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A Manchurian tribe, migrating from the valley
of the Sungali River (then called the Sumo), settled on the east of
the modern province of Shengking, and was there joined by a remnant
of the Koma subjects after the fall of the latter kingdom. Ultimately
receiving investiture at the hands of the Tang Court, the sovereign
of the colony took the name of Tsuying, King of Pohai, and his son,
Wu-i, sent an envoy to Japan in 727, when Shomu was on the throne.
Where the embassy embarked there is no record, but, being blown out
of their course, the boats finally made the coast of Dewa, where
several of the envoy's suite were killed by the Yemishi. The envoy
himself reached Nara safely, and, representing his sovereign as the
successor of the Koma dynasty, was hospitably received, the usual
interchange of gifts taking place.

Twenty-five years later (752), another envoy arrived. The Empress
Koken then reigned at Nara, and her ministers insisted that, in the
document presented by the ambassador, Pohai must distinctly occupy
towards Japan the relation of vassal to suzerain, such having been
the invariable custom observed by Koma in former times. The
difficulty seems to have been met by substituting the name "Koma" for
"Pohai," thus, by implication, admitting that the new kingdom held
towards Japan the same status as that formerly held by Koma.
Throughout the whole of her subsequent intercourse with the Pohai
kingdom, intercourse which, though exceedingly fitful, lasted for
nearly a century and a half, Japan uniformly insisted upon the
maintenance of that attitude.

ENGRAVING: EMPEROR KWAMMU



CHAPTER XVIII

THE HEIAN EPOCH

THE FIFTIETH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR KWAMMU (A.D. 782-805)

JAPANESE history divides itself readily into epochs, and among them
not the least sharply defined is the period of 398 years separating
the transfer of the Imperial palace from Nara to Kyoto (794) and the
establishment of an administrative capital at Kamakura (1192). It is
called the Heian epoch, the term "Heian-jo" (Castle of Peace) having
been given to Kyoto soon after that city became the residence of the
Mikado. The first ruler in the epoch was Kwammu. This monarch, as
already shown, was specially selected by his father, Konin, at the
instance of Fujiwara Momokawa, who observed in the young prince
qualities essential to a ruler of men. Whether Kwammu's career as
Emperor reached the full standard of his promise as prince,
historians are not agreed.

Konin receives a larger meed of praise. His reforms of local abuses
showed at once courage and zeal But he did not reach the root of the
evil, nor did his son Kwammu, though in the matter of intention and
ardour there was nothing to choose between the two. The basic trouble
was arbitrary and unjust oppression of the lower classes by the
upper. These latter, probably educated in part by the be system,
which tended to reduce the worker with his hands to a position of
marked subservience, had learned to regard their own hereditary
privileges as practically unlimited, and to conclude that well nigh
any measure of forced labour was due to them from their inferiors.
Konin could not correct this conception, and neither could Kwammu.
Indeed, in the latter's case, the Throne was specially disqualified
as a source of remonstrance, for the sovereign himself had to make
extravagant demands upon the working classes on account of the
transfer of the capital from Nara to Kyoto. Thus, although Kwammu's
warnings and exhortations were earnest, and his dismissals and
degradations of provincial officials frequent, he failed to achieve
anything radical.

TRANSFER OF THE CAPITAL TO KYOTO

The reign of Kwammu is remarkable for two things: the conquest of the
eastern Yemishi by Tamuramaro and the transfer of the capital from
Nara to Kyoto. Nara is in the province of Yamato; Kyoto, in the
neighbouring province of Yamashiro,* and the two places lie twenty
miles apart as the crow flies. It has been stated that to change the
site of the capital on the accession of a sovereign was a common
custom in Japan prior to the eighth century. In those early days the
term "miyako," though used in the sense of "metropolis," bore chiefly
the meaning "Imperial residence," and to alter its locality did not
originally suggest a national effort. But when Kwammu ascended the
throne, Nara had been the capital during eight reigns, covering a
period of seventy-five years, and had grown into a great city, a
centre alike of religion and of trade. To transfer it involved a
correspondingly signal sacrifice. What was Kwammu's motive? Some have
conjectured a desire to shake off the priestly influences which
permeated the atmosphere of Nara; others, that he found the Yamato
city too small to satisfy his ambitious views or to suit the quickly
developing dimensions and prosperity of the nation. Probably both
explanations are correct. Looking back only a few years, a ruler of
Kwammu's sagacity must have appreciated that religious fanaticism, as
practised at Nara, threatened to overshadow even the Imperial Court,
and that the influence of the foreign creed tended to undermine the
Shinto cult, which constituted the main bulwark of the Throne.

