1. Chapter 1
From The Accession Of The First Mikado To The Landing Of The Portuguese In Japan
As Voltaire long ago pointed out, while the British Isles have been more than once, the Japanese Islands in historic times have never been, subjugated by foreigners. The two attempts made to conquer Japan at the end of the thirteenth century by Kublai Khan, the Mongol conquerpr of China and the employer of Marco Polo, ended in complete failure. Such influence as foreigners have had on the development of the Japanese has been as a whole the result of peaceful intercourse with them.
The Japanese Islands were originally inhabited by a race the descendants of whom are supposed to be the Ainu found to-day in the island of Hokkaido, or Yezo. At a very early date Mongolians and Malayans seem to have invaded the main island of Honshiu, south of Yezo, and the island of Kiushiu, south of Honshiu. A narrow strait divides Kiushiu from Honshiu, and between Corea and Kiushiu lie the islands of Tsushima and Iki, affording stepping-stones for Asiatic emigrants. Mongolians may, however, have crossed from Siberia to Sakhalien and thence by Yezo reached Honshiu, or from Kamchatka arrived in Yezo via the Kurile Islands. The Malayan ancestors in the Japanese population, perhaps, made their way northeastwards from the PhiHppines or Borneo by Hong-Kong, Formosa, and the Loo-Choo Islands to Kiushiu. A glance at the map will explain to the reader the alternative theories. Prehistoric remains - stpne, bronze and iron implements and pottery - have been found at various places in Japan, but they throw little, if any, light on the question of the origin of the people we call Japanese.
The accession of Jimmu-Tenno, in 660 B.C., as the first Mikado - the present Mikado, Yoshihito, is claimed to be the 122nd of the line - is the first date officially recognized in Japanese history. If, which is improbable, the date is correct, the Japanese royal family goes back to a period when the Assyrians were invading Egypt, the Greeks were spreading into Asia Minor, Sicily and Italy, the Romans were being ruled by kings, and our own islands and most of Europe were sunk in barbarism. Assuming the date to be right, Jimmu was a contemporary of the great Greek philosopher Thales, and lived a century before the Chinese philosopher Confucius, the Indian philosopher Buddha, and Cyrus, the founder of that Persian Empire whose contact with the Greeks was to have such momentous effects on European civilization. As the earliest extant annals of the Japanese - the Kojiki - were composed in a. d. 712, it is impossible to say what degree of truth there is in the traditions connected with Jimmu.
Nor are the traditions connected with Jimmu's successors up to the date when Japan is first distinctly mentioned in the Chinese annals more trustworthy. China (at the time when Hannibal was preparing to invade Italy) had been unified (221 b. c.) by Shi-huang-Ti, the builder of the Great Wall. From 145 b. c. onwards Chinese history justly claims to be reliable. la the second century b. c. Corea was conquered by the Chinese, and it is not improb able that from Corea Chinese ideas at once began to enter Japan. It is claimed that a Corean kingdom, Minjana, in 33 B. c. - that is nearly a quarter of a century after Caesar landed in Kent and two years before Augustus defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the battle of Actium - sent tribute to the Japanese Emperor, Sujin. Be that as it may, in Chinese histories of the first century a. d. - the century oi the introduction of Buddhism into China - distinct references to Japan occur. In them the Japanese are described as dwarfs (Wa).
' The Wa,' runs one of these accounts, ' dwell south-east of Corea on a mountainous island in mid-ocean. Their country is divided into more than one hundred provinces. Since the time when Wu-Ti (140-86 b. c.) conquered Corea, the Wa have communicated with the Corean authorities by means of a postal service. . . . The sovereign of Great Wa resides in Yamato. ... In the second year of ChungYuan (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. KwangWu presented him with a seal and ribbon.' According to another Chinese annalist, the Japanese ' have neither oxen nor wild beasts, they tattoo their faces in patterns varying with their rank, they wear garments woven in one piece, they have spears, shields, bows, and arrows tipped with stone or iron. They wear no shoes, they are addicted to strong drink, are polygamous, law abiding and longlived.' The degree of accuracy in these accounts is unascertainable.
Since there was considerable trade between China and Europe from the fourth century b. c. to the second century A. D. and later, the existence of Japan may, for aught we know, have been known then in Europe. It would be wrong to conclude that all Occidentals before Marco Polo were ignorant of Japan and the Japanese, or vice versa. Writing two generations and more after Japan had been discovered by the Portuguese, Shakespeare and Bacon, judging by their works, had never even heard of Japan.
During the third century a. d., when the Roman Empire was being invaded by German tribes, it is alleged that the Semiramis of Japanese history, the Empress Jingo, conquered Corea, and that the Chinese classics- the writings of Confucius and his successors- were brought to Japan by Wani of Kudara (a. d. 285* ). As the first date when the annals of Japan agree with the annals of Corea or China is a. d. 475, these statements must, however, be received with caution. Whether the Empress Jingo's expedition ever took place or not, it is certain that Japan up to a. d. 662 was in intimate relations with Corea. In Mimana, on the south coast of the peninsula, she possessed a Calais through which she could pour troops to the assistance of the kingdom of Kudara, one of the three states into which Corea was then divided. The capital of Kudara was on the site of the modern Seoul. North of Kudara was the kingdom of Koma, with its capital at PingYang. East of Kudara was the kingdom of Shiragi, always menacing the Mimana enclave. In a. d. 466 the Mikado Yuryaku invaded Shiragi but met with no success. A century or so later the King of Shiragi took the ofEensive and seized Mimana. In a. d. 660 the T'ang Emperor of China, Kao-Sung, dispatched a large army by sea from Shantung against Kudara.
