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Text on one page: Few Medium Many
Forty-five years after Michizane's
death, the people of Kyoto erected to his memory the shrine of Temman
Tenjin,* and in the year 1004, the Emperor Ichijo not only conferred
on him the posthumous office of chancellor with the unprecedented
honour of first grade of the first rank, but also repaired in person
to worship at the shrine. In later times, memorial shrines were built
in various places, and to this day he is fervently worshipped as the
deity of calligraphy, so high was he elevated by the Fujiwara's
attempt to drag him down.

*Michizane was apotheosized under the name of Tenjin. He is known
also as Kan Shojo, and Temmangu.

ENGRAVING: SAMISEN (A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT)

ENGRAVING: SANJU-SANGEN-DO TEMPLE AT KYOTO



CHAPTER XX

THE HEIAN EPOCH (Continued)

60th Sovereign, Daigo (Continued)
61st " Emperor Shujaku A.D. 931-946

THE ENGI ERA (A.D. 901-923)

In the year 909, Fujiwara Tokihira died and was followed to the
grave, in 913, by Minamoto Hikaru. For an interval of some years no
minister of State was nominated; the Emperor Daigo himself
administered affairs. For this interregnum in the sway of the
Fujiwara, the Engi era is memorable.

It is memorable for other things also; notably for the compilation of
documents which throw much light on the conditions then existing in
Japan. The Emperor, in 914, called upon the Court officials to submit
memorials which should supply materials for administrative reforms.
The great scholar, Miyoshi Kiyotsura, responded with ability so
conspicuous that posterity has been disposed to question the justice
of the charges against him in connexion with Michizane's fate. He set
out by stating that, in the early times, the national sentiment had
been kind and simple; the people loyal to the Throne and obedient to
parents; the taxes moderate. But, thereafter, customs had gradually
deteriorated. Laws and regulations were promulgated with bewildering
rapidity. Taxes and forced labour grew heavier day by day. Cultivated
lands were suffered to lie fallow. Buddhism established such a hold
upon men's minds that people of all classes impoverished themselves
to build places of worship and to cast images. Upon the erection of
the provincial temples (Kokubun-ji) five-tenths of the national taxes
were expended; and in connexion with the removal of the capital to
Kyoto and the building of new palaces, a further sum of three-tenths
was paid out. Again, the Emperor Nimmyo's (834-850) love of luxury
and display led to architectural extravagance entirely unprecedented,
and involved the squandering of yet another tenth of the remaining
income of the State. Thereafter, in the Jokwan era (859-876),
frequent conflagrations destroyed the Imperial edifice, and its
restoration cost a tenth of the remaining revenue, so that only
one-twentieth was ultimately available for general expenses.

As illustrating the state of the rural regions, the memorialist
instanced the case of Bitchu, a province on the Inland Sea, where he
held an official appointment in the year 893. The local records
(Fudoki) showed that a levy made there about the middle of the
seventh century had produced twenty thousand able-bodied soldiers,*
whereas a century later, there were found only nineteen hundred; yet
another century afterwards, only seventy; at the close of the ninth
century, nine, and in the year 911, not one. To such a state of
desolation had the district been reduced in the space of 250 years,
and its story might be taken as typical.

*The district was consequently named Nima, an abbreviation of ni
(two) man (ten thousand).

Passing to the question of religion, the memorialist declared that
the Shinto ceremonials to secure good harvests had lost all
sincerity. The officials behaved as though there were no such thing
as deities. They used the offerings for their own private purposes,
sold the sacred horses, and recited the rituals without the least
show of reverence. As for Buddhist priests, before asking them to
pray for the welfare of their parishioners, they must be asked to
purge themselves of their own sins. The priests who ministered at the
provincial temples had lost all sense of shame. They had wives, built
houses, cultivated lands, and engaged in trade. Was it to be supposed
that heaven would hearken to the intervention of such sinners?