*Previously to becoming the metropolitan province, Yamashiro was
written with ideographs signifying "behind the mountain" (yama no
ushiro), but these were afterwards changed to "mountain castle"
(yamashiro).

We shall presently see how this latter danger was averted at Kyoto,
and it certainly does not appear extravagant to credit Kwammu with
having promoted that result. At all events, he was not tempted by the
superior advantages of any other site in particular. In 784, when he
adopted the resolve to found a new capital, it was necessary to
determine the place by sending out a search party under his most
trusted minister, Fujiwara Tanetsugu. The choice of Tanetsugu fell,
not upon Kyoto, but upon Nagaoka in the same province. There was no
hesitation. The Emperor trusted Tanetsugu implicitly and appointed
him chief commissioner of the building, which was commenced at once,
a decree being issued that all taxes for the year should be paid at
Nagaoka where also forced labourers were required to assemble and
materials were collected. The Records state that the area of the site
for the new palace measured 152 acres, for which the owners received
compensation amounting to the equivalent of 2580 ($12,550); or an
average of 17 ($82) per acre. The number of people employed is put
at 314,000,* and the fund appropriated, at 680,000 sheaves of rice,
having a value of about 40,800 ($200,000) according to modern
prices.

*This does not mean that 314,000 persons were employed
simultaneously, but only that the number of workmen multiplied by the
number of days of work equalled 314,000.

The palace was never finished. While it was still uncompleted, the
Emperor took up his abode there, in the fall of 784, and efforts to
hasten the work were redoubled. But a shocking incident occurred. The
Crown Prince, Sagara, procured the elevation of a member of the Saeki
family to the high post of State councillor (sangi), and having been
impeached for this unprecedented act by Fujiwara Tanetsugu, was
deprived of his title to the throne. Shortly afterwards, the Emperor
repaired to Nara, and during the absence of the Court from Nagaoka,
Prince Sagara compassed the assassination of Tanetsugu. Kwammu
exacted stern vengeance for his favourite minister. He disgraced the
prince and sent him into exile in the island of Awaji, which place he
did not reach alive, as was perhaps designed.

ENGRAVING: COURTYARD OF THE IMPERIAL PALACE, AT KYOTO

These occurrences moved the Emperor so profoundly that Nagaoka became
intolerable to him. Gradually the work of building was abandoned,
and, in 792, a new site was selected by Wake no Kiyomaro at Uda in
the same province. So many attractions were claimed for this village
that failure to choose it originally becomes difficult to understand.
Imperial decrees eulogized its mountains and rivers, and people
recalled a prediction uttered 170 years previously by Prince Shotoku
that the place would ultimately be selected for the perpetual capital
of the empire. The Tang metropolis, Changan, was taken for model.
Commenced in April, 794, the new metropolis was finished in December,
805.

The city was laid out with mathematical exactness in the form of a
rectangle, nearly three and one-half miles long, from north to south,
and about three miles wide, from east to west. In each direction were
nine principal thoroughfares, those running east and west crossing
the north and south streets at right angles. The east and west
streets were numbered from 1 to 9, and, although the regularity of
structure and plan of the city has been altered by fire and other
causes in eleven hundred years, traces of this early system of
nomenclature are still found in the streets of Kyoto.* Running north
from the centre of the south side was a great avenue, two hundred and
eighty feet wide, which divided the city into two parts, the eastern,
called "the left metropolis" (later Tokyo, "eastern capital"), and
"the right metropolis" (or Saikyo, "western capital"),--the left, as
always in Japan, having precedence over the right, and the direction
being taken not from the southern entrance gate but from the Imperial
palace, to which this great avenue led and which was on the northern
limits of the city and, as the reader will see, at the very centre of
the north wall. Grouped around the palace were government buildings
of the different administrative departments and assembly and audience
halls.

*The Kyoto of today is only a remnant of the ancient city; it was
almost wholly destroyed by fire in the Onin war of 1467.

The main streets, which have already been mentioned as connecting the
gates in opposite walls, varied in width from 80 feet to 170 feet.
They divided the city into nine districts, all of the same area
except the ones immediately east of the palace. The subdivisions were
as formal and precise. Each of the nine districts contained four
divisions.



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