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Thus, while
removing Go-Shirakawa to Rokuhara and despatching a force to seize
Mochihito, he entrusted the direction of the latter measure to
Yorimasa's son, Kanetsuna, who, it need scarcely be said, failed to
apprehend the prince or to elicit any information from his followers.

Presently Kiyomori learned that the prince had escaped to Onjo-ji
(Miidera). Thereupon secret negotiations were opened between Rokuhara
and Enryaku-ji (Hiei-zan), not that the Taira chief suspected the
latter, but because he appreciated that if Hiei-zan joined Miidera,
the situation would become formidable. Meanwhile, his trust in
Yorimasa remaining still unshaken, he sent him to attack Onjo-ji,
which mission the old Minamoto warrior fulfilled by entering the
monastery and joining forces with the prince. Yorimasa took this step
in the belief that immediate aid would be furnished from Hiei-zan.
But before his appeal reached the latter, Kiyomori's overtures had
been accepted. Nothing now remained for Yorimasa and Mochihito except
to make a desperate rush on Kyoto or to ride away south to Nara,
where temporary refuge offered. The latter course was chosen, in
spite of Yorimasa's advice. On the banks of the Uji River in a dense
fog they were overtaken by the Taira force, the latter numbering
twenty thousand, the fugitives three or four hundred. The Minamoto
made a gallant and skilful resistance, and finally Yorimasa rode off
with a handful of followers, hoping to carry Mochihito to a place of
safety. Before they passed out of range an arrow struck the old
warrior. Struggling back to Byodo-in, where the fight was still in
progress, he seated himself on his iron war-fan and, having calmly
composed his death-song, committed suicide.

CHANGE OF CAPITAL AND DEATH OF KIYOMORI

These things happened in May, 1180, and in the following month
Kiyomori carried out a design entertained by him for some time. He
transferred the capital from Kyoto to Fukuhara, in Settsu, where the
modern town of Kobe stands. Originally the Taira mansions were at the
two Fukuhara, one on the north of Kyoto, the other on the south, the
city being dominated from these positions. But Kiyomori seems to have
thought that as the centres of Taira strength lay in the south and
west of the empire, the province of Settsu would be a more convenient
citadel than Kyoto. Hence he built at Fukuhara a spacious villa and
took various steps to improve the harbour--then called Muko--as well
as to provide maritime facilities, among which may be mentioned the
opening of the strait, Ondo no Seto. But Fukuhara is fifty miles from
Kyoto, and to reach the latter quickly from the former in an
emergency was a serious task in the twelfth century. Moreover, Kyoto
was devastated in 1177 by a conflagration which reduced one-third of
the city to ashes, and in April of 1180 by a tornado of most
destructive force, so that superstitious folk, who abounded in that
age, began to speak ominously of the city's doom.

What weighed most with the Taira leader, however, was the propinquity
of the three great monasteries; Hiei-zan on the north, Miidera on the
east, and Nara on the south. In fact, the city lay at the mercy of
the soldier-priests. At any moment they might combine, descend upon
the capital, and burn it before adequate succour could be marshalled.
That such a peril should have been dreaded from such a source seems
strange; but the Buddhist priests had shown a very dangerous temper
more than once, and from Kiyomori's point of view the possibility of
their rising to restore the fortunes of the Fujiwara was never
remote.

Kiyomori carried with him to Fukuhara the boy-Emperor (Antoku), the
ex-Emperor (Takakura), the cloistered Emperor (Go-Shirakawa), the
kwampaku (Motomichi), and all the high Court officials with rare
exceptions. The work of construction at Fukuhara not being yet
complete, Go-Shirakawa had to be lodged in a building thirty feet
square, to which men gave the name of the "jail palace." Kyoto, of
course, was thrown into a state of consternation. Remonstrances,
petitions, and complaints poured into the Fukuhara mansion. Meanwhile
the Minamoto rose. In August of 1180, their white flag was hoisted,
and though it looked very insignificant on the wide horizon of Taira
power, Kiyomori did not underrate its meaning. At the close of the
year, he decided to abandon the Fukuhara scheme and carry the Court
back to Kyoto. On the eve of his return he found an opportunity of
dealing a heavy blow to the monasteries of Miidera and Nara. For, it
having been discovered that they were in collusion with the newly
risen Minamoto, Kiyomori sent his sons, Tomomori and Shigehira, at
the head of a force which sacked and burned Onjo-ji, Todai-ji, and
Kofuku-ji. Thereafter a terrible time ensued for Kyoto, for the home
provinces (Kinai), and for the west of the empire. During the greater
part of three years, from 1180 to 1182 inclusive, the people
suffered, first from famine and afterwards from pestilence. Pitiful
accounts are given by contemporary writers. Men were reduced to the
direst straits. Hundreds perished of starvation in the streets of
Kyoto, and as, in many cases, the corpses lay unburied, pestilence of
course ensued. It is stated that in Kyoto alone during two months
there were forty-two thousand deaths. The eastern and western
regions, however, enjoyed comparative immunity. By the priests and
the political enemies of the Taira these cruel calamities were
attributed to the evil deeds of Kiyomori and his fellow clansmen, so
that the once omnipotent family gradually became an object of popular
execration. Kiyomori, however, did not live to witness the ruin of
his house. He expired at the age of sixty in March, 1181, just three
months after the restoration of Kyoto to metropolitan rank. Since
August of the preceding year, the Minamoto had shown signs of
troublesome activity, but as yet it seemed hardly possible that their
puny onsets should shake, still less pull down, the imposing edifice
of power raised by the Taira during twenty years of unprecedented
success. Nevertheless, Kiyomori, impatient of all reverses, bitterly
upbraided his sons and his officers for incompetence, and when, after
seven days' sickness, he saw the end approaching, his last commission
was that neither tomb nor temple should be raised to his memory until
Yoritomo's head had been placed on his grave.

