topographical features. The southwestern sections of the islands are
comparatively accessible from the centre (Chogoku or Kinai), whether
by sea or by land, but the northeastern are guarded by mountain
chains which can be crossed only by arduous and easily defended
passes. It was, therefore, in these northeastern provinces that the
Yemishi maintained their independence until their strength was broken
by the splendid campaign of Yamato-dake; it was in these northeastern
provinces that the bushi, noblest product of Japanese civilization,
was nurtured; it was in the same provinces that the Taira family made
its brilliant debut, and it was by abandoning these provinces for the
sweets of Kyoto that the Taira fell; it was in the north-eastern
provinces that Minamoto Yoritomo, the father of military feudalism,
established himself, to be followed in succession by the Hojo, the
Ashikaga, and the Tokugawa, and it is in the northeastern provinces
that the Meiji Government has its seat of power.

We can not wonder, therefore, that modern historiographers have
devoted much labour to tracing the route followed by Yamato-dake's
troops and rationalizing the figurative or miraculous features of the
narratives told in the Kojiki and the Nihongi. It is enough to know,
however, that he overran the whole region stretching from the
provinces along the Eastern Sea as far as Iwaki; crossed westward
through Iwashiro to Echigo on the west coast, and turning southward,
made his way through Shinano and Mino to Owari, whence, suffering
from a wound caused by a poisoned arrow, he struggled on to Ise and
died there. This campaign seems to have occupied ten years, and
Yamato-dake was only thirty at the time of his death. He had marched
against the Kumaso in the south at the age of sixteen. The Chronicles
relate that when crossing the Usui Pass and looking down on the sea
where his loved consort had cast herself into the waves to quell
their fury, the great warrior sighed thrice and exclaimed, "My wife,
my wife, my wife!" (Ago, tsuma haya), whereafter the provinces east
of the mountain were designated Azuma.

It was imagined until quite recent times that the pass referred to
was the well-known Usui Toge on the Nakasendo road; but Dr. Kume has
shown that such a supposition is inconsistent with any rational
itinerary of Yamato-dake's march, and that the sea in question cannot
be seen from that defile. The pass mentioned in the Chronicles is
another of the same name not far from the Hakone region, and the term
"Azuma" "had always been used to designate the Eastern Provinces."
Throughout the Records and the Chronicles frequent instances occur of
attempts to derive place-names from appropriate legends, but probably
in many cases the legend was suggested by the name. In connexion with
Yamato-dake's career, a circumstance is recorded which indirectly
points to the absence of history at that period. In order to
immortalize the memory of the hero, hereditary corporations (be)
called after him were created. These Take-be gave their names to the
districts where they lived, in Ise, Izumo, Mimasaka, and Bizen.


Another custom inaugurated by this sovereign was to require that the
rulers of provinces should send to the Yamato Court female hostages.
The first example of this practice took place on the occasion of an
Imperial visit to the regions overrun by Yamato-dake's forces. Each
of twelve kuni-yatsuko (provincial rulers) was required to send one
damsel for the purpose of serving in the culinary department of the
palace. They were called makura-ko (pillow-child) and they seem to
have been ultimately drafted into the ranks of the uneme
(ladies-in-waiting). Japanese historians hold that the makura-ko were
daughters of the local magnates by whom they were sent, though the
fact of that relationship is not clearly stated in either the Records
or the Chronicles.


In the annals of Suinin's reign brief reference is made to granaries
(miyake) erected by order of the Court. The number of these was
increased in Keiko's time, and it is further mentioned that a
hereditary corporation of rice-field cultivators (tabe) were
organized for service on the Imperial estates. The miyake were at
once storehouse and offices for administering agricultural affairs.


The thirteenth Emperor, Seimu, occupied the throne for fifty-nine
years, according to the Chronicles, but the only noteworthy feature
of his reign was the organization of local government, and the
details of his system are so vaguely stated as to be incomprehensible
without much reference and some hypotheses. Speaking broadly, the
facts are these: Imperial princes who had distinguished themselves by
evidences of ability or courage were despatched to places of special
importance in the provinces, under the name of wake, a term conveying
the signification of "branch of the Imperial family." There is reason
to think that these appointments were designed to extend the prestige
of the Court rather than to facilitate the administration of
provincial affairs. The latter duty was entrusted to officials called
kuni-no-miyatsuko and agata-nushi, which may be translated
"provincial governor" and "district headman." The word miyatsuko
literally signifies "honourable (mi) servant (yatsuko or yakko)."

In the most ancient times all subjects were yakko, but subsequently
those holding office at Court were distinguished as omi (grandee).
Persons eligible for the post of provincial governor seem to have
been chosen from among men of merit, or Imperial princes, or chiefs
of aboriginal tribes. There was little exclusiveness in this respect.
The rate of expansion of the area under Imperial sway may be inferred
from the fact that whereas there were nine provinces (kuni) in
Jimmu's time, one was added by Kaikwa, eleven by Sujin, seven by
Keiko, and sixty-three by Seimu, making a total of ninety-one. Yet,
though by the time of the last named sovereign almost the whole of
the southern and central regions were included in the administrative
circle, the northern provinces, some of the western, and certain
regions in the south (Kyushu) were not yet fully wrested from the
Yemishi and the Kumaso. In subsequent reigns the rate of growth was
as follows: Chuai (A.D. 192-200), two provinces; Ojin (270-310),
twenty-one; Nintoku (313-399), seven; Hansho (406-411) and Inkyo
(412-453), one each; Yuryaku (457-459), three; Keitai (507-531), one;
and eight others at untraceable periods, the total being one hundred

The agata was a division smaller than a province (kuni). It
corresponded to the modern kori or gun, and its nearest English
equivalent is "district." A distinction must be made, however,
between agata and mi-agata. The latter were Imperial domains whence
the Court derived its resources, and their dimensions varied greatly.
A smaller administrative district than the agata was the inagi.* This
we learn from a Chinese book--the Japanese annals being silent on the
subject--consisted of eighty houses, and ten inagi constituted a
kuni. The terra inagi was also applied to the chief local official of
the region, who may be designated "Mayor."

*Supposed to be derived from ine (rice) and oki (store).

(A.D. 201--269)

Were the Records our sole guide, the early incidents of Chuai's reign
would be wrapped in obscurity. For when we first meet him in the
pages of the Kojiki, he is in a palace on the northern shores of the
Shimonoseki Strait, whence he soon crosses to the Kashii palace in
Kyushu. His predecessors, while invariably changing their residences
on mounting the throne, had always chosen a site for the new palace
in Yamato or a neighbouring province, but the Records, without any
explanation, carry Chuai to the far south after his accession. The
Chronicles are more explicit. From them we gather that Chuai--who was
the second son of Yamato-dake and is described as having been ten
feet high with "a countenance of perfect beauty"--was a remarkably
active sovereign. He commenced his reign by a progress to Tsuruga
(then called Tsunuga) on the west coast of the mainland, and, a month
later, he made an expedition to Kii on the opposite shore. While in
the latter province he received news of a revolt of the Kumaso, and
at once taking ship, he went by sea to Shimonoseki, whither he
summoned the Empress from Tsuruga. An expedition against the Kumaso
was then organized and partially carried out, but the Emperor's force
was beaten and he himself received a fatal arrow-wound. Both the
Records and the Chronicles relate that, on the eve of this disastrous
move against the Kumaso, the Empress had a revelation urging the
Emperor to turn his arms against Korea as the Kumaso were not worthy
of his steel. But Chuai rejected the advice with scorn, and the
Kojiki alleges that the outraged deities punished him with death,
though doubtless a Kumaso arrow was the instrument. His demise was
carefully concealed, and the Empress, mustering the troops, took
vengeance upon the Kumaso.

Thereafter her Majesty became the central figure in a page of
history--or romance--which has provoked more controversy than any
incident in Japanese annals. A descendant of the Korean prince,
Ama-no-Hihoko, who settled in the province of Tajima during the reign
of the Emperor Suinin, she must have possessed traditional knowledge
of Shiragi, whence her ancestor had emigrated. She was the third
consort of Chuai. His first had borne him two sons who were of adult
age when, in the second year of his reign, he married Jingo,* a lady
"intelligent, shrewd, and with a countenance of such blooming
loveliness that her father wondered at it." To this appreciation of
her character must be added the attributes of boundless ambition and
brave resourcefulness. The annals represent her as bent from the
outset on the conquest of Korea and as receiving the support and
encouragement of Takenouchi-no-Sukune, who had served her husband and
his predecessor as prime minister. A military expedition oversea led
by a sovereign in person had not been heard of since the days of
Jimmu, and to reconcile officials and troops to such an undertaking
the element of divine revelation had to be introduced. At every stage
signs and portents were vouchsafed by the guardian deities. By their
intervention the Empress was shown to be possessed of miraculous
prowess, and at their instance troops and ships assembled
spontaneously. The armada sailed under divine guidance, a gentle
spirit protecting the Empress, and a warlike spirit leading the van
of her forces. The god of the wind sent a strong breeze; the god of
the sea ruled the waves favourably; all the great fishes accompanied
the squadron, and an unprecendented tide bore the ships far inland.
Fighting became unnecessary. The King of Shiragi did homage at once
and promised tribute and allegiance forever, and the other monarchs
of the peninsula followed his example. In short, Korea was conquered
and incorporated with the dominions of Japan.

*It should be clearly understood that the names by which the
sovereigns are called in these pages, are the posthumous appellations
given to them in later times when Chinese ideographs came into use
and Chinese customs began to be followed in such matters. The
posthumous was compiled with reference to the character or
achievements of the sovereign, Thus Jingo signifies "divine merit,"
on account of her conquests; "Chuai" means "lamentable second son,"
with reference to his evil fate, and "Keiko" implies "great deeds."
These three sovereigns were called during life, Okinaga-Tarashi,
Tarashi-Nakatsu, and 0-Tarashi, respectively.


By some learned historiographers the whole of the above account is
pronounced a fiction. There was no such invasion of Korea, they say,
nor does the narrative deserve more credit than the legend of the
Argonauts or the tale of Troy. But that is probably too drastic a
view. There can indeed be little doubt that the compilers of the
Nihongi embellished the bald tradition with imaginary details; used
names which did not exist until centuries after the epoch referred
to; drew upon the resources of Chinese history for the utterances
they ascribe to the Empress and for the weapons they assign to her
soldiers, and were guilty of at least two serious anachronisms.

But none of these faults disfigures the story as told in the pages of
the Kojiki, which was written before the Nihongi. It has always to be
remembered that the compilers of the latter essayed the impossible
task of adjusting a new chronology to events extending over many
centuries, and that the resulting discrepancies of dates does not
necessarily discredit the events themselves. It has also to be
remembered that the same compilers were required to robe their facts
in Chinese costume and that the consequent ill-fits and
artificialities do not of necessity vitiate the facts. In the
particular case under consideration did the Kojiki stand alone,
little doubt would ever have been entertained about the reality of an
armed expedition to Korea, under the Empress Jingo. The sober and
unexaggerated narrative of that history would have been accepted,
less only the miraculous portents which accompany it.

As to the date of the invasion, however, it must have remained
obscure: the Kojiki's narrative furnishes one clue. According to
Korean history, an apparently unimportant descent upon Sinra
(Shiragi) took place in A.D. 219; a more serious one in 233, when the
Japanese ships were burned and their crews massacred, and a still
more formidable one in 249, when a Sinra statesman who had brought on
the invasion by using insulting language towards the sovereign of
Japan in presence of a Japanese ambassador, gave himself up to the
Japanese in the hope of appeasing their anger. They burnt him, and
proceeded to besiege Keumsyong, the Sinra capital, but were
ultimately beaten off. "No less than twenty-five descents by Japanese
on the Sinra coast are mentioned in Korean history in the first five
centuries of the Christian era, but it is impossible to identify any
one of them with Jingo's expedition." [Aston.] Nevertheless, modern
Japanese historians are disposed to assign the Jingo invasion to the
year 364, when Nai-mul ruled Shiragi, from which monarch's era
tribute seems to have been regularly sent to Yamato. Indeed the pages
of the Nihongi which deal with the last sixty years of Jingo's reign
are devoted almost entirely to descriptions of incidents connected
with the receipt of tribute and the advent or despatch of envoys. The
chronology is certainly erroneous. In no less than four several cases
events obviously the same are attributed by the Korean annals to
dates differing from those of the Nihongi by exactly two cycles; and
in one important instance the Japanese work assigns to A.D. 205 an
occurrence which the Tongkan* puts in the year 418.

*Korean history. Its full title is Tong-kuk-lhong-kan.

Whichever annals be correct--and the balance sways in favour of the
Korean so far as those protohistoric eras are concerned--"there can
be no doubt that Japan, at an early period, formed an alliance with
Paikche" (spoken of in Japan as "Kudara," namely, the regions
surrounding the modern Seoul), "and laid the foundation of a
controlling power over the territory known as Imna (or Mimana), which
lasted for several centuries." [Aston.] One evidence of this control
is furnished in the establishment of an office called uchi-tsu-miyake
in addition to the chinju-fu already spoken of. From early times it
had been customary in Japan that whenever any lands were acquired, a
portion of them was included in the Imperial domain, the produce
being thenceforth stored and the affairs of the estate managed at a
miyake presided over by a mikoto-mochi. Thus, on the inclusion of
certain Korean districts in Japan's dominions, this usage was
observed, and the new miyake had the syllables uchi-tsu ("of the
interior") prefixed to distinguish it as a part of Japan. It is on
record that a mikoto-mochi was stationed in Shiragi, and in the days
of Jingo's son (Ojin) the great statesman, Takenouchi-no-Sukune, took
up his residence for a time in Tsukushi to assist this mikoto-mochi
and the chinju-fu, should occasion arise. Modern Japanese historians
describe this era as the first period of Japanese national
development, for an almost immediate result of the oversea relations
thus established was that silk and cotton fabrics of greatly improved
quality, gold, silver, iron, implements, arts, and literature were
imported in increasing quantities to the great benefit of


An important change dates from the reign of Jingo. It has been shown
above that, from a period prior to the death of Suinin, the power and
influence of the Imperial princes and nobles was a constantly growing
quantity. But the political situation developed a new phase when the
Sukune family appeared upon the scene. The first evidence of this was
manifested in a striking incident. When the Emperor Chuai died, his
consort, Jingo, was enceinte* But the Emperor left two sons by a
previous marriage, and clearly one of them should have succeeded to
the throne. Nevertheless, the prime minister, Takenouchi-no-Sukune,
contrived to have the unborn child recognized as Prince Imperial.**
Naturally the deceased Emperor's two elder sons refused to be
arbitrarily set aside in favour of a baby step-brother. The principle
of primogeniture did not possess binding force in those days, but it
had never previously been violated except by the deliberate and
ostensibly reasonable choice of an Emperor. The two princes,
therefore, called their partisans to arms and prepared to resist the
return of Jingo to Yamato. Here again Takenouchi-no-Sukune acted a
great part. He carried the child by the outer sea to a place of
safety in Kii, while the forces of the Empress sailed up the Inland
Sea to meet the brothers at Naniwa (modern Osaka). Moreover, when the
final combat took place, this same Takenouchi devised a strategy
which won the day, and in every great event during the reign of the
Empress his figure stands prominent. Finally, his granddaughter
became the consort of the Emperor Nintoku (313-399), an alliance
which opened a channel for exercising direct influence upon the
Throne and also furnished a precedent adopted freely in subsequent
times by other noble families harbouring similarly ambitious aims. In
short, from the accession of the Empress Jingo a large part of the
sovereign power began to pass into the hands of the prime minister.

*As illustrating the confused chronology of the Nihongi, it may be
noted that, calculated by the incident of Chuai's career, he must
have been fully one hundred years old when he begot this child. That
is marvellous enough, but to add to the perplexity the Nihongi says
that Chuai died at fifty-two.

**The legend says of this child that its birth was artificially
delayed until the return of the empress from the Korean expedition,
but the fact seems to be that the Emperor died at the end of June and
the Empress' accouchement took place in the following April.

ENGRAVING: DEVIL WITH DRAGON HEAD (Sculptured Wood Figure in the
Museum at Kyoto)





AT the beginning of the previous chapter brief reference was made to
the three great divisions of the inhabitants of Japan; namely, the
Shimbetsu (Kami class) the Kwobetsu (Imperial class) and the Bambetsu
(aboriginal class). The Shimbetsu comprised three sub-classes;
namely, first, the Tenjin, a term used to designate the descendants
of the great primeval trinity and of the other Kami prior to the Sun
goddess; secondly, the Tenson, or descendants of the Sun goddess to
Jimmu's father (Ugaya-fukiaezu), and thirdly, the Chigi, an
appellation applied to the chiefs found in Izumo by the envoys of the
Sun goddess and in Yamato by Jimmu--chiefs who, though deprived of
power, were recognized to be of the same lineage as their conquerors.
It is plain that few genealogical trees could be actually traced
further back than the Chigi. Hence, for all practical purposes, the
Shimbetsu consisted of the descendants of vanquished chiefs, and the
fact was tacitly acknowledged by assigning to this class the second
place in the social scale, though the inclusion of the Tenjin and the
Tenson should have assured its precedence. The Kwobetsu comprised all
Emperors and Imperial princes from Jimmu downwards. This was the
premier class. The heads of all its families possessed as a
birthright the title of omi (grandee), while the head of a Shimbetsu
family was a muraji (group-chief). The Bambetsu ranked incomparably
below either the Kwobetsu or the Shimbetsu. It consisted of
foreigners who had immigrated from China or Korea and of aboriginal
tribes alien to the Yamato race. Members of the Ban class were
designated yakko (or yatsuko), a term signifying "subject" or


In addition to the above three-class distribution, the whole Yamato
nation was divided into uji, or families. An uji founded by one of
the Tenson took precedence of all others, the next in rank being one
with an Imperial prince for ancestor, and after the latter came the
families of the Tenjin and Chigi. All that could not thus trace their
genealogy were attached to the various uji in a subordinate capacity.
It is not to be supposed that one of these families consisted simply
of a husband and wife, children, and servants. There were great uji
and small uji, the former comprising many of the latter, and the
small uji including several households. In fact, the small uji
(ko-uji) may be described as a congeries of from fifty to ninety
blood relations.

In the uji the principle of primogeniture was paramount. A successor
to the headship of an uji must be the eldest son of an eldest son.
Thus qualified, he became the master of the household, ruled the
whole family, and controlled its entire property. The chief of an
ordinary uji (uji no Kami) governed all the households constituting
it, and the chief of a great uji (o-uji no Kami) controlled all the
small uji of which it was composed. In addition to the members of a
family, each uji, small and great alike, had a number of dependants
(kakibe or tomobe). In colloquial language, an o-uji was the original
family; a ko-uji, a branch family. For example, if the Abe family be
considered, Abe-uji is a great uji (o-uji), while such names as Abe
no Shii, Abe no Osada, Abe no Mutsu, etc., designate small uji
(ko-uji). If a great uji was threatened with extinction through lack
of heir, the proper Kami of a small uji succeeded to the vacant
place. As for the kakibe or tomobe, they were spoken of as "so and so
of such and such an uji:" they had no uji of their own.

All complications of minor importance were dealt with by the Kami* of
the uji in which they occurred, consultation being held with the Kami
of the appropriate o-uji in great cases. Reference was not made to
the Imperial Court except in serious matters. On the other hand,
commands from the sovereign were conveyed through the head of an
o-uji, so that the chain of responsibility was well defined. An
interesting feature of this ancient organization was that nearly
every uji had a fixed occupation which was hereditary, the name of
the occupation being prefixed to that of the uji. Thus, the uji of
gem-polishers was designated Tamatsukuri-uji, and that of boat
builders, Fune-uji.

*An uji no Kami was called uji no choja in later ages.

There were also uji whose members, from generation to generation,
acted as governors of provinces (kuni no miyatsuko) or headmen of
districts (agata-nushi). In these cases the name of the region was
prefixed to the uji; as Munakata-uji, Izumo-uji, etc. Finally, there
were uji that carried designations given by the sovereign in
recognition of meritorious deeds. These designations took the form of
titles. Thus the captor of a crane, at sight of which a dumb prince
recovered his speech, was called Totori no Miyatsuko (the
bird-catching governor), and Nomi-no-Sukune, who devised the
substitution of clay figures (haniwa) for human sacrifices at
Imperial obsequies, was designated as Hashi no Omi (the Pottery


The tomobe (attendants)--called also mure (the herd) or kakibe
(domestics)--constituted an important element of the people. They
were, in fact, serfs. We find them first spoken of in an active role
as being sent to the provinces to provide foodstuffs for the Imperial
household, and in that capacity they went by the name of provincial
Imibe. Perhaps the most intelligible description of them is that they
constituted the peasant and artisan class, and that they were
attached to the uji in subordinate positions for purposes of manual
labour. By degrees, when various kinds of productive operations came
to be engaged in as hereditary pursuits, the tomobe were grouped
according to the specialty of the uji to which they wore attached,
and we hear of Kanuchibe, or the corporation of blacksmiths; Yumibe,
or the corporation of bow-makers; Oribe, or the corporation of
weavers, and so on.

It is not to be supposed, however, that all the tomobe were thus
organized as special classes. Such was the case only when the
uji to which they belonged pursued some definite branch of
productive work. Moreover, there were corporations instituted
for purposes quite independent of industry; namely, to perpetuate
the memory of an Imperial or princely personage who had died without
issue or without attaining ancestral rank. Such tomobe were
collectively known as nashiro (namesakes) or koshiro (child
substitutes). For example, when Prince Itoshi, son of the Emperor
Suinin, died without leaving a son to perpetuate his name, the
Itoshibe was established for that purpose; and when Prince
Yamato-dake perished without ascending the throne, the Takebe was
formed to preserve the memory of his achievements. A be thus
organized on behalf of an Emperor had the title of toneri
(chamberlain) suffixed. Thus, for the Emperor Ohatsuse (known in
history as Yuryaku) the Hatsuse-be-no-toneri was formed; and for
the Emperor Shiraga (Seinei), the Shiraga-be-no-toneri. There can be
little doubt that underlying the creation of these nashiro was the
aim of extending the Imperial estates, as well as the number of
subjects over whom the control of the Throne could be exercised
without the intervention of an uji no Kami. For it is to be observed
that the sovereign himself was an o-uji no Kami, and all tomobe
created for nashiro purposes or to discharge some other functions
in connexion with the Court were attached to the Imperial uji.


Another kind of be consisted of aliens who had been naturalized in
Japan or presented to the Japanese Throne by foreign potentates.
These were formed into tamibe (corporations of people). They became
directly dependent upon the Court, and they devoted themselves to
manufacturing articles for the use of the Imperial household. These
naturalized persons were distinguished, in many cases, by technical
skill or literary attainments. Hence they received treatment
different from that given to ordinary tomobe, some of them being
allowed to assume the title and enjoy the privilege of uji,
distinguished, however, as uji of the Bambetsu. Thus, the descendants
of the seamstresses, E-hime and Oto-hime, and of the weavers,
Kure-hatori and Ana-hatori, who were presented to the Yamato Court by
an Emperor of the Wu dynasty in China, were allowed to organize
themselves into Kinu-nui-uji (uji of Silk-robe makers); and that a
Hata-uji (Weavers' uji) was similarly organized is proved by a
passage in the records of the Emperor Ojin (A.D. 284) which relates
that the members of the Hata-uji had become scattered about the
country and were carrying on their manufacturing work in various
jurisdictions. This fact having been related to the Throne, steps
were taken to bring together all these weavers into the Hata-uji, and
to make them settle at villages to which the name of Kachibe was
given in commemoration of the weavers' ancestor, Kachi. The records
show that during the first four centuries of the Christian era the
people presented to the Yamato Court by the sovereigns of the Wu
dynasty and of Korea must have been very numerous, for no less than
710 uji were formed by them in consideration of their skill in the
arts and crafts.


The institution of slavery (nuhi) existed in ancient Japan as in so
many other countries. The slaves consisted of prisoners taken in war
and of persons who, having committed some serious offence, were
handed over to be the property of those that they had injured. The
first recorded instance of the former practice was when Yamato-dake
presented to the Ise shrine the Yemishi chiefs who had surrendered to
him in the sequel of his invasion of the eastern provinces. The same
fate seems to have befallen numerous captives made in the campaign
against the Kumaso, and doubtless wholesale acts of self-destruction
committed by Tsuchi-gumo and Kumaso when overtaken by defeat were
prompted by preference of death to slavery. The story of Japan's
relations with Korea includes many references to Korean prisoners who
became the property of their captors, and that a victorious general's
spoils should comprise some slaves may be described as a recognized
custom. Of slavery as a consequence of crime there is also frequent
mention, and it would appear that even men of rank might be overtaken
by that fate, for when (A.D. 278) Takenouchi-no-Sukune's younger
brother was convicted of slandering him, the culprit's punishment
took the form of degradation and assignment to a life of slavery. The
whole family of such an offender shared his fate. There is no
evidence, however, that the treatment of the nuhi was inhuman or even
harsh: they appear to have fared much as did the tomobe in general.


There are two kinds of territorial rights, and these, though now
clearly differentiated, were more or less confounded in ancient
Japan. One is the ruler's right--that is to say, competence to impose
taxes; to enact rules governing possession; to appropriate private
lands for public purposes, and to treat as crown estates land not
privately owned. The second is the right of possession; namely, the
right to occupy definite areas of land and to apply them to one's own
ends. At present those two rights are distinct. A landowner has no
competence to issue public orders with regard to it, and a lessee of
land has to discharge certain responsibilities towards the lessor. It
was not so in old Japan. As the Emperor's right to rule the people
was not exercised over an individual direct but through the uji no
Kami who controlled that individual, so the sovereign's right over
the land was exercised through the territorial owner, who was usually
the uji no Kami. The latter, being the owner of the land, leased a
part of it to the members of the uji, collected a percentage of the
produce, and presented a portion to the Court when occasion demanded.
Hence, so long as the sovereign's influence was powerful, the uji no
Kami and other territorial magnates, respecting his orders, refrained
from levying taxes and duly paid their appointed contributions to the

But in later times, when the Throne's means of enforcing its orders
ceased to bear any sensible ratio to the puissance of the uji no Kami
and other local lords, the Imperial authority received scanty
recognition, and the tillers of the soil were required to pay heavy
taxes to their landlords. It is a fallacy to suppose that the Emperor
in ancient times not only ruled the land but also owned it. The only
land held in direct possession by the Throne was that constituting
the Imperial household's estates and that belonging to members of the
Imperial family. The private lands of the Imperial family were called
mi-agata.* The province of Yamato contained six of these estates, and
their produce was wholly devoted to the support of the Court. Lands
cultivated for purposes of State revenue were called miyake.** They
existed in several provinces, the custom being that when land was
newly acquired, a miyake was at once established and the remainder
was assigned to princes or Court nobles (asomi or asori). The
cultivators of miyake were designated ta-be (rustic corporation); the
overseers were termed ta-zukasa (or mi-ta no tsukasa), and the
officials in charge of the stores were mi-agata no obito.

*The prefix mi (honourable) was and is still used for purposes of

**In ancient Japan, officials and their offices were often designated
alike. Thus, miyake signified a public estate or the store for
keeping the produce, just as tsukasa was applied alike to an overseer
and to his place of transacting business.

As far back as 3 B.C., according to Japanese chronology, we read of
the establishment of a miyake, and doubtless that was not the first.
Thenceforth there are numerous examples of a similar measure.
Confiscated lands also formed a not unimportant part of the Court's
estates. Comparatively trifling offences were sometimes thus
expiated. Thus, in A.D. 350, Aganoko, suzerain of the Saegi, being
convicted of purloining jewels from the person of a princess whom he
had been ordered to execute, escaped capital punishment only by
surrendering all his lands; and, in A.D. 534, a provincial ruler who,
being in mortal terror, had intruded into the ladies' apartments in
the palace, had to present his landed property for the use of the
Empress. These facts show incidentally that the land of the country,
though governed by the sovereign, was not owned by him. Lands in a
conquered country were naturally regarded as State property, but
sufficient allusion has already been made to that custom.


It is related in the Records that, in prehistoric days, the last of
the chieftains sent by Amaterasu to wrest Japan from its then holders
addressed the leaders of the latter in these terms, "The central land
of reed plains owned (ushi-haku) by you is the country to be governed
(shirasu) by my son." Japanese historiographers attach importance to
the different words here used. Ushi-haku signifies "to hold in
intimate lordship"--as one wears a garment--whereas shirasu means "to
exercise public rights as head of a State." A Japanese Emperor
occupied both positions towards mi-nashiro (q.v.), toward naturalized
or conquered folks, towards mi-agata, miyake, and confiscated
estates, but his functions with regard to the people and the land in
general were limited to governing (shirasu).

If the ancient prerogatives of the sovereign be tabulated, they stand

(1) to conduct the worship of the national deities as general head of
all the uji;

(2) to declare war against foreign countries and to make peace with
them, as representative of the uji, and (3) to establish or abolish
uji, to nominate uji no Kami, and to adjudicate disputes between
them. The first of these prerogatives remains unaltered to the
present day. The second was partly delegated in medieval times to the
military class, but has now been restored to the Throne. As for the
third, its exercise is to-day limited to the office of the hereditary
nobility, the Constitution having replaced the Crown in other

Two thousand years have seen no change in the Emperor's function of
officiating as the high priest of the nation. It was the sovereign
who made offerings to the deities of heaven and earth at the great
religious festivals. It was the sovereign who prayed for the aid of
the gods when the country was confronted by any emergency or when the
people suffered from pestilence. In short, though the powers of the
Emperor over the land and the people were limited by the intervention
of the uji, the whole nation was directly subservient to the Throne
in matters relating to religion. From the earliest eras, too, war
might not be declared without an Imperial rescript, and to the
Emperor was reserved the duty of giving audience to foreign envoys
and receiving tribute. By foreign countries, China and Korea were
generally understood, but the Kumaso, the Yemishi, and the Sushen
were also included in the category of aliens. It would seem that the
obligation of serving the country in arms was universal, for in the
reign of Sujin, when an oversea expedition was contemplated, the
people were numbered according to their ages, and the routine of
service was laid down. Contributions, too, had to be made, as is
proved by the fact that a command of the same sovereign required the
various districts to manufacture arms and store them in the shrines.


The sovereign's competence to adjudicate questions relating to the
uji is illustrated by a notable incident referred to the year A.D.
415, during the reign of Inkyo. Centuries had then passed since the
inauguration of the uji, and families originally small with clearly
defined genealogies had multiplied to the dimensions of large clans,
so that much confusion of lineage existed, and there was a
wide-spread disposition to assert claims to spurious rank. It was
therefore commanded by the Emperor that, on a fixed day, all the uji
no Kami should assemble, and having performed the rite of
purification, should submit to the ordeal of boiling water
(kuga-dachi). Numerous cauldrons were erected for the purpose, and it
was solemnly proclaimed that only the guilty would be scalded by the
test. At the last moment, those whose claims were willingly false
absconded, and the genealogies were finally rectified.

Instances of uji created by the sovereign to reward merit, or
abolished to punish offences, are numerously recorded. Thus, when
(A.D. 413) the future consort of the Emperor Inkyo was walking in the
garden with her mother, a provincial ruler (miyatsuko), riding by,
peremptorily called to her for a branch of orchid. She asked what he
needed the orchid for and he answered, "To beat away mosquitoes when
I travel mountain roads." "Oh, honourable sir, I shall not forget,"
said the lady. When she became Empress, she caused the nobleman to be
sought for, and had him deprived of his rank in lieu of execution.
There is also an instance of the killing of all the members of an uji
to expiate the offence of the uji no Kami. This happened in A.D. 463,
when Yuryaku sat on the throne. It was reported to the Court that
Sakitsuya, Kami of the Shimotsumichi-uji, indulged in pastimes
deliberately contrived to insult the occupant of the throne. Thus he
would match a little girl to combat against a grown woman, calling
the girl the Emperor and killing her if she won; or would set a
little cock with clipped wings and plucked feathers to represent the
sovereign in a fight with a big, lusty cock, which he likened to
himself, and if the small bird won, he would slaughter it with his
own sword. The Emperor sent a company of soldiers, and Sakitsuya with
all the seventy members of his uji were put to death.


The administrative organization in ancient Japan was simply a
combination of the uji. It was purely Japanese. Not until the seventh
century of the Christian era were any foreign elements introduced.
From ministers and generals of the highest class down to petty
functionaries, all offices were discharged by uji no Kami, and as the
latter had the general name of kabane root of the uji the system was
similarly termed. In effect, the kabane was an order of nobility.
Offices were hereditary and equal. The first distribution of posts
took place when five chiefs, attached to the person of the Tenson at
the time of his descent upon Japan, were ordered to discharge at his
Court the same duties as those which had devolved on them in the
country of their origin. The uji they formed were those of the
Shimbetsu,* the official title of the Kami being muraji (group chief)
in the case of an ordinary uji, and o-muraji (great muraji) in the
case of an o-uji, as already stated. These were the men who rendered
most assistance originally in the organization of the State, but as
they were merely adherents of the Tenson, the latter's direct
descendants counted themselves superior and sought always to assert
that superiority.

*The distinction of Shimbetsu and Kwobetsu was not nominally
recognized until the fourth century, but it undoubtedly existed in
practice at an early date.

Thus, the title omi (grandee) held by the Kami of a Kwobetsu-uji was
deemed higher than that of muraji (chief) held by the Kami of a
Shimbetsu-uji. The blood relations of sovereigns either assisted at
Court in the administration of State affairs or went to the provinces
in the capacity of governors. They received various titles in
addition to that of omi, for example sukune (noble), ason or asomi
(Court noble), kimi (duke), wake (lord), etc.

History gives no evidence of a fixed official organization in ancient
times. The method pursued by the sovereign was to summon such omi and
muraji as were notably influential or competent, and to entrust to
them the duty of discharging functions or dealing with a special
situation. Those so summoned were termed mae-isu-gimi (dukes of the
Presence). The highest honour bestowed on a subject in those days
fell to the noble, Takenouchi, who, in consideration of his services,
was named O-mae-tsu-gimi (great duke of the Presence) by the Emperor
Seimu (A.D. 133). Among the omi and muraji, those conspicuously
powerful were charged with the superintendence of several uji, and
were distinguished as o-omi and o-muraji. It became customary to
appoint an o-omi and an o-muraji at the Court, just as in later days
there was a sa-daijin (minister of the Left) and an u-daijin
(minister of the Right). The o-omi supervised all members of the
Kwobetsu-uji occupying administrative posts at Court, and the
o-muraji discharged a similar function in the case of members of
Shimbetsu-uji. Outside the capital local affairs were administered by
kuni-no-miyatsuko or tomo-no-miyatsuko* Among the former, the heads
of Kwobetsu-uji predominated among the latter, those of

*Tomo is an abbreviation of tomo-be.


It will be seen from the above that in old Japan lineage counted
above everything, alike officially and socially. The offices, the
honours and the lands were all in the hands of the lineal descendants
of the original Yamato chiefs. Nevertheless the omi and the muraji
stood higher in national esteem than the kuni-no-miyatsuko or the
tomo-no-miyatsuko; the o-omi and the o-muraji, still higher; and the
sovereign, at the apex of all. That much deference was paid to
functions. Things remained unaltered in this respect until the sixth
century when the force of foreign example began to make itself felt.





The fifteenth Sovereign, Ojin, came to the throne at the age of
seventy, according to the Chronicles, and occupied it for forty
years. Like a majority of the sovereigns in that epoch he had many
consorts and many children--three of the former (including two
younger sisters of the Emperor) and twenty of the latter. Comparison
with Korean history goes to indicate that the reign is antedated by
just 120 years, or two of the sexagenary cycles, but of course such a
correction cannot be applied to every incident of the era.


One of the interesting features of Ojin's reign is that maritime
affairs receive notice for the first time. It is stated that the
fishermen of various places raised a commotion, refused to obey the
Imperial commands, and were not quieted until a noble, Ohama, was
sent to deal with them. Nothing is stated as to the cause of this
complication, but it is doubtless connected with requisitions of fish
for the Court, and probably the fishing folk of Japan had already
developed the fine physique and stalwart disposition that distinguish
their modern representatives. Two years later, instructions were
issued that hereditary corporations (be) of fishermen should be
established in the provinces, and, shortly afterwards, the duty of
constructing a boat one hundred feet in length was imposed upon the
people of Izu, a peninsular province so remote from Yamato that its
choice for such a purpose is difficult to explain. There was no
question of recompensing the builders of this boat: the product of
their labour was regarded as "tribute."

Twenty-six years later the Karano, as this vessel was called, having
become unserviceable, the Emperor ordered a new Karano to be built,
so as to perpetuate her name. A curious procedure is then recorded,
illustrating the arbitrary methods of government in those days. The
timbers of the superannuated ship were used as fuel for roasting
salt, five hundred baskets of which were sent throughout the maritime
provinces, with orders that by each body of recipients a ship should
be constructed. Five hundred Karanos thus came into existence, and
there was assembled at Hyogo such a fleet as had never previously
been seen in Japanese waters. A number of these new vessels were
destroyed almost immediately by a conflagration which broke out in
the lodgings of Korean envoys from Sinra (Shiragi), and the envoys
being held responsible, their sovereign hastened to send a body of
skilled shipmakers by way of atonement, who were thereafter organized
into a hereditary guild of marine architects, and we thus learn
incidentally that the Koreans had already developed the shipbuilding
skill destined to save their country in later ages.


In connexion with the Karano incident, Japanese historians record a
tale which materially helps our appreciation of the men of that
remote age. A portion of the Karano's timber having emerged unscathed
from the salt-pans, its indestructibility seemed curious enough to
warrant special treatment. It was accordingly made into a lute
(koto),* and it justified that use by developing "a ringing note that
could be heard from afar off." The Emperor composed a song on the

   "The ship Karano
   "Was burned for salt:
   "Of the remainder
   "A koto was made.
   "When it is placed on
   "One hears the saya-saya
   "Of the summer trees,
   "Brushing against, as they stand,
   "The rocks of the mid-harbour,
   "The harbour of Yura." [Aston.]

*The Japanese lute, otherwise called the Azuma koto, was an
instrument five or six feet long and having six strings. History
first alludes to it in the reign of Jingo, and such as it was then,
such it has remained until to-day.


Five facts are already deducible from the annals of this epoch: the
first, that there was no written law, unless the prohibitions in the
Rituals may be so regarded; the second, that there was no form of
judicial trial, unless ordeal or torture may be so regarded; the
third, that the death penalty might be inflicted on purely ex-parte
evidence; the fourth, that a man's whole family had to suffer the
penalty of his crimes, and the fifth, that already in those remote
times the code of splendid loyalty which has distinguished the
Japanese race through all ages had begun to find disciples.

An incident of Ojin's reign illustrates all these things. Takenouchi,
the sukune (noble) who had served Ojin's mother so ably, and who had
saved Ojin's life in the latter's childhood, was despatched to
Tsukushi (Kyushu) on State business. During his absence his younger
brother accused him of designs upon the Emperor. At once, without
further inquiry, Ojin sent men to kill the illustrious minister. But
Maneko, suzerain (atae) of Iki, who bore a strong resemblance to
Takenouchi, personified him, and committing suicide, deceived the
soldiers who would have taken the sukune's life, so that the latter
was enabled to return to Yamato. Arriving at Court, he protested his
innocence and the ordeal of boiling water was employed. It took place
on the bank of the Shiki River. Takenouchi proving victorious; his
brother with all his family were condemned to become tomo-be of the
suzerain of Kii.


Side by side with these primitive conditions stands a romantic story
of Ojin's self-denial in ceding to his son, Osazaki, a beautiful girl
whom the sovereign has destined to be his own consort. Discovering
that the prince loved her, Ojin invited him to a banquet in the
palace, and, summoning the girl, made known by the aid of poetry his
intention of surrendering her to his son, who, in turn, expressed his
gratitude in verse. It is true that the character of this act of
renunciation is marred when we observe that Ojin was eighty years old
at the time; nevertheless the graces of life were evidently not
wanting in old-time Japan, nor did her historians deem them unworthy
of prominent place in their pages. If at one moment they tell us of
slanders and cruelty, at another they describe how a favourite
consort of Ojin, gazing with him at a fair landscape from a high
tower, was moved to tears by the memory of her parents whom she had
not seen for years, and how the Emperor, sympathizing with her filial
affection, made provision for her return home and took leave of her
in verse:

   "Thou Island of Awaji
   "With thy double ranges;
   "Thou Island of Azuki
   "With thy double ranges
   "Ye good islands,
   "Ye have seen face to face
   "My spouse of Kibi."


The most important feature of the Ojin era was the intercourse then
inaugurated with China. It may be that after the establishment of the
Yamato race in Japan, emigrants from the neighbouring continent
settled, from early times, in islands so favoured by nature. If so,
they probably belonged to the lowest orders, for it was not until the
third and fourth centuries that men of erudition and skilled artisans
began to arrive. Modern Japanese historians seem disposed to
attribute this movement to the benign administration of the Emperor
Ojin and to the repute thus earned by Japan abroad. Without
altogether questioning that theory, it may be pointed out that much
probably depended on the conditions existing in China herself. Liu
Fang, founder of the Han dynasty (202 B.C.), inaugurated the system
of competitive examinations for civil appointments, and his
successors, Wen-Ti, Wu-Ti, and Kwang-wu, "developed literature,
commerce, arts, and good government to a degree unknown before
anywhere in Asia." It was Wu-Ti (140-86 B.C.) who conquered Korea,
and unquestionably the Koreans then received many object lessons in
civilization. The Han dynasty fell in A.D. 190, and there ensued one
of the most troubled periods of Chinese history. Many fugitives from
the evils of that epoch probably made their way to Korea and even to
Japan. Then followed the after-Han dynasty (A.D. 211-265) when China
was divided into three principalities; one of which, since it ruled
the littoral regions directly opposite to Japan, represented China in
Japanese eyes, and its name, Wu, came to be synonymous with China in
Japanese years.

It was, however, in the days of the Tsin dynasty (A.D. 265-317) and
in those of the Eastern Tsin (A.D. 317-420) that under the pressure
of the Hun inroads and of domestic commotions, numbers of emigrants
found their way from China to Korea and thence to Japan. The Eastern
Tsin occupied virtually the same regions as those held by the Wu
dynasty: they, too, had their capital at Nanking, having moved
thither from Loh-yang, and thus the name Wu was perpetuated for the
Japanese. In the year A.D. 283, according to Japanese chronology,
Koreans and Chinese skilled in useful arts began to immigrate to
Japan. The first to come was a girl called Maketsu. She is said to
have been sent by the monarch of Kudara, the region corresponding to
the metropolitan province of modern Korea. It may be inferred that
she was Chinese, but as to her nationality history is silent. She
settled permanently in Japan, and her descendants were known as the
kinu-nui (silk-clothiers) of Kume in Yamato. In the same year (A.D.
283), Yuzu (called Yutsuki by some authorities), a Chinese Imperial
prince, came from Korea and memorialized the Yamato Throne in the
sense that he was a descendant of the first Tsin sovereign and that,
having migrated to Korea at the head of the inhabitants of 120
districts, he had desired to conduct them to Japan, but was unable to
accomplish his purpose owing to obstruction offered by the people of
Sinra (Shiragi). Ojin sent two embassies--the second accompanied by
troops--to procure the release of these people, and in A.D. 285 they
reached Japan, where they received a hearty welcome, and for the sake
of their skill in sericulture and silk weaving, they were honoured by
organization into an uji--Hata-uji (hata in modern Japanese signifies
"loom," but in ancient days it designated silk fabrics of all kinds).

An idea of the dimensions of this Chinese addition to the population
of Japan is furnished by the fact that, 175 years later, the Hata-uji
having been dispersed and reduced to ninety-two groups, steps were
taken to reassemble and reorganize them, with the result that 18,670
persons were brought together. Again, in A.D. 289, a sometime subject
of the after-Han dynasty, accompanied by his son, emigrated to Japan.
The names of these Chinese are given as Achi and Tsuka, and the
former is described as a great-grandson of the Emperor Ling of the
after-Han dynasty, who reigned from A.D. 168 to 190. Like Yuzu he had
escaped to Korea during the troublous time at the close of the Han
sway, and, like Yuzu, he had been followed to the peninsula by a
large body of Chinese, who, at his request, were subsequently
escorted by Japanese envoys to Japan. These immigrants also were
allowed to assume the status of an uji, and in the fifth century the
title of Aya no atae (suzerain of Aya) was given to Achi's
descendants in consideration of the skill of their followers in
designing and manufacturing figured fabrics (for which the general
term was aya).

When Achi had resided seventeen years in Japan, he and his son were
sent to Wu (China) for the purpose of engaging women versed in making
dress materials. The title of omi (chief ambassador) seems to have
been then conferred on the two men, as envoys sent abroad were
habitually so designated. They did not attempt to go by sea. The
state of navigation was still such that ocean-going voyages were not
seriously thought of. Achi and his son proceeded in the first
instance to Koma (the modern Pyong-yang) and there obtained guides
for the overland journey round the shore of the Gulf of Pechili. They
are said to have made their way to Loh-yang where the Tsin sovereigns
then had their capital (A.D. 306). Four women were given to them,
whom they carried back to Japan, there to become the ancestresses of
an uji known as Kure no kinu-nui and Kaya no kinu-nui (clothiers of
Kure and of Kaya), appellations which imply Korean origin, but were
probably suggested by the fact that Korea had been the last
continental station on their route. The journey to and from Loh-yang
occupied four years. This page of history shows not only the
beginning of Japan's useful intercourse with foreign countries, but
also her readiness to learn what they had to teach and her liberal
treatment of alien settlers.


It is not infrequently stated that a knowledge of Chinese ideographs
was acquired by the Japanese for the first time during the reign of
Ojin. The basis of this belief are that, in A.D. 284, according to
the Japanese chronology--a date to which must be added two sexagenary
cycles, bringing it to A.D. 404--the King of Kudara sent two fine
horses to the Yamato sovereign, and the man who accompanied them,
Atogi by name, showed himself a competent reader of the Chinese
classics and was appointed tutor to the Prince Imperial. By Atogi's
advice a still abler scholar, Wani (Wang-in), was subsequently
invited from Kudara to take Atogi's place, and it is added that the
latter received the title of fumi-bito (scribe), which he transmitted
to his descendants in Japan. But close scrutiny does not support the
inference that Chinese script had remained unknown to Japan until the
above incidents. What is proved is merely that the Chinese classics
then for the first time became an open book in Japan.

As for the ideographs themselves, they must have been long familiar,
though doubtless to a very limited circle. Chinese history affords
conclusive evidence. Thus, in the records of the later Han (A.D.
25-220) we read that from the time when Wu-Ti (140-86 B.C.) overthrew
Korea, the Japanese of thirty-two provinces communicated with the
Chinese authorities in the peninsula by means of a postal service.
The Wei annals (A.D. 220-265) state that in A.D. 238, the Chinese
sovereign sent a written reply to a communication from the "Queen of
Japan"--Jingo was then on the throne. In the same year, the Japanese
Court addressed a written answer to a Chinese rescript forwarded to
Yamato by the governor of Thepang--the modern Namwon in Chollado--and
in A.D. 247, a despatch was sent by the Chinese authorities
admonishing the Japanese to desist from internecine quarrels. These
references indicate that the use of the ideographs was known in Japan
long before the reign of Ojin, whether we take the Japanese or the
corrected date for the latter. It will probably be just to assume,
however, that the study of the ideographs had scarcely any vogue in
Japan until the coming of Atogi and Wani, nor does it appear to have
attracted much attention outside Court circles even subsequently to
that date, for the records show that, in the reign of the Emperor
Bidatsu (A.D. 572-585), a memorial sent by Korea to the Yamato Court
was illegible to all the officials except one man, by name
Wang-sin-i, who seems to have been a descendant of the Paikche
emigrant, Wan-i.

Buddhism, introduced into Japan in A.D. 552, doubtless supplied the
chief incentive to the acquisition of knowledge. But had the Japanese
a script of their own at any period of their history? The two oldest
manuscripts which contain a reference to this subject are the
Kogo-shui, compiled by Hironari in A.D. 808, and a memorial (kammori)
presented to the Throne in A.D. 901 by Miyoshi Kiyotsura. Both
explicitly state that in remote antiquity there were no letters, and
that all events or discourses had to be transmitted orally. Not until
the thirteenth century does the theory of a purely Japanese script
seem to have been conceived, and its author* had no basis for the
hypothesis other than the idea that, as divination was practised in
the age of the Kami, letters of some kind must have been in use.
Since then the matter has been much discussed. Caves used in ancient
times as habitations or sepulchres and old shrines occasionally offer
evidence in the form of symbols which, since they bear some
resemblance to the letters of the Korean alphabet (onmuri), have been
imagined to be at once the origin of the latter and the script of the
Kami-no-yo (Age of the Kami). But such fancies are no longer
seriously entertained. It is agreed that the so-called "letters" are
nothing more than copies of marks produced by the action of fire upon
bones used in divination. The Japanese cleverly adapted the Chinese
ideographs to syllabic purposes, but they never devised a script of
their own.

*Kanekata, who wrote the Shaku Nihongi in the era 1264--1274.


A generally accepted belief is that the study of the Chinese classics
exercised a marked ethical influence upon the Japanese nation. That
is a conclusion which may be profitably contrasted with the views of
Japan's most distinguished historians. Mr. Abe Kozo says:
"Acquaintance with the Chinese classics may be supposed to have
produced a considerable moral effect on the people of Japan. Nothing
of the kind seems to have been the case. The practical civilization
of China was accepted, but not her ethical code. For any palpable
moral influence the arrival of Buddhism had to be awaited. Already
the principles of loyalty and obedience, propriety, and righteousness
were recognized in Japan though not embodied in any written code."
Dr. Ariga writes: "Our countrymen did not acquire anything specially
new in the way of moral tenets. They must have been surprised to find
that in China men did not respect the occupants of the throne. A
subject might murder his sovereign and succeed him without incurring
the odium of the people." Rai Sanyo says: "Moral principles are like
the sun and the moon; they cannot be monopolized by any one country.
In every land there are parents and children, rulers and ruled,
husbands and wives. Where these relations exist, there also filial
piety and affection, loyalty and righteousness may naturally be
found. In our country we lack the precise terminology of the
classics, but it does not follow that we lack the principles
expressed. What the Japanese acquired from the classics was the
method of formulating the thought, not the thought itself."


This sovereign is represented by the Chronicles as having reigned
eighty-six years, and by the Records as having died at the age of
eighty-three. The same Chronicles make him the lover of a girl whom
his father, also her lover, generously ceded to him. This event
happened in A.D. 282. Assuming that Nintoku was then sixteen, he
cannot have been less than 133 at the time of his death. It is thus
seen that the chronology of this period, also, is untrustworthy.
Nintoku's reign is remembered chiefly on account of the strange
circumstances in which he came to the throne, his benevolent charity,
and the slights he suffered at the hands of a jealous consort. His
father, Ojin, by an exercise of caprice not uncommon on the part of
Japan's ancient sovereigns, had nominated a younger son,
Waka-iratsuko, to be his heir. But this prince showed invincible
reluctance to assume the sceptre after Ojin's death. He asserted
himself stoutly by killing one of his elder brothers who conspired
against him, though he resolutely declined to take precedence of the
other brother, and the latter, proving equally diffident, the throne
remained unoccupied for three years when Waka-iratsuko solved the
problem by committing suicide.

Such are the simplest outlines of the story. But its details, when
filled in by critical Japanese historians of later ages, suggest a
different impression. When Ojin died his eldest two sons were living
respectively in Naniwa (Osaka) and Yamato, and the Crown Prince,
Waka-iratsuko, was at Uji. They were thus excellently situated for
setting up independent claims. From the time of Nintoku's birth, the
prime minister, head of the great Takenouchi family, had taken a
special interest in the child, and when the lad grew up he married
this Takenouchi's granddaughter, who became the mother of three
Emperors. Presently the representatives of all branches of the
Takenouchi family came into possession of influential positions at
Court, among others that of o-omi, so that in this reign were laid
the foundations of the controlling power subsequently vested in the
hands of the Heguri, Katsuragi, and Soga houses. In short, this epoch
saw the beginning of a state of affairs destined to leave its mark
permanently on Japanese history, the relegation of the sovereign to
the place of a fainéant and the usurpation of the administrative
authority by a group of great nobles.

Nintoku had the active support of the Takenouchi magnates, and
although the Crown Prince may have desired to assert the title
conferred on him by his father, he found himself helpless in the face
of obstructions offered by the prime minister and his numerous
partisans. These suffered him to deal effectively with that one of
his elder brothers who did not find a place in their ambitious
designs, but they created for Waka-iratsuko a situation so
intolerable that suicide became his only resource. Nintoku's first
act on ascending the throne explains the ideographs chosen for his
posthumous name by the authors of the Chronicles, since nin signifies
"benevolence" and toku, "virtue." He made Naniwa (Osaka) his capital,
but instead of levying taxes and requisitioning forced labour to
build his palace of Takatsu, he remitted all such burdens for three
years on observing from a tower that no smoke ascended from the roofs
of the houses and construing this to indicate a state of poverty.
During those three years the palace fell into a condition of
practical ruin, and tradition describes its inmates as being
compelled to move from room to room to avoid the leaking rain.*

*Doubts have been thrown on the reality of this incident because a
poem, attributed to Nintoku on the occasion, is couched in obviously
anachronistic language. But the poem does not appear in either the
Records or the Chronicles: it was evidently an invention of later

Under Nintoku's sway riparian works and irrigation improvements took
place on a large scale, and thus the eminent historian, Rai Sanyo,
may not be without warrant for attributing to this ruler the
sentiment quoted in the Chronicles: "A sovereign lives for his
people. Their prosperity is his enrichment; their poverty, his loss."
Yet it is in connexion with Nintoku's repairs of the Manda river-bank
that we find the first mention of a heinous custom occasionally
practised in subsequent ages--the custom of sacrificing human life to
expedite the progress or secure the success of some public work.

At the same time, that habits indicating a higher civilization had
already begun to gain ground is proved by an incident which occurred
to one of the Imperial princes during a hunting expedition. Looking
down over a moor from a mountain, he observed a pit, and, on inquiry,
was informed by the local headman that it was an "ice-pit." The
prince, asking how the ice was stored and for what it was used,
received this answer: "The ground is excavated to a depth of over ten
feet. The top is then covered with a roof of thatch. A thick layer of
reed-grass is then spread, upon which the ice is laid. The months of
summer have passed and yet it is not melted. As to its use--when the
hot months come it is placed in water or sake and thus used."
[Aston's Nihongi.] Thenceforth the custom of storing ice was adopted
at the Court. It was in Nintoku's era that the pastime of hawking,
afterward widely practised, became known for the first time in Japan.
Korea was the place of origin, and it is recorded that the falcon had
a soft leather strap fastened to one leg and a small bell to the
tail. Pheasants were the quarry of the first hawk flown on the moor
of Mozu.

Light is also thrown in Nintoku's annals on the method of
boatbuilding practised by the Japanese in the fourth century. They
used dug-outs. The provincial governor* of Totomi is represented as
reporting that a huge tree had floated down the river Oi and had
stopped at a bend. It was a single stem forked at one end, and the
suzerain of Yamato was ordered to make a boat of it. The craft was
then brought round by sea to Naniwa, "where it was enrolled among the
Imperial vessels." Evidently from the days of Ojin and the Karano a
fleet formed part of the Imperial possessions. This two-forked boat
figures in the reign of Nintoku's successor, Richu, when the latter
and his concubine went on board and feasted separately, each in one

*This term, "provincial governor," appears now for the first time
written with the ideographs "kokushi." Hitherto it has been written
"kuni-no-miyatsuko." Much is heard of the koushi in later times. They
are the embryo of the daimyo, the central figures of military


For the better understanding of Japanese history at this stage, a
word must be said about a family of nobles (sukune) who, from the
days of Nintoku, exercised potent sway in the councils of State.
It will have been observed that, in the annals of the Emperor
Keiko's reign, prominence is given to an official designated
Takenouchi-no-Sukune, who thereafter seems to have served sovereign
after sovereign until his death in the year 368, when he must have
been from two hundred to three hundred years old. This chronological
difficulty has provoked much scepticism. Dr. Kume, an eminent
Japanese historian, explains, however, that Takenouchi was the name
not of a person but of a family, and that it was borne by different
scions in succeeding reigns. The first was a grandson of the Emperor
Kogen (B.C. 214-158), and the representatives of the family in
Nintoku's era had seven sons, all possessing the title sukune. They
were Hata no Yashiro, Koze no Ogara, Soga no Ishikawa, Heguri no
Tsuku, Ki no Tsunu, Katsuragi no Sotsu, and Wakugo.

From these were descended the five uji of Koze, Soga, Heguri, Ki, and
Katsuragi. Although its founder was an Emperor's grandson and
therefore entitled to be called "Imperial Prince" (O), the family
connexion with the Throne naturally became more remote as time
passed, and from the reign of Ojin we find its members classed among
subjects. Nevertheless, the Empress Iwa, whose jealousy harrassed
Nintoku so greatly, was a daughter of Katsuragi no Sotsu, and, as
with the sole exception of the Emperor Shomu, every occupant of the
throne had taken for his Empress a lady of Imperial blood, it may be
assumed that the relationship between the Imperial and the Takenouchi
families was recognized at that time. The roles which the five uji
mentioned above acted in subsequent history deserve to be studied,
and will therefore be briefly set down here.


This uji had for founder Koze no Ogara. The representative of the
fourth generation, Koze no Ohito, held the post of o-omi during the
reign of the Emperor Keitai (A.D. 507-531), and his great-grandson
was minister of the Left under Kotoku (A.D. 545-654). Thereafter, the
heads of the uji occupied prominent positions under successive


Soga no Ishikawa founded this uji. His son, Machi, shared the
administrative power with Heguri no Tsuku in the reign of Richu (A.D.
400-405), and Machi's great-grandson, Iname, immortalized himself by
promoting the introduction of Buddhism in the reign of Kimmei (A.D.
540-571). Iname's son, Umako, and the latter's son, Yemishi, will be
much heard of hereafter. No family, indeed, affected the course of
Japanese history in early days more than did the Soga-uji.


During the reign of the Emperor Richu (A.D. 400-405), Heguri no
Tsuku, founder of this uji, shared in the administration with Soga no
Machi. His son, Heguri no Matori, was minister under Yuryaku (A.D.
457-459), and the fate which he and his son, Shibi, brought upon
their family is one of the salient incidents of Japanese history.


The representatives of this uji, from the days of its founder, Ki
no Tsunu, took a prominent share in the empire's foreign affairs,
but served also in the capacity of provincial governor and


Nintoku's Empress, Iwa, was a daughter of the ancestor of this uji,
Katsuragi no Sotsu, and the latter's great-granddaughter, Hae, was
the mother of two sovereigns, Kenso (A.D. 485-487) and Ninken (A.D.





The 17th Sovereign, Richu    A.D. 400-405

"   18th    "       Hansho    "   406-411

"   19th    "       Inkyo     "   412-453

"   20th    "       Anko      "   454-456

"   21st    "       Yuryaku   "   457-479


THE prehistoric era may be said to terminate with the accession of
Richu. Thenceforth the lives and reigns of successive sovereigns
cease to extend to incredible lengths, and though the chronology
adopted by the writers of the Nihongi may not yet be implicitly
accepted, its general accuracy is not open to dispute. The era of the
five sovereigns standing at the head of this chapter--an era of
fifty-nine years--inherited as legacies from the immediate past: a
well-furnished treasury, a nation in the enjoyment of peace, a firmly
established throne, and a satisfactory state of foreign relations.
These comfortable conditions seem to have exercised demoralizing
influence. The bonds of discipline grew slack; fierce quarrels on
account of women involved fratricide among the princes of the blood,
and finally the life of an Emperor was sacrificed--the only instance
of such a catastrophe in Japanese history.

Immediately after Nintoku's death this evil state of affairs was
inaugurated by Prince Nakatsu, younger brother of the heir to the
throne, who had not yet assumed the sceptre. Sent by the Crown Prince
(Richu) to make arrangements for the latter's nuptials with the lady
Kuro, a daughter of the Takenouchi family, Nakatsu personified Richu,
debauched the girl, and to avoid the consequences of the act, sought
to take the life of the man he had betrayed. It does not redound to
the credit of the era that the debaucher found support and was
enabled to hold his own for a time, though his treachery ultimately
met with its merited fate. At this crisis of his life, Richu received
loyal assistance from a younger brother, and his gratitude induced
him to confer on the latter the title of Crown Prince. In thus
acting, Richu may have been influenced by the fact that the
alternative was to bequeath the throne to a baby, but none the less
he stands responsible for an innovation which greatly impaired the
stability of the succession. It should be noted, as illustrating the
influence of the Takenouchi family that, in spite of the shame she
had suffered, the lady Kuro became the Emperor's concubine. In fact,
among the four nobles who administered the affairs of the empire
during Richu's reign, not the least powerful were Heguri no Tsuku and
Soga no Machi. Moreover, Richu, as has been stated already, was a son
of Iwa, a lady of the same great family, and his two successors,
Hansho and Inkyo, were his brothers by the same mother.


The annals of Richu's reign confirm a principle which received its
first illustration when the Emperor Keiko put to death for parricide
the daughter of a Kumaso chief, though she had betrayed her father in
the interest of Keiko himself. Similar deference to the spirit of
loyalty led to the execution of Sashihire in the time of Richu. A
retainer of the rebellious Prince Nakatsu, Sashihire, assassinated
that prince at the instance of Prince Mizuha, who promised large
reward. But after the deed had been accomplished, Heguri no Tsuku
advised his nephew, Mizuha, saying, "Sashihire has killed his own
lord for the sake of another, and although for us he has done a great
service, yet towards his own lord his conduct has been heartless in
the extreme." Sashihire was therefore put to death. That this
principle was always observed in Japan cannot be asserted, but that
it was always respected is certain.

In Richu's reign there is found the first clear proof that tattooing
was not practised in Japan for ornamental purposes. Tattooing is
first mentioned as a custom of the Yemishi when their country was
inspected by Takenouchi at Keiko's orders. But in Richu's time it was
employed to punish the muraji of Atsumi, who had joined the rebellion
of Prince Nakatsu. He was "inked" on the face. It appears also that
the same practice had hitherto been employed to distinguish
horse-keepers, but the custom was finally abandoned in deference to
an alleged revelation from Izanagi, the deity of Awaji, on the
occasion of a visit by Richu to that island. In the context of this
revelation it is noticeable that belief in the malign influence of
offended deities was gaining ground. Thus, on the occasion of the
sudden death of Princess Kuro, the voice of the wind was heard to
utter mysterious words in the "great void" immediately before the
coming of a messenger to announce the event, and the Emperor
attributed the calamity to the misconduct of an official who had
removed certain persons from serving at a shrine.

The annals of this reign are noteworthy as containing the earliest
reference to the compilation of books. It is stated that in the year
A.D. 403 "local recorders were appointed for the first time in the
various provinces, who noted down statements and communicated the
writings of the four quarters." An eminent critic--Mr. W. G.
Aston--regards this as an anachronism, since the coming of the Korean
scholar, Wani (vide sup.), did not take place until the year 405,
which date probably preceded by many years the appointment of
recorders. But it has been shown above that the innovation due to
Wani was, not the art of writing, but, in all probability, a
knowledge of the Chinese classics.

Another institution established during this era was a treasury (A.D.
405), and the two learned Koreans who had come from Paikche (Kudara)
were appointed to keep the accounts. A work of later date than the
Chronicles or Records--the Shokuin-rei--says that in this treasury
were stored "gold and silver, jewels, precious utensils, brocade and
satin, saicenet, rugs and mattresses, and the rare objects sent as
tribute by the various barbarians."


The Emperor Hansho's short reign of five years is not remarkable for
anything except an indirect evidence that Chinese customs were
beginning to be adopted at the Japanese Court. In the earliest eras,
the ladies who enjoyed the sovereign's favour were classed simply as
"Empress" or "consort." But from the days of Hansho we find three
ranks of concubines.


Inkyo was a younger brother of his predecessor, Hansho, as the latter
had been of Richu. No formal nomination of Inkyo as Prince Imperial
had taken place, and thus for the first time the sceptre was found
without any legalized heir or any son of the deceased sovereign to
take it. In these circumstances, the ministers held a council and
agreed to offer the throne to Inkyo, the elder of two surviving sons
of Nintoku. Inkyo was suffering from a disease supposed to be
incurable, and, distrusting his own competence, he persistently
refused to accept the responsibility. The incident responsible for
his ultimate consent was the intervention of a concubine, Onakatsu,
afterwards Empress. Under pretext of carrying water for the prince
she entered his chamber, and when he turned his back on her entreaty
that he would comply with the ministers' desire, she remained
standing in the bitter cold of a stormy day of January, until the
water, which she had spilled over her arm, became frozen and she fell
in a faint. Then the prince yielded. A year later envoys were sent to
seek medical assistance in Korea, which was evidently regarded as the
home of the healing science as well as of many other arts borrowed
from China. A physician arrived from Sinra, and Inkyo's malady was

In this reign took place a celebrated incident, already referred to,
when the lineage of the nobles was corrected by recourse to the
ordeal of boiling water. But a much larger space in the annals is
occupied with the story of an affair, important only as illustrating
the manners and customs of the time. From an early period it had been
usual that Japanese ladies on festive occasions should go through the
graceful performance of "woven paces and waving hands," which
constituted dancing, and, in the era now occupying our attention,
there prevailed in the highest circles a custom that the danseuse
should offer a maiden to the most honoured among the guests. One
winter's day, at the opening of a new palace, the Empress Onakatsu
danced to the music of the Emperor's lute. Onakatsu had a younger
sister, Oto, of extraordinary beauty, and the Emperor, fain to
possess the girl but fearful of offending the Empress, had planned
this dance so that Onakatsu, in compliance with the recognized usage,
might be constrained to place her sister at his disposal. It fell out
as Inkyo wished, but there then ensued a chapter of incidents in
which the dignity of the Crown fared ill. Again and again the
beautiful Oto refused to obey her sovereign's summons, and when at
length, by an unworthy ruse, she was induced to repair to the palace,
it was found impossible to make her an inmate of it in defiance of
the Empress' jealousy. She had to be housed elsewhere, and still the
Imperial lover was baffled, for he dared not brave the elder sister's
resentment by visiting the younger. Finally he took advantage of the
Empress' confinement to pay the long-deferred visit, but, on learning
of the event, the outraged wife set fire to the parturition house and
attempted to commit suicide. "Many years have passed," she is
recorded to have said to the Emperor, "since I first bound up my hair
and became thy companion in the inner palace. It is too cruel of
thee, O Emperor! Wherefore just on this night when I am in childbirth
and hanging between life and death, must thou go to Fujiwara?" Inkyo
had the grace to be "greatly shocked" and to "soothe the mind of the
Empress with explanations," but he did not mend his infidelity. At
Oto's request he built a residence for her at Chinu in the
neighbouring province of Kawachi, and thereafter the compilers of the
Chronicles, with fine irony, confine their record of three
consecutive years' events to a repetition of the single phrase, "the
Emperor made a progress to Chinu."

It is not, perhaps, extravagant to surmise that the publicity
attending this sovereign's amours and the atmosphere of loose
morality thus created were in part responsible for a crime committed
by his elder son, the Crown Prince Karu. Marriage between children of
the same father had always been permitted in Japan provided the
mother was different, but marriage between children of the same
mother was incest. Prince Karu was guilty of this offence with his
sister, Oiratsume, and so severely did the nation judge him that he
was driven into exile and finally obliged to commit suicide. With
such records is the reign of Inkyo associated. It is perplexing that
the posthumous name chosen for him by historians should signify
"sincerely courteous." Incidentally, four facts present
themselves--that men wore wristbands and garters to which grelots
were attached; that a high value was set on pearls; that metal was
used for the construction of great men's gates, and that the first
earthquake is said to have been experienced in A.D. 416.


The records of this sovereign's reign make a discreditable page of
Japanese history. Anko, having ascended the throne after an armed
contest with his elder brother, which ended in the latter's suicide,
desired to arrange a marriage between his younger brother, Ohatsuse,
and a sister of his uncle, Okusaka. He despatched Ne no Omi, a
trusted envoy, to confer with the latter, who gladly consented, and,
in token of approval, handed to Ne no Omi a richly jewelled coronet
for conveyance to the Emperor. But Ne no Omi, covetous of the gems,
secreted the coronet, and told the Emperor that Okusaka had rejected
the proposal with scorn. Anko took no steps to investigate the truth
of this statement. It has been already seen that such investigations
were not customary in those days. Soldiers were at once sent to
slaughter Okusaka; his wife, Nakashi, was taken to be the Emperor's
consort, and his sister, Hatahi, was married to Prince Ohatsuse.

Now, at the time of his death, Okusaka had a son, Mayuwa, seven years
old. One day, the Emperor, having drunk heavily, confessed to the
Empress, Nakashi, that he entertained some apprehension lest this boy
might one day seek to avenge his father's execution. The child
overheard this remark, and creeping to the side of his step-father,
who lay asleep with his head in Nakashi's lap, killed him with his
own sword. Such is the tale narrated in the Chronicles and the
Records. But its incredible features are salient. A deed of the kind
would never have been conceived or committed by a child, and the
Empress must have been a conniving party.

To what quarter, then, is the instigation to be traced? An answer
seems to be furnished by the conduct of Prince Ohatsuse. Between this
prince and the throne five lives intervened; those of the Emperor
Anko, of the latter's two brothers, Yatsuri no Shiro and Sakai no
Kuro, both older than Ohatsuse, and of two sons of the late Emperor
Richu, Ichinobe no Oshiwa and Mima. Every one of these was removed
from the scene in the space of a few days. Immediately after Anko's
assassination, Ohatsuse, simulating suspicion of his two elder
brothers, killed the o-omi, who refused to give them up. Ohatsuse
then turned his attention to his grand-uncles, the two sons of Richu.
He sent a military force to destroy one of them without any pretence
of cause; the other he invited to a hunting expedition and
treacherously shot. If Ohatsuse did not contrive the murder of Anko,
as he contrived the deaths of all others standing between himself and
the throne, a great injustice has been done to his memory.


These shocking incidents are not without a relieving feature. They
furnished opportunities for the display of fine devotion. When Prince
Okusaka died for a crime of which he was wholly innocent, two of his
retainers, Naniwa no Hikaga, father and son, committed suicide in
vindication of his memory. When Prince Sakai no Kuro and Mayuwa took
refuge in the house of the o-omi Tsubura, the latter deliberately
chose death rather than surrender the fugitives. When Prince Kuro
perished, Nie-no-Sukune took the corpse in his arms and was burned
with it. When Prince Ichinobe no Oshiwa fell under the treacherous
arrow of Prince Ohatsuse, one of the former's servants embraced the
dead body and fell into such a paroxysm of grief that Ohatsuse
ordered him to be despatched. And during this reign of Yuryaku, when
Lord Otomo was killed in a fatal engagement with the Sinra troops, his
henchman, Tsumaro, crying, "My master has fallen; what avails that I
alone should remain unhurt?" threw himself into the ranks of the
enemy and perished. Loyalty to the death characterized the Japanese
in every age.


This sovereign was the Ohatsuse of whose unscrupulous ambition so
much has just been heard. Some historians have described him as an
austere man, but few readers of his annals will be disposed to
endorse such a lenient verdict. He ordered that a girl, whose only
fault was misplaced affection, should have her four limbs stretched
on a tree and be roasted to death; he slew one of his stewards at a
hunt, because the man did not understand how to cut up the meat of an
animal; he removed a high official--Tasa, omi of Kibi--to a distant
post in order to possess himself of the man's wife (Waka), and he
arbitrarily and capriciously killed so many men and women that the
people called him the "Emperor of great wickedness." One act of
justice stands to his credit. The slanderer, Ne no Omi, who for the
sake of a jewelled coronet had caused the death of Prince Okusaka, as
related above, had the temerity to wear the coronet, sixteen years
subsequently, when he presided at a banquet given in honour of envoys
from China; and the beauty of the bauble having thus been noised
abroad, Ne no Omi was required to show it at the palace. It was
immediately recognized by the Empress, sister of the ill-starred
prince, and Ne no Omi, having confessed his crime, was put to death,
all the members of his uji being reduced to the rank of serfs. One
moiety of them was formed into a hereditary corporation which was
organized under the name of Okusakabe, in memory of Prince Okusaka.


The reign of Yuryaku is partially saved from the reproach of selfish
despotism by the encouragement given to the arts and crafts. It has
already been related that the members of the Hata-uji, which had been
constituted originally with artisans from China, gradually became
dispersed throughout the provinces and were suffering some hardships
when Yuryaku issued orders for their reassembly and reorganization.
Subsequently the sovereign gave much encouragement to sericulture,
and, inspired doubtless by the legend of the Sun goddess, inaugurated
a custom which thereafter prevailed in Japan through all ages, the
cultivation of silkworms by the Empress herself. At a later date,
learning from a Korean handicraftsman (tebito)--whose name has been
handed down as Kwan-in Chiri--that Korea abounded in experts of
superior skill, Yuryaku commissioned this man to carry to the King of
Kudara (Paikche) an autograph letter asking for the services of
several of these experts. This request was complied with, and the
newcomers were assigned dwellings at the village of Tsuno in Yamato;*
but as the place proved unhealthy, they were afterwards distributed
among several localities.

*There were potters, saddlers, brocade-weavers, and interpreters.

It is also recorded that, about this time, there came from China a
man called An Kiko, a descendant of one of the Wu sovereigns. He
settled in Japan, and his son, Ryu afterwards--named Shinki--is
reputed to have been the first exponent of Chinese pictorial art in
Japan. In the year A.D. 470, there was another arrival of artisans,
this time from Wu (China), including weavers and clothiers. They
landed in the province of Settsu, and to commemorate their coming a
road called the "Kure-saka" (Wu acclivity) was constructed from that
port to the Shihatsu highway. The descendants of these immigrants
were organized into two hereditary corporations (be) of
silk-clothiers, the Asuka no Kinu-nui-be and the Ise no Kinu-nui-be.
Two years later (472), orders were issued for the cultivation of
mulberry trees in all suitable provinces, and at the same time the
previously reassembled members of the Hata-uji were once more
distributed to various localities with the object of widening their
sphere of instruction.

