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He received the commission of sei-i tai-shogun in the
spring of 1192, and, early in 1199, he was thrown from his horse and
killed, at the age of fifty-three. He had proceeded to the pageant of
opening a new bridge over the Sagami River, and it was popularly
rumoured that he had fallen from his horse in a swoon caused by the
apparition of Yoshitsune and Yukiiye on the Yamato plain and that of
the Emperor Antoku at Inamura promontory. Just twenty years had
elapsed since he raised the Minamoto standard in Sagami. His career
was short but meteoric, and he ranks among the three greatest
statesmen Japan has ever produced, his compeers being Hideyoshi and
Ieyasu.

YORITOMO's CHARACTER

Japanese historians have written much about this illustrious man.
Their views may be condensed into the following: Yoritomo was short
in stature with a disproportionately large head. He had a ringing
voice, gentle manners, an intrepid and magnanimous heart, profound
insight, and extraordinary caution. The power of imposing his will
upon others was one of his notable characteristics, as was also
munificence to those that served him. Retainers of the Taira or of
the Minamoto--he made no distinction. All that swore fealty to him
were frankly regarded as go-kenin of the Bakufu. Estates were given
to them, whether restored or newly bestowed, and they were treated
much as were the hatamoto of the Yedo shogunate in later times. He
spared no pains to preserve Kamakura against the taint of Kyoto's
demoralizing influences. The bushi of the Kwanto were made the centre
of society; were encouraged to observe the canons of their
caste--frugality, loyalty, truth, valour, and generosity--canons
daily becoming crystallized into inflexible laws. When Toshikane,
lord of Chikugo, appeared at the Kamakura Court in a magnificent
costume, Yoritomo evinced his displeasure by slashing the sleeves of
the nobleman's surcoat. Skill in archery or equestrianism was so much
valued that it brought quick preferment and even secured pardon for a
criminal.

On the other hand, neglect of these arts, or conduct unbecoming a
samurai, was mercilessly punished. When Hayama Muneyori retired to
his province without accompanying the army sent to attack O-U, he was
severely censured and deprived of his estates. Cognate instances
might be multiplied. In the year 1193, the first case of the vendetta
occurred in Japan. Yoritomo organized a grand hunting party on the
moors at the southern base of Fuji-yama. Among those that accompanied
him was Kudo Suketsune, who had done to death Soga no Sukeyasu. The
latter's sons, Sukenari (commonly called Juro) and Tokimune (Goro),
having sworn to avenge their father, broke into Yoritomo's camp and
took the head of their enemy. The elder was killed in the enterprise;
the younger, captured and beheaded. Yoritomo would fain have saved
Goro's life, though the youth declared his resolve not to survive his
brother. But the Kamakura chief was constrained to yield to the
demands of Suketsune's son. He, however, marked his appreciation of
Juro and Goro's filial piety by carefully observing their last
testament, and by exonerating the Soga estate from the duty of paying
taxes in order that funds might be available for religious rites on
account of the spirits of the brothers.

This encouragement of fidelity may well have been dictated by selfish
policy rather than by moral conviction. Yet that Yoritomo took every
conspicuous opportunity of asserting the principle must be recorded.
Thus, he publicly declared Yasuhira a traitor for having done to
death his guest, Yoshitsune, though in so doing Yasuhira obeyed the
orders of Yoritomo himself; he executed the disloyal retainer who
took Yasuhira's head, though the latter was then a fugitive from the
pursuit of the Kamakura armies, and he pardoned Yuri Hachiro, one of
Yasuhira's officers, because he defended Yasuhira's reputation in
defiance of Yoritomo's anger.

Gratitude Yoritomo never failed to practise within the limit of
policy. Rumour said that he had fallen in his first battle at
Ishibashi-yama. Thereupon, Miura Yoshiaki, a man of eighty-nine, sent
out all his sons to search for Yoritomo's body, and closing his
castle in the face of the Taira forces, fell fighting. Yoritomo
repaid this loyal service by appointing Yoshiaki's son, Wada
Yoshimori, to be betto of the Samurai-dokoro, one of the very highest
posts in the gift of the Kamakura Government. Again, it will be
remembered that when, as a boy of fourteen, Yoritomo had been
condemned to death by Kiyomori, the lad's life was saved through the
intercession of Kiyomori's step-mother, Ike, who had been prompted by
Taira no Munekiyo. After the fall of the Taira, Yoritomo prayed the
Court to release Ike's son, Yorimori, and to restore his rank and
estates, while in Munekiyo's case he made similar offers but they
were rejected.

