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after the Restoration in 1867, ju-jutsu shared the
decadence that befell everything patronised by the
samurai of early eras. But it was subsequently
revived by Professor K. Kano, an eminent educa-
tionist, and it is now taught gratuitously in two
large institutions organised by him in Tokyo, as
well as at many of the chief seats of learning
throughout the Empire. Every police-constable
is required to go through a course, and the result
of his instruction is that he can generally master
the strongest malefactor without difficulty. Evi-
dently to explain such a system in writing would
require a special treatise with elaborate illustra-
tions. It may be stated, however, that the novice
passes through three preliminary classes, and then
reaches the first of the ten stages into which the
science proper is divided. Six of the stages are
devoted to physical training and four to moral
discipline, the time required to graduate in the
whole course being ten years. Before matricu-
lation every pupil must take an oath to obey the
rules implicitly, and he learns not merely the art of
overcoming an adversary, but also the science of
resuscitating persons who have been temporarily



disabled, whether by his own devices or by certain
other kinds of accident. It may appear curious
that moral training should form part of the course,
but the students of ju-jutsu, or ju-do (the path of
pliancy), claim a great deal for it in the latter
respect. Mr. T. Shidachi, in a paper read before
the Japan Society in London in 1892, has this to
say about the moral side of the art : " Respect
and kindness, fidelity and sincerity are essential
points which ju-do students should particularly
observe. We come by daily training to know
that irritability is one of our weakest points, and
that we have to try to avoid it in our life, as it
facilitates our opponents' efforts to overcome us.
Not to be irritated by any emergency, but to be
always calm and composed is one of the first
principles of ju-do. Prudence, precaution, tem-
perance, perseverance, presence of mind, quick
discernment, decision after deliberation, anima-
tion, self-respect, and self-control, all these are
moral qualities inculcated by the study of ju-do.
Greatness of mind, obedience to duty, and ab-
horrence of extravagance should be cultivated
with no less attention. The influence which
ju-do exerts on intellectual power is no less im-
portant. The strict attention we have to give to
daily duties is acknowledged. ... I take the lib-
erty of saying that I have received conscious
benefit to my faculties of concentration and
observation by the study of ju-do~." A measure
of enthusiasm certainly presided at the compila-



tion of this list of advantages, and several of the
moral results here claimed for ju-dti would be
equally attained by any system of well-directed
discipline. But ju-dv is one of Japan's unique
possessions, and her estimate of its nature may
fairly claim attention.


Chapter III



two greatest figures of mediaeval
Japan, if not the two greatest in her
whole history, are Hideyoshi, the
Taiko, and Tokugawa lyeyasu. Con-
temporaries and therefore rivals, as was inevitable
under the circumstances of their era, that they
avoided fatal collision must be counted one of
the clearest evidences of their astuteness. They
did once meet in battle, and the TaiKo, for all his
military genius, suffered defeat. But thereafter
they lived in concord, and the Tokugawa chief,
surviving Hideyoshi and becoming the adminis-
trative head of the nation, organised a system of
government which gave to the country two and
a half centuries of tranquillity. lyeyasu, had he
respected his pledges, should have applied him-
self to secure to the Taiko's son, Hideyori, the
supreme place won by Hideyoshi's genius. But
the ethics of the age did not require any such
sacrifice of personal ambition. The Tokugawa
chief not only crushed the man he had promised
to support, but deliberately contrived an oppor-



tunity for crushing him, and posterity does not
count the act a crime.

Campaigns, battles, and political intrigues do
not find a place in these volumes ; else there
would be much to tell about the events which
raised the Tokugawa to supremacy. A pathetic
figure lends special interest to the last act of the
drama ; the figure of the beautiful Yodo, the
TaiKo s favourite mistress and mother of the lad
to whom he vainly bequeathed the fruits of his
splendid victories and still more brilliant states-
manship. Left a widow at twenty-two, Yodo
devoted herself uniquely to her son's cause, and
in the final fight, when she and he, shut up in
the castle of Osaka, had been refused quarter by
lyeyasu and saw death coming steadily closer,
the lady and her band of handmaidens did sol-
dier's service, and at the supreme moment died
by their own hands.

lyeyasu then stood without a rival in the
whole Empire. To other leaders opportunities
equally great had presented themselves, but to
utilise them as he utilised them required a genius
for organisation which he alone seems to have
possessed, and a power of analysing the lessons
of history which few have equalled.