* The date has .been questioned ; it may have been 404.
The Chinese landed at Chemulpo and, in conjunction with the forces of Shiragi, overran Kudara. That Japan would stand aside and see her ally subjugated and Corea reduced to a Chinese dependency was not to be expected; Japanese troops were sent to the aid of the Kudarahs,, and the kingdom was momentarily restored. But in 662 the Chinese inflicted a severe defeat on the Japanese, and Kudara and Koma were virtually annexed by China. . Henceforth up to the end of the sixteenth century the Japanese, for various reasons, ceased officially to interest themselves in Corean affairs.
A century earlier (552), when the Germans were colon izing England, Buddhism made its way into Japan from Corea. By the opening of the next century Chinese ideas had undoubtedly obtained a firm hold on the Japanese. The Chinese calendar was introduced and the Seventeen Articles of Shotoku-Taishi's Constitution, which bear traces of Chinese and Buddhistic influences, were promulgated in A. D. 604. St. Augustine was then proselytizing in England,Mahomet was over thirty, years of age.
Soon after this, the Japanese government was re-organized on Chinese lines and a census taken (a.d. 652). The Taiho Code of Laws was promulgated in a. d. 701, and nine years later Nara, some twenty miles east of Osaka, in Honshiu, became the capital of the Empire. At this epoch Japanese art, institutions, and literature were in a very flourishing condition ; the great image of Buddha at Nara was made, and the first histories of Japan compiled. The Chinese characters had been adapted to express the sounds of the Japanese language, which, in its present form, unlike Chinese, is polysyllabic and abounds in curious idiosyncrasies, such as polite and negative forms of verbs, postpositions instead of prepositions, conjunctions placed at the end of sentences. The tense of a Japanese verb, too, is represented only by a single word, and there are no inflections indicating persons or numbers. With the transfer of the capital from Nara to Kyoto, about twenty miles north of it, in a. d, 794 - six years before Charlemagne was crowned Emperor of the West by the Pope - the Chino-Buddhistic-Imperialism in Japan began to decline.
It may not be out of place at this point broadly to consider the influence which China has exercised on the evolution of Japan. To-day Chinese is very unlike Japanese culture, but it must not be forgotten that Japan owes to China a debt comparable, perhaps, with that which Great Britain owes to the Graeco-Roman world. Apart from, directly or indirectly, introducing Buddhism and Nestorian Christianity to the notice of the islanders, it may be said that Chinese priests, Corean missionaries, and Japanese priests who had been sent to China brought from the Middle Kingdom - besides the knowledge of Chinese writing - many of the essentials of painting, sciJpture, and the arts related thereto. The study of Chinese philosophy had, too, a share in the modelling of the national character, the importance of which cannot be exaggerated. The doctrine of Confucius with its five relations - loyalty, filial piety, marital fidelity, brotherly order, and friendly solidarity - was the basis of a continuous system of ethics, the forms of which varied but slightly from the sixth to the twentieth centuries. As Professor Inouye Tetsujiro has written : ' The teaching of the great Chinese sage is so widely diffused and deeply rooted in Japan that it must be considered to be part and parcel of Japanese culture itself. Besides that, we must not forget that the Japanese spirit began in earlier times to assimilate Confucianism to itself, that is to say to Japanize it.'
The same may be said of ceremonial, which till recently pervaded the whole of the Japanese social regulations and laws, and of the superstitions connected with geomancy. Much indeed of the folk lore can be compared or identified with Chinese, and some, through China, with Indian tales. Ceremonial division of the court and of the administration into ' left ' and ' right ' persisted from the sixth century right up. to 1867. Even the dresses, the swords of the courtiers of ' left ' and ' right ', were differentiated in true Chinese style, while the ranks conferred upon nobles were imitated from Chinese prototypes, and the Imperial sacrifices to the forces of nature, although garbed in Shintoist guise and accompanied by Shinto ritual, are still reminiscent of the corresponding Chinese ceremonies.
Chinese officialdom, also largely imitated, was based upon a system of university examinations, and had a democratic character. It opened the doors of administrative careers to successful literary scholars, and it militated against the growth, indeed against the existence, of feudalism, particularly of military feudalism.. Even the Son of Heaven had to 'make good', or his lack of virtue could be impeached and his occupation of the throne suddenly cut short. In Japan ceremonial crystallized in thick masses of stiff officialdom around a throne hereditary because of its traditionally divine origin, and criticism of imperial /aii/ et gestes was not permitted to the masses, however learned.
The Chinese division of the people into four classes - shi or gentlemen, no or agriculturists, ko or craftsmen, and sho or merchants - was adopted in Japan, and remained in force until quite recently, though the shi were not necessarily scholars as in China, but soldiers - samurai, bushi - who looked down upon the rest of the world.
