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The Otomo chief persuaded Ouchi Yoshihiro to traduce
Ryoshun, and since the Ouchi sept exercised great influence in the
central provinces and had taken a prominent part in composing the War
of the Dynasties, the shogun, Yoshimitsu, could not choose but listen
to charges coming from such a source. Imagawa Ryoshun was recalled
(1396), and thenceforth Kyushu became the scene of almost perpetual
warfare which the Muromachi authorities were powerless to check.

THE OUCHI FAMILY

It was to the same Ouchi family that the Muromachi shogun owed his
first serious trouble after the close of the War of the Dynasties.
The ancestor of the family had been a Korean prince who migrated to
Japan early in the seventh century, and whose descendants, five and a
half centuries later, were admitted to the ranks of the samurai. The
outbreak of the War of the Dynasties had found the Ouchi ranged on
the Southern side, but presently they espoused the Ashikaga cause,
and distinguished themselves conspicuously against the Kikuchi in
Kyushu and, above all, in promoting the conclusion of the dynastic
struggle.

These eminent services were recognized by Ouchi Yoshihiro's
appointment to administer no less than six provinces--Nagato, Suwo,
Aki, Buzen, Kii, and Izumi. In fact he guarded the western and
eastern entrances of the Inland Sea, and held the overlordship of
western Japan. At his castle in Sakai, near Osaka, he amassed wealth
by foreign trade, and there he received and harboured representatives
of the Kusunoki and Kikuchi families, while at the same time he
carried on friendly communications with the Doki, the Ikeda, and the
Yamana. In short, he grew too powerful to receive mandates from
Muromachi, especially when they came through a kwanryo of the
Hatakeyama family who had just risen to that distinction.

Suddenly, in November, 1399, the Ouchi chief appeared in Izumi at the
head of a force of twenty-three thousand men, a force which received
rapid and numerous accessions. His grounds of disaffection were that
he suspected the shogun of a design to deprive him of the two
provinces of Kii and Izumi, which were far remote from the other five
provinces in his jurisdiction and which placed him within arm's
length of Kyoto, and, further, that no sufficient reward had been
given to the family of his younger brother, who fell in battle. There
were minor grievances, but evidently all were pretexts: the real
object was to overthrow Muromachi. The shogun, Yoshimitsu, acted with
great promptitude. He placed Hatakeyama Mitsuiye at the head of a
powerful army, and on January 18, 1400, Sakai fell and Yoshihiro
committed suicide. Thereafter the province of Kii was placed under
the jurisdiction of the Hatakeyama family, and Izumi under that of
Hosokawa, while the Shiba ruled in Echizen, Owari, and Totomi. In
short, these three families became the bulwarks of the Ashikaga.

KAMAKURA AND MUROMACHI

An important episode of the Ouchi struggle was that Mitsukane, the
third Kamakura kwanryo of the Ashikaga line, moved an army into
Musashi to render indirect assistance to the Ouchi cause. In truth,
from an early period of Kamakura's tenure by an Ashikaga
governor-general of the Kwanto, there had been an ambition to
transfer the office of shogun from the Kyoto to the Kamakura branch
of the family. The matter was not mooted during Takauji's lifetime,
but when, on his demise, the comparatively incompetent Yoshiakira
came into power at Muromachi, certain military magnates of the
eastern provinces urged the Kamakura kwanryo, Motouji, to usurp his
brother's position. Motouji, essentially as loyal as he was astute,
spurned the proposition. But it was not so with his son and
successor, Ujimitsu. To him the ambition of winning the shogunate
presented itself strongly, and was only abandoned when Uesugi
Noriharu committed suicide to add weight to a protest against such an
essay. Japanese annals contain many records of lives thus sacrificed
on the altar of devotion and loyalty. From the outset the Uesugi
family were the pillars of the Ashikaga kwanryo in Kamakura. Uesugi
Noriaki served as shitsuji in the time of the first kwanryo, and the
same service was rendered by Noriaki's son, Yoshinori, and by the
latter's nephew, Tomomune, in the time of the second kwanryo,
Ujimitsu. Confusing as are the multitude of names that confront the
foreign student of Japanese history, it is necessary to note that
from the time of their appointment as shitsuji at Kamakura, Yoshinori
took the family name of Yamanouchi, and Tomomune that of Ogigayatsu.
Balked in his design against Kyoto, Ujimitsu turned his hand against
the Nitta, old enemies of his family, and crushing them, placed the
Ashikaga power on a very firm basis in the Kwanto. His son,
Mitsukane, had the gift of handling troops with great skill, and in
his time the prestige of the Kamakura kwanryo reached its highest
point.

