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In 1462, these conditions were at their worst. From
various, provinces people flocked to the capital seeking food, and
deaths from starvation became frequent in the city. A Buddhist
priest, Gwana, constructed grass huts to which the famished sufferers
were carried on bamboo stretchers to be fed with soft, boiled millet.
It is recorded that, during the first two months of 1462, the number
of persons thus relieved totalled eighty-two thousand. Another
Buddhist priest erected a monument to the dead found in the bed of
the river below the bridge, Gojo. They aggregated twelve hundred.
Scores of corpses received no burial, and the atmosphere of the city
was pervaded with a shocking effluvium.

But even the presence of these horrors does not seem to have sobered
the Muromachi profligate. The costly edifices were pushed on and the
people's resources continued to be squandered. Even the Emperor,
Go-Hanazono, was sufficiently shocked to compose a couplet indirectly
censuring Yoshimasa, and a momentary sense of shame visited the
sybarite. But only momentary. We find him presently constructing in
the mansion of his favourite retainer, Ise Sadachika, a bath-house
which was the wonder of the time, a bath-house where the bathers were
expected to come robed in the most magnificent costumes. One of the
edifices that formed part of his palace after his retirement from
active life, in 1474, was a "Silver Pavilion" intended to rival the
"Golden Pavilion" of his ancestor, Yoshimitsu. During the last
sixteen years of his life--he died in 1490--he patronized art with a
degree of liberality that atones for much of his previous profligacy.
In the halls of the Jisho-ji monastery, constructed on a grand scale
as his retreat in old age, he collected chefs d'oeuvre of China and
Japan, so that the district Higashi-yama where the building stood
became to all ages a synonym for choice specimens, and there, too, he
instituted the tea ceremonial whose votaries were thenceforth
recognized as the nation's arbitri elegantiarum. Landscape gardens
also occupied his attention. Wherever, in province or in capital, in
shrine, in temple, in private house, or in official residence, any
quaintly shaped rock or picturesque tree was found, it was
immediately requisitioned for the park of Higashi-yama-dono, as men
then called Yoshimasa, and under the direction of a trio of great
artists, So-ami, Gei-ami, and No-ami, there grew up a plaisance of
unprecedented beauty, concerning which a poet of the time wrote that
"every breeze coming thence wafted the perfume of tea." The pastimes
of "listening to incense," of floral arrangement, of the dramatic
mime, and of the parlour farce were all practised with a zest which
provoked the astonishment even of contemporary annalists.

ENGRAVING: A PICNIC DURING THE FLOWER SEASON IN THE ASHIKAGA PERIOD

All this contributed materially to educate the nation's artistic
faculties, but the cost was enormous and the burden of taxation
correspondingly heavy. It was under this financial pressure that
Yoshimasa approached the Ming emperor seeking pecuniary aid. Thrice
the shogun's applications were successful, and the amounts thus
obtained are said to have totalled three hundred thousand strings of
cash (equivalent of 450,000, or $2,200,000). His requests are said
to have assumed the guise of appeals in behalf of famine-stricken
people, but there is no evidence that any of the presents were
devoted to that purpose. Partial apologists for Yoshimasa's
infatuation are not wanting. Thus, it is alleged that he was weary of
failure to reform the administration; that the corruption and
confusion of society induced him to seek consolation in art; that
outside the precincts of his palace he was restrained by the
provincial magnates, and inside he had to obey the dictation of his
wife, Tomi, of her brother, Katsumitsu, and of his own favourite
page, Ise Sadachika, so that only in his tea reunions and his private
theatricals could a semblance of independence be obtained; that his
orders were not obeyed or his injunctions respected by any save the
artists he had gathered around him, and that in gratifying his
luxurious tastes, he followed the example of his grandfather,
Yoshimitsu. But such exculpations amount to saying that he was an
essentially weak man, the slave of his surroundings.

THE KWANTO TUMULT

The lawlessness of the time and the indifference with which the
shogun's mandates were treated find illustration in the story of the
Kwanto. When (1439) Mochiuji perished, the only member of his family
that survived was his five-year-old son, Shigeuji. This child placed
himself under the protection of Muromachi. It will be remembered that
Uesugi Norizane, lamenting his unwilling share in Mochiuji's
destruction, had entered religion. His son, Noritada, was then
appointed to act as manager (shitsuji) to Shigeuji, his colleague
being Uesugi Akifusa (Ogigayatsu Uesugi). But the Yuki family, who
had given shelter to two sons of Mochiuji, objected to bow their
heads to the Uesugi, and persuaded Shigeuji to have Noritada killed.
Therefore, the partisans of the murdered man placed themselves under
the banner of his brother, Fusaaki, and having received a commission
from Muromachi as well as a powerful contingent of troops under
Imagawa Noritada, they marched in great force against Kamakura from
Kotsuke, Kazusa, and Echigo.

