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radical innovations.

It was at this juncture that Yodo, chief of
Tosa, a clan scarcely less important than either
Satsuma or Choshiu, addressed to the Shogun
a remarkable memorial, setting forth the help-
lessness of the position in which the Yedo
Court now found itself, and urging that, in the
interests of good government and in order that
the nation's united strength might be available
to meet the contingencies of its new career, the
administrative power should be restored to the
Emperor. Yodo was one of the great men
of his time. Reference has been frequently
made in these pages to the action taken or the
attitude assumed by the " feudatories " at such
and such a juncture. But it must be noted that
the feudatories themselves in other words, the
feudal chiefs exercised little influence on the
current of events in Tokugawa days. From
the Skogun downward, the nobles were ener-
vated, incompetent, and often semi-imbecile
individuals, educated in such a manner as to
be without perception of the world of men
and things, and sedulously taught to indulge
their sensuous proclivities at the sacrifice of
every useful capacity or wholesome impulse.
There were exceptions, of course. Nariaki and
Rekko of Mito, Shimazu Samuro of Satsuma,
Shungaku of Yechizen, Kanso of Nabeshima,



and Yodo of Tosa deservedly rank among the
illustrious statesmen that prepared the way for
the radical change of later days, or took an
active part in promoting it. But it would be
most erroneous to suppose that the Revolution
of 1867 and all the reforms growing out of
it were conceived, initiated, or furthered by
the feudal chiefs. Among their immediate
authors and promoters, numbering in all about
threescore, not more than half a dozen names
of great territorial magnates are to be found,
and even these half-dozen acted a subordinate
part. The makers of new Japan were samurai
of comparatively low rank, men of extraordinary
courage and almost reckless daring ; swayed
by a passionate desire to see their country take
an honourable place among the nations, but not
uninfluenced by motives of personal ambition
and not hampered by hostages already given
to fortune. The only sense in which the
nobility can be said to have assisted the Revo-
lution was that their intellectual helplessness
rendered them practically indifferent to their
own selfish interests, and thus prevented them
from opposing changes which certainly did
not make for their advantage. Yodo of Tosa
belonged to the very small minority of feudal
chiefs who saw clearly whither events were
tending ; yet he, too, owed much of his pro-
gressive ideas to the influence of ardent young
reformers among his vassals.



The Tosa memorial, carried to Kyoto by
Goto and Fukuoka, 1 gave definite form to a
conviction which had already begun to present
itself vaguely to the intelligence of the Shogun.
He summoned a council of all the feudatories
and high officials then in Kyoto, announced to
them his decision, and, the next day, presented
his resignation to the Emperor.

This happened on the I4th of October, 1867.
It must be ranked among the signal events of
the world's history. During nearly three cen-
turies the Tokugawa had wielded supreme
administrative authority in Japan, holding in
Yedo a Court which lacked no attribute of
stately magnificence or autocratic strength. It
is not the custom of humanity to voluntarily
surrender the highest prizes attainable by
brilliant statesmanship and military genius. No
reason can be found, however, to doubt that
Keiki's resignation was tendered in good faith,
or that, had it been accepted in the same spirit,
the great changes it suggested would have been
consummated without bloodshed or disorder. But
the clansmen of the south distrusted the Shogun' s
intention. A similar act on the part of his
predecessor had resulted in restoring the auto-
cratic power of the Yedo Court. They resolved,
therefore, to give such prompt and decisive effect
to Keiki's offer that the possibility of its with-
drawal should be completely obviated. The

1 See Appendix, note 45.



Emperor being then only fifteen years of age,
Imperial edicts were easily obtained by those
having friends at Court. Secretly there was
issued to Satsuma and Choshiu the following
rescript :

Inasmuch as Minamoto Keiki, relying on the merits
of his ancestors and on the power and dignity be-
queathed to him, has grown arrogant and disloyal,
doing to death our good and faithful subjects and
often refusing to observe our commands ; and inas-
much as he did not hesitate to alter and even reverse
orders issued by the late Emperor; and inasmuch as
without compunction he has led the people to the
edge of an awful abyss ; and inasmuch as the Divine
Nation, because of his crimes, is on the eve of a great
disaster; now, therefore, we, who are the father and
mother of our people, since we cannot choose but
punish this traitor, so that the spirit of the late
Emperor may be appeased and vengeance done upon
the nation's worst enemy, hereby declare our will that
the traitor Keiki be destroyed, and that you, to whom
this command is addressed, accomplish the great deed
and replace the national affairs on a firm foundation
of lasting peace and glory.

