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One Japanese fan could be exchanged for a copy of a valuable
book, and a sword costing one kwan-mon in Japan fetched five kwan-mon
in China. Such prices were paid, however, for rare goods only,
notably for Japanese raw silk, fifty catties (sixty-seven lbs.) of
which sold for ten kwan-mon (15, or $75, approximately). Gold, too,
was much more valuable in China than in Japan. Ten ryo of the yellow
metal could be obtained in Japan for from twenty to thirty kwan-mon
and sold in China for 130. Sealskins, swords, spears, pepper,
sulphur, fans, lacquer, raw silk, etc. were the chief staples of
exports; and velvet, musk, silk fabrics, porcelains, etc.,
constituted the bulk of the imports. The metropolis being Kyoto, with
its population of some 900,000, Hyogo was the most important harbour
for the trade, and after it came Hakata,* in Chikuzen; Bonotsu, in
Satsuma; Obi, in Hyuga, and Anotsu, in Ise. The customs duties at
Hyogo alone are said to have amounted to the equivalent of 15,000,
or $75,000, annually.

*Hakata's place was subsequently taken by Hirado.

In China, Ningpo was the chief port. It had a mercantile-marine
office and an inn for foreign guests. The tribute levied on the trade
was sent thence to Nanking. In size the vessels employed were from 50
to 130 tons, greater dimensions being eschewed through fear of loss.
An invoice shows that the goods carried by a ship in 1458 were:
sulphur (410,750 lbs.); copper (206,000 lbs.); spears (11); fans
(1250); swords (9500); lacquered wares (634 packages), and sapan-wood
(141,333 lbs.). During the days of Yoshimasa's shogunate such profits
were realized that overtrading took place, and there resulted a
temporary cessation. Fifty years later, when Yoshiharu ruled at
Muromachi (1529), a Buddhist priest, Zuisa, sent by the shogun to
China, and an envoy, Sosetsu, despatched by the Ouchi family, came
into collision at Ningpo. It was a mere question of precedence, but
in the sequel Zuisa was seized, Ningpo was sacked, and its governor
was murdered. The arm of the shogun at that time could not reach the
Ouchi family, and a demand for the surrender of Sosetsu was in vain
preferred at Muromachi through the medium of the King of Ryukyu.
Yoshiharu could only keep silence.

The Ming sovereign subsequently (1531) attempted to exact redress by
sending a squadron to Tsushima, but the deputy high constable of the
Ouchi compelled these ships to fly, defeated, and thereafter all
friendly intercourse between Japan and China was interrupted,
piratical raids by the Japanese taking its place. This estrangement
continued for seventeen years, until (1548) Ouchi Yoshitaka
re-established friendly relations with Chosen and, at the same time,
made overtures to China, which, being seconded by the despatch of an
envoy--a Buddhist priest--Shuryo from Muromachi, evoked a favourable
response. Once more tallies were issued, but the number of vessels
being limited to three and their crews to three hundred, the
resulting commerce was comparatively small. Just at this epoch, too,
Occidental merchantmen arrived in China, and the complexion of the
latter's oversea trade underwent alteration. Thereafter, the Ashikaga
fell, and their successor, Oda Nobunaga, made no attempt to re-open
commerce with China, while his successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, planned
the invasion of the Middle Kingdom, so that the sword was more in
evidence than the soroban.

JAPANESE PIRACY

It is difficult to trace the beginnings of Japanese piracy in Far
Eastern waters, but certainly it dated from a remote past and reached
its extreme in the middle of the sixteenth century. The records show
that Murakami Yoshihiro, of Iyo province, obtained control of all the
corsairs in neighbouring seas and developed great puissance. Nor did
any measure of opprobrium attach to his acts, for on his death he was
succeeded by Morokiyo, a scion of the illustrious Kitabatake family.
Numbers flocked to his standard during the disordered era of the War
of the Dynasties, and from Korea in the north to Formosa and Amoy in
the south the whole littoral was raided by them.

