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Indirectly, the spirit of
such legislation suggests that the signatories of these
laws--Takakage, Terumoto, Toshiiye, Hideiye, and Ieyasu--attached
some measure of credence to the indictment of treason preferred
against Hidetsugu.

AGRARIAN LAWS

The agrarian legislation of Hideyoshi is worthy of special attention.
It shows a marked departure from the days when the unit of rice
measurement was a "handful" and when thirty-six handfuls made a
"sheaf," the latter being the tenth part of the produce of a tan. In
Hideyoshi's system, all cubic measurements were made by means of a
box of accurately fixed capacity--10 go, which was the tenth part of
a koku (5.13 bushels)--the allowance for short measure was limited to
two per cent., and the rule of 360 tsubo to the tan (a quarter of an
acre) was changed to 300 tsubo.

At the same time (1583), land surveyors (kendenshi) were appointed to
compile a map of the entire country. A similar step had been taken by
the Ashikaga shogun, Yoshiteru, in 1553, but the processes adopted on
that occasion were not by any means so accurate or scientific as
those prescribed by the Taiko. The latter entrusted the work of
survey to Nazuka Masaiye, with whom was associated the best
mathematician of the era, Zejobo, and it is recorded that owing to
the minute measures pursued by these surveyors and to the system of
taking two-thirds of the produce for the landlord instead of one-half
or even less, and owing, finally, to estimating the tan at 300 tsubo
instead of at 360 without altering its taxable liability, the
official revenue derived from the land throughout the empire showed a
total increase of eight million koku, equivalent to about 11,000,000
or $54,000,000.

Hideyoshi has been charged with extortion on account of these
innovations. Certainly, there is a striking contrast between the
system of Tenchi and that of Toyotomi. The former, genuinely
socialistic, divided the whole of the land throughout the empire in
equal portions among the units of the nation, and imposed a land-tax
not in any case exceeding five per cent, of the gross produce. The
latter, frankly feudalistic, parcelled out the land into great
estates held by feudal chiefs, who allotted it in small areas to
farmers on condition that the latter paid sixty-six per cent, of the
crops to the lord of the soil. But in justice to Hideyoshi, it must
be owned that he did not devise this system. He was not even the
originator of its new methods, namely, the abbreviation of the tan
and the expansion of the rate. Both had already been put into
practice by other daimyo. It must further be noted that Hideyoshi's
era was essentially one of war. The outlays that he was obliged to
make were enormous and perpetual. He became accustomed, as did his
contemporary barons, to look lightly at vast expenditure. Not
otherwise can we account for the fact that, within the brief period
of eleven years, he undertook and completed five great works
involving enormous cost. These works were the Osaka Castle, in 1583;
a palace for the retiring Emperor Okimachi, in 1586; the palace of
Juraku, in 1587; the Kyoto Daibutsu, in 1586, and the Momo-yama
Palace, in 1594. What sum these outlays aggregated no attempt has
been made to calculate accurately, but the figure must have been
immense. In fact, when Hideyoshi's financial measures are considered,
it should always be in the context of his achievements and his
necessities.

COINS

Another important feature of Hideyoshi's era was the use of coins.
During the time of the Ashikaga shogunate, two kinds of gold coins
were minted, and both were called after the name of the era when they
first went into circulation; they were known as the Shocho koban
(1428-1429) and the Tembun koban (1532-1555). But these coins were so
rare that they can scarcely be said to have been current. As tokens
of exchange, copper coins were imported from China, and were known in
Japan as Eiraku-sen, Eiraku being the Japanese pronunciation of the
Chinese era, Yunglo. These were of pure metal, and side by side with
them were circulated an essentially inferior iron coin struck in
Japan and known as bita-sen. Oda Nobunaga, appreciating the
disastrous effects produced by such currency confusion, had planned
remedial measures when death overtook him, and the task thus devolved
upon Hideyoshi. Fortunately, the production of gold and silver in
Japan increased greatly at this epoch, owing to the introduction of
scientific metallurgical methods from Europe. The gold mines of Sado
and the silver mines of Ikuno quadrupled or quintupled their output,
and Hideyoshi caused an unprecedented quantity of gold and silver
coins to be struck; the former known as the Tensho koban and the
Tensho oban,* and the latter as the silver bu (ichibu-giri) and the
silver half-bu (nishu-gin.)

*The oban was an oval plate measuring 7 inches by 4, and weighing 53
ounces. It contained 63.84 per cent, of gold and 20 per cent, of
silver. The koban was one-tenth of the value of the oban.