In many ways the craze for Chinese forms of learning was unreasoning. We see instances of it in the composition of poetry encompassed within a narrow number of syllables, where subject-matter was subservient to dimension, while fine thoughts had perforce to be expressed in uncongenial forms. Running parallel with this conventional versification was a true Japanese poetry of more convenient metre and length. Again, theatrical performances, dances and games often affected Chinese forms or followed Chinese fashion.
The introduction of Feudalism into Japan coincided with the final reduction of the aborigines - the Ainu or Yemishi. In the second century a. d. the Yemishi still retained the eastern portion of the main island of Honshiu, and, doubtless, also the island of Yezo, where their descendants are still to be met with. In a. d. i lo Prince Yamato-Takeru had conducted a more or less successful campaign against the Yemishi in eastern Honshiu. During the fourth century - in A. D. 367 - the aborigines in Kazusa, the province bounded on the west by the Bay of Tokyo, had rebelled and the rebels had held their own. Another rebellion of the Yemishi in 637 had been suppressed. At the end of the eighth century they made their final bid for independence in Honshiu. From 774 to 811 the Japanese engaged in war with the Basques of Japan. The struggle ended in favour of the Japanese. Perhaps if we had particulars of the long-drawn conflict we should find that it was one of the causes of the growth of Feudalism. At any rate it is significant that the head-quarters of Feudalism in subsequent centuries were those portions of Honshiu to which the Yemishi had retired.
Fortunately for Japan the rise of Feudalism prevented the Japanese race from suffering the fate of the Coreans. From 866 onwards to our own times, the military nobility (bushi) overshadowed the Chinese-influenced Mikado and his courtiers. Between 866 and 1159 Fujiwara, and between 11 59 and 1185 the Taira clan usurped the royal authority, but the seat of the administrative power was Kyoto, and Feudalism was not firmly established until the second half of the twelfth century.
The bushi looked down on all not belonging to their own class, and they were indifferent to mere intellectual distinction. As in the West, clever men of the lower classes, instead of mounting into the military caste, had, as a rule, to exercise their talents in the numerous monasteries of Japan.
With great shortsightedness, the central government at Kyoto left the provincial nobles and the bushi to their own devices. Royal governors neglected their duties and administered the provinces through deputies. Manors paying no taxes to the Crown sprang up everywhere, and half the arable land of Japan became practically excluded from the Mikado's domain. By marriage, inheritance, purchase, gift, vast tracts of land came under the power of certain clans. The chief clans in the middle of the twelfth century were the above-mentioned Taira and their rivals, the Minamoto. The Mikados, like the Valois monarchs in the wars of the Huguenots and Catholics, vainly endeavoured to balance one party against the other. In 11 59 the Taira crushed the Minamoto clan, and one of the Minamoto chieftains, Yoshitomo, was killed.
Four of Yoshitomo's sons escaped. Of these, two - the eldest, Yoritomo, and his younger brother, Yoshitsune - were destined to overthrow the Taira, and to subjugate the three islands, Honshiu, Shikoku, and Kiushiu. It was Yoritomo who created the remarkable form of government known as the Shogunate, which lasted till 1868. He transferred the seat of power to the eastern half of Honshiu, and left the Mikado an almost functionless monarch at Kyoto. It was as if Henry II had left Stephen enthroned at London, and had governed England from York. In the summer of 11 80 the head of the Taira clan had conceived a somewhat similar scheme. Three great Buddhist monasteries, crammed with the Templars and Hospitallers of Japan, existed in the vicinity of Kyoto. To remove the court out of reach of the soldier-priests, the Taira chieftain decided to shift the capital to Fukuhara (the modern Kobe), fifty miles or so south-west of Kyoto. But in September, the Minamoto clan, which had been recuperating its strength, rose, and at the end of the year the court returned to Kyoto.
The leader of the Minamoto rebels was Yoritomo, then thirty-four years old. Like Napoleon, he was a short-set man, with a large head. His voice was powerful and ringing. When he chose, his manners were extraordinarily gentle. Brave, astute, and iron-willed, he is one of the most noteworthy figures in Japanese history. Of a cold, calculating nature, he knew how to use men and women as his tools, and he stuck at nothing - not even at fratricide - to achieve his ends. Round him, in addition to the Minamoto bushi, had congregated many discontented members of the Taira and Fujiwara septs. The rising was justified by the fact that the Taira leaders had decided to exterminate the remaining members of the Minamoto clan.
At first Yoritomo was unsuccessful. His band was dispersed and he had to fly for his life. Nevertheless, his attempt had set fire to a mass of inflammable material. Eight provinces of the Kwanto - the region of Honshiu in which the modern Tokyo is situated - were gained over by him. He fixed his head-quarters at Kamakura, a few miles south of the present Yokohama, which was afterwards for nearly two centuries the Shogun's seat of government.
By the beginning of November, Yoritomo had 27,000 troops encamped on the north bank of the Fuji river. Across the river was a Taira army nearly double its size. It seemed as if a decisive battle was about to be fought, when suddenly the Taira forces were seized with a panic, and retreated westward on Kyoto.
