Best books online Library

Your last book:

You dont read books at this site.

Total books on site: 11 280

You can read and download its for free!

Browse books by author: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

Text on one page: Few Medium Many
It was
therefore commanded by the Emperor that, on a fixed day, all the uji
no Kami should assemble, and having performed the rite of
purification, should submit to the ordeal of boiling water
(kuga-dachi). Numerous cauldrons were erected for the purpose, and it
was solemnly proclaimed that only the guilty would be scalded by the
test. At the last moment, those whose claims were willingly false
absconded, and the genealogies were finally rectified.

Instances of uji created by the sovereign to reward merit, or
abolished to punish offences, are numerously recorded. Thus, when
(A.D. 413) the future consort of the Emperor Inkyo was walking in the
garden with her mother, a provincial ruler (miyatsuko), riding by,
peremptorily called to her for a branch of orchid. She asked what he
needed the orchid for and he answered, "To beat away mosquitoes when
I travel mountain roads." "Oh, honourable sir, I shall not forget,"
said the lady. When she became Empress, she caused the nobleman to be
sought for, and had him deprived of his rank in lieu of execution.
There is also an instance of the killing of all the members of an uji
to expiate the offence of the uji no Kami. This happened in A.D. 463,
when Yuryaku sat on the throne. It was reported to the Court that
Sakitsuya, Kami of the Shimotsumichi-uji, indulged in pastimes
deliberately contrived to insult the occupant of the throne. Thus he
would match a little girl to combat against a grown woman, calling
the girl the Emperor and killing her if she won; or would set a
little cock with clipped wings and plucked feathers to represent the
sovereign in a fight with a big, lusty cock, which he likened to
himself, and if the small bird won, he would slaughter it with his
own sword. The Emperor sent a company of soldiers, and Sakitsuya with
all the seventy members of his uji were put to death.

ADMINISTRATIVE ORGANIZATION

The administrative organization in ancient Japan was simply a
combination of the uji. It was purely Japanese. Not until the seventh
century of the Christian era were any foreign elements introduced.
From ministers and generals of the highest class down to petty
functionaries, all offices were discharged by uji no Kami, and as the
latter had the general name of kabane root of the uji the system was
similarly termed. In effect, the kabane was an order of nobility.
Offices were hereditary and equal. The first distribution of posts
took place when five chiefs, attached to the person of the Tenson at
the time of his descent upon Japan, were ordered to discharge at his
Court the same duties as those which had devolved on them in the
country of their origin. The uji they formed were those of the
Shimbetsu,* the official title of the Kami being muraji (group chief)
in the case of an ordinary uji, and o-muraji (great muraji) in the
case of an o-uji, as already stated. These were the men who rendered
most assistance originally in the organization of the State, but as
they were merely adherents of the Tenson, the latter's direct
descendants counted themselves superior and sought always to assert
that superiority.

*The distinction of Shimbetsu and Kwobetsu was not nominally
recognized until the fourth century, but it undoubtedly existed in
practice at an early date.

Thus, the title omi (grandee) held by the Kami of a Kwobetsu-uji was
deemed higher than that of muraji (chief) held by the Kami of a
Shimbetsu-uji. The blood relations of sovereigns either assisted at
Court in the administration of State affairs or went to the provinces
in the capacity of governors. They received various titles in
addition to that of omi, for example sukune (noble), ason or asomi
(Court noble), kimi (duke), wake (lord), etc.

History gives no evidence of a fixed official organization in ancient
times. The method pursued by the sovereign was to summon such omi and
muraji as were notably influential or competent, and to entrust to
them the duty of discharging functions or dealing with a special
situation. Those so summoned were termed mae-isu-gimi (dukes of the
Presence). The highest honour bestowed on a subject in those days
fell to the noble, Takenouchi, who, in consideration of his services,
was named O-mae-tsu-gimi (great duke of the Presence) by the Emperor
Seimu (A.D. 133). Among the omi and muraji, those conspicuously
powerful were charged with the superintendence of several uji, and
were distinguished as o-omi and o-muraji. It became customary to
appoint an o-omi and an o-muraji at the Court, just as in later days
there was a sa-daijin (minister of the Left) and an u-daijin
(minister of the Right). The o-omi supervised all members of the
Kwobetsu-uji occupying administrative posts at Court, and the
o-muraji discharged a similar function in the case of members of
Shimbetsu-uji. Outside the capital local affairs were administered by
kuni-no-miyatsuko or tomo-no-miyatsuko* Among the former, the heads
of Kwobetsu-uji predominated among the latter, those of
Shimbetsu-uji.

*Tomo is an abbreviation of tomo-be.

VALUE OF LINEAGE

It will be seen from the above that in old Japan lineage counted
above everything, alike officially and socially. The offices, the
honours and the lands were all in the hands of the lineal descendants
of the original Yamato chiefs. Nevertheless the omi and the muraji
stood higher in national esteem than the kuni-no-miyatsuko or the
tomo-no-miyatsuko; the o-omi and the o-muraji, still higher; and the
sovereign, at the apex of all. That much deference was paid to
functions. Things remained unaltered in this respect until the sixth
century when the force of foreign example began to make itself felt.

ENGRAVING: FISHERMAN'S BOAT AND NET



CHAPTER XI

THE PREHISTORIC SOVEREIGNS (Continued)

THE FIFTEENTH SOVEREIGN, OJIN (A.D. 270-310)

The fifteenth Sovereign, Ojin, came to the throne at the age of
seventy, according to the Chronicles, and occupied it for forty
years. Like a majority of the sovereigns in that epoch he had many
consorts and many children--three of the former (including two
younger sisters of the Emperor) and twenty of the latter. Comparison
with Korean history goes to indicate that the reign is antedated by
just 120 years, or two of the sexagenary cycles, but of course such a
correction cannot be applied to every incident of the era.