The secrecy in which the Shogun's enemies
were able to envelop their proceedings indicates
the strength of their position. Not only did the
alliance between Satsuma and Choshiu escape
the observation of the Yedo authorities, but even
the issue of the above edict remained unknown
to the public for several years. It was a docu-
ment obviously dictated by unreasoning hostility :




none of its charges could have been substantiated,
nor can any meed of disinterested patriotism be
accorded to those that compiled it.

The procedure of a Court capable of framing
such harsh edicts can easily be inferred. All offi-
cials connected with the Tokugawa or suspected
of sympathy with them were ruthlessly expelled
from office in Kyoto, and the Shogun's troops
were deprived of the custody of the Palace gates
by methods which verged upon the use of armed
force. In the face of such provocation, Keiki's
earnest efforts to restrain the indignation of his
vassals and adherents failed. He was obliged to
lead them against Kyoto. One defeat, however,
sufficed to restore his resolution against blood-
shed. He retired to Yedo, and subsequently
made unconditional surrender to the forces of his
enemies, now known as the " Imperial Army/'
This part of the story need not detain the reader.
The Yedo Court consented to lay aside its dig-
nities and to be stripped of its administrative
authority, but all the Tokugawa vassals and adher-
ents did not prove equally placable. There was
resistance in the northern provinces ; there was an
attempt to set up a rival candidate for the Throne
in the person of an Imperial Prince who presided
over the Uyeno Monastery in Yedo ; and there
was a wild essay on the part of the admiral of
the SJbogun's fleet to establish a republic in the
island of Yezo. But these were mere ripples on
the surface of the broad stream which set towards

VOL. HI. - 1 6


the peaceful overthrow of the dual system of
government and ultimately towards the fall of
feudalism itself.

It will be observed that in the edict quoted
above no explicit reference is made to the ques-
tion of foreign intercourse. A seclusionist, read-
ing between the lines, might have detected some
covert allusion to the subject ; but, at the same
time, the contrast between such marked reticence
and the outspoken denunciations of the previous
Emperor's rescripts, must have forced itself upon
the attention of every one perusing the document.
The wni\-Sh~ogun movement had seemed originally
to derive its main force from the nation's anti-
foreign mood. Yet the " alien-expelling " sen-
timent did not figure at all upon the stage where-
on were acted the last episodes in the drama of
the Shogunate's destruction. The reader has
doubtless traced the gradual differentiation that
took place with regard to this sentiment. On
the one hand, those whose position and strength
invested their judgment with serious responsi-
bility, as the Satsuma and Choshiu clans, had
been taught by vivid object-lessons the futility of
open resistance to foreign intercourse. On the
other, the camp-following class, which consisted
of unemployed samurai and ignorant adventurers
without any stake in the preservation of public
peace, had ceased to wield appreciable influence,
though they clung tenaciously to the traditional
prejudice against everything alien, and stood ready



to sacrifice their own lives or the lives of other
people in the cause of " patriotism " as they in-
terpreted it. As for the Imperial Court, it re-
flected at any given time the convictions of the
coterie of nobles that happened to be then para-
mount. Had the Emperor Komei lived a few
years longer, it is possible that the views to which
he had been committed by various edicts issued
in his name while the " alien-expelling " party
dominated the situation in Kyoto, might have
hampered any departure in a liberal direction.
But he died early in 1867, and was succeeded
by a youth of fourteen, who neither owed obli-
gation to continuity of record nor took direct
part in the management of State affairs. Seven
noblemen, representing the Imperial nucleus of
the anti-foreign element, had fled to Choshiu
in the immediate sequel of the intrigue of
the forged rescript mentioned above, and had
been effectually converted to liberalism by the
events that occurred during their sojourn in
the south. These men, 1 on their return to
Kyoto in 1867, supported the moderate policy
of their former opponents, and it resulted that
the Court fell completely under the sway of
liberal views.