While Yoritomo was considering the next step to be taken, he was joined by his half-brother, the young Yoshitsune, at the head of a score of followers, among them a gigantic halberdier, Benkei, whom Yoshitsune had beaten in single combat and whose life had been spared by the chivalrous Minamoto knight. At the age of fifteen, Yoshitsune had escaped from his Taira captors and been given an asylum by the Fujiwara chieftain of Mutsu, whose fief - the largest in Japan - lay in what may be called, from its position to the rest of the island, the Highlands of Honshiu. There this well-knit, graceful youth of medium height had become one of the finest swordsmen in the north of Japan. The piercing eyes of the lad revealed his fiery soul. He was to earn the reputation of a great general and admiral, and in Japanese mediaeval annals he fills much the same place as that occupied by Richard I in English, Bruce in Scottish, and Bertrand du Guesclin or Bayard in French history. Yoritomo had never before set eyes upon his half-brother. Another soldier of ability belonging to the Minamoto clan, Yoshinaka, also rallied to Yoritomo's standard.
During 1181 and 1182, famine and pestilence in the centre and west of Honshiu prevented the Taira from mustering a large army. On the other hand, Yoshinaka and Yoritomo quarrelled, and it was not till the beginning of 1 1 83 that a reconciliation between them was effected. In May of that year the Taira concentrated their forces, numbering, it is said, 100,000 men. Yoshinaks, with the main Minamoto army, attacked and defeated them at the battle of Tonami-yama. He won the day by the Hannibalesque manoeuvre of launching at the foe a herd of oxen with lighted torches fastened to their horns. Beating the enemy again in several engagements, the Minamoto army moved on Kyoto, which was abandoned by the Taira troops. The cloistered ex-Mikado, Go-Shirakawa, placed himself under Yoshinaka's protection, but the Taira leaders carried off with them the Mikado Antoku, then six years old, and the mirror, sword, and gem which constituted the regalia oi Japan. The Minamoto party, with the connivance of Go-Shirakawa, set up a rival Mikado, Go-Toba, of whom more will be heard. Meantime, Yoritomo had remained behind in the Kwanto organizing that district, the base of operations for the Minamoto army, and the Taira chieftains had consolidated their position in Honshiu, west of Kyoto, and also in the islands of Shikoku and Kiushiu.
At the beginning of 1184, Yoshinaka, now called the ' Rising Sun Shogun ', again - and finally - quarrelled with Yoritomo. He arrested Go-Shirakawa and Go-Toba, and made overtures to the enemies of his clan. At this moment, Yoshitsune, with 500 soldiers, was escorting to Kyoto the Kwanto taxes, and; reinforced by Yoritomo with 50,000 troops, he surprised the capital. Yoshinaka fled, and was killed by his pursuers.
1 'Shogun' is Japanese for 'General'.
After this success, Yoshitsune, without delay, marched against the Taira army. It was 100,000 strong, and held a fortified position near Fukuhara. On the north of it was a semi-circle of reputedly inaccessible mountains ; on the south lay the sea, where the Taira fleet of a thousand war vessels was at anchor. The eastern wing rested on a forest, the western was strongly entrenched.
Yoshitsune had marched out of Kyoto on March 19. His forces numbered 75,000. Among them were bodies of mounted archers, whose bows, we may surmise, were more powerful - several men were, it is said, required to bend a Japanese bow of the period - than those which the English, a century and more later, were to use with such deadly efiiciency. On March 2i, Yoshitsune attacked the enemy. While the Taira troops were heavily engaged on both flanks, a detachment of cavalry of the Minamoto army threaded its way across the mountains, and riding down the steep declivity charged the enemy's centre. Both of the Taira wings broke, and the battle of Ichi-No-Tani was speedily over. In the helmet of one of the slain Taira chieftains, Tadanori, was found a roll of poems, among which was the following :
Twilight upon my path.
And for an inn to-night
The shadow of a tree.
And for mine host A flower.
These verses, so celebrated in Japan, like those attributed to the great Hideyoshi, quoted on p. 53, are, as it were, a flash revealing one side of the Japanese character too little appreciated by matter-of-fact Occidentals.
Another illuminating incident of the battle may be related. A Taira lad of fifteen was taken prisoner. His captor tore off his helmet and saw a face recalling that of his own son. About to spare the boy's life, he suddenly remembered that, if he did, his prisoner might suffer a more cruel death than beheading. He explained to the youth that a swift would be preferable to a perhaps slow and lingering end, and the latter calmly submitted to his fate. The Minamoto soldier sent the head and a flute found on the lad's person to the boy's father, and then himself entered the priesthood and spent his remaining years praying for the soul of his victim.
The victory of Ichi-No-Tani did not terminate the war. Yo'shitsune had failed to secure either the person of the Mikado or the regalia. The Taira fleet was intact and Shikoku and Kiushiu unreduced. Yoshitsune fell, too, into disgrace with Yoritomo, who envied and feared him. The former remained at Kyoto, apparently intriguing with the ex-Mikado, Go-Shirakawa.
In October a Minamoto army moved westward. Five months later, in March 1185, a portion of it was thrown across the Straits of Shimonoseki into Bungo, a province in the north-east of Kiushiu. There, threatened by the Taira troops on Hikoshima - an island west of the Straits - and by those on Shikoku, with its water communications at the mercy of the vastly superior Taira fleet, the position of the Minamoto advanced guard was precarious. Unless the Taira clan lost the command of the sea, the contest threatened to drag on for years.