The first problem to be considered was the
position of the Emperor. It has been shown in
these pages that the doctrine of the Mikado's
divine descent survived all the vicissitudes of Im-
perial life. Weeds might flourish in the ne-



glected courtyards of the Kyoto Palace ; the
corpse of an Emperor might lie uninterred for
weeks through lack of money to perform the
funeral rites ; sovereigns might be held prisoners
by haughty subjects, or compelled to abdicate at
the first display of a tendency to exercise inde-
pendent governing sway ; but the theory of the
monarch's sacrosanctity remained practically un-
challenged. Even to-day, when the merciless
scalpel of the critic lays open the mummy-cases
of antiquity, and discloses dust and emptiness in
places peopled by tradition with figures of splen-
did humanity, it is difficult, if not impossible, to
find a Japanese writer bold enough to scrutinise
the legends that environ the Throne. Side by
side with such companions as constitutional gov-
ernment, parliamentary institutions, and freedom
of speech and pen, faith in the sovereign's direct
descent from heavenly ancestors seems strangely
incongruous. But it still abides, and lyeyasu had
to reckon with it in his day. Trespasses upon
the Imperial prerogatives had greatly helped to
undermine the power of the Fujiwara, the Taira,
and the Hojo. lyeyasu had to provide against
that error in the case of himself and his descend-
ants. He had also to provide that the sovereign
should no longer be a puppet in the hands of
ambitious nobles, and that insurrection against
his own administrative authority should no longer
be able to borrow legitimacy from an enforced
semblance of Imperial sanction. These ends he



compassed by giving, on the one hand, a full
measure of recognition to the divinity of the
Throne's occupant, and by enforcing, on the
other, the logical sequence of that doctrine.
The descendant of the gods must be completely
divested of all executive functions, these passing
absolutely and unquestionably into the hands of
the S/ibgun, who should exercise them without
any reference to the sovereign, accepting, in
return, full responsibility for the public peace
and good order of the country which he thus
undertook to govern. No command of the Em-
peror could have the force of law unless it received
the counter-signature of one of the Stigun's chief
officials. In short, nothing was left to the sov-
ereign except the prerogative of conferring hon-
ours and titles. His seclusion was made more
complete than ever. Progresses, state visits to
shrines, ambassadorial audiences, such things
passed out of His Majesty's existence. The great
territorial magnates were forbidden to visit the
Palace, or even to enter the quarter of Kyoto in
which it stood. The Court nobles might not
intermarry with the families of the military
chieftains unless the permission of the Govern-
ment in Yedo had been obtained. These two
classes were to be kept rigidly distinct. And
never by either the one or the other might the
Emperor's face be viewed. Even when the
ministers of the Court approached the Throne,
they saw nothing of their sovereign except the



obscure outlines of a dark figure seated behind a
semi-transparent curtain. But, though shorn of
temporal power, the Emperor gained in mystical
dignity. He received periodically the profound
homage of the Yedo Regents. From him the
living derived their titles ; the dead their apothe-
osis, and by an Imperial delegate even the SKogun
himself was invested. In the speech of the peo-
ple he was always " the Son of Heaven ; " in their
writings the line where his name figured might
never be invaded by any other ideograph. A
magnificent abstraction, the possibility of his be-
coming involved in any intrigue, voluntarily or
involuntarily, grew more and more remote in
proportion as his godlike dignity obtained fuller
appreciation. That was the end contemplated
by lyeyasu. Against the head of the secular
administration, the Shogun in Yedo, who held
his commission direct from the sovereign, every
insurrection unsanctioned by the Emperor would
be technically rebellion, and every insurgent a
traitor to the Throne. lyeyasu made it virtually
impossible for any one to obtain that sanction or
even to seek it.