Another reason for conciliating foreigners was
found in the difficulties and embarrassments that
faced the organisers of the new Japanese polity.
They had to unravel such troublesome domestic

1 See Appendix, note 46.



problems that they not only shrank from supple-
menting them by foreign complications, but were
even disposed to place some reliance on the good
will of Great Britain and of the United States l as
a means of strengthening their position. One of
the first acts of the newly organised Government
was to invite the Foreign Representatives to
Kyoto, where they were received in audience by
the Emperor, and shortly afterwards a decree
was promulgated, announcing the sovereign's re-
solve to have amicable relations with foreign
nations, and declaring that any Japanese subject
thereafter guilty of violent behaviour towards
a foreigner would not only act in opposition
to the Imperial command, but also be guilty
of impairing the dignity and good faith of the
nation in the eyes of the Powers with which
His Majesty had pledged himself to maintain
friendship. A more signal reversal of the anti-
foreign policy could not have been accom-
plished. Two years previously the appearance
of foreign vessels off Hyogo had thrown the
nation into consternation and tumult lest the
precincts of the sacred city of Kyoto should
be invaded by alien feet. Now, the Emperor
actually invited foreigners to the Palace, and,
with unprecedented condescension, allowed them
to see him face to face.

Some element of abruptness must always be
suggested by a signal metamorphosis of sentiment.

1 See Appendix, note 47.



The conversion of Japan's Court and aristocracy
to pro-foreign doctrines usually perplexes readers
of her annals. They find its methods sudden
and its motives obscure. The facts have there-
fore been set down here with minuteness some-
what disproportionate to the general scheme of
these volumes' historical retrospect. Perhaps
the most intelligible and comprehensive state-
ment of the change is that whereas, in 1867, the
nation's unique impulse was to reject foreign inter-
course absolutely and unconditionally, its absorbing
purpose in 1867 was to assimilate the material
elements of Western civilisation as rapidly and
thoroughly as possible. The ultimate bases of
the two policies were preservation by isolation
and protection by mimicry. But no Japanese of
the liberal school admitted any idea of imitation
for the sake of safety. He saw only what his
country had lost by seclusion, and he thought
only of employing every energy to repair the in-
jury she had suffered and to equip her for recover-
ing her due place among the Powers of the
world. There remained, it is true, a small party
still anchored to the old faith that to admit the
foreigner was to welcome a plotter against the
Empire's welfare. But to the principal of these
conservatives the wholesome medicine of foreign
travel was subsequently administered, working an
effectual cure. As for the still smaller section,
the men who had imagined that if they acquired
the foreigner's proficiency in building and navi-



gating ships, organising and equipping armies
and manufacturing and utilising weapons of
war, they might again close the treaty ports
and revert to the old isolation, they soon per-
ceived that there is no element of finality in
civilisation, and that to turn their backs upon
the Occident after brief acquaintance would be
to fall behind it again in the race of progress
and become as impotent as ever to resist alien
aggression or dictation.

There will never again be in Japan, so far as
human judgment can discern, any effective reac-
tion against Occidental civilisation or Occidental
intercourse. In fact, it may be asserted that
from the day when the Shogunate fell, Japan
ceased to be an Oriental nation. The term
" Oriental " is not used here in a disparaging
sense. So far as Japan is concerned, the reader
of these pages knows that she possessed a civilisa-
tion of her own ; a refined, elaborate, and highly
developed civilisation, many phases of which
suffer nothing, if indeed they do not gain, by
comparison with the civilisation of the foremost
Western nations. Therefore this epithet " Ori-
ental " is employed with reference solely to the
conservatism which has come to be regarded as
a distinctive feature of East-Asian peoples ; the
conservatism that makes them cling to their old
institutions, their old methods, their old laws,
their old judicial procedure, their old means of
communication, their old social organisations, and