Yoritomo prepared to try conclusions with his enemy of his enemy's favourite element. A fleet had been collected at Watanabe. The ex-Mikado conferred the command of it on Yoshitsune, who ignored, without being able to dismiss, the admiral sent by Yoritomo to assist him in the fight. This admiral was of the type of the younger Byng, while Yoshitsune was a Nelson. Naturally there was great friction between them. On March 21, a tempest raged in the Inland Sea. Yoshitsune, ignoring the adniiral's protests, crossed, with five war-junks, the waters dividing Honshiu ff om Shikoku, on whose eastern coast he landed safely. He surprised the Taira outposts, and on the 23rd was joined by thirty more war-junks. At dawn on the 24th, he boldly attacked with his squadron and put to flight the Taira fleet in Shido Bay. Shikoku was speedily conquered, and the remnants of the Taira fleet, together with the boy Mikado, sought refuge on Hikoshima.
On April 25, the Actium of the campaign was fought at Dan-No Ura, near the Straits of Shimonoseki. On this occasion Yoshitsune had a superiority in numbers, having some 800 as against 500 warjunks. The junks were propelled by oars, and the fighting was of the nature of a land-battle. As at Sluys, reliance was placed by the combatants chiefly on bows and arrows and swords. After the discharge of several flights of arrows, the fleets closed. At the height of the struggle a portion of the Taira fleet deserted to the enemy, and Yoshitsune gained a decisive victory. On one of the vessels were the little Mikado Antoku, his grandmother and mother. The grandmother with the boy in her arms, the mother with the regalia, leapt overboard. The first two were drowned, but the mother was rescued and the sacred mirror and gem, but not the sword, recovered. The battle of Dan-No-Ura settled the fate of the Taira. The island of Kiushiu, like that of Shikoku, and also the whole of Honshiu, with the exception of the Ftijiwara provinces of Mutsu and Dewa, situated in the Highlands of Honshiu, fell under the control of the Minamoto leaders. Yoshltsune returned to Kyoto with the reputation of being the foremost soldier and sailor in Japan.
After the battle of Ichi-No-Tani Yoshitsune had not repaired to Kamakura, Yoritomo's capital, but had preferred to remain at Kyoto ; he had been appointed by the ex-Mikado and not by his half-brother to command the Minamoto forces, which had just gained the battle of Dan-No-Ura ; and Yoritomo's plans for remodelling the Japanese government on Japanese and military as opposed to Chinese aiid civilian lines were endangered by Yoshitsune's dallyings with the court party. When Yoshitsune set out to visit Kamakura, he was forbidden to enter the nascent city. In a pathetic letter of protest to his brother, he said that the ' bond of blood-brotherhood ' had been severed. Returning to Kyoto, he increased his popularity among the inhabitants and the courtiers. To rid himself of this dangerous rival, Yoritomo descended to employing assassins. On November lo, Yoshitsune's house at Kyoto was attacked by a band of bravos. With seven faithful followers he offered a desperate resistance, and help arriving he was saved.
The ex-Mikado, Go-Shirakawa, gave Yoshitsune a mandate to crush Yoritomo, which proved to be an impossible task. By the close of November an army from Kamakura, divided into three columns, converged on the capital. Yoshitsune, unable to collect sufficient forces to meet it, decided to abandon Kyoto and make Shikoku and Kiushiu his bases. On November 29, he embarked for Kiushiu. Driven back by a gale, he landed on the Izumi coast and, changing his plans, ultimately made his way under various disguises to the Honshiu Highlands, the scenes of his earliest exploits. The ex-Mikado, overawed by Yoritomo's troops, had already proscribed him.
The Fujiwara baron with whom Yoshitsune sought refuge early in 11 87 had befriended and trained him when a youth. The baron was in his ninety-first year, and died soon after his guest's arrival. In the spring of 1188, Yoritomo and the ex-Mikado ordered the son and heir of the baron to kill YosHtsune. To coerce the Fujiwara, a large force from Kamakura proceeded northwards. The chief of that clan in alarm sent a band to murder Yoshitsune, who killed his wife and children and then committed suicide. The giant Benkei and the exiled general's few personal attendants died to a man defending their master.
The crime committed by the Fujiwara baron was swiftly avenged - and by Yoritomo. So long as there was a quasiindependent potentate with a large army in the Honshiu Highlands, the ruler at Kamakura, if he should march the bulk of his forces to or west of Kyoto, was in danger of having his base of operations, the Kwanto, surprised. The conquest of the Highlands was needed to complete the subjugation of the islands. Three armies - one moving up the western and another up the eastern coast, while a third, under Yoritomo himself, advanced inland - left the Kwanto for the north. The Fujiwara noble's forces were overpowered. He was murdered by a vassal who, in turn, was executed by Yoritomo. From 11 89 to the day of his death in 11 99, Yoritomo was the de facto sovereign of Japan.
Generals as successful as Yoritomo had been have in most other countries converted real into nominal sovereignty, or founded a republican form of government. But neither Yoritomo nor, in later times, Hideyoshi and Tokugawa lyeyasu appear to have ever contemplated ascending the throne of the Mikado. Yoritomo was content with the substance and disdained the shadow. His methods for ensuring that the executive power should remain in his ovm hands and in those of his successors were remarkable.