Responsible government had never before ex-
isted in Japan, and lyeyasu thus became the
author of the first written constitution. The so-
called constitution of Prince Shotoku in the
seventh century had been only a collection of
moral maxims ; but now a document was drafted
consisting of thirty -five articles, seventeen of



which, bearing the signatures of the Tokugawa
chief and the Regent (Kwampaku) the latter
acting as the sovereign's representative made
provision for everything relating to the Imperial
Court ; and the remaining eighteen, which had
the signature of lyeyasu only, contained general
administrative rules.

Having thus placed the relations of the Sfiogun's
administration and the Imperial Court on a clear
basis, and having secured for the former virtually
autocratic authority while leaving the latter's
dignity nominally undisturbed, lyeyasu took the
map of feudal Japan and reconstructed it. Like
everything really great, his principle of procedure
was simple. Wherever risk could be discerned
of coalitions hostile to his house, he inserted
a wedge formed of his own partisans. Two
hundred and thirty-seven military nobles held
practically the whole of Japan in fief. One
hundred and fifteen of these were Tokugawa
vassals ; men who owed their ranks and estates
to his favour, and on whose fidelity it should
have been possible to rely implicitly. He wove
these two hundred and thirty-seven fiefs into
a pattern such that one of the hundred and fif-
teen loyal threads always had a place between
any two of the remainder whose fealty was
doubtful or their revolt probable. Thus he
bequeathed to his descendants a congeries of
principalities so arranged as to offer automatic
resistance to rebellion or anarchy.



But while he seemed to be organising a feudal
system, lyeyasu made every effort, at the same
time, to paralyse the strength of the feudatories.
Without the Shoguris permission they were for-
bidden to contract marriages, to build castles, to
construct large ships, to make warlike prepara-
tions, or to found temples. A strict veto was
also imposed on the passage of vassals from the
service of one feudatory into that of another, and
it was enacted that each feudal chief must spend
a part of every second year in Yedo, and must
leave his sons there always as hostages for his
own fealty. The provision with regard to
the sons was abolished in the middle of the
seventeenth century, but not until 1862 did the
obligation imposed on the feudatories themselves
undergo any relaxation.

The effect of this system Sankin Kvtai, as it
was called upon the prosperity and embellish-
ment of Yedo, as well as upon the supremacy of
the Tokugawa administration and the allegiance
of the military nobles, is easily conceived. Not
merely were the territorial chiefs thus brought
into constant contact with the head of the gov-
ernment through whose grace they held their
fiefs ; not merely did their attendance in Yedo
constitute a sign of their allegiance, a sign
that could be unerringly interpreted, but Yedo
itself became their capital. There they had to
take their places and preserve their state among
their peers, and the magnificent mansions that



a spirit of rivalry induced them to build, the
brilliant equipages they supported, and the costly
habits they cultivated, not only served as a whole-
some drain on their resources, but also occupied
their attention to the exclusion of politics and
other dangerous topics. It was, indeed, a part
of the Tokugawa chieftain's plan that the accu-
mulation of wealth in the coffers of individuals
should be carefully prevented. In his instruc-
tions for the guidance of his successors he laid
down the principle that, whenever the opulence
of any noble began to attract attention, the task
of carrying out some great public work should
be imposed upon him.

lyeyasu excelled as an organiser. Victory in
arms served him merely as a prelude to organisa-
tion. In that respect he differed from all his
predecessors. They had been content to acquire
power ; his great aim was to consolidate it.
They had sought chiefly to exalt their own
houses ; he sought to place himself at the head
of an organised nation and an organised society.
Yet he does not appear to have entertained any
national ambition. He made peace with Korea
on the easiest terms. He refused to assist the
Ming dynasty against the Manchu invaders. He
struck a fatal blow at maritime enterprise by
causing all large ships to be destroyed, an act
which his grandson, lyemitsu, supplemented by
an ordinance forbidding the construction of sea-
going vessels. He may be said to have inaugu-



rated the policy of hermetically sealing the
country against foreign intercourse, though in
that matter he obeyed the teaching of experience
rather than the suggestion of inclination. His
dying behest to his son and successor showed
that the people occupied a large place in his
thoughts, yet he made no attempt to improve
the condition of the lower orders, being appar-
ently persuaded that poverty and hardship were
their appointed lot. Neither did he devise any
system for rewarding merit, hereditary titles to
office and emolument ranking higher, in his
opinion, than individual qualifications.