their old administrative machinery. From the
trammels of such conservatism Japan shook her-
self finally free in 1867. The soundness of her
instincts does not seem to have been impaired by
long exile from international competition or by
long lack of invigorating contact with foreign
intellects. She knew the good when she saw it,
and she chose it without racial prejudice or false
shame. It is possible, of course, to set forth an
imposing catalogue of achievements verifying
these assertions ; a catalogue of laws compiled,
of judicial tribunals organised, of parliamentary
institutions introduced, of railways built, of
telegraphs erected, of postal services established,
of industrial enterprises developed, of lines of
steamers opened, of an educational system started
of a newspaper press created, and so forth. There
will be occasion presently to make special allusion
to some of these things. But it is not to statis-
tics that the reader's attention is invited here
so much as to the broad fact that Japan has dif-
ferentiated herself completely from " Oriental
Nations " in the usually accepted sense of the
term, and that her aspirations, her modes of
thought, her impulses, her ideals, and her tests
of conduct must now be classed, not altogether
indeed but certainly in the main, as Occidental.
She may be regarded as a Western nation situ-
ated on the confines of the Far East ; a nation
now, for the second time in its history, giv-
ing free play to the instincts of progress, of



enterprise, and of daring which, conspicuously
displayed three centuries ago, were thereafter
paralysed by causes for which the Christian
Occident, not the " pagan Orient/' was primarily





NOTE i. Mr. B. A. Chamberlain, in "Things Japan-
ese," calls it "an innocent, not to say insipid, little jeu de soci'et'e,
such as might suggest itself to a party of school girls." He
can find no explanation of the vogue it enjoyed except that
Japan was " in her childhood, her second childhood."

NOTE 2. Vide " The Flowers of Japan and the Art of
Floral Arrangement " by Mr. J. Conder, an exhaustive and
sympathetic work which clearly sets forth the principles and
practice of the art, and from which many of the details here
summarised are taken.

NOTE 3. The world of covetousness, the world of con-
cupiscence, and the world without love.

NOTE 4. The full names of the bucolic mime and the
monkey mime were respectively Den-gaku-no-No and Saru-
gaku-no-No, or the accomplishment of Den-gaku and of Saru-
gaku; and since every feature distinctive of the original
Den-gaku and Saru-gaku disappeared in the new development
of the fourteenth century, it was natural that the names also
should be abandoned.

NOTE 5. The descendants of these celebrated No dan-
cers and writers called themselves " Kwanze " from genera-
tion to generation, a name formed by combining the two first
syllables of Kwanami and Seami.

NOTE 6. A celebrated Chinese warrior who saved his
sovereign's life by a splendid display of courage. The chorus
compares Benkei to Hankai.

NOTE 7. A pilgrim who has made at least three previous
pilgrimages, acts as pioneer of each band.



NOTE 8. These four lines are taken bodily from a stanza
by the blind poet Semi-maru. They are introduced simply
because their celebrity has associated them in the minds of
educated people with Osaka in Omi not the city of Osaka
to which the chorus next refers. Japanese poetry abounds
in allusions of this kind, which often defy translation, and can
never be appreciated by foreigners. It should be understood
that the chorus at this stage describes the journey of the pil-
grims, who pace the stage rhythmically meanwhile.

NOTE 9. Another instance of the extreme difficulty of
rendering Japanese poetry into English. In the original
u Itatori " and " woodman " are connected by a jeu-dc-mot
which disappears altogether in the translation.

NOTE 10. There is here another play upon words; quite

NOTE ii. Here again the force is lost. "Ata," the first
part of the name " Ataka," signifies " enemy," and solely for
the sake of qualifying that significance the allusion to flowers
attacked by the wind is introduced.

NOTE 12. He is called Hogwan in the original, but for
the convenience of English readers the name u Yoshitsune " is
here used.

NOTE 13. A celebrated temple.

NOTE 14. The Buddhists regard a and urn as the quintes-
sential sounds. The first sound made by the new-born babe is
a ; the last articulation of the dying, urn.

NOTE 15. The God of War, supposed to be the special
tutelary deity of the Minamoto family.

NOTE 16. One part of the chorus interprets here the
thoughts of Yoshitsune ; another part, those of Benkei.

NOTE 17. Yoshitsune owed his misfortunes to slanders
whispered in Yoritomo's ear by Kajiwara Kagetoki.

NOTE 1 8. The first line of a couplet.

NOTE 19. The last three lines are part of the Buddhist
Yennen-mai (life-lengthening dance), which Benkei learned when
an acolyte in the Hiyeizan monastery.

NOTE 20. Mr. B. A. Chamberlain, in his " Classical
Poetry of the Japanese," has given some admirable renderings
of celebrated Kyogen.



NOTE 21. This term, originally used in the sense of a
gathering, an assembly, had now become, and remains to this
day, a synonym for the place where the assembly took place.