ENGRAVING: ARTIST'S SEAL

ENGRAVING: SWORD-GUARDS (Tsuba) HAND-CARVED IN BRONZE



CHAPTER XXV

THE EPOCH OF THE GEN AND THE HEI (Continued)

OPENING OF THE CONFLICT

WHEN, after the great struggle of 1160, Yoritomo, the eldest of
Yoshitomo's surviving sons, fell into the hands of Taira Munekiyo and
was carried by the latter to Kyoto, for execution, as all supposed,
and as would have been in strict accord with the canons of the time,
the lad, then in his fourteenth year, won the sympathy of Munekiyo by
his nobly calm demeanour in the presence of death, and still more by
answering, when asked whether he did not wish to live, "Yes, since I
alone remain to pray for the memories of my father and my elder
brothers." Munekiyo then determined to save the boy if possible, and
he succeeded through the co-operation of Kiyomori's step-mother, whom
he persuaded that her own son, lost in his infancy, would have grown
up to resemble closely Yoritomo.

It was much to the credit of Kiyomori's heart but little to that of
his head that he listened to such a plea, and historians have further
censured his want of sagacity in choosing Izu for Yoritomo's place of
exile, seeing that the eastern regions were infested by Minamoto
kinsmen and partisans. But Kiyomori did not act blindly. He placed
Yoritomo in the keeping of two trusted wardens whose manors were
practically conterminous in the valley of the Kano stream on the
immediate west of Hakone Pass. These wardens were a Fujiwara, Ito
Sukechika, and a Taira, who, taking the name Hojo from the locality
of his manor, called himself Hojo Tokimasa. The dispositions of these
two men did not agree with the suggestions of their lineage.
Sukechika might have been expected to sympathize with his ward in
consideration of the sufferings of the Fujiwara at Kiyomori's hands.
Tokimasa, as a Taira, should have been wholly antipathetic. Yet had
Tokimasa shared Sukechika's mood, the Minamoto's sun would never have
risen over the Kwanto.

The explanation is that Tokimasa belonged to a large group of
provincial Taira who were at once discontented because their claims
to promotion had been ignored, and deeply resentful of indignities
and ridicule to which their rustic manners and customs had exposed
them at the hands of their upstart kinsmen in Kyoto. Moreover, it is
not extravagant to suppose, in view of the extraordinary abilities
subsequently shown by Tokimasa, that he presaged the instability of
the Taira edifice long before any ominous symptoms became outwardly
visible. At any rate, while remaining Yoritomo's ostensible warden,
he became his confidant and abettor.

This did not happen immediately, however. Yoritomo was placed
originally under Sukechika's care, and during the latter's absence in
Kyoto a liaison was established between his daughter and the Minamoto
captive, with the result that a son was born. Sukechika, on his
return, caused the child to be thrown into a cataract, married its
mother to Ema Kotaro, and swore to have the life of his ward. But
Yoritomo, warned of what was pending, effected his escape to
Tokimasa's manor. It is recorded that on the way thither he prayed at
the shrine of Hachiman, the tutelary deity of his family: "Grant me
to become sei-i-shogun and to guard the Imperial Court. Or, if I may
not achieve so much, grant me to become governor of Izu, so that I
may be revenged on Sukechika. Or, if that may not be, grant me
death." With Tokimasa he found security. But here again, though now a
man over thirty, he established relations with Masa, his warden's
eldest daughter. In all Yoritomo's career there is not one instance
of a sacrifice of expediency or ambition on the altar of sentiment or
affection.



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