MARITIME AFFAIRS

One of the interesting features of Ojin's reign is that maritime
affairs receive notice for the first time. It is stated that the
fishermen of various places raised a commotion, refused to obey the
Imperial commands, and were not quieted until a noble, Ohama, was
sent to deal with them. Nothing is stated as to the cause of this
complication, but it is doubtless connected with requisitions of fish
for the Court, and probably the fishing folk of Japan had already
developed the fine physique and stalwart disposition that distinguish
their modern representatives. Two years later, instructions were
issued that hereditary corporations (be) of fishermen should be
established in the provinces, and, shortly afterwards, the duty of
constructing a boat one hundred feet in length was imposed upon the
people of Izu, a peninsular province so remote from Yamato that its
choice for such a purpose is difficult to explain. There was no
question of recompensing the builders of this boat: the product of
their labour was regarded as "tribute."

Twenty-six years later the Karano, as this vessel was called, having
become unserviceable, the Emperor ordered a new Karano to be built,
so as to perpetuate her name. A curious procedure is then recorded,
illustrating the arbitrary methods of government in those days. The
timbers of the superannuated ship were used as fuel for roasting
salt, five hundred baskets of which were sent throughout the maritime
provinces, with orders that by each body of recipients a ship should
be constructed. Five hundred Karanos thus came into existence, and
there was assembled at Hyogo such a fleet as had never previously
been seen in Japanese waters. A number of these new vessels were
destroyed almost immediately by a conflagration which broke out in
the lodgings of Korean envoys from Sinra (Shiragi), and the envoys
being held responsible, their sovereign hastened to send a body of
skilled shipmakers by way of atonement, who were thereafter organized
into a hereditary guild of marine architects, and we thus learn
incidentally that the Koreans had already developed the shipbuilding
skill destined to save their country in later ages.

IDEALISM OF THE THIRD CENTURY

In connexion with the Karano incident, Japanese historians record a
tale which materially helps our appreciation of the men of that
remote age. A portion of the Karano's timber having emerged unscathed
from the salt-pans, its indestructibility seemed curious enough to
warrant special treatment. It was accordingly made into a lute
(koto),* and it justified that use by developing "a ringing note that
could be heard from afar off." The Emperor composed a song on the
subject:

"The ship Karano
"Was burned for salt:
"Of the remainder
"A koto was made.
"When it is placed on
"One hears the saya-saya
"Of the summer trees,
"Brushing against, as they stand,
"The rocks of the mid-harbour,
"The harbour of Yura." [Aston.]

*The Japanese lute, otherwise called the Azuma koto, was an
instrument five or six feet long and having six strings. History
first alludes to it in the reign of Jingo, and such as it was then,
such it has remained until to-day.

LAW, INDUSTRY, LOYALTY

Five facts are already deducible from the annals of this epoch: the
first, that there was no written law, unless the prohibitions in the
Rituals may be so regarded; the second, that there was no form of
judicial trial, unless ordeal or torture may be so regarded; the
third, that the death penalty might be inflicted on purely ex-parte
evidence; the fourth, that a man's whole family had to suffer the
penalty of his crimes, and the fifth, that already in those remote
times the code of splendid loyalty which has distinguished the
Japanese race through all ages had begun to find disciples.

An incident of Ojin's reign illustrates all these things.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | 97 | | 98 | | 99 | | 100 | | 101 | | 102 | | 103 | | 104 | | 105 | | 106 | | 107 | | 108 | | 109 | | 110 | | 111 | | 112 | | 113 | | 114 | | 115 | | 116 | | 117 | | 118 | | 119 | | 120 | | 121 | | 122 | | 123 | | 124 | | 125 | | 126 | | 127 | | 128 | | 129 | | 130 | | 131 | | 132 | | 133 | | 134 | | 135 | | 136 | | 137 | | 138 | | 139 | | 140 | | 141 | | 142 | | 143 | | 144 | | 145 | | 146 | | 147 | | 148 | | 149 | | 150 | | 151 | | 152 | | 153 | | 154 | | 155 | | 156 | | 157 | | 158 | | 159 | | 160 | | 161 | | 162 | | 163 | | 164 | | 165 | | 166 | | 167 | | 168 | | 169 | | 170 | | 171 | | 172 | | 173 | | 174 | | 175 | | 176 | | 177 | | 178 | | 179 | | 180 | | 181 | | 182 | | 183 | | 184 | | 185 | | 186 | | 187 | | 188 | | 189 | | 190 | | 191 | | 192 | | 193 | | 194 | | 195 | | 196 | | 197 | | 198 | | 199 | | 200 | | 201 | | 202 | | 203 | | 204 | | 205 | | 206 | | 207 | | 208 | | 209 | | 210 | | 211 | | 212 | | 213 | | 214 | | 215 | | 216 | | 217 | | 218 | | 219 | | 220 | | 221 | | 222 | | 223 | | 224 | | 225 | | 226 | | 227 | | 228 | | 229 | | 230 | | 231 | | 232 | | 233 | | 234 | | 235 | | 236 | | 237 | | 238 | | 239 | | 240 | | 241 | | 242 | | 243 | | 244 | | 245 | | 246 | | 247 | | 248 | | 249 | | 250 | | 251 | | 252 | | 253 | | 254 | | 255 | | 256 | | 257 | | 258 | | 259 | | 260 | | 261 | | 262 | | 263 | | 264 | | Next |