In the year 473 a very interesting event is recorded. The muraji of
the Hanishi was ordered to furnish craftsmen to manufacture "pure
utensils" for serving viands daily in the palace. These Hanishi are
first spoken of as having been employed at the suggestion of
Nomi-no-Sukune, in the days of the Emperor Suinin (A.D. 3), to make
clay substitutes for the human beings thitherto inhumed at the
sepulchres of notables. In response to this order the muraji summoned
his own tami-be (private hereditary corporation) then located at
seven villages in the provinces of Settsu, Yamashiro, Ise, Tamba,
Tajima, and Inaba. They were organized into the Nie no Hanishibe, or
hereditary corporation of potters of table-utensils. Ceramists had
previously come from Kudara (Paikche), and there can be no doubt that
some progress was made in the art from the fifth century onwards. But
there does not appear to be sufficient ground for a conclusion formed
by some historians that the "pure utensils" mentioned above were of
glazed pottery. The art of applying glaze to ceramic manufactures was
not discovered until a much later period.


When Yuryaku ascended the throne, Japan still enjoyed her original
friendship with Paikche (Kudara), whence ladies-in-waiting were sent
periodically to the Yamato Court. She also retained her military post
at Mimana (Imna) and kept a governor there, but her relations with
Shiragi (Sinra) were somewhat strained, owing to harsh treatment of
the latter's special envoys who had come to convey their sovereign's
condolences on the death of the Emperor Inkyo (453). From the time of
Yuryaku's accession, Shiragi ceased altogether to send the usual
gifts to the Emperor of Japan. In the year 463, Yuryaku, desiring to
possess himself of the wife of a high official, Tasa, sent him to be
governor of Mimana, and in his absence debauched the lady. Tasa,
learning how he had been dishonoured, raised the standard of revolt
and sought aid of the Shiragi people. Then Yuryaku, with
characteristic refinement of cruelty, ordered Tasa's son, Oto, to
lead a force against his father. Oto seemingly complied, but, on
reaching the peninsula, opened communication with his father, and it
was agreed that while Tasa should hold Imna, breaking off all
relations with Japan, Oto should adopt a similar course with regard
to Paikche. This plot was frustrated by Oto's wife, Kusu, a woman too
patriotic to connive at treason in any circumstances. She killed her
husband, and the Court of Yamato was informed of these events.

From that time, however, Japan's hold upon the peninsula was shaken.
Yuryaku sent four expeditions thither, but they accomplished nothing
permanent. The power of Koma in the north increased steadily, and it
had the support of China. Yuryaku's attempts to establish close
relations with the latter--the Sung were then on the throne--seem to
have been inspired by a desire to isolate Korea. He failed, and
ultimately Kudara was overrun by Koma, as will be seen by and by. It
is scarcely too much to say that Japan lost her paramount status in
Korea because of Yuryaku's illicit passion for the wife of one of his


The first absolute agreement between the dates given in Japanese
history and those given in Korean occurs in this reign, namely, the
year A.D. 475. The severest critics therefore consent to admit the
trustworthiness of the Japanese annals from the third quarter of the
fifth century.


In the record of Richu's reign, brief mention has been made of the
establishment of a Government treasury. In early days, when religious
rites and administrative functions were not differentiated, articles
needed for both purposes were kept in the same store, under the
charge of the Imibe-uji. But as the Court grew richer, owing to
receipt of domestic taxes and foreign "tribute," the necessity of
establishing separate treasuries, was felt and a "domestic store"
(Uchi-kura) was formed during Richu's reign, the Koreans, Achi and
Wani, being appointed to keep the accounts. In Yuryaku's time a third
treasury had to be added, owing to greatly increased production of
textile fabrics and other manufactures. This was called the Okura, a
term still applied to the Imperial treasury, and there were thus
three stores, Okura, Uchi-kura, and Imi-kura. Soga no Machi was
placed in supreme charge of all three, and the power of the Soga
family grew proportionately.


It is observable that at this epoch the sovereigns of Japan had not
yet begun to affect the sacred seclusion which, in later ages, became
characteristic of them. It is true that, after ascending the throne,
they no longer led their troops in war, though they did so as
Imperial princes. But in other respects they lived the lives of
ordinary men--joining in the chase, taking part in banquets, and
mixing freely with the people. As illustrating this last fact a
strange incident may be cited. One day the Emperor Yuryaku visited
the place where some carpenters were at work and observed that one of
them, Mane, in shaping timber with an axe, used a stone for ruler but
never touched it with the axe. "Dost thou never make a mistake and
strike the stone?" asked the monarch. "I never make a mistake,"
replied the carpenter. Then, to disturb the man's sang-froid, Yuryaku
caused the ladies-in-waiting (uneme) to dance, wearing only
waist-cloths. Mane watched the spectacle for a while, and on resuming
his work, his accuracy of aim was momentarily at fault. The Emperor
rebuked him for having made an unwarranted boast and handed him over
to the monono-be for execution. After the unfortunate man had been
led away, one of his comrades chanted an impromptu couplet lamenting
his fate, whereat the Emperor, relenting, bade a messenger gallop off
on "a black horse of Kai" to stay the execution. The mandate of mercy
arrived just in time, and when Mane's bonds were loosed, he, too,
improvised a verse:

   "Black as the night
   "Was the horse of Kai.
   "Had they waited to
   "Saddle him, my life were lost
   "O, horse of Kai!"

The whole incident is full of instruction. A sovereign concerning
himself about trivialities as petty as this pretext on which he sends
a man to death; the shameful indignity put upon the ladies-in-waiting
to minister to a momentary whim; the composition of poetry by common
carpenters, and the ride for life on a horse which there is not time
to saddle. It is an instructive picture of the ways of Yuryaku's

In truth, this couplet-composing proclivity is one of the strangest
features of the Yamato race as portrayed in the pages of the Records
and the Chronicles. From the time when the fierce Kami, Susanoo, put
his thoughts into verse as he sought for a place to celebrate his
marriage, great crises and little crises in the careers of men and
women respectively inspire couplets. We find an Emperor addressing an
ode to a dragon-fly which avenges him on a gad-fly; we find a prince
reciting impromptu stanzas while he lays siege to the place whither
his brother has fled for refuge; we find a heartbroken lady singing a
verselet as for the last time she ties the garters of her lord going
to his death, and we find a sovereign corresponding in verse with his
consort whose consent to his own dishonour he seeks to win.

Yet in the lives of all these men and women of old, there are not
many other traces of corresponding refinement or romance. We are
constrained to conjecture that many of the verses quoted in the
Records and the Chronicles were fitted in after ages to the events
they commemorate. Another striking feature in the lives of these
early sovereigns is that while on the one hand their residences are
spoken of as muro, a term generally applied to dwellings partially
underground, on the other, we find more than one reference to high
towers. Thus Yuryaku is shown as "ordering commissioners to erect a
lofty pavilion in which he assumes the Imperial dignity," and the
Emperor Nintoku is represented as "ascending a lofty tower and
looking far and wide" on the occasion of his celebrated sympathy with
the people's poverty.





The 22nd Sovereign, Seinei  A.D. 480-484

 "  23rd    "       Kenso    "   485-487

 "  24th    "       Ninken   "   488-498

 "  25th    "       Muretsu  "   499-506

 "  26th    "       Keitai   "   507-531

 "  27th    "       Ankan    "   534-535

 "  28th    "       Senkwa   "   536-539


THE Emperor Yuryaku's evil act in robbing Tasa of his wife, Waka,
entailed serious consequences. He selected to succeed to the throne
his son Seinei, by Princess Kara, who belonged to the Katsuragi
branch of the great Takenouchi family. But Princess Waka conspired to
secure the dignity for the younger of her own two sons, Iwaki and
Hoshikawa, who were both older than Seinei. She urged Hoshikawa to
assert his claim by seizing the Imperial treasury, and she herself
with Prince Iwaki and others accompanied him thither. They
underestimated the power of the Katsuragi family. Siege was laid to
the treasury and all its inmates were burned, with the exception of
one minor official to whom mercy was extended and who, in token of
gratitude, presented twenty-five acres of rice-land to the o-muraji,
Lord Otomo, commander of the investing force.


The Emperor Seinei had no offspring, and for a time it seemed that
the succession in the direct line would be interrupted. For this lack
of heirs the responsibility ultimately rested with Yuryaku. In his
fierce ambition to sweep away every obstacle, actual or potential,
that barred his ascent to the throne, he inveigled Prince Oshiwa,
eldest son of the Emperor Richu, to accompany him on a hunting
expedition, and slew him mercilessly on the moor of Kaya. Oshiwa had
two sons, Oke and Woke, mere children at the time of their father's
murder. They fled, under the care of Omi, a muraji, who, with his
son, Adahiko, secreted them in the remote province of Inaba. Omi
ultimately committed suicide in order to avoid the risk of capture
and interrogation under torture, and the two little princes, still
accompanied by Adahiko, calling themselves "the urchins of Tamba,"
became menials in the service of the obito of the Shijimi granaries
in the province of Harima.

Twenty-four years had been passed in that seclusion when it chanced
that Odate, governor of the province, visited the obito on an
occasion when the latter was holding a revel to celebrate the
building of a new house, it fell to the lot of the two princes to act
as torch-bearers, the lowest role that could be assigned to them, and
the younger counselled his brother that the time had come to declare
themselves, for death was preferable to such a life. Tradition says
that, being invited to dance "when the night had become profound,
when the revel was at its height and when every one else had danced
in turn," the Prince Woke, accompanying his movements with verses
extemporized for the occasion, danced so gracefully that the governor
twice asked him to continue, and at length he announced the rank and
lineage of his brother and himself. The governor, astonished, "made
repeated obeisance to the youths, built a palace for their temporary
accommodation, and going up to the capital, disclosed the whole
affair to the Emperor, who expressed profound satisfaction."

Oke, the elder of the two, was made Prince Imperial, and should have
ascended the throne on the death of Seinei, a few months later.
Arguing, however, that to his younger brother, Woke it was entirely
due that they had emerged from a state of abject misery, Oke
announced his determination to cede the honour to Woke, who, in turn,
declined to take precedence of his elder brother. This dispute of
mutual deference continued for a whole year, during a part of which
time the administration was carried on by Princess Awo, elder sister
of Woke. At length the latter yielded and assumed the sceptre. His
first care was to collect the bones of his father, Prince Oshiwa,
who had been murdered and buried unceremoniously on the moor of Kaya
in Omi province. It was long before the place of interment could be
discovered, but at length an old woman served as guide, and the bones
of the prince were found mingled in inextricable confusion with those
of his loyal vassal, Nakachiko, who had shared his fate.

The ethics of that remote age are illustrated vividly in this page of
the record. A double sepulchre was erected in memory of the murdered
prince and his faithful follower and the old woman who had pointed
out the place of their unhonoured grave was given a house in the
vicinity of the palace, a rope with a bell attached being stretched
between the two residences to serve as a support for her infirm feet
and as a means of announcing her coming when she visited the palace.
But the same benevolent sovereign who directed these gracious doings
was with difficulty dissuaded from demolishing the tomb and
scattering to the winds of heaven the bones of the Emperor Yuryaku,
under whose hand Prince Oshiwa had fallen.


In connexion with this, the introduction of the principle of the
vendetta has to be noted. Its first practical application is
generally referred to the act of the boy-prince, Mayuwa, who stabbed
his father's slayer, the Emperor Anko (A.D. 456). But the details of
Anko's fate are involved in some mystery, and it is not until the
time (A.D. 486) of Kenso that we find a definite enunciation of the
Confucian doctrine, afterwards rigidly obeyed in Japan, "A man should
not live under the same heaven with his father's enemy." History
alleges that, by his brother's counsels, the Emperor Kenso was
induced to abandon his intention of desecrating Yuryaku's tomb, but
the condition of the tomb to-day suggests that these counsels were
not entirely effective.


The annals of this epoch refer more than once to banquets at the
palace. Towards the close of Seinei's reign we read of "a national
drinking-festival which lasted five days," and when Kenso ascended
the throne he "went to the park, where he held revel by the winding
streams," the high officials in great numbers being his guests. On
this latter occasion the ministers are said to have "uttered
reiterated cries of 'banzai'"*, which has come into vogue once more in
modern times as the equivalent of "hurrah."

*Banzai means literally "ten thousand years," and thus corresponds to


The twenty-fourth sovereign, Ninken, was the elder of the two
brothers, Oke and Woke, whose escape from the murderous ambition of
the Emperor Yuryaku and their ultimate restoration to princely rank
have been already described. He succeeded to the throne after the
death of his younger brother, and occupied it for ten years of a most
uneventful reign. Apart from the fact that tanners were invited from
Korea to improve the process followed in Japan, the records contain
nothing worthy of attention. One incident, however, deserves to be
noted as showing the paramount importance attached in those early
days to all the formalities of etiquette. The Empress dowager
committed suicide, dreading lest she should be put to death for a
breach of politeness committed towards Ninken during the life of his
predecessor, Kenso. At a banquet in the palace she had twice
neglected to kneel when presenting, first, a knife and, secondly, a
cup of wine to Ninken, then Prince Imperial. It has already been
related that the Empress Onakatsu, consort of Inkyo, was disposed to
inflict the death penalty on a high official who had slighted her
unwittingly prior to her husband's accession. There can be no doubt
that differences of rank received most rigid recognition in early


This sovereign was the eldest son of his predecessor, Ninken.
According to the Chronicles, his reign opened with a rebellion by the
great Heguri family, whose representative, Matori, attempted to usurp
the Imperial dignity while his son, Shibi, defiantly wooed and won
for himself the object of the Emperor's affections. Matori had been
Yuryaku's minister, and his power as well as his family influence
were very great, but the military nobles adhered to the sovereign's
cause and the Heguri were annihilated. In the Records this event is
attributed to the reign of Seinei in a much abbreviated form, but the
account given in the Chronicles commands the greater credence. The
Chronicles, however, represent Muretsu as a monster of cruelty, the
Nero of Japanese history, who plucked out men's nails and made them
dig up yams with their mutilated fingers; who pulled out people's
hair; who made them ascend trees which were then cut down, and who
perpetrated other hideous excesses. Here again the Records, as
well as other ancient authorities are absolutely silent, and the
story in the Chronicles has attracted keen analyses by modern
historiographers. Their almost unanimous conclusion is that the
annals of King Multa of Kudara have been confused with those of the
Emperor Muretsu. This Korean sovereign, contemporary with Muretsu,
committed all kinds of atrocities and was finally deposed by his
people. There are evidences that the compilers of the Chronicles drew
largely on the pages of Korean writers, and it is not difficult to
imagine accidental intermixing such as that suggested by the critics
in this case.


The death of the Emperor Muretsu left the throne without any
successor in the direct line of descent, and for the first time since
the foundation of the Empire, it became necessary for the great
officials to make a selection among the scions of the remote Imperial
families. Their choice fell primarily on the representative of the
fifth generation of the Emperor Chuai's descendants. But as their
method of announcing their decision was to despatch a strong force of
armed troops to the provincial residence of the chosen man, he
naturally misinterpreted the demonstration and sought safety in
flight. Then the o-omi and the o-muraji turned to Prince Odo, fifth
in descent from the Emperor Ojin on his father's side and eighth in
descent from the Emperor Suinin on his mother's. Arako, head of the
horse-keepers, had secretly informed the prince of the ministers'
intentions, and thus the sudden apparition of a military force
inspired no alarm in Odo's bosom. He did, indeed, show seemly
hesitation, but finally he accepted the insignia and ascended the
throne, confirming all the high dignitaries of State in their
previous offices. From the point of view of domestic affairs his
reign was uneventful, but the empire's relations with Korea continued
to be much disturbed, as will be presently explained.


The Emperor Keitai had a large family, but only one son was by the
Empress, and as he was too young to ascend the throne immediately
after his father's death, he was preceded by his two brothers, Ankan
and Senkwa, sons of the senior concubine. This complication seems to
have caused some difficulty, for whereas Keitai died in 531, Ankan's
reign did not commence until 534. The most noteworthy feature of his
era was the establishment of State granaries in great numbers, a
proof that the Imperial power found large extension throughout the
provinces. In connexion with this, the o-muraji, Kanamura, is quoted
as having laid down, by command of the Emperor, the following
important doctrine, "Of the entire surface of the soil, there is no
part which is not a royal grant in fee; under the wide heavens there
is no place which is not royal territory." The annals show, also,
that the custom of accepting tracts of land or other property in
expiation of offences was obtaining increased vogue.


Senkwa was the younger brother of Ankan. He reigned only three years
and the period of his sway was uneventful, if we except the growth of
complications with Korea, and the storing of large quantities of
grain in Tsukushi, as a "provision against extraordinary occasions,"
and "for the cordial entertainment of our good guests" from "the
countries beyond the sea."


With whatever scepticism the details of the Empress Jingo's
expedition be regarded, it appears to be certain that at a very early
date, Japan effected lodgement on the south coast of Korea at Mimana,
and established there a permanent station (chinju-fu) which was
governed by one of her own officials. It is also apparent that,
during several centuries, the eminent military strength of Yamato
received practical recognition from the principalities into which the
peninsula was divided; that they sent to the Court of Japan annual
presents which partook of the nature of tribute, and that they
treated her suggestions, for the most part, with deferential
attention. This state of affairs received a rude shock in the days of
Yuryaku, when that sovereign, in order to possess himself of the wife
of a high official named Tasa, sent the latter to distant Mimana as
governor, and seized the lady in his absence. Tasa revolted, and from
that time Japan's position in the peninsula was compromised. The
Koreans perceived that her strength might be paralyzed by the sins of
her sovereigns and the disaffection of her soldiers. Shiragi (Sinra),
whose frontier was conterminous with that of the Japanese settlement
on the north, had always been restive in the proximity of a foreign
aggressor. From the time of Yuryaku's accession she ceased to convey
the usual tokens of respect to the Yamato Court, and, on the other
hand, she cultivated the friendship of Koma as an ally in the day of

It may be broadly stated that Korea was then divided into three
principalities: Shiragi in the south and east; Kudara in the centre
and west, with its capital at the modern Seoul, and Koma in the
north, having Pyong-yang for chief city. This last had recently
pushed its frontier into Manchuria as far as the Liao River, and was
already beginning to project its shadow over the southern regions of
the peninsula, destined ultimately to fall altogether under its sway.
In response to Shiragi's overtures, the King of Koma sent a body of
troops to assist in protecting that principality against any
retaliatory essay on the part of the Japanese in Mimana. But the men
of Shiragi, betrayed into imagining that these soldiers were destined
to be the van of an invading army, massacred them, and besought
Japanese succour against Koma's vengeance. The Japanese acceded, and
Shiragi was saved for a time, but at the cost of incurring, for
herself and for Japan alike, the lasting enmity of Koma. Shiragi
appears to have concluded, however, that she had more to fear from
Koma than from Japan, for she still withheld her tribute to the
latter, and invaded the territory of Kudara, which had always
maintained most friendly relations with Yamato. The Emperor Yuryaku
sent two expeditions to punish this contumacy, but the result being
inconclusive, he resolved to take the exceptional step of personally
leading an army to the peninsula.

This design, which, had it matured, might have radically changed the
history of the Far East, was checked by an oracle, and Yuryaku
appointed three of his powerful nobles to go in his stead. The
Shiragi men fought with desperate tenacity. One wing of their army
was broken, but the other held its ground, and two of the Japanese
generals fell in essaying to dislodge it. Neither side could claim a
decisive victory, but both were too much exhausted to renew the
combat. This was not the limit of Japan's misfortunes. A feud broke
out among the leaders of the expedition, and one of them, Oiwa, shot
his comrade as they were en route for the Court of the Kudara
monarch, who had invited them in the hope of composing their
dissensions, since the existence of his own kingdom depended on
Japan's intervention between Koma and Shiragi.

Owing to this feud among her generals, Japan's hold on Mimana became
more precarious than ever while her prestige in the peninsula
declined perceptibly. Nevertheless her great military name still
retained much of its potency. Thus, ten years later (A.D. 477), when
the King of Koma invaded Kudara and held the land at his mercy, he
declined to follow his generals' counsels of extermination in
deference to Kudara's long friendship with Yamato. It is related
that, after this disaster, the Japanese Emperor gave the town of
Ung-chhon (Japanese, Kumanari) to the remnant of the Kudara people,
and the latter's capital was then transferred from its old site in
the centre of the peninsula--a place no longer tenable--to the
neighbourhood of Mimana. Thenceforth Yuryaku aided Kudara zealously.
He not only despatched a force of five hundred men to guard the
palace of the King, but also sent (480) a flotilla of war-vessels to
attack Koma from the west coast. The issue of this attempt is not
recorded, and the silence of the annals may be construed as
indicating failure. Koma maintained at that epoch relations of
intimate friendship with the powerful Chinese dynasty of the Eastern
Wei, and Yuryaku's essays against such a combination were futile,
though he prosecuted them with considerable vigour.

After his death the efficiency of Japan's operations in Korea was
greatly impaired by factors hitherto happily unknown in her foreign
affairs--treason and corruption. Lord Oiwa, whose shooting of his
fellow general, Karako, has already been noted, retained his post as
governor of Mimana for twenty-one years, and then (487), ambitious of
wider sway, opened relations with Koma for the joint invasion of
Kudara, in order that he himself might ascend the throne of the
latter. A desperate struggle ensued. Several battles were fought, in
all of which the victory is historically assigned to Oiwa, but if he
really did achieve any success, it was purely ephemeral, for he
ultimately abandoned the campaign and returned to Japan, giving
another shock to his country's waning reputation in the peninsula. If
the Yamato Court took any steps to punish this act of lawless
ambition, there is no record in that sense. The event occurred in the
last year of Kenso's reign, and neither that monarch nor his
successor, Ninken, seems to have devoted any special attention to
Korean affairs.

Nothing notable took place until 509, when Keitai was on the throne.
In that year, a section of the Kudara people, who, in 477, had been
driven from their country by the Koma invaders and had taken refuge
within the Japanese dominion of Mimana, were restored to their homes
with Japanese co-operation and with renewal of the friendly relations
which had long existed between the Courts of Yamato and Kudara. Three
years later (512), Kudara preferred a singular request. She asked
that four regions, forming an integral part of the Yamato domain of
Mimana, should be handed over to her, apparently as an act of pure
benevolence. Japan consented. There is no explanation of her
complaisance except that she deemed it wise policy to strengthen
Kudara against the growing might of Shiragi, Yamato's perennial foe.
The two officials by whose advice the throne made this sacrifice were
the o-muraji, Kanamura, and the governor of Mimana, an omi called
Oshiyama. They went down in the pages of history as corrupt statesmen
who, in consideration of bribes from the Kudara Court, surrendered
territory which Japan had won by force of arms and held for five

In the following year (513) the Kudara Court again utilized the
services of Oshiyama to procure possession of another district, Imun
(Japanese, Komom), which lay on the northeast frontier of Mimana.
Kudara falsely represented that this region had been wrested from her
by Habe, one of the petty principalities in the peninsula, and the
Yamato Court, acting at the counsels of the same o-muraji (Kanamura)
who had previously espoused Kudara's cause, credited Kudara's story.
This proved an ill-judged policy. It is true that Japan's prestige in
the peninsula received signal recognition on the occasion of
promulgating the Imperial decree which sanctioned the transfer of the
disputed territory. All the parties to the dispute, Kudara, Shiragi,
and Habe, were required to send envoys to the Yamato Court for the
purpose of hearing the rescript read, and thus Japan's pre-eminence
was constructively acknowledged. But her order provoked keen
resentment in Shiragi and Habe. The general whom she sent with five
hundred warships to escort the Kudara envoys was ignominiously
defeated by the men of Habe, while Shiragi seized the opportunity to
invade Mimana and to occupy a large area of its territory.

For several years the Yamato Court made no attempt to re-assert
itself, but in 527 an expedition of unprecedented magnitude was
organized. It consisted of sixty thousand soldiers under the command
of Keno no Omi, and its object was to chastise Shiragi and to
re-establish Mimana in its original integrity. But here an
unforeseeable obstacle presented itself. For all communication with
the Korean peninsula, Tsukushi (Kyushu) was an indispensable basis,
and it happened that, just at this time, Kyushu had for ruler
(miyatsuko) a nobleman called Iwai, who is said to have long
entertained treasonable designs. A knowledge of his mood was conveyed
to Shiragi, and tempting proposals were made to him from that place
conditionally on his frustrating the expedition under Keno no Omi.
Iwai thereupon occupied the four provinces of Higo, Hizen, Bungo, and
Buzen, thus effectually placing his hand on the neck of the
communications with Korea and preventing the embarkation of Keno no
Omi's army. He established a pseudo-Court in Tsukushi and there gave
audience to tribute-bearing envoys from Koma, Kudara and Shiragi.

For the space of a twelvemonth this rebel remained master of the
situation, but, in A.D. 528, the o-muraji, Arakahi, crushed him after
a desperate conflict in the province of Chikugo.* Iwai effected his
escape to Buzen and died by his own hand in a secluded valley.
Although, however, this formidable rebellion was thus successfully
quelled, the great expedition did not mature. Keno, its intended
leader, did indeed proceed to Mimana and assume there the duties of
governor, but he proved at once arrogant and incompetent, employing
to an extravagant degree the ordeal of boiling water, so that many
innocent people suffered fatally, and putting to death children of
mixed Korean and Japanese parentage instead of encouraging unions
which would have tended to bring the two countries closer together.

*In the Chikugo Fudoki a minute description is given of Iwai's
sepulchre, built during his lifetime but presumably never occupied by
his body. The remarkable feature of the tomb was a number of stone
images, several representing grave-guards, and one group being
apparently designed to represent the judicial trial of a poacher.

In all her relations with Korea at this epoch, Japan showed more
loyalty than sagacity. She was invariably ready to accede to
proposals from her old friend, Kudara, and the latter, taking astute
advantage of this mood, secured her endorsement of territorial
transfers which brought to the Yamato Court nothing but the enmity of
Kudara's rivals. By these errors of statesmanship and by the
misgovernment of officials like Keno, conditions were created which,
as will be seen hereafter, proved ultimately fatal to Japan's sway in
the peninsula. Meanwhile, every student of Japanese ancient annals
cannot but be struck by the large space devoted to recording her
relations with Korea. As the eminent historian, Rai Sanyo, said in
later times, her soldiers were wearied by constant campaigns oversea,
and her agriculturists were exhausted by frequent requisitions for
supplies. During the epoch of Jingo and Ojin, Japan was palpably
inferior to her peninsular neighbour in civilization, in wealth, and
in population. But in one respect the superiority was largely on her
side; namely, in the quality of her soldiers. Therefore, she utilized
her military strength for campaigns which cost comparatively little
and produced much. The peninsula, at that time, verified the term
commonly applied to it, Uchi-tsurmiyake, or the "Granary of the
Home-land." But as the material development of Japan and her
civilization progressed, she stood constantly to lose more and gain
less by despatching expeditions to a land which squandered much of
its resources on internecine quarrels and was deteriorating by
comparison. The task of maintaining Mimana and succouring Kudara then
became an obligation of prestige which gradually ceased to interest
the nation.


In the period now under consideration no system of land taxation had
yet come into existence. The requirements of the Court were met by
the produce of the mi-agata (Imperial domains), and rice for public
use was grown in the miyake districts, being there stored and devoted
to the administrative needs of the region. Occasionally the contents
of several miyake were collected into one district, as, for example,
when (A.D. 536) the Emperor Senkwa ordered a concentration of
foodstuffs in Tsukushi. The miyake were the property of the Crown, as
were also a number of hereditary corporations (be), whose members
discharged duties, from building and repairing palaces--no light
task, seeing that the site of the palace was changed with each change
of occupant--to sericulture, weaving, tailoring, cooking, and arts
and handicrafts of all descriptions, each be exercising its own
function from generation to generation, and being superintended by
its own head-man (obito or atae).

Any insufficiency in the supplies furnished by the sovereign's own
people was made good by levying on the tomo-no-miyatsuko. It will be
seen that there was no annual tax regularly imposed on the people in
general, though universal requisitions were occasionally made to meet
the requirements of public works, festivals or military operations.
Hence when it is said that the Emperor Nintoku remitted all taxes for
the space of three years until the people's burdens were lightened,
reference is made only to the be and tomobe belonging to the Throne
itself. Doubtless this special feature of Yamato finance was due in
part to the fact that all the land and all the people, except those
appertaining to the Crown, were in the possession of the uji, without
whose co-operation no general fiscal measure could be adopted. When
recourse to the nation at large was necessitated to meet some
exceptional purpose, orders had to be given, first, to the o-omi and
o-muraji; next, by these to the Kami of the several o-uji; then, by
the latter to the Kami of the various ko-uji, and, finally, by these
last to every household.

The machinery was thorough, but to set it in motion required an
effort which constituted an automatic obstacle to extortion. The
lands and people of the uji were governed by the Emperor but were not
directly controlled by him. On the other hand, to refuse a
requisition made by the Throne was counted contumelious and liable to
punishment. Thus when (A.D. 534) the Emperor Ankan desired to include
a certain area of arable land in a miyake established for the purpose
of commemorating the name of the Empress, and when Ajihari, suzerain
(atae) of the region, sought to evade the requisition by
misrepresenting the quality of the land, he was reprimanded and had
to make atonement by surrendering a portion of his private property.
There can be no doubt, however, that as the population increased and
as uncultivated areas grew less frequent, the arbitrary establishment
of koshiro or of nashiro became more and more irksome, and the pages
of history indicate that from the time of Keitai (A.D. 507-531) this
practice was gradually abandoned.


Although the use of the ideographic script became well known from the
fifth century, everything goes to show that no written law existed at
that time, or, indeed, for many years afterwards. Neither are there
any traces of Korean or Chinese influence in this realm. Custom
prescribed punishments, and the solemnity of a judicial trial found
no better representative than the boiling-water ordeal. If a man took
oath to the deities of his innocence and was prepared to thrust his
arm into boiling mud or water, or to lay a red-hot axe on the palm of
his hand, he was held to have complied with all the requirements. The
familiar Occidental doctrine, "the King can do no wrong," received
imperative recognition in Japan, and seems to have been extended to
the Crown Prince also. There were no other exemptions. If a man
committed a crime, punishment extended to every member of his family.
On the other hand, offences might generally be expiated by presenting
lands or other valuables to the Throne. As for the duty of executing
sentences, it devolved on the mononobe, who may be described as the
military corporation. Death or exile were common forms of punishment,
but degradation was still more frequent. It often meant that a
family, noble and opulent to-day, saw all its members handed over
to-morrow to be the serfs or slaves of some uji in whose be they were
enrolled to serve thenceforth, themselves and their children, through
all generations in some menial position,--it might be as
sepulchre-guards, it might be as scullions.

Tattooing on the face was another form of penalty. The first mention
of it occurs in A.D. 400 when Richu condemned the muraji, Hamako, to
be thus branded, but whether the practice originated then or dated
from an earlier period, the annals do not show. It was variously
called hitae-kizamu (slicing the brow), me-saku (splitting the eyes),
and so on, but these terms signified nothing worse than tattooing on
the forehead or round the eyes. The Emperor Richu deemed that such
notoriety was sufficient penalty for high treason, but Yuryaku
inflicted tattooing on a man whose dog had killed one of his
Majesty's fowls.

Death at the stake appears to have been very uncommon. This terrible
form of punishment seems to have been revived by Yuryaku. He caused
it to be inflicted on one of the ladies-in-waiting and her paramour,
who had forestalled him in the girl's affections. The first instance
is mentioned in the annals of the Empress Jingo, but the victim was a
Korean and the incident happened in war. To Yuryaku was reserved the
infamy of employing such a penalty in the case of a woman. Highly
placed personages were often allowed to expiate an offence by
performing the religious rite of harai (purification), the offender
defraying all expenses.


As Chinese literature became familiar and as the arts of the Middle
Kingdom and Korea were imported into Japan, the latter's customs
naturally underwent some changes. This was noticeable in the case of
architecture. Lofty buildings, as has been already stated, began to
take the place of the partially subterranean muro. The annals make no
special reference to the authors of this innovation, but it is
mentioned that among the descendants of the Chinese, Achi, and the
Korean, Tsuka, there were men who practised carpentry. Apparently the
fashion of high buildings was established in the reign of Anko when
(A.D. 456) the term ro or takadono (lofty edifice) is, for the first
time, applied to the palace of Anko in Yamato. A few years later
(468), we find mention of two carpenters,* Tsuguno and Mita, who,
especially the latter, were famous experts in Korean architecture,
and who received orders from Yuryaku to erect high buildings. It
appears further that silk curtains (tsumugi-kaki) came into use in
this age for partitioning rooms, and that a species of straw mat
(tatsu-gomo) served for carpet when people were hunting, travelling,
or campaigning.

*It should be remembered that as all Japanese edifices were made of
timber, the carpenter and the architect were one and the same.


Occasional references have been made already to the art of
shipbuilding in Japan, and the facts elicited may be summed up very
briefly. They are that the first instance of naming a ship is
recorded in the year A.D. 274, when the Karano (one hundred feet
long) was built to order of the Emperor Ojin by the carpenters of Izu
promontory, which place was famed for skill in this respect; that the
general method of building was to hollow out tree-trunks,* and that
the arrival of naval architects from Shiragi (A.D. 300) inaugurated a
superior method of construction, differing little from that employed
in later ages.

*Such dug-outs were named maruki-bune, a distinguishing term which
proves that some other method of building was also employed.


A palanquin (koshi) used by the Emperor Ojin (A.D. 270-310) was
preserved in the Kyoto palace until the year 1219, when a
conflagration consumed it. The records give no description of it, but
they say that Yuryaku and his Empress returned from a hunting
expedition on a cart (kuruma), and tradition relates that a man named
Isa, a descendant in the eighth generation of the Emperor Sujin,
built a covered cart which was the very one used by Yuryaku. It is,
indeed, more than probable that a vehicle which had been in use in
China for a long time must have become familiar to the Japanese at an
early epoch.


For relief in sickness supplication to the gods and the performance
of religious rites were chiefly relied on. But it is alleged* that
medicines for internal and external use were in existence and that
recourse to thermal springs was commonly practised from remote times.

*By the Nihon Bummei Shiryaku.


While Yuryaku was on the throne, Korea and China sent pictorial
experts to Japan. The Korean was named Isuraka, and the Chinese,
Shinki. The latter is said to have been a descendant of the Emperor
Wen of the Wei dynasty. His work attracted much attention in the
reign of Muretsu, who bestowed on him the uji title of Ooka no Obito.
His descendants practised their art with success in Japan, and from
the time of the Emperor Tenchi (668-671) they were distinguished as
Yamato no eshi (painters of Yamato).


If we credit the annals, the composition of poetry commenced in the
earliest ages and was developed independently of foreign influences.
From the sovereign down to the lowest subject, everyone composed
verses. These were not rhymed; the structure of the Japanese language
does not lend itself to rhyme. Their differentiation from prose
consisted solely in the numerical regularity of the syllables in
consecutive lines; the alternation of phrases of five and seven
syllables each. A tanka (short song) consisted of thirty-one
syllables arranged thus, 5, 7, 5, 7, and 7; and a naga-uta (long
song) consisted of an unlimited number of lines, all fulfilling the
same conditions as to number of syllables and alternation of phrases.
No parallel to this kind of versification has been found yet in the
literature of any other nation. The Chronicles and the Records abound
with tanka and naga-uta, many of which have been ascribed by skeptics
to an age not very remote from the time when those books were
compiled. But the Japanese themselves think differently. They connect
the poems directly with the events that inspired them. Further
reference to the subject will be made hereafter. Here it will suffice
to note that the composing of such verselets was a feature of every
age in Japan.


A favourite pastime during the early historic period was known as
uta-gaki or uta-kai. In cities, in the country, in fields, and on
hills, youths and maidens assembled in springtime or in autumn and
enjoyed themselves by singing and dancing. Promises of marriage were
exchanged, the man sending some gifts as a token, and the woman, if
her father or elder brother approved, despatching her head-ornament
(oshiki no tamakatsura) to her lover. On the wedding day it was
customary for the bride to present "table-articles" (tsukue-shiro) to
the bridegroom in the form of food and drink. There were places
specially associated in the public mind with uta-gaki--Tsukuba
Mountain in Hitachi, Kijima-yama in Hizen, and Utagaki-yama in
Settsu. Sometimes men of noble birth took part in this pastime, but
it was usually confined to the lower middle classes. The great
festival of bon-odori, which will be spoken of by and by, is said to
be an outgrowth of the uta-gaki.


No influences of alien character affected the religious beliefs of
the Japanese during the period we are now considering (fourth, fifth,
and sixth centuries). The most characteristic feature of the time was
a belief in the supernatural power of reptiles and animals. This
credulity was not limited to the uneducated masses. The Throne itself
shared it. Yuryaku, having expressed a desire to see the incarnated
form of the Kami of Mimoro Mountain, was shown a serpent seventy feet
long. In the same year a group of snakes harrassed a man who was
reclaiming a marsh, so that he had to take arms against them and
enter into a compact of limitations and of shrine building. Other
records of maleficent deities in serpent shape were current, and
monkeys and dragons inspired similar terror. Of this superstition
there was born an evil custom, the sacrifice of human beings to
appease the hostile spirits. The Kami of Chusan in Mimasaka province
was believed to be a giant ape, and the Kami of Koya, a big reptile.
The people of these two districts took it in turn to offer a girl at
the shrines of those Kami, and in the province of Hida another
colossal monkey was similarly appeased. There were further cases of
extravagant superstition.


Of the development of sericulture and of the arts of weaving and
ceramics in this era enough has already been written; but, as showing
the growth of refinement, it may be noted that among the articles
ordered by the Emperor Yuryaku were a silk hat and a sashiha, or
round fan with a long handle. The colour of the fan was purple, and
it is said to have been hung up as an ornament in the palace.


The original form of government under the Yamato seems to have been
feudal. The heads of uji were practically feudal chiefs. Even orders
from the Throne had to pass through the uji no Kami in order to reach
the people. But from the time of Nintoku (313-349) to that of Yuryaku
(457-479), the Court wielded much power, and the greatest among the
uji chiefs found no opportunity to interfere with the exercise of the
sovereign's rights. Gradually, however, and mainly owing to the
intrusion of love affairs or of lust, the Imperial household fell
into disorder, which prompted the revolt of Heguri, the o-omi of the
Kwobetsu (Imperial families); a revolt subdued by the loyalty of the
o-muraji of the Shimbetsu (Kami families).

From the days of the Emperor Muretsu (499-506), direct heirs to
succeed to the sceptre were wanting in more than one instance, and a
unique opportunity thus offered for traitrous essays. There was none.
Men's minds were still deeply imbued with the conviction that by the
Tenjin alone might the Throne be occupied. But with the introduction
of Buddhism (A.D. 552), that conviction received a shock. That the
Buddha directed and controlled man's destiny was a doctrine
inconsistent with the traditional faith in the divine authority of
the "son of heaven." Hence from the sixth century the prestige of the
Crown began to decline, and the puissance of the great uji grew to
exceed that of the sovereign. During a short period (645-670) the
authority of the Throne was reasserted, owing to the adoption of the
Tang systems of China; but thereafter the great Fujiwara-uji became
paramount and practically administered the empire.

For the sake, therefore, of an intelligent sequence of conception,
there is evidently much importance in determining whether, in remote
antiquity, the prevailing system was feudal, or prefectural, or a
mixture of both. Unfortunately the materials for accurate
differentiation are wanting. Much depends on a knowledge of the
functions discharged by the kuni-no-miyatsuko, who were hereditary
officials, and the kuni-no-tsukasa (or kokushi) who were appointed by
the Throne. The closest research fails to elucidate these things with
absolute clearness. It is not known even at what date the office of
kokushi was established. The first mention of these officials is made
in the year A.D. 374, during the reign of Nintoku, but there can be
little doubt that they had existed from an earlier date. They were,
however, few in number, whereas the miyatsuko were numerous, and this
comparison probably furnishes a tolerably just basis for estimating
the respective prevalence of the prefectural and the feudal systems.
In short, the method of government inaugurated at the foundation of
the empire appears to have been essentially feudal in practice,
though theoretically no such term was recognized; and at a later
period--apparently about the time of Nintoku--when the power of the
hereditary miyatsuko threatened to grow inconveniently formidable,
the device of reasserting the Throne's authority by appointing
temporary provincial governors was resorted to, so that the
prefectural organization came into existence side by side with the
feudal, and the administration preserved this dual form until the
middle of the seventh century. There will be occasion to refer to the
matter again at a later date.


It is essential to an intelligent appreciation of Japanese history
that some knowledge should be acquired of the annals of the great

From the time of Nintoku (A.D. 313-399) until the introduction of
Buddhism (A.D. 552), there were four uji whose chiefs participated
conspicuously in the government of the country. The first was that of
Heguri. It belonged to the Imperial class (Kwobetsu) and was
descended from the celebrated Takenouchi-no-Sukune. In the days of
the Emperor Muretsu (499-506), the chief of this uji attempted to
usurp the throne and was crushed. The second was the Otomo. This uji
belonged to the Kami class (Shimbetsu) and had for ancestor Michi no
Omi, the most distinguished general in the service of the first
Emperor Jimmu. The chiefs of the Otomo-uji filled the post of general
from age to age, and its members guarded the palace gates. During the
reign of Yuryaku the office of o-muraji was bestowed upon Moroya,
then chief of this uji, and the influence he wielded may be inferred
from the language of an Imperial rescript where it is said that "the
tami-be of the o-muraji fill the country." His son, Kanamura,
succeeded him. By his sword the rebellion of Heguri no Matori was
quelled, and by his advice Keitai was called to the Throne. He served
also under Ankan, Senkwa, and Kimmei, but the miscarriage of Japan's
relations with Korea was attributed to him, and the title of o-muraji
was not conferred on any of his descendants.

The uji of Mononobe next calls for notice. "Monono-be" literally
signifies, when expanded, a group (be) of soldiers (tsuwamono). In
later times a warrior in Japan was called mono-no-fu (or bushi),
which is written with the ideographs mono-be. This uji also belonged
to the Kami class, and its progenitor was Umashimade, who surrendered
Yamato to Jimmu on the ground of consanguinity. Thenceforth the
members of the uji formed the Imperial guards (uchi-tsu-mononobe) and
its chiefs commanded them. Among all the uji of the Kami class the
Mononobe and the Otomo ranked first, and after the latter's failure
in connexion with Korea, the Mononobe stood alone. During the reign
of Yuryaku, the uji's chief became o-muraji, as did his grandson,
Okoshi, and the latter's son, Moriya, was destroyed by the o-omi,
Soga no Umako, in the tumult on the accession of Sushun (A.D. 588).

The fourth of the great uji was the Soga, descended from
Takenouchi-no-Sukune. After the ruin of the Heguri, this uji stood at
the head of all the Imperial class. In the reign of Senkwa (536-539),
Iname, chief of the Soga, was appointed o-omi, and his son, Umako,
who held the same rank, occupies an important place in connexion with
the introduction of Buddhism. It will be observed that among these
four uji, Heguri and Soga served as civil officials and Otomo and
Mononobe as military.

There are also three other uji which figure prominently on the stage
of Japanese history. They are the Nakotomi, the Imibe, and the Kume.
The Nakatomi discharged the functions of religious supplication and
divination, standing, for those purposes, between (Naka) the Throne
and the deities. The Imibe had charge of everything relating to
religious festivals; an office which required that they should
abstain (imi suru) from all things unclean. The Kume were descended
from Amatsu Kume no Mikoto, and their duties were to act as
chamberlains and as guards of the Court.

Finally, there was the Oga-uji, descended from Okuninushi, which
makes the eighth of the great uji. From the time of the Emperor Jimmu
to that of the Empress Suiko (A.D. 593-628), the nobles who served in
ministerial capacities numbered forty and of that total the Mononobe
furnished sixteen; the Otomo, six; the o-omi houses (i.e. the
Kwobetsu), nine; the Imibe, one; the Nakatomi, six; and the Oga, two.
Thus, the military uji of Mononobe and Otomo gave to the State
twenty-two ministers out of forty during a space of some twelve


Ancient Tea Houses)



The 29th Sovereign, Kimmei  A.D. 540-571

 "  30th    "       Bidatsu  "   572-585

 "  31st    "       Yomei    "   586-587

 "  32nd    "       Sushun   "   588-592

 "  33rd    "       Suiko    "   593-628

 "  34th    "       Jomei    "   629-641

 "  35th    "       Kogyoku  "   642-645

THE seven reigns five Emperors and two Empresses commencing with the
Emperor Kimmei and ending with the Empress Kogyoku, covered a period
of 105 years, from 540 to 645, and are memorable on three accounts:
the introduction of Buddhism; the usurpation of the great uji, and
the loss of Japan's possessions in Korea.


During the reign of the Emperor Ming of the Hou-Han dynasty, in the
year AD. 65, a mission was sent from China to procure the Buddhist
Sutras as well as some teachers of the Indian faith. More than three
centuries elapsed before, in the year 372, the creed obtained a
footing in Korea; and not for another century and a half did it find
its way (522) to Japan. It encountered no obstacles in Korea. The
animistic belief of the early Koreans has never been clearly studied,
but whatever its exact nature may have been, it certainly evinced no
bigotry in the presence of the foreign faith, for within three years
of the arrival of the first image of Sakiya Muni in Koma, two large
monasteries had been built, and the King and his Court were all

No such reception awaited Buddhism in Japan when, in 522, a Chinese
bonze, Shiba Tachito, arrived, erected a temple on the Sakata plain
in Yamato, enshrined an image, of Buddha there, and endeavoured to
propagate the faith. At that time, Wu, the first Emperor of the Liang
dynasty in China, was employing all his influence to popularize the
Indian creed. Tradition says that Shiba Tachito came from Liang, and
in all probability he took the overland route via the Korean
peninsula, but the facts are obscure. No sensible impression seems to
have been produced in Japan by this essay. Buddhism was made known to
a few, but the Japanese showed no disposition to worship a foreign
god. Twenty-three years later (545), the subject attracted attention
again. Song Wang Myong, King of Kudara, menaced by a crushing attack
on the part of Koma and Shiragi in co-operation, made an image of the
Buddha, sixteen feet high, and petitioned the Court of Yamato in the
sense that as all good things were promised in the sequel of such an
effort, protection should be extended to him by Japan. Tradition says
that although Buddhism had not yet secured a footing in Yamato, this
image must be regarded as the pioneer of many similar objects
subsequently set up in Japanese temples.

Nevertheless, A.D. 552 is usually spoken of as the date of Buddhism's
introduction into Japan. In that year the same King of Kudara
presented direct to the Yamato Court a copper image of Buddha plated
with gold; several canopies (tengai), and some volumes of the sacred
books, by the hands of Tori Shichi (Korean pronunciation, Nori
Sachhi) and others. The envoys carried also a memorial which said:
"This doctrine is, among all, most excellent. But it is difficult to
explain and difficult to understand. Even the Duke Chou and Confucius
did not attain to comprehension. It can produce fortune and
retribution, immeasurable, illimitable. It can transform a man into a
Bodhi. Imagine a treasure capable of satisfying all desires in
proportion as it is used. Such a treasure is this wonderful doctrine.
Every earnest supplication is fulfilled and nothing is wanting.
Moreover, from farthest India to the three Han, all have embraced the
doctrine, and there is none that does not receive it with reverence
wherever it is preached. Therefore thy servant, Myong, in all
sincerity, sends his retainer, Nori Sachhi, to transmit it to the
Imperial country, that it may be diffused abroad throughout the home
provinces,* so as to fulfil the recorded saying of the Buddha, 'My
law shall spread to the East.'"** It is highly probable that in the
effort to win the Yamato Court to Buddhism, King Myong was influenced
as much by political as by moral motives. He sought to use the
foreign faith as a link to bind Japan to his country, so that he
might count on his oversea neighbour's powerful aid against the
attacks of Koma and Shiragi.

*That is to say, the Kinai, or five provinces, of which Yamato is the

**The memorial is held by some critics to be of doubtful
authenticity, though the compilers of the Chronicles may have
inserted it in good faith.

A more interesting question, however, is the aspect under which the
new faith presented itself to the Japanese when it first arrived
among them as a rival of Shinto and Confucianism. There can be no
doubt that the form in which it became known at the outset was the
Hinayana, or Exoteric, as distinguished from the Mahayana, or
Esoteric. But how did the Japanese converts reconcile its acceptance
with their allegiance to the traditional faith, Shinto? The clearest
available answer to this question is contained in a book called
Taishiden Hochu, where, in reply to a query from his father, Yomei,
who professed inability to believe foreign doctrines at variance with
those handed down from the age of the Kami, Prince Shotoku is
recorded to have replied:

"Your Majesty has considered only one aspect of the matter. I am
young and ignorant, but I have carefully studied the teachings of
Confucius and the doctrine of the Kami. I find that there is a plain
distinction. Shinto, since its roots spring from the Kami, came into
existence simultaneously with the heaven and the earth, and thus
expounds the origin of human beings. Confucianism, being a system of
moral principles, is coeval with the people and deals with the middle
stage of humanity. Buddhism, the fruit of principles, arose when the
human intellect matured. It explains the last stage of man. To like
or dislike Buddhism without any reason is simply an individual
prejudice. Heaven commands us to obey reason. The individual cannot
contend against heaven. Recognizing that impossibility, nevertheless
to rely on the individual is not the act of a wise man or an
intelligent. Whether the Emperor desire to encourage this creed is a
matter within his own will. Should he desire to reject it, let him do
so; it will arise one generation later. Should he desire to adopt it,
let him do so; it will arise one generation earlier. A generation is
as one moment in heaven's eyes. Heaven is eternal. The Emperor's
reign is limited to a generation; heaven is boundless and
illimitable. How can the Emperor struggle against heaven? How can
heaven be concerned about a loss of time?"

The eminent modern Japanese historiographer, Dr. Ariga, is disposed
to regard the above as the composition of some one of later date than
the illustrious Shotoku, but he considers that it rightly represents
the relation assigned to the three doctrines by the Japanese of the
sixth and seventh centuries. "Shinto teaches about the origin of the
country but does not deal with the present or the future.
Confucianism discusses the present and has no concern with the past
or the future. Buddhism, alone, preaches about the future. That life
ends with the present cannot be believed by all. Many men think of
the future, and it was therefore inevitable that many should embrace

But at the moment when the memorial of King Myong was presented to
the Emperor Kimmei, the latter was unprepared to make a definite
reply. The image, indeed, he found to be full of dignity, but he left
his ministers to decide whether it should be worshipped or not. A
division of opinion resulted. The o-omi, Iname, of the Soga family,
advised that, as Buddhism had won worship from all the nations on the
West, Japan should not be singular. But the o-muraji, Okoshi, of the
Mononobe-uji, and Kamako, muraji of the Nakatomi-uji, counselled that
to bow down to foreign deities would be to incur the anger of the
national gods. In a word, the civil officials advocated the adoption
of the Indian creed; the military and ecclesiastical officials
opposed it. That the head of the Mononobe-uji should have adopted
this attitude was natural: it is always the disposition of soldiers
to be conservative, and that is notably true of the Japanese soldier
(bushi). In the case of the Nakatomi, also, we have to remember that
they were, in a sense, the guardians of the Shinto ceremonials: thus,
their aversion to the acceptance of a strange faith is explained.

What is to be said, however, of the apparently radical policy of the
Soga chief? Why should he have advocated so readily the introduction
of a foreign creed? There are two apparent reasons. One is that the
Hata and Aya groups of Korean and Chinese artisans were under the
control of the Soga-uji, and that the latter were therefore disposed
to welcome all innovations coming from the Asiatic continent. The
other is that between the o-muraji of the Kami class (Shimbetsu) and
the o-omi of the Imperial class (Kwobetsu) there had existed for some
time a political rivalry which began to be acute at about the period
of the coming of Buddhism, and which was destined to culminate, forty
years later, in a great catastrophe. The Emperor himself steered a
middle course. He neither opposed nor approved but entrusted the
image to the keeping of the Soga noble. Probably his Majesty was not
unwilling to submit the experiment to a practical test vicariously,
for it is to be noted that, in those days, the influence of the Kami
for good or for evil was believed to be freely exercised in human

This last consideration does not seem to have influenced Soga no
Iname at all. He must have been singularly free from the
superstitions of his age, for he not only received the image with
pleasure but also enshrined it with all solemnity in his Mukuhara
residence, which he converted wholly into a temple.

Very shortly afterwards, however, the country was visited by a
pestilence, and the calamity being regarded as an expression of the
Kami's resentment, the o-muraji of the Mononobe and the muraji of the
Nakatomi urged the Emperor to cast out the emblems of a foreign
faith. Accordingly, the statue of the Buddha was thrown into the
Naniwa canal and the temple was burned to the ground. Necessarily
these events sharply accentuated the enmity between the Soga and the
Mononobe. Twenty-five years passed, however, without any attempt to
restore the worship of the Buddha. Iname, the o-omi of the Soga,
died; Okoshi, the o-muraji of the Mononobe, died, and they were
succeeded in these high offices by their sons, Umako and Moriya,

When the Emperor Bidatsu ascended the throne in A.D. 572, the
political stage was practically occupied by these two ministers only;
they had no competitors of equal rank. In 577, the King of Kudara
made a second attempt to introduce Buddhism into Japan. He sent to
the Yamato Court two hundred volumes of sacred books; an ascetic; a
yogi (meditative monk); a nun; a reciter of mantras (magic spells); a
maker of images, and a temple architect. If any excitement was caused
by this event, the annals say nothing of the fact. It is briefly
related that ultimately a temple was built for the new-comers in
Naniwa (modern Osaka). Two years later, Shiragi also sent a Buddhist
eidolon, and in 584--just sixty-two years after the coming of Shiba
Tachito from Liang and thirty-two years after Soga no Iname's attempt
to popularize the Indian faith--two Japanese high officials returned
from Korea, carrying with them a bronze image of Buddha and a stone
image of Miroku.* These two images were handed over, at his request,
to the o-omi, Umako, who had inherited his father's ideas about
Buddhism. He invited Shiba Tachito, then a village mayor, to
accompany one Hida on a search throughout the provinces for Buddhist
devotees. They found a man called Eben, a Korean who had originally
been a priest, and he, having resumed the stole, consecrated the
twelve-year-old daughter of Shiba Tachito, together with two other
girls, as nuns. The o-omi now built a temple, where the image of
Miroku was enshrined, and a pagoda on the top of whose central pillar
was deposited a Buddhist relic which had shown miraculous powers.

*The Sanskrit Maitreya, the expected Messiah of the Buddhist.

Thus, once more the creed of Sakiya Muni seemed to have found a
footing in Japan. But again the old superstitions prevailed. The
plague of small-pox broke out once more. This fell disease had been
carried from Cochin China by the troops of General Ma Yuan during the
Han dynasty, and it reached Japan almost simultaneously with the
importation of Buddhism. The physicians of the East had no skill in
treating it, and its ravages were terrible, those that escaped with
their lives having generally to lament the loss of their eyes. So
soon as the malady made its second appearance in the immediate sequel
of the new honours paid to Buddhism, men began to cry out that the
Kami were punishing the nation's apostacy, and the o-muraji, Moriya,
urged the Emperor (Bidatsu) to authorize the suppression of the alien
religion. Bidatsu, who at heart had always been hostile to the
innovation, consented readily, and the o-muraji, taking upon himself
the duty of directing the work of iconoclasm, caused the pagoda and
the temple to be razed and burned, threw the image into the canal,
and flogged the nuns. But the pestilence was not stayed. Its ravages
grew more unsparing. The Emperor himself, as well as the o-omi,
Umako, were attacked, and now the popular outcry took another tone:
men ascribed the plague to the wrath of Buddha. Umako, in turn,
pleaded with the Emperor, and was permitted to rebuild the temple and
reinstate the nuns, on condition that no efforts were made to

Thus Buddhism recovered its footing, but the enmity between the
o-muraji and the o-omi grew more implacable than ever. They insulted
each other, even at the obsequies of the sovereign, and an occasion
alone was needed to convert their anger into an appeal to arms.


When the Emperor Bidatsu died (A.D. 585) no nomination of a Prince
Imperial had taken place, and the feud known to exist between the
o-omi and the o-muraji increased the danger of the situation. The
following genealogical table will serve to elucidate the relation in
which the Soga-uji stood to the Imperial Family, as well as the
relation between the members of the latter:

                                                   |  Prince Shotoku******
                           / Emperor Yomei**        > (married to a daughter
          /             \  | (originally Prince Oe)|  of Soga no Umako)
       |Princess Kitashi|  |                       /
       |(consort of      ><  Empress Suiko*****
       |Emperor Kimmei* |  | (originally consort
       |                /  | of Emperor Bidatsu***
Soga   |                   \
 no   <
Iname  |                \  /
       |Oane-kimi       |  | Prince Anahobe*******
       |(consort of      ><
       |Emperor Kimmei) |  | Emperor Sushun****
       |                /  \

*The Emperor Kimmei was the elder brother-in-law of Soga no Umako.
**The Emperor Yomei was the nephew of Soga no Umako.
***The Emperor Bidatsu was a nephew of Umako.
****The Emperor Sushun was a nephew of Umako.
*****The Empress Suiko was a niece of Umako.
******Prince Shotoku was son-in-law of Umako.
*******Prince Anahobe was a nephew of Umako.

It is thus seen that the great uji of Soga was closely related to all
the Imperial personages who figured prominently on the stage at this
period of Japanese history.


The Emperor Yomei was the fourth son of the Emperor Kimmei and a
nephew of the o-omi, Umako. The Chronicles say that he "believed in
the law of Buddha and reverenced Shinto" which term now makes its
first appearance on the page of Japanese history, the Kami alone
having been spoken of hitherto. Yomei's accession was opposed by his
younger brother, Prince Anahobe (vide above genealogical table), who
had the support of the o-muraji, Moriya; but the Soga influence was
exerted in Yomei's behalf. Anahobe did not suffer his discomfiture
patiently. He attempted to procure admission to the mourning chamber
of the deceased Emperor for some unexplained purpose, and being
resisted by Miwa Sako, who commanded the palace guards, he laid a
formal complaint before the o-omi and the o-muraji. In the sequel
Sako was killed by the troops of the o-muraji, though he merited
rather the latter's protection as a brave soldier who had merely done
his duty, who opposed Buddhism, and who enjoyed the confidence of the
Empress Dowager. To Umako, predicting that this deed of undeserved
violence would prove the beginning of serious trouble, Moriya
insultingly retorted that small-minded men did not understand such
matters. Moriya's mind was of the rough military type. He did not
fathom the subtle unscrupulous intellect of an adversary like Umako,
and was destined to learn the truth by a bitter process.


Umayado, eldest son of the Emperor Yomei, is one of the most
distinguished figures in the annals of Japan. He has been well called
"the Constantine of Buddhism." In proof of his extraordinary
sagacity, the Chronicles relate that in a lawsuit he could hear the
evidence of ten men without confusing them. From his earliest youth
he evinced a remarkable disposition for study. A learned man was
invited from China to teach him the classics, and priests were
brought from Koma to expound the doctrine of Buddhism, in which faith
he ultimately became a profound believer. In fact, to his influence,
more than to any other single factor, may be ascribed the final
adoption of the Indian creed by Japan. He never actually ascended the
throne, but as regent under the Empress Suiko he wielded Imperial
authority. In history he is known as Shotoku Taishi (Prince Shotoku).


In the second year of his reign, the Emperor Yomei was seized with
the malady which had killed his father. In his extremity he desired
to be received into the Buddhist faith to which he had always
inclined, and he ordered the leading officials to consider the
matter. A council was held. Moriya, o-muraji of the Mononobe, and
Katsumi, muraji of the Nakatomi, objected resolutely. They asked why
the Kami of the country should be abandoned in a moment of crisis.
But Umako, o-omi of the Soga, said: "It is our duty to obey the
Imperial commands and to give relief to his Majesty. Who will dare to
suggest contumely?" Buddhist priests were then summoned to the
palace. It was a moment of extreme tension. Prince Umayado (Shotoku)
grasped the hands of the o-omi and exclaimed, "If the minister had
not believed in Buddhism, who would have ventured to give such
counsel?" Umako's answer is said to have been: "Your Imperial
Highness will work for the propagation of the faith. I, a humble
subject, will maintain it to the death." Moriya, the o-muraji, made
no attempt to hide his resentment, but recognizing that his adherents
in the palace were comparatively few, he withdrew to a safe place and
there concentrated his forces, endeavouring, at the same time, to
enlist by magic rites the assistance of the Kami against the
disciples of the foreign faith. Meanwhile the Emperor's malady ended
fatally. His reign had lasted only one year. At the point of death he
was comforted by an assurance that the son of Shiba Tachito would
renounce the world to revere his Majesty's memory and would make an
image of the Buddha sixteen feet high.

Buddhism had now gained a firm footing at the Yamato Court, but its
opponents were still active. Their leader, the o-muraji, thought that
his best chance of success was to contrive the accession of Prince
Anahobe, whose attempt to take precedence of his elder brother, the
Emperor Yomei, has been already noted. The conspiracy was discovered,
and the Soga forces, acting under the nominal authority of the
deceased Emperor's consort, Umako's niece, moved against Anahobe and
Moriya, who had not been able to combine their strength. The
destruction of Prince Anahobe was easily effected, but the work of
dealing with the o-muraji taxed the resources of the Soga to the
utmost. Moriya himself ascended a tree and by skill of archery held
his assailants long at bay. Archery had been practised assiduously by
the Yamato warrior from time immemorial, and arrows possessing
remarkable power of penetration had been devised. During the reign of
Nintoku, when envoys from Koma presented to the Court iron shields
and iron targets, a Japanese archer, Tatebito, was able to pierce
them; and in the time of Yuryaku, a rebel named Iratsuko shot a shaft
which, passing through his adversary's shield and twofold armour,
entered the flesh of his body to the depth of an inch. There was an
archery hall within the enclosure of the palace; whenever envoys or
functionaries from foreign countries visited Yamato they were invited
to shoot there; frequent trials of skill took place, and when oversea
sovereigns applied for military aid, it was not unusual to send some
bundles of arrows in lieu of soldiers.

Thus, the general of the Mononobe, perched among the branches of a
tree, with an unlimited supply of shafts and with highly trained
skill as a bowman, was a formidable adversary. Moriya and his large
following of born soldiers drove back the Soga forces three times.
Success seemed to be in sight for the champion of the Kami. At this
desperate stage Prince Shotoku--then a lad of sixteen--fastened to
his helmet images of the "Four Guardian Kings of Heaven"* and vowed
to build a temple in their honour if victory was vouchsafed to his
arms. At the same time, the o-omi, Umako, took oath to dedicate
temples and propagate Buddhism. The combat had now assumed a
distinctly religious character. Shotoku and Umako advanced again to
the attack; Moriya was shot down; his family and followers fled, were
put to the sword or sent into slavery, and all his property was

*The "Four Guardian Kings" (Shi-Tenno) are the warriors who guard the
world against the attacks of demons.

An incident of this campaign illustrates the character of the
Japanese soldier as revealed in the pages of subsequent history: a
character whose prominent traits were dauntless courage and romantic
sympathy. Yorozu, a dependent of the o-muraji, was reduced to the
last straits after a desperate fight. The Chronicles say: "Then he
took the sword which he wore, cut his bow into three pieces, and
bending his sword, flung it into the river. With a dagger which he
had besides, he stabbed himself in the throat and died. The governor
of Kawachi having reported the circumstances of Yorozu's death to the
Court, the latter gave an order by a stamp* that his body should be
cut into eight pieces and distributed among the eight provinces."**
In accordance with this order the governor was about to dismember the
corpse when thunder pealed and a great rain fell. "Now there was a
white dog which had been kept by Yorozu. Looking up and looking down,
it went round, howling beside the body, and at last, taking up the
head in its mouth, it placed it on an ancient mound, lay down close
by, and starved to death. When this was reported to the Court, the
latter, moved by profound pity, issued an order that the dog's
conduct should be handed down to after ages, and that the kindred of
Yorozu should be allowed to construct a tomb and bury his remains."

*A stamp in red or black on the palm of the hand.

**This custom of dismembering and distributing the remains was
practised in Korea until the time, at the close of the nineteenth
century, when the peninsula came under Japanese protection. It was
never customary in Japan.


After order had been restored, Prince Shotoku fulfilled his vow by
building in the province of Settsu a temple dedicated to the Four
Guardian Kings of Heaven (Shitenno-ji), and by way of endowment there
were handed over to it one-half of the servants of the o-muraji,
together with his house and a quantity of other property. The o-omi,
Umako, also erected a temple called Hoko-ji in Asuka near Kara. It
has been shown above that Soga no Iname converted one of his houses
into a temple to receive the Buddhist image sent by Myong in 552, and
that his son, Umako, erected a temple on the east of his residence to
enshrine a stone image of Miroku, in 584. But these two edifices
partook largely of the nature of private worship. The first public
temples for the service of Buddhism were Shotoku's Shitenno-ji and
Umako's Hoko-ji erected in 587.


In the Annals of Prince Shotoku (Taishi-deri) it is recorded that the
parts of the o-muraji's estate with which the temple of the Four
Kings was endowed were 273 members of his family and household; his
three houses and movable property, together with his domain measuring
186,890 shiro, and consisting of two areas of 128,640 shiro and
58,250 shiro in Kawachi and Settsu, respectively. The shiro is
variously reckoned at from 5% to 7.12 tsubo (1 tsubo = 36 square
feet). Taking the shiro as 6 tsubo, the above three areas total 1000
acres approximately. That this represented a part only of the
o-muraji's property is held by historians, who point to the fact that
the o-omi's wife, a younger sister of the o-muraji, incited her
husband to destroy Moriya for the sake of getting possession of his


The deaths of Prince Anahobe and Moriya left the Government
completely in the hands of Soga no Umako. There was no o-muraji; the
o-omi was supreme. At his instance the crown was placed upon the head
of his youngest nephew, Sushun. But Sushun entertained no friendship
for Umako nor any feeling of gratitude for the latter's action in
contriving his succession to the throne. Active, daring, and astute,
he judged the o-omi to be swayed solely by personal ambition, and he
placed no faith in the sincerity of the great official's Buddhist
propaganda. Meanwhile, the fortunes of the new faith prospered. When
the dying Emperor, Yomei, asked to be qualified for Nirvana, priests
were summoned from Kudara. They came in 588, the first year of
Sushun's reign, carrying relics (sarira), and they were accompanied
by ascetics, temple-architects, metal-founders, potters, and a
pictorial artist.

The Indian creed now began to present itself to the Japanese people,
not merely as a vehicle for securing insensibility to suffering in
this life and happiness in the next, but also as a great protagonist
of refined progress, gorgeous in paraphernalia, impressive in rites,
eminently practical in teachings, and substituting a vivid rainbow of
positive hope for the negative pallor of Shinto. Men began to adopt
the stole; women to take the veil, and people to visit the hills in
search of timbers suited for the frames of massive temples. Soga no
Umako, the ostensible leader of this great movement, grew more and
more arrogant and arbitrary. The youthful Emperor unbosomed himself
to Prince Shotoku, avowing his aversion to the o-omi and his
uncontrollable desire to be freed from the incubus of such a
minister. Shotoku counselled patience, but Sushun's impetuosity could
not brook delay, nor did he reflect that he was surrounded by
partisans of the Soga.

A Court lady betrayed his designs to the o-omi, and the latter
decided that the Emperor must be destroyed. An assassin was found in
the person of Koma, a naturalized Chinese, suzerain of the Aya uji,
and, being introduced into the palace by the o-omi under pretence of
offering textile fabrics from the eastern provinces, he killed the
Emperor. So omnipotent was the Soga chief that his murderous envoy
was not even questioned. He received open thanks from his employer
and might have risen to high office had he not debauched a daughter
of the o-omi. Then Umako caused him to be hung from a tree and made a
target of his body, charging him with having taken the Emperor's
life. "I knew only that there was an o-omi," retorted the man. "I did
not know there was an Emperor." Many others shared Koma's comparative
ignorance when the Soga were in power. At the Emperor Yomei's death,
only one person honoured his memory by entering the Buddhist
priesthood. When Soga no Umako died, a thousand men received the
tonsure. The unfortunate Sushun was interred on the day of his
murder, an extreme indignity, yet no one ventured to protest; and
even Prince Shotoku, while predicting that the assassin would
ultimately suffer retribution, justified the assassination on the
ground that previous misdeeds had deserved it.

Shotoku's conduct on this occasion has inspired much censure and
surprise when contrasted with his conspicuous respect for virtue in
all other cases. But the history of the time requires intelligent
expansion. Cursory reading suggests that Umako's resolve to kill
Sushun was taken suddenly in consequence of discovering the latter's
angry mood. The truth seems to be that Sushun was doomed from the
moment of his accession. His elder brother had perished at the hands
of Umako's troops, and if he himself did not meet the same fate,
absence of plausible pretext alone saved him. To suffer him to reign,
harbouring, as he must have harboured, bitter resentment against his
brother's slayer, would have been a weakness inconsistent with
Umako's character. Sushun was placed on the throne as a concession to
appearance, but, at the same time, he was surrounded with creatures
of the o-omi, so that the latter had constant cognizance of the
sovereign's every word and act.

When the o-omi judged the time fitting, he proposed to the Emperor
that an expedition should be despatched to recover Mimana, which had
been lost to Japan some time previously. An army of twenty thousand
men, commanded by a majority of the omi and muraji, was sent to
Tsukushi, and all potential opponents of the Soga chief having been
thus removed, he proceeded to carry out his design against the
Emperor's life. The very indignity done to Sushun's remains testifies
the thoroughness of the Soga plot. It has been shown that in early
days the erection of a tomb for an Imperial personage was a heavy
task, involving much time and labour. Pending the completion of the
work, the corpse was put into a coffin and guarded day and night, for
which purpose a separate palace was* erected. When the sepulchre had
been fully prepared, the remains were transferred thither with
elaborate ceremonials,** and the tomb was thenceforth under the care
of guardians (rioko).

*Called Araki-no-miya, or the "rough palace." The interval during
which time the coffin remained there was termed kari-mo-gari, or
"temporary mourning."

**Known as kakushi-matsuri, or the "rite of hiding." It would seem
that the term of one year's mourning prescribed in the case of a
parent had its origin in the above arrangement.

All these observances were dispensed with in the case of the Emperor
Sushun. His remains did not receive even the measure of respect that
would have been paid to the corpse of the commonest among his
subjects. Nothing could indicate more vividly the omnipotence of the
o-omi; everything had been prepared so that his partisans could bury
the body almost before it was cold. Had Prince Shotoku protested, he
would have been guilty of the futility described by a Chinese proverb
as "spitting at the sky." Besides, Shotoku and Umako were allies
otherwise. The Soga minister, in his struggle with the military
party, had needed the assistance of Shotoku, and had secured it by
community of allegiance to Buddhism. The prince, in his projected
struggle against the uji system, needed the assistance of Buddhist
disciples in general, and in his effort to reach the throne, needed
the assistance of Umako in particular. In short, he was building the
edifice of a great reform, and to have pitted himself, at the age of
nineteen, against the mature strength of the o-omi would have been to
perish on the threshold of his purpose.


By the contrivance of Umako, the consort of the Emperor Bidatsu was
now placed on the throne, Prince Shotoku being nominated Prince
Imperial and regent. The Soga-uji held absolute power in every
department of State affairs.


One of the most remarkable documents in Japanese annals is the
Jushichi Kempo, or Seventeen-Article Constitution, compiled by
Shotoku Taishi in A.D. 604. It is commonly spoken of as the first
written law of Japan. But it is not a body of laws in the proper
sense of the term. There are no penal provisions, nor is there any
evidence of promulgation with Imperial sanction. The seventeen
articles are simply moral maxims, based on the teachings of Buddhism
and Confucianism, and appealing to the sanctions of conscience.
Prince Shotoku, in his capacity of regent, compiled them and issued
them to officials in the guise of "instructions."

I. Harmony is to be valued, and the avoidance of wanton opposition
honoured. All men are swayed by class feeling and few are
intelligent. Hence some disobey their lords and fathers or maintain
feuds with neighbouring villages. But when the high are harmonious
and the low friendly, and when there is concord in the discussion of
affairs, right views spontaneously find acceptance. What is there
that cannot be then accomplished?

II. Reverence sincerely the Three Treasures--Buddha, the Law, and the
Priesthood--for these are the final refuge of the Four Generated
Beings* and the supreme objects of faith in all countries. What man
in what age can fail to revere this law? Few are utterly bad: they
may be taught to follow it. But if they turn not to the Three
Treasures, wherewithal shall their crookedness be made straight?

*Beings produced in transmigration by the four processes of being
born from eggs, from a womb, from fermentation, or from

III. When you receive the Imperial Commands fail not to obey
scrupulously. The lord is Heaven; the vassal, Earth. Heaven
overspreads; Earth upbears. When this is so, the four seasons follow
their due course, and the powers of Nature develop their efficiency.
If the Earth attempt to overspread, Heaven falls in ruin. Hence when
the lord speaks, the vassal hearkens; when the superior acts, the
inferior yields compliance. When, therefore, you receive an Imperial
Command, fail not to carry it out scrupulously. If there be want or
care in this respect, a catastrophe naturally ensues.

IV. Ministers and functionaries should make decorous behavior their
guiding principle, for decorous behavior is the main factor in
governing the people. If superiors do not behave with decorum,
inferiors are disorderly; if inferiors are wanting in proper
behaviour, offences are inevitable. Thus it is that when lord and
vassal behave with propriety, the distinctions of rank are not
confused; and when the people behave with propriety, the government
of the State proceeds of itself.

V. Refraining from gluttony and abandoning covetous desires, deal
impartially with the suits brought before you. Of complaints
preferred by the people there are a thousand in one day: how many,
then, will there be in a series of years? Should he that decides
suits at law make gain his ordinary motive and hear causes with a
view to receiving bribes, then will the suits of the rich man be like
a stone flung into water,* while the plaints of the poor will
resemble water cast on a stone. In such circumstances, the poor man
will not know whither to betake himself, and the duty of a minister
will not be discharged.

*That is to say, they will encounter no opposition.

VI. Chastise that which is evil and encourage that which is good.
This was the excellent rule of antiquity. Conceal not, therefore, the
good qualities of others, and fail not to correct that which is wrong
when you see it. Flatterers and deceivers are a sharp weapon for the
overthrow of the State, and a pointed sword for the destruction of
the people. Sycophants are also fond, when they meet, of dilating to
their superiors on the errors of their inferiors; to their inferiors,
they censure the faults of their superiors. Men of this kind are all
wanting in fidelity to their lord, and in benevolence towards the
people. From such an origin great civil disturbances arise.