Early in his career of conquest he had established at Kamakura a capital in opposition to Kyoto. At Kamakura he set up a Bakufu (' camp office '), which was a businesslike council, utterly unlike the Royal Chinese-apeing camarilla at Kyoto. None of the posts in the Bakufu was to be sold and bought. In Yoritomo's intention the ministers were to be hard-working officials living a simple life. They were not to perform their duties in the midst of a host of wealthy parasites.
At the head of the Bakufu was theShogun,the commanderin-chief or Grand Master of the whole order of bushi. The council was" divided into three boards or committees. The first, or Samurai-dokoro, established in 1180, was a sort of general staff and war office. After Yoshinaka's occupation of Kyoto in 11 84, when Yoritomo began to usurp the civil authority of the Crovra, the Samurai-dokoro was supplemented by two other boards, the Man-dokoro and Monju-dokoro. The Man-dokoro superintended the civil administration, while legislative and judicial matters were entrusted to the Monju-dokoro. Careers for talented persons outside the military caste were opened by Yoritomo. Such persons might aspire to sit on two of the three boards of the Bakufu.
1 ' This assertion may be doubted in the case of Hideyoshi.
At the end of 1185 and at the beginning of 1186, after Yoshitsune's abortive rising against his half-brother, a
radical change was introduced in the local administration of Japan. It was sanctioned with much reluctance by the Mikado, Go-Shirakawa. In each province a prefect to command the local levies and to arrest insurgents, assassins, and robbers, and a land steward, whose functions were to collect taxes and maintain peace and order in the manors entrusted to him, were appointed - not by the Crown but by the Bakufu at Kamakura.
Nor were these the only measures by which the Crown was reduced* to impotence. In 1186 a prefect and a bodyguard, acting in the interests of the Bakufu, were established in Kyoto itself. Some of the powers of the Kwampaku, the Mayor of the Palace, were transferred to a new official dependent on the Bakufu, and a Council of Twelve was created which, in the very court of Go-Shirakawa, discussed and decided all affairs of State. On November 2, 1190, Yoritomo set out from Kamakura to pay his first visit to the monarch whom he had deprived of all real power. At the head of a splendid retinue and a numerous army he entered Kyoto on December 5. Go-Shirakawa received his visitor with much apparent affability. Yoritomo had caused Kyoto to be cleared of the bandits infesting it, and the royal palaces, by his orders, had been repaired. For these and his other services he hoped to be appointed Seiitai-shogun (' barbarian-subduing-great-general ') but had to be content with the post of So-tsuihoshi ('.Lord High Constable '), which, however, gave him control over the provincial prefects. It was not till after the death of Go-Shirakawa in 1 192 that the other and more important office was conferred on him.
Such were the civil and military reforms effected by Yoritomo. In religious matters he proved a tolerant ruler.
Among the monuments still extant at Kamakura, which, is now a village, are the Temple of Hachiman, the God of War and tutelary deity of the Minamoto. clan, and a Temple of Kwannon, both erected by him. The colossal bronze image of Buddha, 47 feet high,was not c?st till 1252. His own tomb - the tomb of one of the greatest statesmen in the history of the world - is a modest erection covered with creepers. The institutions founded by Yoritomo, modified by Tokugawa lyeyasu at the beginning of the seventeenth century, lasted till 1868. Born no king, Yoritomo effected what few kings have been able to accomplish.
The Minamoto was soon in turn superseded by the Hojo clan into which Yoritomo had married. It was under the Hojo that the Mikado, Go-Toba, endeavoured from Kyoto to overthrow the Shogunate. In 1221 he outlawed Hojo Yoshitoki, who replied by sending southwards from Kamakura an army said to have numbered 190,000, commanded by his eldest son, Yasutoki. It advanced by three roads on Kyoto. To Yasutoki's question what he was to do if the Mikado himself led the Royal forces, Yoshitoki answered : ' The Sovereign cannot be opposed. If His Majesty be in personal command, then strip off your armour, cut your bow-strings and assume the mien of a low official. But if the Mikado be not in command, then fight to the death. Should you be defeated I wiU never see your face again.' In the thirteenth century no such attitude was adopted in Europe by rebels towards Kings or by Kings and Emperors towards Popes ! Go-Toba did not himself take the field, Yasutoki defeated the Royalists, and Go-Toba was deposed but was not, as would probably have happened if he had been monarch of any other people at that date, put to death.
The Mikado had been reduced to a puppet by Yoritomo and the succeeding Shoguns. Under the Hojo regime, the Shogun, too, lost all power. Though the office was retained, the real rulers at Kamakura were the Shikken (Regent) and a small council of, as a rule, earnest and unpretentious men. In 1274, and again in 1281, this system of government, which is analogous to that in modern democratic states, where from the background bosses and wirepullers - usually very different in character from the Japanese statesmen of the thirteenth century - direct public affairs, was put to a severe test. The Mongol Alexander the Great, Gengis Khan (i 162-1 227), had created a gigantic empire between the Dnieper and the Pacific Ocean, and his successors extended his conquests. One of them, the celebrated Kublai Khan, a grandson of Gengis, in 1263 subjugated Corea which became his vassal kingdom. In 1264 he fixed the capital of his empire at Peking and aspired to become the master of the whole of the rest of China. The victories of the Mongols made it possible for travellers to cross in comparative safety from the Mediterranean to the Pacific, and a couple of Venetians, the Polos, father and son, proceeded to Kublai's Court. It is from the Travels of the son, Marco Polo, that we get our first glimpse of Japan in any document written in a European language. Marco Polo's account of Japan and the Japanese will be found in chapter ii.
