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Even the Buddhist and Shinto priests in Osaka and
its territories were independent of the Bakufu authority, and there
were cases of boundary disputes in which the Tokugawa officials
declined to give judgment since they were not in a position to
enforce it. It may well be supposed that this state of affairs grew
steadily more obnoxious to the Tokugawa. Ieyasu only awaited a
pretext to assert the supremacy of his authority.

INSCRIPTION ON THE BELL

It has already been stated that, in the year 1586, a colossal image
of Buddha was erected by Hideyoshi at the Hoko-ji in Kyoto. This idol
was made of wood, and the great earthquake of 1596 destroyed it.
Subsequently, Ieyasu advised Hideyori to replace the wooden idol with
a bronze one. Ono Harunaga stood opposed to this idea, but Katagiri
Katsumoto, constant to his policy of placating Ieyasu, threw his
influence into the other scale. It is impossible to tell whether, in
making this proposal, Ieyasu had already conceived the extraordinary
scheme which he ultimately carried out. It would appear more
probable, however, that his original policy was merely to impoverish
the Toyotomi family by imposing upon it the heavy outlay necessary
for constructing a huge bronze Buddha. Many thousands of ryo had to
be spent, and the money was obtained by converting into coin a number
of gold ingots in the form of horses, which Hideyoshi had stored in
the treasury of the Osaka castle as a war fund. Five years later,
that is to say, in 1614, the great image was completed and an
imposing ceremony of dedication was organized. A thousand priests
were to take part, and all the people in the capital, as well as many
from the surrounding provinces, assembled to witness the magnificent
fete. Suddenly an order was issued in the name of Ieyasu,
interdicting the consummation of the ceremony on the ground that the
inscription carried by the bell for the idol's temple was designedly
treasonable to the Tokugawa. This inscription had been composed and
written by a high Buddhist prelate, Seikan, reputed to be one of the
greatest scholars and most skilful calligraphists of his time.

It was inconceivable that such a man should err flagrantly in the use
of the ideographic script. Ieyasu, however, despatched to Kyoto two
rival prelates, Soden and Tengai, with instructions to convoke a
meeting of the priests of the Five Temples and invite them to express
an opinion about the inscription. Soden held the post of
administrator of temples. This placed him officially at the head of
all the other priests, and thus the opinions he expressed at the
instance of Ieyasu possessed special weight. It was in vain that
Seikan repudiated all intention of disrespect and pointed out that
the inscription did not for a moment lend itself to the
interpretation read into it by the Tokugawa chief. Only one priest,
Kaizan of Myoshin-ji, had sufficient courage to oppose Soden's view,
and the cause of the Tokugawa chief triumphed.

Without a full knowledge of the Chinese ideographic script it is
impossible to clearly understand either the charges preferred by the
Tokugawa or the arguments employed in rebuttal. Western readers may,
however, confidently accept the unanimous verdict of all modern
scholars, that the interpretation assigned to the inscription in the
first place by the Tokugawa officials, and in the second by Hayashi
Doshun, representing the Confucianists, and Soden and Tengai,
representing the Buddhists, was grossly unreasonable. That many
experts should be found to range themselves on the side of a ruler so
powerful as Ieyasu was not wonderful, but it says little for the
moral independence of the men of the time that only one Buddhist
priest among many thousand had the courage to withhold his consent to
a judgment which outraged truth and justice.

Naturally the news of the decision threw Osaka into a state of great
excitement. Lady Yodo hastened to despatch to Sumpu her principal
lady-in-waiting, Okura-no-Tsubone, accompanied by another dame of the
chamber. These two were received by Acha-no-Tsubone at the court of
Ieyasu, and through her they conveyed fervent apologies to the
Tokugawa chief. Ieyasu treated the whole matter lightly. He granted
an interview to the two ladies from Osaka and sent them on to Yedo to
visit the wife of Hidetada, the lady Yodo's younger sister. The Osaka
deputies naturally drew favourable inferences from this courteous
mood, and taking an opportunity to refer to the affair of the
inscription on the bell, elicited from Ieyasu an assurance that the
matter need not be regarded with concern.