VII. Let every man have his own charge, and let not the spheres of
duty be confused. When wise men are entrusted with office, the sound
of praise arises. If unprincipled men hold office, disasters and
tumults are multiplied. In this world, few are born with knowledge:
wisdom is the product of earnest meditation. In all things, whether
great or small, find the right man, and they will surely be well
managed: on all occasions, be they urgent or the reverse, meet with
but a wise man and they will of themselves be amenable. In this way
will the State be eternal and the Temples of the Earth and of Grain*
will be free from danger. Therefore did the wise sovereigns of
antiquity seek the man to fill the office, and not the office for the
sake of the man.

*A Chinese expression for the Imperial house.

VIII. Let the ministers and functionaries attend the Court early in
the morning, and retire late. The business of the State does not
admit of remissness, and the whole day is hardly enough for its
accomplishment. If, therefore, the attendance at Court is late,
emergencies cannot be met: if officials retire soon, the work cannot
be completed.

IX. Good faith is the foundation of right. In everything let there be
good faith, for in it there surely consists the good and the bad,
success and failure. If the lord and the vassal observe good faith
one with another, what is there which cannot be accomplished? If the
lord and the vassal do not observe good faith towards one another,
everything without exception ends in failure.

X. Let us cease from wrath, and refrain from angry looks. Nor let us
be resentful when others differ from us. For all men have hearts, and
each heart has its own leanings. Their right is our wrong, and our
right is their wrong. We are not unquestionably sages nor are they
unquestionably fools. Both of us are simply ordinary men. How can
anyone lay down a rule by which to distinguish right from wrong? For
we are all, one with another, wise and foolish like a ring which has
no end. Therefore, although others give way to anger, let us, on the
contrary, dread our own faults, and though we alone may be in the
right, let us follow the multitude and act like them.

XI. Give clear appreciation to merit and demerit, and deal out to
each its sure reward or punishment. In these days, reward does not
attend upon merit, nor punishment upon crime. Ye high functionaries
who have charge of public affairs, let it be your task to make clear
rewards and punishments.

XII. Let not the provincial authorities or the kuni no miyatsuko levy
exactions on the people. In a country there are not two lords; the
people have not two masters. The sovereign is the master of the
people of the whole country. The officials to whom he gives charge
are all his vassals. How can they, as well as the Government, presume
to levy taxes on the people?

XIII. Let all persons entrusted with office attend equally to their
functions. Owing to illness or despatch on missions their work may
sometimes be neglected. But whenever they are able to attend to
business, let them be as accommodating as though they had cognizance
of it from before, and let them not hinder public affairs on the
score of not having had to do with them.

XIV. Ministers and functionaries, be not envious. If we envy others,
they, in turn, will envy us. The evils of envy know no limit. If
others excel us in intelligence, it gives us no pleasure; if they
surpass us in ability, we are envious. Therefore it is not until
after the lapse of five hundred years that we at last meet with a
wise man, and even in a thousand years we hardly obtain one sage. But
if wise men and sages be not found, how shall the country be

XV. To turn away from that which is private and to set one's face
towards that which is public this is the path of a minister. If a man
is influenced by private motives, he will assuredly feel resentment;
if he is influenced by resentment, he will assuredly fail to act
harmoniously with others; if he fails to act harmoniously with
others, he will assuredly sacrifice the public interest to his
private feelings. When resentment arises, it interferes with order
and is subversive of law. Therefore, in the first clause it was said
that superiors and inferiors should agree together. The purport is
the same as this.

XVI. Let the employment of the people in forced labour be at
seasonable times. This is an ancient and excellent rule. Let them be
employed, therefore, in the winter months when they have leisure. But
from spring to autumn, when they are engaged in agriculture or with
the mulberry trees, the people should not be employed. For if they do
not attend to agriculture, what will they have to eat? If they do not
attend to the mulberry trees, what will they do for clothing?

XVII. Decisions on important matters should not be rendered by one
person alone: they should be discussed by many. But small matters
being of less consequence, need not be consulted about by a number of
people. It is only in the discussion of weighty affairs, when there
is an apprehension of miscarriage, that matters should be arranged in
concert with others so as to arrive at the right conclusion.*

*The above is taken almost verbatim from Aston's translation of the

For a document compiled at the beginning of the seventh century these
seventeen ethical precepts merit much approbation. With the exception
of the doctrine of expediency, enunciated at the close of the tenth
article, the code of Shotoku might be taken for guide by any
community in any age. But the prince as a moral reformer* cannot be
credited with originality; his merit consists in having studied
Confucianism and Buddhism intelligently. The political purport of his
code is more remarkable. In the whole seventeen articles there is
nothing to inculcate worship of the Kami or observance of Shinto
rites. Again, whereas, according to the Japanese creed, the sovereign
power is derived from the Imperial ancestor, the latter is nowhere
alluded to. The seventh article makes the eternity of the State and
the security of the Imperial house depend upon wise administration by
well-selected officials, but says nothing of hereditary rights. How
is such a vital omission to be interpreted, except on the supposition
that Shotoku, who had witnessed the worst abuses incidental to the
hereditary system of the uji, intended by this code to enter a solemn
protest against that system?

*It is a curious fact that tradition represents this prince as having
been born at the door of a stable. Hence his original name, Umayado

Further, the importance attached to the people* is a very prominent
feature of the code. Thus, in Article IV, it is stated that "when the
people behave with propriety the government of the State proceeds of
itself;" Article V speaks of "complaints preferred by the people;"
Article VI refers to "the overthrow of the State" and "the
destruction of the people;" Article VII emphasises "the eternity of
the State;" that "the sovereign is the master of the people of the
whole country;" that "the officials to whom he gives charge are all
his vassals," and that these officials, whether miyatsuko or
provincial authorities, must not "presume, as well as the Government,
to levy taxes on the people." All those expressions amount to a
distinct condemnation of the uji system, under which the only people
directly subject to the sovereign were those of the minashiro, and
those who had been naturalized or otherwise specially assigned, all
the rest being practically the property of the uji, and the only
lands paying direct taxes to the Throne were the domains of the

*The word used is hyakusho, which ultimately came to be applied to
farmers only.

Forty-two years later (A.D. 646), the abolition of private property
in persons and lands was destined to become the policy of the State,
but its foundations seem to have been laid in Shotoku's time. It
would be an error to suppose that the neglect of Shinto suggested by
the above code was by any means a distinct feature of the era, or
even a practice of the prince himself. Thus, an Imperial edict,
published in the year 607, enjoined that there must be no remissness
in the worship of the Kami, and that they should be sincerely
reverenced by all officials, In the sequel of this edict Prince
Shotoku himself, the o-omi, and a number of functionaries worshipped
the Kami of heaven and of earth. In fact, Shotoku, for all his
enthusiasm in the cause of Buddhism, seems to have shrunk from
anything like bigoted exclusiveness. He is quoted* as saying: "The
management of State affairs cannot be achieved unless it is based on
knowledge, and the sources of knowledge are Confucianism, Buddhism,
and Shinto."** He who inclines to one of these three, must study the
other two also; for what one knows seems reasonable, but that of
which one is ignorant appears unreasonable. Therefore an
administrator of public affairs should make himself acquainted with
all three and should not affect one only, for such partiality
signifies maladministration.

*In the Sankyo-ron.

**The order of this enumeration is significant.


Prince Shotoku died in the year 621. The Records do not relate
anything of his illness: they say merely that he foresaw the day and
hour of his own death, and they say also that when the Buddhist
priest, Hyecha of Koma, who had instructed the prince in the "inner
doctrine," learned of his decease, he also announced his
determination to die on the same day of the same month in the
following year so as "to meet the prince in the Pure Land and,
together with him, pass through the metempsychosis of all living

The last months of Shotoku's life were devoted to compiling, in
concert with the o-omi Umako, "a history of the Emperors; a history
of the country, and the original record of the omi, the muraji, the
tomo no miyatsuko, the kuni no miyatsuko, the 180 be, and the free
subjects." This, the first Japanese historical work, was completed in
the year 620. It was known afterwards as the Kujihongi, and
twenty-five years later (645) when--as will presently be seen--the
execution of the Soga chief took place, the book was partially
consumed by fire. Yet that it had not suffered beyond the possibility
of reconstruction, and that it survived in the Ko-jiki was never
doubted until the days (1730-1801) of "the prince of Japanese
literati," Motoori Norinaga. The question of authenticity is still

Shotoku's name is further connected with calendar making, though no
particulars of his work in that line are on record. Japanese
historians speak of him as the father of his country's civilization.
They say that he breathed life into the nation; that he raised the
status of the Empire; that he laid the foundations of Japanese
learning; that he fixed the laws of decorum; that he imparted a new
character to foreign relations, and that he was an incarnation of the
Buddha, specially sent to convert Japan. The Chronicles say that at
his death nobles and commoners alike, "the old, as if they had lost a
dear child, the young, as if they had lost a beloved parent, filled
the ways with the sound of their lamenting."


The roots of Japanese Buddhism were watered with blood, as have been
the roots of so many religions in so many countries. From the day of
the destruction of the military party under the o-muraji Moriya, the
foreign faith flourished. Then--as has been shown--were built the
first two great temples, and then, for the first time, a Buddhist
place of worship was endowed* with rich estates and an ample number
of serfs to till them. Thenceforth the annals abound with references
to the advent of Buddhist priests from Korea, bearing relics or
images. The omi and the muraji vied with each other in erecting
shrines, and in 605, we find the Empress Suiko commanding all high
dignitaries of State to make 16-foot images of copper** and of
embroidery. Buddhist festivals were instituted in 606, and their
magnificence, as compared with the extreme simplicity of the Shinto
rites, must have deeply impressed the people. In a few decades
Buddhism became a great social power, and since its priests and nuns
were outside the sphere of ordinary administration, the question of
their control soon presented itself. It became pressing in 623 when a
priest killed his grandfather with an axe. The Empress Suiko, who was
then on the throne, would have subjected the whole body of priests
and nuns to judicial examination, a terrible ordeal in those days of
torture; but at the instance of a Korean priest, officials
corresponding to bishops (sojo), high priests (sozu) and abbots
(hotto) were appointed from the ranks of Buddhism, and the duty of
prescribing law and order was entrusted to them. This involved
registration of all the priesthood, and it was thus found (623) that
the temples numbered 46; the priests 816, and the nuns 569.

*The endowment of religious edifices was not new in Japan. A
conspicuous instance was in A.D. 487, when rice-fields were dedicated
to the Moon god and to the ancestor of the Sun goddess.

**The metal employed was of gold and copper; in the proportion of one
part of the former to 430 of the latter. It is related that when
these images were completed, the temple door proved too low to admit
them, and the artisan--Tori the Saddle-maker--whose ingenuity
overcame the difficulty without pulling down the door, received large
honour and reward.


That not a few Chinese migrated to Japan in remote times is clear.
The Records show that in the year A.D. 540, during the reign of
Kimmei, immigrants from Tsin and Han were assembled and registered,
when their number was found to be 7053 households. The terms "Tsin"
and "Han" refer to Chinese dynasties of those names, whose sway
covered the period between 255 B.C. and A.D. 419. Hence the
expression is too vague to suggest any definite idea of the advent of
those settlers; but the story of some, who came through Korea, has
already been traced. It was in A.D. 552, during the reign of this
same Kimmei, that Buddhism may be said to have found a home in Japan.
China was then under the sceptre of the Liang dynasty, whose first
sovereign, Wu, had been such an enthusiastic Buddhist that he
abandoned the throne for a monastery.. Yet China took no direct part
in introducing the Indian faith to Japan, nor does it appear that
from the fourth century A.D. down to the days of Shotoku Taishi,
Japan thought seriously of having recourse to China as the
fountain-head of the arts, the crafts, the literature, and the moral
codes which she borrowed during the period from Korea.

Something of this want of enterprise may have been attributable to
the unsettled state of China's domestic politics; something to the
well-nigh perpetual troubles between Japan and Korea--troubles which
not only taxed Japan's resources but also blocked the sole route by
which China was then accessible, namely, the route through Korea. But
when the Sui dynasty (A.D. 589-619) came to the Chinese throne, its
founder, the Emperor Wen, on the one hand, devoted himself to
encouraging literature and commerce; and on the other, threw Korea
and Japan into a ferment by invading the former country at the head
of a huge army.* This happened when Shotoku Taishi was in his
sixteenth year, and though the great expedition proved abortive for
aggressive purposes, it brought China into vivid prominence, and when
news reached Japan of extensions of the Middle Kingdom's territories
under Wen's successor, the Japanese Crown Prince determined to open
direct intercourse with the Sui Court; not only for literary and
religious purposes, but also to study the form of civilization which
the whole Orient then revered. This resolve found practical
expression in the year 607, when the omi Imoko was sent as envoy to
the Sui Court, a Chinese of the Saddlers' Corporation, by name
Fukuri, being attached to him in the capacity of interpreter. China
received these men hospitably and sent an envoy of her own, with a
suite of twelve persons, to the Yamato sovereign in the following

*Reputed to have mustered 300,000 strong.

The annals contain an instructive description of the ceremony
connected with the reception of this envoy in Japan. He was met in
Tsukushi (Kyushu) by commissioners of welcome, and was conducted
thence by sea to Naniwa (now Osaka), where, at the mouth of the
river, thirty "gaily-decked" boats awaited him, and he and his suite
were conducted to a residence newly built for the occasion. Six weeks
later they entered the capital, after a message of welcome had been
delivered to them by a muraji. Seventy-five fully caparisoned horses
were placed at their disposal, and after a further rest of nine days,
the envoy's official audience took place. He did not see the Empress'
face. Her Majesty was secluded in the hall of audience to which only
the principal ministers were admitted. Hence the ceremony may be said
to have taken place in the court-yard. There the gifts brought by the
envoy were ranged, and the envoy himself, introduced by two high
officials, advanced to the front of the court, made obeisance twice,
and, kneeling, declared the purport of his mission. The despatch
carried by him ran as follows:

The Emperor greets the sovereign of Wa.* Your envoy and his suite
have arrived and have given us full information. We, by the grace of
heaven, rule over the universe. It is Our desire to diffuse abroad
our civilizing influence so as to cover all living things, and Our
sentiment of loving nurture knows no distinction of distance. Now We
learn that Your Majesty, dwelling separately beyond the sea, bestows
the blessings of peace on Your subjects; that there is tranquillity
within Your borders, and that the customs and manners are mild. With
the most profound loyalty You have sent Us tribute from afar, and We
are delighted at this admirable token of Your sincerity. Our health
is as usual, notwithstanding the increasing heat of the weather.
Therefore We have sent Pei Shieh-ching, Official Entertainer of the
Department charged with the Ceremonial for the Reception of Foreign
Ambassadors, and his suite, to notify to you the preceding. We also
transmit to you the products of which a list is given separately.**

*It has already been stated that Japan was generally known in China
and Korea by the term "Wa," which, being written with an ideograph
signifying "dwarf" or "subservient," was disliked by the Japanese.
The envoy sent from Yamato in 607 was instructed to ask for the
substitution of Nippon (Place of Sunrise), but the Sui sovereign
declined to make the change and Japan did not receive the designation
"Nippon" in China until the period Wu Teh (A.D. 618-626) of the Tang
dynasty. It is not certain at what time exactly the Japanese
themselves adopted this nomenclature, but it certainly was before the
seventh century.

**Translated by Aston in the Nihongi.

When the reading of the document was concluded, a high noble stepped
forward, took it from the envoy's hands and advanced with it towards
the audience-hall, from which another noble came out to meet him,
received the letter, deposited it on a table before the chief
entrance, and then reported the facts to the Empress. This ended the
ceremony. The haughty condescension of the Chinese despatch does not
appear to have offended the Japanese, nor did they cavil at the
omission of one important ideograph from the title applied to their
Empress. China's greatness seems to have been fully recognized. When,
a month later, the envoy took his departure, the same Imoko was
deputed to accompany him, bearing a despatch* in which, to China's
simple "greeting," Japan returned a "respectful address;" to China's
expression of ineffable superiority Japan replied that the coming of
the embassy had "dissolved her long-harboured cares;" and to China's
grandiloquent prolixity Japan made answer with half a dozen brief
lines. Imoko was now accompanied by eight students four of literature
and four of religion. Thus was established, and for long afterwards
maintained, a bridge over which the literature, arts, ethics, and
philosophies of China were copiously imported into Japan.

*In this despatch Japan called herself "the place where the sun comes
forth," and designated China as "the place where the sun sets." The
idea, doubtless, was merely to distinguish between east and west, but
the Sui sovereign resented the diction of this "barbarian letter."


It will be recognized by considering the uji system that while many
titles existed in Japan, there was practically no promotion. A man
might be raised to uji rank. Several instances of that kind have been
noted, especially in the case of foreign artists or artisans
migrating to the island from Korea or China. But nothing higher was
within reach, and for the hereditary Kami of an uji no reward offered
except a gift of land, whatever services he might render to the
State. Such a system could not but tend to perfunctoriness in the
discharge of duty. Perception of this defect induced the regent,
Shotoku, to import from China (A.D. 603) the method of official
promotion in vogue under the Sui dynasty and to employ caps as
insignia of rank.* Twelve of such grades were instituted, and the
terminology applied to them was based on the names of six moral
qualities--virtue, benevolence, propriety, faith, justice, and
knowledge--each comprising two degrees, "greater" and "lesser." The
caps were made of sarcenet, a distinctive colour for each grade, the
cap being gathered upon the crown in the shape of a bag with a border
attached. The three highest ranks of all were not included in this

*In China to-day the distinguishing mark is a button of varying
material fastened on the top of the cap.


In the year 626, the omnipotent Soga chief, the o-omi Umako, died.
His brief eulogy in the Chronicles is that he had "a talent for
military tactics," was "gifted with eloquence," and deeply reverenced
"the Three Precious Things" (Buddha, Dharma, and Samgha). In the
court-yard of his residence a pond was dug with a miniature island in
the centre, and so much attention did this innovation attract that
the great minister was popularly called Shima (island) no o-omi. His
office of o-omi was conferred on his son, Emishi, who behaved with
even greater arrogance and arbitrariness than his father had shown.
The Empress Suiko died in 628, and the question of the accession at
once became acute. Two princes were eligible; Tamura, grandson of the
Emperor Bidatsu, and Yamashiro, son of Shotoku Taishi. Prince
Yamashiro was a calm, virtuous, and faithful man. He stated
explicitly that the Empress, on the eve of her demise, had nominated
him to be her successor. But Prince Tamura had the support of the
o-omi, Emishi, whose daughter he admired. No one ventured to oppose
the will of the Soga chieftain except Sakaibe no Marise, and he with
his son were ruthlessly slain by the orders of the o-omi.

Prince Tamura then (629) ascended the throne--he is known in history
as Jomei--but Soga no Emishi virtually ruled the empire. Jomei died
in 641, after a reign of twelve years, and by the contrivance of
Emishi the sceptre was placed in the hands of an Empress, Kogyoku, a
great-granddaughter of the Emperor Bidatsu, the claims of the son of
Shotoku Taishi being again ignored. One of the first acts of the new
sovereign was to raise Emishi to the rank held by his father, the
rank of o-omi, and there then came into prominence Emishi's son,
Iruka, who soon wielded power greater than even that possessed by his
father. Iruka's administration, however, does not appear to have been
altogether unwholesome. The Chronicles say that "thieves and robbers
were in dread of him, and that things dropped on the highway were not
picked up." But Emishi rendered himself conspicuous chiefly by aping
Imperial state. He erected an ancestral temple; organized
performances of a Chinese dance (yatsura) which was essentially an
Imperial pageant; levied imposts on the people at large for the
construction of tombs--one for himself, another for his son,
Iruka--which were openly designated misasagi (Imperial sepulchres);
called his private residence mikado (sacred gate); conferred on his
children the title of miko (august child), and exacted forced labour
from all the people of the Kamutsumiya estate, which belonged to the
Shotoku family.

This last outrage provoked a remonstrance from Shotoku Taishi's
daughter, and she was thenceforth reckoned among the enemies of the
Soga. One year later (643), this feud ended in bloodshed. Emishi's
usurpation of Imperial authority was carried so far that he did not
hesitate to confer the rank of o-omi on his son, Iruka, and upon the
latter's younger brother also. Iruka now conceived the design of
placing upon the throne Prince Furubito, a son of the Emperor Jomei.
It will be remembered that the Soga chief, Emishi, had lent his
omnipotent influence to secure the sceptre for Jomei, because of the
latter's affection for Emishi's daughter. This lady, having become
one of Jomei's consorts, had borne to him Prince Furubito, who was
consequently Iruka's uncle. Iruka determined that the prince should
succeed the Empress Kogyoku. To that end it was necessary to remove
the Shotoku family, against which, as shown above, the Soga had also
a special grudge. Not even the form of devising a protest was
observed. Orders were simply issued to a military force that the
Shotoku house should be extirpated. Its representative was Prince
Yamashiro, the same who had effaced himself so magnanimously at the
time of Jomei's accession. He behaved with ever greater nobility on
this occasion. Having by a ruse escaped from the Soga troops, he was
urged by his followers to flee to the eastern provinces, and there
raising an army, to march back to the attack of the Soga.

There is reason to think that this policy would have succeeded. But
the prince replied: "I do not wish it to be said by after generations
that, for my sake, anyone has mourned the loss of a father or a
mother. Is it only when one has conquered in battle that one is to be
called a hero? Is he not also a hero who has made firm his country at
the expense of his own life?" He then returned to the temple at
Ikaruga, which his father had built, and being presently besieged
there by the Soga forces, he and the members of his family,
twenty-three in all, committed suicide. This tragedy shocked even
Emishi. He warned Iruka against the peril of such extreme measures.


There now appears a statesman destined to leave his name indelibly
written on the pages of Japanese history, Kamatari, muraji of the
Nakatomi-uji. The Nakatomi's functions were specially connected with
Shinto rites, and Kamatari must be supposed to have entertained
little good-will towards the Soga, who were the leaders of the
Buddhist faction, and whose feud with the military party sixty-seven
years previously had involved the violent death of Katsumi, then
(587) muraji of the Nakatomi. Moreover, Kamatari makes his first
appearance in the annals as chief Shinto official. Nevertheless, it
is not apparent that religious zeal or personal resentment was
primarily responsible for Kamatari's determination to compass the
ruin of the Soga. Essentially an upright man and a loyal subject, he
seems to have been inspired by a frank resolve to protect the Throne
against schemes of lawless ambitions, unconscious that his own
family, the Fujiwara, were destined to repeat on a still larger scale
the same abuses.

The succession may be said to have had three aspirants at that time:
first, Prince Karu, younger brother of the Empress Kogyoku; secondly,
Prince Naka, her son, and thirdly, Prince Furubito, uncle of Soga no
Iruka. The last was, of course, excluded from Kamatari's
calculations, and as between the first two he judged it wiser that
Prince Karu should have precedence in the succession, Prince Naka not
being old enough. The conspiracy that ensued presents no specially
remarkable feature. Kamatari and Prince Naka became acquainted
through an incident at the game of football, when the prince, having
accidently kicked off his shoe, Kamatari picked it up and restored it
to him on bended knee. The two men, in order to find secret
opportunities for maturing their plans, became fellow students of the
doctrines of Chow and Confucius under the priest Shoan, who had been
among the eight students that accompanied the Sui envoy on his return
to China in the year 608.

Intimate relations were cemented with a section of the Soga through
Kurayamada, whose daughter Prince Naka married, and trustworthy
followers having been attached to the prince, the conspirators
watched for an occasion. It was not easy to find one. The Soga
mansion, on the eastern slope of Mount Unebi, was a species of
fortress, surrounded by a moat and provided with an armoury having
ample supply of bows and arrows. Emishi, the o-omi, always had a
guard of fifty soldiers when he went abroad, and Iruka, his son, wore
a sword "day and night." Nothing offered except to convert the palace
itself into a place of execution. On the twelfth day of the sixth
month, 645, the Empress held a Court in the great hall of audience to
receive memorials and tribute from the three kingdoms of Korea. All
present, except her Majesty and Iruka, were privy to the plot. Iruka
having been beguiled into laying aside his sword, the reading of the
memorials was commenced by Kurayamada, and Prince Naka ordered the
twelve gates to be closed simultaneously. At that signal, two
swordsmen should have advanced and fallen upon Iruka; but they showed
themselves so timorous that Prince Naka himself had to lead them to
the attack. Iruka, severely wounded, struggled to the throne and
implored for succour and justice; but when her Majesty in terror
asked what was meant, Prince Naka charged Iruka with attempting to
usurp the sovereignty. The Empress, seeing that her own son led the
assassins, withdrew at once, and the work of slaughtering Iruka was
completed, his corpse being thrown into the court-yard, where it lay
covered with straw matting.

Prince Naka and Karaatari had not been so incautious as to take a
wide circle of persons into their confidence. But they were
immediately joined by practically all the nobility and high
officials, and the o-omi's troops having dispersed without striking a
blow, Emishi and his people were all executed. The Empress Kogyoku at
once abdicated in favour of her brother, Prince Kara, her son, Prince
Naka, being nominated Prince Imperial. Her Majesty had worn the
purple for only three years. All this was in accord with Kamatari's
carefully devised plans. They were epoch making.

(A.D. 540-645)

The story of Japan's relations with Korea throughout the period of
over a century, from the accession of Kimmei (540) to the abdication
of Kogyoku (645), is a series of monotonously similar chapters, the
result for Japan being that she finally lost her position at Mimana.
There was almost perpetual fighting between the petty kingdoms which
struggled for mastery in the peninsula, and Kudara, always nominally
friendly to Japan, never hesitated to seek the latter's assistance
against Shiragi and Koma. To these appeals the Yamato Court lent a
not-unready ear, partly because they pleased the nation's vanity, but
mainly because Kudara craftily suggested danger to Mimana unless
Japan asserted herself with arms. But when it came to actually
rendering material aid, Japan did nothing commensurate with her
gracious demeanour. She seems to have been getting weary of expensive
interference, and possibly it may also have occurred to her that no
very profound sympathy was merited by a sovereign who, like the King
of Kudara, preferred to rely on armed aid from abroad rather than
risk the loss of his principality to his own countrymen.

At all events, in answer to often iterated entreaties from Kudara,
the Yamato Court did not make any practical response until the year
551, when it sent five thousand koku of barley-seed (?), followed,
two years later, by two horses, two ships, fifty bows with arrows,
and--a promise. Kudara was then ruled by a very enterprising prince
(Yo-chang). Resolving to strike separately at his enemies, Koma and
Shiragi, he threw himself with all his forces against Koma and gained
a signal victory (553). Then, at length, Japan was induced to assist.
An omi was despatched (554) to the peninsula with a thousand
soldiers, as many horses and forty ships. Shiragi became at once the
objective of the united forces of Kudara and Japan. A disastrous
defeat resulted for the assailants. The Kudara army suffered almost
complete extermination, losing nearly thirty thousand men, and
history is silent as to the fate of the omi's contingent.
Nevertheless the fear of Japanese vengeance induced Shiragi to hold
its hand, and, in the year 561, an attempt was made twice to renew
friendly relations with the Yamato Court by means of tribute-bearing
envoys. Japan did not repel these overtures, but she treated the
envoy of the victorious Shiragi with less respect than that extended
to the envoy of the vanquished Kudara.

In the spring of the following year (562), Shiragi invaded Mimana,
destroyed the Japanese station there and overran the whole region
(ten provinces). No warning had reached Japan. She was taken entirely
unawares, and she regarded it as an act of treachery on Shiragi's
part to have transformed itself suddenly from a tribute-bearing
friend into an active enemy. Strangely enough, the King of Shiragi
does not appear to have considered that his act precluded a
continuance of friendly relations with the Yamato Court. Six months
after his invasion of Mimana he renewed the despatch of envoys to
Japan, and it was not until their arrival in Yamato that they learned
Japan's mood. Much to the credit of the Yamato Court, it did not
wreak vengeance on these untimely envoys, but immediately afterwards
an armed expedition was despatched to call Shiragi to account. The
forces were divided into two corps, one being ordered to march under
Ki no Omaro northwest from Mimana and effect a junction with Kudara;
the other, under Kawabe no Nie, was to move eastward against Shiragi.
This scheme became known to the Shiragi generals owing to the seizure
of a despatch intended for Kudara. They attempted to intercept
Omaro's corps, but were signally defeated.

The movement under Kawabe no Nie fared differently. Japanese annals
attempt to palliate his discomfiture by a story about the abuse of a
flag of truce, but the fact seems to have been that Kawabe no Nie was
an incompetent and pusillanimous captain. He and his men were all
killed or taken prisoners, the only redeeming feature being the
intrepidity of a Japanese officer, Tsugi no Ikina, who, with his wife
and son, endured to be tortured and killed rather than utter an
insult against their country.

It is difficult to interpret the sequence of events after this
catastrophe. Japan immediately despatched a strong army--from thirty
to forty thousand men--but instead of directing it against Shiragi,
sent it to the attack of Koma, under advice of the King of Kudara.
Possibly the idea may have been to crush Koma, and having thus
isolated Shiragi, to deal with the latter subsequently. If so, the
plan never matured. Koma, indeed, suffered a signal defeat at the
hands of the Japanese, Satehiko, muraji of the Otomo, but Shiragi
remained unmolested, and nothing accrued to Japan except some
attractive spoils--curtains of seven-fold woof, an iron house, two
suits of armour, two gold-mounted swords, three copper belts with
chasings, two variously coloured flags, and two beautiful women. Even
as to the ultimate movements of Satehiko and his army the annals are

Things remained thus for nine years. Tribute-bearing envoys arrived
at intervals from Koma, but with Shiragi there was no communication.
At last, in 571, an official was sent to demand from Shiragi an
explanation of the reasons for the destruction of Mimana. The
intention may have been to follow up this formality with the
despatch of an effective force, but within a month the Emperor
Kimmei died. On his death-bed he is said to have taken the Prince
Imperial--Bidatsu--by the hand and said: "That which comes after
devolves on thee. Thou must make war on Shiragi and establish Mimana
as a feudal dependency, renewing a relationship like that of husband
and wife, just as it was in former days. If this be done, in my grave
I shall rest content."

Twelve years passed before Bidatsu took any step to comply with this
dying injunction. During that long interval there were repeated
envoys from Koma, now a comparatively feeble principality, and
Shiragi made three unsuccessful overtures to renew amicable
relations. At length, in 583, the Emperor announced his intention of
carrying out the last testament of his predecessor. To that end his
Majesty desired to consult with a Japanese, Nichira, who had served
for many years at the Kudara Court and was thoroughly familiar with
the conditions existing in Korea. Nichira came to Japan, but the
annals indicate that his counsels were directed wholly against
Kudara, which was ostensibly on the friendliest terms with Japan, and
not at all against Shiragi, whose punishment was alone in question.
Besides, instead of advising an appeal to arms, he urged the
necessity of developing Japan's material resources, so that her
neighbours might learn to count her formidable and her people might
acquire ardour in her cause. Whether the wisdom of this advice
appealed to Bidatsu, or whether the disputes consequent upon the
introduction of Buddhism paralyzed his capacity for oversea
enterprise, he made no further attempt to resolve the Korean problem.

In the year 591, the ill-fated Emperor Sushun conceived the idea of
sending a large army to re-establish his country's prestige in the
peninsula, but his own assassination intervened, and for the space of
nine years the subject was not publicly revived. Then, in 600, the
Empress Suiko being on the throne, a unique opportunity presented
itself. War broke out between Shiragi and Mimana. The Yamato Court at
once despatched a force of ten thousand men to Mimana's aid, and
Shiragi, having suffered a signal defeat, made act of abject
submission, restoring to Mimana six of its original provinces and
promising solemnly to abstain from future hostilities. The Japanese
committed the error of crediting Shiragi's sincerity. They withdrew
their forces, but no sooner had their ships passed below the horizon
than Shiragi once more invaded Mimana. It seemed at this juncture as
though the stars in their courses fought against Japan. Something,
indeed, must be ascribed to her own methods of warfare which appear
to have been overmerciful for the age. Thus, with the bitter
experience of Shiragi's treachery fresh in her recollection, she did
not execute a Shiragi spy seized in Tsushima, but merely banished him
to the province of Kozuke. Still, she must be said to have been the
victim of special ill-fortune when an army of twenty-five thousand
men, assembled in Tsukushi for the invasion of Shiragi, was twice
prevented from sailing by unforseeable causes, one being the death of
Prince Kume, its commander-in-chief; the other, the death of the
consort of his successor, Prince Taema.*

*Early Japanese history furnishes several examples showing that wives
often accompanied their husbands on campaigns.

These things happened in the year 603, and for the next five years
all relations with Korea seem to have been severed. Then (608) a
brief paragraph in the Chronicles records that "many persons from
Shiragi came to settle in Japan." It is certainly eloquent of the
Yamato Court's magnanimity that it should have welcomed immigrants
from a country with which it was virtually at war. Two years later
(610), Shiragi and Mimana, acting in concert, sent envoys who were
received with all the pomp and ceremony prescribed by Shotoku
Taishi's code of decorum. Apparently this embassy was allowed to
serve as a renewal of friendly relations, but it is not on record
that the subject of former dispute was alluded to in any way, nor was
the old-time habit of annual tribute-bearing envoys revived. Visitors
from Korea were, indeed, few and far-between, as when, in 616,
Shiragi sent a golden image of Buddha, two feet high, whose
effulgence worked wonders; or in 618, when an envoy from Korea
conveyed the important tidings that the invasion of the peninsula by
the Sui sovereign, Yang, at the head of three hundred thousand men,
had been beaten back. This envoy carried to Yamato presents in the
form of two captive Chinese, a camel, and a number of flutes,
cross-bows, and catapults (of which instruments of war mention is
thus made for the first time in Japanese history).

The Yamato Court had evidently now abandoned all idea of punishing
Shiragi or restoring the station at Mimana; while Shiragi, on her
side, was inclined to maintain friendly relations though she did not
seek frequent intercourse. After an interval of five years'
aloofness, she presented (621) a memorial on an unrecorded subject,
and in the following year, she presented, once more, a gold image of
Buddha, a gold pagoda, and a number of baptismal flags.* But Shiragi
was nothing if not treacherous, and, even while making these valuable
presents to the Yamato Court, and while despatching envoys in company
with those from Mimana, she was planning another invasion of the
latter. It took place that very year (622). When the news reached
Japan, the Empress Suiko would have sent an envoy against Shiragi,
but it was deemed wiser to employ diplomacy in the first place, for
the principalities of Korea were now in close relations with the
great Tang dynasty of China and might even count on the latter's
protection in case of emergency.

*"The Buddhist baptism consists in washing the top of the head with
perfumed water. The baptismal flags were so called because they had
the same efficiency, raising those who passed under them, first, to
the rank of Tchakra Radja, and, ultimately, to that of a Buddha."

Two plenipotentiaries were therefore sent from Japan. Their mission
proved very simple. Shiragi acquiesced in all their proposals and
pledged herself once for all to recognize Mimana as a dependency of
Japan. But after the despatch of these plenipotentiaries, the
war-party in Japan had gained the ascendancy, and just as the
plenipotentiaries, accompanied by tribute-bearing envoys from Shiragi
and Mimana, were about to embark for Japan, they were astounded by
the apparition of a great flotilla carrying thousands of armed men.
The exact dimensions of this force are not on record: it is merely
described as having consisted of "several tens of thousands of men,"
but as it was commanded by two generals of the first rank and seven
of the second, it must have been a very formidable army, and nothing
is more remarkable about it than that it was assembled and embarked
in the space of a few weeks. Shiragi did not attempt to resist. The
King tendered his submission and it was accepted without a blow
having been struck. But there were no tangible results. Japan did not
attempt to re-establish her miyake in Mimana, and Shiragi refrained
from sending envoys to Yamato except on special occasions. Friendly,
though not intimate, relations were still maintained with the three
kingdoms of Korea, mainly because the peninsula long continued to be
the avenue by which the literature, arts, and crafts of China under,
the Tang dynasty found their way to Japan. Since, however, the office
in Mimana no longer existed to transact business connected with this
intercourse, and since Yamato was too distant from the port of
departure and arrival--Anato, now Nagato--a new office was
established in Tsukushi (Kyushu) under the name of the Dazai-fu.


The record of Japan's relations with Korea, so far as it has been
carried above--namely, to the close of the Empress Kogyoku's reign
(A.D. 645)--discloses in the Korean people a race prone to
self-seeking feuds, never reluctant to import foreign aid into
domestic quarrels, and careless of the obligations of good faith. In
the Japanese we see a nation magnanimous and trustful but of
aggressive tendencies.


Although Japan's military influence on the neighbouring continent
waned perceptibly from the reign of Kimmei (540-571) onwards, a
stream of Chinese civilization flowed steadily into the Island Empire
from the west, partly coming direct from the fountain head; partly
filtering, in a more or less impure form, through Korean channels.
Many of the propagandists of this civilization remained permanently
in Japan, where they received a courteous welcome, being promoted to
positions of trust and admitted to the ranks of the nobility. Thus a
book (the Seishi-roku), published in 814, which has been aptly termed
the "peerage of Japan," shows that, at that time, nearly one-third of
the Japanese nobility traced their descent to Chinese or Korean
ancestors in something like equal proportions. The numbers are,
China, 162 families; Kudara, 104; Koma, 50; Mimana, 9; Shiragi, 9;
doubtful, 47. Total, 381 Chinese and Korean families out of a grand
aggregate of 1177. But many of the visitors returned home after
having sojourned for a time as teachers of literature, art, or
industrial science.

This system of brief residence for purposes of instruction seems to
have been inaugurated during the reign of Keitai, in the year 513,
when Tan Yang-i, a Chinese expounder of the five classics, was
brought to Yamato by envoys from Kudara as a gift valued enough to
purchase political intervention for the restoration of lost
territory; and when, three years later, a second embassy from the
same place, coming to render thanks for effective assistance in the
matter of the territory, asked that Tan might be allowed to return in
exchange for another Chinese pundit, Ko An-mu. The incident suggests
how great was the value attached to erudition even in those remote
days. Yet this promising precedent was not followed for nearly forty
years, partly owing to the unsettled nature of Japan's relations.
with Korea.

After the advent of Buddhism (552), however, Chinese culture found
new expansion eastward. In 554, there arrived from Kudara another
Chinese literatus, and, by desire of the Emperor, Kimmei, a party of
experts followed shortly afterwards, including a man learned in the
calendar, a professor of divination, a physician, two herbalists, and
four musicians. The record says that these men, who, with the
exception of the Chinese doctor of literature, were all Koreans, took
the place of an equal number of their countrymen who had resided in
Japan for some years. Thenceforth such incidents were frequent. Yet,
at first, a thorough knowledge of the ideographic script seems to
have spread very slowly in Japan, for in 572, when the Emperor
Bidatsu sought an interpretation of a memorial presented by the Koma
sovereign, only one man among all the scribes (fumi-bito), and he
(Wang Sin-i) of Chinese origin, was found capable of reading the

But from the accession of the Empress Suiko (593), the influence of
Shotoku Taishi made itself felt in every branch of learning, and
thenceforth China and Japan may be said to have stood towards each
other in the relation of teacher and pupil. Literature, the
ideographic script,* calendar compiling, astronomy, geography,
divination, magic, painting, sculpture, architecture, tile-making,
ceramics, the casting of metal, and other crafts were all cultivated
assiduously under Chinese and Korean instruction. In architecture,
all substantial progress must be attributed to Buddhism, for
it was by building temples and pagodas that Japanese ideas of
dwelling-houses were finally raised above the semi-subterranean type,
and to the same influence must be attributed signal and rapid
progress in the art of interior decoration. The style of architecture
adopted in temples was a mixture of the Chinese and the Indian.
Indeed, it is characteristic of this early epoch that traces of the
architectural and glyptic fashions of the land where Buddhism was
born showed themselves much more conspicuously than they did in later
eras; a fact which illustrates Japan's constant tendency to break
away from originals by modifying them in accordance with her own

*The oldest ideographic inscription extant in Japan is carved on a
stone in Iyo province dating from A.D. 596. Next in point of
antiquity is an inscription on the back of an image of Yakushi which
stands in the temple Horyu-ji. It is ascribed to the year A.D. 607.


None of the religious edifices then constructed has survived in its
integrity to the present day. One, however,--the Horyu-ji, at
Nara--since all its restorations have been in strict accord with
their originals, is believed to be a true representative of the most
ancient type. It was founded by Shotoku Taishi and completed in 607.
At the time of its construction, this Horyu-ji was the chief academy
of Buddhist teaching, and it therefore received the name of
Gakumon-ji (Temple of Learning). Among its treasures is an image of
copper and gold which was cast by the Korean artist, Tori--commonly
called Tori Busshi, or Tori the image-maker--to order of Shotoku; and
there is mural decoration from the brush of a Korean priest, Doncho.
This building shows that already in the seventh century an imposing
type of wooden edifice had been elaborated--an edifice differing from
those of later epochs in only a few features; as, slight inequality
in the scantling of its massive pillars; comparatively gentle pitch
of roof; abnormally overhanging eaves, and shortness of distance
between each storey of the pagoda. These sacred buildings were roofed
with tiles, and were therefore called kawara-ya (tiled house) by way
of distinction, for all private dwellings, the Imperial palace not
excepted, continued to have thatched roofs in the period now under
consideration,* or at best roofs covered with boards. The annals show
that when the Empress Kogyoku built the Asuka palace, timber was
obtained from several provinces; labour was requisitioned throughout
a district extending from Omi in the east to Aki in the west; the
floor of the "great hall"** was paved with tiles; there were twelve
gates, three on each of the four sides, and the whole was in the
architectural style of the Tang dynasty. Yet for the roofs, boards
alone were used.

*Down to A.D. 645.1

**It was here that the assassination of Soga no Iruka took place.


Little is recorded about the progress of painting in this epoch. It
has been shown above that during Yuryaku's reign pictorial experts
crossed to Japan from Korea and from China. The Chronicles add that,
in A.D. 604, when the Empress Suiko occupied the throne, two schools
of painters were established, namely, the Kibumi and the Yamashiro.
It is elsewhere explained that the business of those artists was to
paint Buddhist pictures, the special task of the Kibumi men being to
illuminate scrolls of the Sutras. We read also that, in 603, on the
occasion of the dedication of the temple of Hachioka, Prince Shotoku
painted banners as offerings. These had probably the same designs as
those spoken of a century later (710) when, at a ceremony in the
great hall of the palace, there were set up flags emblazoned with a
crow,* the sun, an azure dragon, a red bird, and the moon, all which
designs were of Chinese origin. Shotoku Taishi himself is
traditionally reported to have been a skilled painter and sculptor,
and several of his alleged masterpieces are preserved to this day,
but their authenticity is disputed.

*The three-legged crow of the sun.


In the field of agriculture this epoch offers nothing more remarkable
than the construction of nine reservoirs for irrigation purposes and
the digging of a large canal in Yamashiro province. It is also
thought worthy of historical notice that a Korean prince
unsuccessfully attempted to domesticate bees on a Japanese mountain.


Considerable progress seems to have been made in tradal matters.
Markets were opened at several places in the interior, and coastwise
commerce developed so much that, in A.D. 553, it was found expedient
to appoint an official for the purpose of numbering and registering
the vessels thus employed. The Chinese settler, Wang Sin-i, who has
already been spoken of as the only person able to decipher a Korean
memorial, was given the office of fune no osa (chief of the shipping
bureau) and granted the title of fune no fubito (registrar of
vessels). Subsequently, during the reign of Jomei (629-641), an
akinai-osa (chief of trade) was appointed in the person of Munemaro,
whose father, Kuhi, had brought scales and weights from China during
the reign of Sushun (558-592), and this system was formally adopted
in the days of Jomei (629-641). There had not apparently been any
officially recognized weights and measures in remote antiquity. The
width of the hand (ta or tsuka) and the spread of the arms (hiro)
were the only dimensions employed. By and by the Korean shaku (foot),
which corresponds to 1.17 shaku of the present day, came into use. In
Kenso's time (485-487) there is mention of a measure of rice being
sold for a piece of silver, and the Emperor Kimmei (540-571) is
recorded to have given 1000 koku of seed-barley to the King of
Kudara. But it is supposed that the writer of the Chronicles, in
making these entries, projected the terminology of his own time into
the previous centuries. There were neither coins nor koku in those


Up to the time (A.D. 603) of the institution of caps as marks of
rank, men were in the habit of dividing their hair in the centre and
tying it above the ears in a style called mizura. But such a fashion
did not accord with the wearing of caps which were gathered up on the
crown in the shape of a bag. Hence men of rank took to binding the
hair in a queue on the top of the head. The old style was continued,
however, by men having no rank and by youths. A child's hair was
looped on the temples in imitation of the flower of a gourd--hence
called hisago-bana--and women wore their tresses hanging free. The
institution of caps interfered also with the use of hairpins, which
were often made of gold and very elaborate. These now came to be
thrust, not directly into the hair, but through the cord employed to
tie the cap above. It is recorded that, in the year 611, when the
Empress Suiko and her Court went on a picnic, the colour of the
ministers' garments agreed with that of their official caps, and that
each wore hair-ornaments which, in the case of the two highest
functionaries, were made of gold; in the case of the next two, of
leopards' tails; and in the case of lower ranks, of birds' tails.

On a more ceremonious occasion, namely, the reception of the Chinese
envoys from the Sui Court, the Chronicles state that Japanese princes
and ministers "all wore gold hair-ornaments,* and their garments were
of brocade, purple, and embroidery, with thin silk stuffs of various
colours and patterns." Costume had become thus gorgeous after the
institution of Buddhism and the establishment of intercourse direct
with the Sui, and, subsequently, the Tang dynasty. Even in the manner
of folding the garments over the breast--not from right to left but
from left to right--the imported fashion was followed. Wadded
garments are incidently mentioned in the year A.D. 643.

*These were called usu. They were, in fact, hairpins, generally
shaped like a flower.


It has already been recorded that, in the middle of the sixth
century, musicians were sent from the Kudara Court to the Yamato, and
since these are said to have taken the place of others then
sojourning in Japan, the fact is established that such a visit was
not then without precedent. Music, indeed, may be said to have
benefitted largely by the advent of Buddhism, for the services of the
latter required a special kind of music. The first foreign teacher of
the art was a Korean, Mimashi, who went to Japan in A.D. 612, after
having studied both music and dancing for some years in China. A
dwelling was assigned to him at Sakurai (in Yamato) and he trained
pupils. At the instance of Prince Shotoku and for the better
performance of Buddhist services, various privileges were granted to
the professors of the art. They were exempted from the discharge of
official duties and their occupation became hereditary. Several
ancient Japanese books contain reference to music and dancing, and in
one work* illustrations are given of the wooden masks worn by dancers
and the instruments used by musicians of the Wu (Chinese) school.
These masks were introduced by Mimashi and are still preserved in the
temple Horyu-ji.

*The Horyu-ji Shizai-cho, composed in A.D. 747.

In the matter of pastimes, a favourite practice, first mentioned in
the reign of the Empress Suiko, was a species of picnic called
"medicine hunting" (kusuri-kari). It took place on the fifth day of
the fifth month. The Empress, her ladies, and the high functionaries,
all donned gala costumes and went to hunt stags, for the purpose of
procuring the young antlers, and to search for "deer-fungus"
(shika-take), the horns and the vegetables being supposed to have
medical properties. All the amusements mentioned in previous sections
continued to be followed in this era, and football is spoken of as
having inaugurated the afterwards epoch-making friendship between
Prince Naka and Kamatari. It was not played in the Occidental manner,
however. The game consisted in kicking a ball from player to player
without letting it fall. This was apparently a Chinese innovation.
Here, also, mention may be made of thermal springs. Their sanitary
properties were recognized, and visits were paid to them by invalids.
The most noted were those of Dogo, in Iyo, and Arima, in Settsu. The
Emperor Jomei spent several months at each of these, and Prince
Shotoku caused to be erected at Dogo a stone monument bearing an
inscription to attest the curative virtues of the water.


That Buddhism obtained a firm footing among the upper classes during
the first century after its introduction must be attributed in no
small measure to the fact that the throne was twice occupied by
Empresses in that interval. The highly decorative aspects of the
creed appealing to the emotional side of woman's nature, these
Imperial ladies encouraged Buddhist propagandism with earnest
munificence. But the mass of the people remained, for the most part,
outside the pale. They continued to believe in the Kami and to
worship them. Thus, when a terribly destructive earthquake* occured
in 599, it was to the Kami of earthquakes that prayers were offered
at his seven shrines in the seven home provinces (Kinai), and not to
the Merciful Buddha, though the saving grace of the latter had then
been preached for nearly a cycle. The first appeal to the foreign
deity in connexion with natural calamity was in the opening year
(642) of the Empress Kogyoku's reign when, in the presence of a
devastating drought, sacrifices of horses and cattle to the Shinto
Kami, changes of the market-places,** and prayers to the river gods
having all failed to bring relief, an imposing Buddhist service was
held in the south court of the Great Temple. "The images of Buddha,
of the bosatsu, and of the Four Heavenly Kings were magnificently
adorned; a multitude of priests read the Mahayana Sutra, and the
o-omi, Soga no Emishi, held a censer, burned incense, and prayed."
But there was no success; and not until the Empress herself had made
a progress to the source of a river and worshipped towards the four
quarters, did abundant rain fall.

*Only three earthquakes are recorded up to the year A.D. 645, and the
second alone (A.D. 599) is described as destructive.

**This was a Chinese custom, as was also the sacrificial rite
mentioned in the same context.

Such an incident cannot have contributed to popularize the Indian
creed. The people at large adhered to their traditional cult and were
easily swayed by superstitions. The first half of the seventh century
was marked by abnormal occurrences well calculated to disturb men's
minds. There were comets (twice); there was a meteor of large
dimensions; there were eclipses of the sun and moon; there were
occultations of Venus; there was snow in July and hail "as large as
peaches" in May, and there was a famine (621) when old people ate
roots of herbs and died by the wayside, when infants at the breast
perished with their mothers, and when thieves and robbers defied
authority. It is not, perhaps, surprising in such circumstances, and
when witches and wizards abounded, that people fell into strange
moods, and were persuaded to regard a caterpillar as the "insect of
the everlasting world," to worship it, and to throw away their
valuables in the belief that riches and perpetual youth would be thus
won. A miyatsuko, by name Kawakatsu, had the courage to kill the
designing preacher of this extravagance, and the moral epidemic was
thus stayed.

(Tembyo Sculpture, Eighth Century)





AFTER the fall of the Soga and the abdication of the Empress Kogyoku,
her son, Prince Naka, would have been the natural successor, and such
was her own expressed wish. But the prince's procedure was largely
regulated by Kamatari, who, alike in the prelude and in the sequel of
this crisis, proved himself one of the greatest statesmen Japan ever
produced. He saw that the Soga influence, though broken, was not
wholly shattered, and he understood that the great administrative
reform which he contemplated might be imperilled were the throne
immediately occupied by a prince on whose hands the blood of the Soga
chief was still warm. Therefore he advised Prince Naka to stand aside
in favour of his maternal uncle, Prince Karu, who could be trusted to
co-operate loyally in the work of reform and whose connexion with the
Soga overthrow had been less conspicuous. But to reach Prince Karu it
was necessary to pass over the head of another prince, Furubito,
Naka's half-brother, who had the full sympathy of the remnant of the
Soga clan, his mother having been a daughter of the great Umako. The
throne was therefore offered to him. But since the offer followed,
instead of preceding the Empress' approval of Prince Karu, Furubito
recognized the farce, and knowing that, though he might rule in
defiance of the Kamatari faction, he could not hope to rule with its
consent, he threw away his sword and declared his intention of
entering religion.

Very soon the Buddhist monastery at Yoshino, where he received the
tonsure, became a rallying point for the Soga partisans, and a war
for the succession seemed imminent. Naka, however, now Prince
Imperial, was not a man to dally with such obstacles. He promptly
sent to Yoshino a force of soldiers who killed Furubito with his
children and permitted his consorts to strangle themselves. Prince
Naka's name must go down to all generations as that of a great
reformer, but it is also associated with a terrible injustice. Too
readily crediting a slanderous charge brought against his
father-in-law, Kurayamada, who had stood at his right hand in the
great coup d'etat of 645, he despatched a force to seize the alleged
traitor. Kurayamada fled to a temple, and there, declaring that he
would "leave the world, still cherishing fidelity in his bosom," he
committed suicide, his wife and seven children sharing his fate.
Subsequent examination of his effects established his innocence, and
his daughter, consort of Prince Naka, died of grief.


Not for these things, however, but for sweeping reforms in the
administration of the empire is the reign of Kotoku memorable. Prince
Naka and Kamatari, during the long period of their intimate
intercourse prior to the deed of blood in the great hall of audience,
had fully matured their estimates of the Sui and Tang civilization as
revealed in documents and information carried to Japan by priests,
literati, and students, who, since the establishment of Buddhism, had
paid many visits to China. They appreciated that the system
prevailing in their own country from time immemorial had developed
abuses which were sapping the strength of the nation, and in sweeping
the Soga from the path to the throne, their ambition had been to gain
an eminence from which the new civilization might be authoritatively

Speaking broadly, their main objects were to abolish the system of
hereditary office-holders; to differentiate aristocratic titles from
official ranks; to bring the whole mass of the people into direct
subjection to the Throne, and to establish the Imperial right of
ownership in all the land throughout the empire. What these changes
signified and with what tact and wisdom the reformers proceeded, will
be clearly understood as the story unfolds itself. Spectacular effect
was enlisted as the first ally. A coronation ceremony of
unprecedented magnificence took place. High officials, girt with
golden quivers, stood on either side of the dais forming the throne,
and all the great functionaries--omi, muraji, and miyatsuko--together
with representatives of the 180 hereditary corporations (be) filed
past, making obeisance. The title of "Empress Dowager" was conferred
for the first time on Kogyoku, who had abdicated; Prince Naka was
made Prince Imperial; the head of the great uji of Abe was nominated
minister of the Left (sa-daijiri); Kurayamada, of the Soga-uji, who
had shared the dangers of the conspiracy against Emishi and Iruka,
became minister of the Right (u-daijiri), and Kamatari himself
received the post of minister of the Interior (nai-daijin), being
invested with the right to be consulted on all matters whether of
statecraft or of official personnel.

These designations, "minister of the Left"*, "minister of the Right,"
and "minister of the Interior," were new in Japan.** Hitherto, there
had been o-omi and o-muraji, who stood between the Throne and the two
great classes of uji, the o-omi and the o-muraji receiving
instructions direct from the sovereign, and the two classes of uji
acknowledging no control except that of the o-omi and the o-muraji.
But whereas the personal status of Kurayamada was only omi (not
o-omi), and the personal status of Kamatari, only muraji (not
o-muraji), neither was required, in his new capacity, to take
instructions from any save the Emperor, nor did any one of the three
high dignitaries nominally represent this or that congeries of uji. A
simultaneous innovation was the appointment of a Buddhist priest,
Bin, and a literatus, Kuromaro, to be "national doctors." These men
had spent some years at the Tang Court and were well versed in
Chinese systems.

*The left takes precedence of the right in Japan.

**The offices were borrowed from the Tang system of China a remark
which applies to nearly all the innovations of the epoch.

The next step taken was to assemble the ministers under a patriarchal
tree, and, in the presence of the Emperor, the Empress Dowager, and
the Prince Imperial, to pronounce, in the names of the Kami of heaven
and the Kami of earth--the Tenshin and the Chigi--a solemn
imprecation on rulers who attempted double-hearted methods of
government, and on vassals guilty of treachery in the service of
their sovereign. This amounted to a formal denunciation of the Soga
as well as a pledge on the part of the new Emperor. The Chinese
method of reckoning time by year-periods was then adopted, and the
year A.D. 645 became the first of the Daika era. But before
proceeding to really radical innovations, two further precautions
were taken. In order to display reverence for the foundations of the
State, the sovereign publicly declared that "the empire should be
ruled by following the footsteps of the Emperors of antiquity," and
in order to win the sympathy of the lower orders, his Majesty
directed that inquiry should be made as to the best method of
alleviating the hardships of forced labour. Further, a solemn
ceremony of Shinto worship was held by way of preface.

Then the reformers commenced their work in earnest. Governors
(kokushi) were appointed to all the eastern provinces. These
officials were not a wholly novel institution. It has been shown that
they existed previously to the Daika era, but in a fitful and
uncertain way, whereas, under the system now adopted, they became an
integral part of the administrative machinery. That meant that the
government of the provinces, instead of being administered by
hereditary officials, altogether irrespective of their competence,
was entrusted for a fixed term to men chosen on account of special
aptitude. The eastern provinces were selected for inaugurating this
experiment, because their distance from the capital rendered the
change less conspicuous. Moreover, the appointments were given, as
far as possible, to the former miyatsuko or mikotomochi. An ordinance
was now issued for placing a petition-box in the Court and hanging a
bell near it. The box was intended to serve as a receptacle for
complaints and representations. Anyone had a right to present such
documents. They were to be collected and conveyed to the Emperor
every morning, and if a reply was tardy, the bell was to be struck.

Side by side with these measures for bettering the people's lot,
precautions against any danger of disturbance were adopted by taking
all weapons of war out of the hands of private individuals and
storing them in arsenals specially constructed on waste lands. Then
followed a measure which seems to have been greatly needed. It has
been already explained that a not inconsiderable element of the
population was composed of slaves, and that these consisted of two
main classes, namely, aborigines or Koreans taken prisoners in war,
and members of an uji whose Kami had been implicated in crime. As
time passed, there resulted from intercourse between these slaves and
their owners a number of persons whose status was confused, parents
asserting the manumission of their children and masters insisting on
the permanence of the bond. To correct these complications the whole
nation was now divided into freemen (ryomin) and bondmen (senmin),
and a law was enacted that, since among slaves no marriage tie was
officially recognized, a child of mixed parentage must always be
regarded as a bondman. On that basis a census was ordered to be
taken, and in it were included not only the people of all classes,
but also the area of cultivated and throughout the empire.

At the same time stringent regulations were enacted for the control
and guidance of the provincial governors. They were to take counsel
with the people in dividing the profits of agriculture. They were not
to act as judges in criminal cases or to accept bribes from suitors
in civil ones; their staff, when visiting the capital, was strictly
limited, and the use of public-service horses* as well as the
consumption of State provisions was vetoed unless they were
travelling on public business. Finally, they were enjoined to
investigate carefully all claims to titles and all alleged rights of
land tenure. The next step was the most drastic and far-reaching of
all. Hereditary corporations were entirely abolished, alike those
established to commemorate the name of a sovereign or a prince and
those employed by the nobles to cultivate their estates. The estates
themselves were escheated. Thus, at one stroke, the lands and titles
of the hereditary aristocracy were annulled, just as was destined to
be the case in the Meiji era, twelve centuries later.

*Everyone having a right to use public-service horses was required to
carry a token of his right in the shape of a small bronze bell, or
group of bells, indicating by their shape and number how many horses
the bearer was entitled to.

This reform involved a radical change in the system and method of
taxation, but the consideration of that phase of the question is
deferred for a moment in order to explain the nature and the amount
of the new fiscal burdens. Two kinds of taxes were thenceforth
imposed, namely, ordinary taxes and commuted taxes. The ordinary
consisted of twenty sheaves of rice per cho* (equivalent to about
eight sheaves per acre), and the commuted tax--in lieu of forced
labour--was fixed at a piece of silk fabric forty feet in length by
two and a half feet in breadth per cho, being approximately a length
of sixteen feet per acre. The dimensions of the fabric were doubled
in the case of coarse silk, and quadrupled in the case of cloth woven
from hemp or from the fibre of the inner bark of the paper-mulberry.
A commuted tax was levied on houses also, namely, a twelve-foot
length of the above cloth per house. No currency existed in that age.
All payments were made in kind. There is, therefore, no method of
calculating accurately the monetary equivalent of a sheaf of rice.
But in the case of fabrics we have some guide. Thus, in addition to
the above imposts, every two townships--a township was a group of
fifty houses--had to contribute one horse of medium quality (or one
of superior quality per two hundred houses) for public service; and
since a horse was regarded as the equivalent of a total of twelve
feet of cloth per house, it would follow, estimating a horse of
medium quality at £5, ($25.), that the commuted tax in the case of
land was above 5s.4d., ($1.30) per acre. Finally, each homestead was
required to provide one labourer as well as rations for his support;
and every two homesteads had to furnish one palace waiting-woman
(uneme), who must be good-looking, the daughter or sister of a
district official of high rank, and must have one male and two female
servants to attend on her--these also being supported by the two
homesteads. In every homestead there was an alderman who kept the
register, directed agricultural operations, enforced taxes, and took
measures to prevent crime as well as to judge it.

*The cho was two and a half acres approximately.

Thus it is seen that a regular system of national taxation was
introduced and that the land throughout the whole empire was
considered to be the property of the Crown. As for the nobles who
were deprived of their estates, sustenance gifts were given to them,
but there is no record of the bases upon which these gifts were
assessed. With regard to the people's share in the land, the plan
pursued was that for every male or female over five years of age two
tan (about half an acre) should be given to the former and one-third
less to the latter, these grants being made for a period of six
years, at the end of which time a general restoration was to be
effected. A very striking evidence of the people's condition is that
every adult male had to contribute a sword, armour, a bow and arrows,
and a drum. This impost may well have outweighed all the others.


Another important reform regulated the dimensions of burial mounds.
The construction of these on the grand scale adopted for many
sovereigns, princes, and nobles had long harrassed the people, who
were compelled to give their toil gratis for such a purpose. What
such exactions had entailed may be gathered from Kotoku's edict,
which said, "Of late the poverty of our people is absolutely due to
the construction of tombs." Nevertheless, he did not undertake to
limit the size of Imperial tombs. The rescript dealt only with those
from princes downwards. Of these, the greatest tumulus permitted was
a square mound with a side of forty-five feet at the base and a
height of twenty-five feet, measured along the slope, a further
restriction being that the work must not occupy more than one
thousand men for seven days. The maximum dimensions were similarly
prescribed in every case, down to a minor official, whose grave must
not give employment to more than fifty men for one day. When ordinary
people died, it was directed that they should be buried in the ground
without a day's delay, and, except in the case of an Emperor or an
Empress, the custom of temporary interment was strictly vetoed.
Cemeteries were ordered to be constructed for the first time, and
peremptory injunctions were issued against self-destruction to
accompany the dead; against strangling men or women by way of
sacrifice; against killing the deceased's horse, and against cutting
the hair or stabbing the thighs by way of showing grief. It must be
assumed that all these customs existed.


Other evil practices are incidentally referred to in the context of
the Daika reforms. Thus it appears that slaves occasionally left
their lawful owners owing to the latter's poverty and entered the
service of rich men, who thereafter refused to give them up; that
when a divorced wife or concubine married into another family, her
former husband, after the lapse of years, often preferred claims
against her new husband's property; that men, relying on their power,
demanded people's daughters in marriage, and in the event of the girl
entering another house, levied heavy toll on both families; that when
a widow, of ten or twenty years' standing, married again, or when a
girl entered into wedlock, the people of the vicinity insisted on the
newly wedded couple performing the Shinto rite of harai (purgation),
which was perverted into a device for compelling offerings of goods
and wine; that the compulsory performance of this ceremony had become
so onerous as to make poor men shrink from giving burial to even
their own brothers who had died at a distance from home, or hesitate
to extend aid to them in mortal peril, and that when a forced
labourer cooked his food by the roadside or borrowed a pot to boil
his rice, he was often obliged to perform expensive purgation.


At the head of all officials were the sa-daijin (minister of the
Left), the u-daijin (minister of the Right) and the nai-daijin
(minister of the Interior), and after them came the heads of
departments, of which eight were established, after the model
of the Tang Court in China. They were the Central Department
(Nakatsukasa-sho); the Department of Ceremonies (Shikibu-sho); the
Department of Civil Government (Jibu-sho); the Department of Civil
Affairs (Mimbu-sho); the Department of War (Hyobu-sho); the
Department of Justice (Gyobu-sho); the Treasury (Okura-sho), and the
Household Department (Kunai-sho). These departments comprised a
number of bureaux. All officials of high rank had to assemble at the
south gate of the palace in time to enter at sunrise, and they
remained there until some time between 11 A.M. and 1 P.M.

In a province the senior official was the governor, and under him
were heads of districts, aldermen of homesteads (fifty houses),
elders of five households--all the houses being divided into groups
of five for purposes of protection--and market commissioners who
superintended the currency (in kind), commerce, the genuineness of
wares, the justness of weights and measures, the prices of
commodities, and the observance of prohibitions. Since to all
official posts men of merit were appointed without regard to lineage,
the cap-ranks inaugurated by Prince Shotoku were abolished, inasmuch
as they designated personal status by inherited right only, and they
were replaced by new cap-grades, nineteen in all, which were
distinguished partly by their borders, partly by their colours, and
partly by their materials and embroidery. Hair-ornaments were also a
mark of rank. They were cicada-shaped, of gold and silver for the
highest grades, of silver for the medium grades, and of copper for
the low grades. The caps indicated official status without any
reference to hereditary titles.


The radical changes outlined above were all effected in the short
space of eight years. If it be asked what motive inspired the
reformers, the obvious answer is that experience, culminating in the
usurpations of the Soga, had fully displayed the abuses incidental to
the old system. Nothing more memorable than this flood of reforms has
left its mark upon Japan's ancient history. During the first thirteen
centuries of the empire's existence--if we accept the traditional
chronology--the family was the basis of the State's organization.
Each unit of the population either was a member of an uji or belonged
to the tomobe of an uji, and each uji was governed by its own omi or
muraji, while all the uji of the Kwobetsu class were under the o-omi
and all those of the Shimbetsu class, under the o-muraji. Finally, it
was through the o-omi and the o-muraji alone that the Emperor
communicated his will. In other words, the Japanese at large were not
recognized as public people, the only section that bore that
character being the units of the hereditary corporations instituted
in memory of some Imperial personage and the folk that cultivated the
miyake (State domains).

All these facts, though already familiar to the reader, find a
fitting place in the context of the great political development of
the Daika era. For the main features of that development were that
the entire nation became the public people of the realm and the whole
of the land became the property of the Crown, the hereditary nobles
being relegated to the rank of State pensioners. This metamorphosis
entailed taking an accurate census of the population; making a survey
of the land; fixing the boundaries of provinces, districts, and
villages; appointing officials to administer the affairs of these
local divisions, and organizing the central government with boards
and bureaux. The system of taxation also had to be changed, and the
land had to be apportioned to the people. In former days, the only
charges levied by the State on the produce of the land were those
connected with religious observances and military operations, and
even in imposing these the intervention of the heads of uji had to be
employed. But by the Daika reforms the interest of the hereditary
nobility in the taxes Avas limited to realizing their sustenance
allowances; while as for the land, it was removed entirely beyond
their control and partitioned among the people, in the proportion
already noted, on leases terminable at the end of six years.

Of course, whatever political exigency may have dictated this
short-tenure system, it was economically unsound and could not remain
long in practice. The measures adopted to soften the aspect of these
wholesale changes in the eyes of the hereditary nobility whom they so
greatly affected, have been partly noted above. It may here be added,
however, that not only was the office of district governor--who
ranked next to the provincial governor (kokushi)--filled as far as
possible by former kuni no miyatsuko, but also these latter were
entrusted with the duty of observing and reporting upon the conduct
of the new officials as to assiduity and integrity, to which duty
there were also nominated special officials called choshu-shi. By the
aid of these and other tactful devices, the operation of the new
system was guaranteed against disturbance. Nothing was deemed too
trivial to assist in promoting that end. Even such a petty incident
as the appearance of a white pheasant was magnified into a special
indication of heaven's approval, and a grand Court ceremony having
been held in honour of the bird, the Emperor proclaimed a general
amnesty and ordered that the name of the period should be changed to
Haku-chi (White Pheasant). Something of this may be set down frankly
to the superstitious spirit of the time. But much is evidently
attributable to the statecraft of the Emperor's advisers, who sought
to persuade the nation that this breaking away from all its venerable
old traditions had supernatural approval.

There was, indeed, one defect in the theory of the new system. From
time immemorial the polity of the empire had been based on the family
relation. The sovereign reigned in virtue of his lineage, and the
hereditary nobles owed their high positions and administrative
competence equally to descent. To discredit the title of the nobles
was to disturb the foundation of the Throne itself, and to affirm
that want of virtue constituted a valid reason for depriving the
scions of the gods of their inherited functions, was to declare
constructively that the descendant of Amaterasu also held his title
by right of personal worthiness. That was the Chinese theory. Their
history shows plainly that they recognized the right of men like Tang
or Wu to overturn tyrants like Chieh of the Hsia dynasty, and Chou of
the Yen dynasty. The two Japanese Emperors, Kotoku and Tenchi
(668-671), seem to have partially endorsed a cognate principle. But
nothing could be at greater variance with the cardinal tenet of the
Japanese polity, which holds that "the King can do no wrong" and that
the Imperial line must remain unbroken to all eternity.


The importance attached to intercourse with China during the reign of
Kotoku was illustrated by the dimensions of the embassies sent to the
Tang Court and by the quality of the envoys. Two embassies were sent
in 653, one consisting of 121 persons and the other of 120.* The
former included seventeen student-priests, and among them was the
eldest son of Kamatari himself. Another embassy was despatched in
654, and the records show incidently that the sea route was taken,
for after a voyage lasting some months and therefore presumably of a
coasting character, the envoys landed at Laichou in Shantung. They
finally reached Changan, the Tang capital, and were most hospitably
received by the Emperor Kao-sung. The hardships of the journey are
attested by the fact that three of the student-priests died at sea.
One remained in China for thirty-six years, and Joye, Kamatari's son,
did not return to Japan for twelve years.

*The ship carrying the embassy was wrecked off the south coast of
Japan, and out of 120 persons only five escaped.

In short, when these students left their country in search of
literary, religious, and political lore, they had no assurance of
ever thereafter finding an opportunity to see their homes again. The
overland journey was almost impossible without guides and guards, and
communication by sea seems to have been fitful and uncertain. The
last of the above three embassies was led by no less a person than
the renowned scholar, Kuromaro, who had been associated with the
priest, Bin, in modelling the new administrative system of Japan.
Kuromaro never returned from China; he died there. A few months
before the despatch of Kuromaro as envoy, his illustrious coadjutor,
Bin, expired in the temple of Azumi. The Emperor repaired in person
to the sick priest's chamber, and said, "If you die to-day, I will
follow you to-morrow." So great was the reverence showed towards
learning and piety in that era. Thus, hazardous and wearisome as was
the voyage to China over stormy waters in a rude sailing boat, its
successful accomplishment established a title to official preferment
and high honour. It will be seen by and by that similar treatment was
extended in the nineteenth century to men who visited Europe and
America in the pursuit of knowledge.


On the demise of Kotoku, in 654, his natural successor would have
been Prince Naka, who, ten years previously, had chosen to reform the
empire rather than to rule it. But the prince deemed that the course
of progress still claimed his undivided attention, and therefore the
Empress Kogyoku was again raised to the throne under the name of*
Saimei--the first instance of a second accession in Japanese history.
She reigned nearly seven years, and the era is remarkable chiefly for
expeditions against the Yemishi and for complications with Korea. To
the former chapter of history sufficient reference had already been
made, but the latter claims a moment's attention.

*It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that all
the names given in these pages to Japanese sovereigns are
posthumous. Thus Saimei, during her lifetime, was called


It has been shown how, in A.D. 562, the Japanese settlement in Mimana
was exterminated; how the Emperor Kimmei's dying behest to his
successor was that this disgrace must be removed; how subsequent
attempts to carry out his testament ended in failure, owing largely
to Japan's weak habit of trusting the promises of Shiragi, and how,
in 618, the Sui Emperor, Yang, at the head of a great army, failed to
make any impression on Korea.

Thereafter, intercourse between Japan and the peninsula was of a
fitful character unmarked by any noteworthy event until, in the
second year (651) of the "White Pheasant" era, the Yamato Court
essayed to assert itself in a futile fashion by refusing to give
audience to Shiragi envoys because they wore costumes after the Tang
fashion without offering any excuse for such a caprice. Kotoku was
then upon the Japanese throne, and Japan herself was busily occupied
importing and assimilating Tang institutions. That she should have
taken umbrage at similar imitation on Shiragi's part seems
capricious. Shiragi sent no more envoys, and presently (655), finding
herself seriously menaced by a coalition between Koma and Kudara, she
applied to the Tang Court for assistance. The application produced no
practical response, but Shiragi, who for some time had been able to
defy the other two principalities, now saw and seized an opportunity
offered by the debauchery and misrule of the King of Kudara. She
collected an army to attack her neighbour and once more supplicated
Tang's aid. This was in the year 660. The second appeal produced a
powerful response. Kao-sung, then the Tang Emperor, despatched a
general, Su Ting-fang, at the head of an army of two hundred thousand
men. There was now no long and tedious overland march round the
littoral of the Gulf of Pechili and across Liaotung. Su embarked his
forces at Chengshan, on the east of the Shantung promontory, and
crossed direct to Mishi-no-tsu--the modern Chemulpo--thus attacking
Kudara from the west while Shiragi moved against it from the east.
Kudara was crushed. It lost ten thousand men, and all its prominent
personages, from the debauched King downwards, were sent as prisoners
to Tang. But one great captain, Pok-sin, saved the situation.
Collecting the fugitive troops of Kudara he fell suddenly on Shiragi
and drove her back, thereafter appealing for Japanese aid.

At the Yamato Court Shiragi was now regarded as a traditional enemy.
It had played fast and loose again and again about Mimana, and in the
year 657 it had refused safe conduct for a Japanese embassy to the
Tang Court. The Empress Saimei decided that Kudara must be succoured.
Living in Japan at that time was Phung-chang,* a younger brother of
the deposed King of Kudara. It was resolved that he should be sent to
the peninsula accompanied by a sufficient force to place him on the
throne. But Saimei died before the necessary preparations were
completed, and the task of carrying out a design which had already
received his endorsement devolved upon Prince Naka, the great
reformer. A fleet of 170 ships carrying an army of thirty-seven
thousand men escorted Phung-chang from Tsukushi, and the kingdom of
Kudara was restored. But the conclusive battle had still to be
fought. It took place in September, 662, at Paik-chhon-ku (Ung-jin),
between the Chinese under Liu Jen-kuei, a Tang general, and the
Japanese under Atsumi no Hirafu. The forces were about equal on each
side, and it was the first signal trial of strength between Chinese
and Japanese. No particulars have been handed down by history.
Nothing is known except that the Japanese squadron drove straight
ahead, and that the Chinese attacked from both flanks. The result was
a crushing defeat for the Japanese. They were shattered beyond the
power of rallying, and only a remnant found its way back to Tsukushi.
Kudara and Koma fell, and Japan lost her last footing in a region
where her prestige had stood so high for centuries.