As was to be the case centuries later, Japan now found herself face to face, not with pacific neighbours but with a formidable and civilized enemy whose government specialized in the art of war. Before Kublai had completed his conquest of China he had decided to drag Japan within the orbit of the Mongol Empire. Up to this date the Japanese Islands had in historic times been only once seriously invaded.
In A. D. 1019 the Sushen or Toi - ancestors of the Manchu - who in a. d. 549 had raided the island of Sado off the west coast of Honshiu, had conquered the islands of Tsushima and Iki in the Corean Straits and effected a landing on the northern shores of Kiushiu. They had been driven off, and Iki and Tsushima had been reoccupied. It is noteworthy that Kublai Khan's two invasions followed on the lines of that of the Toi.
In 1265 Kublai ordered his vassal, the Corean King of Koma, to transport his, Kublai's, envoys to Japan, where they were, in effect, to demand the submission of the Japanese. It was not, however, till 1268 that a Mongol Embassy actually reached Japan, bearing a letter from Kublai in which he styled himself ' Emperor ' and the Japanese monarch merely ' King '. No answer was vouchsafed by the Japanese rulers, and Kublai during the next five years, or at the end of them, made preparations for the reduction of the Island Kingdom.
In November 1274 a fleet of 900 vessels, with 25,000 Mongol and 15,000 Corean troops, left the shores of Corea for Kiushiu. This armada, like that sent by Darius to punish the Athenians, at first met with success. The islands of Tsushima and Iki were again captured, but the Japanese garrisons on them died to a man at their posts. The Mongol leaders must, instinctively, have realized that they were entering a sphere where the ordinary Asiatic standards of conduct were not recognized. If the handfuls of Japanese on Tsushima and Iki were representative of the Japanese nation the enterprise on which the Mongols and Coreans had been sent was hopeless.
The invaders were soon to learn that they had not run up against a few exceptional individuals. On November 20 they landed at Hakozaki Bay in Kiushiu. They were at once attacked by the forces of the local chieftains, and a battle took place, the Marathon of Japanese history. The Mongol cavalry was very superior to the Japanese ; the troops of Kublai possessed powerful cross-bows and tubes firing explosives ; at close quarters they employed poisoned weapons ; and, accustomed to fight in close order, they had a tactical advantage over the Japanese who then relied for success, not on tactical skill but on the prowess of individuals. After a desperate struggle the Japanese, undefeated, retired behind the fortifications of Mizuki.
The night threatened to be stormy. If there was a storm the only hope of safety for the Mongol-Corean fleet would be that it should meet it on the open sea. The invaders were in the position of Caesar when he landed on the Kentish coast ; with this difference that the Corean Straits are five times the width of the Straits of Dover and that the Japanese of the thirteenth century were a far more dangerous enemy than the semi-barbarous Britons of the first century a. d. Like the Romans in 55 and 54 b. c, and like the Persians at Marathon, the Mongols and Coreans took to their ships. At dawn the invader's fleet, several vessels of which had foundered, was seen beating out to sea. The first Mongol invasion had failed ignominiously.
Kublai behaved as did Darius and his son Xerxes after the reverse of the Persians at Marathon. Preparations on a much larger scale were made for another expedition against Japan. Before it sailed, an embassy was again dispatched to the islands, and the Mikado was summoned by Kublai to Peking. As answer to this insult, the five leaders of the embassy were decapitated at Kamakura by the indignant islanders.
The Regent, Hojo Tokimune, had ordered that defensive works should be constructed at all points where the Mongols might land- at Hakozaki Bay, at Nagato, which is in Honshiu on the northern shores of the Straits of Shimonoseki, at Harima on the Honshiu coast of the Inland Sea, and at Tsuruga in Wakasa Bay at the base of the northern half of the main island. Tsushima and Iki which had been abandoned by the Mongols on their return to Corea had been strongly garrisoned, and a fleet which, like the English fleet in 1588, consisted of ships much smaller than the enemy's, was collected. Finally, in 1280, Tokimune issued' an edict bidding the officials and vassals of the Mikado to work together whole-heartedly at this time of national crisis.
The year before (1279) Kublai had finished victoriously the Chinese War. He had acquired in Southern China a large fleet of ocean-going ships, very superior to the Mongolian and Corean vessels of the previous expedition. In the spring of 1281, when our Edward I was preparing for his second campaign in Wales and the Emperor Rudolph was laying the foundations of the power of the House of Habsburg, no fewer than 100,000 Mongols and Chinese are said to have been embarked at a port on the Chinese mainland opposite Formosa. The fleet bearing this host was directed to effect a junction in the Corean Straits with another fleet of 1,000 vessels, carrying 50,000 Mongol and 20,000 Corean soldiers.