It is a curious fact that the most commend-
able of his measures from an ethical point of
view proved the principal means of undermining
the organisation he had so cleverly devised.
Thinking to soften the military spirit of the
age, he bestowed open-handed patronage on
literature and education. But literature in those
days was derived altogether from China.
Japanese scholars saw nothing worthy of study
beyond Confucianism. lyeyasu himself had not
read deeply. Sharing the ignorance which
characterised the military class in his time,
he had no perception of the true spirit of
Confucian and Mencian political philosophy.
He issued an order that primers of the ancient
learning should be procured and studied. The
order was obeyed and the various feudal chiefs
hastened to emulate its spirit, so that the Zen



doctrines of Buddhism, which contributed so
much to the development of the heroic and
the sentimental, and were therefore favourable
to the stability of military feudalism, gradually
gave place to a theory that the only legitimate
ruler was heaven-appointed ; that the good of
the people should be the first object of adminis-
tration, and that to fail in achieving that good
was to forfeit the title of administrator. Before
the Tokugawa chief died he had himself
imbibed something of this philosophy, and it
was perhaps because he foresaw the tendency
of the Chinese learning he had thus encouraged
that, on his death-bed, he enjoined upon his
successor the duty of taking care of the people
before all things. He had unwittingly sown the
seeds of a new revolution.

The continuity of historical repetition is es-
pecially marked in the case of Japan, where the
same influences, undisturbed by any invasion of
foreign ideas, remained in operation from gen-
eration to generation. The families of the Fugi-
wara, the Taira, and the Saionji had each in turn
sought to perpetuate its power by furnishing a
consort for the sovereign. The Tokugawa's im-
pulse was to adopt the same device. A daughter
of the second ShTigun, Hidetada, became Empress.
It is recorded that eleven hundred and eighty
chests were required to carry her trousseau, and
that the costs of her outfit and of her journey to
Kyoto aggregated more than a million pounds

hcnl boO erit to bie srft aaviaoet rljimsbiows


A celebrated swordsmith receives the aid of the God Inari.


A Chinese Monarch celebrating a victory.


sterling, a strange commentary on the doctrine
of economy inculcated continually in the ordi-
nances of the Tokugawa. Yet another point
where the old habits re-asserted themselves was
an attempt to transfer the administrative authority
from its nominal repository, the Stiogun, to his
chief minister, and the traditional analogy was
completed by the intrusion of feminine intrigue
into the drama. Hidetada's wife a sister of
the TaiKo's celebrated mistress, Yodo, whose
heroic defence of the Osaka Castle and her pit-
iful death have been spoken of above, bore him
two sons, for the younger of whom she used all
her influence to secure the succession, and the
chief minister having been won over to her cause,
and hoping to become himself the real repository
of power, headed one of the parties into which
the S/iogun's Court became divided. Thus, even
before the death of lyeyasu, his house was threat-
ened with a repetition of the drama enacted pre-
viously in the case of every family that had
climbed to administrative supremacy, a drama
that would doubtless have succeeded in the case
of the Tokugawa also had not lyeyasu emerged
from his retirement to defeat it.

When the boy, lyemitsu, against whom this
plot had been directed, inherited the S/iogunafe,
he proved himself one of the greatest of the
Tokugawa, as well as one of the most masterful.
Assembling all the principal feudal chiefs, he
made to them this speech : " My grandfather

VOL. in. 7 g7


owed much to your assistance when he brought
the Empire under his sway, and my father, re-
membering these things, naturally treated you
rather as guests than as vassals. But my case is
different. I was born to the headship of the
country. I cannot regard you in the same light
as the last Shogun did. My relation to you must
be that of sovereign to subject if good order is to
be preserved. Should any among you find that
relation irksome and desire to reverse it, I am
prepared to decide the issue on the battle-field.
Return to your own provinces and consider the
question." This bold challenge astounded the
assembled feudatories. They remained silent for
a time, until Date Masamune, chief of Sendai
fief, constituted himself spokesman : " We all
bathe in the favour of the Tokugawa. If any
one here entertains a disloyal purpose, I, Masa-
mune, will be the first to attack him." After
that no dissentient voice was raised : the su-
premacy of the Tokugawa became absolute and

