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This was due in part at least to the
growth in Japan of the power of Buddhism, and, be it understood, of
Buddhism of a degraded and debased form. The effort to combine
Buddhism and Shinto probably robbed the latter of any power it might
otherwise have had to withstand superstition. Although men of the
greatest ability went into the Buddhist monasteries, including many
Imperial princes, their eminence did not make them better leaders and
guides of the people, but rather aided them in misleading and
befooling the laity. Murdoch in speaking of the beginning of the 12th
century says: "At this date, Buddhism in Japan from a moral point of
view was in not a whit better case than was the Church of Rome
between the death of Sylvester II and the election of Leo IX." An
interesting parallel might be drawn between Japanese and European
superstition, as each was consequent on the low standards of the
clergy of the times. The famous report of Miyoshi Kiyotsura, to which
we have so often alluded, spoke in no measured terms of the greed and
vice of the Buddhist priests. And the character of these hireling
shepherds goes far to explain the gross superstition of the tune. We
have told (p. 274) the story of the abbot Raigo and how the Court was
forced to purchase from him intercessory prayers for the birth of an
heir,--and of the death of the heir in apparent consequence of
Raigo's displeasure. Near the end of the ninth century one Emperor
made a gift of 500,000 yen for prayers that seemed to have saved the
life of a favourite minister. Prayers for rain, for prolonged life,
for victory over an enemy, were implicitly believed to be efficient,
and priests received large bribes to make these prayers. Or they
received other rewards: the privilege of coming to Court in a
carriage was granted to one priest for bringing rain after a long
drought and to another for saving the life of a sick prince in 981.
As men got along in years they had masses said for the prolongation
of their lives,--with an increase in the premium each year for such
life insurance. Thus, at forty, a man had masses said in forty
shrines, but ten years later at fifty shrines in all.

In this matter, as in others, the influence of the Fujiwara was
great. They were in a close alliance with the priests, and they
controlled the Throne through consorts and kept the people in check
through priests and superstitions.

With the widespread belief in the power of priestly prayer there was
prevalent a fear of spirits and demons. Oda received a promise in a
dream that he would become Emperor. In the next generation the
Emperor Daigo exiled Sugawara Michizane to Kyusml, where the exile
died in two years. Soon afterwards the Emperor fell sick; and this,
the disaster of 930 when a thunderstorm killed many nobles in the
Imperial palace, and the sudden death of Michizane's accusers and of
the Crown Prince were explained as due to the ill-will of the injured
man's spirit. His titles were restored and everything possible was
done to placate the ghost (see p. 244). To an earlier period belongs
the similar story of Kwammu and his efforts to placate the spirit of
his younger brother whom he had exiled and killed. Kwammu, fearing
that death was coming upon him, built a temple to the shade of this
brother. A cloud over the palace of another Emperor was interpreted
as a portentous monster, half monkey and half snake, and one of the
Minamoto warriors won fame for his daring in shooting an arrow at the
cloud, which then vanished. Equally foolhardy and marvellous was the
deed of Fujiwara Michinaga, who alone of a band of courtiers in the
palace dared one dark night to go unattended and without lights from
one end of the palace to the other.

When the new city of Kyoto was built, a Buddhist temple was put near
the northeast gate to protect the capital from demons, since the
northeast quarter of the sky belonged to the demons; and on a hill a
clay statue was erected, eight feet high and armed with bow, arrows
and cuirass, to guard the city. So implicit was the belief in the
power of this colossal charm that it was said that it moved and
shouted to warn the city of danger.

ENGRAVING: EARTHEN-WARE HOUSE FOR ORNAMENT

EDUCATION

There was, of course, no organized system of schools in this period,
but education was not neglected. A university was established in the
newly built capital, and there were five family schools or academies
for the youth of the separate uji. A school and hospital, founded by
Fujiwara Fuyutsugu in 825, received an Imperial endowment. At almost
exactly the same time (823) the Bunsho-in was founded by Sugawara.
The Sogaku-in was founded in 831 by Arihara Yukihara. In 850 the
consort of the emperor Saga built the Gakkwan-in for the Tachibana
family; and in 841 the palace of Junna became a school. And there was
one quasi-public school, opened in 828, in the Toji monastery south
of the capital, which was not limited to any family and was open to
commoners.

