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There we are first confronted by an important
change of procedure. It had been the custom ever since the days of
Ieyasu to conduct the debates of the council of ministers (Roju) in a
chamber adjoining the shogun's sitting-room, so that he could hear
every word of the discussion, and thus keep himself au courant of
political issues. After the assassination of Hotta Masatoshi this
arrangement was changed. The council chamber was removed to a
distance, and guards were placed in the room where it had originally
assembled, special officials being appointed for the purpose of
maintaining communications between the shogun and the Roju. This
innovation was nominally prompted by solicitude for the shogun's
safety, but as its obvious result was to narrow his sources of
information and to bring him under the direct influence of the newly
appointed officials, there is strong reason to believe that the
measure was a reversion to the evil schemes of Sakai Tadakiyo, who
plotted to usurp the shogun's authority.

YANAGISAWA YASUAKI

Tsunayoshi had at that time a favourite attendant on whom he
conferred the rank of Dewa no Kami with an estate at Kawagoe which
yielded 100,000 koku annually. The friendship of the shogun for this
most corrupt official had its origin in community of literary taste.
Tsunayoshi lectured upon the "Doctrine of the Mean," and Yasuaki on
the Confucian "Analects," and after these learned discourses a
Sarugaku play, or some other form of light entertainment, was
organized. The shogun was a misogynist, and Yasuaki understood well
that men who profess to hate women become the slave of the fair sex
when their alleged repugnance is overcome. He therefore set himself
to lead the shogun into licentious habits, and the lecture-meetings
ultimately changed their complexion. Tsunayoshi, giving an ideograph
from his name to Yasuaki, called him Yoshiyasu, and authorized him to
assume the family name of Matsudaira, conferring upon him at the same
time a new domain in the province of Kai yielding 150,000 koku.
Thenceforth, the administration fell entirely into the hands of this
schemer. No prime minister (dairo) was appointed after the
assassination of Hotta Masatoshi; the council of ministers became a
mere echo of Yoahiyasu's will and the affairs of the Bakufu were
managed by one man alone.

DOG MANIA

Tsunayoshi lost his only son in childhood and no other being born to
him, he invited a high Buddhist priest to pray for an heir to the
shogunate. This priest, Ryuko by name, informed Tsunayoshi that his
childless condition was a punishment for taking animal life in a
previous state of existence, and that if he wished to be relieved of
the curse, he must show mercy, particularly to dogs, as he had been
born in the year whose zodiacal sign was that of the "Dog." It seems
strange that such an earnest believer in the Confucian doctrine
should have had recourse to Buddhism in this matter. But here also
the influence of Yoshiyasu is discernible. At his suggestion the
shogun built in Yedo two large temples, Gokoku-ji and Goji-in, and
Ryuko was the prelate of the former. An order was accordingly issued
against slaughtering dogs or taking life in any form, the result
being that all wild animals multiplied enormously and wrought great
damage to crops. Thereupon the Bakufu issued a further notice to the
effect that in case wild animals committed ravages, they might be
driven away by noise, or even by firing blank cartridges, provided
that an oath were made not to kill them. Should these means prove
defective, instructions must be sought from the judicial department.
Moreover, if any animal's life was taken under proper sanction, the
carcass must be buried without removing any part of its flesh or
skin. Violations of this order were to be severely punished, and it
was enacted that an accurate register must be kept of all dogs owned
by the people, strict investigations being made in the event of the
disappearance of a registered dog, and the officials were specially
warned against permitting one animal to be substituted for another.
Strange dogs were to be well fed, and any person neglecting this
obligation was to be reported to the authorities.

At first these orders were not very seriously regarded, but by and
by, when many persons had been banished to Hachijo-jima for killing
dogs; when several others had been reproved publicly for not giving
food to homeless animals, and when officials of the supreme court
were condemned to confinement for having taken no steps to prevent
dog-fights, the citizens began to appreciate that the shogun was in
grim earnest. A huge kennel was then constructed in the Nakano suburb
of Yedo as a shelter for homeless dogs. It covered an area of about
138 acres, furnished accommodation for a thousand dogs, and was under
the management of duly appointed officials, while the citizens had to
contribute to a dog-fund, concerning which it was said that a dog's
ration for a day would suffice a man for a day and a half.