NOTE 22. This rule has one exception. When a wrest-
ler finds his girdle grasped on either side, he is at liberty to pass
his hands under his adversary's arms and give an upward heave,
thus applying a breaking strain at a point midway between the
adversary's elbows and shoulders. The most celebrated wrest-
ler that ever lived in Japan, Raiden Tamayemon (1625), is said
to have snapped^the bones of more than one opponent by this
method, and he was ultimately forbidden to employ it. The
strength required for such a feat is scarcely conceivable. It is
recorded of this same Raiden that, strenuous as were his
methods in the ring, he once shed tears of regret on throwing a
man to whom defeat meant ruin.

NOTE 23. This theory is thus expressed in Japan:
Taikyoku riyo-gi wo shozu ; riyo-gi shizo wo shozu ; shiz~& hak-
kwa wo shozu (From chaos the two principles are born ; from
the two principles, the four forms ; from the four forms, the
eight diagrams).

NOTE 24. This lady, Kasuga, deservedly enjoyed high
favour. When lyemitsu was in danger of being set aside for the
sake of his younger brother, Kasuga saved the situation by carry-
ing the intelligence to lyeyasu, who was then living in retire-
ment at Shizuoka. She eluded the vigilance of the intrigues in
Yedo by pretexting a pilgrimage to the shrines of Ise.

NOTE 25. His consort was the daughter of an eminent
advocate of Shinto, and through her this influence made itself
felt in the Yedo Court circle.

NOTE 26. Oshio Heihachiro. He and his followers set
fire to Osaka, and after a brave struggle were defeated, Oshio
committing suicide.

NOTE 27. For an admirable resume of these writers' views
see an essay on " The Revival of Pure Shinfo " by the great-
est authority on Japan and the Japanese, Sir E. Satow, in
Volume III. of " The Asiatic Society's Proceedings."

NOTE 28. Historians have expressed various opinions
about this remarkable statesman's foreign policy. A letter
written by him four years before he became Tairb places the


matter beyond all doubt. " To close the country," he wrote,
" is not the way to promote the national prosperity and peace.
The coast defences are quite inadequate. There are no war-
ships fit to cope with foreign vessels. Open the country to
the strangers. Make peace with them. In the meanwhile we
can complete our preparations so as to have some competence
to assert ourselves. If the Americans want our coal, let them
have some : there is plenty in Kiushiu. If water and fuel are
needed, give them : they cost little. It is right to supply the
wants of the needy. Commerce is advisable. It can be carried
on through the Dutch. Treat the next comers as the Dutch
were treated. Build steamers and war-ships. Train men in
the art of navigation, so that we can learn the conditions of
foreign nations without obtaining our knowledge through the
Dutch. Save money and spend it on the navy and the army.
But strictly interdict strange religions. America and Russia
have made immense strides in navigation, but our people are
bright and quick, and, if well trained, will find no difficulty in
competing with foreigners. Provided that our country is re-
lieved from the threat of foreign invasion and secured in the
enjoyment of peace, the gods will excuse a few changes of
ancient laws and customs. . . . What presses most is to free
the people's minds from anxiety. Iron walls are useless unless
the nation is united and calm of mind." This letter, addressed
to the Shogun's minister, looks commonplace to-day, but read
by the light of the time when it was written, it shows wonder-
ful perspicacity. From the views it expresses li Kamon-no-
Kami never departed. He died for them.

NOTE 29. Mr. Townsend Harris must be excepted from
this statement. His appreciation of Japanese politics amounted
almost to an intuition ; partly, perhaps, because he did not
consider deceit inseparable from all Oriental dealings. Alone
he maintained the bona fides of the Sbogun's ministers from first
to last.

NOTE 30. Among them were men destined afterwards to
take a prominent part in reconciling the nation to the very
policy they then opposed so bitterly ; as Prince Sanjo, Prince
Konoye, and Prince Madenokoji.

NOTE 31. Ansei (1854-60) was the name of the era



when these events occurred. The judicial trial was thence-
forth known as " the great judgment of Amei"

NOTE 32. This place is now the site of a large arsenal.
The beautiful park still survives and attracts many visitors, but

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Online LibraryF. (Frank) BrinkleyJapan, its history, arts and literature (Volume 3) → online text (page 15 of 16)