ENGRAVING: NETSUKE (Hand-carvings in Ivory)

ENGRAVING: ARCHERY IN OLD JAPAN



CHAPTER XXIV

THE EPOCH OF THE GEN (MINAMOTO) AND THE HEI (TAIRA)

SUPREMACY OF THE MILITARY CLASS

DESCRIBED superficially, the salient distinction between the epochs
of the Fujiwara and the Gen-pei was that during the former the
administrative power lay in the hands of the Court nobles in Kyoto,
whereas, during the latter, it lay in the hands of the military
magnates in the provinces. The processes by which this change was
evolved have already been explained in part and will be further
elucidated as we advance. Here, however, it is advisable to note that
this transfer of authority was, in one sense, a substitution of
native civilization for foreign, and, in another, a reversion to the
conditions that had existed at the time of the Yamato conquest. It
was a substitution of native civilization for foreign, because the
exotic culture imported from China and Korea had found its chief
field of growth in the capital and had never extended largely to the
provinces; and it was a reversion to the conditions existing at the
time of the Yamato conquest, because at that time the sword and the
sceptre had been one.

The Mononobe and the Otomo families constituted the pillars of the
State under the early Emperors. Their respective ancestors were
Umashimade no Mikoto and Michi no Omi no Mikoto. The Japanese term
monobe (or mononofu) was expressed by Chinese ideographs having the
sound, bushi. Thus, though it is not possible to fix the exact date
when the expression, bushi, came into general use, it is possible to
be sure that the thing itself existed from time immemorial. When the
Yamato sovereign undertook his eastward expedition, Umashimade with
his monobe subdued the central districts, and Michi no Omi with his
otomo and Okume-be consolidated these conquests. Thereafter the
monobe were organized into the konoe-fu (palace guards) and the otomo
into the emon-fu (gate guards). Not military matters alone, but also
criminal jurisdiction, belonged to the functions of these two.

THE BUSHI

The earliest type of the Yamato race having thus been military, it
becomes important to inquire what tenets constituted the soldier's
code in old Japan. Our first guide is the celebrated anthology,
Manyo-shu, compiled in the ninth century and containing some poems
that date from the sixth. From this we learn that the Yamato
monono-fu believed himself to have inherited the duty of dying for
his sovereign if occasion required. In that cause he must be prepared
at all times to find a grave, whether upon the desolate moor or in
the stormy sea. The dictates of filial piety ranked next in the
ethical scale. The soldier was required to remember that his body had
been given to him by his parents, and that he must never bring
disgrace upon his family name or ever disregard the dictates of
honour. Loyalty to the Throne, however, took precedence among moral
obligations. Parent, wife, and child must all be abandoned at the
call of patriotism. Such, as revealed in the pages of the Myriad
Leaves, were the simple ethics of the early Japanese soldier. And it
was largely from the Mononobe and Otomo families that high officials
and responsible administrators were chosen at the outset.

When Buddhism arrived in the sixth century, we have seen that it
encountered resolute opposition at the hands of Moriya, the o-muraji
of the Mononobe family. That was natural. The elevation of an alien
deity to a pedestal above the head of the ancestral Kami seemed
specially shocking to the soldier class. But the tendency of the time
was against conservatism. The Mononobe and the Otomo forfeited their
position, and the Soga stepped into their place, only to be succeeded
in turn by the Fujiwara. These last, earnest disciples of Chinese
civilization, looked down on the soldier, and delegated to him alone
the use of brute force and control of the criminal classes, reserving
for themselves the management of civil government and the pursuit of
literature, and even leaving politics and law in the hands of the
schoolmen.

In these circumstances the military families of Minamoto (Gen) and
Taira (Hei), performing the duties of guards and of police, gradually
acquired influence; were trusted by the Court on all occasions
demanding an appeal to force, and spared no pains to develop the
qualities that distinguished them--the qualities of the bushi. Thus,
as we turn the pages of history, we find the ethics of the soldier
developing into a recognized code. His sword becomes an object of
profound veneration from the days of Minamoto Mitsunaka, who summons
a skilled swordsmith to the capital and entrusts to him the task of
forging two blades, which, after seven days of fasting and prayer and
sixty days of tempering, emerge so trenchant that they are thereafter
handed down from generation to generation of the Minamoto as
treasured heirlooms.*

*The swords were named "Knee-cutter" and "Beard-cutter," because when
tested for decapitating criminals, they severed not only the necks
but also the beard and the knees.

That the bushi's word must be sacred and irrevocable is established
by the conduct of Minamoto Yorinobu who, having promised to save the
life of a bandit if the latter restore a child taken as a hostage,
refuses subsequently to inflict any punishment whatever on the
robber.



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