In the eyes of the military men of the eastern provinces, the
shogun in distant Kyoto counted for little compared with the
governor-general in adjacent Kamakura. The latter's mansion was
called gosho (palace); its occupant was termed kubo, an epithet
hitherto applied to the shogun only, and the elder and younger
branches of the Uesugi family, in which the office of kwanryo of
Muromachi was hereditary, were designated Ryo Uesugi (the Two
Uesugi). Mitsukane, when he abetted the Ouchi's attempt to overthrow
the Kyoto shogun, persuaded himself that he was only carrying out his
father's unachieved purpose, and the shogun, Yoshimitsu, took no step
to punish him, preferring to accept his overtures--made through
Uesugi Tomomune.

THE EXTRAVAGANCE OF YOSHIMITSU

There is little question that whatever applause history can extend to
the administration of the third Ashikaga shogun, Yoshimitsu, was won
for him by his profoundly sagacious guardian and chief minister,
Hosokawa Yoriyuki. After the latter's death, in 1392, many abuses and
few meritorious acts appear in the shogun's record. Alike, the wise
self-effacement and the admirable frugality which distinguished the
Hojo rule were wholly foreign to the mood of Yoshimitsu. He insisted
on being raised to the post of chancellor of the empire, and he
openly spoke of himself as "king," designating as Go-sekke (Five
Regent Houses) the families of Shiba, Hosokawa, Hatakeyama, Rokkaku,
and Yumana. At the ceremony of his investiture as chancellor (dajo
daijiri) he presented to the Throne a sword forged by Kunimitsu; one
hundred pieces of white silk; one thousand silver coins; ten tigers'
skins, and fifty pounds of dyed silk. To the ex-Emperor he gave a
thousand silver coins; fifty pieces of white silk, and a sword, and
among the Imperial princes and Court nobles he distributed ten
thousand pieces of silver. Such was his parade of opulence.

ENGRAVING: ASHIKAGA YOSHIMITSU

The chief obstacle to conferring on him the title of chancellor had
been that the records contained only one instance of a military man's
appointment to that exalted post. That instance was Taira no
Kiyomori, whose example should have been deterrent to a Minamoto.
Yoshimitsu overcame the difficulty by nominally transferring his
military functions to his son Yoshimochi (1423), and constituting
himself the patron of literature. It was now that his love of luxury
and splendour assumed its full dimensions. He had already beautified
his Muromachi mansion by constructing there a park so spacious and so
brilliant at all seasons that it went by the name of Hana no Gosho
(Palace of Flowers). This he now assigned as a residence for his son
and successor, Yoshimochi, transferring his own place of abode to the
site occupied by the Saionji family, to whom was given in exchange an
extensive manor in Kawachi. Here the Ashikaga chancellor built a
palace of such dimensions that sixteen superintendents and twenty
assistant superintendents were required to oversee the work. Most
conspicuous was the Kinkaku-ji, or golden pavilion shrine, so called
because its interior was gilt, the gold foil being thickly superposed
on lacquer varnish. On this edifice, on the adjacent palace, and on a
park where deer roamed and noble pine trees hung over their own
shadows in a picturesque lake, immense sums were expended. Works of
art were collected from all quarters to enhance the charm of a palace
concerning which the bonze Sekkei declared that it could not be
exchanged for paradise.

Yoshimitsu prayed the Emperor to visit this unprecedentedly beautiful
retreat and Go-Komatsu complied. During twenty days a perpetual round
of pastimes was devised for the entertainment of the sovereign and
the Court nobles--couplet composing, music, football, boating,
dancing, and feasting. All this was typical of the life Yoshimitsu
led after his resignation of the shogun's office. Pleasure trips
engrossed his attention--trips to Ise, to Yamato, to Hyogo, to
Wakasa, and so forth. He set the example of luxury, and it found
followers on the part of all who aimed at being counted fashionable,
with the inevitable result that the producing classes were taxed
beyond endurance. It has to be noted, too, that although Yoshimitsu
lived in nominal retirement at his Kita-yama palace, he really
continued to administer the affairs of the empire.

INTERNATIONAL HUMILIATION

It is not for arrogance, or yet for extravagance, that Japanese
historians chiefly reproach Yoshimitsu. His unpardonable sin in their
eyes is that he humiliated his country. From the accession of the
Ming dynasty (1368) China made friendly overtures to Japan,
especially desiring the latter to check the raids of her corsairs
who, as in the days of the Hojo after the repulse of the Mongol
armada, so also in the times of the Ashikaga, were a constant menace
to the coastwise population of the neighbouring continent. Upon the
attitude of the shogun towards these remonstrances and overtures
depended the prosecution of commerce with the Middle Kingdom, and the
profits accruing from that commerce were too considerable to be
neglected by a ruler like Yoshimitsu, whose extravagance required
constant accessions of revenue.



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