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Gold and
silver coins were also in use; namely, the gold ryo, which was
equivalent to 10 silver ryo; but their circulation was comparatively
small. The gold ryo was equal to 2000 mon of copper coins, and as 100
mon purchased 1 to (one-tenth part of a koku) of rice, it follows
that the gold ryo represented 2 koku, or 30 yen of modern currency,
the silver ryo representing 3 yen (1 yen=2 shillings-50 cents). It
follows also that 10 strings of cash (one kwan) were worth a koku of
rice, or 15 yen. As for silk piece-goods, 1 roll (hiki = 48 yards) of
the best kind was worth 45 yen, and the second and third-class kinds
ranged from 33 to 22.5 yen. Finally, in the year 1498, the records
show that the daily wage of a labourer was some 16 sen of modern
money (about 4 pence or 8 cents).

From various documents it appears that the three grades of
land--best, medium, and inferior--were taxed at the rate of sixty,
forty, and thirty per cent., respectively, of the yield. In other
words, the average land-tax was forty per cent, of the yield--called
shi-ko roku-min--or four parts to the Government and six to the
farmer. If we consider the rates between the current price of land
and the tax, there is a record, dated 1418, which shows that the tax
levied by a temple--Myoko-ji--was twenty per cent, of the market
price of the land. But it would seem that the ratio in the case of
Government taxation was much smaller, being only one and a half per
cent, of the market value. There were, however, other imposts, which,
though not accurately stated, must have brought the land-tax to much
more than forty per cent, of the yield.

Turning to the Imperial Court, we find it supported by domains
hereditarily held; by contributions from the seizei (expediency
taxes, that is to say, taxes set aside for extraordinary State
requirements); by occasional presents, and by revenues from kugoden
(private Imperial land). The Court nobles had their own domains,
usually small. All these estates, those of the Crown, of princes, and
of Court nobles, were subject to a system called hansai. That is to
say, one-half of their revenues were leviable for military purposes.
Originally this impost was understood to be a loan to the Bakufu, but
ultimately it came to be regarded as a normal levy, though its
practical effect was to reduce the revenue from such domains by
one-half. Moreover, as the arrogance of the military magnates in the
provinces grew more insistent, and as the Bakufu's ability to oppose
them became less effective, the domain of the Court nobles suffered
frequent encroachments.

REVENUES OF THE BAKUFU

One source of revenue for the Bakufu was its domains in various
places; another was the buke-yaku, or military-house dues. These were
at first two per cent, of the land-tax of the house concerned, but
afterwards they increased to five per cent. Thus an estate paying one
hundred koku in the form of land-tax, had to pay a further five koku
as buke-yaku, the latter proceeds being sent to Kyoto for the use of
the shogun's household. Another important levy was the tansen, which,
as its name implies, was a land-rate levied at so much per tan
(one-quarter of an acre), the proceeds being devoted to special
purposes, as, for example, to defray the cost of grand ceremonials or
of new edifices. The records show one payment of tansen which works
out at fifty mon per tan. Another document indicates that the monthly
expenses of the Man-dokoro were some sixty kwanmon and that they were
defrayed by levying taxes upon pawnbrokers and sake-dealers in Kyoto
and in Omi province. The latter tax (shuko-zei) is shown to have
been, on one occasion, two kwan eight hundred mon per house. The
Bakufu collected dues on foreign commerce, also, and miscellaneous
imposts of an irregular character made no small addition to its
income.

REVENUE OF SHRINES AND TEMPLES

Temples and shrines derived part of their income from port-dues and
barrier-tolls. Thus, the Hachiman temple of Iwashimizu received tolls
from all traffic passing the Yamazaki barrier; Kofuku-ji levied
duties on vessels entering Hyogo port, and Engaku-ji of Kamakura
collected tolls at the Hakone barrier (sekisho). Such taxes proving
very prolific and easy to levy, the number of barriers increased
rapidly, to the no small obstruction of trade and travel. Further,
the priests were constantly enriched with donations of land and
money, in addition to the rents and taxes obtained from their own
domains, and thus it resulted that several of the great monasteries
possessed much wealth. To that fact is to be attributed the numerous
establishments of soldier-priests maintained at Enryaku-ji, on
Hiei-zan, and at Kofuku-ji, in Nara. To that also is to be ascribed
in part the signal development of literature among the friars, and
the influence wielded by the Shinto officials of Kitano and the betto
of Hachiman.