Gold and silver thenceforth became the standards of value, and as the
mines at Sado and Ikuno belonged to the Government, that is to say,
to Hideyoshi, his wealth suddenly received a conspicuous increase.
That he did possess great riches is proved by the fact that when, in
September, 1596, a terrible earthquake overthrew Momo-yama Castle and
wrecked all the great structures referred to above, involving for
Hideyoshi a loss of "three million pieces of gold," he is described
as having treated the incident with the utmost indifference, merely
directing that works of reparation should be taken in hand forthwith.
The records say that Osaka Castle, which had suffered seriously and
been rendered quite uninhabitable, was put in order and sumptuously
fitted up within the short space of six weeks. Of course, much of the
resulting expense had to be borne by the great feudatories, but the
share of Hideyoshi himself cannot have been inconsiderable.

LITERATURE, ART, AND COMMERCE

It has already been shown that in spite of the disorder and unrest
which marked the military era, that era saw the birth of a great art
movement under the Ashikaga shogun, Yoshimasa. It has now to be noted
that this movement was rapidly developed under the Taiko. "The latter
it was whose practical genius did most to popularize art. Although
his early training and the occupations of his life until a late
period were not calculated to educate esthetic taste, he devoted to
the cause of art a considerable portion of the sovereign power that
his great gifts as a military leader and a politician had brought
him." His earnest patronage of the tea ceremonial involved the
cultivation of literature, and although he himself did not excel in
that line, he did much to promote the taste for it in others. In the
field of industrial art, however, his influence was much more marked.
Not only did he bestow munificent allowances on skilled artists and
art artisans, but also he conferred on them distinctions which proved
stronger incentives than any pecuniary remuneration, and when he
built the celebrated mansions of Juraku and Momo-yama, so vast were
the sums that he lavished on their decoration, and such a certain
passport to his favour did artistic merit confer, that the little
town of Fushimi quickly became the art capital of the empire, and
many of the most skilful painters, lacquerers, metal-workers, and
wood-carvers within the Four Seas congregated there.

Historians speak with profound regret of the dismantling and
destruction of these splendid edifices a few years after the Taiko's
death; but it is more than probable that the permanent possession of
even such monuments of applied art could not have benefited the
country nearly as much as did their destruction. For the immediate
result was an exodus of all the experts who, settling at Fushimi, had
become famous for the sake of their Momo-yama work. They scattered
among the fiefs of the most powerful provincial nobles, who received
them hospitably and granted them liberal revenues. From that time,
namely, the close of the sixteenth century, there sprang up an
inter-fief rivalry of artistic production which materially promoted
the development of every branch of art and encouraged refinement of
life and manners. Not less noteworthy in the history of this military
epoch is the improvement that took place in the social status of the
merchant during the sixteenth century. Much was due to the liberal
views of the Taiko. He encouraged commercial voyages by his
countrymen to Macao and to Cambodia, to Annam, and to other places.
Nine ships engaged in this trade every year. They carried licences
bearing the Taiko's vermilion stamp, and the ports of departure were
Nagasaki, Osaka, and Sakai.

ENGRAVING: SIGNATURE OF TOKUGAWA IEYASU

ENGRAVING: MOUNTAIN "KAGO"



CHAPTER XXXVII

CHRISTIANITY IN JAPAN

DISCOVERY OF JAPAN BY EUROPEANS

THE Portuguese discovered Japan in 1542 or 1543--the precise date is
not known. Three of them, travelling by junk from Spain to Macao,
were driven from their course and landed at Tanegashima, a small
island off the south of Kyushu. The strangers were hospitably
received by the Japanese, and great interest was excited by their
arquebuses, the first firearms ever seen in Japan. It was, of course,
out of the question to hold any oral direct conversation, but a
Chinese member of the junk's crew, by tracing ideographs upon the
sand, explained the circumstances of the case. Ultimately, the junk
was piloted to a convenient port, and very soon the armourers of the
local feudatory were busily engaged manufacturing arquebuses. News of
the discovery of Japan circulated quickly, and several expeditions
were fitted out by Portuguese settlements in the Orient to exploit
the new market. All steered for Kyushu, and thus the Island of the
Nine Provinces became the principal stage for European intercourse
during the second half of the sixteenth century.

THE JESUITS

There were, at that time, not a few Jesuits at Macao, Goa, and other
outposts of Western commerce in the Far East.



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