*He was a hostage. The constant residence of Korean hostages in Japan
speaks eloquently of the relations existing between the two
countries. There were no Japanese hostages in Korea.

Shiragi continued during more than a hundred years to maintain a
semblance of deferential intercourse, but her conduct became
ultimately so unruly that, in the reign of Nimmyo (834-850), her
people were prohibited from visiting Japan. From Kudara, however,
after its overthrow by China, there migrated almost continuously for
some time a number of inhabitants who became naturalized in Japan.
They were distributed chiefly in the provinces of Omi and Musashi,
Son-Kwang, a brother of the former King of Kudara, being required to
live in Naniwa (Osaka) for the purpose of controlling them. Koma,
also, when it fell into Chinese hands, sent many settlers to Japan,
and during the reign of the Empress Gemmyo (708-715), they were
transferred from the six provinces of Suruga, Kai, Sagami, Kazusa,
Shimosa, and Hitachi to Musashi, where the district inhabited by them
was thenceforth called Koma-gori. Thus, Japan extended her
hospitality to the men whose independence she had not been able to
assert. Her relations with her peninsular neighbour ended humanely
though not gloriously. They had cost her heavily in life and
treasure, but she had been repaid fully with the civilization which
Korea helped her to import.


It will be observed that although the thirty-seventh sovereign, the
Empress Saimei, died in the year 661, the reign of her successor,
Tenchi, did not commence historically until 668. There thus appears
to have been an interregnum of seven years. The explanation is that
the Crown Prince, Naka, while taking the sceptre, did not actually
wield it. He entrusted the administrative functions to his younger
brother, Oama, and continued to devote himself to the great work of
reform. He had stood aside in favour of Kotoku sixteen years
previously and in favour of the Empress Saimei six years previously,
and now, for seven years longer, he refrained from identifying
himself with the Throne until the fate of his innovations was known.
Having assumed the task of eradicating abuses which, for a thousand
years, had been growing unchecked, he shrank from associating the
Crown directly with risks of failure. But in the year 668, judging
that his reforms had been sufficiently assimilated to warrant
confidence, he formally ascended the throne and is known in history
as Tenchi (Heavenly Intelligence).

Only four years of life remained to him, and almost immediately after
his accession he lost his great coadjutor, Kamatari. Of the four men
who had worked out the "Daika restoration," Kuromaro, the student,
died in China a year (654) after the demise of the illustrious
priest, Bin; Kamatari barely survived until success came in sight,
and Prince Naka (Tenchi) was taken two years later (671). It is
related that in the days when the prince and Kamatari planned the
outlines of their great scheme, they were accustomed to meet for
purposes of conference in a remote valley on the east of the capital,
where an aged wistaria happened to be in bloom at the most critical
of their consultations. Kamatari therefore desired to change his uji
name from Nakatomi to Fujiwara (wistaria), and the prince, on
ascending the throne, gave effect to this request. There thus came
into existence a family, the most famous in Japanese history. The
secluded valley where the momentous meetings took place received the
name of Tamu* no Mine, and a shrine stands there now in memory of
Kamatari. The Emperor would fain have attended Kamatari's obsequies
in person, but his ministers dissuaded him on the ground that such a
course would be unprecedented. His Majesty confined himself therefore
to conferring on the deceased statesman posthumous official rank, the
first instance of a practice destined to became habitual in Japan.

*"Tamu" signifies to converse about military affairs.


During the reign of Tenchi no rescript embodying signal
administrative changes was issued, though the reforms previously
inaugurated seem to have made steady progress. But by a legislative
office specially organized for the purpose there was enacted a body
of twenty-two laws called the Omi Ritsu-ryo (the Omi Statutes), Omi,
on the shore of Lake Biwa, being then the seat of the Imperial Court.
Shotoku Taishi's Jushichi Kempo, though often spoken of as a
legislative ordinance, was really an ethical code, but the Omi
Ritsu-ryo had the character of genuine laws, the first of their kind
in Japan. Unfortunately this valuable document did not survive. Our
knowledge of it is confined to a statement in the Memoirs of Kamatari
that it was compiled in the year 667. Two years later--that is to
say, in the year after Tenchi's actual accession--the census
register, which had formed an important feature of the Daika reforms,
became an accomplished fact. Thenceforth there was no further
occasion to appeal to the barbarous ordeal of boiling water
(kuga-dachi) when questions of lineage had to be determined.


Among four "palace ladies" (uneme) upon whom the Emperor Tenchi
looked with favour, one, Yaka of Iga province, bore him a son known
in his boyhood days as Prince Iga but afterwards called Prince Otomo.
For this lad his father conceived a strong affection, and would
doubtless have named him heir apparent had he not been deterred by
the consideration that during his own abstention from actually
occupying the throne, administrative duties would have to be
entrusted mainly to the hands of a Prince Imperial, and Otomo, being
only thirteen years of age, could not undertake such a task. Thus, on
Tenchi's younger brother, Oama, the dignity of Crown Prince was
conferred, and he became the Emperor's locum tenens, in which
position he won universal applause by sagacity and energy. But during
these seven years of nominal interregnum, the fame of Prince Otomo
also grew upon men's lips. An ancient book speaks of him as "wise and
intelligent; an able administrator alike of civil and of military
affairs; commanding respect and esteem; sage of speech, and rich in
learning." When the Emperor actually ascended the throne, Otomo had
reached his twentieth year, and four years later (671) the sovereign
appointed him prime minister (dajo daijin), an office then created
for the first time.

Thenceforth the question of Tenchi's successor began to be
disquieting. The technical right was on Oama's side, but the paternal
sympathy was with Otomo. Tradition has handed down a tale about a
certain Princess Nukata, who, having bestowed her affections
originally on Prince Oama, was afterwards constrained to yield to the
addresses of the Emperor Tenchi, and thus the two brothers became
enemies. But that story does not accord with facts. It is also
related that during a banquet at the palace on the occasion of
Tenchi's accession, Prince Oama thrust a spear through the floor from
below, and the Emperor would have punished the outrage with death had
not Kamatari interceded for the prince. These narratives are cited to
prove that the Emperor Tenchi's purpose was to leave the throne to
Otomo, not Oama. There is, however, no valid reason to infer any such
intention. What actually occurred was that when, within a few months
of Otomo's appointment as dajo daijin, the sovereign found himself
mortally sick, he summoned Oama and named him to succeed But Oama,
having been warned of a powerful conspiracy to place Otomo on the
throne, and not unsuspicious that it had the Emperor's sympathy,
declined the honour and announced his intention of entering religion,
which he did by retiring to the monastery at Yoshino. The
conspirators, at whose head were the minister of the Left, Soga no
Akae, and the minister of the Right, Nakatomi no Kane, aimed at
reverting to the times when, by placing on the throne a prince of
their own choice, one or two great uji had grasped the whole
political power. The prime mover was Kane, muraji of the Nakatomi.

Immediately after Tenchi's death, which took place at the close of
671, and after the accession of Prince Otomo--known in history as the
Emperor Kobun--the conspirators began to concert measures for the
destruction of Prince Oama, whom they regarded as a fatal obstacle to
the achievement of their purpose. But the Emperor Kobun's consort,
Toichi, was a daughter of Prince Oama, and two sons of the latter,
Takaichi and Otsu, were also in the Court at Omi. By these three
persons Yoshino was kept fully informed of everything happening at
Omi. Oama fled precipitately. He did not even wait for a palanquin or
a horse. His course was shaped eastward, for two reasons: the first,
that his domains as Prince Imperial had been in Ise and Mino; the
second, that since in the eastern provinces the Daika reforms had
been first put into operation, in the eastern provinces, also,
conservatism might be expected to rebel with least reluctance.

The struggle that ensued was the fiercest Japan had witnessed since
the foundation of the empire. For twenty days there was almost
continuous fighting. The prince's first measure was to block the
passes on the eastward high-roads, so that the Omi forces could not
reach him till he was fully ready to receive them. Thousands flocked
to his standard, and he was soon able to assume the offensive. On the
other hand, those whom the Omi Court summoned to arms declined for
the most part to respond. The nation evidently regarded Prince Oama
as the champion of the old against the new. The crowning contest took
place at the Long Bridge of Seta, which spans the waters of Lake Biwa
at the place where they narrow to form the Seta River. Deserted by
men who had sworn to support him, his army shattered, and he himself
a fugitive, the Emperor fled to Yamazaki and there committed suicide.
His principal instigator, muraji of the Nakatomi and minister of the
Right, with eight other high officials, suffered the extreme penalty;
Akae, omi of the Soga and minister of the Left, had to go into exile,
but the rest of Kobun's followers were pardoned. Not because of its
magnitude alone but because its sequel was the dethronement and
suicide of a legitimate Emperor, this struggle presents a shocking
aspect to Japanese eyes. It is known in history as the "Jinshin
disturbance," so called after the cyclical designation of the year
(672) when it occurred.


Prince Oama succeeded to the throne and is known in history as the
fortieth Sovereign, Temmu. During the fourteen years of his reign he
completed the administrative systems of the Daika era, and asserted
the dignity and authority of the Court to an unprecedented degree.
Among the men who espoused his cause in the Jinshin struggle there
are found many names of aristocrats who boasted high titles and owned
hereditary estates. Whatever hopes these conservatives entertained of
a reversion to the old-time-order of things, they were signally
disappointed. The Daika reformers had invariably contrived that
conciliation should march hand in hand with innovation. Temmu relied
on coercion. He himself administered State affairs with little
recourse to ministerial aid but always with military assistance in
the background. He was especially careful not to sow the seeds of the
abuses which his immediate predecessors had worked to eradicate.
Thus, while he did not fail to recognize the services of those that
had stood by him in the Jinshin tumult, he studiously refrained from
rewarding them with official posts, and confined himself to bestowing
titles of a purely personal character together with posthumous rank
in special cases.

It has been shown that in the so-called "code" of Shotoku Taishi
prominent attention was directed to the obligations of decorum. This
principle received much elaboration in Temmu's reign. A law,
comprising no less than ninety-two articles, was enacted for guidance
in Court ceremonials, the demeanour and salutation of each grade of
officials being explicitly set forth. It is worthy of note that a
veto was imposed on the former custom of kneeling to make obeisance
and advancing or retreating in the presence of a superior on the
knees and hands; all salutations were ordered to be made standing.
Further, the clear differentiation of official functions, which had
been commenced under the sway of Tenchi, was completed in this reign.

But, though relying on military force in the last resort, Temmu did
not neglect appeals to religion and devices to win popularity. On the
one hand, we find him establishing a War-Office (Heisei-kan) and
making it second in grade and importance to the Privy Council
(Dajo-kwan) alone; on the other, he is seen endowing shrines,
erecting temples, and organizing religious fetes on a sumptuous
scale. If, again, all persons in official position were required to
support armed men; if the provincials were ordered to practise
military exercises, and if arms were distributed to the people in the
home provinces (Kinai), at the same time taxes were freely remitted,
and amnesties were readily granted. Further, if much attention was
paid to archery, and if drastic measures were adopted to crush the
partisans of the Omi Court who still occasionally raised the standard
of revolt, the sovereign devoted not less care to the discharge of
the administrative functions, and his legislation extended even to
the realm of fishery, where stake-nets and other methods of an
injurious nature were strictly interdicted. The eating of flesh was
prohibited, but whether this veto was issued in deference to Buddhism
or from motives of economy, there is no evidence to show.

One very noteworthy feature of Temmu's administration was that he
never appointed to posts in the Government men who did not give
promise of competence. All those who possessed a claim on his
gratitude were nominated chamberlains (toneri), and having been thus
brought under observation, were subsequently entrusted with official
functions commensurate with their proved ability. The same plan was
pursued in the case of females. With regard to the titles conferred
by this sovereign in recognition of meritorious services, they were
designed to replace the old-time kabane (or sei), in that whereas the
kabane had always been hereditary, and was generally associated with
an office, the new sei was obtained by special grant, and, though it
thereafter became hereditary, it was never an indication of office
bearing. Eight of these new titles were instituted by Temmu, namely,
mahito, asomi, sukune, imiki, michi-no-shi, omi, muraji, and inagi,
and their nearest English equivalents are, perhaps, duke, marquis,
count, lord, viscount, baron, and baronet. It is unnecessary to give
any etymological analysis of these terms; their order alone is
important. But two points have to be noted. The first is that the
title imiki was generally that chosen for bestowal on naturalized
foreigners; the second, that a conspicuously low place in the list is
given to the revered old titles, ami and muraji. This latter feature
is significant. The new peerage was, in fact, designed not only to
supplant, but also to discredit, the old.

Thus, in the first place, the system was abolished under which all
uji having the title of omi were controlled by the o-omi, and all
having the title of muraji by the o-muraji; and in the second, though
the above eight sei were established, not every uji was necessarily
granted a title. Only the most important received that distinction,
and even these found themselves relegated to a comparatively low
place on the list. All the rest, however, were permitted to use their
old, but now depreciated kabane, and no change was made in the
traditional custom of entrusting the management of each uji's affairs
to its own Kami. But, in order to guard against the abuses of the
hereditary right, an uji no Kami ceased in certain cases to succeed
by birthright and became elective, the election requiring Imperial

The effect of these measures was almost revolutionary. They changed
the whole fabric of the Japanese polity. But in spite of all Temmu's
precautions to accomplish the centralization of power, success was
menaced by a factor which could scarcely have been controlled. The
arable lands in the home provinces at that time probably did not
exceed 130,000 acres, and the food stuffs produced cannot have
sufficed for more than a million persons. As for the forests, their
capacities were ill developed, and thus it fell out that the
sustenance fiefs granted to omi and muraji of the lower grades did
not exceed a few acres. Gradually, as families multiplied, the
conditions of life became too straightened in such circumstances, and
relief began to be sought in provincial appointments, which furnished
opportunities for getting possession of land. It was in this way that
local magnates had their origin and the seeds of genuine feudalism
were sown. Another direction in which success fell short of purpose
was in the matter of the hereditary guilds (be). The Daika reforms
had aimed at converting everyone in the empire into a veritable unit
of the nation, not a mere member of an uji or a tomobe. But it proved
impossible to carry out this system in the case of the tomobe (called
also kakibe), or labouring element of the uji, and the yakabe, or
domestic servants of a family. To these their old status had to be


The Emperor Temmu died in 686, and the throne remained nominally
unoccupied until 690. A similar interregnum had separated the
accession of Tenchi from the death of his predecessor, the Empress
Saimei, and both events were due to a cognate cause. Tenchi did not
wish that his reforms should be directly associated with the Throne
until their success was assured; Temmu desired that the additions
made by him to the Daika system should be consolidated by the genius
of his wife before the sceptre passed finally into the hands of his
son. Jito had stood by her husband's side when, as Prince Oama, he
had barely escaped the menaces of the Omi Court, and there is reason
to think that she had subsequently shared his administrative
confidence as she had assisted at his military councils. The heir to
the throne, Prince Kusakabe, was then in his twenty-fifth year, but
he quietly endorsed the paternal behest that his mother should direct
State affairs. The arrangement was doubtless intended to be
temporary, but Kusakabe died three years later, and yielding to the
solicitations of her ministers, Jito then (690) finally ascended the

Her reign, however, was not entirely free from the family strife
which too often accompanied a change of sovereigns in Japan's early
days. In addition to his legitimate offspring, Kusakabe, the Emperor
Temmu left several sons by secondary consorts, and the eldest
survivor of these, Prince Otsu, listening to the counsels of the Omi
Court's partisans and prompted by his own well-deserved popularity
and military prowess, intrigued to seize the throne. He was executed
in his house, and his fate is memorable for two reasons: the first,
that his young wife, Princess Yamanobe, "hastened thither with her
hair dishevelled and her feet bare and joined him in death;" the
second, that all his followers, over thirty in number, were
pardoned--rare clemency in those days. Prince Otsu is said to have
inaugurated a pastime which afterwards became very popular--the
composition of Chinese verses.


The most important legislation of the Empress Jito's reign related to
slaves.* In the year of her accession (690), she issued an edict
ordering that interest on all debts contracted prior to, or during
the year (685) prior to Temmu's death should be cancelled. Temmu
himself had created the precedent for this. When stricken by mortal
illness, he had proclaimed remission of all obligations, "whether in
rice or in valuables," incurred on or before the last day of the
preceding year. But Jito's edict had a special feature. It provided
that anyone already in servitude on account of a debt should be
relieved from serving any longer on account of the interest. Thus it
is seen that the practice of pledging the service of one's body in
discharge of debt was in vogue at that epoch, and that it received
official recognition with the proviso that the obligation must not
extend to interest. Debts, therefore, had become instruments for
swelling the ranks of the slave class.

*The senmin, or slave class, was divided into two groups, namely,
public slaves (kwanko ryoko, and ko-nuhi), and private slaves (kenin
and shi-nuhi).

But while sanctioning this evil custom, the tendency of the law was
to minimize its results. In another edict of the same reign it was
laid down that, when a younger brother of the common people
(hyakusei) was sold by his elder brother, the former should still be
classed as a freeman (ryomin), but a child sold by its father became
a serf (senmin); that service rendered to one of the senmin class by
a freeman in payment of a debt must not affect the status of the
freeman, and that the children of freemen so serving, even though
born of a union with a slave, should be reckoned as freemen. It has
been shown already that degradation to slavery was a common
punishment or expiation of a crime, and the annals of the period
under consideration indicate that men and women of the slave class
were bought and sold like any other chattels. Documents certainly not
of more recent date than the ninth century, show particulars of some
of these transactions. One runs as follows:

   Men   (nu)       3
   Women (hi)       3
   Total            6

   2 at 10000 bundles of rice each
   2 at   800 bundles of rice each.
   1 at   700 bundles of rice.
   1 at   600 bundles of rice.
   Total 4900 bundles

   1 man (nu) named Kokatsu; age 34; with a mole under the left eye
   Price 1000 bundles of rice.
   The above are slaves of Kannawo Oba of Okambe in Yamagata district.

Comparison of several similar vouchers indicates that the usual price
of an able-bodied slave was one thousand bundles of rice, and as one
bundle gave five sho of unhulled rice, one thousand bundles
represented fifty koku, which, in the modern market, would sell for
about six hundred yen. It is not to be inferred, however, that the
sale of freemen into slavery was sanctioned by law. During the reign
of the Emperor Temmu, a farmer of Shimotsuke province wished to sell
his child on account of a bad harvest, but his application for
permission was refused, though forwarded by the provincial governor.
In fact, sales or purchases of the junior members of a family by the
seniors were not publicly permitted, although such transactions
evidently took place. Even the manumission of a slave required
official sanction. Thus it is recorded that, in the reign of the
Empress Jito, Komaro, an asomi, asked and obtained the Court's
permission to grant their freedom to six hundred slaves in his
possession. Another rule enacted in Jito's time was that the slaves
of an uji, when once manumitted, could not be again placed on the
slaves' register at the request of a subsequent uji no Kami. Finally
this same sovereign enacted that yellow-coloured garments should be
worn by freemen and black by slaves. History shows that the sale and
purchase of human beings in Japan, subject to the above limitations,
was not finally forbidden until the year 1699.


It has been seen that the Emperors Kotoku and Temmu attached much
importance to the development of military efficiency and that they
issued orders with reference to the training of provincials, the
armed equipment of the people, the storage of weapons of war, and the
maintenance of men-at-arms by officials. Compulsory service, however,
does not appear to have been inaugurated until the reign of the
Empress Jito, when (689) her Majesty instructed the local governors
that one-fourth of the able-bodied men in each province should be
trained every year in warlike exercises. This was the beginning of
the conscription system in Japan.


That the throne should be occupied by members of the Imperial family
only had been a recognized principle of the Japanese polity from
remotest epochs. But there had been an early departure from the rule
of primogeniture, and since the time of Nintoku the eligibility of
brothers also had been acknowledged in practice. To this latitude of
choice many disturbances were attributable, notably the fell Jinshin
struggle, and the terrors of that year were still fresh in men's
minds when, during Jito's reign, the deaths of two Crown Princes in
succession brought up the dangerous problem again for solution. The
princes were Kusakabe and Takaichi. The former had been nominated by
his father, Temmu, but was instructed to leave the reins of power in
the hands of his mother, Jito, for a time. He died in the year 689,
while Jito was still regent, and Takaichi, another of Temmu's sons,
who had distinguished himself as commander of a division of troops in
the Jinshin campaign, was made Prince Imperial. But he too died in
696, and it thus fell out that the only surviving and legitimate
offspring of an Emperor who had actually reigned was Prince Kuzuno,
son of Kobun.

To his accession, however, there was this great objection that his
father, though wielding the sceptre for a few months, had borne arms
in the Jinshin disturbance against Temmu and Jito, and was held to
have forfeited his title by defeat and suicide. His assumption of the
sceptre would have created a most embarrassing situation, and his
enforced disqualification might have led to trouble. In this dilemma,
the Empress convened a State council, Prince Kuzuno also being
present, and submitted the question for their decision. But none
replied until Kuzuno himself, coming forward, declared that unless
the principle of primogeniture were strictly followed, endless
complications would be inevitable. This involved the sacrifice of his
own claim and the recognition of Karu, eldest son of the late
Kusakabe. The 14th of March, 696, when this patriotic declaration was
made, is memorable in Japanese history as the date when the principle
of primogeniture first received official approval. Six months
afterwards, the Empress abdicated in favour of Prince Karu, known in
history as forty-second sovereign, Mommu. She herself was honoured by
her successor with the title of Dajo-Tenno (Great Superior).






THE Emperor Mommu took for consort a daughter of Fuhito,
representative of the Fujiwara family and son of the great Kamatari.
She did not receive the title of Empress, that distinction having
been hitherto strictly confined to spouses chosen from a Kwobetsu
family, whereas the Fujiwara belonged to the Shimbetsu. But this
union proved the first step towards a practice which soon became
habitual and which produced a marked effect on the history of Japan,
the practice of supplying Imperial consorts from the Fujiwara family.


On Mommu's accession the year-period took his name, that being then
the custom unless some special reason suggested a different epithet.
Such a reason was the discovery of gold in Tsushima in 701, and in
consequence the year-name was altered to Daiho (Great Treasure). It
is a period memorable for legislative activity. The reader is aware
that, during the reign of Tenchi, a body of statutes in twenty-two
volumes was compiled under the name of Omi Ritsu-ryo, or the "Code
and Penal Law of Omi," so called because the Court then resided at
Shiga in Omi. History further relates that these statutes were
revised by the Emperor Mommu, who commenced the task in 681 and that,
eleven years later, when the Empress Jito occupied the throne, this
revised code was promulgated.

But neither in its original nor in its revised form has it survived,
and the inference is that in practice it was found in need of a
second revision, which took place in the years 700 and 701 under
instructions from the Emperor Mommu, the revisers being a committee
of ten, headed by Fuhito of the Fujiwara family, and by Mahito (Duke)
Awada. There resulted eleven volumes of the Code (ryo) and six of the
Penal Law (ritsu), and these were at once promulgated, expert jurists
being despatched, at the same time, to various quarters to expound
the new legislation. Yet again, seventeen years later (718), by order
of the Empress Gensho, revision was carried out by another committee
headed by the same Fujiwara Fuhito, now prime minister, and the
amended volumes, ten of the Code and ten of the Law, were known
thenceforth as the "New Statutes," or the "Code and Law of the Yoro
Period." They were supplemented by a body of official rules (kyaku)
and operative regulations (shiki), the whole forming a very elaborate
assemblage of laws.

The nature and scope of the code will be sufficiently understood from
the titles of its various sections: (1) Official Titles; (2) Duties
of Officials; (3) Duties of Officials of the Empress' Household; (4)
Duties of Officials in the Household of the Heir Apparent; (5) Duties
of Officials in the Households of Officers of High Rank; (6) Services
to the Gods; (7) Buddhist Priests; (8) the Family; (9) the Land; (10)
Taxation; (11) Learning; (12) Official Ranks and Titles; (13) The
Descent of the Crown and Dignities of Imperial Persons; (14)
Meritorious Discharge of Official Duties; (15) Salaries; (16) Court
Guards; (17) Army and Frontier Defences; (18) Ceremonies; (19)
Official Costumes; (20) Public Works; (21) Mode of addressing Persons
of Rank; (22) Stores of Rice and other Grain; (23) Stables and
Fodder; (24) Duties of Medical Officers attached to the Court; (25)
Official Vacations; (26) Funerals and Mourning; (27) Watch and Ward
and Markets; (28) Arrest of Criminals; (29) Jails, and (30)
Miscellaneous, including Bailment, Finding of Lost Goods, etc.*

This "Code and the Penal Law" accompanying it went into full
operation from the Daiho era and remained in force thereafter,
subject to the revisions above indicated. There is no reason to doubt
that the highly artificial organization of society which such
statutes indicate, existed, in outline at all events, from the reign
of Kotoku, but its plainly legalized reality dates, so far as history
is concerned, from the Daiho era. As for the rules (kyaku) and
regulations (shiki), they were re-drafted: first, in the Konin era
(810-824) by a commission under the direction of the grand
councillor,* Fujiwara Fuyutsugu; next, in the Jokwan era (859-877) by
Fujiwara Ujimune and others, and finally in the Engi era (901-923) by
a committee with Fujiwara Tadahira for president. These three sets of
provisions were spoken of in subsequent ages as the "Rules and
Regulations of the Three Generations" (Sandai-kyaku-shiki). It will
be observed that just as this remarkable body of enactments owed its
inception in Japan to Kamatari, the great founder of the Fujiwara
family, so every subsequent revision was presided over by one of his
descendants. The thirty sections of the code comprise 949 articles,
which are all extant, but of the penal laws in twelve sections there
remain only 322 articles.

*Tarring, in the "Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan."

It may be broadly stated that the Daika reformation, which formed the
basis of this legislation, was a transition from the Japanese system
of heredity to the Chinese system of morality. The penal law (ritsu),
although its Chinese original has not survived for purposes of
comparison, was undoubtedly copied from the work of the Tang
legislators, the only modification being in degrees of punishment;
but the code, though it, too, was partially exotic in character,
evidently underwent sweeping alterations so as to bring it into
conformity with Japanese customs and traditions. Each of the
revisions recorded above must be assumed to have extended this

The basic principle of the Daiho code was that the people at large,
without regard to rank or pedigree, owed equal duty to the State;
that only those having special claims on public benevolence were
entitled to fixed exemptions, and that not noble birth but
intellectual capacity and attainments constituted a qualification for
office. Nevertheless Japanese legislators did not find it possible to
apply fully these excellent principles. Habits of a millennium's
growth could not be so lightly eradicated. Traces of the old obtrude
themselves plainly from between the lines of the new. Thus the "Law
of Descent" (Keishi-ryo), which formed the thirteenth section of the
code, was a special embodiment of Japanese social institutions,
having no parallel in the Tang statutes, and further, while declaring
erudition and intelligence to be the unique qualifications for
office, no adequate steps were taken to establish schools for
imparting the former or developing the latter. In short, the nobles
still retained a large part of their old power, and the senmin
(slave) class still continued to labour under various disabilities.

That several important provisions of the Land Code (Den-ryo) should
have fallen quickly into disuse will be easily comprehended when we
come presently to examine that system in detail, but for the neglect
of portions of the Military Code (Gumbo-ryo), of the Code of Official
Ranks and Titles, and of the Code relating to the Meritorious
Discharge of Official Duties, it is necessary to lay the
responsibility on the shoulders of the hereditary nobles, whose
influence out-weighed the force of laws. It may indeed be broadly
stated that the potency of the Daiho code varied in the direct ratio
of the centralization of administrative authority. Whenever feudalism
prevailed, the code lost its binding force. In the realm of criminal
law it is only consistent with the teaching of all experience to find
that mitigation of penalties was provided according to the rank of
the culprit. There were eight major crimes (hachi-gyaku), all in the
nature of offences against the State, the Court, and the family, and
the order of their gravity was: (1) high treason (against the State);
(2) high treason (against the Crown); (3) treason; (4) parricide,
fratricide, etc.; (5) offences against humanity; (6) lése majesté;
(7) unfilial conduct, and (8) crimes against society. But there were
also six mitigations (roku-gi), all enacted with the object of
lightening punishments according to the rank, official position, or
public services of an offender. As for slaves, being merely a part of
their proprietor's property like any other goods and chattels, the
law took no cognizance of them.


Under the Daiho code a more elaborate system of administrative
organization was effected than that conceived by the Daika reformers.
In the Central Government there were two boards, eight departments,
and one office, namely: (1). The Jingi-kwan, or Board of Religion
(Shinto). This stood at the head of all, in recognition of the divine
origin of the Imperial family. A Japanese work (Nihon Kodaiho
Shakugi) explains the fundamental tenet of the nation's creed thus:
"If a State has its origin in military prowess, which is essentially
human, then by human agencies also a State may be overthrown. To be
secure against such vicissitudes a throne must be based upon
something superior to man's potentialities. Divine authority alone
fulfils that definition, and it is because the throne of Japan had a
superhuman foundation that its existence is perennial. Therefore the
Jingi-kwan stands above all others in the State." In another, book
(Jingi-ryo) we find it stated: "All the deities* of heaven and earth
are worshipped in the Jingi-kwan. On the day of the coronation the
Nakatomi performs service to the deities of heaven and the Imibe
makes offerings of three kinds of sacred articles."

*The eight Kami specially worshipped in the Jingi-kwan were
Taka-mi-musubi, Kammi-musubi, Tamatsume-musubi, Iku-musubi,
Taru-musubi, Omiya no me, Miketsu, and Koto-shiro-nushi.

Thus, though the models for the Daiho system were taken from China,
they were adapted to Japanese customs and traditions, as is proved by
the premier place given to the Jingi-kwan. Worship and religious
ceremonial have always taken precedence of secular business in the
Court of Japan. Not only at the central seat of government did the
year commence with worship, but in the provinces, also, the first
thing recorded by a newly appointed governor was his visit to the
Shinto shrines, and on the opening day of each month he repaired
thither to offer the gohei.* Religious rites, in short, were the
prime function of government, and therefore, whereas the office
charged with these duties ranked low in the Tang system, it was
placed at the head of all in Japan.

*Angular bunches of white paper stripes, representing the cloth
offerings originally tied to branches of the sacred cleyera tree at
festival time.

(2). The Daijo-kwan (called also Dajo-kwari), or Board of Privy
Council. This office ranked next to the Board of Religion and had the
duty of superintending the eight State departments. Its personnel
consisted of the prime minister (daijo-daijin or dajo-daijin), the
minister of the Left (sa-daijiri), and the minister of the Right

(3). The Nakatsukasa-sho, or Central Department of State (literally,
"Intermediate Transacting Department"), which was not an executive
office, its chief duties being to transmit the sovereign's decrees to
the authorities concerned and the memorials of the latter to the
former, as well as to discharge consultative functions.

(4). The Shikibu-sho, or Department of Ceremonies. This office had to
consider and determine the promotion and degradation of officials
according to their competence and character.

(5). The Jibu-sho, or Department of Civil Government, which examined
and determined everything concerning the position of noblemen, and
administered affairs relating to priests, nuns, and members of the
Bambetsu,* that is to say, men of foreign nationality residing in

*The reader is already familiar with the terms "Kwobetsu" and
"Shimbetsu." All aliens were classed as Bambetsu.

(6). The Mimbu-sho, or Department of Civil Affairs. An office which
managed affairs relating to the land and the people, to taxes and to
forced services.

(7). The Gyobu-sho, or Department of Justice.

(8). The Okura-sho, or Department of Finance.

(9). The Kunai-sho, or Imperial Household Department.

(10). The Hyobu-sho, or Department of War.

(11). The Danjo-dai, or Office of Censorship, This office had the
duty of correcting civil customs and punishing and conduct on the
part of officials. In the year 799, Kwammu being then on the throne,
a law was enacted for the Danjo-dai. It consisted of eighty-three
articles, and it had the effect of greatly augmenting the powers of
the office. But in the period 810-829, it was found necessary to
organize a special bureau of kebiishi, or executive police, to which
the functions of the Danjo-dai subsequently passed, as did also those
of the Gyobu-sho in great part. These two boards, eight departments,
and one office all had their locations within the palace enclosure,
so that the Imperial Court and the Administration were not


For administrative purposes the capital was divided into two
sections, the Eastern and the Western, which were controlled by a
Left Metropolitan Office and a Right Metropolitan Office,
respectively. In Naniwa (Osaka) also, which ranked as a city of
special importance, there was an executive office called the
Settsu-shoku--Settsu being the name of the province in which the town
stood--and in Chikuzen province there was the Dazai-fu (Great
Administrative Office), which had charge of foreign relations in
addition to being the seat of the governor-generalship of the whole
island of Kyushu. In spite of its importance as an administrative
post, the Dazai-fu, owing to its distance from the capital, came to
be regarded as a place of exile for high officials who had fallen out
of Imperial favour.

The empire was divided into provinces (kuni) of four classes--great,
superior, medium, and inferior,--and each province was subdivided
into districts (kori) of five classes--great, superior, medium,
inferior, and small. The term "province" had existed from remote
antiquity, but it represented at the outset a comparatively small
area, for in the time of the Emperor Keitai (A.D. 507-531), there
were 144 kuni. This number was largely reduced in the sequel of
surveys and re-adjustments of boundaries during the Daika era
(645-650), and after the Daiho reforms (701-704) it stood at
fifty-eight, but subsequently, at an uncertain date, it grew to
sixty-six and remained permanently thus. The kori (district) of the
Daika and Daiho reforms had originally been called agata (literally
"arable land"), and had been subdivided into inaki (granary) and mura
(village). A miyatsuko had administered the affairs of the kuni,
holding the office by hereditary right, and the agata of which there
were about 590, a frequently changing total as well as the inaki and
the mura had been under officials called nushi. But according to the
Daika and Daiho systems, each kuni was placed under a governor
(kokushi), chosen on account of competence and appointed for a term
of four years; each district (kori) was administered by a cho


In the capital there were three bodies of guards; namely, the emon-fu
(gate guards); the sa-eji-fu and the u-eji-fu (Left and Right
watches). There was also the sa-ma-ryo and the u-ma-ryo (cavalry of
the Left and of the Right), and the sa-hyogo-ryo and the u-hyogo-ryo
(Left and Right Departments of Supply). These divisions into "left"
and "right," and the precedence given to the left, were derived from
China, but it has to be observed in Japan's case that the metropolis
itself was similarly divided into left and right quarters. Outside
the capital each province had an army corps (gundan), and one-third
of all the able-bodied men (seitei), from the age of twenty to that
of sixty, were required to serve with the colours of an army corps
for a fixed period each year. From these provincial troops drafts
were taken every year for a twelve-month's duty as palace guards
(eji) in the metropolis, and others were detached for three-years'
service as frontier guards (saki-mori) in the provinces lying along
the western sea board.

The army corps differed numerically according to the extent of the
province where they had their headquarters, but for each thousand men
there were one colonel (taiki) and two lieutenant-colonels (shoki);
for every five hundred men, one major (gunki); for every two hundred,
one captain (koi); for every one hundred, a lieutenant (ryosui), and
for every fifty, a sergeant-major (taisei). As for the privates, they
were organized in groups of five (go); ten (kwa), and fifty (tai).
Those who could draw a bow and manage a horse were enrolled in the
cavalry, the rest being infantry. From each tai two specially robust
men were selected as archers, and for each kwa there were six
pack-horses. The equipment of a soldier on campaign included a large
sword (tachi) and a small sword (katana or sashi-zoe) together with a
quiver (yanagui or ebira); but in time of peace these were kept in
store, the daily exercises being confined to the use of the spear,
the catapult (ishi-yumi) and the bow, and to the practice of
horsemanship. When several army corps were massed to the number of
ten thousand or more, their staff consisted of a general (shogun),
two lieutenant-generals (fuku-shogun), two army-inspectors (gunkan),
four secretaries (rokuji), and four sergeants (gunso). If more than
one such force took the field, the whole was commanded by a


The law provided that appointment to office and promotion should
depend, not upon rank, but upon knowledge and capacity. Youths who
had graduated at the university were divided into three categories:
namely, those of eminent talent (shusai); those having extensive
knowledge of the Chinese classics (meikei), and those advanced in
knowledge (shinshi). Official vacancies were filled from these three
classes in the order here set down, and promotion subsequently
depended on proficiency. But though thus apparently independent of
inherited rank, the law was not so liberal in reality. For admission
to the portals of the university was barred to all except nobles or
the sons and grandsons of literati. Scions of noble families down to
the fifth rank had the right of entry, and scions of nobles of the
sixth, seventh, and eighth ranks were admitted by nomination.


Remuneration to officials took the form of revenue derived from lands
and houses, but this subject can be treated more intelligently when
we come to speak of the land.


According to the Daiho laws one family constituted a household. But
the number of a family was not limited: it included brothers and
their wives and children, as well as male and female servants, so
that it might comprise as many as one hundred persons. The eldest
legitimate son was the head of the household, and its representative
in the eyes of the law. A very minute census was kept. Children up to
three years of age were classed as "yellow" (kwo); those between
three and sixteen, as "little" (sho); those members of the household
between sixteen and twenty, as "middling" (chu); those between twenty
and sixty, as "able-bodied" (tei), and those above sixty as "old" or
"invalids," so as to secure their exemption from forced labour
(kayaku or buyaku). The census was revised every six years, two
copies of the revised document being sent to the privy council
(Daijo-kwan) and one kept in the district concerned. It was
customary, however, to preserve permanently the census of every
thirtieth year* for purposes of record, and moreover the census taken
in the ninth year of Tenchi's reign (670)** was also kept as a
reference for personal names. To facilitate the preservation of good
order and morality, each group of five households was formed into an
"association of five" (goho or gonin-gumi) with a recognized head
(hocho); and fifty households constituted a village (sato or mura),
which was the smallest administrative unit. The village had a mayor
(richo), whose functions were to keep a record of the number of
persons in each household; to encourage diligence in agriculture and
sericulture; to reprove, and, if necessary, to report all evil
conduct, and to stimulate the discharge of public service. Thus the
district chief (guncho or gunryo) had practically little to do beyond
superintending the richo.

*This was called gohi-seki; i.e., comparative record for a period of
five times six years.

**It was designated the Kogoanen-seki, from the cyclical name of the


The land laws of the Daiho era, like those of the Daika, were based
on the hypothesis that all land throughout the country was the
property of the Crown, and that upon the latter devolved the
responsibility of equitable distribution among the people. Rice being
the chief staple of diet and also the standard of exchange,
rice-lands--that is to say, irrigated fields--were regarded as most
important. The law--already referred to in connexion with the Daika
era but here cited again for the sake of clearness--enacted that all
persons, on attaining the age of five, became entitled to two tan of
such land, females receiving two-thirds of that amount. Land thus
allotted was called kubun-den, or "sustenance land" (literally,
"mouth-share land"). The tan was taken for unit, because it
represented 360 bu (or ho), and as the rice produced on one bu
constituted one day's ration for an adult male, a tan yielded enough
for one year (the year being 360 days).*

*The bu in early times represented 5 shaku square, or 25 square shaku
(1 seki = 1 foot very nearly); but as the shaku (10 sun) then
measured 2 sun (1 sun = 1.2 inch) more than the shaku of later ages,
the modern bu (or tsubo) is a square of 6 shaku side, or 36 square
shaku, though in actual dimensions the ancient and the modern are

The theory of distribution was that the produce of one tan served for
food, while with the produce of the second tan the cost of clothes
and so forth was defrayed. The Daika and Daiho legislators alike laid
down the principle that rice-fields thus allotted should be held for
a period of six years only, after which they were to revert to the
Crown for redistribution, and various detailed regulations were
compiled to meet contingencies that might arise in carrying out the
system. But, of course, it proved quite unpracticable, and though
that lesson obviously remained unlearned during the cycle that
separated the Daika and the Daiho periods, there is good reason to
think that these particular provisions of the land law (Den-ryo) soon
became a dead letter.

A different method was pursued, however, in the case of uplands (as
distinguished from wet fields). These--called onchi*--were parcelled
out among the families residing in a district, without distinction
of age or sex, and were held in perpetuity, never reverting to the
Crown unless a family became extinct. Such land might be bought or
sold--except to a Buddhist temple--but its tenure was conditional
upon planting from one hundred to three hundred mulberry trees
(for purposes of sericulture) and from forty to one hundred
lacquer trees, according to the grade of the tenant family.
Ownership of building-land (takuchi) was equally in perpetuity,
though its transfer required official approval, but dwellings or
warehouses--which in Japan have always been regarded as distinct from
the land on which they stand--might be disposed of at pleasure. It
is not to be inferred from the above that all the land throughout
the Empire was divided among the people. Considerable tracts
were reserved for special purposes. Thus, in five home provinces
(Go-Kinai) two tracts of seventy-five acres each were kept for the
Court in Yamato and Settsu, and two tracts of thirty acres each in
Kawachi and Yamashiro, such land being known as kwanden (official
fields), and being under the direct control of the Imperial Household

*Called also yenchi--These uplands were regarded as of little value
compared with rice-fields.

There were also three other kinds of special estates, namely, iden,
or lands granted to mark official ranks; shokubunden, or lands given
as salary to office-holders; and koden, or lands bestowed in
recognition of merit. As to the iden, persons of the four Imperial
ranks received from one hundred to two hundred acres, and persons
belonging to any of the five official grades--in each of which there
were two classes--were given from twenty to two hundred, females
receiving two-thirds of a male's allotment. Coming to salary lands,
we find a distinction between officials serving in the capital
(zaikyo) and those serving in the provinces (zaige). Among the
former, the principal were the prime minister (one hundred acres),
the ministers of the Left and Right (seventy-five acres each) and the
great councillor (fifty acres). As for provincial officials, the
highest, namely, the governor of Kyushu (who had his seat at the
Dazai-fu), received twenty-five acres, and the lowest, one and a half
acres. Governors of provinces--which were divided into four classes
(great, superior, medium, and inferior)--received from four acres to
six and a half acres; an official (dai-hanji), corresponding to a
chief-justice, had five acres; a puisne justice (sho-hanji), four
acres; an officer in command of an army corps, four acres, and a
literary professor (hakushi), four acres. Grants of land as salaries
for official duties were made even to post-towns for the purpose of
defraying the expense of coolies and horses for official use.
Finally, there were koden, or lands bestowed in recognition of
distinguished public services. Of such services four grades were
differentiated: namely, "great merit" (taiko), for which the grant
was made in perpetuity; "superior merit" (joko), which was rewarded
with land held for three generations; "medium merit" (chuko), in
which case the land-title had validity to the second generation only,
and "inferior merit" (geko), where the land did not descend beyond a
son or a daughter. It is worthy of note that in determining the order
of eligibility for grants of sustenance land (kubunden), preference
was given to the poor above the rich, and that the officials in a
province were allowed to cultivate unoccupied land for their own


There were three kinds of imposts; namely, tax (so), forced service
(yo or kayaku) and tribute (cho). The tax was three per cent, of the
gross produce of the land--namely, three sheaves of rice out of every
hundred in the case of a male, and two out of sixty-six in the case
of a female. The tribute was much more important, for it meant that
every able-bodied male had to pay a fixed quantity of silk-fabric,
pongee, raw-silk, raw-cotton, indigo (675 grains troy), rouge (the
same quantity), copper (two and a quarter lbs.), and, if in an
Imperial domain, an additional piece of cotton cloth, thirteen feet
long. Finally, the forced service meant thirty days' labour annually
for each able-bodied male and fifteen days for a minor. Sometimes
this compulsory service might be commuted at the rate of two and a
half feet of cotton cloth for each day's work. Exemption from forced
labour was granted to persons of and above the grade of official rank
and to their families through three generations; to persons of and
above the fifth grade and to their families for two generations; to
men of the Imperial blood; to the sick, the infirm, the deformed,
females, and slaves. Forced labourers were allowed to rest from noon
to 4 P.M. in July and August. They were not required to work at
night. If they fell sick so as to be unable to labour out of doors,
they were allowed only half rations. If they were taken ill on their
way to their place of work, they were left to the care of the local
authorities and fed at public charge. If they died, a coffin was
furnished out of the public funds, and the corpse, unless claimed,
was cremated, the ashes being buried by the wayside and a mark set
up. Precise rules as to inheritance were laid down. A mother and a
step-mother ranked equally with the eldest son for that purpose, each
receiving two parts; younger sons received one part, and concubines
and female children received one-half of a part. There were also
strict rules as to the measure of relief from taxation granted in the
event of crop-failure.


What has been set down above constitutes only a petty fraction of the
Daiho legislation, but it will suffice to furnish an idea of Japanese
civilization in the eighth century of the Christian era a
civilization which shared with that of China the credit of being the
most advanced in the world at that time.

ENGRAVING: HATSUNE-NO-TANA (A Gold-lacquered Stand or Cabinet)





THE Empress Gemmyo, fourth daughter of the Emperor Tenchi and consort
of Prince Kusakabe, was the mother of the Emperor Mommu, whose
accession had been the occasion of the first formal declaration of
the right of primogeniture (vide Chapter XV). Mommu, dying, willed
that the throne should be occupied by his mother in trust for his
infant son--afterwards Emperor Shomu.


In ancient times it was customary to change the locality of the
Imperial capital with each change of sovereign. This custom, dictated
by the Shinto conception of impurity attaching to sickness and death,
exercised a baleful influence on architectural development, and
constituted a heavy burden upon the people, whose forced labour was
largely requisitioned for the building of the new palace. Kotoku,
when he promulgated his system of centralized administration,
conceived the idea of a fixed capital and selected Naniwa. But the
Emperor Tenchi moved to Omi, Temmu to Asuka (in Yamato) and the
Empress Jito to Fujiwara (in Yamato). Mommu remained at the latter
place until the closing year (707) of his reign, when, finding the
site inconvenient, he gave orders for the selection of another. But
his death interrupted the project, and it was not until the second
year of the Empress Gemmyo's reign that the Court finally removed to
Nara, where it remained for seventy-five years, throughout the reigns
of seven sovereigns. Nara, in the province of Yamato, lies nearly due
south of Kyoto at a distance of twenty-six miles from the latter.
History does not say why it was selected, nor have any details of its
plan been transmitted. To-day it is celebrated for scenic beauties--a
spacious park with noble trees and softly contoured hills, sloping
down to a fair expanse of lake, and enshrining in their dales ancient
temples, wherein are preserved many fine specimens of Japanese art,
glyptic and pictorial, of the seventh and eighth centuries. Nothing
remains of the palace where the Court resided throughout a cycle and
a half, nearly twelve hundred years ago, but one building, a
storehouse called Shoso-in, survives in its primitive form and
constitutes a landmark in the annals of Japanese civilization, for it
contains specimens of all the articles that were in daily use by the
sovereigns of the Nara epoch.


There is obscurity about the production of the precious metals in old
Japan. That gold, silver, and copper were known and used is certain,
for in the dolmens,--which ceased to be built from about the close of
the sixth century (A.D.)--copper ear-rings plated with gold are
found, and gold-copper images of Buddha were made in the reign of the
Empress Suiko (605), while history says that silver was discovered in
the island of Tsushima in the second year of the Emperor Temmu's
reign (674). From the same island, gold also is recorded to have come
in 701, but in the case of the yellow and the white metal alike, the
supply obtained was insignificant, and indeed modern historians are
disposed to doubt whether the alleged Tsushima gold was not in
reality brought from Korea via that island. On the whole, the
evidence tends to show that, during the first seven centuries of the
Christian era, Japan relied on Korea mainly, and on China partially,
for her supply of the precious metals. Yet neither gold, silver, nor
copper coins seem to have been in anything like general use until the
Wado era (708-715).

Coined money had already been a feature of Chinese civilization since
the fourth century before Christ, and when Japan began to take models
from her great neighbour during the Sui and Tang dynasties, she
cannot have failed to appreciate the advantages of artificial media
of exchange. The annals allege that in A.D. 677 the first mint was
established, and that in 683 an ordinance prescribed that the silver
coins struck there should be superseded by copper. But this rule did
not remain long in force, nor have there survived any coins, whether
of silver or of copper, certainly identifiable as antecedent to the
Wado era. It was in the year of the Empress Gemmyo's accession (708)
that deposits of copper were found in the Chichibu district of
Musashi province, and the event seemed sufficiently important to call
for a change of year-name to Wado (refined copper). Thenceforth,
coins of copper--or more correctly, bronze--were regularly minted and
gradually took the place of rice or cotton cloth as units of value.

It would seem that, from the close of the seventh century, a wave of
mining industry swept over Japan. Silver was procured from the
provinces of Iyo and Kii; copper from Inaba and Suo, and tin from
Ise, Tamba, and Iyo. All this happened between the years 690 and 708,
but the discovery of copper in the latter year in Chichibu was on
comparatively the largest scale, and may be said to have given the
first really substantial impetus to coining. For some unrecorded
reason silver pieces were struck first and were followed by copper a
few months later. Both were of precisely the same form--round with a
square hole in the middle to facilitate threading on a string--both
were of the same denomination (one won), and both bore the same
superscription (Wado Kaiho, or "opening treasure of refined copper"),
the shape, the denomination, and the legend being taken from a coin
of the Tang dynasty struck eighty-eight years previously. It was
ordered that in using these pieces silver should be paid in the case
of sums of or above four mon, and copper in the case of sums of or
below three won, the value of the silver coin being four times that
of the copper. But the silver tokens soon ceased to be current and
copper mainly occupied the field, a position which it held for 250
years, from 708 to 958. During that interval, twelve forms of sen*
were struck. They deteriorated steadily in quality, owing to growing
scarcity of the supply of copper; and, partly to compensate for the
increased cost of the metal, partly to minister to official greed,
the new issues were declared, on several occasions, to have a value
ten times as great as their immediate predecessors. Concerning that
value, the annals state that in 711 the purchasing power of the mon
(i.e., of the one-sen token) was sixty go of rice, and as the daily
ration for a full-grown man is five go, it follows that one sen
originally sufficed for twelve days' sustenance.**

*The ideograph sen signified originally a "fountain," and its
employment to designate a coin seems to have been suggested by an
idea analogous to that underlying the English word "currency."

**"At the present time the wages of a carpenter are almost a yen a
day. Now the yen is equal to 1000 mon of the smaller sen and to 500
mon of the larger ones, so that he could have provided himself with
rice, if we count only 500 mon to the yen, for sixteen years on the
wages which he receives for one day's labour in 1900." (Munro's Coins
of Japan.)

Much difficulty was experienced in weaning the people from their old
custom of barter and inducing them to use coins. The Government seems
to have recognized that there could not be any effective spirit of
economy so long as perishable goods represented the standard of
value, and in order to popularize the use of the new tokens as well
as to encourage thrift, it was decreed that grades of rank would be
bestowed upon men who had saved certain sums in coin. At that time
(711), official salaries had already been fixed in terms of the Wado
sen. The highest received thirty pieces of cloth, one hundred hanks
of silk and two thousand mon, while in the case of an eighth-class
official the corresponding figures were one piece of cloth and twenty
mon.* The edict for promoting economy embodied a schedule according
to which, broadly speaking, two steps of executive rank could be
gained by amassing twenty thousand mon and one step by saving five

*These figures sound ludicrously small if translated into present-day
money, for 1000 mon go to the yen, and the latter being the
equivalent of two shillings, 20 mon represents less then a
half-penny. But of course the true calculation is that 20 mon
represented 240 days' rations of rice in the Wado schedule of values.

Observing that the fundamental principle of a sound token of exchange
was wholly disregarded in these Wado sen, since their intrinsic value
bore no appreciable ratio to their purchasing power, and considering
also the crudeness of their manufacture, it is not surprising to find
that within a few months of their appearance they were extensively
forged. What is much more notable is that the Wado sen remained in
circulation for fifty years. The extraordinary ratio, however, by
which copper and silver were linked together originally, namely, 4 to
1, did not survive; in 721 it was changed to 25 to 10, and in the
following year to 50 to 10. Altogether, as was not unnatural, the
early treatment of this coinage question by Japanese statesmen showed
no trace of scientific perception. The practice, pursued almost
invariably, of multiplying by ten the purchasing power of each new
issue of sen, proved, of course, enormously profitable to the
issuers, but could not fail to distress the people and to render
unpopular such arbitrarily varying tokens.

The Government spared no effort to correct the latter result, and
some of the devices employed were genuinely progressive. In that
epoch travellers had to carry their own provisions, and not
uncommonly the supply ran short before they reached their
destination, the result sometimes being death from starvation on the
roadside. It was therefore ordered that in every district (korf) a
certain portion of rice should be stored at a convenient place for
sale to wayfarers, and these were advised to provide themselves with
a few sen before setting out. It is evident that, since one of the
Wado coins sufficed to buy rice for twelve days' rations, a traveller
was not obliged to burden himself with many of these tokens. Wealthy
persons in the provinces were also admonished to set up roadside
shops for the sale of rice, and anyone who thus disposed of one
hundred koku in a year was to be reported to the Court for special
reward. Moreover, no district governor (gunryo), however competent,
was counted eligible for promotion unless he had saved six thousand
sen, and it was enacted that all taxes might be paid in copper coin.
In spite of all this, however, the use of metallic media was limited
for a long time to the upper classes and to the inhabitants of the
five home provinces. Elsewhere the old habit of barter continued.


In the year 715, the Empress Gemmyo, after a reign of seven years,
abdicated in favour of her daughter, Gensho. This is the only
instance in Japanese history of an Empress succeeding an Empress.


The reigns of these two Empresses are memorable for the compilation
of the two oldest Japanese histories which have been handed down to
the present epoch, the Kojiki and the Nihongi; but as the
circumstances in which these works, as well as the Fudoki (Records of
Natural Features), were written have been sufficiently described
already (vide Chapter I), it remains only to refer to a custom
inaugurated by Gemmyo in the year (721) after the compilation of the
Nihongi, the custom of summoning to Court learned men (hakase) and
requiring them to deliver lectures on that work. Subsequent
generations of sovereigns followed this example, and to this day one
of the features of the New Year's observances is a historical
discourse in the palace. The writing of history became thenceforth an
imperially patronized occupation. Six works, covering the period from
697 to 887, appeared in succession and were known through all ages as
the Six National Histories. It is noticeable that in the compilation
of all these a leading part was taken by one or another of the great
Fujiwara ministers, and that the fifth numbered among its authors the
illustrious Sugawara Michizane.


When the Emperor Mommu died (707), his son, the Prince Imperial, was
too young to succeed. Therefore the sceptre came into the hands of
Mommu's mother, who, after a reign of seven years, abdicated in
favour of her daughter, the Empress Gensho, and, eight years later,
the latter in turn abdicated in favour of her nephew, Shomu, who had
now reached man's estate. Shomu's mother, Higami, was a daughter of
Fujiwara Fuhito, and as the Fujiwara family did not belong to the
Kwobetsu class, she had not attained the rank of Empress, but had
remained simply Mommu's consort (fujiri). Her son, the Emperor Shomu,
married another daughter of the same Fujiwara Fuhito by a different
mother; that is to say, he took for consort his own mother's
half-sister, Asuka. This lady, Asuka, laboured under the same
disadvantage of lineage and could not properly be recognized as
Empress. It is necessary to note these details for they constitute
the preface to a remarkable page of Japanese history. Of Fujiwara
Fuhito's two daughters, one, Higami, was the mother of the reigning
Emperor, Shomu, and the other, Asuka, was his consort. The blood
relationship of the Fujiwara family to the Court could scarcely have
been more marked, but its public recognition was impeded by the
defect in the family's lineage.


Immediately after Shomu's accession, his mother, Higami, received the
title of Kwo-taifujin (Imperial Great Lady). But the ambition of her
family was to have her named Kwo-taiko (Empress Dowager). The Emperor
also desired to raise his consort, Asuka, to the position of Empress.
Consulting his ministers on the subject, he encountered opposition
from Prince Nagaya, minister of the Left. This prince, a
great-grandson of the Emperor Temmu, enjoyed high reputation as a
scholar, was looked up to as a statesman of great wisdom, and
possessed much influence owing to his exalted official position. He
urged that neither precedent nor law sanctioned nomination of a lady
of the Shimbetsu class to the rank of Empress. The Daiho code was
indeed very explicit on the subject. In China, whither the drafters
of the code went for models, no restrictions were imposed on a
sovereign's choice of wife. But the Japanese legislators clearly
enacted that an Empress must be taken from among Imperial princesses.
Prince Nagaya, in his position as minister of the Left, opposed any
departure from that law and thus thwarted the designs of the

The lady Asuka bore a son to the Emperor three years after his
accession. His Majesty was profoundly pleased. He caused a general
amnesty to be proclaimed, presented gratuities to officials, and
granted gifts to all children born on the same day. When only two
months old, the child was created Prince Imperial, but in his
eleventh month he fell ill. Buddhist images were cast; Buddhist
Sutras were copied; offerings were made to the Kami, and an amnesty
was proclaimed. Nothing availed. The child died, and the Emperor was
distraught with grief. In this incident the partisans of the Fujiwara
saw their opportunity. They caused it to be laid to Prince Nagaya's
charge that he had compassed the death of the infant prince by charms
and incantations. Two of the Fujiwara nobles were appointed to
investigate the accusation, and they condemned the prince to die by
his own hand. He committed suicide, and his wife and children died
with him. The travesty of justice was carefully acted throughout. A
proclamation was issued promising capital punishment to any one, of
whatever rank or position, who compassed the death or injury of
another by spells or incantations, and, six months later, the lady
Asuka was formally proclaimed Empress.

In one respect the Fujiwara conspirators showed themselves clumsy.
The rescript justified Asuka's elevation by reference to the case of
Iwa, a daughter of the Takenouchi, whom the Emperor Nintoku had made
his Empress. But the Takenouchi family belonged to the Kwobetsu
class, and the publication of a special edict in justification could
be read as self-condemnation only. Nevertheless, the Fujiwara had
compassed their purpose. Thenceforth they wielded the power of the
State through the agency of their daughters. They furnished Empresses
and consorts to the reigning sovereigns, and took their own wives
from the Minamoto family, itself of Imperial lineage. To such an
extent was the former practice followed that on two occasions three
Fujiwara ladies served simultaneously in the palace. This happened
when Go-Reizei (1222-1232) had a Fujiwara Empress, Kwanko, and two
Fujiwara consorts, Fumi and Hiro. At one moment it had seemed as
though fate would interfere to thwart these astute plans. An epidemic
of small-pox, originating (735) in Kyushu, spread over the whole
country, and carried off the four sons of Fuhito--Muchimaro,
Fusazaki, Umakai, and Maro--leaving the family's fortunes in the
hands of juniors, who occupied only minor official positions. But the
Fujiwara genius rose superior to all vicissitudes. The elevation of
the lady Asuka to be Empress Komyo marks an epoch in Japanese


In spite of the length and perils of a voyage from Japan to China in
the seventh and eighth centuries--one embassy which sailed from
Naniwa in the late summer of 659 did not reach China for 107
days--the journey was frequently made by Japanese students of
religion and literature, just as the Chinese, on their side,
travelled often to India in search of Buddhist enlightenment. This
access to the refinement and civilization of the Tang Court
contributed largely to Japan's progress, both material and moral, and
is frankly acknowledged by her historians as a main factor in her
advance. When Shomu reigned at Nara, the Court in Changan had entered
the phase of luxury and epicurism which usually preludes the ruin of
a State. Famous literati thronged its portals; great poets and
painters enjoyed its patronage, and annalists descanted on its
magnificence. Some of the works of these famous men were carried to
Japan and remained with her as models and treasures. She herself
showed that she had competence to win some laurels even amid such a
galaxy. In the year 716, Nakamaro, a member of the great Abe family,
accompanied the Japanese ambassador to Tang and remained in China
until his death in 770. He was known in China as Chao Heng, and the
great poet, Li Pai, composed a poem in his memory, while the Tang
sovereign conferred on him the posthumous title of "viceroy of
Luchou." Not less celebrated was Makibi,* who went to China at the
same time as Nakamaro, and after twenty years' close study of
Confucius, returned in 735, having earned such a reputation for
profound knowledge of history, the five classics, jurisprudence,
mathematics, philosophy, calendar making, and other sciences that the
Chinese parted with him reluctantly. In Japan he was raised to the
high rank of asomi, and ultimately became minister of the Right
during the reign of Shotoku.

*Generally spoken of as "Kibi no Mabi," and credited by tradition
with the invention of the katakana syllabary.

Such incidents speak eloquently of the respect paid in Japan to
mental attainments and of the enlightened hospitality of China. In
the realm of Buddhism perhaps even more than in that of secular
science, this close intercourse made its influence felt. Priests went
from Japan to study in China, and priests came from China to preach
in Japan. During the Nara era, three of these men attained to special
eminence. They were Doji, Gembo, and Kanshin. Doji was the great
propagandist of the Sanron sect, whose tenets he had studied in China
for sixteen years (701-717). From plans prepared by him and taken
from the monastery of Hsi-ming in China, the temple Daian-ji was
built under the auspices of the Emperor Shomu, and having been richly
endowed, was placed in Doji's charge as lord-abbot. Gembo, during a
sojourn of two years at the Tang Court, studied the tenets of the
Hosso sect, which, like the Sanron, constituted one of the five sects
originally introduced into Japan. Returning in 736, he presented to
the Emperor Shomu five thousand volumes of the Sutras, together with
a number of Buddhist images, and he was appointed abbot of the
celebrated temple, Kofuku-ji. The third of the above three religious
celebrities was a Chinese missionary named Kanshin. He went to Japan
accompanied by fourteen priests, three nuns, and twenty-four laymen,
and the mission carried with it many Buddhist relics, images, and
Sutras. Summoned to Nara in 754, he was treated with profound
reverence, and on a platform specially erected before the temple
Todai-ji, where stood the colossal image of Buddha--to be presently
spoken of--the sovereign and many illustrious personages performed
the most solemn rite of Buddhism under the ministration of Kanshin.
He established a further claim on the gratitude of the Empress by
curing her of an obstinate malady, and her Majesty would fain have
raised him to the highest rank (dai-sojo) of the Buddhist priesthood.
But he declined the honour. Subsequently, the former palace of Prince
Nittabe was given to him as a residence and he built there the temple
of Shodai-ji, which still exists.


The great Confucianist, Makibi, and the Buddhist prelate, Gembo, met
with misfortune and became the victims of an unjust accusation
because they attempted to assert the Imperial authority as superior
to the growing influence of the Fujiwara. Makibi held the post of
chamberlain of the Empress' household, and Gembo officiated at the
"Interior monastery" (Nai-dojo) where the members of the Imperial
family worshipped Buddha. The Emperor's mother, Higami, who on her
son's accession had received the title of "Imperial Great Lady" (vide
sup.), fell into a state of melancholia and invited Gembo to
prescribe for her, which he did successfully. Thus, his influence in
the palace became very great, and was augmented by the piety of the
Empress, who frequently listened to discourses by the learned
prelate. Makibi naturally worked in union with Gembo in consideration
of their similar antecedents. Fujiwara Hirotsugu was then governor of
Yamato. Witnessing this state of affairs with uneasiness, he
impeached Gembo. But the Emperor credited the priest's assertions,
and removed Hirotsugu to the remote post of Dazai-fu in Chikuzen.
There he raised the standard of revolt and was with some difficulty
captured and executed. The Fujiwara did not tamely endure this check.
They exerted their influence to procure the removal of Makibi and
Gembo from the capital, both being sent to Tsukushi (Kyushu), Makibi
in the capacity of governor, and Gembo to build the temple
Kwannon-ji. Gembo died a year later, and it was commonly reported
that the spirit of Hirotsugu had compassed his destruction, while
more than one book, professing to be historical, alleged that his
prime offence was immoral relations with the "Imperial Great Lady,"
who was then some sixty years of age! There can be little doubt that
the two illustrious scholars suffered for their fame rather than for
their faults, and that their chief offences were overshadowing renown
and independence of Fujiwara patronage.


From what has been related above of the priests Kanshin and Gembo, it
will have been observed that the Emperor Shomu was an earnest
disciple of Buddhism. The heritage of administrative reforms
bequeathed to him by Tenchi and Temmu should have engrossed his
attention, but he subserved everything to religion, and thus the
great national work, begun in the Daika era and carried nearly to
completion in the Daiho, suffered its first check. Some annalists
have pleaded in Shomu's behalf that he trusted religious influence to
consolidate the system introduced by his predecessors. However that
may be, history records as the most memorable event of his reign his
abdication of the throne in order to enter religion, thus
inaugurating a practice which was followed by several subsequent
sovereigns and which materially helped the Fujiwara family to usurp
the reality of administrative power. Shomu, on receiving the tonsure,
changed his name to Shoman, and thenceforth took no part in secular

In all this, however, his procedure marked a climax rather than a
departure. In fact, never did any foreign creed receive a warmer
welcome than that accorded to Buddhism by the Japanese after its
first struggle for tolerance. Emperor after Emperor worshipped the
Buddha. Even Tenchi, who profoundly admired the Confucian philosophy
and whose experience of the Soga nobles' treason might well have
prejudiced him against the faith they championed; and even Temmu,
whose ideals took the forms of frugality and militarism, were lavish
in their offerings at Buddhist ceremonials. The Emperor Mommu enacted
a law for the better control of priests and nuns, yet he erected the
temple Kwannon-ji. The great Fujiwara statesmen, as Kamatari, Fuhito,
and the rest, though they belonged to a family (the Nakatomi) closely
associated with Shinto worship, were reverent followers of the Indian
faith. Kamatari approved of his eldest son, Joye, entering the
priesthood, and sent him to China to study the Sutras. He also gave
up his residence at Yamashina for conversion into a monastery.
Fujiwara Fuhito built the Kofuku-ji, and his son, Muchimaro, when
governor of Omi, repaired temples in the provinces, protected their
domains, and erected the Jingu-ji.

That among the occupants of the throne during 165 years, from 593 to
758, no less than seven were females could not but contribute to the
spread of a religion which owed so much to spectacular effect. Every
one of these sovereigns lent earnest aid to the propagation of
Buddhism, and the tendency of the age culminated in the fanaticism of
Shomu, re-enforced as it was by the devotion of his consort, Komyo.
Tradition has woven into a beautiful legend the nation's impression
of this lady's piety. In an access of humility she vowed to wash the
bodies of a thousand beggars. Nine hundred and ninety-nine had been
completed when the last presented himself in the form of a loathsome
leper. Without a sign of repugnance the Empress continued her task,
and no sooner was the ablution concluded than the mendicant ascended
heavenwards, a glory of light radiating from his body. It is also
told of her that, having received in a dream a miniature golden image
of the goddess of Mercy (Kwannon) holding a baby in her arms, she
conceived a daughter who ultimately reigned as the Empress Koken.*

*The resemblance between the legend and the Buddhist account of the
Incarnation is plain. It has to be remembered that Nestorians had
carried Christianity to the Tang Court long before the days of Komyo.

In spite, however, of all this zeal for Buddhism, the nation did not
entirely abandon its traditional faith. The original cult had been
ancestor worship. Each great family had its uji no Kami, to whom it
made offerings and presented supplications. These deities were now
supplemented, not supplanted. They were grafted upon a Buddhist stem,
and shrines of the uji no Kami became uji-tera, or "uji temples."*
Thenceforth the temple (tera) took precedence of the shrine
(yashiro). When spoken of together they became ji-sha. This was the
beginning of Ryobu Shinto, or mixed Shinto, which found full
expression when Buddhist teachers, obedient to a spirit of toleration
born of their belief in the doctrines of metempsychosis and universal
perfectibility, asserted the creed that the Shinto Kami were avatars
(incarnations) of the numerous Buddhas.

*Thus, Kofukuji, built by Kamatari and Fuhito was called O-Nakatomi
no uji-tera; Onjo-ji, erected by Otomo Suguri, was known as Otomo no
uji-tera, and so forth.

The Nara epoch has not bequeathed to posterity many relics of the
great religious edifices that came into existence under Imperial
patronage during its seventy-five years. Built almost wholly of wood,
these temples were gradually destroyed by fire. One object, however,
defied the agent of destruction. It is a bronze Buddha of huge
proportions, known now to all the world as the "Nara Daibutsu." On
the fifteenth day of the tenth month of the fifteenth year of
Tembyo--7th of November, 743--the Emperor Shomu proclaimed his
intention of undertaking this work. The rescript making the
announcement is extant. It sets out by declaring that "through the
influence and authority of Buddha the country enjoys tranquillity,"
and while warning the provincial and district governors against in
any way constraining the people to take part in the project, it
promises that every contributor shall be welcome, even though he
bring no more than a twig to feed the furnace or a handful of clay
for the mould. The actual work of casting began in 747 and was
completed in three years, after seven failures. The image was not
cast in its entirety; it was built up with bronze plates soldered
together. A sitting presentment of the Buddha, it had a height of
fifty-three and a half feet and the face was sixteen feet long, while
on either side was an attendant bosatsu standing thirty feet high.
For the image, 986,030,000 lbs. of copper were needed, and on the
gilding of its surface 870 lbs. of refined gold were used.

These figures represented a vast fortune in the eighth century.
Indeed it seemed likely that a sufficiency of gold would not be
procurable, but fortunately in the year 749 the yellow metal was
found in the province of Mutsu, and people regarded the timely
discovery as a special dispensation of Buddha. The great hall in
which the image stood had a height of 120 feet and a width of 290
feet from east to west, and beside it two pagodas rose to a height of
230 feet each. Throughout the ten years occupied in the task of
collecting materials and casting this Daibutsu, the Emperor solemnly
worshipped Rushana Buddha three times daily, and on its completion he
took the tonsure. It was not until the year 752, however, that the
final ceremony of unveiling took place technically called "opening
the eyes" (kaigan). On that occasion the Empress Koken, attended by
all the great civil and military dignitaries, held a magnificent
fete, and in the following year the temple--Todai-ji--was endowed
with the taxes of five thousand households and the revenue from
twenty-five thousand acres of rice-fields.


While all this religious fervour was finding costly expression among
the aristocrats in Nara, the propagandists and patrons of Buddhism
did not neglect the masses. In the year 741, provincial temples were
officially declared essential to the State's well-being. These
edifices had their origin at an earlier date. During the reign of
Temmu (673-686) an Imperial rescript ordered that throughout the
whole country every household should provide itself with a Buddhist
shrine and place therein a sacred image. When the pious Empress Jito
occupied the throne (690-696), the first proselytizing mission was
despatched to the Ezo, among whom many converts were won; and, later
in the same reign, another rescript directed that a certain
Sutra--the Konkwo myo-kyo, or Sutra of Golden Effulgence--should be
read during the first month of every year in each province, the fees
of the officiating priests and other expenses being defrayed out of
the local official exchequers.


During Mommu's time (697-707), Buddhist hierarchs (kokushi) were
appointed to the provinces. Their chief functions were to expound the
Sutra and to offer prayers. The devout Shomu not only distributed
numerous copies of the Sutras, but also carried his zeal to the
length of commanding that every province should erect a sixteen-foot
image of Shaka with attendant bosatsu (Bodhisattva), and, a few years
later, he issued another command that each province must provide
itself with a pagoda seven storeys high. By this last rescript the
provincial temples (kokubun-ji) were called into official existence,
and presently their number was increased to two in each province, one
for priests and one for nuns. The kokushi attached to these temples
laboured in the cause of propagandism and religious education side by
side with the provincial pundits (kunihakase), whose duty was to
instruct the people in law and literature; but it is on record that
the results of the former's labours were much more conspicuous than
those of the latter.


It is said to have been mainly at the instance of the Empress Komyo
that the great image of Todai-ji was constructed and the provincial
temples were established. But undoubtedly the original impulse came
from a priest, Gyogi. He was one of those men who seem to have been
specially designed by fate for the work they undertake. Gyogi, said
to have been of Korean extraction, had no learning like that which
won respect for Kanshin and Gembo. But he was amply gifted with the
personal magnetism which has always distinguished notably successful
propagandists of religion. Wherever he preached and prayed, thousands
of priests and laymen flocked to hear him, and so supreme was his
influence that under his direction the people gladly undertook
extensive works of bridge building and road making. Like Shotoku
Taishi, his name is associated by tradition with achievements not
properly assignable to him, as the invention of the potter's
wheel--though it had been in use for centuries before his time--and
the production of various works of art which can scarcely have
occupied the attention of a religious zealot. By order of the Empress
Gensho, Gyogi was thrown into prison for a time, such a disturbing
effect did his propagandism produce on men's pursuit of ordinary
bread winning; but he soon emerged from durance and was taken into
reverent favour by the Emperor Shomu, who attached four hundred
priests as his disciples and conferred on him the titles of Dai-Sojo
(Great Hierarch) and Dai-Bosatsu (Great Bodhisattva).

The enigma of the people's patience under the stupendous burdens
imposed on them by the fanatic piety of Shomu and his consort, Komyo,
finds a solution in the co-operation of Gyogi, whose speech and
presence exercised more influence than a hundred Imperial edicts. It
is recorded that, by way of corollary to the task of reconciling the
nation to the Nara Court's pious extravagance, Gyogi compassed the
erection of no less than forty-nine temples. But perhaps the most
memorable event in his career was the part he took in reconciling the
indigenous faith and the imported. However fervent Shomu's belief in
Buddhism, the country he ruled was the country of the Kami, and on
descent from the Kami his own title to the throne rested. Thus,
qualms of conscience may well have visited him when he remembered the
comparatively neglected shrine of the Sun goddess at Ise. Gyogi
undertook to consult the will of the goddess, and carried back a
revelation which he interpreted in the sense that Amaterasu should be
regarded as an incarnation of the Buddha. The Emperor then despatched
to Ise a minister of State who obtained an oracle capable of similar
interpretation, and, on the night after receipt of this utterance,
the goddess, appearing to his Majesty in a vision, told him that the
sun was Birushana (Vairotchana Tathagata); or Dainishi (Great Sun)

Thus was originated a theory which enabled Buddhism and Shinto to
walk hand in hand for a thousand years, the theory that the Shinto
Kami are avatars of the Buddha. Some historians contend that this
idea must have been evolved and accepted before the maturity of the
project for casting the colossal image at Nara, and that the credit
probably belongs to Gembo; others attribute it to the immortal priest
Kukai (Kobo Daishi), who is said to have elaborated the doctrine in
the early years of the ninth century. Both seem wrong.