REVENUE OF JITO

A special tax levied by the jito was the hyakusho-yaku, or farmers'
dues. These were one per cent, of the land-tax originally, but the
rate was subsequently doubled. Other heavy imposts were frequently
and arbitrarily enacted, and there can be no doubt that financial
disorder contributed materially to bringing about the terrible
calamities of the Battle era (Sengoku Jidai), as the period of eleven
decades ending in 1600 is called. For, if the fiscal system was thus
defective during the comparatively prosperous age of the Ashikaga, it
fell into measureless confusion at a later date. It has been stated
above that the area under rice cultivation at the middle of the
fifteenth century was about one million did; at the close of that
century the figure was found to have decreased by more than fifty
thousands of cho. From such a result, opposed as it is to all records
of normal development, the unhappy plight of the agricultural classes
may be inferred.

TOKENS OF CURRENCY

Minting operations also were discontinued under the Ashikaga. Cotton
cloth and rice served as principal media of exchange. Fortunately,
commerce with China in the days of the Ming rulers, and Yoshimasa's
undignified though practical requests, brought a large supply of
Yunglo (Japanese, Eiraku) copper cash, which, with other Chinese
coins of the Tang and Sung dynasties, served the Japanese as media.
This fortuitous element was conspicuous in all the domain of finance,
especially after the Onin War, when the territorial magnates fixed
the taxes at their own convenience and without any thought of
uniformity. One of the only sincere and statesmanlike efforts of
reform was made, in 1491, by Hojo Soun. He reduced the rate then
ruling, namely, equal parts to the tax-collector and to the taxpayer,
and made it forty per cent, to the former and sixty to the latter,
and he ordained that any jito collecting so much as a mon in excess
of the official figure, should be severely punished. How the people
fared elsewhere it is not possible to say accurately, but the records
show that extraordinary imposts were levied frequently, and that the
tansen was exacted again and again, as also were taxes on trades. As
for the Imperial household, such was its condition that it barely
subsisted on presents made by certain military magnates, so complete
was the decentralization of the empire in this period.

ATTITUDE OF THE ASHIKAGA TOWARDS THE THRONE

The policy of the Ashikaga towards the Daikagu-ji line (the Southern
Court) of the Imperial house was evidently one of complete
elimination at the outset. But the impossibility of achieving such a
programme soon came to be recognized and reconciliation was
substituted. Thenceforth, in appearance at all events, the
representatives of the Daikagu-ji line received due consideration and
were sufficiently provided with incomes, as witness the treatment of
the ex-Emperor Go-Kameyama by Yoshimitsu. But subsequent and repeated
neglect of the claims of the Southern branch in regard to the vital
matter of the succession betrayed the insincerity of the Ashikaga,
and provoked frequent appeals to arms.

The situation may be said to have been saved by the habit inaugurated
at the close of the Heian epoch. From that time princes and nobles
who saw no prospect of secular distinction began to take the tonsure,
and this retirement to the cloister was assiduously encouraged by the
Muromachi shoguns. A similar policy commended itself in the case of
princes of the Jimyo-in branch (the Northern Court). It is true that,
from the first, the representatives of this line had relied on the
Bakufu, whether of Kamakura or of Muromachi. But in their hearts they
deeply resented the usurpation of the shogunate, and the latter,
fully cognisant of that sentiment, guarded against its effective
display by providing only meagre allowances for the support of the
Imperial household (Kinri) and the ex-Emperor's household (Sendo),
and by contriving that only young and delicate princes should succeed
to the throne. Thus, of seven sovereigns who reigned between 1336 and
1464, the oldest was only sixteen at the time of his succession and
the youngest was six. When an Emperor reached maturity, it was usual
that he should abdicate and administer thenceforth from the Inchu.
Thus the influence of the Court was divided between the Kinri and the
Sendo--the reigning sovereign and the retired. But the real
depository of power was the shikken (regent) of the Inchu, to which
office a member of the Hino family, maternal relatives of the Bakufu,
was habitually appointed. When Yoshinori was shogun, he himself acted
as shikken of the Inchu. As for the Court officials properly so
called, from the kwampaku downwards, they were mere figureheads.
Holding their posts, indeed, as of old, they constituted, not
administrative actors, but an audience.

YOSHIMITSU AND THE THRONE

The shogun Yoshimitsu instituted the custom of inviting the sovereign
to his mansion, and thenceforth such visits became a recognized
feature of the relations between the Imperial and the Muromachi
Courts. Yoshimitsu himself frequently repaired to the Kinri and the
Sendo, and frequently accompanied the Empresses and their ladies on
social visits or pleasure excursions.



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