In May the second of these fleets appeared off Tsushima. Troops were landed from it, but on this occasion the "Mongols failed to overpower the garrison. While the fighting was proceeding, the fleet from China hove in sight. Leaving Tsushima unreduced, the combined fleets made for Iki. On June 10 the garrison on Iki was exterminated, A fortnight later - why there was this delay has not been explained - the Mongol-Chinese-Corean army began to disembark at Hakozaki Bay and other places in Kiushiu. The island of Hirado oflE the north-western end of Kiushiu was seized later. With Iki and Hirado in their possession, the invaders, doubtless, hoped to effect the conquest of Kiushiu and, with Kiushiu - the Ireland of Japan - as their base, to cross the Straits of Shimonoseki and commence the more serious part of their task, the reduction of Honshiu.
The details of the struggle, as momentous in worldhistory as that of the Greeks with the army and navy of Xerxes, are unfortunately missing. For 53 days, on land and sea, the fighting went on, almost without intermission. The Japanese did not confine themselves to the defensive. Grappling with, they boarded the enemy's ships, and their two-handed swords wrought terrible execution among the invaders. The troops of Kublai were unable to storm the somewhat primitive fortifications on the shores of Hakozaki Bay. A turning movement from the direction of Hizen was unsuccessful. As in the struggle with the Spanish Armada, the elements finally decided the contest. On August 14 and 15 tempests shattered the Mongol fleet. What remained of Kublai's army re-embarked, and the second and last invasion of Japan was over. As we shall see, a faint echo of the Mongol disaster reached Europe through the lips of Marco Polo.
1 The defeat of the Mongols, like that of Xerxes, was grossly exaggerated. In the Taiheiki (a fourteenth-century semi-historical romance) the numbers of the Mongols are put at 3,700,000 and their ships at 70,000.
Hojo Tokimune survived his victory only three years. His death occurred in 1284, and with it the fortunes of the Hojo clan began to decline. The members of it became extravagant and unpopular. In 1318 there ascended the throne an able Mikado, Go-Daigo, who determined to attempt what Go-Toba had failed to accomplish, viz. the restoration of the pristine power of the King of Japan. Since 1272 the Mikados had been chosen, more or less alternately, from two branches of the royal family. The senior branch or Jimyo-in family was wealthy and assisted the Hojo rulers ; the junior or Daikaku-ji family was comparatively poor and opposed them. Go-Daigo belonged to the junior branch. He conspired to overthrow the Shogunate and the Hojo wirepullers.
About 1 33 1 a civil war broke out. Go-Daigo, defeated, was exiled to a little island in the Sea of Japan. He escaped in 1333. Ashikaga Takauji and Nitta Yoshisada, in both of whose veins flowed Minamoto blood, deserted the Hojo. On July 5, 1333, Yoshisada stormed and set fire to Kamakura, and the leader and other members of the Hojo family with 800 followers disembowelled themselves. Twelve days later Go-Daigo entered Kyoto in triumph. It seemed as if the Shogunate would be abolished and the power of the Mikado restored as it was to be in 1868.
The ambition of the Ashikaga chieftain prevented GoDaigo from becoming the Louis XI or Henry VII of Japan. Takauji speedily quarrelled vnth his monarch, and set up a rival Mikado. From 1337 to 1392 war went on between the claimants to the throne. Go-Daigo died in 1339. Finally, in 1392, the schism in the divine family from which the Mikado was chosen was ended by agreement, but the real power remained with the Ashikaga Shoguns and the feudal nobles.
One of these Shoguns, Yoihimitsu, Shogun from 1367 to I395, entered into friendly relations with the Chinese Emperors of the Ming Dynasty who had overthrown the Mongols. Since the repulse of the Mongol invasions, Japanese pirates had preyed on Chinese commerce. Yoshimitsu issued orders for the restraint of the pirates, accepted money from the Chinese Emperor, and even allowed himself to be designated by the latter King of Japan. The friendly relations with China ended in 1419 when a MongolianCorean fleet attacked Tsushima and was beaten off by the Japanese, The Shogun, Yoshimochi, who had succeeded his father Yoshimitsu, treated China as responsible for the affront, and Japanese corsairs were again let loose on China's maritime trade. Under the Shogun Yoshinori (1428-41), who bestowed the kingdom of Ryukyu (the Loo-Choo Islands) on the Lord of Satsuma, commercial intercourse was resumed. In 1529 there was a fresh quarrel, and in 1531 a Chinese squadron appeared off Tsushima, only to be put to flight by the Japanese. Hostilities again commenced, and it was not till 1548 that Japan ceased for a time to be estranged from China.
During the ascendancy, such as it was, of the Ashikagas, which terminated in 1573, the arts flourished in Japan as they were doing in contemporary Italy. This period is, however, known to the Japanese by the name of ' Ashikaga Anarchy ', Towards the end of it, in 1542,'' some Portuguese sailors, driven by stress of weather, were forced to land on an islet off Kiushiu. They introduced to the notice of the Japanese the potent firearms which, in the hands of Cortez, Pizarro, and their followers, had struck terror into the hearts of the Mexicans and the Peruvians. The manufacture of matchlocks in Japan began.
1 The exact date is doubtful.
A new chapter in Japanese history now opened. Japan had repulsed the Mongols. She might have little to fear from the Portuguese, but would she succeed in keeping at bay the piratical subjects of the Emperor Charles V, King of Spain and Master of the Netherlands ? The defeat of the Mongols had drawn Marco Polo's attention to Japan, and his Travels had been an indirect cause of the sudden and enormous growth of a Spanish Colonial Empire.