Side by side with the vigorous Buddhism of the Nara epoch, strange
superstitions obtained currency and credence. Two may be mentioned as
illustrating the mood of the age. One related to an ascetic, En no
Ubasoku, who was worshipped by the people of Kinai under the name of
En no Gyoja (En the anchorite). He lived in a cave on Katsuragi Mount
for forty years, wore garments made of wistaria bark, and ate only
pine leaves steeped in spring water. During the night he compelled
demons to draw water and gather firewood, and during the day he rode
upon clouds of five colours. The Kami Hitokotonushi, having been
threatened by him for neglecting his orders, inspired a man to accuse
him of treasonable designs, and the Emperor Mommu sent soldiers to
arrest him. But as he was able to evade them by recourse to his art
of flying, they apprehended his mother in his stead, whereupon he at
once gave himself up. In consideration of his filial piety his
punishment was commuted to exile on an island off the Izu coast, and
in deference to the Imperial orders he remained there quietly
throughout the day, but devoted the night to flying to the summit of
Mount Fuji or gliding over the sea. This En no Gyoja was the founder
of a sect of priests calling themselves Yamabushi.

The second superstition relates to one of the genii named Kume. By
the practice of asceticism he obtained supernatural power, and while
riding one day upon a cloud, he passed above a beautiful girl washing
clothes in a river, and became so enamoured of her that he lost his
superhuman capacities and fell at her feet. She became his wife.
Years afterwards it chanced that he was called out for forced labour,
and, being taunted by the officials as a pseudo-genius, he fasted and
prayed for seven days and seven nights. On the eighth morning a
thunder-storm visited the scene, and after it, a quantity of heavy
timber was found to have been moved, without any human effort, from
the forest to the site of the projected building. The Emperor,
hearing of this, granted him forty-five acres, on which he built the
temple of Kume-dera.

Such tales found credence in the Nara epoch, and indeed all through
the annals of early Japan there runs a well-marked thread of
superstition which owed something of its obtrusiveness to intercourse
with Korea and China, whence came professors of the arts of
invisibility and magic. A thunder deity making his occasional abode
in lofty trees is gravely spoken of in the context of a campaign, and
if at one moment a river is inhabited by a semi-human monster, at
another a fish formed like a child is caught in the sea. There is, of
course, an herb of longevity--"a plant resembling coral in shape,
with clustering leaves and branches; some red, others purple, others
black, others golden coloured, and some changing their colours in the
four seasons." In the reign of the Empress Kogyoku, witches and
wizards betray the people into all sorts of extravagances; and a
Korean acolyte has for friend a tiger which teaches him all manner of
wonderful arts, among others that of healing any disease with a magic
needle. Later on, these and cognate creations of credulity take their
appropriate places in the realm of folk-lore, but they rank with
sober history in the ancient annals. In this respect Japan did not
differ from other early peoples.


In July, 749, the Emperor Shomu abdicated in favour of his daughter,
Princess Abe, known in history as Koken. Her mother was the
celebrated Princess Asuka, who, in spite of the Shimbetsu lineage of
her Fujiwara family, had been made Shomu's Empress, and whose name
had been changed to Komyo (Refulgence) in token of her illustrious
piety. The daughter inherited all the mother's romance, but in her
case it often degenerated into a passion more elementary than
religious ecstasy. Shomu, having no son, made his daughter heir to
the throne. Japanese history furnished no precedent for such a step.
The custom had always been that a reign ceased on the death of a
sovereign unless the Crown Prince had not yet reached maturity, in
which event his mother, or some other nearly related princess,
occupied the throne until he came of age and then surrendered the
reigns of government to his hands. Such had been the practice in the
case of the Empresses Jito, Gemmyo, and Gensho. Shomu, however, not
only bequeathed the throne to a princess, but while himself still in
the prime of life, abdicated in her favour.

Thereafter, at the recognized instance of the all-powerful Fujiwara
family, Emperors often surrendered the sceptre to their heirs,
themselves retiring into religious life with the secular title of
Da-joko (Great ex-Emperor) and the ecclesiastical designation of Ho-o
(pontiff). Shomu was the originator of this practice, but the annals
are silent as to the motive that inspired him. It will be presently
seen that under the skilful manipulation of the Fujiwara nobles, this
device of abdication became a potent aid to their usurpation of
administrative power, and from that point of view the obvious
inference is that Shomu's unprecedented step was taken at their
suggestion. But the Buddhist propagandists, also, were profoundly
interested. That the sovereign himself should take the tonsure could
not fail to confer marked prestige on the Church. It is probable,
therefore, that Shomu was swayed by both influences--that of the
Buddhists, who worked frankly in the cause of their creed, and that
of the Fujiwara, who desired to see a lady of their own lineage upon
the throne.


The fanaticism of the Emperor Shomu and his consort, Komyo, bore
fruit during the reign of Koken. In the third year after Shomu's
abdication, a decree was issued prohibiting the taking of life in any
form. This imposed upon the State the responsibility of making
donations of rice to support the fishermen, whose source of
livelihood was cut off by the decree. Further, at the ceremony of
opening the public worship of the great image of Buddha, the Empress
in person led the vast procession of military, civil, and religious
dignitaries to the temple Todai-ji. It was a fete of unparalleled
dimensions. All officials of the fifth grade and upwards wore full
uniform, and all of lesser grades wore robes of the colour
appropriate to their rank. Ten thousand Buddhist priests officiated,
and the Imperial musicians were re-enforced by those from all the
temples throughout the home provinces. Buddhism in Japan had never
previously received such splendid homage.

In the evening, the Empress visited the residence of the grand
councillor, Fujiwara no Nakamaro. Fourteen hundred years had elapsed,
according to Japanese history, since the first of the Yamato
sovereigns set up his Court, and never had the Imperial house
incurred such disgrace as now befell it. Fujiwara no Nakamaro was a
grandson of the great Kamatari. He held the rank of dainagon and was
at once a learned man and an able administrator. From the time of
that visit to the Tamura-no-tei (Tamura mansion), as his residence
was called, the Empress repaired thither frequently, and finally made
it a detached palace under the name of Tamura-no-miya. Those that
tried to put an end to the liaison were themselves driven from
office, and Nakamaro's influence became daily stronger.


In August, 758, the Empress, after a reign of four years, nominally
abdicated in favour of the Crown Prince, Junnin, but continued to
discharge all the functions of government herself. Her infatuation
for Nakamaro seemed to increase daily. She bestowed on him titles of
admiration and endearment under the guise of homonymous ideographs,
and she also bestowed on him in perpetuity the revenue from 3000
households and 250 acres of land. But Koken's caprice took a new
turn. She became a nun and transferred her affection to a priest,
Yuge no Dokyo. Nakamaro did not tamely endure to be thus discarded.
He raised the standard of revolt and found that the nun could be as
relentless as the Empress had been gracious. The rebellion--known by
irony of fate as that of Oshikatsu (the Conqueror), which was one of
the names bestowed on him by Koken in the season of her
favour--proved a brief struggle. Nakamaro fell in battle and his
head, together with those of his wife, his children, and his devoted
followers to the number of thirty-four, was despatched to Nara. The
tumult had a more serious sequel. It was mainly through Nakamaro's
influence that Junnin had been crowned six years previously, and his
Majesty naturally made no secret of his aversion for the new
favourite. The Dowager Empress--so Koken had called herself--did not
hesitate a moment. In the very month following Nakamaro's
destruction, she charged that the Emperor was in collusion with the
rebel; despatched a force of troops to surround the palace; dethroned
Junnin; degraded him to the rank of a prince, and sent him and his
mother into exile, where the conditions of confinement were made so
intolerable that the ex-Emperor attempted to escape, was captured and



The nun Koken now abandoned the veil and re-ascended the throne under
the name of Shotoku. Her affection for Dokyo had been augmented by
his constant ministrations during her illness while on a visit to the
"detatched palace" at Omi, and she conferred on him a priestly title
which made him rank equally with the prime minister. All the civil
and military magnates had to pay homage to him at the festival of the
New Year in his exalted capacity. Yet her Majesty was not satisfied.
Another step of promotion was possible. In the year after her second
ascent of the throne she named him Ho-o (pontiff), a title never
previously borne by any save her father, the ex-Emperor Shomu. Dokyo
rose fully to the level of the occasion. He modelled his life in
every respect on that of a sovereign and assumed complete control of
the administration of the empire. He not only fared sumptuously but
also built many temples, and as the Empress was not less extravagant,
the burden of taxation became painfully heavy. But the priestly
favourite, who seems to have now conceived the ambition of ascending
the throne, abated nothing of his pomp. Whether at his instigation or
because his favour had become of paramount importance to all men of
ambition, Asomaro, governor of the Dazai-fu, informed the Empress
that, according to an oracle delivered by the god of War (Hachiman)
at Usa, the nation would enjoy tranquillity and prosperity if Dokyo
were its ruler.

The Empress had profound reverence for Hachiman, as, indeed, was well
known to Asomaro and to Dokyo. Yet she hesitated to take this extreme
step without fuller assurance. She ordered Wake no Kiyomaro to
proceed to Usa and consult the deity once more. Kiyomaro was a
fearless patriot. That Shotoku's choice fell on him at this juncture
might well have been regarded by his countrymen as an intervention of
heaven. Before setting out he had unequivocal evidence of what was to
be expected at Dokyo's hands by the bearer of a favourable revelation
from Hachiman. Yet the answer carried back by him from the Usa shrine
was explicitly fatal to Dokyo's hope. "Since the establishment of the
State the distinction of sovereign and subject has been observed.
There is no instance of a subject becoming sovereign. The successor
of the throne must be of the Imperial family and a usurper is to be
rejected." Dokyo's wrath was extreme. He ordered that Kiyomaro's name
should be changed to Kegaremaro, which was equivalent to substituting
"foul" for "fair;" he banished him to Osumi in the extreme south of
Kyushu, and he sent emissaries whose attempt to assassinate him was
balked by a thunder-storm. But before he could bring any fresh design
to maturity, the Empress died. Dokyo and Asomaro were banished, and
Kiyomaro was recalled from exile.

Historians have been much perplexed to account for the strangely
apathetic demeanour of the high dignitaries of State in the presence
of such disgraceful doings as those of the Empress and her favourite.
They specially blame Kibi no Makibi, the great scholar. He had
recovered from his temporary eclipse in connexion with the revolt of
Fujiwara Hirotsugu, and he held the office of minister of the Right
during a great part of Koken's reign. Yet it is not on record that he
offered any remonstrance. The same criticism, however, seems to apply
with not less justice to his immediate predecessors in the post of
ministers of the Right, Tachibana no Moroe and Fujiwara no Toyonari;
to the minister of the Left, Fujiwara no Nagate; to the second
councillor, Fujiwara no Matate, and to the privy councillors,
Fujiwara no Yoshitsugu, Fujiwara no Momokawa, and Fujiwara no Uwona.
It was with the Fujiwara families that the responsibility rested
chiefly, and the general conduct of the Fujiwara at that period of
history forbids us to construe their apparent indifference in a
wholly bad sense. Probably the simplest explanation is the true one:
Koken herself was a Fujiwara.


In the days of Shomu and Koken administrative abuses were not limited
to the capital, they extended to the provinces also. Among the Daika
and Daiho laws, the first that proved to be a failure was that
relating to provincial governors. At the outset men of ability were
chosen for these important posts, and their term of service was
limited to four years. Soon, however, they began to petition for
reappointment, and under the sway of the Empress Koken a via media
was found by extending the period of office to six years. Moreover,
whereas at first a newly appointed governor was supposed to live in
the official residence of his predecessor, it quickly became the
custom to build a new mansion for the incoming dignitary and leave
the outgoing undisturbed.

What that involved is plain when we observe that such edifices were
all constructed by forced labour. These governors usually possessed
large domains, acquired during their period of office. The Court
endeavoured to check them by despatching inspectors (ansatsu-shi) to
examine and report on current conditions; but that device availed
little. Moreover, the provincial governors exercised the power of
appointing and dismissing the district governors (gunshi) in their
provinces, although this evil system had been prohibited in the time
of Gemmyo. In connexion, too, with the rice collected for public
purposes, there were abuses. This rice, so long as it lay in the
official storehouses, represented so much idle capital. The
provincial governors utilized it by lending the grain to the farmers
in the spring, partly for seed purposes and partly for food, on
condition that it should be paid back in the autumn with fifty per
cent, increment. Subsequently this exorbitant figure was reduced to
thirty per cent. But the result was ruin for many farmers. They had
to hand over their fields and houses or sell themselves into bondage.

Thus, outlaws, living by plunder, became a common feature of the
time, and there arose a need for guards more capable than those
supplied by the system of partial conscription. Hence, in the reign
of Shomu, the sons and brothers of district governors (gunshi)
proficient in archery and equestrianism were summoned from Omi, Ise,
Mino, and Echizen, and to them was assigned the duty of guarding the
public storehouses in the provinces. At the same time many men of
prominence and influence began to organize guards for their private
protection. This was contrary to law, but the condition of the time
seemed to warrant it, and the authorities were powerless to prevent
it. The ultimate supremacy of the military class had its origin in
these circumstances. The Government itself was constrained to
organize special corps for dealing with the brigands and pirates who
infested the country and the coasts.

It has been well said by a Japanese historian that the fortunes of
the Yamato were at their zenith during the reigns of the three
Emperors Jimmu, Temmu, and Mommu. From the beginning of the eighth
century they began to decline. For that decline, Buddhism was largely
responsible. Buddhism gave to Japan a noble creed in the place of a
colourless cult; gave to her art and refinement, but gave to her also
something like financial ruin. The Indian faith spread with wonderful
rapidity among all classes and betrayed them into fanatical
extravagance. Anyone who did not erect or contribute largely to the
erection of a temple or a pagoda was not admitted to the ranks of
humanity. Men readily sacrificed their estates to form temple domains
or to purchase serfs (tera-yakko) to till them. The sublimity of
these edifices; the solemn grandeur of the images enshrined there;
the dazzling and exquisite art lavished on their decoration; the
strange splendour of the whole display might well suggest to the
Japanese the work of some supernatural agencies.

In the Nara epoch, the Government spent fully one-half of its total
income on works of piety. No country except in time of war ever
devoted so much to unproductive expenditures. The enormous quantities
of copper used for casting images not only exhausted the produce of
the mines but also made large inroads upon the currency, hundreds of
thousands of cash being thrown into the melting-pot. In 760 it was
found that the volume of privately coined cash exceeded one-half of
the State income, and under pretext that to suspend the circulation
of such a quantity would embarrass the people, the Government struck
a new coin--the mannen tsuho--which, while not differing appreciably
from the old cash in intrinsic value, was arbitrarily invested with
ten times the latter's purchasing power. The profit to the treasury
was enormous; the disturbance of values and the dislocation of trade
were proportionately great. Twelve years later (772), another
rescript ordered that the new coin should circulate at par with the
old. Such unstable legislation implies a very crude conception of
financial requirements.


It has been shown that the Daika reforms regarded all "wet fields" as
the property of the Crown, while imposing no restriction on the
ownership of uplands, these being counted as belonging to their
reclaimers. Thus, large estates began to fall into private
possession; conspicuously in the case of provincial and district
governors, who were in a position to employ forced labour, and who
frequently abused their powers in defiance of the Daika code and
decrees, where it was enacted that all profits from reclaimed lands
must be shared with the farmers.* So flagrant did these practices
become that, in 767, reclamation was declared to constitute
thereafter no title of ownership. Apparently, however, this veto
proved unpractical, for five years later (772), it was rescinded, the
only condition now attached being that the farmers must not be
distressed. Yet again, in 784, another change of policy has to be
recorded. A decree declared that governors must confine their
agricultural enterprise to public lands, on penalty of being punished
criminally. If the language of this decree be read literally, a very
evil state of affairs would seem to have existed, for the governors
are denounced as wholly indifferent to public rights or interests,
and as neglecting no means of exploiting the farmers. Finally, in
806, the pursuit of productive enterprise by governors in the
provinces was once more sanctioned.

*The term "farmers," as used in the times now under consideration,
must not be interpreted strictly in the modern sense of the word. It
meant, rather, the untitled and the unofficial classes in the

Thus, between 650 and 806, no less than five radical changes of
policy are recorded. It resulted that this vascillating legislation
received very little practical attention. Great landed estates
(shoen) accumulated in private hands throughout the empire, some
owned by nobles, some by temples; and in order to protect their
titles against the interference of the Central Government, the
holders of these estates formed alliances with the great Court nobles
in the capital, so that, in the course of time, a large part of the
land throughout the provinces fell under the control of a few
dominant families.

In the capital (Nara), on the other hand, the enormous sums
squandered upon the building of temples, the casting or carving of
images, and the performance of costly religious ceremonials gradually
produced such a state of impecuniosity that, in 775, a decree was
issued ordering that twenty-five per cent, of the revenues of the
public lands (kugaideri) should be appropriated to increase the
emoluments of the metropolitan officials. This decree spoke of the
latter officials as not having sufficient to stave off cold or
hunger, whereas their provincial confreres were living in opulence,
and added that even men of high rank were not ashamed to apply for
removal to provincial posts. As illustrating the straits to which the
metropolitans were reduced and the price they had to pay for relief,
it is instructive to examine a note found among the contents of the
Shoso-in at Nara.


           Total, 1700 Mon. Monthly interest, 15 per hundred.

    Debtors       Sums lent      Amounts to be returned

Tata no Mushimaro  500 mon  605 mon, on the 6th of the 11th month;
                            namely, original debt, 500 mon, and
                            interest for 1 month and 12 days, 105 mon

Ayabe no Samimaro  700 mon  840 mon, on the 6th of the 11th month;
                            namely, original debt, 700 mon, and
                            interest for 1 month and 10 days, 140 mon

Kiyono no Hitotari 500 mon  605 mon, on the 6th of the 11th month;
                            namely, original debt, 500 mon, and
                            interest for 1 month and 12 days, 105 mon

The above to be paid back when the debtors receive their salaries.
Dated the 22nd of the 9th month of the 4th year of the Hoki era.
(October 13, 773.)

Another note shows a loan of 1000 mon carrying interest at the rate
of 130 mon monthly. The price of accommodation being so onerous, it
is not difficult to infer the costliness of the necessaries of life.
When the Daika reforms were undertaken, the metropolitan magnates
looked down upon their provincial brethren as an inferior order of
beings, but in the closing days of the Nara epoch the situations were
reversed, and the ultimate transfer of administrative power from the
Court to the provincials began to be foreshadowed.


The religious fanaticism of the Emperor Shomu and his consort, Komyo,
brought disorder into the affairs of the Imperial Court, and gave
rise to an abuse not previously recorded, namely, favouritism with
its natural outcome, treasonable ambition. It began to be doubtful
whether the personal administration of the sovereign might not be
productive of danger to the State. Thus, patriotic politicians
conceived a desire not to transfer the sceptre to outside hands but
to find among the scions of the Imperial family some one competent to
save the situation, even though the selection involved violation of
the principle of primogeniture. The death of the Empress Shotoku
without issue and the consequent extinction of the Emperor Temmu's
line furnished an opportunity to these loyal statesmen, and they
availed themselves of it to set Konin upon the throne, as will be
presently described.

In this crisis of the empire's fortunes, the Fujiwara family acted a
leading part. Fuhito, son of the illustrious Kamatari, having
assisted in the compilation of the Daika code and laws, and having
served throughout four reigns--Jito, Mommu, Gemmyo, and Gensho--died
at sixty-two in the post of minister of the Right, and left four
sons, Muchimaro, Fusazaki, Umakai, and Maro. These, establishing
themselves independently, founded the "four houses" of the Fujiwara.
Muchimaro's home, being in the south (nan) of the capital, was called
Nan-ke; Fusazaki's, being in the north (hoku), was termed Hoku-ke;
Umakai's was spoken of as Shiki-ke, since he presided over the
Department of Ceremonies (Shiki), and Maro's went by the name of
Kyo-ke, this term also having reference to his office. The
descendants of the four houses are shown in the following table:

          /            | Toyonari--Tsugunawa
          | Muchimaro <  Nakamaro (Emi no Oshikatsu)
          | (Nan-ke)   | Otomaro--Korekimi
          |            \
          |            /                              /
          |            | Nagate                       | Nagayoshi (Mototsune)
          | Fusazaki  <  Matate--Uchimaro--Fuyutsugu <      adopted
          | (Hoku-ke)  | Kiyokawa                     | Yoshifusa--Mototsune-+
          |            \                              \                      |
          |                                                                  |
          |            /                                                     |
          |            | Hirotsugu                                           |
          | Umakai    <  Yoshitsugu--Tanetsugu-- / Nakanari                  |
          | (Shiki-ke) | --Kiyonari              \ Kusuko                    |
          |            | Momokawa--Otsugu                                    |
Kamatari- |            \                                                     |
Fuhito   <                                                                   |
          |            +-----------------------------------------------------+
          | Maro       |
          | (Kyo-ke)   | Tokihira                /
          | Miyako     | Nakahira  /             | Koretada
          | (Consort   |           | Saneyori    | Kanemichi
          | of Mommu)  | Tadahira <  Morosuke-- <  Kaneiye ----+
          |            |           | Morotada    | Tamemitsu   |
          |            \           \             | Kinsuye     |
          |                                      \             |
          | Asuka                                              |
          | (Empress                                           |
          | of Shomu)                                          |
          \                                                    |
          |            / Korechika
          | Michitaka <
          |            \ Takaiye
          | Michikane
          |            / Yorimichi--Morozane--Moromichi -------+
          | Michinaga <                                        |
          \            \ Norimichi                             |
          |            / Tadamichi
          | Tadazane  <
          |            \ Yorinaga

It has already been related how the four heads of these families all
died in one year (736) during an epidemic of small-pox, but it may be
doubted whether this apparent calamity did not ultimately prove
fortunate, for had these men lived, they would have occupied
commanding positions during the scandalous reign of the Empress Koken
(afterwards Shotoku), and might have supported the ruinous disloyalty
of Nakamaro or the impetuous patriotism of Hirotsugu. However that
may be, the Fujiwara subsequently took the lead in contriving the
selection and enthronement of a monarch competent to stem the evil
tendency of the time, and when the story of the Fujiwara usurpations
comes to be written, we should always remember that it had a long
preface of loyal service, a preface extending to four generations.


When the Empress Shotoku died, no successor had been designated, and
it seemed not unlikely that the country would be thrown into a state
of civil war. The ablest among the princes of the blood was
Shirakabe, grandson of the Emperor Tenchi. He was in his sixty-second
year, had held the post of nagon, and unquestionably possessed
erudition and administrative competence. Fujiwara Momokawa warmly
espoused his cause, but for unrecorded reason Kibi no Makibi offered
opposition. Makibi being then minister of the Right and Momokawa only
a councillor, the former's views must have prevailed had not Momokawa
enlisted the aid of his brother, Yoshitsugu, and of his cousin,
Fujiwara Nagate, minister of the Left. By their united efforts Prince
Shirakabe was proclaimed and became the Emperor Konin, his youngest
son, Osabe, being appointed Prince Imperial.

Konin justified the zeal of his supporters, but his benevolent and
upright reign has been sullied by historical romanticists, who
represent him as party to an unnatural intrigue based on the alleged
licentiousness and shamelessness of his consort, Princess Inokami, a
lady then in her fifty-sixth year with a hitherto blameless record.
Much space has been given to this strange tale by certain annalists,
but its only apparent basis of fact would seem to be that Momokawa,
wishing to secure the succession to Prince Yamabe--afterwards Emperor
Kwammu--compassed the deaths of the Empress Inokami and her son,
Osabe, the heir apparent. They were probably poisoned on the same
day, and stories injurious to the lady's reputation--stories going so
far as to accuse her of attempting the life of the Emperor by
incantation--were circulated in justification of the murder. Certain
it is, however, that to Momokawa's exertions the Emperor Kwammu owed
his accession, as had his father, Konin. Kwammu, known in his days of
priesthood as Yamabe, was Konin's eldest son, and would have been
named Prince Imperial on his father's ascent of the throne had not
his mother, Takano, been deficient in qualifications of lineage. He
had held the posts of president of the University and minister of the
Central Department, and his career, alike in office and on the
throne, bore witness to the wisdom of his supporters.

As illustrating the religious faith of the age, it is noteworthy that
Momokawa, by way of promoting Prince Yamabe's interests, caused a
statue to be made in his likeness, and, enshrining it in the temple
Bonshaku-ji, ordered the priests to offer supplications in its
behalf. The chronicle further relates that after the deaths of the
Empress (Inokami) and her son (Osabe), Momokawa and Emperor Konin
were much troubled by the spirits of the deceased. That kind of
belief in the maleficent as well as in the beneficent powers of the
dead became very prevalent in later times. Momokawa died before the
accession of Kwammu, but to him was largely due the great influence
subsequently wielded by the Fujiwara at Court. It is on record that
Kwammu, speaking in after years to Momokawa's son, Otsugu, recalled
his father's memory with tears, and said that but for Momokawa he
would never have reigned over the empire.

The fact is that the Fujiwara were a natural outcome of the
situation. The Tang systems, which Kamatari, the great founder of the
family, had been chiefly instrumental in introducing, placed in the
hands of the sovereign powers much too extensive to be safely
entrusted to a monarch qualified only by heredity. Comprehending the
logic of their organization, the Chinese made their monarchs' tenure
of authority depend upon the verdict of the nation. But in Japan the
title to the crown being divinely bequeathed, there could be no
question of appeal to a popular tribunal. So long as men like Kotoku,
Tenchi, and Temmu occupied the throne, the Tang polity showed no
flagrant defects. But when the exercise of almost unlimited authority
fell into the hands of a religious fanatic like Shomu, or a
licentious lady like Koken, it became necessary either that the
principle of heredity should be set aside altogether, or that some
method of limited selection should be employed.

It was then that the Fujiwara became a species of electoral college,
not possessing, indeed, any recognized mandate from the nation, yet
acting in the nation's behalf to secure worthy occupants for the
throne. For a time this system worked satisfactorily, but ultimately
it inosculated itself with the views it was designed to nullify, and
the Fujiwara became flagrant abusers of the power handed down to
them. Momokawa's immediate followers were worthy to wear his mantle.
Tanetsugu, Korekimi, Tsugunawa--these are names that deserve to be
printed in letters of gold on the pages of Japan's annals. They
either prompted or presided over the reforms and retrenchments that
marked Kwammu's reign, and personal ambition was never allowed to
interfere with their duty to the State.


Contemporaneously with the rise of the Fujiwara to the highest places
within reach of a subject, an important alteration took place in the
status of Imperial princes. There was no relation of cause and effect
between the two things, but in subsequent times events connected them
intimately. According to the Daika legislation, not only sons of
sovereigns but also their descendants to the fifth generation were
classed as members of the Imperial family and inherited the title of
"Prince" (0). Ranks (hon-i) were granted to them and they often
participated in the management of State affairs. But no salaries were
given to them; they had to support themselves with the proceeds of
sustenance fiefs. The Emperor Kwammu was the first to break away from
this time-honoured usage. He reduced two of his own sons, born of a
non-Imperial lady, from the Kwobetsu class to the Shimbetsu,
conferring on them the uji names of Nagaoka and Yoshimine, and he
followed the same course with several of the Imperial grandsons,
giving them the name of Taira.

Thenceforth, whenever a sovereign's offspring was numerous, it became
customary to group them with the subject class under a family name. A
prince thus reduced received the sixth official rank (roku-i), and
was appointed to a corresponding office in the capital or a province,
promotion following according to his ability and on successfully
passing the examination prescribed for Court officials. Nevertheless,
to be divested of the title of "Prince" did not mean less of princely
prestige. Such nobles were always primi inter pares. The principal
uji thus created were Nagaoka, Yoshimine, Ariwara, Taira, and


Prince Katsurabara was the fifth son of the Emperor Kwammu.
Intelligent, reserved, and a keen student, he is said to have
understood the warnings of history as clearly as its incentives. He
petitioned the Throne that the title of should be exchanged in his
children's case for that of Taira no Asomi (Marquis of Taira). This
request, though several times repeated, was not granted until the
time (889) of his grandson, Takamochi, who became the first Taira no
Asomi and governor of Kazusa province. He was the grandfather of
Masakado and great-grandfather of Tadamori, names celebrated in
Japanese history. For generations the Taira asomi were appointed
generals of the Imperial guards conjointly with the Minamoto, to be
presently spoken of. The name of Taira was conferred also on three
other sons of Kwammu, the Princes Mamta, Kaya, and Nakano, so that
there were four Tairahouses just as there were four Fujiwara.


The Emperor Saga (810) had fifty children. From the sixth son
downwards they were grouped under the uji of Minamoto. All received
appointments to important offices. This precedent was even more
drastically followed in the days of the Emperor Seiwa (859-876). To
all his Majesty's sons, except the Crown Prince, the uji of Minamoto
was given. The best known among these early Minamoto was Tsunemoto,
commonly called Prince Rokuson. He was a grandson of the Emperor
Seiwa, celebrated for two very dissimilar attainments, which,
nevertheless, were often combined in Japan--the art of composing
couplets and the science of commanding troops. Appointed in the
Shohyo era (931-937) to be governor of Musashi, the metropolitan
province of modern Japan, his descendants constituted the principal
among fourteen Minamoto houses. They were called the Seiwa Genji, and
next in importance came the Saga Genji and the Murakami Genji.*

*That is to say, descended from the Emperor Murakami (947-967). Gen
is the Chinese sound of Minamoto and ji (jshi) represents uji. The
Minamoto are alluded to in history as either the Genji or the
Minamoto. Similarly, hei being the Chinese pronunciation of Taira,
the latter are indiscriminately spoken of Taira or Heike (ke =
house). Both names are often combined into Gen-pei.


The imperially descended uji spoken of above, each consisting of
several houses, were grouped according to their names, and each group
was under the supervision of a chief, called uji no choja or uji no
cho. Usually, as has been already stated, the corresponding position
in an ordinary uji was called uji no Kami and belonged to the
first-born of the principal house, irrespective of his official rank.
But in the case of the imperially descended uji, the chief was
selected and nominated by the sovereign with regard to his
administrative post. With the appointment was generally combined that
of Gaku-in no betto, or commissioner of the academies established for
the youths of the uji. The principal of these academies was the
Kwangaku-in of the Fujiwara. Founded by Fujiwara Fuyutsugu,
minister of the Left, in the year 821, and endowed with a substantial
part of his estate in order to afford educational advantages for the
poorer members of the great family, this institution rivalled even
the Imperial University, to be presently spoken of. It was under the
superintendence of a special commissioner (benkwari).

Next in importance was the Shogaku-in of the Minamoto, established by
Ariwara Yukihira in the year 881. Ariwara being a grandson of the
Emperor Saga, a member of the Saga Genji received the nomination of
chief commissioner; but in the year 1140, the minister of the Right,
Masasada, a member of the Murakami Genji, was appointed to the
office, and thenceforth it remained in the hands of that house. Two
other educational institutions were the Junna-in of the O-uji and the
Gakukwan-in of the Tachibana-iyt, the former dating from the year 834
and the latter from 820. It is not on record that there existed any
special school under Taira auspices.


One of the principal duties of local governors from the time of the
Daika reforms was to encourage agriculture. A rescript issued by the
Empress Gensho in the year 715 declared that to enrich the people was
to make the country prosperous, and went on to condemn the practice
of devoting attention to rice culture only and neglecting upland
crops, so that, in the event of a failure of the former, the latter
did not constitute a substitute. It was therefore ordered that barley
and millet should be assiduously grown, and each farmer was required
to lay down two tan (2/3 acre) annually of these upland cereals.
Repeated proclamations during the eighth century bear witness to
official solicitude in this matter, and in 723 there is recorded a
distribution of two koku (nearly ten bushels) of seeds, ten feet of
cotton cloth, and a hoe (kuwa) to each agriculturist throughout the
empire. Such largesse suggests a colossal operation, but, in fact, it
meant little more than the remission of about a year's taxes.
Necessarily, as the population increased, corresponding extension of
the cultivated area became desirable, and already, in the year 722, a
work of reclamation on a grand scale was officially undertaken by
organizing a body of peasants and sending them to bring under culture
a million cho (two and a half million acres) of new land. This
interesting measure is recorded without any details whatever.

Private initiative was also liberally encouraged. An Imperial
rescript promised that any farmer harvesting three thousand koku
(fifteen thousand bushels) of cereals from land reclaimed by himself
should receive the sixth class order of merit (kun roku-to), while a
crop of over a thousand koku and less than three thousand would carry
lifelong exemption from forced labour. The Daika principle that the
land was wholly the property of the Crown had thus to yield partially
to the urgency of the situation, and during the third decade of the
eighth century it was enacted that, if a man reclaimed land by
utilizing aqueducts and reservoirs already in existence, the land
should belong to him for his lifetime, while if the reservoirs and
aqueducts were of his own construction, the right of property should
be valid for three generations.* From the operation of this law the
provincial governors were excepted; the usufruct of lands reclaimed
by them was limited to the term of their tenure of office, though, as
related already, legislation in their case varied greatly from time
to time.

*This system was called Sansei-isshin no ho. It is, perhaps,
advisable to note that the Daika system of dividing the land for
sustenance purposes applied only to land already under cultivation.

For a certain period the system of "three generations, or one life"
worked smoothly enough; but subsequently it was found that as the
limit of time approached, farmers neglected to till the land and
suffered it to lie waste. Therefore, in the year 743, the Government
enacted that all reclaimed land should be counted the perpetual
property of the reclaimer, with one proviso, namely, that three years
of neglect to cultivate should involve confiscation. The recognition
of private ownership was not unlimited. An area of five hundred cho
(1250 acres) was fixed as the superior limit, applicable only to the
case of a "First Class" prince, the quantities being thereafter on a
sliding scale down to ten cho (twenty-five acres). Any excess
resulting from previous accretions was to revert to the State.
Evidently the effective operation of such a system predicated
accurate surveys and strict supervision. Neither of these conditions
existed in Japan at that remote period. The prime purpose of the
legislators was achieved, since the people devoted themselves
assiduously to land reclamation; but by free recourse to their power
of commanding labour, the great families acquired estates largely in
excess of the legal limit. A feature of the Nara epoch was the
endowment of the Buddhist temples with land by men of all classes,
and the sho-en, or temple domain, thus came into existence.


Information on the subject of stock farming is scanty and indirect,
but in the year 713 we find a rescript ordering the provincials of
Yamashiro to provide and maintain fifty milch-cows, and in 734,
permission was given that all the districts in the Tokai-do, the
Tosan-do, and the Sanin-do might trade freely in cattle and horses.
Seven years later (741), when Shomu occupied the throne, and when
Buddhism spread its protecting mantle over all forms of life, an
edict appeared condemning anyone who killed a horse or an ox to be
flogged with a hundred strokes and to be fined heavily. Only one
other reference to stock farming appears in the annals of the Nara
epoch: the abolition of the two pastures at Osumi and Himeshima in
the province of Settsu was decreed in 771, but no reason is recorded.


From the remotest times sericulture was assiduously practised in
Japan, the ladies of the Imperial Court, from the Empress downwards,
taking an active part in the pursuit. The wave of Buddhist zeal which
swept over Japan in the eighth century gave a marked impulse to this
branch of industry, for the rich robes of the priests constituted a
special market.


It is recorded in the Chronicles that Tajimamori, a Korean emigrant
of royal descent, was sent to the "Eternal Land" by the Emperor
Suinin, in the year A.D. 61, to obtain "the fragrant fruit that grows
out of season;" that, after a year's absence, he returned, and
finding the Emperor dead, committed suicide at his tomb. The
"fragrant fruit" is understood to have been the orange, then called
tachibana (Citrus nobilis). If the orange really reached Japan at
that remote date, it does not appear to have been cultivated there,
for the importation of orange trees from China is specially mentioned
as an incident of the early Nara epoch.


One of the unequivocal benefits bestowed on Japan by Buddhism was a
strong industrial and artistic impulse. Architecture made notable
progress owing to the construction of numerous massive and
magnificent temples and pagodas. One of the latter, erected during
the reign of Temmu, had a height of thirteen storeys. The arts of
casting and of sculpture, both in metal and in wood, received great
development, as did also the lacquer industry. Vermilion lacquer was
invented in the time of Temmu, and soon five different colours could
be produced, while to the Nara artisans belongs the inception of
lacquer strewn with makie. Lacquer inlaid with mother-of-pearl was
another beautiful concept of the Nara epoch. A special tint of red
was obtained with powdered coral, and gold and silver were freely
used in leaf or in plates. As yet, history does not find any Japanese
painter worthy of record. Chinese and Korean masters remained supreme
in that branch of art.


Commerce with China and Korea was specially active throughout the
eighth century, and domestic trade also nourished. In the capital
there were two markets where people assembled at noon and dispersed
at sunset. Men and women occupied different sections, and it would
seem that transactions were subject to strict surveillance. Thus, if
any articles of defective quality or adulterated were offered for
sale, they were liable to be confiscated officially, and if a buyer
found that short measure had been given, he was entitled to return
his purchase. Market-rates had to be conformed with, and purchasers
were required to pay promptly. It appears that trees were planted to
serve as shelter or ornament, for we read of "trees in the Market of
the East" and "orange trees in the market of Kaika."


The Buddhist temple, lofty, spacious, with towering tiled roof,
massive pillars and rich decoration of sculpture and painting, could
not fail to impart an impetus to Japanese domestic architecture,
especially as this impressive apparition was not evolved gradually
under the eyes of the nation but was presented to them suddenly in
its complete magnificence. Thus it is recorded that towards the close
of the seventh century, tiled roofs and greater solidity of structure
began to distinguish official buildings, as has been already noted.
But habitations in general remained insignificant and simple. A poem
composed by the Dowager Empress Gensho (724) with reference to the
dwelling of Prince Nagaya is instructive:

   "Hata susuki"          (Thatched with miscanthus)
   "Obana sakafuki"       (And eularia)
   "Kuro-ki mochi"        (Of ebon timbers built, a house)
   "Tsukureru yado wa"    (Will live a myriad years.)
   "Yorozu yo made ni."

This picture of a nobleman's dwelling in the eighth century is not
imposing. In the very same year the Emperor Shomu, responding to an
appeal from the council of State, issued an edict that officials of
the fifth rank and upwards and wealthy commoners should build
residences with tiled roofs and walls plastered in red. This
injunction was only partly obeyed: tiles came into more general use,
but red walls offended the artistic instinct of the Japanese. Nearly
fifty years later, when (767-769) the shrine of Kasuga was erected at
Nara in memory of Kamatari, founder of the Fujiwara family, its
pillars were painted in vermilion, and the fashion inaugurated found
frequent imitation in later years.

Of furniture the houses had very little as compared with Western
customs. Neither chairs nor bedsteads existed; people sat and slept
on the floor, separated from it only by mats made of rice-straw, by
cushions or by woollen carpets, and in aristocratic houses there was
a kind of stool to support the arm of the sitter, a lectern, and a
dais for sitting on. Viands were served on tables a few inches high,
and people sat while eating. From the middle of the seventh century a
clepsydra of Chinese origin was used to mark the hours.

The first of these instruments is recorded to have been made in A.D.
660, and tradition does not tell what device had previously served
the purpose. When temple bells came into existence, the hours were
struck on them for public information, and there is collateral
evidence that some similar system of marking time had been resorted
to from early eras. But the whole story is vague. It seems, however,
that the method of counting the hours was influenced by the manner of
striking them. Whether bronze bell or wooden clapper was used, three
preliminary strokes were given by way of warning, and it therefore
became inexpedient to designate any of the hours "one," "two," or
"three." Accordingly the initial number was four, and the day being
divided into six hours, instead of twelve, the highest number became
nine, which corresponded to the Occidental twelve.*

*There were no subdivisions into minutes and seconds in old Japan.
The only fraction of an hour was one-half.


Concerning the bells here mentioned, they are one of the unexplained
achievements of Japanese casters. In Europe the method of producing a
really fine-toned bell was evolved by "ages of empirical trials," but
in Japan bells of huge size and exquisite note were cast in apparent
defiance of all the rules elaborated with so much difficulty in the
West. One of the most remarkable hangs in the belfry of Todai-ji at
Nara. It was cast in the year 732 when Shomu occupied the throne; it
is 12 feet 9 inches high; 8 feet 10 inches in diameter; 10 inches
thick, and weighs 49 tons. There are great bells also in the temples
at Osaka and Kyoto, and it is to be noted that early Japanese bronze
work was largely tributary and subsidiary to temple worship. Temple
bells, vases, gongs, mirrors and lanterns are the principal items in
this class of metal-working, until a much later period with its
smaller ornaments.

Very few references to road making are found in the ancient annals,
but the reign of the Empress Gensho (715-723) is distinguished as the
time when the Nakasen-do, or Central Mountain road, was constructed.
It runs from Nara to Kyoto and thence to the modern Tokyo, traversing
six provinces en route. Neither history nor tradition tells whether
it was wholly made in the days of Gensho or whether, as seems more
probable, it was only commenced then and carried to completion in the
reign of Shomu (724-748), when a large force of troops had to be sent
northward against the rebellious Yemishi. Doubtless the custom of
changing the capital on the accession of each sovereign had the
effect of calling many roads into existence, but these were of
insignificant length compared with a great trunk highway like the

Along these roads the lower classes travelled on foot; the higher on
horseback, and the highest in carts drawn by bullocks. For
equestrians who carried official permits, relays of horses could
always be obtained at posting stations. Among the ox-carts which
served for carriages, there was a curious type, distinguished by the
fact that between the shafts immediately in front of the dashboard
stood a figure whose outstretched arm perpetually pointed south. This
compass-cart, known as the "south-pointing chariot," was introduced
from China in the year 658. There was also a "cloud-chariot," but
this served for war purposes only, being a movable erection for
overlooking an enemy's defensive work, corresponding to the turris of
Roman warfare. Borrowed also from China was a battering engine which
moved on four wheels, and, like the cloud-chariot, dated from 661,
when a Tang army invaded Korea.


A reader of the Chronicles is struck by the fact that from the close
of the seventh century much official attention seems to have been
bestowed on the subject of costume. Thus, during the last five years
of the Emperor Temmu's reign--namely, from 681--we find no less than
nine sumptuary regulations issued. The first was an edict, containing
ninety-two articles, of which the prologue alone survives, "The
costumes of all, from the princes of the Blood down to the common
people, and the wearing of gold and silver, pearls and jewels,
purple, brocade, embroidery, fine silks, together with woollen
carpets, head-dresses, and girdles, as well as all kinds of coloured
stuffs, are regulated according to a scale, the details of which are
given in the written edict." In the next year (682), another edict
forbids the wearing of caps of rank, aprons, broad girdles, and
leggings by princes or public functionaries, as well as the use of
shoulder-straps or mantillas by palace stewards or ladies-in-waiting.
The shoulder-strap was a mark of manual labour, and its use in the
presence of a superior has always been counted as rude in Japan.

A few days later, this meticulous monarch is found commanding men and
women to tie up their hair, eight months being granted to make the
change, and, at the same time, the practice of women riding astride
on horseback came into vogue, showing that female costume had much in
common with male. Caps of varnished gauze, after the Chinese type,
began to be worn by both sexes simultaneously with the tying-up of
the hair. Two years later, women of forty years or upwards were given
the option of tying up their hair or letting it hang loose, and of
riding astride or side-saddle as they pleased. At the same time, to
both sexes, except on State occasions, liberty of choice was accorded
in the matter of wearing sleeveless jackets fastened in front with
silk cords and tassels, though in the matter of trousers, men had to
gather theirs in at the bottom with a lace. By and by, the tying up
of the hair by women was forbidden in its turn; the wearing of
leggings was sanctioned, and the colours of Court costumes were
strictly determined according to the rank of the wearer red, deep
purple, light purple, dark green, light green, deep grape-colour and
light grape-colour being the order from above downwards.

All this attention to costume is suggestive of much refinement. From
the eighth century even greater care was devoted to the subject. We
find three kinds of habiliments prescribed--full dress (reifuku),
Court dress (chofuku) and uniform (seifuku)--with many minor
distinctions according to the rank of the wearer. Broadly speaking,
the principal garments were a paletot, trousers, and a narrow girdle
tied in front. The sleeves of the paletot were studiously regulated.
A nobleman wore them long enough to cover his hands, and their
width--which in after ages became remarkable--was limited in the Nara
epoch to one foot. The manner of folding the paletot over the breast
seems to have perplexed the legislators for a time. At first they
prescribed that the right should be folded over the left (hidarimae),
but subsequently (719) an Imperial decree ordered that the left
should be laid across the right (migimae), and since that day, nearly
twelve hundred years ago, there has not been any departure from the
latter rule. Court officials carried a baton (shaku), that, too,
being a habit borrowed from China.


When the influence of Buddhism became supreme in Court circles, all
taking of life for purposes of food was interdicted. The first
prohibitory decree in that sense was issued by Temmu (673-686), and
the veto was renewed in more peremptory terms by Shomu (724-748),
while the Empress Shotoku (765-770) went so far as to forbid the
keeping of dogs, falcons, or cormorants for hunting or fishing at
Shinto ceremonials. But such vetoes were never effectually enforced.
The great staple of diet was rice, steamed or boiled, and next in
importance came millet, barley, fish of various kinds (fresh or
salted), seaweed, vegetables, fruit (pears, chestnuts, etc.), and the
flesh of fowl, deer, and wild boar. Salt, bean-sauce, and vinegar
were used for seasoning. There were many kinds of dishes; among the
commonest being soup (atsumono) and a preparation of raw fish in
vinegar (namasu). In the reign of Kotoku (645-654), a Korean named
Zena presented a milch cow to the Court, and from that time milk was
recognized as specially hygienic diet. Thus, when the Daiho laws were
published at the beginning of the eighth century, dairies were
attached to the medical department, and certain provinces received
orders to present butter (gyuraku) for the Court's use.


Very little is known of the marriage ceremony in old Japan. That
there was a nuptial hut is attested by very early annals, and from
the time of the Emperor Richu (400-405) wedding presents are
recorded. But for the rest, history is silent, and it is impossible
to fix the epoch when a set ceremonial began to be observed.

As to funerals, there is fuller but not complete information. That a
mortuary chamber was provided for the corpse pending the preparation
of the tomb is shown by the earliest annals, and from an account,
partly allegorical, contained in the records of the prehistoric age,
we learn that dirges were sung for eight days and eight nights, and
that in the burial procession were marshalled bearers of viands to be
offered at the grave, bearers of brooms to sweep the path, women who
prepared the viands, and a body of hired mourners. But the Kojiki,
describing the same ceremony, speaks of "making merry" with the
object of recalling the dead to life, as the Sun goddess had been
enticed from her cave. From the days of the Emperor Bidatsu
(572-585), we find the first mention of funeral orations, and
although the contents of tombs bear witness to the fact that articles
other than food were offered to the deceased, it is not until the
burial of the Emperor's consort, Katachi, (612) that explicit mention
is made of such a custom. On that occasion Tori, omi of the Abe-uji,
offered to the spirit of the dead "sacred utensils and sacred
garments, fifteen thousand kinds in all." Fifty years later, white is
mentioned as the mourning colour, but when next (683) we hear of
funerals, it is evident that their realm had been invaded by Chinese
customs, for it is recorded that "officials of the third rank were
allowed at their funerals one hearse, forty drums, twenty great
horns, forty little horns, two hundred flags, one metal gong, and one
hand-bell, with lamentation for one day." At Temmu's obsequies (687)
mention is made of an "ornamented chaplet," the first reference to
the use of flowers, which constitute such a prominent feature of
Buddhist obsequies.

But there is no evidence that Buddhist rites were employed at
funerals until the death of the retired Emperor Shomu (756).
Thereafter, the practice became common. It was also to a Buddhist
priest, Dosho, that Japan owed the inception of cremation. Dying in
the year 700, Dosho ordered his disciples to cremate his body at
Kurihara, and, two years later, the Dowager Empress Jito willed that
her corpse should be similarly disposed of. From the megalithic tombs
of old Japan to the little urn that holds the handful of ashes
representing a cremated body, the transition is immense. It has been
shown that one of the signal reforms of the Daika era was the setting
of limits to the size of sepulchres, a measure which afforded to the
lower classes much relief from forced labour. But an edict issued in
706 shows that the tendance of the resting place of the dead was
still regarded as a sacred duty, for the edict ordered that, alike at
the ancestral tombs of the uji and in the residential quarter of the
common people, trees should be planted.

Not yet, however, does the custom of erecting monuments with
inscriptions seem to have come into vogue. The Empress Gemmyo (d.
721) appears to have inaugurated that feature, for she willed not
only that evergreens should be planted at her grave but also that a
tablet should be set up there. Some historians hold that the donning
of special garments by way of mourning had its origin at that time,
and that it was borrowed from the Tang code of etiquette. But the
Chronicles state that in the year A.D. 312, when the Prince Imperial
committed suicide rather than occupy the throne, his brother,
Osasagi, "put on plain unbleached garments and began mourning for
him." White ultimately became the mourning colour, but in the eighth
century it was dark,* and mourning habiliments were called
fuji-koromo, because they were made from the bark of the wisteria
(fuji). Among the Daiho statutes was one providing that periods of
mourning should be of five grades, the longest being one year and the
shortest seven days.

*"On the death of the Emperor Inkyo (A.D. 453), the Korean Court sent
eighty musicians robed in black, who marched in procession to the
Yamato palace, playing and singing a dirge as they went."


Foremost among the pastimes of the Japanese people in all epochs was
dancing. We hear of it in the prehistoric age when the "monkey
female" (Sarume) performed a pantominic dance before the rock cave of
the Sun goddess; we hear of it in protohistoric times when Inkyo's
consort was betrayed into an offer that wrecked her happiness, and we
hear of it in the historic epoch when the future Emperor Kenso danced
in the disguise of a horse-boy. But as the discussion of this subject
belongs more intelligently to the era following the Nara, we confine
ourselves here to noting that even the religious fanatic Shomu is
recorded as having repaired to the Shujaku gate of the palace to
witness a performance of song and dance (utagaki) in which 240
persons, men and women, took part; and that, in the same year (734),
230 members of six great uji performed similarly, all robed in blue
garments fastened in front with long red cords and tassels.

The tendency of the Japanese has always been to accompany their
feasting and merry-making with music, versifying, and dancing. At the
time now under consideration there was the "winding-water fete"
(kyoku-sui no en), when princes, high officials, courtiers, and noble
ladies seated themselves by the banks of a rivulet meandering gently
through some fair park, and launched tiny cups of mulled wine upon
the current, each composing a stanza as the little messenger reached
him, or drinking its contents by way of penalty for lack of poetic
inspiration. There were also the flower festivals--that for the plum
blossoms, that for the iris, and that for the lotus, all of which
were instituted in this same Nara epoch--when the composition of
couplets was quite as important as the viewing of the flowers. There
was, further, the grand New Year's banquet in the Hall of
Tranquillity at the Court, when all officials from the sixth grade
downwards sang a stanza of loyal gratitude, accompanying themselves
on the lute (koto). It was an era of refined effeminate amusements.
Wrestling had now become the pursuit of professionals. Aristocrats
engaged in no rougher pastime than equestrian archery, a species of
football, hawking, and hunting. Everybody gambled. It was in vain
that edicts were issued against dicing (chobo and sugoroku). The vice
defied official restraint.


Having no books of her own, Japan naturally borrowed freely from the
rich mine of Chinese literature. By the tutors of the Imperial
family, at the colleges of the capital, and in the provincial schools
the classics constituted virtually the whole curriculum. The
advantages of education were, however, enjoyed by a comparatively
small element of the population. During the Nara epoch, it does not
appear that there were more than five thousand students attending the
schools and colleges at one time. The aim of instruction was to
prepare men for official posts rather than to impart general culture
or to encourage scientific research. Students were therefore selected
from the aristocrats or the official classes only. There were no
printed books; everything had to be laboriously copied by hand, and
thus the difficulties of learning were much enhanced. To be able to
adapt the Chinese ideographs skilfully to the purposes of written
Japanese was a feat achieved by comparatively few. What the task
involved has been roughly described in the opening chapter of this
volume, and with what measure of success it was achieved may be
estimated from the preface to the Records (Kojiki), written by Ono
Yasumaro, from the Chronicles (Nihon Shoki) and from the Daiho
Ritsu-ryo, which three works may be called the sole surviving prose
essays of the epoch.

Much richer, however, is the realm of poetry. It was during the Nara
epoch that the first Japanese anthology, the Manyo-shu (Collection of
a Myriad Leaves), was compiled. It remains to this day a revered
classic and "a whole mountain of commentary has been devoted to the
elucidation of its obscurities." [Chamberlain.] In the Myriad Leaves
are to be found poems dating nominally from the reigns of Yuryaku and
Nintoku, as well as from the days of Shotoku Taishi, but much more
numerous are those of Jomei's era (629-641) and especially those of
the Nara epoch. The compiler's name is not known certainly; he is
believed to have been either Tachibana no Moroe or Otomo no
Yakamochi. Old manuscripts and popular memory were the sources, and
the verselets total 4496, in twenty volumes. Some make love their
theme; some deal with sorrow; some are allegorical; some draw their
inspiration from nature's beauties, and some have miscellaneous
motives. Hitomaru, who flourished during the reign of the Empress
Jito (690-697), and several of whose verses are to be found in the
Myriad Leaves, has been counted by all generations the greatest of
Japanese poets. Not far below him in fame is Akahito, who wrote in
the days of Shomu (724-749). To the same century--the eighth--as the
Manyo-shu, belongs the Kiraifu-so, & volume containing 120 poems in
Chinese style, composed by sixty-four poets during the reigns of
Temmu, Jito, and Mommu, that is to say, between 673 and 707. Here
again the compiler's name is unknown, but the date of compilation is
clear, November, 751.

From the fact that, while bequeathing to posterity only two national
histories and a few provincial records (the Fudo-ki), the Nara epoch
has left two anthologies, it will be inferred readily that the
writing of poetry was a favourite pursuit in that age. Such, indeed,
was the case. The taste developed almost into a mania. Guests bidden
to a banquet were furnished with writing materials and invited to
spend hours composing versicles on themes set by their hosts. But
skill in writing verse was not merely a social gift; it came near to
being a test of fitness for office.

"In their poetry above everything the Japanese have remained
impervious to alien influences. It owes this conservation to its
prosody. Without rhyme, without variety of metre, without elasticity
of dimensions, it is also without known counterpart. To alter it in
any way would be to deprive it of all distinguishing characteristics.
At some remote date a Japanese maker of songs seems to have
discovered that a peculiar and very fascinating rhythm is produced by
lines containing 5 syllables and 7 syllables alternately. That is
Japanese poetry (uta or tanka). There are generally five lines: the
first and third consisting of 5 syllables, the second, fourth and
fifth of 7, making a total of 31 in all. The number of lines is not
compulsory: sometimes they may reach to thirty, forty or even more,
but the alternation of 5 and 7 syllables is compulsory. The most
attenuated form of all is the hokku (or haikai) which consists of
only three lines, namely, 17 syllables. Necessarily the ideas
embodied in such a narrow vehicle must be fragmentary. Thus it
results that Japanese poems are, for the most part, impressionist;
they suggest a great deal more than they actually express. Here is an

   Momiji-ha wo
   Kaze ni makasete
   Miru yori mo
   Hakanaki mono wa
   Inochi nari keri

This may be translated:

More fleeting than the glint of withered leaf wind-blown, the thing
called life."*

*See Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, article "Japan."

The sketchy nature of Japanese poetry, especially in this five-line
stanza, may be illustrated further by two poems quoted by Prof. B. H.
Chamberlain in his "Things Japanese" (pp. 375-376),

The first:

   Nakitsuru kata wo
   Tada ari-ake no
   Tsuki zo nokoreru

is literally translated by Professor Chamberlain as follows:

"When I gaze towards the place where the cuckoo has been singing,
nought remains but the moon in the early dawn."

And the conventional and pictorial character of the literary form is
illustrated again in the lines:

   Shira-kumo ni
   Hane uchi-kawashi
   Tobu kari no
   Kazu sae miyuru
   Aki no yo no tsuki!

which the same eminent scholar translates: "The moon on an autumn
night making visible the very number of the wild-geese that fly past
with wings intercrossed in the white clouds." It is to be noted that
this last is, to Occidental notions, a mere poetic phrase and not a

Of course, the very exigencies of the case make the three-line stanza
(or hokku), containing only 17 syllables, even more sketchy--hardly
more indeed than a tour de force composed of a limited number of
brush strokes! The Western critic, with his totally different
literary conventions, has difficulty in bringing himself to regard
Japanese verse as a literary form or in thinking of it otherwise than
as an exercise in ingenuity, an Oriental puzzle; and this notion is
heightened by the prevalence of the couplet-composing contests, which
did much to heighten the artificiality of the genre.


There was probably no more shocking sexual vice or irregularity in
the Nara epoch than there had been before nor than there was
afterwards. The only evidence adduced to prove that there was
anything of the sort is the fact that laws were promulgated looking
to the restraint of illicit intercourse. These laws seem to have
accomplished little or nothing and the existence of the laws argues
rather a growing sense of the seriousness of the evil than any sudden
increase in the prevalence of the evil itself. There can be no
question, however, of the wide diffusion of concubinage in this
period. Not morals nor repute nor public opinion, but the wealth and
wishes of each man limited him in his amours of this sort. The
essential of a virtuous woman was that she be faithful to her husband
or lover; no such faithfulness was expected of him. And neither in
the case of man nor woman did the conventions of the period depend at
all on the nature of the relationship between the two. Wives no
longer lived in their fathers' homes after marriage, but the
newly-wedded husband built new rooms for his wife's especial use, so
that, by a fiction such as the Oriental delights in and Occidental
law is not entirely ignorant of, her home was still not his. Before
betrothal, girls were not allowed to call themselves by a family
name. At the betrothal her affianced first bound up in a fillet the
hair that she had formerly worn loose around her face. Even more
symbolical was the custom upon lovers' parting of tying to the
woman's undergarment a string from the man's; this knot was to be
unloosed only when they met again.


At Nara, in Yamato province, near the temple of Todai-ji, a store
house built of wood and called the Shoso-in was constructed in the
Nara epoch, and it still stands housing a remarkable collection of
furniture and ornaments from the Imperial palace. There is some
question whether this collection is truly typical of the period, or
even of the palace of the period; but the presence of many utensils
from China, some from India (often with traces of Greek influence),
and a few from Persia certainly shows the degree of cosmopolitan
culture and elegance there was in the palace at Nara. At the present
day, strangers may visit the collection only by special permission
and only on two days each year; and the museum has always had a
mingled imperial and sacred character. When the power of the
shogunate was at its height, the Shoso-in was never opened except by
orders of the Emperor. Among the contents of this museum are:
polished mirrors with repousse backs, kept in cases lined with
brocaded silk; bronze vases; bronze censers; hicense-boxes made of
Paulownia wood or of Chinese ware; two-edged swords, which were tied
to the girdle, instead of being thrust through it; narrow leather
belts with silver or jade decoration; bamboo flutes; lacquer
writing-cases, etc.



To the Emperor Konin belongs the credit of correcting some flagrant
abuses in provincial administration. There was an inconvenient
outcome of the religious mania which pervaded the upper classes
during the reigns of Shomu and Koken. To meet the expense of building
temples and casting images, men of substance in the provinces were
urged to make contributions of money, cereals, or land, and in return
for this liberality they were granted official posts. It resulted
that no less than thirty-one supernumerary provincial governors were
borne on the roll at one time, and since all these regarded office as
a means of recouping the cost of nomination, taxpayers and persons
liable to the corvée fared ill. In 774, Koken issued an edict that
provincial governors who had held office for five years or upwards
should be dismissed at once, those of shorter terms being allowed to
complete five years and then removed.

Another evil, inaugurated during the reign of Shomu, when faith in
the potency of supernatural influences obsessed men's minds, was
severely dealt with by Konin. Office-seekers resorted to the device
of contriving conflagrations of official property, rewarding the
incendiaries with the plunder, and circulating rumours that these
calamities were visitations of heaven to punish the malpractices of
the provincial governors in whose jurisdictions they occurred. It is
on record that, in several cases, these stories led to the dismissal
of governors and their replacement by their traducers. Konin decreed
that such crimes should be punished by the death of all concerned.
These reforms, supplemented by the removal of many superfluous
officials, earned for Konin such popularity that for the first time
in Japan's history, the sovereign's birthday became a festival*,
thereafter celebrated through all ages.

*Called Tenchosetsu.


It has been shown that compulsory military service was introduced in
689, during the reign of the Empress Jito, one-fourth of all the
able-bodied men in each province being required to serve a fixed time
with the colours. It has also been noted that under the Daiho
legislation the number was increased to one-third. This meant that no
distinction existed between soldier and peasant. The plan worked ill.
No sufficient provision of officers being made, the troops remained
without training, and it frequently happened that, instead of
military exercises, they were required to labour for the enrichment
of a provincial governor.

The system, being thus discredited, fell into abeyance in the year
739, but that it was not abolished is shown by the fact that, in 780,
we find the privy council memorializing the Throne in a sense
unfavourable to the drafting of peasants into the ranks. The memorial
alleged that the men lacked training; that they were physically
unfit; that they busied themselves devising pretexts for evasion;
that their chief function was to perform fatigue-duty for local
governors, and that to send such men into the field of battle would
be to throw away their lives fruitlessly. The council recommended
that indiscriminate conscription of peasants should be replaced by a
system of selection, the choice being limited to men with some
previous training; that the number taken should be in proportion to
the size of the province, and that those not physically robust should
be left to till the land. These recommendations were approved. They
constituted the first step towards complete abolishment of compulsory
service and towards the glorifying of the profession of arms above
that of agriculture. Experience quickly proved, however, that some
more efficient management was necessary in the maritime provinces,
and in 792, Kwammu being then on the throne, an edict abolished the
provincial troops in all regions except those which, by their
proximity to the continent of Asia, were exposed to danger, namely,
Dazai-fu in Kyushu, and in Mutsu, Dewa, and Sado in the north. Some
specially organized force was needed also for extraordinary service
and for guarding official storehouses, offices, and places where
post-bells (suzu) were kept. To that end the system previously
practised during the reign of Shomu (724-749) was reverted to; that
is to say, the most robust among the sons and younger brothers of
provincial governors and local officials were enrolled in corps of
strength varying with the duties to be performed. These were called
kondei or kenji. We learn from the edict that the abuse of employing
soldiers as labourers was still practised, but of course this did not
apply to the kondei.

The tendency of the time was against imposing military service on the
lower classes. During the period 810-820, the forces under the
Dazai-fu jurisdiction, that is to say, in the six provinces of
Chikuzen, Chikugo, Hizen, Higo, Buzen, and Bungo, were reduced from
17,100 to 9000. Dazai-fu and Mutsu being littoral regions, the
conscription system still existed there, but in Mutsu there were not
only heishi, that is to say, local militiamen of the ordinary type
and kenji or kondei, but also chimpei, or guards who were required to
serve at a distance from home. Small farmers, upon whom this duty
devolved, had no choice but to take their wives and children with
them, the family subsisting on the pittance given as rations eked out
by money realized from sales of chattels and garments. Thus, on the
expiration of their service they returned to their native place in a
wholly destitute condition, and sometimes perished of hunger on the
way. In consideration of the hardships of such a system, it was
abolished, and thus the distinction between the soldier and the
peasant received further accentuation.

There is no record as to the exact dimensions of Japan's standing
army in the ninth century, but if we observe that troops were raised
in the eight littoral provinces only--six in the south and two in the
north--and in the island of Sado, and that the total number in the
six southern provinces was only nine thousand, it would seem
reasonable to conclude that the aggregate did not exceed thirty
thousand. There were also the kondei (or kenji), but these, since
they served solely as guards or for special purposes, can scarcely be
counted a part of the standing army. The inference is that whatever
the Yamato race may have been when it set out upon its original
career of conquest, or when, in later eras, it sent great armies to
the Asiatic continent, the close of the fifth cycle after the coming
of Buddhism found the country reduced to a condition of comparative
military weakness. As to that, however, clearer judgment may be
formed in the context of the campaign--to be now spoken of--conducted
by the Yamato against the Yemishi tribes throughout a great part of
the eighth century and the early years of the ninth.


It has been shown that the close of the third decade of the eighth
century saw the capital established at Nara amid conditions of great
refinement, and saw the Court and the aristocracy absorbed in
religious observances, while the provincial governments were, in many
cases, corrupt and inefficient. In the year 724, Nara received news
of an event which illustrated the danger of such a state of affairs.
The Yemishi of the east had risen in arms and killed Koyamaro, warden
of Mutsu. At that time the term "Mutsu" represented a much wider area
than the modern region of the same name: it comprised the five
provinces now distinguished as Iwaki, Iwashiro, Rikuzen, Rikuchu, and
Mutsu--in other words, the whole of the northeastern and northern
littoral of the main island. Similarly, the provinces now called Ugo
and Uzen, which form the northwestern littoral, were comprised in the
single term "Dewa." Nature has separated these two regions, Mutsu and
Dewa, by a formidable chain of mountains, constituting the backbone
of northern Japan. Within Dewa, Mutsu, and the island of Yezo, the
aboriginal Yemishi had been held since Yamato-dake's signal campaign
in the second century A.D., and though not so effectually quelled as
to preclude all danger of insurrection, their potentialities caused
little uneasiness to the Central Government.

But there was no paltering with the situation which arose in 724.
Recourse was immediately had to the Fujiwara, whose position at the
Imperial Court was paramount, and Umakai, grandson of the renowned
Kamatari, set out at the head of thirty thousand men, levied from the
eight Bands provinces, by which term Sagami, Musashi, Awa, Kazusa,
Shimosa, Hitachi, Kotsuke, and Shimotsuke were designated. The
expanded system of conscription established under the Daiho code was
then in force, and thus a large body of troops could easily be
assembled. Umakai's army did not experience any serious resistance.
But neither did it achieve anything signal. Marching by two routes,
it converged on the castle of Taga, a fortress just constructed by
Ono Azumahito, the lord warden of the Eastern Marches. The plan
pursued by the Yamato commanders was to build castles and barriers
along the course of rivers giving access to the interior, as well as
along the coast line. Taga Castle was the first of such works, and,
by the year 767, the programme had been carried in Mutsu as far as
the upper reaches of the Kitakami River,* and in Dewa as far as

*A monument still stands on the site of the old Taga Castle. It was
put up in A.D. 762, and it records that the castle stood fifty miles
from the island of Yezo.

History has nothing further to tell about the Yemishi until the year
774, when they again took up arms, captured one (Mono) of the
Japanese forts and drove out its garrison. Again the eight Bando
provinces were ordered to send levies, and at the head of the army
thus raised a Japanese general penetrated far into Mutsu and
destroyed the Yemishi's chief stronghold. This success was followed
by an aggressive policy on the part of the lord-warden, Ki no
Hirozumi. He extended the chain of forts to Kabe in Dewa, and to
Isawa in Mutsu. This was in 780. But there ensued a strong movement
of reprisal on the part of the Yemishi. Led by Iharu no Atamaro, they
overwhelmed Hirozumi's army, killed the lord-warden himself, and
pushed on to Taga Castle, which they burned, destroying vast stores
of arms and provisions. It was precisely at this time that the State
council, as related above, memorialized the Throne, denouncing the
incompetency of the provincial conscripts and complaining that the
provincial authorities, instead of training the soldiers, used them
for forced labour. The overthrow of the army in Mutsu and the
destruction of Taga Castle justified this memorial.

The Court appointed Fujiwara Tsugunawa to take command of a punitive
expedition, and once again Bando levies converged on the site of the
dismantled castle of Taga. But beyond that point no advance was
essayed, in spite of bitter reproaches from Nara. "In summer," wrote
the Emperor (Konin), "you plead that the grass is too dry; in winter
you allege that bran is too scant. You discourse adroitly but you get
no nearer to the foe." Konin's death followed shortly afterwards, but
his successor, Kwammu, zealously undertook the pursuit of the
campaign. Notice was sent (783) to the provincial authorities
directing them to make preparations and to instruct the people that
an armed expedition was inevitable. News had just been received of
fresh outrages in Dewa. The Yemishi had completely dispersed and
despoiled the inhabitants of two districts, so that it was found
necessary to allot lands to them elsewhere and to erect houses for
their shelter.

The Emperor said in his decree that the barbarian tribes, when
pursued, fled like birds; when unmolested, gathered like ants; that
the conscripts from the Bando provinces were reported to be weak and
unfit for campaigning, and that those skilled in archery and
physically robust stood aloof from military service, forgetting that
they all owed a common duty to their country and their sovereign.
Therefore, his Majesty directed that the sons and younger brothers of
all local officials or provincial magnates should be examined with a
view to the selection of those suited for military service, who
should be enrolled and drilled, to the number of not less than five
hundred and not more than two thousand per province according to its
size. Thus, the eight Bando provinces must have furnished a force of
from four to sixteen thousand men, all belonging to the aristocratic
class. These formed the nucleus of the army. They were supplemented
by 52,800 men, infantry and cavalry, collected from the provinces
along the Eastern Sea (Tokai) and the Eastern Mountains (Tosan). so
that the total force must have aggregated sixty thousand. The command
in chief was conferred on Ki no Kosami, thirteenth in descent from
the renowned Takenouchi-no-Sukune, who had been second in command of
the Fujiwara Tsugunawa expedition nine years previously. A sword was
conferred on him by the Emperor, and he received authority to act on
his own discretion without seeking instructions from the Throne.

Meanwhile, the province of Mutsu had been ordered to send 35,000 koku
(175,000 bushels) of hulled rice to Taga Castle, and the other
provinces adjacent were required to store 23,000 koku (115,000
bushels) of hoshi-i (rice boiled and dried) and salt at the same
place. The troops were to be massed at Taga, and all the provisions
and munitions were collected there by April, 789. These figures are
suggestive of the light in which the Government regarded the affair.
Kosami moved out of Taga at the appointed time and pushed northward.
But with every forward movement the difficulties multiplied. Snow in
those regions lies many feet deep until the end of May, and the thaw
ensuing brings down from the mountains heavy floods which convert the
rivers into raging torrents and the roads into quagmires. On reaching
the bank of the Koromo River, forty-five miles north of Taga, the
troops halted. Their delay provoked much censure in the capital where
the climatic conditions do not appear to have been fully understood
or the transport difficulties appreciated. Urged by the Court to push
on rapidly, Kosami resumed his march in June; failed to preserve
efficient connexion between the parts of his army; had his van
ambushed; fled precipitately himself, and suffered a heavy defeat,
though only 2500 of his big army had come into action. His casualties
were 25 killed, 245 wounded, and 1036 drowned. A truce was effected
and the forces withdrew to Taga, while, as for Kosami, though he
attempted to deceive the Court by a bombastic despatch, he was
recalled and degraded together with all the senior officers of his

It would seem as though this disaster to one comparatively small
section of a force aggregating from fifty to sixty thousand men need
not have finally interrupted the campaign, especially when the enemy
consisted of semi-civilized aborigines. The Government thought
differently, however. There was no idea of abandoning the struggle,
but the programme for its renewal assumed large dimensions, and
events in the capital were not propitious for immediate action. The
training of picked soldiers commenced at once, and the provision of
arms and horses. Kosami's discomfiture took place in 789, and during
the next two years orders were issued for the manufacture of 2000
suits of leather armour and 3000 of iron armour; the making of 34,500
arms, and the preparation of 1 10,000 bushels of hoshi-i. To the
command-in-chief the Emperor (Kwammu) appointed Saka-no-ye no

This selection illustrates a conclusion already proved by the annals,
namely, that racial prejudice had no weight in ancient Japan. For
Tamuramaro was a direct descendant of that Achi no Omi who, as
already related, crossed from China during the Han dynasty and became
naturalized in Japan. His father, Karitamaro, distinguished himself
by reporting the Dokyo intrigue, in the year 770, and received the
post of chief of the palace guards, in which corps his son,
Tamuramaro, thereafter served. Tradition has assigned supernatural
capacities to Tamuramaro, and certainly in respect of personal
prowess no less than strategical talent he was highly gifted. In
June, 794, he invaded Mutsu at the head of a great army and, by a
series of rapidly delivered blows, effectually crushed the
aborigines, taking 457 heads, 100 prisoners, and 85 horses, and
destroying the strongholds of 75 tribes. Thereafter, until the year
of his death (811), he effectually held in check the spirit of
revolt, crushing two other insurrections--in 801 and 804--and
virtually annihilating the insurgents. He transferred the garrison
headquarters from Taga to Isawa, where he erected a castle,
organizing a body of four thousand militia (tonden-hei) to guard it;
and in the following year (803), he built the castle of Shiba at a
point still further north.


Annals of historical repute are confined to the above account. There
is, however, one unexplained feature, which reveals itself to even a
casual reader. In their early opposition to Yamato aggression, the
Yemishi--or Ainu, or Yezo, by whatever name they be called--displayed
no fighting qualities that could be called formidable. Yet now, in
the eighth century, they suddenly show themselves men of such prowess
that the task of subduing them taxes the resources of the Yamato to
the fullest. Some annalists are disposed to seek an explanation of
this discrepancy in climatic and topographical difficulties. Kosami,
in his despatch referring to the Koromo-gawa campaign, explains that
12,440 men had to be constantly employed in transporting provisions
and that the quantity carried by them in twenty-four days did not
exceed eleven days' rations for the troops. The hardship of
campaigning in a country where means of communication were so
defective is easily conjectured, and it has also to be noted that
during only a brief period in summer did the climate of Mutsu permit
taking the field. But these conditions existed equally in the eras of
Yamato-dake and Hirafu. Whatever obstacles they presented in the
eighth century must have been equally potent in the second and in the

Two explanations are offered. They are more or less conjectural. One
is that the Yemishi of Mutsu were led by chieftains of Yamato origin,
men who had migrated to the northeast in search of fortune or
impelled by disaffection. It seems scarcely credible, however, that a
fact so special would have eluded historical reference, whereas only
one passing allusion is made to it and that, too, in a book not fully
credible. The other explanation is that the Yemishi were in league
with hordes of Tatars who had crossed from the mainland of Asia, or
travelled south by the islands of Saghalien and Yezo. The main
evidence in support of this theory is furnished by the names of the
insurgent leaders Akuro-o, Akagashira, and Akahige. Ideographists
point out that the character aku is frequently pronounced o, and with
that reading the name "Akuro-o" becomes "Oro-o," which was the term
used for "Russian." As for "Akagashira" and "Akahige," they frankly
signify "red head" and "red beard," common Japanese names for
foreigners. In a shrine at Suzuka-yama in Ise, to which point the
insurgents pushed southward before Tamuramaro took the field, there
used to be preserved a box, obviously of foreign construction, said
to have been left there by the "Eastern Barbarians;" and in the
Tsugaru district of the modern Mutsu province, relics exist of an
extensive fortress presenting features not Japanese, which is
conjectured to have been the basis of the Tatar invaders. But all
these inferences rest on little more than hypothesis.