lyemitsu carried his conception of adminis-
trative autocracy to such a point that he did not
hesitate to revoke acts of the Emperor. For the
sovereign having bestowed titles and ranks on
certain priests and members of the Imperial
household, the Shogun took back the former and
rescinded the latter on the ground that his en-
dorsement had not been obtained. The Emperor
naturally observed that he might as well vacate



the Throne if he were not permitted to reward
even a monk ; and soon afterwards he did actually
abdicate, after having been obliged to grant audi-
ence to the SKoguns nurse. 1

Thus early in the history of the Tokugawa
administration a collision between the two Courts
of Kyoto and Yedo seemed imminent. But
lyemitsu averted the peril with characteristic
vigour. He repaired to Kyoto with a retinue of
thirty-five thousand men-at-arms, raised the rev-
enue of the Imperial Household from three
thousand koku of rice (about as many sovereigns)
to ten thousand koku y and distributed a hundred
and twenty thousand riyo (appropriately one hun-
dred and ninety-two thousand sovereigns) among
the Court officials. He appears to have real-
ised, even more clearly than his grandfather,
lyeyasu, that the stability of the Shogunate system
depended on the absolutism of its administration,
and it will be seen presently that the system fell
owing to the failure of his successors to follow
his autocratic example.

But however large his conception of govern-
ing authority, he seems to have been, like his
grandfather, entirely without ambition that his
country should figure prominently on the stage
of the world. He made no attempt to take
advantage of the victories won in Siam by his
nationals, Yamada Jinzayemon and Tsuda Mat-
azayemon. He rejected renewed applications for

1 See Appendix, note 24.



assistance from the Ming rulers, then reduced to
the last extremity by the Manchu. He forbade
Japanese subjects to travel abroad under penalty
of death. He interdicted the building of sea-
going ships. He closed the country to all
foreigners except a few Dutchmen, and even
they were not allowed to continue their trade
except on condition of living a life of degraded
ostracism on a little island in Nagasaki harbour.
In short, he arrested Japan's international devel-
opment, which then seemed full of promise, and
he deliberately diverted her from opportunities
that would have opened for her a great career,
had she utilised them boldly.

It is necessary to elaborate this last point ; to
show what were the opportunities upon which
Japan turned her back in the beginning of the
seventeenth century, and to what motives her
suicidal policy is attributable.

When Occidental commerce first invited
Japan's participation, the Japanese merchant
laboured under two signal disqualifications for
engaging in it successfully, inexperience almost
absolute, and a traditional habit of relying on
official tutelage in commercial affairs. He was
accustomed to exchange his staple commodities
at prices fixed by law ; he did not enjoy the
privilege of discriminating between the intrinsic
values of the coins issuing from the mint, but was
required to render blind deference to their super-
scriptions ; his commercial conscience had been



blunted by repeated evidences of the Govern-
ment's financial unscrupulousness ; tradition and
the inflexible rules of caste taught him to place
trade at the lowest point in the scale of human
occupations, and he lived in an essentially mili-
tary age when the business type was out of touch
with its surroundings and had not yet attained
any appreciable development. Observing these
antecedents, the historian is confronted by an
unexpected consequence. He finds that, from
the very outset, Japanese national enterprise
turned quickly into the paths of foreign com-
merce, and that the people exhibited a marked
faculty for engaging with vigour and success in
routes of peaceful trade where countries like
Portugal, Spain, Holland, and England were
then supposed to enjoy a monopoly. Between
the coming of the Portuguese in 1542, and the
closing of Japan to the outer world in 1636, the
Japanese established commercial relations, and
inaugurated a trade of more or less volume, with
no less than twenty foreign markets. The rep-
utation that the island empire subsequently
acquired owing to more than two centuries of
semi-seclusion has hidden these facts from gen-
eral observation, but they are none the less his-
torical. Two things present themselves clearly
to view : first, that there was originally no evi-

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Online LibraryF. (Frank) BrinkleyJapan, its history, arts and literature (Volume 3) → online text (page 6 of 16)