Not for a moment suspecting any deception, Okura-no-Tsubone and her
companion took their way to Osaka. On the other hand, Honda Masanobu
and the priest, Tengai, were instructed to inform Katsumoto that the
umbrage of Ieyasu was deeply roused, and that some very strong
measure would be necessary to restore the Bakufu's confidence in
Hideyori. Katsumoto vainly sought some definite statement as to the
nature of the reparation required. He was merely told to answer the
question himself. He accordingly proposed one of three courses,
namely, that the lady Yodo should be sent to Yedo as a hostage; that
Hideyori should leave Osaka and settle at some other castle; or,
finally, that he should acknowledge himself a vassal of the Tokugawa.
To these proposals the only reply that could be elicited from Ieyasu
was that Yodo and her son should choose whichever course they
pleased, and, bearing that answer, the disquieting import of which he
well understood, Katsumoto set out from Sumpu for Osaka. Travelling
rapidly, he soon overtook Okwra-no-Tsubone and explained to her the
events and their import. But the lady was incredulous. She was more
ready to suspect Katsumoto's sincerity than to believe that Ieyasu
had meant to deceive her.

Had Katsumoto been free to continue his journey to Osaka, reaching it
in advance of Okura-no-Tsubone's party, the result might have been
different. But Ieyasu did not contemplate any such sequence of
events. He instructed Itakura Katsushige to invite Katsumoto to call
at Kyoto on the way to Osaka with the object of discussing an
important affair. Katsumoto had no choice but to delay his journey,
and Katsushige took care that the delay should be long enough to
afford time for Okura-no-Tsubone's party to reach Osaka, and to
present their report, together with their suspicions of Katsumoto's
disloyalty.

Lady Yodo was incensed when she learned the terms that Katsumoto had
offered. "I am Hideyori's mother," she is reported to have cried. "I
will never bend my knee to the Kwanto. Rather will I and my son make
this castle our death-pillow." Then, with Ono Harunaga, she formed a
plot to kill Katsumoto and to draw the sword against the Tokugawa.
Subsequently, when Katsumoto returned to Osaka and reported the
result of his mission, he stated his conviction that the only exit
from the dilemma was one of the three courses indicated above.
Yodogimi, on being informed of this opinion, intimated her desire to
see Katsumoto. But when the day named for the meeting came and
Katsumoto was on the point of leaving his residence for the purpose
of repairing to the conference, he received information that the
intention was to kill him en route. He therefore fled to his domain
in the remote province of Ibaraki. It is recorded that Katsumoto's
plan was to offer to send Yodo as a hostage to Yedo. Then the
question would arise as to a place of residence for her in the
eastern capital, and the processes of preparing a site and building a
house were to be supplemented by accidental conflagrations, so that
the septuagenarian, Ieyasu, might easily pass away before the actual
transfer of the hostage took place. Such was Katsumoto's device, but
he had to flee from Osaka before he could carry it into effect.

THE SIEGE OF OSAKA CASTLE

In the year 1614, Ieyasu issued orders for the attack of Osaka
Castle, on the ground that Katsumoto's promise had not been
fulfilled. The Tokugawa chief set out from Sumpu and his son,
Hidetada, from Yedo. Their armies, combined with the forces of
several of the feudatories, are said to have aggregated one hundred
and fifty thousand men. In Osaka, also, a great host was assembled,
and among its leaders were several renowned warriors, including
Sanada Yukimura, Goto Matabei, Hanawa Naotsugu, and others, who,
although not originally vassals of the Toyotomi, supported Hideyori
loyally. As for the castle, its enormous strength rendered it
well-nigh impregnable, and after weeks of effort the Tokugawa forces
had nothing to show for their repeated attacks except a long list of
casualties.

Ieyasu now had recourse to intrigue. The mother of Kyogoku Takatsugu,
daimyo of Obama, in Wakasa, was the younger sister of the lady Yodo.
Ieyasu induced her to open communications with Yodo, and to represent
to the latter the advisability of concluding peace with the Tokugawa
instead of remaining perpetually beleaguered in a fortress, thus
merely postponing an end which could not be finally averted. A
council was convened in the castle to consider this advice. Opinions
were divided. Some held that Ieyasu could not be believed, and that
if the struggle were maintained for a few years, the face of affairs
might change radically. Others urged that the loyalty of the garrison
was not above suspicion, and that if the fight went on much longer,
treachery might be practised, to which risk a speedy peace, even at
some cost, would be preferable. Ono Harunaga was among the advocates
of surrender, but Hideyori himself showed that his character had not
been mistaken by Ieyasu. He indignantly reminded Harunaga and the
latter's fellow thinkers that arms had been taken up by their advice
and in opposition to the loyal efforts of Katsumoto in the cause of
peace.

Lady Yodo, however, threw her influence into the scale with Ono
Harunaga, and finally peace was concluded on terms highly favourable
to the Toyotomi. It was agreed that Hideyori should remain in the
possession of the castle and of all his domains, and that the
garrison, as well as the unattached samurai who formed part of it,
should not be punished but should be provided for subsequently.



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