Meanwhile, luxury and extravagance had reached an extreme degree. On
one suit of clothes a patrimony was expended, and sometimes a year's
income barely sufficed for a single banquet. At funeral services all
classes launched into flagrant excesses. Feasts were prepared on such
a scale that the trays of viands covered the entire floor of a
temple. Thousands of pieces of gold were paid to the officiating
priests, and a ceremony, begun in mourning, ended in revelry.
Corresponding disorder existed with regard to the land. The original
distribution into kubunden, as we saw, had been partly for purposes
of taxation. But now these allotments were illegally appropriated, so
that they neither paid imposts nor furnished labourers; and while
governors held worthless regions, wealthy magnates annexed great
tracts of fertile land. Another abuse, prevalent according to Miyoshi
Kiyotsura's testimony, was that accusations were falsely preferred by
officials against their seniors. Provincial governors were said to
have frequently indulged in this treacherous practice and to have
been themselves at times the victims of similar attacks. The Court,
on receipt of such charges, seldom scrutinized them closely, but at
once despatched officers to deal with the incriminated persons, and
in the sequel, men occupying exalted positions were obliged to plead
on an equal footing with officials of low grade or even common
people. Self-respecting persons chose to stand aside altogether from
official life rather than to encounter such risks.

This was an almost inevitable result of the exceptional facilities
given to petitioners under the Daika and Daiho systems. Miyoshi
Kiyotsura urged that all petitioning and all resulting inquiries by
specially appointed officials should be interdicted, except in
matters relating to political crime, and that all offenders should be
handed over to the duly constituted administrators of justice. As to
these latter, he spoke very plainly. The kebiishi, he wrote, who,
being appointed to the various provinces, have to preserve law and
order within their jurisdictions, should be men specially versed in
law, whereas a majority of those serving in that capacity are
ignorant and incompetent persons who have purchased their offices. To
illustrate further the want of discrimination shown in selecting
officials, he refers to the experts appointed in the maritime
provinces for manufacturing catapults, and declares that many of
these so-called "experts" had never seen a catapult.

ENGRAVING: FAMILY LIFE OF NOBLES, HEIAN EPOCH, A.D. 782-1192

It is against the Buddhist priests and the soldiers of the six guards
that he inveighs most vehemently, however. He calls them "vicious and
ferocious," Those who take the tonsure, he says, number from two to
three thousand yearly, and about one-half of that total are wicked
men--low fellows who, desiring to evade taxation and forced labour,
have shaved their heads and donned priests vestments, aggregate
two-thirds of the population. They marry, eat animal food, practise
robbery, and carry on coining operations without any fear of
punishment. If a provincial governor attempts to restrain them, they
flock together and have recourse to violence. It was by bandits under
the command of wicked priests that Fujiwara Tokiyoshi, governor of
Aki, and Tachibana Kinkado, governor of Kii, were waylaid and
plundered.

As for the soldiers of the guards, instead of taking their monthly
term of duty at the palace, they are scattered over the country, and
being strong and audacious, they treat the people violently and the
provincial governors with contumacy, sometimes even forming leagues
to rob the latter and escaping to the capital when they are hard
pressed. (These guardsmen had arms and horses of their own and called
themselves bushi, a term destined to have wide vogue in Japan.) It is
interesting to note that they make their historical debut thus
unfavourably introduced. Miyoshi Kiyotsura says that instead of being
"metropolitan tigers" to guard the palace, they were "rural wolves"
to despoil the provinces.

APPRECIATIONS OF THE MIYOSHI MEMORIAL

This celebrated document consisted of twelve articles and contained
five thousand ideographs, so that nothing was wanting in the matter
of voluminousness. The writer did not confine himself to enumerating
abuses: he also suggested remedies. Thus he urged that no man, having
become an equerry (toneri) of the six corps of guards, should be
allowed to return to his province during his term of service; that
the spurious priests should be all unfrocked and punished; that the
office of kebiishi should be restricted to men having legal
knowledge; that the upper classes should set an example of economy in
costumes and observances; that the ranks of the Buddhist priesthood
should be purged of open violators of the laws of their creed, and so
forth. Historians have justly eulogized the courage of a memorialist
who thus openly attacked wide-spread and powerful abuses. But they
have also noted that the document shows some reservations. For
generations the Fujiwara family had virtually usurped the governing
power; had dethroned Emperors and chosen Empresses; had consulted
their own will alone in the administrations of justice and in the
appointment and removal of officials. Yet of these things Miyoshi
Kiyotsura says nothing whatever. The sole hope of their redress lay
in Michizane; but instead of supporting that ill-starred statesman,
Miyoshi had contributed to his downfall. Could a reformer with such a
record be regarded as altogether sincere?

ADMINISTRATION OF THE EMPEROR DAIGO

The Emperor Daigo, who ruled thirty-two years--from 898 to 930--is
brought very close to us by the statement of a contemporary historian
that he was "wise, intelligent, and kind-hearted," and that he always
wore a smiling face, his own explanation of the latter habit being
that he found it much easier to converse with men familiarly than
solemnly.



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