Kamakurawas well-nigh reduced to ruins, but Shigeuji retired to the
fortress of Koga in Shimosa, and his cause against the Uesugi was
espoused by the eight families of Chiba, Koyama, Satomi, Satake, Oda,
Yuki, Utsunomiya, and Nasu, thenceforth known as the "eight generals"
of the Kwanto. Against such a league it was difficult to operate
successfully. Masatomo, a younger brother of Yoshimasa, built for
himself a fortress at Horigoe, in Izu, which was thereafter known as
Horigoe Gosho (the Horigoe Palace), Shigeuji in his castle of Koga
being designated Koga Kuba (the Koga shogun). Castle building
acquired from this time greatly increased vogue. Uesugi Mochitomo
fortified Kawagoe in Musashi; Ota Sukenaga (called also Dokan), a
vassal of the Ogigayatsu Uesugi, built at Yedo a fort destined to
have world-wide celebrity, and his father, Sukekiyo, entrenched
Iwatsuki in the same province of Musashi. Thus the Kwanto became the
arena of warring factions.

PREFACE TO THE ONIN WAR

We now arrive at a chapter of Japanese history infinitely perplexing
to the reader. It is generally called the Onin War because the
struggle described commenced in the year-period of that name, but
whereas the Onin period lasted only two years (1467-1469), the Onin
War continued for eleven years and caused shocking destruction of
life and property. When war is spoken of, the mind naturally
conjectures a struggle between two or perhaps three powers for a
cause that is respectable from some points of view. But in the Onin
War a score of combatants were engaged, and the motive was invariably
personal ambition. It has been described above that when the Ashikaga
chief, Takauji, undertook to re-establish the Minamoto Bakufu, he
essayed to overcome opposition by persuasion rather than by force.
Pursuing that policy, he bestowed immense estates upon those that
yielded to him, so that in time there came into existence holders of
lands more extensive than those belonging to the shogun himself.
Thus, while the landed estates of the Muromachi shogun measured only
15,798 cho* there were no less than eight daimyo more richly endowed.
They were:

*A cho at that time represented 3 acres. It is now 2.5 acres.

Daimyo Area of Estates in cho (3 acres)

(1) Yanada Takasuke 32,083

(2) Uesugi Akisada 27,239

(3) Ouchi Mochiyo 25,435

(4) Hosokawa Katsumoto 24,465

(5) Shiba Mochitane 23,576

(6) Sasaki Takayori 16,872

(7) Hatakeyama Yoshmari 16,801

(8) Sasaki Mochikiyo 16,725

If we examine the list still more minutely, we find no less than
twenty-two families, each of whose estates was equal to, or larger
than, one-half of the Muromachi manors. Some families consisted of
several branches whose aggregate properties represented an immense
area. This was notably the case of the Yamana; their five branches
held lands totalling 45,788 cho. The owners of such estates must not
be confounded with the high constables (shugo). Thus Yamana Sozen, as
the high constable of Harima province, held administrative authority
in fourteen districts covering an area of 10,414 cho, and if to this
be added the expanse of his fief, namely, 8016 cho, we get a total
nearly equal to the manors of Hosokawa Katsumoto. Again, Shiba
Yoshitoshi, in addition to owning 10,816 cho, officiated as tandai of
Kyushu, which gave him jurisdiction over another extent of 106,553
cho, though it is true that his authority was defied in the provinces
of Satsuma and Osumi. The military owner of one of these great
estates levied a revenue on a scale which will be presently
discussed, but the high constable was nominally empowered to collect
and transmit only such taxes as were payable to the Bakufu, namely,
the "military dues" (buke-yaku) and the "farmers' dues"
(hyakusho-yaku), whereof the former were originally assessed at two
per cent., and subsequently raised to five per cent., of a family
income; and the latter varied from one to two per cent, of a
homestead's earnings. So long as a high constable or a tandai was
loyal to the Bakufu, the latter received the appointed quota of
imposts; but in times of insurrection, the shugo or tandai
appropriated to his own purposes the proceeds alike of the buke-yaku
and the hyakusho-yaku.

Not merely inequalities of wealth operated to produce political
unrest. It has also to be noted that each great military family
supported a body of armed retainers whose services were at all times
available; further, we must remember that the long War of the
Dynasties had educated a wide-spread spirit of fighting, which the
debility of the Ashikaga Bakufu encouraged to action.



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