What is certain, however, is that a collateral result of these
disturbances was to discredit the great Court nobles--the Otomo, the
Tachibana, the Ki, and the Fujiwara--as leaders of armies, and to lay
the foundation of the military houses (buke) which were destined to
become feudal rulers of Japan in after ages. Ki no Hirozumi, Ki no
Kosami, Otomo Yakamochi, Fujiwara Umakai, and Fujiwara Tsugunawa
having all failed, the Court was compelled to have recourse to the
representatives of a Chinese immigrant family, the Saka-no-ye. By
those who trace the ringer of fate in earthly happenings, it has been
called a dispensation that, at this particular juncture, a descendant
of Achi no Omi should have been a warrior with a height of six feet
nine inches,* eyes of a falcon, a beard like plaited gold-wire, a
frown that terrified wild animals, and a smile that attracted
children. For such is the traditional description of Tamuramaro.
Another incidental issue of the situation was that conspicuous credit
for fighting qualities attached to the troops specially organized in
the Bando (Kwanto) provinces with the sons and younger brothers of
local officials. These became the nucleus of a military class which
ultimately monopolized the profession of arms.

*The height recorded is five feet eight inches, but as that would be
a normal stature, there can be little doubt that "great" (dai)
measure is referred to and that the figures indicate six feet nine


During the eighth century relations of friendship were once more
established with Koma. A Manchurian tribe, migrating from the valley
of the Sungali River (then called the Sumo), settled on the east of
the modern province of Shengking, and was there joined by a remnant
of the Koma subjects after the fall of the latter kingdom. Ultimately
receiving investiture at the hands of the Tang Court, the sovereign
of the colony took the name of Tsuying, King of Pohai, and his son,
Wu-i, sent an envoy to Japan in 727, when Shomu was on the throne.
Where the embassy embarked there is no record, but, being blown out
of their course, the boats finally made the coast of Dewa, where
several of the envoy's suite were killed by the Yemishi. The envoy
himself reached Nara safely, and, representing his sovereign as the
successor of the Koma dynasty, was hospitably received, the usual
interchange of gifts taking place.

Twenty-five years later (752), another envoy arrived. The Empress
Koken then reigned at Nara, and her ministers insisted that, in the
document presented by the ambassador, Pohai must distinctly occupy
towards Japan the relation of vassal to suzerain, such having been
the invariable custom observed by Koma in former times. The
difficulty seems to have been met by substituting the name "Koma" for
"Pohai," thus, by implication, admitting that the new kingdom held
towards Japan the same status as that formerly held by Koma.
Throughout the whole of her subsequent intercourse with the Pohai
kingdom, intercourse which, though exceedingly fitful, lasted for
nearly a century and a half, Japan uniformly insisted upon the
maintenance of that attitude.





JAPANESE history divides itself readily into epochs, and among them
not the least sharply defined is the period of 398 years separating
the transfer of the Imperial palace from Nara to Kyoto (794) and the
establishment of an administrative capital at Kamakura (1192). It is
called the Heian epoch, the term "Heian-jo" (Castle of Peace) having
been given to Kyoto soon after that city became the residence of the
Mikado. The first ruler in the epoch was Kwammu. This monarch, as
already shown, was specially selected by his father, Konin, at the
instance of Fujiwara Momokawa, who observed in the young prince
qualities essential to a ruler of men. Whether Kwammu's career as
Emperor reached the full standard of his promise as prince,
historians are not agreed.

Konin receives a larger meed of praise. His reforms of local abuses
showed at once courage and zeal But he did not reach the root of the
evil, nor did his son Kwammu, though in the matter of intention and
ardour there was nothing to choose between the two. The basic trouble
was arbitrary and unjust oppression of the lower classes by the
upper. These latter, probably educated in part by the be system,
which tended to reduce the worker with his hands to a position of
marked subservience, had learned to regard their own hereditary
privileges as practically unlimited, and to conclude that well nigh
any measure of forced labour was due to them from their inferiors.
Konin could not correct this conception, and neither could Kwammu.
Indeed, in the latter's case, the Throne was specially disqualified
as a source of remonstrance, for the sovereign himself had to make
extravagant demands upon the working classes on account of the
transfer of the capital from Nara to Kyoto. Thus, although Kwammu's
warnings and exhortations were earnest, and his dismissals and
degradations of provincial officials frequent, he failed to achieve
anything radical.


The reign of Kwammu is remarkable for two things: the conquest of the
eastern Yemishi by Tamuramaro and the transfer of the capital from
Nara to Kyoto. Nara is in the province of Yamato; Kyoto, in the
neighbouring province of Yamashiro,* and the two places lie twenty
miles apart as the crow flies. It has been stated that to change the
site of the capital on the accession of a sovereign was a common
custom in Japan prior to the eighth century. In those early days the
term "miyako," though used in the sense of "metropolis," bore chiefly
the meaning "Imperial residence," and to alter its locality did not
originally suggest a national effort. But when Kwammu ascended the
throne, Nara had been the capital during eight reigns, covering a
period of seventy-five years, and had grown into a great city, a
centre alike of religion and of trade. To transfer it involved a
correspondingly signal sacrifice. What was Kwammu's motive? Some have
conjectured a desire to shake off the priestly influences which
permeated the atmosphere of Nara; others, that he found the Yamato
city too small to satisfy his ambitious views or to suit the quickly
developing dimensions and prosperity of the nation. Probably both
explanations are correct. Looking back only a few years, a ruler of
Kwammu's sagacity must have appreciated that religious fanaticism, as
practised at Nara, threatened to overshadow even the Imperial Court,
and that the influence of the foreign creed tended to undermine the
Shinto cult, which constituted the main bulwark of the Throne.

*Previously to becoming the metropolitan province, Yamashiro was
written with ideographs signifying "behind the mountain" (yama no
ushiro), but these were afterwards changed to "mountain castle"

We shall presently see how this latter danger was averted at Kyoto,
and it certainly does not appear extravagant to credit Kwammu with
having promoted that result. At all events, he was not tempted by the
superior advantages of any other site in particular. In 784, when he
adopted the resolve to found a new capital, it was necessary to
determine the place by sending out a search party under his most
trusted minister, Fujiwara Tanetsugu. The choice of Tanetsugu fell,
not upon Kyoto, but upon Nagaoka in the same province. There was no
hesitation. The Emperor trusted Tanetsugu implicitly and appointed
him chief commissioner of the building, which was commenced at once,
a decree being issued that all taxes for the year should be paid at
Nagaoka where also forced labourers were required to assemble and
materials were collected. The Records state that the area of the site
for the new palace measured 152 acres, for which the owners received
compensation amounting to the equivalent of £2580 ($12,550); or an
average of £17 ($82) per acre. The number of people employed is put
at 314,000,* and the fund appropriated, at 680,000 sheaves of rice,
having a value of about £40,800 ($200,000) according to modern

*This does not mean that 314,000 persons were employed
simultaneously, but only that the number of workmen multiplied by the
number of days of work equalled 314,000.

The palace was never finished. While it was still uncompleted, the
Emperor took up his abode there, in the fall of 784, and efforts to
hasten the work were redoubled. But a shocking incident occurred. The
Crown Prince, Sagara, procured the elevation of a member of the Saeki
family to the high post of State councillor (sangi), and having been
impeached for this unprecedented act by Fujiwara Tanetsugu, was
deprived of his title to the throne. Shortly afterwards, the Emperor
repaired to Nara, and during the absence of the Court from Nagaoka,
Prince Sagara compassed the assassination of Tanetsugu. Kwammu
exacted stern vengeance for his favourite minister. He disgraced the
prince and sent him into exile in the island of Awaji, which place he
did not reach alive, as was perhaps designed.


These occurrences moved the Emperor so profoundly that Nagaoka became
intolerable to him. Gradually the work of building was abandoned,
and, in 792, a new site was selected by Wake no Kiyomaro at Uda in
the same province. So many attractions were claimed for this village
that failure to choose it originally becomes difficult to understand.
Imperial decrees eulogized its mountains and rivers, and people
recalled a prediction uttered 170 years previously by Prince Shotoku
that the place would ultimately be selected for the perpetual capital
of the empire. The Tang metropolis, Changan, was taken for model.
Commenced in April, 794, the new metropolis was finished in December,

The city was laid out with mathematical exactness in the form of a
rectangle, nearly three and one-half miles long, from north to south,
and about three miles wide, from east to west. In each direction were
nine principal thoroughfares, those running east and west crossing
the north and south streets at right angles. The east and west
streets were numbered from 1 to 9, and, although the regularity of
structure and plan of the city has been altered by fire and other
causes in eleven hundred years, traces of this early system of
nomenclature are still found in the streets of Kyoto.* Running north
from the centre of the south side was a great avenue, two hundred and
eighty feet wide, which divided the city into two parts, the eastern,
called "the left metropolis" (later Tokyo, "eastern capital"), and
"the right metropolis" (or Saikyo, "western capital"),--the left, as
always in Japan, having precedence over the right, and the direction
being taken not from the southern entrance gate but from the Imperial
palace, to which this great avenue led and which was on the northern
limits of the city and, as the reader will see, at the very centre of
the north wall. Grouped around the palace were government buildings
of the different administrative departments and assembly and audience

*The Kyoto of today is only a remnant of the ancient city; it was
almost wholly destroyed by fire in the Onin war of 1467.

The main streets, which have already been mentioned as connecting the
gates in opposite walls, varied in width from 80 feet to 170 feet.
They divided the city into nine districts, all of the same area
except the ones immediately east of the palace. The subdivisions were
as formal and precise. Each of the nine districts contained four
divisions. Each division was made up of four streets. A street was
made up of four rows, each row containing eight "house-units." The
house-unit was 50 by 100 feet. The main streets in either direction
were crossed at regular intervals by lanes or minor streets, all
meeting at right angles.

The Imperial citadel in the north central part of the city was 4600
feet long (from north to south) and 3840 feet wide, and was
surrounded by a fence roofed with tiles and pierced with three gates
on either side. The palace was roofed with green tiles of Chinese
manufacture and a few private dwellings had roofs made of
slate-coloured tiles, but most of them were shingled. In the earlier
period, it is to be remembered, tiles were used almost exclusively
for temple roofs. The architecture of the new city was in general
very simple and unpretentious. The old canons of Shinto temple
architecture had some influence even in this city built on a Chinese
model. Whatever display or ornament there was, appeared not on the
exterior but in inner rooms, especially those giving on inner court
yards. That these resources were severely taxed, however, cannot be
doubted, especially when we remember that the campaign against the
Yemishi was simultaneously conducted. History relates that
three-fifths of the national revenues were appropriated for the


The fact that the metropolis at Changan was taken for model in
building Kyoto prepares us to find that intercourse with the Middle
Kingdom was frequent and intimate. But although China under the Tang
dynasty in the ninth century presented many industrial, artistic, and
social features of an inspiring and attractive nature, her
administrative methods had begun to fall into disorder, which
discredited them in Japanese eyes. We find, therefore, that although
renowned religionists went from Japan during the reign of Kwammu and
familiarized themselves thoroughly with the Tang civilization, they
did not, on their return, attempt to popularize the political system
of China, but praised only her art, her literature, and certain forms
and conceptions of Buddhism which they found at Changan.


The most celebrated of these religionists were Saicho and
Kukai--immortalized under their posthumous names of Dengyo Daishi and
Kobo Daishi, respectively. The former went to Changan in the train of
the ambassador, Sugawara Kiyokimi, in 802, and the latter accompanied
Fujiwara Kuzunomaro, two years later. Saicho was specially sent to
China by his sovereign to study Buddhism, in order that, on his
return, he might become lord-abbot of a monastery which his Majesty
had caused to be built on Hie-no-yama--subsequently known as
Hiei-zan--a hill on the northeast of the new palace in Kyoto. A
Japanese superstition regarded the northeast as the "Demon's Gate,"
where a barrier must be erected against the ingress of evil
influences. Saicho also brought from China many religious books.

Down to that time the Buddhist doctrine preached in Japan had been of
a very dispiriting nature. It taught that salvation could not be
reached except by efforts continued through three immeasurable
periods of time. But Saicho acquired a new doctrine in China. From
the monastery of Tientai (Japanese, Tendai) he carried back to
Hiei-zan a creed founded on the "Lotus of the Good Law"--a creed that
salvation is at once attainable by a knowledge of the Buddha nature,
and that such knowledge may be acquired by meditation and wisdom.
That was the basic conception, but it underwent some modification at
Japanese hands. It became "a system of Japanese eclecticism, fitting
the disciplinary and meditative methods of the Chinese sage to the
pre-existing foundations of earlier sects."* This is not the place to
discuss details of religious doctrine, but the introduction of the
Tendai belief has historical importance. In the first place, it
illustrates a fact which may be read between the lines of all
Japanese annals, namely, that the Japanese are never blind borrowers
from foreign systems: their habit is "to adapt what they borrow so as
to fit it to what they possess." In the second place, the Tendai
system became the parent of nearly all the great sects subsequently
born in Japan. In the third place, the Buddhas of Contemplation, by
whose aid the meditation of absolute truth is rendered possible,
suggested the idea that they had frequently been incarnated for the
welfare of mankind, and from that theory it was but a short step to
the conviction that "the ancient gods whom the Japanese worshipped
are but manifestations of these same mystical beings, and that the
Buddhist faith had come, not to destroy the native Shinto, but to
embody It into a higher and more universal system. From that moment
the triumph of Buddhism was secured."** It is thus seen that the
visit of Saicho (Dengyo Daishi) to China at the beginning of the
ninth century and the introduction of the Tendai creed into Japan
constitute landmarks in Japanese history.

*Developments of Japanese Buddhism, by the Rev. A. Lloyd. M. A.

**The doctrines that the Shinto deities were incarnations of the
Buddhas of Contemplation (Dhyani) had already been enunciated by
Gyogi but its general acceptance dates from the days of Dengyo
Daishi. The doctrine was called honchi-suishaku.



Contemporary with and even greater in the eyes of his countrymen than
Dengyo Daishi, was Kobo Daishi (known as Kukai during his lifetime).
He, too, visited China as a student of Buddhism, especially to learn
the interpretation of a Sutra which had fallen into his hands in
Japan, and on his return he founded the system of the True Word
(Shingori), which has been practically identified with the Gnosticism
of early Christian days. Kobo Daishi is the most famous of all
Japanese Buddhist teachers; famous alike as a saint, as an artist,
and as a calligraphist. His influence on the intellectual history of
his country was marked, for he not only founded a religious system
which to this day has a multitude of disciples, but he is also said
to have invented, or at any rate to have materially improved, the
Japanese syllabary (hira-gana).


That the disciples of the Shinto cult so readily endorsed a doctrine
which relegated their creed to a subordinate place has suggested
various explanations, but the simplest is the most convincing,
namely, that Shinto possessed no intrinsic power to assert itself in
the presence of a religion like Buddhism. At no period has Shinto
produced a great propagandist. No Japanese sovereign ever thought of
exchanging the tumultuous life of the Throne for the quiet of a
Shinto shrine, nor did Shinto ever become a vehicle for the
transmission of useful knowledge.


With Buddhism, the record is very different. Many of its followers
were inspired by the prospect of using it as a stepping-stone to
preferment rather than as a route to Nirvana. Official posts being
practically monopolized by the aristocratic classes, those born in
lowlier families found little opportunity to win honour and
emoluments. But by embracing a religious career, a man might aspire
to become an abbot or even a tutor to a prince or sovereign. Thus,
learned and clever youths flocked to the portals of the priesthood,
and the Emperor Saga is said to have lamented that the Court nobility
possessed few great and able men, whereas the cloisters abounded in
them. On the other hand, it has been observed with much reason that
as troublers of the people the Buddhist priests were not far behind
the provincial governors. In fact, it fared with Buddhism as it
commonly fares with all human institutions--success begot abuses. The
example of Dokyo exercised a demoralizing influence. The tonsure
became a means of escaping official exactions in the shape of taxes
or forced labour, and the building of temples a device to acquire
property and wealth as well as to evade fiscal burdens. Sometimes the
Buddhist priests lent themselves to the deception of becoming nominal
owners of large estates in order to enable the real owners to escape
taxation. Buddhism in Japan ultimately became a great militant power,
ready at all times to appeal to force.


Heijo, the fifty-first sovereign, was the eldest son of Kwammu. The
latter, warned by the distress that his own great expenditures on
account of the new capital had produced, and fully sensible of the
abuses practised by the provincial officials, urged upon the Crown
Prince the imperative necessity of retrenchment, and Heijo, on
ascending the throne, showed much resolution in discharging
superfluous officials, curtailing all unneeded outlays, and
simplifying administrative procedure. But physical weakness--he was a
confirmed invalid--and the influence of an ambitious woman wrecked
his career. While still Crown Prince, he fixed his affections on
Kusu, daughter of Fujiwara Tanetsugu, who had been assassinated by
Prince Sagara during Kwammu's reign, and when Heijo ascended the
throne, this lady's influence made itself felt within and without the
palace, while her brother, Nakanari, a haughty, headstrong man,
trading on his relationship to her, usurped almost Imperial

Heijo's ill-health, however, compelled him to abdicate after a reign
of only three years. He retired to the old palace at Nara, entrusting
the sceptre to his brother, Saga. This step was profoundly
disappointing to Kusu and her brother. The former aimed at becoming
Empress--she possessed only the title of consort--and Fujiwara
Nakanari looked for the post of prime minister. They persuaded the
ex-Emperor to intimate a desire of reascending the throne. Saga
acquiesced and would have handed over the sceptre, but at the
eleventh hour, Heijo's conscientious scruples, or his prudence,
caused a delay, whereupon Kusu and her brother, becoming desperate,
publicly proclaimed that Heijo wished to transfer the capital to
Nara. Before they could consummate this programme, however, Saga
secured the assistance of Tamuramaro, famous as the conqueror of the
Yemishi, and by his aid Fujiwara Nakanari was seized and thrown into
prison, the lady Kusu being deprived of her rank as consort and
condemned to be banished from Court. Heijo might have bowed to
Nakanari's fate, but Kusu's sentence of degradation and exile
overtaxed his patience. He raised an army and attempted to move to
the eastern provinces. In Mino, his route was intercepted by a force
under Tamuramaro, and the ex-Emperor's troops being shattered, no
recourse offered except to retreat to Nara. Then the Jo-o (Heijo)
took the tonsure, and his consort Kusu committed suicide. Those who
had rallied to the ex-Emperor's standard were banished.


When Heijo ceded the throne to Saga, the former's son, Takaoka, was
nominated Crown Prince, though Saga had sons of his own. Evidently
that step was taken for the purpose of averting precisely such
incidents as those subsequently precipitated by the conspiracy to
restore Heijo. Therefore on the day following Heijo's adoption of the
tonsure, Takaoka was deprived of his rank.* Entering the priesthood,
he called himself Shinnyo, retired to Higashi-dera and studied the
doctrine of the True Word (Shingori). In 836, he proceeded to China
to prosecute his religious researches, and ultimately made his way to
India (in his eighty-first year), where he was killed by a tiger in
the district now known as the Laos States of Siam. This prince is
believed to have been the first Japanese that travelled to India. His
father, the ex-Emperor Heijo, was a student of the same Buddhist
doctrine (Shingon) and received instruction in it from Kukai. Heijo
died in 824, at the age of fifty-one.

*His family was struck off the roll of princes and given the uji of
Ariwara Asomi.


It is memorable in the history of the ninth century that three
brothers occupied the throne in succession, Heijo, Saga, and Junna.
Heijo's abdication was certainly due in part to weak health, but his
subsequent career proves that this reason was not imperative. Saga,
after a most useful reign of thirteen years, stepped down frankly in
favour of his younger brother. There is no valid reason to endorse
the view of some historians that these acts of self-effacement were
inspired by an indolent distaste for the cares of kingship. Neither
Heijo nor Saga shrank from duty in any form. During his brief tenure
of power the former unflinchingly effected reforms of the most
distasteful kind, as the dismissal of superfluous officials and the
curtailing of expenses; and the latter's reign was distinguished by
much useful legislation and organization. Heijo's abdication seems to
have been due to genuine solicitude for the good of the State, and
Saga's to a sense of reluctance to be outdone in magnanimity.
Reciprocity of moral obligation (giri) has been a canon of Japanese
conduct in all ages.


One of the earliest acts of Saga's reign was to establish the office
of Court councillor (sangi) definitely and to determine the number of
these officials at eight. The post of sangi had been instituted more
than a century previously, but its occupants had neither fixed
function, rank, nor number: they merely gave fortuitous advice about
political affairs. Another office, dating from the same time (810),
was that of kurando (called also kurodo). This seems to have been
mainly a product of the political situation. At the palace of the
retired Emperor in Nara--the Inchu, as it was called--the ambitious
Fujiwara Nakanari and the Imperial consort, Kusu, were arrogating a
large share of administrative and judicial business, and were
flagrantly abusing their usurped authority. Saga did not know whom to
trust. He feared that the council of State (Dajo-kwan) might include
some traitors to his cause, and he therefore instituted a special
office to be the depository of all secret documents, to adjudicate
suits at law, to promulgate Imperial rescripts and decrees, to act as
a kind of palace cabinet, and to have charge of all supplies for the
Court. Ultimately this last function became the most important of the
kurando's duties.


It has already been explained that the Daiho legislators, at the
beginning of the eighth century, having enacted a code (ryo) and a
penal law (ritsu), supplemented these with a body of official rules
(kyaku) and operative regulations (shiki). The necessity of revising
these rules and regulations was appreciated by the Emperor Kwammu,
but he did not live to witness the completion of the work, which he
had entrusted to the sa-daijin, Fujiwara Uchimaro, and others. The
task was therefore re-approached by a committee of which the
dainagon, Fujiwara Fuyutsugu, was president, under orders from the
Emperor Saga. Ten volumes of the rules and forty of the regulations
were issued in 819, the former being a collection of all rescripts
and decrees issued since the first year of Daiho (701), and the
latter a synopsis of instructions given by various high officials and
proved by practice since the same date. Here, then, was a
sufficiently precise and comprehensive body of administrative guides.
But men competent to utilize them were not readily forthcoming. The
provincial governors and even the metropolitan officials, chosen from
among men whose qualifications were generally limited to literary
ability or aristocratic influence, showed themselves incapable of
dealing with the lawless conditions existing in their districts.

This state of affairs had been noticeable ever since the reign of
Shomu (724-749), but not until the time of Saga was a remedy devised.
It took the form of organizing a body of men called kebiishi, upon
whom devolved the duty of pursuing and arresting lawbreakers. At
first this measure was on a small scale and of a tentative character.
But its results proved so satisfactory that the system was extended
from the capital to the provinces, and, in 830, a Kebiishi-cho (Board
of Kebiishi) was duly formed, the number and duties of its staff
being definitely fixed four years later. The importance attaching to
the post of chief of this board is attested by the fact that only the
emon no Kami or the hyoye no Kami* was eligible originally, the bushi
(military men) in the hereditary service of these high dignitaries
being entrusted--under the name of tsuiho-shi--with the duty of
enforcing the law against all violators. Ultimately the judicial
functions hitherto discharged by the Efu (Guard Office), the
Danjo-dai (Police Board) and the Gyobu-sho (Department of Justice)
were all transferred to the Kebiishi-cho, and the latter's orders
ranked next to Imperial decrees.

*Three corps of military guards formed part of the organization. The
senior corps were the Imperial guards (konoe): then came the military
guards (hyoye) and then the gate-guards (yemon). Each was divided
into two battalions; a battalion of the Left and a battalion of the
Right. Then there were the sa-konye and the u-konye, the sa-hyoye and
the u-hyoye, the sa-yemon and the u-yemon. These six offices were
known as roku-yefu, and the officer in chief command of each corps
was a kami.

These kebiishi and tsuiho-shi have historical importance. They
represent the unequivocal beginning of the military class which was
destined ultimately to impose its sway over the whole of Japan. Their
institution was also a distinct step towards transferring the conduct
of affairs, both military and civil, from the direct control of the
sovereign to the hands of officialdom. The Emperor's power now began
to cease to be initiative and to be limited to sanction or veto. The
Kurando-dokoro was the precursor of the kwampaku; the Kebiishi-cho,
of the so-tsuihoshi.


Fujiwara Fuyutsugu, who, as mentioned above, took such an important
part in the legislation of his era, may be adduced as illustrating
the error of the too common assertion that because the Fujiwara
nobles abused their opportunities in the later centuries of the Heian
epoch, the great family's services to its country were small.
Fujiwara Fuyutsugu was at once a statesman, a legislator, an
historian, and a soldier. Serving the State loyally and assiduously,
he reached the rank of first minister (sa-daijiri) though he died at
the early age of fifty-two, and it is beyond question that to his
ability must be attributed a large measure of the success achieved by
his Imperial master, Saga. The story of his private life may be
gathered from the fact that he established and richly endowed an
asylum for the relief of his indigent relatives; a college (the
Kwangaku-iri) for the education of Fujiwara youths, and an uji-tera
(Nanyen-do) at Nara for soliciting heaven's blessing on all that bore
his name.


An interesting episode of Saga's reign was the compilation of a
record of all the uji (family names). Originally the right to use a
family name had been guarded as carefully as is a title of nobility
in Europe. The uji was, in truth, a hereditary title. But, as has
been occasionally noted in these pages, an uji was from time to time
bestowed on families of aliens, and thus, in the course of ages,
confusion gradually arose. From the middle of the eighth century,
efforts to compile a trustworthy record were made, and in Kwammu's
reign a genealogical bureau (kankei-jo) was actually organized, its
labours resulting in a catalogue of titles (seishi mokuroku). This
proved defective, however, as did a subsequent effort in Heijo's
time. Finally, the Emperor Saga entrusted the task to Prince Mamta,
who, with a large staff of assistants, laboured for ten years, and,
in 814, produced the Seishi-roku (Record of Uji) in thirty volumes.
Though not absolutely exhaustive, this great work remained a classic
down to modern times. It divided into three classes the whole body of
uji--1182--enrolled in its pages: namely, Kwobetsu, or those of
Imperial lineage; Shimbetsu, or those descended from the Kami, and
Bambetsu, or those of alien origin (Chinese or Korean). A few who
could not be clearly traced were placed in a "miscellaneous list."
This paragraph of history suggests the quality of Japanese
civilization in the ninth century.



Junna was Kwammu's third son. He ascended the throne on the
abdication of his elder brother, Saga, and he himself abdicated in
favour of the latter's son, Nimmyo, nine years later. Junna's reign
is not remarkable for any achievement. No special legislation was
inaugurated nor any campaign against abuses undertaken. The three
brothers, Heijo, Saga, and Junna, may be said to have devoted
paramount attention to the study of Chinese literature. History
refuses, however, to connect this industry with a desire for ethical
instruction. Their efforts are said to have been limited to the
tracing of ideographs and the composition of verselets. A perfectly
formed ideograph possesses in Japanese eyes many of the qualities
that commend a pictorial masterpiece to Western appreciation. Saga
achieved the distinction of being reckoned among the "Three Penmen"
of his era,* and he carried his enthusiasm so far as to require that
all the scions of the aristocracy should be instructed in the Chinese
classics. Junna had less ability, but his admiration was not less
profound for a fine specimen of script or a deftly turned couplet. It
is, nevertheless, difficult to believe that these enthusiasts
confined themselves to the superficialities of Chinese learning. The
illustrations of altruism which they furnished by abdicating in one
another's favour may well have been inspired by perusing the writings
of Confucius.** However that may be, the reign of Junna, though not
subjectively distinguished, forms a landmark in Japanese history as
the period which closed the independent exercise of sovereign
authority. When Junna laid down the sceptre, it may be said, as we
shall presently see, to have been taken up by the Fujiwara.

*The other two were Kobo Daishi, and Tachibana Hayanari.

**Vide the remarks of the Chinese sage on Tai-pei, Chou-kung,
Wen-wang, and Wu-wang.





54th Sovereign, Nimmyo    A.D. 834-850

55th     "      Montoku        851-858

56th     "      Seiwa          859-876

57th     "      Yozei          877-884

58th     "      Koko           885-887

59th     "      Uda            888-897

60th     "      Daigo          898-930


THE events that now occurred require to be prefaced by a table:

           | Heijo
           | Saga--Nimmyo (m. Jun,  / Prince Michiyasu
           | daughter of           <  (Emperor Montoku)
   Kwammu <  Fujiwara Fuyutsugu)    \
           |                        /
           | Junna (m. Masa,       <  Prince Tsunesada
           | daughter of Saga)      \

In the year 834, Junna abdicated in favour of his elder brother
Saga's second son, who is known in history as Emperor Nimmyo. The
latter was married to Jun, daughter of Fujiwara Fuyutsugu, and had a
son, Prince Michiyasu. But, in consideration of the fact that Junna
had handed over the sceptre to Nimmyo, Nimmyo, in turn, set aside the
claim of his own son, Michiyasu, and conferred the dignity of Prince
Imperial on Prince Tsunesada, Junna's son. A double debt of gratitude
was thus paid, for Tsunesada was not only Junna's son but also Saga's
grandson, and thus the abdications of Saga and Junna were both
compensated. The new Prince Imperial, however, being a man of much
sagacity, foresaw trouble if he consented to supplant Nimmyo's son.
He struggled to avoid the nomination, but finally yielded to the
wishes of his father and his grandfather.

While these two ex-Emperors lived, things moved smoothly, to all
appearances. On their demise trouble arose immediately. The Fujiwara
family perceived its opportunity and decided to profit by it.
Fujiwara Fuyutsugu had died, and it chanced that his son Yoshifusa
was a man of boundless ambition. By him and his partisans a slander
was framed to the effect that the Crown Prince, Tsunesada, harboured
rebellious designs, and the Emperor, believing the story--having, it
is said, a disposition to believe it--pronounced sentence of exile
against Prince Tsunesada, as well as his friends, the celebrated
scholar, Tachibana no Hayanari, and the able statesman, Tomo no
Kowamine, together with a number of others. It is recorded that the
sympathy of the people was with the exiles.

These things happened in the year 843. The Fujiwara sought a
precedent in the action of their renowned ancestor, Momokawa, who, in
772, contrived the degradation and death of the Crown Prince Osabe on
a charge of sorcery But Momokawa acted from motives of pure
patriotism, whereas Yoshifusa worked in the Fujiwara interests only.
This, in fact, was the first step towards the transfer of
administrative power from the Throne to the Fujiwara.


Another table may be consulted with advantage:

   Emperor Heijo--Prince Aho--Ariwara no Narihira  |
                 /                                 |
                 |            Aritsune--a daughter |
                 |                                 /
   Ki no Natora <                    \
                 | Shizu--a daughter  |
                 \                    |
                                       > Prince Koretaka
          Emperor Montoku             |
                   Emperor Montoku               |
                      \                           > Prince Korehito
   Fujiwara Yoshifusa |                          |  (Emperor Seiwa)
   Princess Kiyo       >  Aki (Empress Somedono) |
   (daughter of Saga) |                          /

In the year 851, the Emperor Montoku ascended the throne, and
Fujiwara Yoshifusa was appointed minister of the Right. Yoshifusa
married Princess Kiyo, daughter of the Emperor Saga. She had been
given the uji of Minamoto in order to legalize this union, and she
bore to Yoshifusa a daughter who became Montoku's Empress under the
name of Somedono. By her, Montoku had a son, Prince Korehito, whose
chance of succeeding to the crown should have been very slender since
he had three half-brothers, the oldest of whom, Prince Koretaka, had
already attained his fourth year at the time of Korehito's birth, and
was his father's favourite. In fact, Montoku would certainly have
nominated Koretaka to be Prince Imperial had he not feared to offend
the Fujiwara. These let it be seen very plainly what they designed.
The baby, Korehito, was taken from the palace into Yoshifusa's
mansion, and when only nine months old was nominated Crown Prince.
The event enriched Japanese literature. For Montoku's first born,
Prince Koretaka, seeing himself deprived of his birthright, went into
seclusion in Ono at the foot of Mount Hiei, and there, in the shadow
of the great Tendai monastery, devoted his days to composing
verselets. In that pastime he was frequently joined by Ariwara no
Narihira, who, as a grandson of the Emperor Heijo, possessed a title
to the succession more valid than even that of the disappointed
Koretaka. In the celebrated Japanese anthology, the Kokin-shu,
compiled at the beginning of the tenth century, there are found
several couplets from the pens of Koretaka and Narihira.


It was in the days of Fujiwara Yoshifusa that the descendants of
Kamatari first assumed the role of kingmakers. Yoshifusa obtained the
position of minister of the Right on the accession of Montoku (851),
and, six years later, he was appointed chancellor of the empire (dajo
daijin) in the sequel of the intrigues which had procured for his own
grandson (Korehito) the nomination of Prince Imperial. The latter,
known in history as the Emperor Seiwa, ascended the throne in the
year 859. He was then a child of nine, and naturally the whole duty
of administration devolved upon the chancellor. This situation fell
short of the Fujiwara leader's ideal in nomenclature only. There had
been many "chancellors" but few "regents" (sessho). In fact, the
office of regent had always been practically confined to princes of
the Blood, and the qualifications for holding it were prescribed in
very high terms by the Daiho statutes. Yoshifusa did not possess any
of the qualifications, but he wielded power sufficient to dispense
with them, and, in the year 866, he celebrated the Emperor's
attainment of his majority by having himself named sessho. The
appointment carried with it a sustenance fief of three thousand
houses; the privilege of being constantly attended by squadrons of
the Right and Left Imperial guards, and the honour of receiving the
allowances and the treatment of the Sangu, that is to say, of an
Empress, a Dowager Empress, or a Grand Dowager Empress. Husband of an
Empress, father of an Empress Dowager, grandfather of a reigning
Emperor, chancellor of the empire, and a regent--a subject could
climb no higher. Yoshifusa died in 872 at the age of sixty-eight.
Having no son of his own, he adopted his nephew, Mototsune, son of
Fujiwara Nagara.


Seiwa abdicated in 876, at the age of twenty-seven. Some historians
ascribe his abdication to a sentiment of remorse. He had ascended the
throne in despite of the superior claims of his elder brother,
Koretaka, and the usurpation weighed heavily on his conscience. It is
at least credible that since, in taking the sceptre he obeyed the
dictates of the Fujiwara, so in laying it down he followed the same
guidance. We cannot be sure as to the exact date when the great
family's policy of boy-sovereigns first took definite shape, but the
annals seem to show that Yoshifusa conceived the programme and that
his adopted son, Mototsune, carried it out. A halo rests on Seiwa's
head for the sake of his memorable descendants, the Minamoto chiefs,
Yoritomo, Takauji, and Ieyasu. Heaven is supposed to have compensated
the brevity of his own tenure of power by the overwhelming share that
his posterity enjoyed in the administration of the empire.

But Seiwa was undoubtedly a good man as well as a zealous sovereign.
One episode in his career deserves attention as illustrating the
customs of the era. Mention has already been made of Ariwara no
Narihira, a grandson of the Emperor Heijo and one of the most
renowned among Japanese poets. He was a man of singular beauty, and
his literary attainments, combined with the melancholy that marked
his life of ignored rights, made him a specially interesting figure.
He won the love of Taka, younger sister of Fujiwara Mototsune and
niece of Yoshifusa. Their liaison was not hidden. But Yoshifusa, in
default of a child of his own, was just then seeking some Fujiwara
maiden suitable to be the consort of the young Emperor, Seiwa, in
pursuance of the newly conceived policy of building the Fujiwara
power on the influence of the ladies' apartments in the palace. Taka
possessed all the necessary qualifications. In another age the
obstacle of her blemished purity must have proved fatal. Yoshifusa's
audacity, however, was as limitless as his authority. He ordered the
poet prince to cut his hair and go eastward in expiation of the crime
of seeking to win Taka's affections, and having thus officially
rehabilitated her reputation, he introduced her into the household of
the Empress Dowager, his own daughter, through whose connivance the
lady soon found her way to the young Emperor's chamber and became the
mother of his successor, Yozei.

Nor was this all. Though only a Fujiwara, and a soiled Fujiwara at
that, Taka was subsequently raised to the rank of Empress.
Ultimately, when Empress Dowager, her name was coupled with that of
the priest Zenyu of Toko-ji, as the Empress Koken's had been with
that of Dokyo, a hundred years previously, and she suffered
deprivation of Imperial rank. As for Narihira, after a few years he
was allowed to return from exile, but finding that all his hopes of
preferment were vain, he abandoned himself to a life of indolence and
debauchery. His name, however, will always stand next to those of
Hitomaro and Akahito on the roll of Japanese poets.



The fifty-seventh sovereign was Yozei, offspring of the Emperor
Seiwa's union with the lady Taka. He ascended the throne in the year
877, at the age of ten, and Fujiwara Mototsune--Yoshifusa had died
five years previously--became regent (sessho), holding also the post
of chancellor (dajo-daijin). When Yozei was approaching his
seventeenth year he was overtaken by an illness which left him a
lunatic. It is related that he behaved in an extraordinary manner. He
set dogs and monkeys to fight and then slaughtered them; he fed toads
to snakes, and finally compelling a man lo ascend a tree, he stabbed
him among the branches. The regent decided that he must be dethroned,
and a council of State was convened to consider the matter. There had
never been an example of an act so sacrilegious as the deposition of
an Emperor at the dictate of his subjects. The ministers hesitated.
Then one of the Fujiwara magnates (Morokuzu) loudly proclaimed
that anyone dissenting from the chancellor's proposal would have
to answer for his contumacy. Thereafter, no one hesitated--so
overshadowing was the power of the Fujiwara. When carried to a
special palace--thenceforth called Yozei-in--and informed that he
had been dethroned for killing a man, the young Emperor burst into a
flood of tears.

No hesitation was shown in appointing Yozei's successor. Prince
Tokiyasu, son of the Emperor Nimmyo, satisfied all the requirements.
His mother, a daughter of Fujiwara Tsugunawa, was Mototsune's
maternal aunt, and the Prince himself, already in his fifty-fifth
year, had a son, Sadami, who was married to the daughter of Fujiwara
Takafuji, a close relation to Mototsune. There can be no doubt that
the latter had the whole programme in view when he proposed the
dethronement of Yozei. Shortly after his accession, Prince
Tokiyasu--known in history as the Emperor Koko--fell ill, and at
Mototsune's instance the sovereign's third son (Sadami) was nominated
Prince Imperial. He succeeded to the throne as Emperor Uda on the
death of his father, which occurred (887) after a reign of two years.

This event saw fresh extension of the Fujiwara's power. Uda was
twenty-two years of age when he received the sceptre, but recognizing
that he owed his elevation to Mototsune's influence and that his
prospects of a peaceful reign depended upon retaining the Fujiwara's
favour, his first act was to decree that the administration should be
carried on wholly by the chancellor, the latter merely reporting to
the Throne. This involved the exercise of power hitherto
unprecedented. To meet the situation a new office had to be created,
namely, that of kwampaku. The actual duties of this post were those
of regent to a sovereign who had attained his majority, whereas
sessho signified regent to a minor. Hence the kwampaku was obviously
the more honourable office, since its incumbent officiated in lieu of
an Emperor of mature years. Accordingly, the kwampaku--or mayor of
the palace, as the term is usually translated--took precedence of all
other officials. A subject could rise no higher without ceasing to
yield allegiance. As Mototsune was the first kwampaku, he has been
called the most ambitious and the least scrupulous of the Fujiwara.
But Mototsune merely stood at the pinnacle of an edifice, to the
building of which many had contributed, and among those builders not
a few fully deserved all they achieved. The names of such members of
the Fujiwara family as Mimori, Otsugu, Yoshino, Sadanushi, Nagara,
Yoshisuke, and Yasunori, who wrought and ruled in the period from
Heijo and Saga to Montoku and Seiwa, might justly stand high in any

*The office of Kwampaku was continued from the time of its creation,
882, to 1868.


The Emperor Uda, as already stated, owed everything to the Fujiwara.
He himself did not possess even the claim of primogeniture, since he
was the third among several sons, and he had stepped out of the ranks
of the Imperial princes by accepting a family name. His decree
conferring administrative autocracy on Mototsune was thus a natural
expression of gratitude.

Yet this very document proved a source of serious trouble. It was
drafted by Tachibana Hiromi, a ripe scholar, whose family stood as
high on the aristocratic roll as did that of the Fujiwara themselves.
At that time literary attainments conferred immense prestige in
Kyoto. To be skilled in calligraphy; to be well versed in the
classics; to be capable of composing a sonorous decree or devising a
graceful couplet--such accomplishments constituted a passport not
only to high office but even to the love of women. Tachibana Hiromi
was one of the leading literati of his era. He rendered into most
academical terms the Emperor's intentions towards Mototsune. From
time immemorial it has always been a canon of Japanese etiquette not
to receive anything with avidity. Mototsune declined the rescript;
the Emperor directed Hiromi to re-write it. Thus far the procedure
had been normal. But Hiromi's second draft ran thus: "You have toiled
for the welfare of the country. You have aided me in accordance with
the late sovereign's will. You are the chief servant of the empire,
not my vassal. You will henceforth discharge the duties of ako." This
term "ako" occurs in Chinese history. It signifies "reliance on
equity," a name given by an early Emperor to the administration of
the sage, I Yin. Hiromi inserted it solely to impart a classical
flavour to the decree and in all good faith.

But Fujiwara Sukeyo, a rival literatus who possessed the confidence
of Mototsune, persuaded the latter that the epithet "ako" could not
apply to the discharge of active duties. What followed was
characteristic. Mototsune caused a number of horses to be let loose
in the city, his explanation being that, as he had no official
functions to discharge, neither had he any need of horses. Naturally
a number of horses running wild in the streets of the capital caused
confusion which soon came to the notice of the palace. The Emperor at
once convoked a meeting of literati to discuss the matter, but these
hesitated so long between their scholarly convictions and their
political apprehensions that, for several months, a state of
administrative anarchy prevailed, and the Emperor recorded in his
diary a lament over the corruption of the age. At last, by the advice
of the minister of the Left, Minamoto Toru, his Majesty sacrificed
Hiromi. A third decree was drafted, laying the blame on Hiromi's
shoulders, and Mototsune graciously consented to resume the duties of
the first subject in the empire. Just forty-five years previously,
Hayanari, another illustrious scholar of the Tachibana family, had
been among the victims of the false charge preferred against the
Crown Prince, Tsunesada, by the Fujiwara partisans. Mototsune may
well have been desirous of removing from the immediate neighbourhood
of the throne the representative of a family having such a cause of
umbrage against the Fujiwara.

At the same time, it is only just to note that he found ready
coadjutors among the jealous schoolmen of the time. Rival colleges,
rival academies, and rival literati quarrelled with all the rancour
of medieval Europe. The great luminaries of the era were Sugawara
Michizane, Ki no Haseo, Koze no Fumio, Miyoshi Kiyotsura, and
Tachibana Hiromi. There was little mutual recognition of talent.
Kiyotsura abused Haseo as a pundit inferior to any of his
predecessors. Michizane ridiculed Fumio's panegyric of Kiyotsura, The
pupils of these men endorsed their teachers' verdicts. Ajnong them
all, Tachibana Hiromi occupied the most important position until the
day of his downfall. He practically managed the affairs of the Court
under Yozei, Koko, and Uda. Fujiwara Sukeyo, a greatly inferior
scholar, served as his subordinate, and was the willing tool in
contriving his degradation. It did not cause the Fujiwara any serious
concern that in compassing the ruin of Hiromi, they effectually
alienated the sympathies of the sovereign.


It may be supposed that in an era when Chinese literati attracted so
much attention, visits to the Middle Kingdom were frequent. But from
the closing years of the eighth century, the great Tang dynasty began
to fall into disorder, and the embassies sent from Japan reported a
discouraging state of affairs. The last of these embassies
(kento-shi) was in the year 838. It had long ceased to take the
overland route via Liaoyang; the envoys' vessels were obliged to go
by long sea, and the dangers were so great that to be named for this
duty was regarded with consternation. In Uda's reign a project was
formed to appoint Sugawara Michizane as kento-shi, and Ki no Haseo as
his lieutenant. There is reason to think that this suggestion came
from Michizane's enemies who wished to remove him from a scene where
his presence threatened to become embarrassing. The course Michizane
adopted at this crisis showed moral courage, whatever may be thought
of its expediency. He memorialized the Throne in the sense that the
dangers of the journey were not compensated by its results. The
memorial was approved. Since the days of the Empress Suiko, when the
first kento-shi was despatched by Prince Shotoku, 294 years had
elapsed, and by some critics the abandonment of the custom has been
condemned. But it is certain that China in the ninth century had
little to teach Japan in the matter of either material or moral


The Emperor Uda not only possessed great literary knowledge but was
also deeply sensible of the abuse that had grown out of the virtual
usurpation of administrative authority by one family. As illustrating
his desire to extend the circle of the Throne's servants and to
enlist erudite men into the service of the State, it is recorded that
he caused the interior of the palace to be decorated* with portraits
of renowned statesmen and literati from the annals of China. Fate
seemed disposed to assist his design, for, in the year 891, the
all-powerful Fujiwara Mototsune died, leaving three sons, Tokihira,
Nakahira, and Tadahira, the eldest of whom was only twenty-one.
During the life of Mototsune, to whom the Emperor owed everything, it
would not have been politically or morally possible to contrive any
radical change of system, and even after his death, the Fujiwara
family's claim to the Throne's gratitude precluded any direct attempt
on Uda's part to supplant them. Therefore, he formed the plan of
abdicating in favour of his son, as soon as the latter should attain
a suitable age--a plan inspired in some degree by his own feeble
health and by a keen desire to pass the closing years of his life in
comparative retirement. He carried out this design in the year 897,
and was thenceforth known as Uda-in.**

*It is on this occasion that we hear of Koze no Kanaoka, the first
Japanese artist of great repute.

**The suffix in was now first used for the names of retired Emperors.

His son, Daigo, who now ascended the throne, was thirteen years old,
but no Fujiwara regent was appointed, Tokihira, the one person
eligible in respect of lineage, being precluded by youth. Therefore
the office of minister of the Left was conferred on Tokihira, and
Sugawara Michizane (called also Kwanko) became minister of the Right.

It was to this Michizane that the ex-Emperor looked for material
assistance in the prosecution of his design. The Sugawara family
traced its descent to Nomi no Sukune, the champion wrestler of the
last century before Christ and the originator of clay substitutes for
human sacrifices at burials, though the name "Sugawara" did not
belong to the family until eight hundred years later, when the
Emperor Konin bestowed it on the then representative in recognition
of his great scholarship. Thenceforth, the name was borne by a
succession of renowned literati, the most erudite and the most famous
of all being Michizane.

The ex-Emperor, on the accession of his thirteen-year-old son, Daigo,
handed to the latter an autograph document known in history as the
Counsels of the Kwampei Era. Its gist was: "Be just. Do not be swayed
by love or hate. Study to think impartially. Control your emotion and
never let it be externally visible. The sa-daijin, Fujiwara Tokihira,
is the descendant of meritorious servants of the Crown. Though still
young, he is already well versed in the administration of State
affairs. Some years ago, he sinned with a woman,* but I have no
longer any memory of the event. You will consult him and be guided by
his counsels. The u-daijin, Sugawara Michizane, is a man of profound
literary knowledge. He is also acquainted with politics. Frequently I
have profited by his admonitions. When I was elected Crown Prince I
had but Michizane to advise me. Not only has he been a loyal servant
to me, but he will be a loyal servant to my successor also." Plainly
the intention of the document was to place Michizane on a footing at
least equal to that of Tokihira. Michizane understood the perils of
such preferment. He knew that the scion of a comparatively obscure
family would not be tolerated as a rival by the Fujiwara. Three times
he declined the high post offered to him. In his second refusal he
compared himself to a man walking on thin ice, and in the third he
said: "If I myself am astounded at my promotion, how must others
regard it? The end will come like a flash of lightning." But the
Emperor and the ex-Emperor had laid their plans, and Michizane was an
indispensable factor.

*A liaison with his uncle's wife.

Events moved rapidly. Two years later (900), the Emperor, in concert
with the cloistered sovereign, proposed to raise Michizane to the
post of chancellor and to entrust the whole administration to him.
This was the signal for the Fujiwara to take action. One opportunity
for slandering Michizane offered; his daughter had been married to
Prince Tokiyo, the Emperor's younger brother. A rumour was busily
circulated that this meant a plot for the dethronement of Daigo in
favour of Tokiyo. Miyoshi Kiyotsura, an eminent scholar, acting
subtly at the instance of the Fujiwara, addressed a seemingly
friendly letter to Michizane, warning him that his career had become
dangerously rapid and explaining that the stars presaged a revolution
in the following year. At the same time, Minamoto Hikaru, son of the
Emperor Nimmyo; Fujiwara Sadakuni, father-in-law of Daigo, and
several others who were jealous of Michizane's preferment or of his
scholarship, separately or jointly memorialized the Throne,
impeaching Michizane as a traitor who plotted against his sovereign.


Supplemented by Miyoshi's "friendly" notice of a star-predicated
cataclysm, this cumulative evidence convinced, and doubtless the
number and rank of the accusers alarmed the Emperor, then only in his
seventeenth year. Michizane was not invited to defend himself. In the
first year (901) of the Engi era, a decree went out stripping him of
all his high offices, and banishing him to Dazai-fu in Kyushu as
vice-governor. Many other officials were degraded as his partisans.
The ex-Emperor, to whose pity he pleaded in a plaintive couplet, made
a resolute attempt to aid him. His Majesty repaired to the palace for
the purpose of remonstrating with his son, Daigo. Had a meeting taken
place, Michizane's innocence would doubtless have been established.
But the Fujiwara had provided against such an obvious miscarriage of
their design. The palace guards refused to admit the ex-Emperor, and,
after waiting throughout a winter's day seated on a straw mat before
the gate, Uda went away in the evening, sorehearted and profoundly
humiliated. Michizane's twenty-three children were banished to five
places, and he himself, having only a nominal post, did not receive
emoluments sufficient to support him in comfort. Even oil for a
night-lamp was often unprocurable, and after spending twenty-five
months in voluntary confinement with only the society of his sorrows,
he expired (903) at the age of fifty-eight, and was buried in the
temple Anraku-ji in Chikuzen.


No figure in Japanese history has received such an abundant share of
national sympathy. His unjust fate and the idea that he suffered for
his sovereign appealed powerfully to popular imagination. Moreover,
lightning struck the palace in Kyoto, and the three principal
contrivers of Michizane's disgrace, Fujiwara Tokihira, Fujiwara
Sugane, and Minamoto Hikaru, all expired within a few years'
interval. At that epoch a wide-spread belief existed in the powers of
disembodied spirits for evil or for good. Such a creed grew logically
out of the cult of ancestor worship. It began to be whispered abroad
that Michizane's spirit was taking vengeance upon his enemies. The
Emperor was the first to act upon this superstition. He restored
Michizane's titles, raised him to the first grade of the second rank,
and caused all the documents relating to his exile to be burned.
Retribution did not stop there. Forty-five years after Michizane's
death, the people of Kyoto erected to his memory the shrine of Temman
Tenjin,* and in the year 1004, the Emperor Ichijo not only conferred
on him the posthumous office of chancellor with the unprecedented
honour of first grade of the first rank, but also repaired in person
to worship at the shrine. In later times, memorial shrines were built
in various places, and to this day he is fervently worshipped as the
deity of calligraphy, so high was he elevated by the Fujiwara's
attempt to drag him down.

*Michizane was apotheosized under the name of Tenjin. He is known
also as Kan Shojo, and Temmangu.





60th Sovereign, Daigo (Continued)
61st    "       Emperor Shujaku    A.D. 931-946

THE ENGI ERA (A.D. 901-923)

In the year 909, Fujiwara Tokihira died and was followed to the
grave, in 913, by Minamoto Hikaru. For an interval of some years no
minister of State was nominated; the Emperor Daigo himself
administered affairs. For this interregnum in the sway of the
Fujiwara, the Engi era is memorable.

It is memorable for other things also; notably for the compilation of
documents which throw much light on the conditions then existing in
Japan. The Emperor, in 914, called upon the Court officials to submit
memorials which should supply materials for administrative reforms.
The great scholar, Miyoshi Kiyotsura, responded with ability so
conspicuous that posterity has been disposed to question the justice
of the charges against him in connexion with Michizane's fate. He set
out by stating that, in the early times, the national sentiment had
been kind and simple; the people loyal to the Throne and obedient to
parents; the taxes moderate. But, thereafter, customs had gradually
deteriorated. Laws and regulations were promulgated with bewildering
rapidity. Taxes and forced labour grew heavier day by day. Cultivated
lands were suffered to lie fallow. Buddhism established such a hold
upon men's minds that people of all classes impoverished themselves
to build places of worship and to cast images. Upon the erection of
the provincial temples (Kokubun-ji) five-tenths of the national taxes
were expended; and in connexion with the removal of the capital to
Kyoto and the building of new palaces, a further sum of three-tenths
was paid out. Again, the Emperor Nimmyo's (834-850) love of luxury
and display led to architectural extravagance entirely unprecedented,
and involved the squandering of yet another tenth of the remaining
income of the State. Thereafter, in the Jokwan era (859-876),
frequent conflagrations destroyed the Imperial edifice, and its
restoration cost a tenth of the remaining revenue, so that only
one-twentieth was ultimately available for general expenses.

As illustrating the state of the rural regions, the memorialist
instanced the case of Bitchu, a province on the Inland Sea, where he
held an official appointment in the year 893. The local records
(Fudoki) showed that a levy made there about the middle of the
seventh century had produced twenty thousand able-bodied soldiers,*
whereas a century later, there were found only nineteen hundred; yet
another century afterwards, only seventy; at the close of the ninth
century, nine, and in the year 911, not one. To such a state of
desolation had the district been reduced in the space of 250 years,
and its story might be taken as typical.

*The district was consequently named Nima, an abbreviation of ni
(two) man (ten thousand).

Passing to the question of religion, the memorialist declared that
the Shinto ceremonials to secure good harvests had lost all
sincerity. The officials behaved as though there were no such thing
as deities. They used the offerings for their own private purposes,
sold the sacred horses, and recited the rituals without the least
show of reverence. As for Buddhist priests, before asking them to
pray for the welfare of their parishioners, they must be asked to
purge themselves of their own sins. The priests who ministered at the
provincial temples had lost all sense of shame. They had wives, built
houses, cultivated lands, and engaged in trade. Was it to be supposed
that heaven would hearken to the intervention of such sinners?

Meanwhile, luxury and extravagance had reached an extreme degree. On
one suit of clothes a patrimony was expended, and sometimes a year's
income barely sufficed for a single banquet. At funeral services all
classes launched into flagrant excesses. Feasts were prepared on such
a scale that the trays of viands covered the entire floor of a
temple. Thousands of pieces of gold were paid to the officiating
priests, and a ceremony, begun in mourning, ended in revelry.
Corresponding disorder existed with regard to the land. The original
distribution into kubunden, as we saw, had been partly for purposes
of taxation. But now these allotments were illegally appropriated, so
that they neither paid imposts nor furnished labourers; and while
governors held worthless regions, wealthy magnates annexed great
tracts of fertile land. Another abuse, prevalent according to Miyoshi
Kiyotsura's testimony, was that accusations were falsely preferred by
officials against their seniors. Provincial governors were said to
have frequently indulged in this treacherous practice and to have
been themselves at times the victims of similar attacks. The Court,
on receipt of such charges, seldom scrutinized them closely, but at
once despatched officers to deal with the incriminated persons, and
in the sequel, men occupying exalted positions were obliged to plead
on an equal footing with officials of low grade or even common
people. Self-respecting persons chose to stand aside altogether from
official life rather than to encounter such risks.

This was an almost inevitable result of the exceptional facilities
given to petitioners under the Daika and Daiho systems. Miyoshi
Kiyotsura urged that all petitioning and all resulting inquiries by
specially appointed officials should be interdicted, except in
matters relating to political crime, and that all offenders should be
handed over to the duly constituted administrators of justice. As to
these latter, he spoke very plainly. The kebiishi, he wrote, who,
being appointed to the various provinces, have to preserve law and
order within their jurisdictions, should be men specially versed in
law, whereas a majority of those serving in that capacity are
ignorant and incompetent persons who have purchased their offices. To
illustrate further the want of discrimination shown in selecting
officials, he refers to the experts appointed in the maritime
provinces for manufacturing catapults, and declares that many of
these so-called "experts" had never seen a catapult.


It is against the Buddhist priests and the soldiers of the six guards
that he inveighs most vehemently, however. He calls them "vicious and
ferocious," Those who take the tonsure, he says, number from two to
three thousand yearly, and about one-half of that total are wicked
men--low fellows who, desiring to evade taxation and forced labour,
have shaved their heads and donned priests vestments, aggregate
two-thirds of the population. They marry, eat animal food, practise
robbery, and carry on coining operations without any fear of
punishment. If a provincial governor attempts to restrain them, they
flock together and have recourse to violence. It was by bandits under
the command of wicked priests that Fujiwara Tokiyoshi, governor of
Aki, and Tachibana Kinkado, governor of Kii, were waylaid and

As for the soldiers of the guards, instead of taking their monthly
term of duty at the palace, they are scattered over the country, and
being strong and audacious, they treat the people violently and the
provincial governors with contumacy, sometimes even forming leagues
to rob the latter and escaping to the capital when they are hard
pressed. (These guardsmen had arms and horses of their own and called
themselves bushi, a term destined to have wide vogue in Japan.) It is
interesting to note that they make their historical debut thus
unfavourably introduced. Miyoshi Kiyotsura says that instead of being
"metropolitan tigers" to guard the palace, they were "rural wolves"
to despoil the provinces.


This celebrated document consisted of twelve articles and contained
five thousand ideographs, so that nothing was wanting in the matter
of voluminousness. The writer did not confine himself to enumerating
abuses: he also suggested remedies. Thus he urged that no man, having
become an equerry (toneri) of the six corps of guards, should be
allowed to return to his province during his term of service; that
the spurious priests should be all unfrocked and punished; that the
office of kebiishi should be restricted to men having legal
knowledge; that the upper classes should set an example of economy in
costumes and observances; that the ranks of the Buddhist priesthood
should be purged of open violators of the laws of their creed, and so
forth. Historians have justly eulogized the courage of a memorialist
who thus openly attacked wide-spread and powerful abuses. But they
have also noted that the document shows some reservations. For
generations the Fujiwara family had virtually usurped the governing
power; had dethroned Emperors and chosen Empresses; had consulted
their own will alone in the administrations of justice and in the
appointment and removal of officials. Yet of these things Miyoshi
Kiyotsura says nothing whatever. The sole hope of their redress lay
in Michizane; but instead of supporting that ill-starred statesman,
Miyoshi had contributed to his downfall. Could a reformer with such a
record be regarded as altogether sincere?


The Emperor Daigo, who ruled thirty-two years--from 898 to 930--is
brought very close to us by the statement of a contemporary historian
that he was "wise, intelligent, and kind-hearted," and that he always
wore a smiling face, his own explanation of the latter habit being
that he found it much easier to converse with men familiarly than
solemnly. A celebrated incident of his career is that one winter's
night he took off his wadded silk garment to evince sympathy with the
poor who possessed no such protection against the cold. Partly
because of his debonair manner and charitable impulses he is
popularly remembered as "the wise Emperor of the Engi era." But close
readers of the annals do not fully endorse that tribute. They note
that Daigo's treatment of his father, Uda, on the celebrated occasion
of the latter's visit to the palace to intercede for Michizane, was
markedly unfilial; that his Majesty believed and acted upon slanders
which touched the honour of his father no less than that of his
well-proved servant, and that he made no resolute effort to correct
the abuses of his time, even when they had been clearly pointed out
by Miyoshi Kiyotsura. The usurpations of the Fujiwara; the
prostitution of Buddhism to evil ends; the growth of luxurious and
dissipated habits, and the subordination of practical ability to
pedantic scholarship--these four malignant growths upon the national
life found no healing treatment at Daigo's hands.


The Engi era and the intervals of three or four decades before and
after it may be regarded as the classical age of literature in Japan.
Prose composition of a certain class was wholly in Chinese. All works
of a historical, scientific, legal, or theological nature were in
that language, and it cannot be said that they reached a very high
level. Yet their authors had much honour. During the reigns of Uda
and Daigo (888-930), Sugawara Michizane, Miyoshi Kiyotsura, Ki no
Haseo, and Koze no Fumio, formed a quartet of famous masters of
Chinese literature. From one point of view, Michizane's overthrow by
Fujiwara Tokihira may be regarded as a collision between the
Confucian doctrines which informed the polity of the Daika epoch and
the power of aristocratic heredity. Kibi no Makibi and Sugawara no
Michizane were the only two Japanese subjects that attained to be
ministers of State solely in recognition of their learning, but
several littérateurs reached high office, as chief chamberlain,
councillor of State, minister of Education, and so forth. Miyoshi
Kiyotsura ranks next to Michizane among the scholars of that age. He
was profoundly versed in jurisprudence, mathematics (such as they
were at the time), the Chinese classics, and history. But whereas
Michizane bequeathed to posterity ten volumes of poems and two
hundred volumes of a valuable historical work, no production of
Kiyotsura's pen has survived except his celebrated memorial referred
to above. He received the post of minister of the Household in 917
and died in the following year.

It must be understood that the work of these scholars appealed to
only a very limited number of their countrymen. The ako incident (pp.
239-240) illustrates this; the rescript penned by Tachibana no Hiromi
was not clearly comprehended outside a narrow circle of scholars.
Official notices and enactments were intelligible by few men of the
trading classes and by no women. But a different record is found in
the realm of high literature. Here there is much wealth. The Nara
epoch gave to Japan the famous Manyo-shu (Myriad Leaves), and the
Engi era gave her the scarcely less celebrated Kokin-shu, an
anthology of over eleven hundred poems, ancient and modern. As
between the two books, the advantage is with the former, though not
by any means in a marked degree, but in the abundance and excellence
of its prose writings--pure Japanese writings apart from the Chinese
works referred to above--"the Heian epoch leaves the Nara far behind.
The language had now attained to its full development. With its rich
system of terminations and particles it was a pliant instrument in
the writer's hands, and the vocabulary was varied and copious to a
degree which is astonishing when we remember that it was drawn almost
exclusively from native sources. The few words of Chinese origin
which it contains seem to have found their way in through the spoken
language and are not taken straight from Chinese books, as at a later
stage when Japanese authors loaded their periods with alien

This Heian literature "reflects the pleasure-loving and effeminate,
but cultured and refined, character of the class of Japanese who
produced it. It has no serious masculine qualities and may be
described in one word as belles-lettres--poetry, fiction, diaries,
and essays of a desultory kind. The lower classes of the people had
no share in the literary activity of the time. Culture had not as yet
penetrated beyond a very narrow circle. Both writers and readers
belonged exclusively to the official caste. It is remarkable that a
very large and important part of the best literature which Japan has
produced was written by women. A good share of the Nara poetry is of
feminine authorship, and, in the Heian period, women took a still
more conspicuous part in maintaining the honour of the native
literature. The two greatest works which have come down from Heian
time are both by women.* This was no doubt partly due to the
absorption of the masculine intellect in Chinese studies. But there
was a still more effective cause. The position of women in ancient
Japan was very different from what it afterwards became when Chinese
ideals were in the ascendant. The Japanese of this early period did
not share the feeling common to most Eastern countries that women
should be kept in subjection and as far as possible in seclusion.
Though the morality which the Heian literature reveals is anything
but strait-laced, the language is uniformly refined and decent, in
this respect resembling the best literature of China."**

*The Genji Monogatari by Murasaki Shikibu, and the Makura Soshi by
Sei Shonagon.

**Japanese Literature, by W. G. Aston.

With the Heian epoch is connected the wide use of the phonetic script
known as kana, which may be described as a syllabary of forty-seven
symbols formed from abbreviated Chinese ideographs. There are two
varieties of the kana--the kata-kana and the hiragana* The former is
said to have been devised by Makibi, the latter by Kobo Daishi
(Kukai), but doubts have been cast on the accuracy of that record,
and nothing can be certainly affirmed except that both were known
before the close of the ninth century, though they do not seem to
have been largely used until the Heian epoch, and even then almost
entirely by women.

*Katakana means "side kana" because its symbols are fragments (sides)
of Chinese forms of whole ideographs.


"Much of the poetry of this time was the outcome of poetical
tournaments at which themes were proposed to the competitors by
judges who examined each phrase and word with the minutest critical
care before pronouncing their verdict. As might be expected, the
poetry produced in those circumstances is of a more or less
artificial type, and is wanting in the spontaneous vigour of the
earlier essays of the Japanese muse. Conceits, acrostics, and
untranslatable word-plays hold much too prominent a place, but for
perfection of form the poems of this time are unrivalled. It is no
doubt to this quality that the great popularity of the Kokin-shu is
due. Sei Shonagon, writing in the early years of the eleventh
century, sums up a young lady's education as consisting of writing,
music, and the twenty volumes of the Kokin-shu."*

*Japanese Literature, by W. G. Aston.

The first notable specimen of prose in Japanese style (wabun) was the
preface to the Kokin-shu, written by Ki no Tsurayuki, who contended,
and his own composition proved, that the introduction of Chinese
words might well be dispensed with in writing Japanese. But what may
be called the classical form of Japanese prose was fixed by the
Taketori Monogatari,* an anonymous work which appeared at the
beginning of the Engi era (901),** and was quickly followed by
others. Still, the honour in which the ideograph was held never
diminished. When Tsurayuki composed the Tosa Nikki (Tosa Diary), he
gave it out as the work of a woman, so reluctant was he to identify
himself with a book written in the kana syllabary; and the Emperor
Saga, Kobo Daishi, and Tachibana Hayanari will be remembered forever
in Japan as the "Three Calligraphists" (Sampitsu).

*The expression "monogatari" finds its nearest English equivalent in

**An excellent translation of this has been made by Mr. F. V. Dickins
in the "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society," Jan., 1887.

In short, an extraordinary love of literature and of all that
pertained to it swayed the minds of Japan throughout the Nara and the
Heian epochs. The ninth and tenth centuries produced such poets as
Ariwara no Yukihira and his younger brother, Narihira; Otomo no
Kuronushi, Ochikochi no Mitsune, Sojo Henjo, and the poetess Ono no
Komachi; gave us three anthologies (Sandai-shu), the Kokin-shu, the
Gosen-shu, and the Shui-shu, as well as five of the Six National
Histories (Roku Kokushi), the Zoku Nihonki, the Nihon Koki, the Zoku
Nihon Koki, the Montoku Jitsuroku, and the Sandai Jitsuroku; and saw
a bureau of poetry (W aka-dokoro) established in Kyoto. Fine art also
was cultivated, and it is significant that calligraphy and painting
were coupled together in the current expression (shogwa) for products
of pictorial art. Kudara no Kawanari and Koze no Kanaoka, the first
Japanese painters to achieve great renown, flourished in the ninth
and tenth centuries, as did also a famous architect, Hida no Takumi.


Thus, in the capital, Kyoto, where the Fujiwara family constituted
the power behind the Throne, refinements and luxury were constantly
developed, and men as well as women amused themselves composing
Chinese and Japanese poems, playing on musical instruments, dancing,
and making picnics to view the blossoms of the four seasons. But in
the provincial districts very different conditions existed. There,
men, being virtually without any knowledge of the ideographic script,
found the literature and the laws of the capital a sealed book to
them, and as for paying periodical visits to Kyoto, what that
involved may be gathered from the fact that the poet Tsurayuki's
return to the capital from the province of Tosa, where he had served
as acting governor, occupied one hundred days, as shown in his Tosa
Nikki (Diary of a Journey from Tosa), and that thirteen days were
needed to get from the mouth of the Yodo to the city. The pageant of
metropolitan civilization and magnificence never presented itself to
provincial eyes.


Much has already been said on the subject of land tenure; but as this
problem is responsible for some cardinal phases of Japanese history,
a brief resume will be useful here. There were four chief causes for
the existence of shoen, or manors. The first was reclamation. In the
year 723, it was decreed that persons who reclaimed land should
acquire a de facto title of tenure for three generations, and, twenty
years later, the tenure of title was made perpetual, limits of area
being fixed, however--1250 acres for princes and nobles of the first
rank, and thereafter by various gradations, to twenty-five acres for
a commoner. But these limits were not enforced, and in the year 767
it became necessary to issue a decree prohibiting further
reclamation, which was followed, seventeen years later, by a rescript
forbidding provincial governors to exact forced labour for tilling
their manors.

That this did not check the evil is proved by an official record,
compiled in 797, from which it appears that princes and influential
nobles possessed manors of great extent; that they appointed
intendants to manage them; that these intendants themselves engaged
in operations of reclamation; that they abused their power by
despoiling the peasants, and that dishonest farmers made a practice
of evading taxes and tribute by settling within the bounds of a
manor. These abuses reached their acme during the reigns of Uda and
Daigo (888-930), when people living in the vicinity of a manor were
ruthlessly robbed and plundered by the intendant and his servants,
and when it became habitual to elude the payment of taxes by making
spurious assignments of lands to influential officials in the
capital. In vain was the ownership of lands by powerful nobles
interdicted, and in vain its purchase by provincial governors: the
metropolis had no power to enforce its vetoes in the provinces, and
the provincials ignored them. Thus the shoen grew in number and

The second factor which contributed to the extension of manors was
the bestowal of estates in perpetuity on persons of conspicuous
ability, and afterwards on men who enjoyed Imperial favour. Land thus
granted was called shiden and enjoyed immunity from taxation. Then
there were tracts given in recognition of public merit. These koden
were originally of limited tenure, but that condition soon ceased to
be observed, and the koden fell into the same category with manors

Finally we have the jiden, or temple lands. These, too, were at the
outset granted for fixed terms, but when Buddhism became powerful the
limitation ceased to be operative, and moreover, in defiance of the
law, private persons presented tracts, large or small, to the temples
where the mortuary tablets of their families were preserved, and the
temples, oh their own account, acquired estates by purchase or by
reclamation. The jiden, like the other three kinds of land enumerated
above, were exempt from taxation. Owned by powerful nobles or
influential families, the shoen were largely cultivated by forced
labour, and as in many cases it paid the farmers better to rent such
land; and thus escape all fiscal obligations, than to till their own
fields, the latter were deserted pan passu with the development of
the manor system, and thus the State revenues suffered dual

During the last quarter of the tenth century peremptory edicts were
issued to check this state of affairs, but the power of the Court to
exact obedience had then dwindled almost to cipher. History records
that during the Ho-en era (1135-1140), the regent Fujiwara
Tadamichi's manor of Shimazu comprised one-fourth of the province of
Osumi. On these great manors, alike of nobles and of temples, armed
forces soon began to be maintained for purposes nominally of police
protection but ultimately of military aggression. This was especially
the case on the shoen of the puissant families of Taira and Minamoto.
Thus, Minamoto Yoshitomo came to own fifteen of the eastern
provinces, and in the tumult of the Heiji era (1159-1160), he lost
all these to Taira no Kiyomori, who, supplementing them with his own
already large manors and with the shoen of many other nobles and
temples, became owner of five hundred districts comprising about
one-half of the empire. Subsequently, when the Minamoto crushed the
Taira (1185), the whole of the latter's estates were distributed by
the former among the nobles who had fought under the Minamoto

In that age the holders of manors were variously called ryoshu,
ryoke, shoya, or honjo, and the intendants were termed shocho, shoji,
kengyo, betto, or yoryudo, a diversity of nomenclature that is often
very perplexing. In many cases reclaimed lands went by the name of
the person who had reclaimed them. Such manors were spoken of as
myoden (name-land), and those owning large tracts were designated
daimyo (great name), while smaller holders were termed shomyo. Yet
another term for the intendants of these lands was nanushi-shoku.

It will be readily seen that in the presence of such a system the
lands paying taxes to the Central Government became steadily less and
less. Thus, in the reign of the Emperor Toba (1108-1123), the State
domains administered by the provincial governors are recorded to have
been only one per cent, of the area of the provinces. In these
circumstances, the governors deemed it unnecessary to proceed
themselves to their posts; they remained in Kyoto and despatched
deputies to the provinces, a course which conspired to reduce the
authority of the Crown.

For the sake of intelligent sequence of ideas, the above synopsis
makes some departure from the chronological order of these pages.
Returning to the early part of the tenth century, the historian may
affirm that the salient features of the era were virtual abrogation
of the Daiho laws imposing restrictions upon the area and period of
land-ownership; rapid growth of tax-free manors and consequent
impoverishment of the Court in Kyoto; the appearance of provincial
magnates who yielded scant obedience to the Crown, and the
organization of military classes which acknowledged the authority of
their own leaders only.


The above state of affairs soon bore practical fruit. In the year
930, the Emperor Daigo died and was succeeded by his son Shujaku, a
child of eight, whose mother was a daughter of Fujiwara Mototsune. In
accordance with the system now fully established, Fujiwara Tadahira
became regent. History depicts this Tadahira as an effeminate
dilettante, one of whose foibles was to have a cuckoo painted on his
fan and to imitate the cry of the bird whenever he opened it. But as
representative of the chief aristocratic family in an age when to be
a Fujiwara was to possess a title superior to that conferred by
ability in any form and however conspicuous, his right to administer
the government in the capacity of regent obtained universal

It had become the custom at that time for the provincial magnates to
send their sons to Kyoto, where they served in the corps of guards,
became acquainted with refined life, and established relations of
friendship with the Taira and the Minamoto, the former descended from
the Emperor Kwammu, the latter from the Emperor Seiwa. Thus, at the
time of Daigo's death, a scion of the Taira, by name Masakado, was
serving under Tadahira in the capital. Believing himself endowed with
high military capacity, Masakado aspired to be appointed kebiishi of
his native province, Shimosa. But his archery, his horsemanship, and
his fencing elicited no applause in Kyoto, whereas a relative,
Sadabumi, attracted admiration by a licentious life.