Towards his own kith and kin, however, he showed himself implacable.
In Yoshitsune's case it has been indicated that there was much to
awaken Yoritomo's suspicions. But his brother Noriyori had no
qualities at all likely to be dangerously exercised. A commonplace,
simple-hearted man, he was living quietly on his estate in Izu when
false news came that Yoritomo had perished under the sword of the
Soga brothers. Yoritomo's wife being prostrated by the intelligence,
Noriyori bade her be reassured since he, Noriyori, survived. When
this came to Yoritomo's ears, doubtless in a very exaggerated form,
he sent a band of assassins who killed Noriyori. Assassination was a
device from which the Kamakura chief did not shrink at all. It has
been shown how he sent Tosabo Shoshun to make away with Yoshitsune in
Kyoto, and we now see him employing a similar instrument against
Noriyori, as he did also against his half-brother, Zensei. It would
seem to have been his deliberate policy to remove every potential
obstacle to the accession of his own sons. Many historians agree in
ascribing these cruelties to jealousy. But though Yoritomo might have
been jealous of Yoshitsune, he could not possibly have experienced
any access of such a sentiment with regard to Noriyori or Zensei.

Towards religion, it would seem that his attitude was sincere. Not in
Kyoto and Kamakura alone did he adopt drastic measures for the
restoration or erection of temples and shrines, but also throughout
the provinces he exerted his all-powerful influence in the same
cause. He himself contributed large sums for the purpose, and at his
instance the Courts of the Emperor and of the Bakufu granted special
rights and privileges to bonzes who went about the country collecting
subscriptions. Thus encouraged, the priests worked with conspicuous
zeal, and by men like Mongaku, Jugen, Eisai, and their comrades not
only were many imposing fanes erected and many images cast, but also
roads were opened, harbours constructed, and bridges built. Yoritomo
knew what an important part religion had contributed in past ages to
the country's national development, and he did not neglect to utilize
its services in the interests, first, of the nation's prosperity and,
secondly, of the Bakufu's popularity. Incidentally all this building
of fanes and restoration of palaces promoted in no small degree the
development of art, pure and applied. Experts in every line made
their appearance, and many masterpieces of architecture and sculpture
enriched the era. These reflected the change which the spirit of the
nation was undergoing in its passage from the delicacy and weakness
of the Fujiwara type to the strength, directness, and dignity of the
bushi's code.

ENGRAVING: CANDLE-STICKS

ENGRAVING: SAMURAI'S RESIDENCE IN THE KAMAKURA PERIOD



CHAPTER XXVI

THE KAMAKURA BAKUFU

ABDICATION OF GO-TOBA

IN the year 1198, the Emperor Go-Toba abdicated the throne in favour
of his son, who reigned during twelve years (1199-1210) under the
name of Tsuchi-mikado, eighty-third sovereign. Of Go-Toba much will
be said by and by. It will suffice to note here, however, that his
abdication was altogether voluntary. Ascending the throne in 1184, at
the age of four, he had passed the next eight years as a mere puppet
manipulated by his grandfather, Go-Shirakawa, the cloistered Emperor,
and on the latter's death in 1192, Go-Toba fell into many of the
faults of youth. But at eighteen he became ambitious of governing in
fact as well as in name, and as he judged that this could be
accomplished better from the Inchu (retired palace) than from the
throne, he abdicated without consulting the Kamakura Bakufu. It is
more than probable that Yoritomo would have made his influence felt
on this occasion had any irregularity furnished a pretext. But the
advisers of the Kyoto Court were careful that everything should be in
order, and the Kamakura chief saw no reason to depart from his
habitually reverent attitude towards the Throne.

YORIIYE, THE LADY MASA, AND HOJO TOKIMASA

On the demise of Yoritomo (1199), his eldest son, Yoriiye, succeeded
to the compound office of lord high constable and chief land-steward
(so-shugo-jito), his investiture as shogun being deferred until
Kyoto's sanction could be obtained. Yoriiye was then in his
eighteenth year, and he had for chief adviser Hatakeyama Shigetada,
appointed to the post by Yoritomo's will. He inherited nothing of his
father's sagacity. On the contrary, he did not possess even average
ability, and his thoughts were occupied almost uniquely with physical
pleasures. His mother, Masa, astute, crafty, resourceful, and heroic,
well understood the deficiency of his moral endowments, but as her
second son, Sanetomo, was only seven years old, Yoriiye's accession
presented itself in the light of a necessity. She therefore
determined to give him every possible aid. Even during her husband's
life she had wielded immense influence, and this was now greatly
augmented by the situation. She shaved her head--after the manner of
the cloistered Emperors--and taking the name of Ni-i-no-ama,
virtually assumed charge of the Bakufu administration in association
with her father, Hojo Tokimasa.

Exactly what part this remarkable man acted in the episodes of
Yoritomo's career, can never be known.



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