For purposes of protection the Ming rulers divided the coast into
five sections, Pehchihli, Shantung, Chekiang, Fuhkien, and
Liangkwang, appointing a governor to each, building fortresses and
enrolling soldiers. All this proving inefficacious, the Emperor
Taitsu, as already stated, addressed to Ashikaga Yoshimitsu a
remonstrance which moved the shogun to issue a strict injunction
against the marauders. It was a mere formality. Chinese annals show
that under its provisions some twenty pirates were handed over by the
Japanese and were executed by boiling in kettles. No such
international refinement as extra-territorial jurisdiction existed in
those days, and the Japanese shogun felt no shame in delivering his
countrymen to be punished by an alien State. It is not wonderful that
when Yoshimitsu died, the Chinese Emperor bestowed on him the
posthumous title Kung-hsien-wang, or "the faithful and obedient
king." But boiling a score of the Wokou* in copper kettles did not at
all intimidate the corsairs. On nearly all the main islands of the
Inland Sea and in the Kyushu waters they had their quarters. In fact,
the governors of islands and a majority of the military magnates
having littoral estates, took part in the profitable pursuit. No less
than fourteen illustrious families were so engaged, and four of them
openly bore the title of kaizoku tai-shogun (commander-in-chief of
pirates). Moreover, they all obeyed the orders of the Ouchi family.
It is on record that Ouchi Masahiro led them in an incursion into
Chollado, the southern province of Korea, and exacted from the
sovereign of Chosen a promise of yearly tribute to the Ouchi. This
was only one of several profitable raids. The goods appropriated in
Korea were sometimes carried to China for sale, the pirates assuming,
now the character of peaceful traders, now that of ruthless
plunderers. The apparition of these Pahan** ships seems to have
inspired the Chinese with consternation. They do not appear to have
made any effective resistance. The decade between 1553 and 1563 was
evidently their time of greatest suffering; and their annals of that
era repay perusal, not only for their direct interest but also for
their collateral bearing on the story of the invasion of Korea at the
close of the century.

"On the 23d of the fifth month of 1553, twenty-seven Japanese vessels
arrived at Lungwangtang. They looked like so many hills and their
white sails were as clouds in the sky. On the fifth day of the fourth
month of 1554, there appeared on the horizon a large ship which
presently reached Lungwang-tang. Her crew numbered 562. They blew
conches after the manner of trumpets, marshalled themselves in battle
array, and surrounding the castle with flying banners, attacked it.
On the fourth day of the ninth month of 1555, a two-masted ship
carrying a crew of some hundreds came to Kinshan-hai, and on the next
day she was followed by eight five-masted vessels with crews
totalling some thousands. They all went on shore and looted in
succession. On the 23d of the second month of 1556, pirate ships
arrived at the entrance to Kinshan-hai. Their masts were like a dense
forest of bamboo."

*Yamato enemies.

**Chinese pronunciation of the ideographs read by the Japanese
"Hachiman" (god of War). The pirates inscribed on their sails the
legend Hachiman Dai-bosatsu.

Further records show that in 1556 the pirates entered Yang-chou,
looted and burned the city; that in 1559 they attacked Chekiang; that
in 1560, they made their way to Taitsang, and thence pushed on
towards Shanghai, Sungteh, etc., looting towns almost daily. There
was no effective resistance. We find also the following appreciation
of Japanese ships:

"The largest of the Japanese vessels can carry about three hundred
men; the medium-sized, from one to two hundred, and the smallest from
fifty to eighty. They are constructed low and narrow. Thus, when they
meet a big ship they have to look up to attack her. The sails are not
rigged like those of our ships which can be navigated in any wind.
But wicked people on the coast of Fuhkien sold their ships to the
foreigners; and the buyers, having fitted them with double bottoms
and keels shaped so as to cleave the waves, came to our shores in
them."

Evidently the Chinese were better skilled in the art of shipbuilding
than the Japanese. As for the defensive measures of the Chinese the
following is recorded:

"The Government troops on sea and on land made every effort to keep
off the pirates. They flew banners at morn and eve and fired guns
seaward, so that the enemy, understanding by the flash and the
detonation that we were prepared to resist, abstained from landing.
But when the pirates handled their swords skilfully, their attack was
fearful. Our countrymen when they saw these swordsmen, trembled and
fled. Their fear of the Japanese was fear of the swords. The pirates'
firearms were only guns such as men use in pursuit of game. They did
not range over one hundred paces. But their skill in using their guns
was such that they never missed. We could not defeat them. They rise
early in the morning and take their breakfast kneeling down.
Afterwards their chief ascends an eminence and they gather below to
hear his orders. He tells them off in detachments not exceeding
thirty men, and attaching them to officers, sends them to loot
places. The detachments operate at distances of from five hundred to
a thousand yards, but unite at the sound of a conch.

"To re-enforce a detachment in case of emergency, small sections of
three or four swordsmen move about. At the sight of them our men
flee. Towards dark the detachments return to headquarters and hand in
their loot, never making any concealment. It is then distributed.
They always abduct women, and at night they indulge in drinking and
debauchery. They always advance in single rank at a slow pace, and
thus their extension is miles long. For tens of days they can run
without showing fatigue. In camping, they divide into many companies,
and thus they can make a siege effective.



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