Masakado finally retired to Shimosa in an angry mood. At first,
however, the idea of revolt does not seem to have occurred to him. On
the contrary, the evidence is against such a hypothesis. For his
military career began with family feuds, and after he had killed one
of his uncles on account of a dispute about the boundaries of a
manor, and sacked the residence of another in consequence of a
trouble about a woman, he did not hesitate to obey a summons to Kyoto
to answer for his acts of violence. Such quarrels were indeed of not
uncommon occurrence in the provinces, as is shown by the memorial of
Miyoshi Kiyotsura, and the capital appears to have left them severely
alone, so far as practical interference was concerned, though the
pretence of jurisdiction might be preserved. Thus, Masakado was
acquitted after the formality of investigation had been satisfied.
Naturally this judgment did not prove a deterrent; on the contrary,
it amounted to a mandate.

On his return to Kwanto, Masakado was soon found once more in the
arena. The details of his campaign have little interest except as
indicating that the provincial officials followed the example of
Kyoto in suffering local disturbances to settle themselves, and that
the abuses catalogued in the Miyoshi memorial were true to fact. A
raid that Masakado made into Musashi province is memorable as the
occasion of the first collision between the Taira and the Minamoto,*
which great families were destined ultimately to convert all Japan
into a battlefield. Finally, Masakado carried his raids so far that
he allowed himself to be persuaded of the hopelessness of pardon. It
was then that he resolved to revolt. Overrunning the whole eight
provinces of the Kwanto, he appointed his own partisans to all posts
of importance and set up a court after the Kyoto model. A letter
written by him at this time to the regent Tadahira affords an
interesting guide to the ethics of the era:

"The genealogy of my house shows that I am the fifth in descent from
the Emperor Kwammu. Therefore, though I hold one-half of a province,
that cannot be attributed to mere good fortune. In the history of
ancient times there are occasions where a whole country was
appropriated by force of arms. Nature has endowed me with military
talent. None, I presume, excels me in that respect. You, however, had
no praise to bestow on me. Rather was I frequently reprimanded when I
served in the capital, so that my shame was unendurable, whereas your
sympathy would have delighted me. While Masakado was still a youth he
served Tadahira, the prime minister, for tens of years, and when
Tadahira became regent, Masakado never entertained his present
project. I have no words to express my regret. Though I have
conspired to revolt, I will not forget my old master, and I hope that
he will make allowances for the circumstances in which I am placed."

*The vice-governor of Musashi, Minamoto Tsunemoto, was at feud with
the governor, Prince Okiyo, and Masakado espoused the latter's cause.

Had it rested with Kyoto to subdue this revolt, Masakado might have
attained his goal. But chance and the curious spirit of the time
fought for the Court. A trifling breach of etiquette on the part of
Masakado--not pausing to bind up his hair before receiving a
visitor--forfeited the co-operation of a great soldier, Fujiwara
Hidesato, (afterwards known as Tawara Toda), and the latter, joining
forces with Taira Sadamori, whose father Masakado had killed,
attacked the rebels in a moment of elated carelessness, shattered
them completely, and sent Masakado's head to the capital. The whole
affair teaches that the Fujiwara aristocrats, ruling in Kyoto, had
neither power nor inclination to meddle with provincial
administration, and that the districts distant from the metropolis
wore practically under the sway of military magnates in whose eyes
might constituted right. This was especially notable in the case of
the Kwanto, that is to say the eight provinces surrounding the
present Tokyo Bay, extending north to the Nikko Mountains. Musashi,
indeed, was so infested with law-breakers that, from the days of the
Emperor Seiwa (859-876), it became customary to appoint one kebiishi
in each of its districts, whereas elsewhere the establishment was one
to each province. The kebiishi represented the really puissant arm of
the law, the provincial governors, originally so powerful, having now
degenerated into weaklings.


Another event, characteristic of the time, occurred in Nankai-do (the
four provinces of the island of Shikoku) contemporaneously with the
revolt of Masakado. During the Shohei era (931-937) the ravages of
pirates became so frequent in those waters that Fujiwara no Sumitomo
was specially despatched from Kyoto to restrain them. This he
effected without difficulty. But instead of returning to the capital,
he collected a number of armed men together with a squadron of
vessels, and conducted a campaign of spoliation and outrage in the
waters of the Inland Sea as well as the channels of Kii and Bungo.
Masakado's death, in 939, relieved the Court from the pressure in the
east, and an expedition was despatched against Sumitomo under the
command of Ono no Yoshifuru, general of the guards.

Yoshifuru mustered only two hundred ships whereas Sumitomo had
fifteen hundred. The issue might have been foretold had not the
pirate chief's lieutenant gone over to the Imperial forces. Sumitomo,
after an obstinate resistance and after one signal success, was
finally routed and killed. Some historians* have contended that
Masakado and Sumitomo, when they were together in Kyoto, conspired a
simultaneous revolt in the east and the south; but such a conclusion
is inconsistent with the established fact that Masakado's treason was
not premeditated.

*Notably the authors of the Okagami and the Nihon Gwaishi.

That the two events synchronized is attributable wholly to the
conditions of the time. We have seen what was the state of affairs in
Kwanto, and that of Kyushu and Shikoku is clearly set forth in a
memorial presented (946) by Ono Yoshifuru on his return from the
Sumitomo campaign. In that document he says: "My information is that
those who pursue irregular courses are not necessarily sons of
provincial governors alone. Many others make lawless use of power and
authority; form confederacies; engage daily in military exercises;
collect and maintain men and horses under pretext of hunting game;
menace the district governors; plunder the common people; violate
their wives and daughters, and steal their beasts of burden and
employ them for their own purposes, thus interrupting agricultural
operations. Yesterday, they were outcasts, with barely sufficient
clothes to cover their nakedness; to-day, they ride on horseback and
don rich raiment. Meanwhile the country falls into a state of decay,
and the homesteads are desolate. My appeal is that, with the
exception of provincial governors' envoys, any who enter a province
at the head of parties carrying bows and arrows, intimidate the
inhabitants, and rob them of their property, shall be recognized as
common bandits and thrown into prison on apprehension."

In a word, the aristocratic officialdom in Kyoto, headed by the
Fujiwara, though holding all the high administrative posts, wielded
no real power outside the capital, nor were they competent to
preserve order even within its precincts, for the palace itself was
not secure against incendiarism and depredation. When the heads of
the Minamoto and the Taira families were appointed provincial
governors in the Kwanto, they trained their servants in the use of
arms, calling them iye-no-ko (house-boys) or rodo (retainers), and
other local magnates purchased freedom from molestation by doing
homage and obeying their behests. Taira Masakado, Minamoto Tsunemoto,
Fujiwara Hidesato, and Taira Sadamori, who figure in the above
narrative, were all alike provincial chiefs, possessing private
estates and keeping armed retinues which they used for protection or
for plunder. The Imperial Court, when confronted with any crisis, was
constrained to borrow the aid of these magnates, and thus there came
into existence the buke, or military houses, as distinguished from
the kuge, or Court houses.






We now arrive at a period of Japanese history in which the relations
of the Fujiwara family to the Throne are so complicated as greatly to
perplex even the most careful reader. But as it is not possible to
construct a genealogical table of a really helpful character, the
facts will be set down here in their simplest form.


Murakami, son of Daigo by the daughter of the regent, Fujiwara
Mototsune, ascended the throne in succession to Shujaku, and Fujiwara
Tadahira held the post of regent, as he had done in Shujaku's time,
his three sons, Saneyori, Morosuke, and Morotada, giving their
daughters; one, Morosuke's offspring, to be Empress, the other two to
be consorts of the sovereign. Moreover, Morosuke's second daughter
was married to the Emperor's younger brother, Prince Takaaki, who
afterwards descended from princely rank to take the family name of
Minamoto. Saneyori, Morosuke, and Takaaki took a prominent part in
the administration of State affairs, and thus indirectly by female
influence at Court, or by their own direct activity, the Fujiwara
held a supreme place. Murakami has a high position among Japan's
model sovereigns. He showed keen and intelligent interest in
politics; he sought to employ able officials; he endeavoured to check
luxury, and he solicited frank guidance from his elders. Thus later
generations learned to indicate Engi (901-923), when Daigo reigned,
and Tenryaku (947-957), when Murakami reigned, as essentially eras of
benevolent administration. But whatever may have been the personal
qualities of Murakami, however conspicuous his poetical ability and
however sincere his solicitude for the welfare of his subjects, he
failed signally to correct the effeminate tendency of Kyoto society
or to protect the lives and property of his people. Bandits raided
the capital, broke into the palace itself, set fire to it, and
committed frequent depredations unrestrained. An age when the
machinery for preserving law and order was practically paralyzed
scarcely deserves the eulogies of posterity.


The lady with whom Murakami first consorted was a daughter of
Fujiwara Motokata, who represented a comparatively obscure branch of
the great family, and had attained the office of chief councillor of
State (dainagori) only. She bore to his Majesty a son, Hirohira, and
the boy's grandfather confidently looked to see him named Prince
Imperial. But presently the daughter of Fujiwara Morosuke, minister
of the Right, entered the palace, and although her Court rank was not
at first superior to that of the dainagon's daughter, her child had
barely reached its third month when, through Morosuke's irresistible
influence, it was nominated heir to the throne. Motokata's
disappointment proved so keen that his health became impaired and he
finally died--of chagrin, the people said. In those days men believed
in the power of disembodied spirits for evil or for good. The spirit
of the ill-fated Sugawara Michizane was appeased by building shrines
to his memory, and a similar resource exorcised the angry ghost of
the rebel, Masakado; but no such prevention having been adopted in
the case of Motokata, his spirit was supposed to have compassed the
early deaths of his grandson's supplanter, Reizei, and of the
latter's successors, Kwazan and Sanjo, whose three united reigns
totalled only five years.

A more substantial calamity resulted, however, from the habit of
ignoring the right of primogeniture in favour of arbitrary selection.
Murakami, seeing that the Crown Prince (Reizei) had an exceedingly
feeble physique, deemed it expedient to transfer the succession to
his younger brother, Tamehira. But the latter, having married into
the Minamoto family, had thus become ineligible for the throne in
Fujiwara eyes. The Emperor hesitated, therefore, to give open
expression to his views, and while he waited, he himself fell
mortally ill. On his death-bed he issued the necessary instruction,
but the Fujiwara deliberately ignored it, being determined that a
consort of their own blood must be the leading lady in every Imperial
household. Then the indignation of the other great families, the
Minamoto and the Taira, blazed out. Mitsunaka, representing the
former, and Shigenobu the latter, entered into a conspiracy to
collect an army in the Kwanto and march against Kyoto with the sole
object of compelling obedience to Murakami's dying behest. The plot
was divulged by Minamoto Mitsunaka in the sequel of a quarrel with
Taira no Shigenobu; the plotters were all exiled, and Takaaki,
youngest son of the Emperor Daigo, though wholly ignorant of the
conspiracy, was falsely accused to the Throne by Fujiwara Morotada,
deprived of his post of minister of the Left, to which his accuser
was nominated, and sent to that retreat for disgraced officials, the
Dazai-fu. Another instance is here furnished of the readiness with
which political rivals slandered one another in old Japan, and
another instance, also, of the sway exercised over the sovereign by
his Fujiwara ministers.



The reigns of Reizei and Enyu are remarkable for quarrels among the
members of the Fujiwara family--quarrels which, to be followed
intelligently, require frequent reference to the genealogical table
(page 203). Fujiwara Morosuke had five sons, Koretada, Kanemichi,
Kaneiye, Tamemitsu, and Kinsuye. Two of these, Koretada and Kaneiye,
presented one each of their daughters to the Emperor Reizei, and
Koretada's daughter gave birth to Prince Morosada, who afterwards
reigned as Kwazan, while Kaneiye's daughter bore Okisada,
subsequently the Emperor Sanjo. After one year's reign, Reizei, who
suffered from brain disease, abdicated in favour of his younger
brother, Enyu, then only in his eleventh year. Fujiwara Saneyori
acted as regent, but, dying shortly afterwards, was succeeded in that
office by his nephew, Koretada, who also had to resign on account of

Between this latter's two brothers, Kanemichi and Kaneiye, keen
competition for the regency now sprang up. Kanemichi's eldest
daughter was the Empress of Enyu, but his Majesty favoured Kaneiye,
who thus attained much higher rank than his elder brother. Kanemichi,
however, had another source of influence. His sister was Murakami's
Empress and mother of the reigning sovereign, Enyu. This Imperial
lady, writing to his Majesty Enyu at Kanemichi's dictation, conjured
the Emperor to be guided by primogeniture in appointing a regent, and
Enyu, though he bitterly disliked Kanemichi, could not gainsay his
mother. Thus Kanemichi became chancellor and acting regent. The
struggle was not concluded, however. It ended in the palace itself,
whither the two brothers repaired almost simultaneously, Kanemichi
rising from his sick-bed for the purpose. In the presence of the boy
Emperor, Kanemichi arbitrarily transferred his own office of kwampaku
to Fujiwara Yoritada and degraded his brother, Kaneiye, to a
comparatively insignificant post. The sovereign acquiesced; he had no
choice. A few months later, this dictator died. It is related of him
that his residence was more gorgeous than the palace and his manner
of life more sumptuous than the sovereign's. The men of his time were
wont to say, "A tiger's mouth is less fatal than the frown of the
regent, Kanemichi."



Eldest son of the Emperor Reizei, Kwazan ascended the throne in 985.
His mother was a daughter of Fujiwara Koretada, and Yoritada, whose
appointment as regent has just been described, continued to act in
that capacity. Kaneiye's opportunity had now come. Kwazan having
succeeded Enyu, nominated the latter's son to be Crown Prince,
instead of conferring the position on his own brother, Prince Okisada
(afterwards Sanjo). Now the Crown Prince was the son of Kaneiye's
daughter, and that ambitious noble determined to compass the
sovereign's abdication without delay. Kwazan, originally a fickle
lover, had ultimately conceived an absorbing passion for the lady
Tsuneko. He could not be induced to part with her even at the time of
her pregnancy, and as there was no proper provision in the palace for
such an event, Tsuneko died in labour. Kwazan, distraught with grief,
was approached by Kaneiye's son, Michikane, who urged him to retire
from the world and seek in Buddhism the perfect peace thus alone
attainable. Michikane declared his own intention of entering the
"path," and on a moonlight night the two men, leaving the palace,
repaired to the temple Gwangyo-ji to take the tonsure. There,
Michikane, pretending he wished to bid final farewell to his family,
departed to return no more, and the Emperor understood that he had
been deceived.

Retreat was now impossible, however. He abdicated in favour of
Ichijo, a child of seven, and Kaneiye became regent and chancellor.
He emulated the magnificence of his deceased brother and rival,
Kanemichi, and his residence at Higashi-Sanjo in Kyoto was built
after the model of the "hall of freshness" in the palace. He had five
sons, the most remarkable of whom were Michitaka, Michikane, and
Michinaga. It will be presently seen that in the hands of the last
the power of the Fujiwara reached its zenith. On the death of Kaneiye
the office of kwampaku fell to his eldest son, Michitaka, and, in
993, the latter being seriously ill, his son, Korechika, looked to be
his successor. But the honour fell to Michitaka's brother, Michikane.
Seven days after his nomination, Michikane died, and, as a matter of
course, men said that he had been done to death by the incantations
of his ambitious nephew. Again, however, the latter was disappointed.
Kaneiye's third son, Michinaga, succeeded to the regency.

Almost immediately, the new regent seems to have determined that his
daughter should be Empress. But the daughter of his elder brother,
the late Michitaka, already held that position. This, however,
constituted no sort of obstacle in the eyes of the omnipotent
Michinaga. He induced--"required" would probably be a more accurate
expression--the Empress to abandon the world, shave her head, and
remove to a secluded palace, (the Kokideri); where-after he caused
his own daughter to become the Imperial consort under the title of
chugu,* her residence being fixed in the Fujitsubo, which was the
recognized palace of the Empress.

*A lady on introduction to the palace received the title of jokwan.
If the daughter of a minister of State, she was called nyogo. Chugu
was a still higher title devised specially for Michinaga's purpose,
and naturally it became a precedent.

It is not to be imagined that with such a despotic regent, the
Emperor himself exercised any real authority. The annals show that
Ichijo was of benevolent disposition; that he sympathized with his
people; that he excelled in prose composition and possessed much
skill in music. Further, during his reign of twenty-four years many
able men graced the era. But neither their capacity nor his own found
opportunity for exercise in the presence of Michinaga's proteges,
and, while profoundly disliking the Fujiwara autocrat, Ichijo was
constrained to suffer him.



Prince Okisada, younger brother of the Emperor Kwazan, ascended the
throne at the age of thirty-six, on the abdication of Ichijo, and is
known in history as Sanjo. Before his accession he had married the
daughter of Fujiwara Naritoki, to whom he was much attached, but with
the crown he had to accept the second daughter of Michinaga as chugu,
his former consort becoming Empress. His Majesty had to acquiesce in
another arbitrary arrangement also. It has been shown above that
Michinaga's eldest daughter had been given the title of chugu in the
palace of Ichijo, to whom she bore two sons, Atsunari and Atsunaga.
Neither of these had any right to be nominated Crown Prince in
preference to Sanjo's offspring. Michinaga, however, caused Atsunari
to be appointed Prince Imperial, ignoring Sanjo's son, since his
mother belonged to an inferior branch of the Fujiwara. Further, it
did not suit the regent's convenience that a ruler of mature age
should occupy the throne. An eye disease from which Sanjo suffered
became the pretext for pressing him to abdicate, and, in 1017,
Atsunari, then in his ninth year, took the sceptre as Emperor
Go-Ichijo, or Ichijo II. Michinaga continued to act as regent,
holding, at the same time, the office of minister of the Left, but he
subsequently handed over the regency to his son, Yorimichi, becoming
himself chancellor.

Go-Ichijo was constrained to endure at Michinaga's hands the same
despotic treatment as that previously meted out to Sanjo. The
legitimate claim of his offspring to the throne was ignored in favour
of his brother, Atsunaga, who received for consort the fourth
daughter of Michinaga. Thus, this imperious noble had controlled the
administration for thirty years; had given his daughters to three
Emperors; had appointed his son to be regent in his place, and had
the Crown Prince for grandson. Truly, as his historians say, he held
the empire in the hollow of his hand. His estates far exceeded those
of the Crown; the presents offered to him by all ranks reached an
enormous total; he built for himself a splendid mansion (Jotomon)
with forced labour requisitioned from the provinces, and for his wife
a scarcely less magnificent residence (Kyogoku) was erected at the
charges of the Emperor Go-Ichijo. At the approach of illness he took
refuge in Buddhism, but even here the gorgeous ostentation of his
life was not abated. He planned the building of a monastery which
should prove a worthy retreat for his declining years, and it is on
record that his order to the provincial governor was, "though you
neglect your official duties, do not neglect to furnish materials and
labour for the building of Hojo-ji." Even from the palace itself
stones were taken for this monastery, and the sums lavished upon it
were so enormous that they dwarfed Michinaga's previous
extravagances. Michinaga retired there to die, and on his death-bed
he received a visit from the Emperor, who ordered three months' Court
mourning on his decease. There is a celebrated work entitled Eigwa
Monogatari (Tales of Splendour), wherein is depicted the fortunes and
the foibles of the Fujiwara family from the days (889) of the Emperor
Uda to those (1092) of the Emperor Horikawa. Specially minute is the
chronicle when it treats of the Mido kwampaku, as Michinaga was
called after he set himself to build the monastery Hojo-ji.

Loyal Japanese historians shrink from describing this era, when the
occupants of the throne were virtually puppets in the hands of the
Fujiwara. There was, however, one redeeming feature: amid this luxury
and refinement literature flourished vigorously, so that the era of
Tenryaku (947-957) lives in the memory of the nation as vividly as
that of Engi (901-923). Oye Tomotsuna, Sugawara Fumitoki, Minamoto
Shitago--these were famous littérateurs, and Minamoto Hiromasa,
grandson of the Emperor Uda, attained celebrity as a musical genius.
Coming to the reigns of Kwazan, Enyu, and Ichijo (985-1011), we find
the immortal group of female writers, Murasaki Shikibu, Izumi
Shikibu, Sei Shonagon, and Akazome Emon; we find also in the Imperial
family, Princes Kaneakira and Tomohira; we find three famous scribes,
Fujiwara Yukinari, Fujiwara Sari, and Ono no Tofu, and, finally the
"Four Nagon" (Shi-nagori), Fujiwara Yukinari, Fujiwara Kinto.
Minamoto Narinobu, and Minamoto Toshikata.

It is observable that in this necessarily brief summary the name
"Minamoto" occurs several times, as does that of "Fujiwara" also. But
that the scions of either family confined themselves to the arts of
peace, is not to be inferred. There were Fujiwara among the military
magnates in the provinces, and we shall presently see the Minamoto
taking the lead in the science of war. Already, indeed, the Fujiwara
in the capital were beginning to recognize the power of the Minamoto.
It has been related above that one of the rebel Masakado's earliest
opponents was a Minamoto, vice-governor of Musashi. His son,
Mitsunaka, a redoubtable warrior, assisted the Fujiwara in Kyoto, and
Mitsunaka's sons, Yorimitsu and Yorinobu, contributed materially to
the autocracy of the regent Michinaga. Yorimitsu was appointed by the
regent to command the cavalry of the guard, and he is said to have
brought that corps to a state of great efficiency.

There was, indeed, much need of a strong hand. One had only to emerge
from the palace gates to find oneself among the haunts of bandits.
The names of such robber chiefs as Hakamadare no Yasusuke, Kidomaru,
Oeyama Shutendoji, and Ibaraki-doji have been handed down as the
heroes in many a strange adventure and the perpetrators of many
heinous crimes. Even the Fujiwara residences were not secure against
the torches of these plunderers, and during the reign of Ichijo the
palace itself was frequently fired by them. In Go-Ichijo's tune, an
edict was issued forbidding men to carry bows and arrows in the
streets, but had there been power to enforce such a veto, its
enactment would not have been necessary. Its immediate sequel was
that the bandits broke into Government offices and murdered officials


In the spring of 1019, when Go-Ichijo occupied the throne, a large
host of invaders suddenly poured into the island of Tsushima. There
had not been any warning. Tsushima lies half-way between the south of
Korea and the northeast of Kyushu, distant about sixty miles from
either coast. Since the earliest times, its fine harbours had served
as a military station for ships plying between Japan and Korea, but
such intercourse had long been interrupted when this invasion took

The invaders were the Toi, originally called Sushen or Moho, under
the former of which names they make their appearance in Japanese
history in the middle of the sixth century. They inhabited that part
of the Asiatic continent which lies opposite to the island of Ezo,
but there is nothing to show what impulse they obeyed in making this
sudden descent upon Japan. Their fleet comprised some fifty vessels
only, each from forty to sixty feet long and propelled by thirty or
forty oars, but of how many fighting men the whole force consisted,
no record has been preserved. As to arms, they carried swords, bows,
spears, and shields, and in their tactical formation spearmen
occupied the front rank, then came swordsmen, and finally bowmen.
Every man had a shield. Their arrows were short, measuring little
over a foot, but their bows were powerful, and they seem to have
fought with fierce courage.

At first they carried everything before them. The governor of
Tsushima, being without any means of defence, fled to the Dazai-fu in
Kyushu, and the inhabitants were left to the mercy of the invaders,
who then pushed on to the island of Iki. There the governor, Fujiwara
Masatada, made a desperate resistance, losing his own life in the
battle. It is said that of all the inhabitants, one only, a Buddhist
priest, escaped to tell the story.

Ten days after their first appearance off Tsushima, the Toi effected
a landing in Chikuzen and marched towards Hakata, plundering,
burning, massacring old folks and children, making prisoners of
adults, and slaughtering cattle and horses for food. It happened,
fortunately, that Takaiye, younger brother of Fujiwara Korechika, was
in command at the Dazai-fu, whither he had repaired partly out of
pique, partly to undergo treatment for eye disease at the hands of a
Chinese doctor. He met the crisis with the utmost coolness, and made
such skilful dispositions for defence that, after three days'
fighting, in which the Japanese lost heavily, Hakata remained

High winds and rough seas now held the invaders at bay, and in that
interval the coast defences were repaired and garrisoned, and a fleet
of thirty-eight boats having been assembled, the Japanese assumed the
offensive, ultimately driving the Toi to put to sea. A final attempt
was made to effect a landing at Matsuura in the neighbouring province
of Hizen, but, after fierce fighting, the invaders had to withdraw
altogether. The whole affair had lasted sixteen days, and the
Japanese losses were 382 killed and 1280 taken prisoners. Two hundred
and eighty of the latter--60 men and 220 women--were subsequently
returned. They were brought over from Koma six months later by a Koma
envoy, Chong Cha-ryang, to whom the Court presented three hundred
pieces of gold.

Kyoto's attitude towards this incident was most instructive. When the
first tidings of the invasion reached the capital, the protection of
heaven was at once invoked by services at Ise and ten other shrines.
But when, on receipt of news that the danger had been averted, the
question of rewarding the victors came up for discussion, a majority
of the leading statesmen contended that, as the affair had been
settled before the arrival of an Imperial mandate at the Dazai-fu, no
official cognizance could be taken of it. This view was ultimately
overruled since the peril had been national, but the rewards
subsequently given were insignificant, and the event clearly
illustrates the policy of the Central Government--a policy already
noted in connexion with the revolt of Masakado--namely, that any
emergency dealt with prior to the receipt of an Imperial rescript
must be regarded as private, whatever its nature, and therefore
beyond the purview of the law.

A more effective method of decentralization could not have been
devised. It was inevitable that, under such a system, the provincial
magnates should settle matters to their own liking without reference
to Kyoto, and that, the better to enforce their will, they should
equip themselves with armed retinues. In truth, it is not too much to
say that, from the tenth century, Japan outside the capital became an
arena of excursions and alarms, the preservation of peace being
wholly dependent on the ambitions of local magnates.

A history of all these happenings would be intolerably long and
tedious. Therefore only those that have a national bearing will be
here set down. Prominent among such is the struggle between the Taira
and the Minamoto in the Kwanto. The origin of these two families has
already been recounted. Some historians have sought to differentiate
the metropolitan section of the Minamoto from the provincial
section--that is to say, the men of luxury and literature who
frequented the capital, from the men of sword and bow who ruled in
the provinces. Such differentiation is of little practical value.
Similar lines of demarcation might be drawn in the case of the Taira
and Fujiwara themselves. If there were great captains in each of
these famous families, there were also great courtiers. To the former
category belonged Taira Tadatsune. For generations his family had
ruled in the province of Shimosa and had commanded the allegiance of
all the bushi of the region. Tadatsune held at one time the post of
vice-governor of the neighbouring province of Kazusa, where he
acquired large manors (shoen). In the year 1028, he seized the chief
town of the latter province, and pushing on into Awa, killed the
governor and obtained complete control of the province.* The Court,
on receiving news of these events, ordered Minamoto Yorinobu,
governor of Kai, and several other provincial governors to attack the
Taira chief.

*Murdoch, in his History of Japan, says that in three years
Tadatsune's aggressions "reduced the Kwanto to a tangled wilderness.
Thus, in the province of Shimosa, in 1027, there had been as much as
58,000 acres under cultivation; but in 1031 this had shrunk to
forty-five acres."

Yorinobu did not wait for his associates. Setting out with his son,
Yoriyoshi, in 1031, he moved at once against Tadatsune's castle,
which stood on the seashore of Shimosa, protected by moats and
palisades, and supposed to be unapproachable from the sea except by
boats, of which Tadatsune had taken care that there should not be any
supply available. But the Minamoto general learned that the shore
sloped very slowly on the castle front, and marching his men boldly
through the water, he delivered a crushing attack.

For this exploit, which won loud plaudits, he was appointed
commandant of the local government office, a post held by his
grandfather, Tsunemoto, whom we have seen as vice-governor of Musashi
in the days of Masakado; by his father, Mitsunaka, one of the pillars
of the Minamoto family, and by his elder brother, Yorimitsu, who
commanded the cavalry of the guards in Kyoto. The same post was
subsequently bestowed on Yorinobu's son, Yoriyoshi, and on the
latter's son, Yoshiiye, known by posterity as "Hachiman Taro,"
Japan's most renowned archer, to whom the pre-eminence of the
Minamoto family was mainly due. Tadatsune had another son, Tsunemasa,
who was appointed vice-governor of Shimosa and who is generally
spoken of as Chiba-no-suke. The chief importance of these events is
that they laid the foundation of the Minamoto family's supremacy in
the Kwanto, and thus permanently influenced the course of Japanese


It is advisable at this stage to make closer acquaintance with the
Japanese bushi (soldier), who has been cursorily alluded to more than
once in these pages, and who, from the tenth century, acts a
prominent role on the Japanese stage. History is silent as to the
exact date when the term "bushi" came into use, but from a very early
era its Japanese equivalent, "monono-fu," was applied to the guards
of the sovereign's palace, and when great provincial magnates began,
about the tenth century, to support a number of armed retainers,
these gradually came to be distinguished as bushi. In modern times
the ethics of the bushi have been analysed under the name "bushido"
(the way of the warrior), but of course no such term or any such
complete code existed in ancient days. The conduct most appropriate
to a bushi was never embodied in a written code. It derived its
sanctions from the practice of recognized models, and only by
observing those models can we reach a clear conception of the thing


To that end, brief study may be given to the principal campaigns of
the eleventh century, namely, the century immediately preceding the
establishment of military feudalism. It must be premised, however,
that although the bushi figured mainly on the provincial stage, he
acted an important part in the capital also. There, the Throne and
its Fujiwara entourage were constrained to enlist the co-operation of
the military nobles for the purpose of controlling the lawless
elements of the population. The Minamoto family were conspicuous in
that respect. Minamoto Mitsunaka--called also Manchu--served at the
Court of four consecutive sovereigns from Murakami downwards, was
appointed governor of several provinces, and finally became
commandant of the local Government office. Yorimitsu, his son, a
still greater strategist, was a prominent figure at five Courts, from
the days of Enyu, and his brothers, Yorichika and Yorinobu, rendered
material assistance in securing the supremacy of the great Fujiwara
chief, Michinaga. Indeed, the Minamoto were commonly spoken of as the
"claws" of the Fujiwara. It was this Yorinobu who won such fame by
escalading the castle of Taira Tadatsune and who established his
family's footing in the Kwanto. His uncle, Yoshimitsu, had a large
estate at Tada in Settsu, and this branch of the family was known as
Tada Genji.*

Then there were:

The Yamato Genji descended from Yorichika

 "  Suruga   "        "      "  Mitsumasa

 "  Shinano  "        "      "  Mitsunaka

 "  Uda      "   of Omi, called also the Sasaki family

 "  Saga     "   of Settsu "     "    "  Watanabe

 "  Hizen    "   of Hizen  "     "    "  Matsuura

The Taira family became famous from the time of Sadamori, who quelled
the insurrection of Masakado. Of this clan, there were these

The Daijo-uji of Hitachi, so called because for generations they held
the office of daijo in Hitachi.

The Ise-Heishi of Ise, descended from Korehira, son of Sadamori.

 "  Shiro-uji of Mutsu, Dewa, Shinano, and Echigo, descended from
Shigemori and Koremochi

 "  Nishina-uji   "      "      "       "    "       "         " "

 "  Iwaki-uji     "      "      "       "    "       "         " "

 "  Miura-no-suke of Musashi, Kazusa, and Shimosa, descendants of
Taira no Yoshibumi

 "  Chiba-no-suke       "        "           "       " "

 "  Chichibu-uji        "        "           "       " "

Soma family, who succeeded to the domains of Masakado.

*"Gen" is the alternative pronunciation of "Minamoto" as "Hei" is of
"Taira." The two great families who occupy such a large space in the
pages of Japanese history are spoken of together as "Gen-Pei," and
independently as "Genji" and "Heishi," or "Minamoto" and

The Fujiwara also had many provincial representatives, descended
mainly from Hidesato, (called also Tawara Toda), who distinguished
himself in the Masakado crisis. There were the Sano-uji of
Shimotsuke, Mutsu, and Dewa; and there were the Kondo, the Muto, the
Koyama, and the Yuki, all in different parts of the Kwanto. In fact,
the empire outside the capital was practically divided between the
Minamoto, the Taira, and the Fujiwara families, so that anything like
a feud could scarcely fail to have wide ramifications.

The eleventh century may be said to have been the beginning of such
tumults. Not long after the affair of Taira Tadatsune, there occurred
the much larger campaign known as Zen-kunen no Sodo, or the "Prior
Nine Years' Commotion." The scene of this struggle was the vast
province of Mutsu in the extreme north of the main island. For
several generations the Abe family had exercised sway there, and its
representative in the middle of the eleventh century extended his
rule over six districts and defied the authority of the provincial
governors. The Court deputed Minamoto Yoriyoshi to restore order. The
Abe magnate was killed by a stray arrow at an early stage of the
campaign, but his son, Sadato, made a splendid resistance.

In December, 1057, Yoriyoshi, at the head of eighteen hundred men,
led a desperate assault on the castle of Kawasaki, garrisoned by
Sadato with four thousand picked soldiers. The attack was delivered
during a heavy snow-storm, and in its sequel the Minamoto general
found his force reduced to six men. Among these six, however, was his
eldest son, Yoshiiye, one of the most skilful bowmen Japan ever
produced. Yoshiiye's mother was a Taira. When she became enceinte her
husband dreamed that the sacred sword of the war deity, Hachiman, had
been given to him, and the boy came to be called Hachiman Taro. This
name grew to be a terror to the enemy, and it was mainly through his
prowess that his father and their scanty remnant of troops escaped
over roads where the snow lay several feet deep.

On a subsequent occasion in the same campaign, Yoshiiye had Sadato at
his mercy and, while fixing an arrow to shoot him, composed the first
line of a couplet, "The surcoat's warp at last is torn." Sadato,
without a moment's hesitation, capped the line, "The threads at last
are frayed and worn,"* and Yoshiiye, charmed by such a display of
ready wit, lowered his bow. Nine years were needed to finish the
campaign, and, in its sequel, Yoriyoshi was appointed governor of
Iyo, and Yoshiiye, governor of Mutsu, while Kiyowara Takenori,
without whose timely aid Sadato could scarcely have been subdued,
received the high post of chinju-fu shogun (commandant of the local
Government office). Yoshiiye's magnanimity towards Sadato at the
fortress of Koromo-gawa has always been held worthy of a true bushi.

*The point of this couplet is altogether lost in English. It turns
upon the fact that the word tate used by Yoshiiye means either a
fortress or the vertical threads in woven stuff, and that koromo was
the name of the fortress where the encounter took place and had also
the significance of "surcoat."

Sadato was ultimately killed, but his younger brother Muneto had the
affection and full confidence of Yoshiiye. Muneto, however,
remembered his brother's fate and cherished a desire to take
vengeance on Yoshiiye, which mood also was recognized as becoming to
a model bushi. One night, the two men went out together, and Muneto
decided that the opportunity for vengeance had come. Drawing his
sword, he looked into the ox-carriage containing Yoshiiye and found
him sound asleep. The idea of behaving treacherously in the face of
such trust was unendurable, and thereafter Muneto served Yoshiiye
with faith and friendship. The confidence that the Minamoto hero
reposed in the brother of his old enemy and the way it was
requited--these, too, are claimed as traits of the bushi.

Yet another canon is furnished by Yoshiiye's career--the canon of
humility. Oye no Masafusa was overheard remarking that Yoshiiye had
some high qualities but was unfortunately ignorant of strategy. This
being repeated to Yoshiiye, he showed no resentment but begged to
become Masafusa's pupil. Yet he was already conqueror of the Abe and
governor of Dewa.


Thereafter the provinces of Mutsu and Dewa were again the scene of
another fierce struggle which, since it began in the third year
(1089) of the Kwanji era and ended in the fifth year (1091), was
called the "After Three-years War." With regard to the nature of this
commotion, no enumeration of names is necessary. It was a family
quarrel between the scions of Kiyowara Takenori, a magnate of Mutsu
who had rendered conclusive assistance to Yoshiiye in the Nine-years'
War; and as a great landowner of Dewa, Kimiko Hidetake, took part,
the whole north of Japan may be said to have been involved. It fell
to Yoshiiye, as governor of Mutsu, to quell the disturbance, and very
difficult the task proved, so difficult that the issue might have
been different had not Fujiwara Kiyohira--who will be presently
spoken of--espoused the Minamoto cause.

When news of the struggle reached Kyoto, Yoshiiye's younger brother,
Yoshimitsu, who held the much coveted post of kebiishi, applied for
permission to proceed at once to his brother's assistance. The Court
refused his application, whereupon he resigned his office and, like a
true bushi, hastened to the war. Yoshimitsu was a skilled performer
upon a musical instrument called the sho. He had studied under a
celebrated master, Toyohara Tokimoto, now no more, and, on setting
out for the field of battle in the far north, he became apprehensive
lest the secrets imparted to him by his teacher should die with him.
He therefore invited Tokimoto's son, Tokiaki, to bear him company
during the first part of his journey, and to him he conveyed all the
knowledge he possessed. The spectacle of this renowned soldier giving
instruction in the art of music to the son of his deceased teacher on
moonlit nights as he travelled towards the battlefield, has always
appealed strongly to Japanese conception of a perfect samurai, and
has been the motive of many a picture.

This Go-sannen struggle furnished also another topic for frequent
pictorial representation. When about to attack the fortress of
Kanazawa, to which the approaches were very difficult, Yoshiiye
observed a flock of geese rising in confusion, and rightly inferred
an ambuscade of the enemy. His comment was, "Had not Oye Masafusa
taught me strategy, many brave men had been killed to-night." Yet one
more typical bushi may be mentioned in connexion with this war.
Kamakura Gongoro, a youth of sixteen, always fought in the van of
Yoshiiye's forces and did great execution. A general on the enemy's
side succeeded in discharging a shaft which entered the boy's eye.
Gongoro, breaking the arrow, rode straight at the archer and cut him
down. A shrine in Kamakura was erected to the memory of this intrepid

When Yoshiiye reported to the Throne the issue of this sanguinary
struggle, Kyoto replied that the war had been a private feud and that
no reward or distinctions would be conferred. Yoshiiye therefore
devoted the greater part of his own manors to recompensing those that
had followed his standard. He thus won universal respect throughout
the Kwanto. Men competed to place their sons and younger brothers as
kenin (retainers) in his service and the name of Hachiman-ko was on
all lips. But Yoshiiye died (1108) in a comparatively low rank. It is
easy to comprehend that in the Kwanto it became a common saying,
"Better serve the Minamoto than the sovereign."


Fujiwara Kiyohira, who is mentioned above as having espoused the
cause of the Minamoto in the Go-sannen, was descended from Hidesato,
the conqueror of Masakado. After the Go-sannen outbreak he succeeded
to the six districts of Mutsu which had been held by the insurgent
chiefs. This vast domain descended to his son Motohira, and to the
latter's son, Hidehira, whose name we shall presently find in large
letters on a page of Japanese history.

The Mutsu branch of the Fujiwara wielded paramount sway in the north
for several generations. Near Hiraizumi, in the province of Rikuchu,
may still be seen four buildings forming the monastery Chuson-ji. In
one of these edifices repose the remains of Kiyohira, Motohira, and
Hidehira. The ceiling, floor and four walls of this Konjiki-do
(golden hall) were originally covered with powdered gold, and its
interior pillars are inlaid with mother-of-pearl on which are traced
the outlines of twelve Arhats. In the days of Kiyohira the monastery
consisted of forty buildings and was inhabited by three hundred





The 69th Sovereign, the Emperor Go-Shujaku   A.D. 1037-1045

    70th     "             "    Go-Reizei         1046-1068

    71st     "             "    Go-Sanjo          1069-1072

    72nd     "             "    Shirakawa         1073-1086

    73rd     "             "    Horikawa          1087-1107

    74th     "             "    Toba              1108-1123

    75th     "             "    Sutoku            1124-1141

    76th     "             "    Konoe             1142-1155

    77th     "             "    Go-Shirakawa      1156-1158


During two centuries the administrative power remained in the hands
of the Fujiwara. They lost it by their own timidity rather than
through the machinations of their enemies. When the Emperor
Go-Shujaku was mortally ill, he appointed his eldest son, Go-Reizei,
to be his successor, and signified his desire that the latter's
half-brother, Takahito, should be nominated Crown Prince. Fujiwara
Yorimichi was then regent (kwampaku). To him, also, the dying
sovereign made known his wishes. Now Takahito had not been born of a
Fujiwara mother. The regent, therefore, while complying at once in
Go-Reizei's case, said that the matter of the Crown Prince might be
deferred, his purpose being to wait until a Fujiwara lady should bear
a son to Go-Reizei.

In thus acting, Yorimichi obeyed the policy from which his family had
never swerved through many generations, and which had now become an
unwritten law of the State. But his brother, Yoshinobu, read the
signs of the times in a sinister light. He argued that the real power
had passed to the military magnates, and that by attempting to stem
the current the Fujiwara might be swept away altogether. He therefore
repaired to the palace, and simulating ignorance of what had passed
between the late sovereign and the kwampaku, inquired whether it was
intended that Prince Takahito should enter a monastery. Go-Reizei
replied emphatically in the negative and related the facts, whereupon
Yoshinobu declared that the prince should be nominated forthwith. It
was done, and thus for the first time in a long series of years a
successor to the throne was proclaimed who had not the qualification
of a Fujiwara mother.

There remained to the kwampaku only one way of expressing his
dissent. During many years it had been customary that the Prince
Imperial, on his nomination, should receive from the Fujiwara regent
a famous sword called Tsubo-kiri (Jar-cutter). Yorimichi declined to
make the presentation in the case of Prince Takahito on the ground
that he was not of Fujiwara lineage. The prince--afterwards
Go-Sanjo--had the courage to deride this omission. "Of what service
is the sword to me?" he said. "I have no need of it."

Such an attitude was very significant of the changing times. During
more than twenty years of probation as Crown Prince, this sovereign,
Go-Sanjo, had ample opportunity of observing the arbitrary conduct of
the Fujiwara, and when he held the sceptre he neglected no means of
asserting the authority of the Crown, one conspicuous step being to
take a daughter of Go-Ichijo into the palace as chugu, a position
created for a Fujiwara and never previously occupied by any save a

Altogether, Go-Sanjo stands an imposing figure in the annals of his
country. Erudition he possessed in no small degree, and it was
supplemented by diligence, high moral courage and a sincere love of
justice. He also set to his people an example of frugality. It is
related that, observing as he passed through the streets one day, an
ox-carriage with gold mountings, he stopped his cortege and caused
the gold to be stripped off. Side by side with this record may be
placed his solicitude about the system of measures, which had fallen
into disorder. With his own hands he fashioned a standard which was
known to later generations as the senshi-masu of the Enkyu era
(1069-1074). The question of tax-free manors (shoen) also received
much attention. During the reign of Go-Shujaku, decrees were
frequently issued forbidding the creation of these estates. The
Fujiwara shoen were conspicuous. Michinaga possessed wide manors
everywhere, and Yorimichi, his son, was not less insatiable. Neither
Go-Shujaku nor Go-Reizei could check the abuse. But Go-Sanjo resorted
to a really practical measure. He established a legislative office
where all titles to shoen had to be examined and recorded, the Daiho
system of State ownership being restored, so that all rights of
private property required official sanction, the Court also becoming
the judge in all disputes as to validity of tenure.

These orders came like a clap of thunder in a blue sky. Many great
personages had acquired vast manorial tracts by processes that could
not endure the scrutiny of the Kiroku-jo (registrar's office).
Yorimichi, the kwampaku, was a conspicuous example. On receipt of the
order to register, he could only reply that he had succeeded to his
estates as they stood and that no documentary evidence was available.
Nevertheless, he frankly added that, if his titles were found
invalid, he was prepared to surrender his estates, since the position
he occupied required him to be an administrator of law, not an
obstacle to its administration. This was the same noble who had
refused to present the sword, Tsubo-kiri, to Go-Sanjo when the latter
was nominated Crown Prince. The Emperor might now have exacted heavy
reparation. But his Majesty shrank from anything like spoliation. A
special decree was issued exempting from proof of title all manors
held by chancellors, regents, or their descendants.


Another abuse with which Go-Sanjo sought to deal drastically was the
sale of offices and ranks. This was an evil of old standing. Whenever
special funds were required for temple building or palace
construction, it had become customary to invite contributions from
local magnates, who, in return, received, or were renewed in their
tenure of, the post of provincial governor. Official ranks were
similarly disposed of. At what time this practice had its origin the
records do not show, but during the reign of Kwammu (782-805,) the
bestowal of rank in return for a money payment was interdicted, and
Miyoshi Kiyotsura, in his celebrated memorial to Daigo (898-930),
urged that the important office of kebiishi should never be conferred
in consideration of money. But in the days of Ichijo, the acquisition
of tax-free manors increased rapidly and the treasury's income
diminished correspondingly, so that it became inevitable, in times of
State need, that recourse should be had to private contributions, the
contributors being held to have shown "merit" entitling them to rank
or office or both.

Go-Sanjo strictly interdicted all such transactions. But this action
brought him into sharp collision with the then kwampaku, Fujiwara
Norimichi. The latter built within the enclosure of Kofuku-ji at Nara
an octagonal edifice containing two colossal images of Kwannon. On
this nanen-do the regent spent a large sum, part of which was
contributed by the governor of the province. Norimichi therefore
applied to the Emperor for an extension of the governor's term of
office. Go-Sanjo refused his assent. But Norimichi insisted. Finally
the Emperor, growing indignant, declared that the kwampaku's sole
title to respect being derived from his maternal relationship to the
sovereign, he deserved no consideration at the hands of an Emperor
whose mother was not a Fujiwara. It was a supreme moment in the
fortunes of the Fujiwara. Norimichi angrily swept out of the
presence, crying aloud: "The divine influence of Kasuga Daimyojin*
ceases from to-day. Let every Fujiwara official follow me." Thereat
all the Fujiwara courtiers flocked out of the palace, and the Emperor
had no choice but to yield. Victory rested with the Fujiwara, but it
was purchased at the loss of some prestige.

*Titulary deity of the Fujiwara-uji.


Their obviously selfish device of seating a minor on the throne and
replacing him as soon as he reached years of discretion, had been
gradually invested by the Fujiwara with an element of spurious
altruism. They had suggested the principle that the tenure of
sovereign power should not be exercised exclusively. Go-Sanjo held,
however, that such a system not only impaired the Imperial authority
but also was unnatural. No father, he argued, could be content to
divest himself of all practical interest in the affairs of his
family, and to condemn the occupant of the throne to sit with folded
hands was to reduce him to the rank of a puppet. Therefore, even
though a sovereign abdicated, he should continue to take an active
part in the administration of State affairs. This was, in short,
Go-Sanjo's plan for rendering the regent a superfluity. He proposed
to substitute camera government (Insei) for control by a kwampaku.
But fate willed that he should not carry his project into practice.
He abdicated, owing to ill health, in 1073, and died the following


Go-Sanjo was succeeded by his eldest son, Shirakawa. He had taken for
consort the daughter of Fujiwara Yorimichi. This lady, Kenko, had
been adopted into the family of Fujiwara Morozane, and it is recorded
that Yorimichi and Morozane shed tears of delight when they heard of
her selection by the Crown Prince--so greatly had the influence of
the Fujiwara declined. Shirakawa modelled himself on his father. He
personally administered affairs of State, displaying assiduity and
ability but not justice. Unlike his father he allowed himself to be
swayed by favour and affection, arbitrarily ignored time-honoured
rules, and was guilty of great extravagance in matters of religion.
But he carried into full effect the camera (or cloistered) system of
government, thereafter known as Insei. For, in 1086, after thirteen
years' reign, he resigned the sceptre to an eight-year-old boy,
Horikawa, his son by the chugu, Kenko. The untimely death of the
latter, for whom he entertained a strong affection, was the proximate
cause of Shirakawa's abdication, but there can be little doubt that
he had always contemplated such a step. He took the tonsure and the
religious title of Ho-o (pontiff), but in the Toba palace, his new
residence, he organized an administrative machine on the exact lines
of that of the Court.

(An example of "Shoinzukuri" building)

Thenceforth the functions of Imperialism were limited to matters of
etiquette and ceremony, all important State business being transacted
by the Ho-o and his camera entourage. If the decrees of the Court
clashed with those of the cloister, as was occasionally inevitable,
the former had to give way. Thus, it can scarcely be said that there
was any division of authority. But neither was there any progress.
The earnest efforts made by Go-Sanjo to check the abuse of sales of
rank and office as well as the alienation of State lands into private
manors, were rendered wholly abortive under the sway of Shirakawa.
The cloistered Emperor was a slave of superstition. He caused no less
than six temples* to be built of special grandeur, and to the
principal of these (Hosho-ji) he made frequent visits in state, on
which occasions gorgeous ceremonies were performed. He erected the
Temple of the 33,333 Images of Kwannon (the Sanjusangen-do) in Kyoto;
he made four progresses to the monastery at Koya and eight to that at
Kumano; he commissioned artists to paint 5470 Buddhist pictures,
sculptors to cast 127 statues each sixteen feet high; 3150 life-size,
and 2930 of three feet or less, and he raised twenty-one large
pagodas and 446,630 small ones.

*These were designated Roku-sho-ji, or "six excellent temples."

His respect for Buddhism was so extreme that he strictly interdicted
the taking of life in any form, a veto which involved the destruction
of eight thousand fishing nets and the loss of their means of
sustenance to innumerable fishermen, as well as the release of all
falcons kept for hawking. It has even been suggested that Shirakawa's
piety amounted to a species of insanity, for, on one occasion, when
rain prevented a contemplated progress to Hosho-ji, he sentenced the
rain to imprisonment and caused a quantity to be confined in a
vessel.* To the nation, however, all this meant something very much
more than a mere freak. It meant that the treasury was depleted and
that revenue had to be obtained by recourse to the abuses which
Go-Sanjo had struggled so earnestly to check, the sale of offices and
ranks, even in perpetuity, and the inclusion of great tracts of State
land in private manors.

*This silliness was spoken of by the people as ame-kingoku (the
incarceration of the rain).


Horikawa died in 1107, after a reign of twenty years, and was
succeeded by his son Toba, a child of five. Affairs of State
continued to be directed by the cloistered sovereign, and he chose
for his grandson's consort Taiken-mon-in, who bore to him a son, the
future Emperor Sutoku. Toba abdicated, after a reign of fifteen
years, on the very day of Sutoku's nomination as heir apparent, and,
six years later, Shirakawa died (1128), having administered the
empire from the cloister during a space of forty-three years.

As a device to wrest the governing power from the grasp of the
Fujiwara, Go-Sanjo's plan was certainly successful, and had he lived
to put it into operation himself, the results must have been
different. But in the greatly inferior hands of Shirakawa this new
division of Imperial authority and the segregation of its source
undoubtedly conspired to prepare the path for military feudalism and
for curtained Emperors.

Toba, with the title of Ho-o, took the tonsure and administered from
the cloister after Shirakawa's death. One of his first acts after
abdication was to take another consort, a daughter of Fujiwara
Tadazane, whom he made Empress under the name of Kaya-no-in; but as
she bore him no offspring, he placed in the Toba palace a second
Fujiwara lady, Bifuku-mon-in, daughter of Nagazane. By her he had
(1139) a son whom he caused to be adopted by the Empress, preparatory
to placing him on the throne as Emperor Konoe, at the age of three.
Thus, the cloistered sovereigns followed faithfully in the footsteps
of the Fujiwara.


A phenomenon which became conspicuous during the reign of Shirakawa
was recourse to violence by Buddhist priests. This abuse had its
origin in the acquisition of large manors by temples and the
consequent employment of soldiers to act as guards. Ultimately, great
monasteries like Kofuku-ji, Onjo-ji, and Enryaku-ji came to possess
thousands of these armed men, and consequently wielded temporal
power. Shirakawa's absorbing belief in Buddhism created opportunities
for the exercise of this influence. Keenly anxious that a son should
be born of his union with Kenko, the daughter of Fujiwara Yorimichi,
his Majesty bespoke the prayers of Raigo, lord-abbot of Onjo-ji. It
happened that unsuccessful application had frequently been made by
the Onjo-ji monks for an important religious privilege. Raigo
informed the Emperor that, if this favour were promised, the prayer
for a prince would certainly be heard. Shirakawa made the promise,
and Kenko gave birth to Prince Atsubumi. But when the Emperor would
have fulfilled his pledge, the priests of Enryaku-ji (Hiei-zan),
jealous that a privilege which they alone possessed should be granted
to priests of another monastery, repaired to the Court en masse to
protest. Shirakuwu yielded to this representation and despatched Oye
no Masafusa to placate Raigo. But the abbot refused to listen. He
starved himself to death, passing day and night in devotion, and
shortly after his demise the little prince, born in answer to his
prayers, died of small-pox.

In an age when superstition prevailed widely the death of the child
was, of course, attributed to the incantations of the abbot. From
that time a fierce feud raged between Onjo-ji and Enryaku-ji. In the
year 1081, the priest-soldiers of the latter set the torch to the
former, and, flocking to Kyoto in thousands, threw the capital into
disorder. Order was with difficulty restored through the exertions of
the kebiishi and the two Minamoto magnates, Yoshiiye and Yoshitsuna,
but it was deemed expedient to guard the palace and the person of
the Emperor with bushi. Twelve years later (1093), thousands of
cenobites, carrying the sacred tree of the Kasuga shrine, marched
from Nara to Kyoto, clamouring for vengeance on the governor of
Omi, whom they charged with arresting and killing the officials
of the shrine. This became a precedent. Thereafter, whenever the
priests had a grievance, they flocked to the palace carrying the
sacred tree of some temple or shrine. The soldier cenobites of
Enryaku-ji--yama-hoshi, as they were called--showed themselves
notably turbulent. They inaugurated the device of replacing the
sacred tree with the "divine car," against which none dare raise a
hand or shoot an arrow. If their petition were rejected, they would
abandon the car in the streets of the capital, thus placing the city
under a curse.

A notable instance occurred, in 1095, when these yama-hoshi of
Hiyoshi preferred a charge of blood-guiltiness against Minamoto
Yoshitsuna, governor of Mino. They flocked to the palace in a
truculent mob, but the bushi on duty, being under the command of a
Minamoto, did not hesitate to use their bows. Thereupon the
yama-hoshi discarded the divine car, hastened back to the temple, and
assembling all the priests, held a solemn service invoking the wrath
of heaven on the State. In an age of profound superstition such
action threw the Court into consternation, and infinite pains were
taken to persuade Shinto officials of an independent shrine to carry
the divine car back to Hiei-zan.

Instances of such turbulence were not infrequent, and they account in
part for the reckless prodigality shown by Shirakawa in building and
furnishing temples. The cenobites did not confine themselves to
demonstrations at the palace; they had their own quarrels also.
Kofuku-ji's hand was against Kimbusen and Todai-ji, and not a few
priests doffed the stole and cassock to engage in temporary
brigandage. The great Taira leader, Tadamori, and his son,
Kiyomori--one of the most prominent figures on the stage of medieval
Japan--dealt strongly with the Shinto communities at Hiyoshi and
Gion, and drove the Kofuku-ji priests out of the streets of Kyoto,
the result being that this great military family became an object of
execration at Kofuku-ji and Enryaku-ji alike. With difficulty the
Court kept peace between them. It is related of Shirakawa Ho-o that
the three things which he declared to defy his control were the
waters of the Kamo River, the fall of the dice, and the yama-hoshi.





THE period we are considering is a long one which owes its unity to
the sole fact that the capitol was at Kyoto. It is, therefore, unsafe
to generalize on its manners and customs. But we may say with a
degree of accuracy that the epoch was marked by an increasing luxury
and artificiality, due largely to the adoption of Chinese customs.
The capital city was built on a Chinese pattern and the salient
characteristics of the Court during the period named from the new
capital are on the Chinese pattern too. The Chinese idea of a civil
service in which worth was tested by examinations was carried to a
pedantic extreme both in administration and in society. In these
examinations the important paper was in Chinese prose composition,
which was much as if Latin prose were the main subject to prove the
fitness of a candidate for an English or American administrative
post! And the tests of social standing and the means of gaining fame
at Court were skill in verse-writing, in music and dancing, in
calligraphy and other forms of drawing, and in taste in landscape

Ichijo was famed as a musician and a prose writer, and Saga as a
calligraphist. The Ako incident (see p. 240) illustrates the lengths
to which pedantry was carried in matters of administration. And the
story of the ill-success at the capital of the young soldier Taira
Masakado, contrasted with the popularity of his showily vicious
kinsman Sadabumi (see p. 253), illustrate what Murdoch means when he
says that the early emperors of the Heian epoch had an "unbalanced
craze for Chinese fashions, for Chinese manners, and above all for
Chinese literature." Remarkable though the power of the Japanese
people always seems to have been to assimilate foreign culture in
large doses and speedily, it is hardly to be expected that at this
period, any more than at a later one when there came in a sudden
flood of European civilization, the nation should not have suffered
somewhat--that it should not have had the defects of its qualities.


Of Nimmyo's luxury and architectural extravagance we have already
spoken, and of the arraignment of prodigality in dress, banquets, and
funerals in the famous report of Miyoshi Kiyotsura (see p. 246).
Indeed, we might almost cite the madness of the Emperor Yozei as
being a typical, though extreme, case of the hysteria of the young
and affected court nobles. Two of the Fujiwara have been pilloried in
native records for ostentation: one for carrying inside his clothes
hot rice-dumplings to keep himself warm, and, more important, to
fling them away one after another as they got cold; and the other for
carrying a fan decorated with a painting of a cuckoo and for
imitating the cuckoo's cry whenever he opened the fan.


If the men of the period were effeminate and emotional, the women
seem to have sunk to a lower stage of morals than in any other era,
and sexual morality and wifely fidelity to have been abnormally bad
and lightly esteemed. The story of Ariwara Narihira, prince, poet,
painter and Don Juan, and of Taka and her rise to power (see p. 238)
has already been told; and it is to be noted that the Fujiwara
working for the control of the Throne through Imperial consorts
induced, even forced, the Emperors to set a bad example in such
matters. But over all this vice there was a veneer of elaborate
etiquette. Even in the field a breach of etiquette was a deadly
insult: as we have seen (p. 254) Taira Masakado lost the aid of a
great lieutenant in his revolt because he forgot to bind up his hair
properly before he received a visitor. At Court, etiquette and
ceremony became the only functions of the nominal monarch after the
camera government of the cloistered ex-Emperors had begun. And
aristocratic women, though they might be notoriously unfaithful, kept
up a show of modesty, covering their faces in public, refusing to
speak to a stranger, going abroad in closed carriages or heavily
veiled with hoods, and talking to men with their faces hid by a fan,
a screen, or a sliding door, these degrees of intimacy being nicely
adjusted to the rank and station of the person addressed. Love-making
and wooing were governed by strict and conventional etiquette, and an
interchange of letters of a very literary and artificial type and of
poems usually took the place of personal meetings. Indeed, literary
skill and appreciation of Chinese poetry and art were the main things
sought for in a wife.



The pastimes of Court society in these years differed not so much in
kind as in degree from those of the Nara epoch. In amusement, as in
all else, there was extravagance and elaboration. What has already
been said of the passion for literature would lead us to expect to
find in the period an extreme development of the couplet-tournament
(uta awase) which had had a certain vogue in the Nara epoch and was
now a furore at Court. The Emperor Koko and other Emperors in the
first half of the Heian epoch gave splendid verse-making parties,
when the palace was richly decorated, often with beautiful flowers.
In this earlier part of the period the gentlemen and ladies of the
Court were separated, sitting on opposite sides of the room in which
the party was held. Later in the Heian epoch the composition of love
letters was a favorite competitive amusement, and although canons of
elegant phraseology were implicitly followed, the actual contents of
these fictitious letters were frankly indecent.

Other literary pastimes were: "incense-comparing," a combination of
poetical dilletantism and skill in recognizing the fragrance of
different kinds of incense burned separately or in different
combinations; supplying famous stanzas of which only a word or so was
given; making riddles in verse; writing verse or drawing pictures on
fans,--testing literary and artistic skill; and making up lists of
related ideographs. The love of flowers was carried to extravagant
lengths. The camera Court in particular organized magnificent picnics
to see the cherry-trees of Hosho-ji and the snowy forest at Koya.
There were spring festivals of sunrise at Sagano and autumn moonlight
excursions to the Oi River. The taste of the time was typified in
such vagaries as covering trees with artificial flowers in winter and
in piling up snow so that some traces of snowy landscapes might still
be seen in spring or summer. Such excess reminds the student of
decadent Rome as portrayed by the great Latin satirists.

Other favorite amusements at Court were: gathering sweet-flag in
summer and comparing the length of its roots, hawking, fan-lotteries,
a kind of backgammon called sugoroku, and different forms of
gambling. Football was played, a Chinese game in which the winner was
he who kicked the ball highest and kept it longest from touching the

Another rage was keeping animals as pets, especially cats and dogs,
which received human names and official titles and, when they died,
elaborate funerals. Kittens born at the palace at the close of the
tenth century were treated with consideration comparable to that
bestowed on Imperial infants. To the cat-mother the courtiers sent
the ceremonial presents after childbirth, and one of the
ladies-in-waiting was honoured by an appointment as guardian to the
young kittens.

Nobles in the Heian Epoch)


With the growth of luxury in the Heian epoch and the increase of
extravagant entertainment and amusement, there was a remarkable
development of music and the dance. Besides the six-stringed harp or
wagon, much more complex harps or lutes of thirteen or twenty-five
strings were used, and in general there was a great increase in the
number and variety of instruments. Indeed, we may list as many as
twenty kinds of musical instruments and three or four times as many
varieties of dance in the Heian epoch. Most of the dances were
foreign in their origin, some being Hindu, more Korean, and still
more Chinese, according to the usual classification. But imported
dances, adaptations of foreign dances, and the older native styles
were all more or less pantomimic.


Except in the new capital city with its formal plan there were no
great innovations in architecture. Parks around large houses and
willows and cherry-trees planted along the streets of Kyoto relieved
this stiffness of the great city. Landscape-gardening became an art.
Gardens were laid out in front of the row of buildings that made up
the home of each noble or Court official.

Convention was nearly as rigid here as it was in Court etiquette. In
the centre of this formal garden was a miniature lake with bridges
leading to an island; there was a waterfall feeding the lake, usually
at its southern end; and at the eastern and western limits of the
garden, respectively, a grotto for angling and a "hermitage of spring
water"--a sort of picnic ground frequented on summer evenings. The
great artist, Kanaoka, of the end of the ninth century worked at
laying out these rockeries and tiny parks. A native school of
architects, or more correctly carpenters, had arisen in the province
of Hida. There was less temple building than in the Nara epoch and
more attention was given to the construction of elegant palaces for
court officials and nobles. But these were built of wood and were far
from being massive or imposing. As in other periods of Japanese
architecture, the exterior was sacrificed to the interior where there
were choice woodworking and joinery in beautiful woods, and
occasionally screen-or wall-painting as decoration. There was still
little house-furnishing. Mats (tatami), fitted together so as to
cover the floor evenly, were not used until the very close of the
period; and then, too, sliding doors began to be used as partitions.
The coverings of these doors, silk or paper, were the "walls" for
Japanese mural paintings of the period. As the tatami came into more
general use, the bedstead of the earlier period, which was itself a
low dais covered with mats and with posts on which curtains and nets
might be hung, went out of use, being replaced by silken quilts
spread on the floor-mats. Cushions and arm-rests were the only other
important pieces of furniture.


In the Heian epoch, Court costume was marked by the two
characteristics that we have seen elsewhere in the
period--extravagance and convention. Indeed, it may be said that
Chinese dress and etiquette, introduced after the time of Kwammu were
the main source of the luxury of the period. Costume was extreme, not
alone in being rich and costly, but in amount of material used.
Princely and military head-dresses were costly, jewelled, and
enormously tall, and women wore their hair, if possible, so that it
trailed below their elaborate skirts. Men's sleeves and trousers were
cut absurdly large and full; and women's dress was not merely baggy
but voluminous. At a palace fete in 1117 the extreme of elegance was
reached by ladies each wearing a score or so of different coloured
robes. In this period the use of costly and gorgeous brocades and
silks with beautiful patterns and splendid embroideries began.

Women at Court, and the Court dandies who imitated them, painted
artificial eye-brows high on the forehead, shaving or plucking out
the real brows, powdered and rouged their faces and stained their
teeth black.


Ceramics did not advance in the Heian epoch, but in all other
branches of art there were rapid strides forward. The development of
interior decoration in temples, monasteries, and palaces was due to
progress on the part of lacquerers and painters. Gold lacquer,
lacquer with a gold-dust surface (called nashi-ji), and lacquer
inlaid with mother-of-pearl were increasingly used. Thanks in part to
the painters' bureau (E-dokoro) in the palace, Japanese painters
began to be ranked with their Chinese teachers. Koze Kanaoka was the
first to be thus honored, and it is on record that he was engaged to
paint figures of arhats on the sliding doors of the palace. The epoch
also boasted Fujiwara Tameuji, founder of the Takuma family of
artists, and Fujiwara Motomitsu, founder of the Tosa academy. The
sculpture of the time showed greater skill, but less grandeur of
conception, than the work of the Nara masters. Sculpture in wood was
important, dating especially from the 11th century. Jocho, possibly
the greatest of the workers in this medium, followed Chinese models,
and carved a famous Buddha for Michinaga's temple of Hosho-ji (1022).
Jocho's descendant Unkei was the ancestor of many busshi or sculptors
of Buddhist statues; and Kwaikei, a pupil of Unkei's brother Jokaku,
is supposed to have collaborated with Unkei on the great
gate-guardians of the Todai-ji temple. It is important to note that,
especially in the latter half of the Heian epoch, painters and
sculptors were usually men of good family. Art had become

Two minor forms of sculpture call for special attention. The
decoration of armour reached a high pitch of elaboration; and the
beautiful armour of Minamoto Yoshitsune is still preserved at Kasuga,
Nara. And masks to be used in mimetic dances, such as the No,
received attention from many great glyptic artists.

ENGRAVING: RAKAN (BUDDHIST DISCIPLE) (Carving in Stone at Horiuji)


In the year 799, cotton-seed, carried by an Indian junk which drifted
to the coast of Mikawa, was sown in the provinces of Nankai-do and
Saikai-do, and fifteen years later, when Saga reigned, tea plants
were brought from overseas and were set out in several provinces. The
Emperor Nimmyo (834-850) had buckwheat sown in the home provinces
(Kinai), and the same sovereign encouraged the cultivation of
sorghum, panic-grass, barley, wheat, large white beans, small red
beans, and sesame. It was at this time that the ina-hata (paddy-loom)
was devised for drying sheaves of rice before winnowing. Although it
was a very simple implement, it nevertheless proved of such great
value that an Imperial command was issued urging its wide use. In
short, in the early years of the Heian epoch, the Throne took an
active part in promoting agriculture, but this wholesome interest
gradually declined in proportion to the extension of tax-free manors


The story of trade resembled that of agriculture prosperous
development at the beginning of the era, followed by stagnation and
decline. Under Kwummu (782-805) and his immediate successors, canals
and roads were opened, irrigation works were undertaken, and coins
were frequently cast. But coins were slow in finding their way into
circulation, and taxes were generally paid in kind. Nevertheless, for
purposes of trade, prices of staples were fixed in terms of coin.
Thus in the year 996, a koku (about 5 bushels) of rice was the
equivalent of 1000 cash (ik-kan-mon); a koku of barley was valued at
2500 cash, and a hiki (25 yards) of silk at 2000 cash. Yet in actual
practice, commodities were often assessed in terms of silk or rice.
Goods were packed in stores (kura) or disposed on shelves in shops
(machi-ya), and at ports where merchantmen assembled there were
houses called tsuya (afterwards toiya) where wholesale transactions
were conducted on the commission system.

The city of Kyoto was divided into two parts, an eastern capital
(Tokyo) and a western capital (Saikyo). During the first half of
every month all commercial transactions were conducted in the eastern
capital, where fifty-one kinds of commodities were sold in fifty-one
shops; and during the second half the western capital alone was
frequented, with its thirty-three shops and thirty-three classes of
goods. After the abolition of embassies to China, at the close of the
ninth century, oversea trade declined for a time. But the inhabitants
of Tsukushi and Naniwa, which were favourably located for voyages,
continued to visit China and Korea, whence they are reported to have
obtained articles of value. Other ports frequented by foreign-going
ships were Kanzaki, Eguchi, Kaya, Otsu, and Hakata.


Turning to the inner life of the people in the Heian epoch, we may
say with little fear of exaggeration that the most notable thing was
the increase of superstition. This was due in part at least to the
growth in Japan of the power of Buddhism, and, be it understood, of
Buddhism of a degraded and debased form. The effort to combine
Buddhism and Shinto probably robbed the latter of any power it might
otherwise have had to withstand superstition. Although men of the
greatest ability went into the Buddhist monasteries, including many
Imperial princes, their eminence did not make them better leaders and
guides of the people, but rather aided them in misleading and
befooling the laity. Murdoch in speaking of the beginning of the 12th
century says: "At this date, Buddhism in Japan from a moral point of
view was in not a whit better case than was the Church of Rome
between the death of Sylvester II and the election of Leo IX." An
interesting parallel might be drawn between Japanese and European
superstition, as each was consequent on the low standards of the
clergy of the times. The famous report of Miyoshi Kiyotsura, to which
we have so often alluded, spoke in no measured terms of the greed and
vice of the Buddhist priests. And the character of these hireling
shepherds goes far to explain the gross superstition of the tune. We
have told (p. 274) the story of the abbot Raigo and how the Court was
forced to purchase from him intercessory prayers for the birth of an
heir,--and of the death of the heir in apparent consequence of
Raigo's displeasure. Near the end of the ninth century one Emperor
made a gift of 500,000 yen for prayers that seemed to have saved the
life of a favourite minister. Prayers for rain, for prolonged life,
for victory over an enemy, were implicitly believed to be efficient,
and priests received large bribes to make these prayers. Or they
received other rewards: the privilege of coming to Court in a
carriage was granted to one priest for bringing rain after a long
drought and to another for saving the life of a sick prince in 981.
As men got along in years they had masses said for the prolongation
of their lives,--with an increase in the premium each year for such
life insurance. Thus, at forty, a man had masses said in forty
shrines, but ten years later at fifty shrines in all.

In this matter, as in others, the influence of the Fujiwara was
great. They were in a close alliance with the priests, and they
controlled the Throne through consorts and kept the people in check
through priests and superstitions.

With the widespread belief in the power of priestly prayer there was
prevalent a fear of spirits and demons. Oda received a promise in a
dream that he would become Emperor. In the next generation the
Emperor Daigo exiled Sugawara Michizane to Kyusml, where the exile
died in two years. Soon afterwards the Emperor fell sick; and this,
the disaster of 930 when a thunderstorm killed many nobles in the
Imperial palace, and the sudden death of Michizane's accusers and of
the Crown Prince were explained as due to the ill-will of the injured
man's spirit. His titles were restored and everything possible was
done to placate the ghost (see p. 244). To an earlier period belongs
the similar story of Kwammu and his efforts to placate the spirit of
his younger brother whom he had exiled and killed. Kwammu, fearing
that death was coming upon him, built a temple to the shade of this
brother. A cloud over the palace of another Emperor was interpreted
as a portentous monster, half monkey and half snake, and one of the
Minamoto warriors won fame for his daring in shooting an arrow at the
cloud, which then vanished. Equally foolhardy and marvellous was the
deed of Fujiwara Michinaga, who alone of a band of courtiers in the
palace dared one dark night to go unattended and without lights from
one end of the palace to the other.

When the new city of Kyoto was built, a Buddhist temple was put near
the northeast gate to protect the capital from demons, since the
northeast quarter of the sky belonged to the demons; and on a hill a
clay statue was erected, eight feet high and armed with bow, arrows
and cuirass, to guard the city. So implicit was the belief in the
power of this colossal charm that it was said that it moved and
shouted to warn the city of danger.



There was, of course, no organized system of schools in this period,
but education was not neglected. A university was established in the
newly built capital, and there were five family schools or academies
for the youth of the separate uji. A school and hospital, founded by
Fujiwara Fuyutsugu in 825, received an Imperial endowment. At almost
exactly the same time (823) the Bunsho-in was founded by Sugawara.
The Sogaku-in was founded in 831 by Arihara Yukihara. In 850 the
consort of the emperor Saga built the Gakkwan-in for the Tachibana
family; and in 841 the palace of Junna became a school. And there was
one quasi-public school, opened in 828, in the Toji monastery south
of the capital, which was not limited to any family and was open to

ENGRAVING: NETSUKE (Hand-carvings in Ivory)





DESCRIBED superficially, the salient distinction between the epochs
of the Fujiwara and the Gen-pei was that during the former the
administrative power lay in the hands of the Court nobles in Kyoto,
whereas, during the latter, it lay in the hands of the military
magnates in the provinces. The processes by which this change was
evolved have already been explained in part and will be further
elucidated as we advance. Here, however, it is advisable to note that
this transfer of authority was, in one sense, a substitution of
native civilization for foreign, and, in another, a reversion to the
conditions that had existed at the time of the Yamato conquest. It
was a substitution of native civilization for foreign, because the
exotic culture imported from China and Korea had found its chief
field of growth in the capital and had never extended largely to the
provinces; and it was a reversion to the conditions existing at the
time of the Yamato conquest, because at that time the sword and the
sceptre had been one.

The Mononobe and the Otomo families constituted the pillars of the
State under the early Emperors. Their respective ancestors were
Umashimade no Mikoto and Michi no Omi no Mikoto. The Japanese term
monobe (or mononofu) was expressed by Chinese ideographs having the
sound, bushi. Thus, though it is not possible to fix the exact date
when the expression, bushi, came into general use, it is possible to
be sure that the thing itself existed from time immemorial. When the
Yamato sovereign undertook his eastward expedition, Umashimade with
his monobe subdued the central districts, and Michi no Omi with his
otomo and Okume-be consolidated these conquests. Thereafter the
monobe were organized into the konoe-fu (palace guards) and the otomo
into the emon-fu (gate guards). Not military matters alone, but also
criminal jurisdiction, belonged to the functions of these two.