Tsunayoshi came to be spoken of as Inu-kubo (Dog-shogun), but all his
measures did not bring him a son; neither did their failure shake his
superstitious credulity. Solemn prayers were offered again and again
with stately pomp and profuse circumstance, and temple after temple
was built or endowed at enormous cost, while the laws against taking
animal life continued in force more vigorously than ever. Birds and
even shell-fish were included in the provisions, and thus not only
were the nation's foodstuffs diminished, but also its crops lay at
the mercy of destructive animals and birds. It is recorded that a
peasant was exiled for throwing a stone at a pigeon, and that one man
was put to death for catching fish with hook and line, while another
met the same fate for injuring a dog, the head of the criminal being
exposed on the public execution ground and a neighbour who had
reported the offence being rewarded with thirty ryo. We read, also,
of officials sentenced to transportation for clipping a horse or
furnishing bad provender. The annals relate a curious story connected
with these legislative excesses. The Tokugawa baron of Mito, known in
history as Komon Mitsukuni, on receiving evidence as to the
monstrous severity with which the law protecting animals was
administered, collected a large number of men and organized a hunting
expedition on a grand scale. Out of the animals killed, twenty dogs
of remarkable size were selected, and their skins having been
dressed, were packed in a case for transmission to Yanagisawa
Yoshiyasu, whom people regarded as chiefly responsible for the
shogun's delirium. The messengers to whom the box was entrusted were
ordered to travel with all speed, and, on arriving in Yedo, to repair
forthwith to the Yanagisawa mansion, there handing over the skins
with a written statement that the Mito baron, having found such
articles useful in the cold season, availed himself of this
opportunity to submit his experience together with a parcel of
dressed hides to the shogun through Yoshiyasu. It is said that the
recipient of this sarcastic gift conceived a suspicion of the Mito
baron's sanity and sent a special envoy to examine his condition.

FINANCE

In the sequel of this corrupt administration, this constant building
of temples, and this profusion of costly ceremonials, the shogun's
Government found itself seriously embarrassed for money. Ieyasu had
always made frugality and economy his leading principles. He had
escaped the heavy outlays to which his fellow barons were condemned
in connexion with the Korean campaign, since his share in the affair
did not extend beyond collecting a force in the province of Hizen.
Throughout his life he devoted much attention to amassing a reserve
fund, and it is said that when he resigned the shogunate to his son,
he left 150,000 gold oban (one and a half million ryo), and nearly
two million ounces (troy) of silver in the treasury. Further, during
his retirement at Sumpu, he saved a sum of one million ryo. The same
economy was practised by the second shogun, although he was compelled
to spend large sums in connexion with his daughter's promotion to be
the Emperor's consort, as well as on the repairs of Yedo Castle and
on his several progresses to Kyoto. On the occasion of these
progresses, Hidetada is said to have distributed a total of 4.217,400
ryo of gold and 182,000 ryo of silver among the barons throughout the
empire. The third shogun, Iemitsu, was open handed. We find him
making frequent donations of 5000 kwamme of silver to the citizens of
Kyoto and Yedo; constructing the inner castle at Yedo twice; building
a huge warship; entertaining the Korean ambassadors with much pomp;
disbursing 400,000 ryo on account of the Shimabara insurrection, and
devoting a million ryo to the construction and embellishment of the
mausolea at Nikko. Nevertheless, on the whole Iemitsu must be
regarded as an economical ruler.

As for his successor, Ietsuna, he had to deal with several calamitous
occurrences. After the great fire in Yedo, he contributed 160,000 ryo
for the relief of the sufferers; he rebuilt Yedo Castle, and he
reconstructed the Imperial palace of Kyoto twice. In the Empo era
(1673-1680), the country was visited by repeated famines, which had
the effect of reducing the yield of the taxes and calling for large
measures of relief. In these circumstances, a proposal was formally
submitted recommending the debasement of the gold coinage, but it
failed to obtain official consent. It may be mentioned that, in the
year 1659, the treasury was reduced to ashes, and a quantity of gold
coin contained therein was melted. With this bullion a number of gold
pieces not intended for ordinary circulation were cast, and stamped
upon them were the words, "To be used only in cases of national
emergency." The metal thus reserved is said to have amounted to
160,000 ryo. The register shows that when the fifth shogun succeeded
to power, there were 3,850,000 gold ryo in the treasury. But this
enormous sum did not long survive the extravagance of Tsunayoshi.

After the assassination of Hotta Masatoshi, the administrative power
fell entirely into the hands of Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, and the example
set by him for those under his guidance, and by his master, the
shogun, soon found followers among all classes of the people.



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