- Art Gallery -




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 contain.

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 Japan).

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 centuries.


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) period.

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 authorities.

*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 time.

***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 shrine.

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 seeds.

*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 lute-player.

**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 stirrup:—

   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 heaven."

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 Kirishima-yama.

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 Gem.

*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 distant.

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 west.

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 Izanami.

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 appropriate.

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 administrators.


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 weapons.


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 Sushen.


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 trespass.

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 sufficient.

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 island.

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 extreme."

*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 gods."*

*"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 pursuits.

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 animals.

*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 function.

"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 casting.

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 models.

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 emigrated.

*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 purpose.

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." [Munro.]


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." [Baelz.]

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 B.C.

*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 polytheism.

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 forces.

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 religions.


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 miyatsuko.

*"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 "table-utensils."


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 posthumous."*


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 vessels.

*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 Circuits."*

*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 Yamato."


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 translation.]

*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 Keiko.

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 thirty-five.

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).


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 civilization.


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 "servant."


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 Grandee).


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 Court.

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 courtesy.

**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 thus:

(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 respects.

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 Shimbetsu-uji.

*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 subject:

   "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 ages.

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 fork.

*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 feudalism.


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 sovereigns.


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 commander-in-chief.


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. 488-498).




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 cured.

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 subjects.


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 Court.

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 viva.


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 Japan.


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 retribution.

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 centuries.

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 uji.

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 centuries.


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 converts.

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 centre.

**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 Buddhism."

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 affairs.

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, respectively.

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 proselytize.

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 confiscated.

*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 wealth.


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 metamorphosis.

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 governed?

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 (Stable-door).

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 miyake.

*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 creatures."

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 unsettled.

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 year.

*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 category.

*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.


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 silent.

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." (Aston.)

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 document.

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 ideals.

*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 eras.


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 proclaimed.

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 Ame-toyo-takara-ikashi-hi-tarashi-hime.


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 endorsement.

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 left.


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 throne.

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 adaptation.

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 (u-daijiri).

(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 Japan.

*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 differentiated.


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 (chief).


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 general-in-chief.


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 year.


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 equal.

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 Department.

*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 profit.


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 thousand.

*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 Fujiwara.

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 history.


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 affairs.

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) Nyorai.

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 killed.


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 provinces.

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 Minamoto.


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 Nakasen-do.

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 example:

   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 unit.

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 Akita.

*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 army.

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 Tamuramaro.

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 seventh.

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 inches.


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" (yamashiro).

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 prices.

*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, 805.

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 halls.

*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 building.


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 authority.

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 record.*

*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 civilization.


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 plundered.

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 vocables."

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 "narrative."

**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 extent.

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 (shoen).

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 reduction.

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 standard.

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 recognition.

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 illness.

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 there.


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 place.

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 uncaptured.

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 history.


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 itself.


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 branches:

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 lad.

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 priests.




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 Fujiwara.

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 year.


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 gardening.

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 ground.

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 fashionable.

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 (shoen).


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 commoners.

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 schoolmen.

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 chiefs:

   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 furnished.

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 progress.

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 remote.

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.