The earliest type of the Yamato race having thus been military, it
becomes important to inquire what tenets constituted the soldier's
code in old Japan. Our first guide is the celebrated anthology,
Manyo-shu, compiled in the ninth century and containing some poems
that date from the sixth. From this we learn that the Yamato
monono-fu believed himself to have inherited the duty of dying for
his sovereign if occasion required. In that cause he must be prepared
at all times to find a grave, whether upon the desolate moor or in
the stormy sea. The dictates of filial piety ranked next in the
ethical scale. The soldier was required to remember that his body had
been given to him by his parents, and that he must never bring
disgrace upon his family name or ever disregard the dictates of
honour. Loyalty to the Throne, however, took precedence among moral
obligations. Parent, wife, and child must all be abandoned at the
call of patriotism. Such, as revealed in the pages of the Myriad
Leaves, were the simple ethics of the early Japanese soldier. And it
was largely from the Mononobe and Otomo families that high officials
and responsible administrators were chosen at the outset.

When Buddhism arrived in the sixth century, we have seen that it
encountered resolute opposition at the hands of Moriya, the o-muraji
of the Mononobe family. That was natural. The elevation of an alien
deity to a pedestal above the head of the ancestral Kami seemed
specially shocking to the soldier class. But the tendency of the time
was against conservatism. The Mononobe and the Otomo forfeited their
position, and the Soga stepped into their place, only to be succeeded
in turn by the Fujiwara. These last, earnest disciples of Chinese
civilization, looked down on the soldier, and delegated to him alone
the use of brute force and control of the criminal classes, reserving
for themselves the management of civil government and the pursuit of
literature, and even leaving politics and law in the hands of the

In these circumstances the military families of Minamoto (Gen) and
Taira (Hei), performing the duties of guards and of police, gradually
acquired influence; were trusted by the Court on all occasions
demanding an appeal to force, and spared no pains to develop the
qualities that distinguished them--the qualities of the bushi. Thus,
as we turn the pages of history, we find the ethics of the soldier
developing into a recognized code. His sword becomes an object of
profound veneration from the days of Minamoto Mitsunaka, who summons
a skilled swordsmith to the capital and entrusts to him the task of
forging two blades, which, after seven days of fasting and prayer and
sixty days of tempering, emerge so trenchant that they are thereafter
handed down from generation to generation of the Minamoto as
treasured heirlooms.*

*The swords were named "Knee-cutter" and "Beard-cutter," because when
tested for decapitating criminals, they severed not only the necks
but also the beard and the knees.

That the bushi's word must be sacred and irrevocable is established
by the conduct of Minamoto Yorinobu who, having promised to save the
life of a bandit if the latter restore a child taken as a hostage,
refuses subsequently to inflict any punishment whatever on the
robber. That a bushi must prefer death to surrender is a principle
observed in thousands of cases, and that his family name must be
carefully guarded against every shadow of reproach is proved by his
habit of prefacing a duel on the battle-field with a recitation of
the titles and deeds of his ancestors. To hold to his purpose in
spite of evil report; to rise superior to poverty and hardship; not
to rest until vengeance is exacted for wrong done to a benefactor or
a relation; never to draw his sword except in deadly earnest--these
are all familiar features of the bushi's practice, though the order
and times of their evolution cannot be precisely traced.

Even more characteristic is the quality called fudoshin, or
immobility of heart. That this existed in practice from an early era
cannot be doubted, but its cultivation by a recognized system of
training dates from the beginning of the thirteenth century, when the
introspective tenet (kwanshin-ho) of the Zen sect of Buddhism taught
believers to divest themselves wholly of passion and emotion and to
educate a mind unmoved by its environment, so that, in the storm and
stress of battle, the bushi remains as calm and as self-possessed as
in the quietude of the council chamber or the sacred stillness of the
cloister. The crown of all his qualities was self-respect. He rated
himself too high to descend to petty quarrels, or to make the
acquisition of rank his purpose, or to have any regard for money.


As for tactics, individual prowess was the beginning and the end of
all contests, and strategy consisted mainly of deceptions, surprises,
and ambushes. There were, indeed, certain recognized principles
derived from treatises compiled by Sung and 'Ng,* two Chinese
generals of the third century A.D. These laid down that troops for
offensive operations in the field must be twice as numerous as the
enemy; those for investing a fortress should be to the garrison as
ten to one, and those for escalade as five to one. Outflanking
methods were always to be pursued against an adversary holding high
ground, and the aim should be to sever the communications of an army
having a mountain or a river on its rear. When the enemy selected a
position involving victory or death, he was to be held, not attacked,
and when it was possible to surround a foe, one avenue of escape
should always be left to him, since desperate men fight fiercely. In
crossing a river, much space should separate the van from the rear of
the crossing army, and an enemy crossing was not to be attacked until
his forces had become well engaged in the operation. Birds soaring in
alarm should suggest an ambush, and beasts breaking cover, an
approaching attack. There was much spying. A soldier who could win
the trust of the enemy, sojourn in his midst, and create dissensions
in his camp, was called a hero.

*See Captain Calthrop's The Book of War.

Judged by this code of precepts, the old-time soldier of the East
has been denounced by some critics as representing the lowest
type of military ethics. But such a criticism is romantic. The
secret-intelligence department of a twentieth-century army employs
and creates opportunities just as zealously as did the disciples of
Sung and 'Ng. It is not here that the defects in the bushi's ethics
must be sought. The most prominent of those defects was indifference
to the rights of the individual. Bushido taught a vassal to sacrifice
his own interest and his own life on the altar of loyalty, but it did
not teach a ruler to recognize and respect the rights of the ruled.
It taught a wife to efface herself for her husband's sake, but it did
not teach a husband any corresponding obligation towards a wife. In a
word, it expounded the relation of the whole to its parts, but left
unexpounded the relation of the parts to one another.

A correlated fault was excessive reverence for rank and rigid
exclusiveness of class. There was practically no ladder for the
commoner,--the farmer, the artisan, and the merchant--to ascend into
the circle of the samurai. It resulted that, in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries, gifted men of the despised grades sought in the
cloister an arena for the exercise of their talents, and thus, while
the bushi received no recruits, the commoners lost their better
elements, and Buddhism became a stage for secular ambition. It can
not be doubted that by closing the door of rank in the face of merit,
bushido checked the development of the nation. Another defect in the
bushido was indifference to intellectual investigation. The schoolmen
of Kyoto, who alone received honour for their moral attainments, were
not investigators but imitators, not scientists but classicists. Had
not Chinese conservatism been imported into Japan and had it not
received the homage of the bushi, independent development of original
Japanese thought and of intellectual investigation might have
distinguished the Yamato race. By a learned Japanese philosopher (Dr.
Inouye Tetsujiro) the ethics of the bushi are charged with
inculcating the principles of private morality only and ignoring
those of public morality.


It has been noticed that the disposition of the Central Government
was to leave the provincial nobles severely alone, treating their
feuds and conflicts as wholly private affairs. Thus, these nobles
being cast upon their own resources for the protection of their lives
and properties, retained the services of bushi, arming them well and
drilling them assiduously, to serve as guards in time of peace and as
soldiers in war. One result of this demand for military material was
that the helots of former days were relieved from the badge of
slavery and became hereditary retainers of provincial nobles, nothing
of their old bondage remaining except that their lives were at the
mercy of their masters.


As the provincial families grew in numbers and influence they
naturally extended their estates, so that the landed property of a
great sept sometimes stretched over parts, or even the whole, of
several provinces. In these circumstances it became convenient to
distinguish branches of a sept by the names of their respective
localities and thus, in addition to the sept name (uji or sei), there
came into existence a territorial name (myoji or shi). For example,
when the descendants of Minamoto no Yoshiiye acquired great
properties at Nitta and Ashikaga in the provinces of Kotsuke and
Shimotsuke, they took the territorial names of Nitta and Ashikaga,
remaining always Minamoto; and when the descendants of Yoshimitsu,
younger brother of Yoshiiye, acquired estates in the province of Kai,
they began to call themselves Takeda.

It is unnecessary to pursue the subject further than to note that,
while the names of the great septs (uji) were few, the territorial
cognomens were very numerous; and that while the use of myoji (or
shi) was common in the case of the Fujiwara, the Taira, and the
Minamoto septs, the uji alone was employed by the Abe, the Ono, the
Takahashi, the Kusakabe, the Ban, the Hata, and certain others. It
will readily be conceived that although the territorial sections of
the same sept sometimes quarrelled among themselves, the general
practice was that all claiming common descent supported each other in
war. The Minamoto (Gen) bushi recognized as the principal family line
that of Tsunemoto from whom were descended the following illustrious

   Minamoto (Gen) no Tsunemoto, commander-in-chief of local Governments
                   |                  |
               Yorimitsu          Yorinobu
        |          |            |           |           |           |
   Yoshimune   Yoshichika   Yoshikuni   Yoshitada   Yoshitoki   Yoshitaka
        |          |            |           |
   Yoshitomo   Yoshikata    Tametomo    Twenty others
        |          |
        |      Yoshinaka
        |      (of Kiso)
                   |         |           |            |
               Yoritomo   Noriyori   Yoshitsune   Six others

A similar table for the Taira (Hei) runs thus:

   Taira (Hei) no Sadamori (quelled the Masakado revolt).
                  Korehira (of Ise province)
                  Masamori (governed Ise, Inaba, Sanuki, etc.;
                     |     quelled the rebellion of Minamoto
          +----------+     Yoshichika).
          |          |
      Tadamasa    Tadamori (served the Emperors Shirakawa,
                     |     Horikawa, and Toba;* subdued the
                     |     pirates of Sanyo-do and Nankai-do)
                  Kiyomori (crushed the Minamoto and temporarily
                     |     established the supremacy of the Taira).

In its attitude towards these two families the Court showed
short-sighted shrewdness. It pitted one against the other; If the
Taira showed turbulence, the aid of the Minamoto was enlisted; and
when a Minamoto rebelled, a Taira received a commission to deal with
him. Thus, the Throne purchased peace for a time at the cost of
sowing, between the two great military clans, seeds of discord
destined to shake even the Crown. In the capital the bushi served as
palace guards; in the provinces they were practically independent.
Such was the state of affairs on the eve of a fierce struggle known
in history as the tumult of the Hogen and Heiji eras (1150-1160).

*It is of this noble that history records an incident illustrative of
the superstitions of the eleventh century. The cloistered Emperor
Shirakawa kept Tadamori constantly by his side. One night, Shirakawa,
accompanied by Tadamori, went to visit a lady favourite in a detached
palace near the shrine of Gion. Suddenly the two men saw an
apparition of a demon covered with wirelike hair and having a
luminous body. The Emperor ordered Tadamori to use his bow. But
Tadamori advanced boldly and, seizing the demon, found that it was an
old man wearing straw headgear as a protection against the rain, and
carrying a lamp to kindle the light at the shrine. This valiant deed
on Tadamori's part elicited universal applause, as indeed it might in
an era of such faith in the supernatural.


It has been related in Chapter XXII that Taiken-mon-in, consort of
the Emperor Toba, was chosen for the latter by his grandfather, the
cloistered Emperor Shirakawa, and that she bore to Toba a son who
ultimately ascended the throne as Sutoku. But, rightly or wrongly,
Toba learned to suspect that before she became his wife, the lady's
relations with Shirakawa had been over-intimate and that Sutoku was
illegitimate. Therefore, immediately after Shirakawa's demise, Toba
took to himself an Empress, Kaya-no-in, daughter of Fujiwara
Tadazane; and failing offspring by her, chose another Fujiwara lady,
Bifuku-mon-in, daughter of Nagazane. For this, his third consort, he
conceived a strong affection, and when she bore to him a prince, Toba
placed the latter on the throne at the age of three, compelling
Sutoku to resign. This happened in the year 1141, and there were
thenceforth two cloistered Emperors, Toba and Sutoku, standing to
each other in the relation of grandfather and grandson. The baby
sovereign was called Konoe, and Fujiwara Tadamichi, brother of
Bifu-ku-mon-in, became kwampaku.

Between this Tadamichi and his younger brother, Yorinaga, who held
the post of sa-daijin, there existed acute rivalry. The kwampaku had
the knack of composing a deft couplet and tracing a graceful
ideograph. The sa-daijin, a profound scholar and an able economist,
ridiculed penmanship and poetry as mere ornament. Their father's
sympathies were wholly with Yorinaga, and he ultimately went so far
as to depose Tadamichi from his hereditary position as o-uji of the
Fujiwara. Thus, the enmity between Tadamichi and Yorinaga needed only
an opportunity to burst into flame, and that opportunity was soon

The Emperor Konoe died (1155) at the early age of seventeen, and the
cloistered sovereign, Sutoku, sought to secure the throne for his son
Shigehito, whom Toba's suspicions had disqualified. But
Bifuku-mon-in, believing, or pretending to believe, that the
premature death of her son had been caused by Sutoku's incantations,
persuaded the cloistered Emperor, Toba, in that sense, and having
secured the co-operation of the kwampaku, Tadamichi, she set upon the
throne Toba's fourth son, under the name of Go-Shirakawa (1156-1158),
the latter's son, Morihito, being nominated Crown Prince, to the
complete exclusion of Sutoku's offspring. So long as Toba lived the
arrangement remained undisturbed, but on his death in the following
year (1156), Sutoku, supported by the sa-daijin, Yorinaga, planned to
ascend the throne again, and there ensued a desperate struggle.
Stated thus briefly, the complication suggests merely a quarrel for
the succession, but, regarded more closely, it is seen to derive
rancour chiefly from the jealousies of the Fujiwara brothers,
Yorinaga and Tadamichi, and importance from the association of the
Minamoto and the Taira families. For when Sutoku appealed to arms
against the Go-Shirakawa faction, he was incited by Fujiwara Yorinaga
and his father Tadazane, and supported by Taira Tadamasa as well as
by jthe two Minamoto, Tameyoshi and Tametomo; while Go-Shirakawa's
cause was espoused by Fujiwara Tadamichi, by Taira no Kiyomori, and
by Minamoto Yoshitomo.

Among this group of notables the most memorable in a historical sense
are Minamoto Tametomo and Taira Kiyomori. Of the latter there will
presently be occasion to speak again. The former was one of those
born warriors illustrated by Yamato-dake, Saka-no-ye no Tamura-maro,
and Minamoto no Yoshiiye. Eighth son of Minamoto Tameyoshi, he showed
himself so masterful, physically and morally, that his father deemed
it wise to provide a distant field for the exercise of his energies
and to that end sent him to Bungo in the island of Kyushu. Tametomo
was then only thirteen. In two years he had established his sway over
nearly the whole island, and the ceaseless excursions and alarms
caused by his doings having attracted the attention of the Court,
orders for his chastisement were issued to the Dazai-fu, in
Chikuzen--futile orders illustrating only Kyoto's ignorance.
Tameyoshi, his father, was then removed from office as a punishment
for his son's contumacy, and thereupon Tametomo, esteeming filial
piety as one of the bushi's first obligations, hastened to the
capital, taking with him only twenty-five of his principal retainers.
His age was then seventeen; his height seven feet; his muscular
development enormous, and he could draw a bow eight feet nine inches
in length. His intention was to purchase his father's pardon by his
own surrender, but on reaching Kyoto he found the Hogen tumult just
breaking out, and, of course, he joined his father's party.

The relationship of the opposing nobles deserves to be studied, as
this was probably one of the most unnatural struggles on record.


   Sutoku (the Jo-o)          Go-Shirakawa, younger brother of Sutoku.

   Fujiwara Yorinaga          Fujiwara Tadamichi, son of Tadazane
                               and brother of Yorinaga.

   Fujiwara Tadazane

   Minamoto Tameyoshi         Minamoto Yoshitomo, son of Tameyoshi
                               and brother of Tametomo.

   Minamoto Tametomo

   Taira no Tadamasa          Taira no Kiyomori, nephew of Tadamasa

Sutoku's party occupied the Shirakawa palace. Unfortunately for the
ex-Emperor the conduct of the struggle was entrusted to Fujiwara
Yorinaga, and he, in defiance of Tametomo's advice, decided to remain
on the defensive; an evil choice, since it entailed the tenure of
wooden buildings highly inflammable. Yoshitomo and Kiyomori took full
advantage of this strategical error. They forced the Shirakawa
palace, and after a desperate struggle,* the defenders took to
flight. Thus far, except for the important issues involved and the
unnatural division of the forces engaged, this Hogen tumult would not
have differed materially from many previous conflicts. But its sequel
acquired terrible notoriety from the cruel conduct of the victors.
Sutoku was exiled to Sanuki, and there, during three years, he
applied himself continuously to copying a Buddhist Sutra, using his
own blood for ink. The doctrine of the Zen sect had not yet prevailed
in Japan, and to obtain compensation in future happiness for the
pains he had suffered in life, it was essential that the exile's
laboriously traced Sutra should be solemnly offered to the Buddha. He
sent it to Kyoto, praying that the necessary step should be taken.
But by the orders of his own brother, the Emperor, the request was
refused, and the manuscript returned. Superstition ultimately
succeeded where natural affection had failed; for the ex-Emperor,
having inscribed maledictions on each of the five volumes of the
Sutra with blood obtained by biting his tongue, and having hastened
his demise by self-inflicted privations,--he died (1164) eight years
after being sent into exile--the evils of the time were attributed to
his unquiet spirit and a shrine was built to his memory.

*One incident of the fight has been admiringly handed down to
posterity. The duty of holding the west gate of the Shirakawa palace
fell to Tametomo and his handful of followers. The duty of attacking
it happened to devolve on his brother, Yoshitomo. To avert such an
unnatural conflict, Tametomo, having proclaimed his identity, as was
usual among bushi, drew his bow with such unerring aim that the arrow
shore off an ornament from Yoshitomo's helmet without injuring him in
any way. Yoshitomo withdrew, and the Taira took up the attack.

Not less heartless was the treatment of the vanquished nobles. The
Fujiwara alone escaped. Yorinaga had the good fortune to fall on the
field of battle, and his father, Tadazane, was saved by the
intercession of his elder son, Tadamichi, of whose dislike he had
long been a victim. But this was the sole spot of light on the sombre
page. By the Emperor's orders, the Taira chief, Kiyomori, executed
his uncle, Tadamasa; by the Emperor's orders, though not without
protest, the Minamoto chief, Yoshitomo, put to death his father,
Tameyoshi; by the Emperor's orders all the relatives of Yorinaga were
sent into exile; by the Emperor's orders his nephew, Prince
Shigehito, was compelled to take the tonsure, and by the Emperor's
orders the sinews of Tametomo's bow-arm were cut and he was banished
to the Izu island.* In justice it has to be noted that Go-Shirakawa
did not himself conceive these merciless measures. He was prompted
thereto by Fujiwara Michinori, commonly known as Shinzei, whose
counsels were all-powerful at the Court in those days.

*The celebrated littérateur, Bakin, adduced many proofs that Tametomo
ultimately made his way to Ryukyu and that his descendants ruled the
island. The great soldier himself died ultimately by his own hand in
the sequel of an unsuccessful engagement with the forces of the
vice-governor of Izu.


Go-Shirakawa, the seventy-seventh sovereign, occupied the throne
during two years only (1156-1158), but he made his influence felt
from the cloister throughout the long period of thirty-four years
(1158 to 1192), directing the administration from his "camera palace"
(Inchu) during the reigns of five Emperors. Ambition impelled him to
tread in the footsteps of Go-Sanjo. He re-opened the Office of
Records (Kiroku-jo), which that great sovereign had established for
the purpose of centralizing the powers of the State, and he sought to
recover for the Throne its administrative functions. But his
independence was purely nominal, for in everything he took counsel of
Fujiwara Michinori (Shinzei) and obeyed that statesman's guidance.
Michinori's character is not to be implicitly inferred from the cruel
courses suggested by him after the Hogen tumult. He was a man of keen
intelligence and profound learning, as learning went in those days:
that is to say, he knew the classics by heart, had an intimate
acquaintance with Buddhism and astrology, and was able to act as
interpreter of the Chinese language. With his name is associated the
origin of the shirabyoshi, or "white measure-markers"--girls clad in
white, who, by posture and gesture, beat time to music, and, in after
ages, became the celebrated geisha of Japan. To the practice of such
arts and accomplishments Michinori devoted a great part of his life,
and when, in 1140, that is to say, sixteen years before the Hogen
disturbance, he received the tonsure, all prospect of an official
career seemed to be closed to him. But the accession of Go-Shirakawa
gave him an opportunity. The Emperor trusted him, and he abused the
trust to the further unhappiness of the nation.


Go-Shirakawa's son, Morihito, ascended the throne in 1159 and is
known in history as Nijo, the seventy-eighth sovereign of Japan. From
the very outset he resented the ex-Emperor's attempt to interfere in
the administration of affairs, and the two Courts fell into a state
of discord, Fujiwara Shinzei inciting the cloistered Emperor to
assert himself, and two other Fujiwara nobles, Tsunemune and
Korekata, prompting Nijo to resist. These two, observing that another
noble of their clan, Fujiwara Nobuyori; was on bad terms with
Shinzei, approached Nobuyori and proposed a union against their
common enemy. Shinzei had committed one great error; he had alienated
the Minamoto family. In the Hogen struggle, Yoshitomo, the Minamoto
chief, an able captain and a brave soldier, had suggested the
strategy which secured victory for Go-Shirakawa's forces. But in the
subsequent distribution of rewards, Yoshitomo's claims received scant
consideration, his merits being underrated by Shinzei.

This had been followed by a still more painful slight. To Yoshitomo's
formal proposal of a marriage between his daughter and Shinzei's son,
not only had a refusal been given, but also the nuptials of the youth
with the daughter of the Taira chief, Kiyomori, had been subsequently
celebrated with much eclat. In short, Shinzei chose between the two
great military clans, and though such discrimination was neither
inconsistent with the previous practice of the Fujiwara nor
ill-judged so far as the relative strength of the Minamoto and the
Taira was concerned for the moment, it erred egregiously in failing
to recognize that the day had passed when the military clans could be
thus employed as Fujiwara tools. Approached by Nobuyori, Yoshitomo
joined hands with the plotters, and the Minamoto troops, forcing
their way into the Sanjo palace, set fire to the edifice and killed
Shinzei (1159). The Taira chief, Kiyomori, happened to be then absent
in Kumano, and Yoshitomo's plan was to attack him on his way back to
Kyoto before the Taira forces had mustered. But just as Fujiwara
Yorinaga had wrecked his cause in the Hogen tumult by ignoring
Minamoto Tametomo's advice, so in the Heiji disturbance, Fujiwara
Nobuyori courted defeat by rejecting Minamoto Yoshitomo's strategy.
The Taira, thus accorded leisure to assemble their troops, won such a
signal victory that during many years the Minamoto disappeared almost
completely from the political stage, and the Taira held the empire in
the hollow of their hands.

Japanese historians regard Fujiwara Shinzei as chiefly responsible
for these untoward events. Shinzei's record shows him to have been
cruel, jealous, and self-seeking, but it has to be admitted that the
conditions of the time were calculated to educate men of his type, as
is shown by the story of the Hogen insurrection. For when Sutoku's
partisans assembled at the palace of Shirakawa, Minamoto Tametomo
addressed them thus: "I fought twenty battles and two hundred minor
engagements to win Kyushu, and I say that when an enemy is
outnumbered, its best plan is a night attack. If we fire the
Takamatsu palace on three sides to-night and assault it from the
fourth, the foe will surely be broken. I see on the other side only
one man worthy to be called an enemy. It is my brother Yoshitomo, and
with a single arrow I can lay him low. As for Taira Kiyomori, he will
fall if I do but shake the sleeve of my armour. Before dawn we shall
be victors."

Fujiwara Yorinaga's reply to this counsel was: "Tametomo's method of
fighting is rustic. There are here two Emperors competing for the
throne, and the combat must be conducted in a fair and dignified
manner." To such silliness the Minamoto hero made apt answer. "War,"
he said, "is not an affair of official ceremony and decorum. Its
management were better left to the bushi whose business it is. My
brother Yoshitomo has eyes to see an opportunity. To-night, he will
attack us.". It is true that Tametomo afterwards refrained from
taking his brother's life, but the above proves that he would not
have exercised any such forbearance had victory been attainable by
ruthlessness. History does not often repeat itself so exactly as it
did in these Hogen and Heiji struggles. Fujiwara Yorinaga's refusal
to follow Tametomo's advice and Fujiwara Nobuyori's rejection of
Yoshitomo's counsels were wholly responsible for the disasters that
ensued, and were also illustrative of the contempt in which the
Fujiwara held the military magnates, who, in turn, were well aware of
the impotence of the Court nobles on the battle-field.

The manner of Yoshitomo's death, too, reveals something of the ethics
of the bushi in the twelfth century. Accompanied by Kamada Masaie and
a few others, the Minamoto chief escaped from the fight and took
refuge in the house of his concubine, Enju, at Awobaka in Owari.
There they were surrounded and attacked by the Taira partisans. The
end seemed inevitable. Respite was obtained, however, by one of those
heroic acts of self-sacrifice that stand so numerously to the credit
of the Japanese samurai. Minamoto Shigenari, proclaiming himself to
be Yoshitomo, fought with desperate valour, killing ten of the enemy.
Finally, hacking his own face so that it became unrecognizable, he
committed suicide. Meanwhile, Yoshitomo had ridden away to the house
of Osada Tadamune, father of his comrade Masaie's wife. There he
found a hospitable reception. But when he would have pushed on at
once to the east, where the Minamoto had many partisans, Tadamune,
pointing out that it was New Year's eve, persuaded him to remain
until the 3d of the first month.

Whether this was done of fell purpose or out of hospitality is not on
record, but it is certain that Tadamune and his son, Kagemune, soon
determined to kill Yoshitomo, thus avoiding a charge of complicity
and earning favour at Court. Their plan was to conceal three men in a
bathroom, whither Yoshitomo should be led after he had been plied
with sake at a banquet. The scheme succeeded in part, but as
Yoshitomo's squire, Konno, a noted swordsman, accompanied his chief
to the bath, the assassins dared not attack. Presently, however,
Konno went to seek a bath-robe, and thereupon the three men leaped
out. Yoshitomo hurled one assailant from the room, but was stabbed to
death by the other two, who, in their turn, were slaughtered by the
squire. Meanwhile, Masaie was sitting, unsuspicious, at the
wine-party in a distant chamber. Hearing the tumult he sprang to his
feet, but was immediately cut down by Tadamune and Kagemune. At this
juncture Masaie's wife ran in, and crying, "I am not faithless and
evil like my father and my brother; my death shall show my
sincerity," seized her husband's sword and committed suicide, at
which sight the dying man smiled contentedly. As for Konno, after a
futile attempt to lay hands on Tadamune and Kagemune, he cut his way
through their retainers and rode off safely. The heads of Yoshitomo
and Masaie were carried to Kyoto by Tadamune and Kagemune, but they
made so much of their exploit and clamoured for such high reward that
Kiyomori threatened to punish them for the murder of a close
connexion--Kiyomori, be it observed, on whose hands the blood of his
uncle was still wet.

Yoshitomo had many sons* but only four of them escaped from the Heiji
tumult. The eldest of these was Yoritomo, then only fourteen. After
killing two men who attempted to intercept his flight, he fell into
the hands of Taira Munekiyo, who, pitying his youth, induced
Kiyomori's step-mother to intercede for his life, and he was finally
banished to Izu, whence, a few years later, he emerged to the
destruction of the Taira. A still younger son, Yoshitsune, was
destined to prove the most renowned warrior Japan ever produced. His
mother, Tokiwa, one of Yoshitomo's mistresses, a woman of rare
beauty, fled from the Minamoto mansion during a snow-storm after the
Heiji disaster, and, with her three children, succeeded in reaching a
village in Yamato, where she might have lain concealed had not her
mother fallen into the hands of Kiyomori's agents. Tokiwa was then
required to choose between giving herself up and suffering her mother
to be executed. Her beauty saved the situation. Kiyomori had no
sooner seen her face than he offered to have mercy if she entered his
household and if she consented to have her three sons educated for
the priesthood. Thus, Yoshitsune survived, and in after ages people
were wont to say of Kiyomori's passion and its result that his
blissful dream of one night had brought ruin on his house.

*One of these sons, Tomonaga, fell by his father's hand. Accompanying
Yoshitomo's retreat, he had been severely wounded, and he asked his
father to kill him rather than leave him at Awobake to fall into the
hands of the Taira. Yoshitomo consented, though the lad was only
fifteen years of age.


In human affairs many events ascribed by onlookers to design are
really the outcome of accident or unforseen opportunity. Historians,
tracing the career of Taira no Kiyomori, ascribe to him singular
astuteness in creating occasions and marked promptness in utilizing
them. But Kiyomori was not a man of original or brilliant
conceptions. He had not even the imperturbability essential to
military leadership. The most prominent features of his character
were unbridled ambition, intolerance of opposition, and unscrupulous
pursuit of visible ends. He did not initiate anything but was content
to follow in the footsteps of the Fujiwara. It has been recorded that
in 1158--after the Hogen tumult, but before that of Heiji--he married
his daughter to a son of Fujiwara Shinzoi. In that transaction,
however, Shinzei's will dominated. Two years later, the Minamoto's
power having been shattered, Kiyomori gave another of his daughters
to be the mistress of the kwampaku, Fujiwara Motozane. There was no
offspring of this union, and when, in 1166, Motozane died, he left a
five-year-old son, Motomichi, born of his wife, a Fujiwara lady. This
boy was too young to succeed to the office of regent, and therefore
had no title to any of the property accruing to the holder of that
post, who had always been recognized as de jure head of the Fujiwara
family. Nevertheless, Kiyomori, having contrived that the child
should be entrusted to his daughter's care, asserted its claims so
strenuously that many of the Fujiwara manors and all the heirlooms
were handed over to it, the result being a visible weakening of the
great family's influence.*

*See Murdoch's History of Japan.


The most signal result of the Hogen and Heiji insurrections was to
transfer the administrative power from the Court nobles to the
military chiefs. In no country were class distinctions more
scrupulously observed than in Japan. All officials of the fifth rank
and upwards must belong to the families of the Court nobility, and no
office carrying with it rank higher than the sixth might be occupied
by a military man. In all the history of the empire down to the
twelfth century there had been only one departure from this rule, and
that was in the case of the illustrious General Saka-no-ye no
Tamura-maro, who had been raised to the third rank and made dainagon.

The social positions of the two groups were even more rigidly
differentiated; those of the fifth rank and upwards being termed
tenjo-bito, or men having the privilege of entree to the palace and
to the Imperial presence; while the lower group (from the sixth
downwards) had no such privilege and were consequently termed
chige-bito, or groundlings. The three highest offices (spoken of as
san-ko) could not be held by any save members of the Fujiwara or Kuga
families; and for offices carrying fifth rank upwards (designated
taifu) the range of eligible families extended to only four others,
the Ariwara, the Ki, the Oye, and the Kiyowara. All this was changed
after the Heiji commotion. The Fujiwara had used the military leaders
for their own ends; Kiyomori supplemented his military strength with
Fujiwara methods. He caused himself to be appointed sangi (councillor
of State) and to be raised to the first grade of the third rank, and
he procured for his friends and relations posts as provincial
governors, so that they were able to organize throughout the empire
military forces devoted to the Taira cause.

These steps were mere preludes to his ambitious programme. He married
his wife's elder sister to the ex-Emperor, Go-Shirakawa, and the
fruit of this union was a prince who subsequently ascended the throne
as Takakura. The Emperor Nijo had died in 1166, after five years of
effort, only partially successful, to restrain his father,
Go-Shirakawa's, interference in the administration. Nijo was
succeeded by his son, Rokujo, a baby of two years; and, a few months
later, Takakura, then in his seventh year, was proclaimed Prince
Imperial. Rokujo (the seventy-ninth sovereign) was not given time to
learn the meaning of the title "Emperor." In three years he was
deposed by Go-Shirakawa with Kiyomori's co-operation, and Takakura
(eightieth sovereign) ascended the throne in 1169, occupying it until
1180. Thus, Kiyomori found himself uncle of an Emperor only ten years
of age. Whatever may have been the Taira leader's defects, failure to
make the most of an opportunity was not among them. The influence he
exercised in the palace through his sister-in-law was far more
exacting and imperious than that exercised by Go-Shirakawa himself,
and the latter, while bitterly resenting this state of affairs, found
himself powerless to correct it. Finally, to evince his discontent,
he entered the priesthood, a demonstration which afforded Kiyomori
more pleasure than pain. On the nomination of Takakura to be Crown
Prince the Taira leader was appointed--appointed himself would be a
more accurate form of speech--to the office of nai-daijin, and within
a very brief period he ascended to the chancellorship, overleaping
the two intervening posts of u-daijin and sa-daijin. This was in the
fiftieth year of his life. At fifty-one, he fell seriously ill and
took the tonsure by way of soliciting heaven's aid. People spoke of
him as Dajo Nyudo, or the "lay-priest chancellor." Recovering, he
developed a mood of increased arrogance. His residence at Rokuhara
was a magnificent pile of building, as architecture then went,
standing in a park of great extent and beauty. There he administered
State affairs with all the pomp and circumstance of an Imperial
court. He introduced his daughter, Toku, into the Household and very
soon she was made Empress, under the name of Kenrei-mon-in.

Thus completely were the Fujiwara beaten at their own game and the
traditions of centuries set at naught. A majority of the highest
posts were filled by Kiyomori's kinsmen. Fifteen of his family were
of, or above, the third rank, and thirty were tenjo-bito.
"Akitsushima (Japan) was divided into sixty-six provinces. Of these
thirty were governed by Taira partisans. Their manors were to be
found in five hundred places, and their fields were innumerable.
Their mansions were full of splendid garments and rich robes like
flowers, and the spaces before their portals were so thronged with
ox-carriages and horses that markets were often held there. Not to be
a Taira was not to be a man."*

*Gen-pei Seisuiki (Records of the Vicissitudes of the Minamoto and
the Taira).

It is necessary to note, too, with regard to these manors, that many
of them were tax-free lands (koderi) granted in perpetuity. Such
grants, as has been already shown, were not infrequent. But they had
been made, for the most part, to civilian officials, by whose serfs
they were farmed, the proceeds being forwarded to Kyoto for the
support of their owners; whereas the koden bestowed on Taira officers
were, in effect, military fiefs. It is true that similar fiefs
existed in the north and in the south, but their number was so
greatly increased in the days of Taira ascendancy as almost to
constitute a new departure. Kiyomori was, in truth, one of the most
despotic rulers that ever held sway in Japan. He organized a band of
three hundred youths whose business was to go about Kyoto and listen
to the citizens' talk. If anyone was reported by these spies as
having spoken ill of the Taira, he was seized and punished. One day
Kiyomori's grandson, Sukemori, met the regent, Fujiwara Motofusa, and
failing to alight from his carriage, as etiquette required, was
compelled by the regent's retinue to do so. On learning of this
incident, Kiyomori ordered three hundred men to lie in wait for the
regent, drag him from his car and cut off his cue.


All these arbitrary acts provoked indignation among every class of
the people. A conspiracy known in history as the "Shishi-ga-tani
plot," from the name of the place where the conspirators met to
consult, was organized in 1177, having for object a general uprising
against the Taira. At the Court of the cloistered Emperor the post of
gon-dainagon was filled by Fujiwara Narichika, who harboured
resentment against Kiyomori's two sons, Shigemori and Munemori,
inasmuch as they held positions for which he had striven in vain,
the Left and Right generals of the guards. There was also a bonze,
Saiko, who enjoyed the full confidence of Go-Shirakawa. In those days
any cause was legitimized if its advocates could show an Imperial
edict or point to the presence of the sovereign in their midst.
Thus, in the Heiji insurrection, the Minamoto received their severest
blow when Fujiwara Korekata contrived that, under cover of darkness,
the Emperor, disguised as a maid-of-honour in the household
of the Empress, should be transported in her Majesty's suite,
from the Kurodo palace to the Taira mansion at Rokuhara. The
Minamoto were thus transformed into rebels, and the Taira became
the representatives of Imperial authority. Therefore, in the
Shishi-ga-tani plot the part assigned to the priest Saiko was to
induce Go-Shirakawa to take active interest in the conspiracy and to
issue a mandate to the Minamoto bushi throughout the country. No such
mandate was issued, nor does it appear that the ex-Emperor attended
any of the meetings in Shishi-ga-tani, but there can be no doubt
that he had full cognizance of, and sympathized with, what was in

The conspiracy never matured. It was betrayed by Minamoto Yukitsuna.
Saiko and his two sons were beheaded; Narichika was exiled and
subsequently put to death, and all the rest were banished. The great
question was, how to deal with Go-Shirakawa. Kiyomori was for leading
troops to arrest his Majesty, and to escort him as a prisoner to the
Toba palace or the Taira mansion. None of the despot's kinsmen or
adherents ventured to gainsay this purpose until Kiyomori's eldest
son, Shigemori, appeared upon the scene. Shigemori had contributed
much to the signal success of the Taira. Dowered with all the
strategical skill and political sagacity which his father lacked, he
had won victories for the family arms, and again and again had
restrained the rash exercise of Kiyomori's impetuous arrogance. The
Taira chief had learned to stand in awe of his son's reproaches, and
when Shigemori declared that he would not survive any violence done
to Go-Shirakawa, Kiyomori left the council chamber, bidding Shigemori
to manage the matter as he thought fit.* Thus, Go-Shirakawa escaped
all the consequences of his association with the conspirators. But
Kiyomori took care that a copy of the bonze Saiko's confession,
extracted under torture and fully incriminating his Majesty, should
come into the Imperial hands.

*It is recorded that, on this occasion, Kiyomori, learning of his
son's approach, attempted unsuccessfully to conceal under priestly
robes the armour he had donned to go to the arrest of Go-Shirakawa.

A final rupture between the ex-Emperor and the Taira leader became
daily imminent. Two events contributed to precipitate it. One was
that in the year following the Shishi-ga-tani conspiracy, Kiyomori's
daughter, Toku, bore to Takakura a prince--the future Emperor Antoku
(eighty-first sovereign). The Taira chief thus found himself
grandfather of an heir to the throne, a fact which did not tend to
abate his arrogance. The second was the death of Shigemori, which
took place in 1179.

Shigemori's record shows him to have been at once a statesman and a
general. He never hesitated to check his father's extravagances, and
it has to be recorded in Kiyomori's favour that, however, intolerant
of advice or opposition he habitually showed himself, his eldest
son's remonstrances were seldom ignored. Yet, though many untoward
issues were thus averted, there was no sign that growing
responsibility brought to Kiyomori any access of circumspection. From
first to last he remained the same short-sighted, passion-driven,
impetuous despot and finally the evil possibilities of the situation
weighed so heavily on Shigemori's nerves that he publicly repaired to
a temple to pray for release from life. As though in answer to his
prayer he was attacked by a disease which carried him off at the age
of forty-two. There is a tradition that he installed forty-eight
images of Buddha in his mansion, and for their services employed many
beautiful women, so that sensual excesses contributed to the
semi-hysterical condition into which he eventually fell. That is not
impossible, but certainly a sense of impotence to save his father and
his family from the calamities he clearly saw approaching was the
proximate cause of his breakdown.


Results soon became apparent. The ex-Emperor, who had truly estimated
Shigemori's value as a pillar of Taira power, judged that an
opportunity for revolt had now arrived, and the Taira chief, deprived
of his son's restraining influence, became less competent than ever
to manage the great machine which fortune had entrusted to his
direction. The first challenge came from the ex-Emperor's side. It
has been related above that one of Kiyomori's politic acts after the
Heiji insurrection was to give his daughter to the regent; that, on
the latter's death, his child, Motomichi, by a Fujiwara, was
entrusted to the care of the Taira lady; that a large part of the
Fujiwara estates were diverted from the regent and settled upon
Motomichi, and that the latter was taken into a Taira mansion. The
regent who suffered by this arbitrary procedure was Fujiwara
Motofusa, the same noble whom, a few years later, Kiyomori caused to
be dragged from his car and docked of his queue because Motofusa had
insisted on due observance of etiquette by Kiyomori's grandson.
Naturally, Motofusa was ready to join hands with Go-Shirakawa in any
anti-Taira procedure.

Therefore, in 1179, on the death of Kiyomori's daughter, to whose
care Motomichi had been entrusted in his childhood, the ex-Emperor,
at the instance of Motofusa, appropriated all her manors and those of
Motomichi. Moreover, on the death of Shigemori shortly afterwards,
the same course was pursued with his landed property, and further,
Motomichi, though lawful head of the Fujiwara family, son-in-law of
Kiyomori, and of full age, had been refused the post of chunagon, the
claim of a twelve year-old son of Motofusa being preferred.* The
significance of these doings was unmistakable. Kiyomori saw that the
gauntlet had been thrown in his face. Hastening from his villa of
Fukuhara, in Settsu, at the head of a large force of troops, he
placed the ex-Emperor in strict confinement in the Toba palace,
segregating him completely from the official world and depriving him
of all administrative functions; he banished the kwampaku, Motofusa,
and the chancellor, Fujiwara Moronaga; he degraded and deprived of
their posts thirty-nine high officials who had formed the entourage
of Go-Shirakawa; he raised Motomichi to the office of kwampaku, and
he conferred on his son, Munemori, the function of guarding Kyoto,
strong bodies of soldiers being posted in the two Taira mansions of
Rokuhara on the north and south of the capital.

*See Murdoch's History of Japan.


In 1180, at the instance of Kiyomori and partly, no doubt, because of
the difficult position in which he found himself placed with regard
to his imprisoned father, the Emperor Takakura, then in his twentieth
year, resigned the throne in favour of Kiyomori's grandson, Antoku
(eighty-first sovereign), a child of three. This was the culmination
of the Taira's fortunes. There was at that time among the Kyoto
officials a Minamoto named Yorimasa, sixth in descent from Minamoto
Mitsunaka, who flourished in the tenth century and by whose order the
heirloom swords, Hige-kiri and Hiza-kiri, were forged. This Yorimasa
was an expert bowman, a skilled soldier, and an adept versifier,
accomplishments not infrequently combined in one person during the
Heian epoch. Go-Shirakawa, appreciating Yorimasa's abilities,
nominated him director of the Imperial Estates Bureau (Kurando) and
afterwards made him governor of Hyogo.

But it was not until he had reached the age of seventy-five that, on
Kiyomori's recommendation, he received promotion, in 1178, to the
second grade of the third rank (ju-sammi), thus for the first time
obtaining the privilege of access to the Imperial presence. The
explanation of this tardy recognition is, perhaps, to be sought in
Yorimasa's preference of prudence to loyalty. In the year of Heiji,
he held his little band of bushi in the leash until the issue of the
battle could be clearly forseen, and then he threw in his lot with
the Taira. Such shallow fealty seldom wins its way to high place. Men
did not forget Yorimasa's record. His belated admission to the ranks
of the tenjo-bito provoked some derision and he was commonly spoken
of as Gen-sammi (the Minamoto third rank).

But even for one constitutionally so cautious, the pretensions of the
Taira became intolerable. Yorimasa determined to strike a blow for
the Minamoto cause, and looking round for a figure-head, he fixed
upon Prince Mochihito, elder brother of Takakura. This prince, being
the son of a concubine, had never reached Imperial rank, though he
was thirty years of age, but he possessed some capacity, and a noted
physiognomist had recognized in him a future Emperor. In 1170, at
Yorimasa's instance, Prince Mochihito secretly sent to all the
Minamoto families throughout the empire, especially to Yoritomo at
his place of exile in Izu, a document impeaching the conduct of the
Taira and exhorting the Minamoto to muster and attack them.

Yorimasa's story shows that he would not have embarked upon this
enterprise had he not seen solid hope of success. But one of the aids
he counted on proved unsound. That aid was the Buddhist priesthood.
Kiyomori had offended the great monasteries by bestowing special
favour on the insignificant shrine of Itsukushima-Myojin. A
revelation received in a dream having persuaded him that his fortunes
were intimately connected with this shrine, he not only rebuilt it on
a scale of much magnificence, but also persuaded Go-Shirakawa to
make three solemn progresses thither. This partiality reached its
acme at the time of Takakura's abdication (1180), for instead of
complying with the custom hitherto observed on such occasions--the
custom of worshipping at one or more shrines of the three
great monasteries--Enryaku (Hiei-zan), Kofuku (Nara), or Onjo
(Miidera)--Takakura, prompted by Kiyomori, proceeded to Itsukushima.*

*See Murdoch's History of Japan.

A monster demonstration on the part of the offended monasteries was
temporarily quieted, but deep umbrage rankled in the bosoms of the
priests, and Yorimasa counted on their co-operation with his
insurrection. He forgot, however, that no bond could be trusted to
hold them permanently together in the face of their habitual rivalry,
and it was here that his scheme ultimately broke down. At an early
stage, some vague news of the plot reached Kiyomori's ears and he
hastened from his Fukuhara villa to Kyoto. But it soon became evident
that his information was incomplete. He knew, indeed, that Prince
Mochihito was involved, but he suspected Go-Shirakawa also, and he
entertained no conception of Yorimasa's complicity. Thus, while
removing Go-Shirakawa to Rokuhara and despatching a force to seize
Mochihito, he entrusted the direction of the latter measure to
Yorimasa's son, Kanetsuna, who, it need scarcely be said, failed to
apprehend the prince or to elicit any information from his followers.

Presently Kiyomori learned that the prince had escaped to Onjo-ji
(Miidera). Thereupon secret negotiations were opened between Rokuhara
and Enryaku-ji (Hiei-zan), not that the Taira chief suspected the
latter, but because he appreciated that if Hiei-zan joined Miidera,
the situation would become formidable. Meanwhile, his trust in
Yorimasa remaining still unshaken, he sent him to attack Onjo-ji,
which mission the old Minamoto warrior fulfilled by entering the
monastery and joining forces with the prince. Yorimasa took this step
in the belief that immediate aid would be furnished from Hiei-zan.
But before his appeal reached the latter, Kiyomori's overtures had
been accepted. Nothing now remained for Yorimasa and Mochihito except
to make a desperate rush on Kyoto or to ride away south to Nara,
where temporary refuge offered. The latter course was chosen, in
spite of Yorimasa's advice. On the banks of the Uji River in a dense
fog they were overtaken by the Taira force, the latter numbering
twenty thousand, the fugitives three or four hundred. The Minamoto
made a gallant and skilful resistance, and finally Yorimasa rode off
with a handful of followers, hoping to carry Mochihito to a place of
safety. Before they passed out of range an arrow struck the old
warrior. Struggling back to Byodo-in, where the fight was still in
progress, he seated himself on his iron war-fan and, having calmly
composed his death-song, committed suicide.


These things happened in May, 1180, and in the following month
Kiyomori carried out a design entertained by him for some time. He
transferred the capital from Kyoto to Fukuhara, in Settsu, where the
modern town of Kobe stands. Originally the Taira mansions were at the
two Fukuhara, one on the north of Kyoto, the other on the south, the
city being dominated from these positions. But Kiyomori seems to have
thought that as the centres of Taira strength lay in the south and
west of the empire, the province of Settsu would be a more convenient
citadel than Kyoto. Hence he built at Fukuhara a spacious villa and
took various steps to improve the harbour--then called Muko--as well
as to provide maritime facilities, among which may be mentioned the
opening of the strait, Ondo no Seto. But Fukuhara is fifty miles from
Kyoto, and to reach the latter quickly from the former in an
emergency was a serious task in the twelfth century. Moreover, Kyoto
was devastated in 1177 by a conflagration which reduced one-third of
the city to ashes, and in April of 1180 by a tornado of most
destructive force, so that superstitious folk, who abounded in that
age, began to speak ominously of the city's doom.

What weighed most with the Taira leader, however, was the propinquity
of the three great monasteries; Hiei-zan on the north, Miidera on the
east, and Nara on the south. In fact, the city lay at the mercy of
the soldier-priests. At any moment they might combine, descend upon
the capital, and burn it before adequate succour could be marshalled.
That such a peril should have been dreaded from such a source seems
strange; but the Buddhist priests had shown a very dangerous temper
more than once, and from Kiyomori's point of view the possibility of
their rising to restore the fortunes of the Fujiwara was never

Kiyomori carried with him to Fukuhara the boy-Emperor (Antoku), the
ex-Emperor (Takakura), the cloistered Emperor (Go-Shirakawa), the
kwampaku (Motomichi), and all the high Court officials with rare
exceptions. The work of construction at Fukuhara not being yet
complete, Go-Shirakawa had to be lodged in a building thirty feet
square, to which men gave the name of the "jail palace." Kyoto, of
course, was thrown into a state of consternation. Remonstrances,
petitions, and complaints poured into the Fukuhara mansion. Meanwhile
the Minamoto rose. In August of 1180, their white flag was hoisted,
and though it looked very insignificant on the wide horizon of Taira
power, Kiyomori did not underrate its meaning. At the close of the
year, he decided to abandon the Fukuhara scheme and carry the Court
back to Kyoto. On the eve of his return he found an opportunity of
dealing a heavy blow to the monasteries of Miidera and Nara. For, it
having been discovered that they were in collusion with the newly
risen Minamoto, Kiyomori sent his sons, Tomomori and Shigehira, at
the head of a force which sacked and burned Onjo-ji, Todai-ji, and
Kofuku-ji. Thereafter a terrible time ensued for Kyoto, for the home
provinces (Kinai), and for the west of the empire. During the greater
part of three years, from 1180 to 1182 inclusive, the people
suffered, first from famine and afterwards from pestilence. Pitiful
accounts are given by contemporary writers. Men were reduced to the
direst straits. Hundreds perished of starvation in the streets of
Kyoto, and as, in many cases, the corpses lay unburied, pestilence of
course ensued. It is stated that in Kyoto alone during two months
there were forty-two thousand deaths. The eastern and western
regions, however, enjoyed comparative immunity. By the priests and
the political enemies of the Taira these cruel calamities were
attributed to the evil deeds of Kiyomori and his fellow clansmen, so
that the once omnipotent family gradually became an object of popular
execration. Kiyomori, however, did not live to witness the ruin of
his house. He expired at the age of sixty in March, 1181, just three
months after the restoration of Kyoto to metropolitan rank. Since
August of the preceding year, the Minamoto had shown signs of
troublesome activity, but as yet it seemed hardly possible that their
puny onsets should shake, still less pull down, the imposing edifice
of power raised by the Taira during twenty years of unprecedented
success. Nevertheless, Kiyomori, impatient of all reverses, bitterly
upbraided his sons and his officers for incompetence, and when, after
seven days' sickness, he saw the end approaching, his last commission
was that neither tomb nor temple should be raised to his memory until
Yoritomo's head had been placed on his grave.






WHEN, after the great struggle of 1160, Yoritomo, the eldest of
Yoshitomo's surviving sons, fell into the hands of Taira Munekiyo and
was carried by the latter to Kyoto, for execution, as all supposed,
and as would have been in strict accord with the canons of the time,
the lad, then in his fourteenth year, won the sympathy of Munekiyo by
his nobly calm demeanour in the presence of death, and still more by
answering, when asked whether he did not wish to live, "Yes, since I
alone remain to pray for the memories of my father and my elder
brothers." Munekiyo then determined to save the boy if possible, and
he succeeded through the co-operation of Kiyomori's step-mother, whom
he persuaded that her own son, lost in his infancy, would have grown
up to resemble closely Yoritomo.

It was much to the credit of Kiyomori's heart but little to that of
his head that he listened to such a plea, and historians have further
censured his want of sagacity in choosing Izu for Yoritomo's place of
exile, seeing that the eastern regions were infested by Minamoto
kinsmen and partisans. But Kiyomori did not act blindly. He placed
Yoritomo in the keeping of two trusted wardens whose manors were
practically conterminous in the valley of the Kano stream on the
immediate west of Hakone Pass. These wardens were a Fujiwara, Ito
Sukechika, and a Taira, who, taking the name Hojo from the locality
of his manor, called himself Hojo Tokimasa. The dispositions of these
two men did not agree with the suggestions of their lineage.
Sukechika might have been expected to sympathize with his ward in
consideration of the sufferings of the Fujiwara at Kiyomori's hands.
Tokimasa, as a Taira, should have been wholly antipathetic. Yet had
Tokimasa shared Sukechika's mood, the Minamoto's sun would never have
risen over the Kwanto.

The explanation is that Tokimasa belonged to a large group of
provincial Taira who were at once discontented because their claims
to promotion had been ignored, and deeply resentful of indignities
and ridicule to which their rustic manners and customs had exposed
them at the hands of their upstart kinsmen in Kyoto. Moreover, it is
not extravagant to suppose, in view of the extraordinary abilities
subsequently shown by Tokimasa, that he presaged the instability of
the Taira edifice long before any ominous symptoms became outwardly
visible. At any rate, while remaining Yoritomo's ostensible warden,
he became his confidant and abettor.

This did not happen immediately, however. Yoritomo was placed
originally under Sukechika's care, and during the latter's absence in
Kyoto a liaison was established between his daughter and the Minamoto
captive, with the result that a son was born. Sukechika, on his
return, caused the child to be thrown into a cataract, married its
mother to Ema Kotaro, and swore to have the life of his ward. But
Yoritomo, warned of what was pending, effected his escape to
Tokimasa's manor. It is recorded that on the way thither he prayed at
the shrine of Hachiman, the tutelary deity of his family: "Grant me
to become sei-i-shogun and to guard the Imperial Court. Or, if I may
not achieve so much, grant me to become governor of Izu, so that I
may be revenged on Sukechika. Or, if that may not be, grant me
death." With Tokimasa he found security. But here again, though now a
man over thirty, he established relations with Masa, his warden's
eldest daughter. In all Yoritomo's career there is not one instance
of a sacrifice of expediency or ambition on the altar of sentiment or
affection. He was a cold, calculating man. No cruelty shocked him nor
did he shrink from any severity dictated by policy. It is in the last
degree improbable that he risked his political hopes for the sake of
a trivial amour. At any rate the event suggests crafty deliberation
rather than a passing passion. For though Tokimasa simulated
ignorance of the liaison and publicly proceeded with his previous
engagement to wed Masa to Taira Kanetaka, lieutenant-governor of Izu,
he privately connived at her flight and subsequent concealment.

This incident is said to have determined Yoritomo. He disclosed all
his ambitions to Hojo Tokimasa, and found in him an able coadjutor.
Yoritomo now began to open secret communications with several of the
military families in Izu and the neighbouring provinces. In making
these selections and approaches, the Minamoto exile was guided and
assisted by Tokimasa. Confidences were not by any means confined to
men of Minamoto lineage. The kith and kin of the Fujiwara, and even
of the Taira themselves, were drawn into the conspiracy, and although
the struggle finally resolved itself into a duel à l'outrance between
the Taira and the Minamoto, it had no such exclusive character at the

In May, or June, 1180, the mandate of Prince Mochihito reached
Yoritomo, carried by his uncle, Minamoto Yukiiye, whose figure
thenceforth appears frequently upon the scene. Yoritomo showed the
mandate to Tokimasa, and the two men were taking measures to obey
when they received intelligence of the deaths of Mochihito and
Yorimasa and of the fatal battle on the banks of the Uji.

Yoritomo would probably have deferred conclusive action in such
circumstances had there not reached him from Miyoshi Yasunobu in
Kyoto a warning that the Taira were planning to exterminate the
remnant of the Minamoto and that Yoritomo's name stood first on the
black-list. Moreover, the advisability of taking the field at once
was strongly and incessantly urged by a priest, Mongaku, who, after a
brief acquaintance, had impressed Yoritomo favourably. This bonze had
been the leading figure in an extraordinary romance of real life.
Originally Endo Morito, an officer of the guards in Kyoto, he fell in
love with his cousin, Kesa,* the wife of a comrade called Minamoto
Wataru. His addresses being resolutely rejected, he swore that if
Kesa remained obdurate, he would kill her mother. From this dilemma
the brave woman determined that self-sacrifice offered the only
effective exit. She promised to marry Morito after he had killed her
husband, Wataru; to which end she engaged to ply Wataru with wine
until he fell asleep. She would then wet his head, so that Morito,
entering by an unfastened door and feeling for the damp hair, might
consummate his purpose surely. Morito readily agreed, but Kesa,
having dressed her own hair in male fashion and wet her head, lay
down in her husband's place.

*Generally spoken of as "Kesa Gozen," but the latter word signifies

When Morito found that he had killed the object of his passionate
affection, he hastened to confess his crime and invited Wataru to
slay him. But Wataru, sympathizing with his remorse, proposed that
they should both enter religion and pray for the rest of Kesa's
spirit. It is related that one of the acts of penance performed by
Mongaku--the monastic name taken by Morito--was to stand for
twenty-one days under a waterfall in the depth of winter.
Subsequently he devoted himself to collecting funds for
reconstructing the temple of Takao, but his zeal having betrayed him
into a breach of etiquette at the palace of Go-Shirakawa, he was
banished to Izu, where he obtained access to Yoritomo and counselled
him to put his fortune to the test.*

*Tradition says that among the means employed by Mongaku to move
Yoritomo was the exhibition of Yoshitomo's bones.


The campaign was opened by Hojo Tokimasa on the 8th of September,
1180. He attacked the residence of the lieutenant-governor of Izu,
Taira Kanetaka, burned the mansion, and killed Kanetaka, whose
abortive nuptials with the lady Masa had been celebrated a few months
previously. Yoritomo himself at the head of a force of three hundred
men, crossed the Hakone Pass three days later en route for Sagami,
and encamped at Ishibashi-yama. This first essay of the Minamoto
showed no military caution whatever. It was a march into space.
Yoritomo left in his rear Ito Sukechika, who had slain his infant son
and sworn his own destruction, and he had in his front a Taira force
of three thousand under Oba Kagechika. It is true that many Taira
magnates of the Kwanto were pledged to draw the sword in the Minamoto
cause. They had found the selfish tyranny of Kiyomori not at all to
their taste or their profit. It is also true that the Oba brothers
had fought staunchly on the side of Yoritomo's father, Yoshitomo, in
the Heiji war. Yoritomo may possibly have entertained some hope that
the Oba army would not prove a serious menace.

Whatever the explanation may be, the little Minamoto band were
attacked in front and rear simultaneously during a stormy night. They
suffered a crushing defeat. It seemed as though the white flag* was
to be lowered permanently, ere it had been fully shaken out to the
wind. The remnants of the Minamoto sought shelter in a cryptomeria
grove, where Yoritomo proved himself a powerful bowman. But when he
had tune to take stock of his followers, he found them reduced to six
men. These, at the suggestion of Doi Sanehira, he ordered to scatter
and seek safety in flight, while he himself with Sanehira hid in a
hollow tree. Their hiding-place was discovered by Kajiwara Kagetoki,
a member of the Oba family, whose sympathies were with the Minamoto.
He placed himself before the tree and signalled that the fugitives
had taken another direction. Presently, Oba Kagechika, riding up,
thrust his bow into the hollow tree, and as two pigeons flew out, he
concluded that there was no human being within.

*The Taira flew a red ensign; the Minamoto, a white.


From the time of this hairbreadth escape, Yoritomo's fortunes rose
rapidly. After some days of concealment among the Hakone mountains,
he reached the shore of Yedo Bay, and crossing from Izu to Awa, was
joined by Tokimasa and others. Manifestoes were then despatched in
all directions, and sympathizers began to flock in. Entering Kazusa,
the Minamoto leader secured the cooperation of Taira Hirotsune and
Chiba Tsunetane, while Tokimasa went to canvass in Kai. In short,
eight provinces of the Kwanto responded like an echo to Yoritomo's
call, and, by the time he had made his circuit of Yedo Bay, some
twenty-five thousand men were marshalled under his standard.
Kamakura, on the seacoast a few miles south of the present Yokohama,
was chosen for headquarters, and one of the first steps taken was to
establish there, on the hill of Tsurugaoka, a grand shrine to
Hachiman, the god of War and tutelary deity of the Minamoto.

Meanwhile, Tokimasa had secured the allegiance of the Takeda family
of Kai, and was about to send a strong force to join Yoritomo's army.
But by this time the Taira were in motion. Kiyomori had despatched a
body of fifty thousand men under Koremori, and Yoritomo had decided
to meet this army on the banks of the Fuji river. It became
necessary, therefore, to remove all potential foes from the Minamoto
rear, and accordingly Hojo Tokimasa received orders to overrun Suruga
and then to direct his movements with a view to concentration on the
Fuji. Thither Yoritomo marched from Kamakura, and by the beginning of
November, 1180, fifty thousand Taira troops were encamped on the
south bank of the river and twenty-seven thousand Minamoto on the
north. A decisive battle must be fought in the space of a few days.
In fact, the 13th of November had been indicated as the probable
date. But the battle was never fought. The officer in command of the
Taira van, Fujiwara no Tadakiyo, laboured under the disadvantage of
being a coward, and the Taira generals, Koremori and Tadamori,
grandson and youngest brother, respectively, of Kiyomori, seem to
have been thrown into a state of nervous prostration by the
unexpected magnitude of the Minamoto's uprising. They were debating,
and had nearly recognized the propriety of falling back without
challenging a combat or venturing their heads further into the
tiger's mouth, when something--a flight of water-birds, a
reconnaissance in force, a rumour, or what not--produced a panic, and
before a blow had been struck, the Taira army was in full retreat for


In the Minamoto camp there was some talk of pursuing the fugitive
Taira, and possibly the most rapid results would thus have been
attained. But it was ultimately decided that the allegiance of the
whole Kwanto must be definitely secured before denuding it of troops
for the purpose of a western campaign. This attitude of caution
pointed specially to the provinces of Hitachi and Shimotsuke, where
the powerful Minamoto families of Satake and Nitta, respectively,
looked coldly upon the cause of their kinsman, Yoritomo. Therefore
the army was withdrawn to a more convenient position on the Kiso
River, and steps, ultimately successful, were taken to win over the
Nitta and the Satake.

It was at this time that there arrived in Yoritomo's camp a youth of
twenty-one with about a score of followers. Of medium stature and of
frame more remarkable for grace than for thews, he attracted
attention chiefly by his piercing eyes and by the dignified
intelligence of his countenance. This was Yoshitsune, the youngest
son of Yoshitomo. His life, as already stated, had been saved in the
Heiji disturbance, first, by the intrepidity of his mother, Tokiwa,
and, afterwards, by the impression her dazzling beauty produced upon
the Taira leader. Placed in the monastery of Kurama, as stipulated by
Kiyomori, Yoshitsune had no sooner learned to think than he became
inspired with an absorbing desire to restore the fortunes of his
family. Tradition has surrounded the early days of this, the future
Bayard of Japan, with many romantic legends, among which it is
difficult to distinguish the true from the false. What is certain,
however, is that at the age of fifteen he managed to effect his
escape to the north of Japan. The agent of his flight was an
iron-merchant who habitually visited the monastery on matters of
business, and whose dealings took him occasionally to Mutsu.

At the time of Yoshitsune's novitiate in the Kurama temple, the
political power in Japan may be said to have been divided between the
Taira, the provincial Minamoto, the Buddhist priests, and the
Fujiwara, and of the last the only branch that had suffered no
eclipse during the storms of Hogen and Heiji had been the Fujiwara of
Mutsu. It has been shown in the story of the Three Years' War, and
specially in the paragraph entitled "The Fujiwara of the North," that
the troops of Fujiwara Kiyohira and Minamoto Yoshiiye had fought side
by side, and that, after the war, Kiyohira succeeded to the six
districts of Mutsu, which constituted the largest estate in the hands
of any one Japanese noble. That estate was in the possession of
Hidehira, grandson of Kiyohira, at the time when the Minamoto family
suffered its heavy reverses. Yoshitsune expected, therefore, that at
least an asylum would be assured, could he find his way to Mutsu. He
was not mistaken. Hidehira received him with all hospitality, and as
Mutsu was practically beyond the control of Kyoto, the Minamoto
fugitive could lead there the life of a bushi, and openly study
everything pertaining to military art. He made such excellent use of
these opportunities that, by the time the Minamoto standard was
raised anew in Izu, Yoshitsune had earned the reputation of being the
best swordsman in the whole of northern Japan.

This was the stripling who rode into Yoritomo's camp on a November
day in the year 1180. The brothers had never previously seen each
other's faces, and their meeting in such circumstances was a dramatic
event. Among Yoshitsune's score of followers there were several who
subsequently earned undying fame, but one deserves special mention
here. Benkei, the giant halberdier, had turned his back upon the
priesthood, and, becoming a free lance, conceived the ambition of
forcibly collecting a thousand swords from their wearers. He wielded
the halberd with extraordinary skill, and such a huge weapon in the
hand of a man with seven feet of stalwart stature constituted a
menace before which a solitary wayfarer did not hesitate to surrender
his sword. One evening, Benkei observed an armed acolyte approaching
the Gojo bridge in Kyoto. The acolyte was Yoshitsune, and the time,
the eve of his departure for Mutsu. Benkei made light of disarming a
lad of tender years and seemingly slender strength. But already in
his acolyte days Yoshitsune had studied swordsmanship, and he
supplemented his knowledge by activity almost supernatural. The giant
Benkei soon found himself praying for life and swearing allegiance to
his boy conqueror, an oath which he kept so faithfully as to become
the type of soldierly fidelity for all subsequent generations of his


Looking at the map of central Japan, it is seen that the seven
provinces of Suruga, Izu, Awa, Kai, Sagami, Musashi, and Kazusa are
grouped approximately in the shape of a Japanese fan (uchiwa), having
Izu for the handle. Along the Pacific coast, eastward of this fan,
lie the provinces of Shimosa and Hitachi, where the Nitta and the
Satake, respectively, gave employment for some time to the diplomatic
and military resources of the Minamoto. Running inland from the
circumference of the fan are Shinano and Kotsuke, in which two
provinces, also, a powerful Minamoto resurrection synchronized with,
but was independent of, the Yoritomo movement.

The hero of the Shinano-Kotsuke drama was Minamoto no Yoshinaka,
commonly called Kiso Yoshinaka, because his youth was passed among
the mountains where the Kiso River has its source. In the year 1155,
Yoshitomo's eldest son, Yoshihira,* was sent to Musashi to fight
against his uncle, Yoshikata. The latter fell, and his son,
Yoshinaka, a baby of two, was handed to Saito Sanemori to be
executed; but the latter sent the child to Shinano, where it was
brought up by Nakahara Kaneto, the husband of its nurse. Yoshinaka
attained an immense stature as well as signal skill in archery and
horsemanship. Like Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, he brooded much on the
evil fortunes of the Minamoto, and paid frequent visits to Kyoto to
observe the course of events. In the year 1180, the mandate of Prince
Mochihito reached him, and learning that Yoritomo had taken the
field, he gathered a force in Shinano. Between the two leaders there
could be no final forgetfulness of the fact that Yoritomo's brother
had killed Yoshinaka's father, and had ordered the slaying of
Yoshinaka himself. But this evil memory did not obtrude itself at the
outset. They worked independently. Yoshinaka gained a signal victory
over the Taira forces marshalled against him by the governor of
Shinano, and pushing thence eastward into Kotsuke, obtained the
allegiance of the Ashikaga of Shimotsuke and of the Takeda of Kai.
Thus, the year 1180 closed upon a disastrous state of affairs for the
Taira, no less than ten provinces in the east having fallen
practically under Minamoto sway.

*This Yoshihira was a giant in stature. He shares with Tametomo the
fame of having exhibited the greatest prowess in the Hogen and Heiji
struggles. It was he who offered to attack Kyoto from Kumano a
measure which, in all probability, would have reversed the result of
the Heiji war.


Kiyomori expired in March, 1181, as already related. His last behest,
that the head of Yoritomo should be laid on his grave, nerved his
successors to fresh efforts. But the stars in their courses seemed to
be fighting against the Taira. Kiyomori's son, Munemori, upon whom
devolved the direction of the great clan's affairs, was wholly
incompetent for such a trust. One gleam of sunshine, however,
illumined the fortunes of the Heike. Two months after Kiyomori's
death, a Taira army under Shigehira attacked Yukiiye, Yoritomo's
uncle, who had pushed westward as far as Owari. This Yukiiye never
showed any qualities of generalship. He was repeatedly defeated, the
only redeeming feature of his campaigns being that he himself always
escaped destruction. On this occasion he was driven out of Owari and
forced to retire within the confines of the Kwanto.

But now the home provinces and the west fell into the horrors of
famine and pestilence, as described above; and in such circumstances
to place armies in the field and to maintain them there became
impossible. The Taira had to desist from all warlike enterprises
until the summer of 1182, when a great effort was made to crush the
rapidly growing power of the Minamoto. Commissions of provincial
governor were sent to Jo no Nagashige, a puissant Taira magnate of
Echigo; to Taira no Chikafusa, of Etchu, and to Fujiwara Hidehira, of
Mutsu, who were all ordered to attack Yoritomo and Yoshinaka.
Hidehira made no response, but Nagashige set in motion against
Yoshinaka a strong force, swelled by a contingent from Kyoto under
Michimori. The results were signal defeat for the Taira and the
carrying of the white flag by Yoshinaka into Echigo, Etchu, Noto, and


Meanwhile discord had declared itself between Yoritomo and Yoshinaka.
It has been shown that the records of the two families afforded no
basis of mutual confidence, and it has also been shown that the
Takeda clan of Kai province were among the earliest adherents of the
Minamoto cause. In view of Yoshinaka's brilliant successes, Takeda
Nobumitsu proposed a marriage between his daughter and Yoshinaka's
son, Yoshitaka. This union was declined by Yoshinaka, whereupon
Nobumitsu suggested to Yoritomo that Yoshinaka's real purpose was to
ally his house with the Taira by marriage. Whether Nobumitsu believed
this, or whether his idea had its origin in pique, history does not
indicate. But there can be no hesitation in concluding that a rupture
between the two Minamoto chiefs was presaged by Yoritomo's entourage,
who judged that two Richmonds could not remain permanently in the

Things gradually shaped themselves in accordance with that forecast.
The malcontents in Yoritomo's camp or his discomfited opponents began
to transfer their allegiance to Yoshinaka; a tendency which
culminated when Yoritomo's uncle, Yukiiye, taking umbrage because a
provincial governorship was not given to him, rode off at the head of
a thousand cavalry to join Yoshinaka. The reception given by
Yoshinaka to these deserters was in itself sufficient to suggest
doubts of his motives. Early in the year 1183, Yoritomo sent a force
into Shinano with orders to exterminate Yoshinaka. But the latter
declined the combat. Quoting a popular saying that the worst enemies
of the Minamoto were their own dissensions, he directed his troops to
withdraw into Echigo, leaving to Yoritomo a free hand in Shinano.
When this was reported to Yoritomo, he recalled his troops from
Shinano, and asked Yoshinaka to send a hostage. Yoshinaka replied by
sending his son Yoshitaka, the same youth to whom Takeda Nobumitsu
had proposed to marry his daughter. He was now wedded to Yoritomo's
daughter, and the two Minamoto chiefs seemed to have been effectually


Yoshinaka's desire to avoid conflict with Yoritomo had been partly
due to the fact that the Taira leaders were known to be just then
straining every nerve to beat back the westward-rolling tide of
Minamoto conquest. They had massed all their available forces in
Echizen, and at that supreme moment Yoritomo's active hostility would
have completely marred Yoshinaka's great opportunity. In May, 1183,
this decisive phase of the contest was opened; Koremori, Tamemori,
and Tomonori being in supreme command of the Taira troops, which are
said to have mustered one hundred thousand strong. At first, things
fared badly with the Minamoto. They lost an important fortress at
Hiuchi-yama, and Yukiiye was driven from Kaga into Noto. But when the
main army of the Minamoto came into action, the complexion of affairs
changed at once. In a great battle fought at Tonami-yama in Echizen,
Yoshinaka won a signal victory by the manoeuvre of launching at the
Taira a herd of oxen having torches fastened to their horns.
Thousands of the Taira perished, including many leaders.

Other victories at Kurikara and Shinowara opened the road to Kyoto.
Yoshinaka pushed on and, in August, reached Hiei-zan; while Yukiiye,
the pressure on whose front in Noto had been relieved, moved towards
Yamato; Minamoto no Yukitsuna occupied Settsu and Kawachi, and
Ashikaga Yoshikiyo advanced to Tamba. Thus, the capital lay at the
mercy of Yoshinaka's armies. The latter stages of the Minamoto march
had been unopposed. Munemori, after a vain attempt to secure the
alliance of the Hiei-zan monks, had recalled his generals and decided
to retire westward, abandoning Kyoto. He would have taken with him
the cloistered Emperor, but Go-Shirakawa secretly made his way to
Hiei-zan and placed himself under the protection of Yoshinaka,
rejoicing at the opportunity to shake off the Taira yoke.


On August 14, 1183, the evacuation of Kyoto took place. Munemori,
refusing to listen to the counsels of the more resolute among his
officers, applied the torch to the Taira mansions at northern and
southern Rokuhara, and, taking with him the Emperor Antoku, then in
his sixth year, his Majesty's younger brother, and their mother,
together with the regalia--the mirror, the sword, and the
gem--retired westward, followed by the whole remnant of his clan.
Arrived at Fukuhara, they devoted a night to praying, making sacred
music, and reading Sutras at Kiyomori's tomb, whereafter they set
fire to all the Taira palaces, mansions, and official buildings, and
embarked for the Dazai-fu in Chikuzen. They reckoned on the
allegiance of the whole of Kyushu and of at least one-half of


The Taira leaders having carried off the Emperor Antoku, there was no
actually reigning sovereign in Kyoto, whither the cloistered Emperor
now returned, an imposing guard of honour being furnished by
Yoshinaka. Go-Shirakawa therefore resumed the administration of State
affairs, Yoshinaka being given the privilege of access to the
Presence and entrusted with the duty of guarding the capital. The
distribution of rewards occupied attention in the first place. Out of
the five hundred manors of the Taira, one hundred and fifty were
given to Yoshinaka and Yukiiye, and over two hundred prominent Taira
officials were stripped of their posts and their Court ranks.
Yoritomo received more gracious treatment than Yoshinaka, although
the Kamakura chief could not yet venture to absent himself from the
Kwanto for the purpose of paying his respects at Court. For the rest,
in spite of Yoshinaka's brilliant success, he was granted only the
fifth official rank and the governorship of the province of Iyo.

These things could not fail to engender some discontent, and
presently a much graver cause for dissatisfaction presented itself.
Fujiwara Kanezane, minister of the Right, memorialized the Court in
the sense that, as Antoku had left the capital, another occupant to
the throne should be appointed, in spite of the absence of the
regalia. He pointed out that a precedent for dispensing with these
tokens of Imperialism had been furnished in the case of the Emperor
Keitai (507-531). No valid reason existed for such a precipitate
step. Antoku