CHAPTER VIII. THE WELDING OF THE NATION. THE POLITICAL DISINTEGRATION OF THE COUNTRY
A WAR with a foreign power or powers is generally a very efficient factor in history, conducing to the unification of a nation, especially when that nation is composed of more than one race. The German Empire, which was consolidated mainly by virtue of the war of 1864, 1866, and 1870- 1871, is one of the most exemplary instances. Japan, being surrounded by sea on all sides, has had more advantages than any continental country in moulding into one all the racial elements which happened to find their way into the insular pale. These are the very same advantages which Great Britain has enjoyed in Europe. We should have been able, perhaps, without any coercion from without, to become a solid nation by the sole operation of geographical causes. If we had been left, however, to the mercy of influences of those kinds only, then we might have been obliged to wait for long years in order to see the nation welded, for in respect of the complexity of racial composition, Japan cannot be said to be inferior to any national state in either hemisphere. To facilitate the national consolidation, therefore, the force acting from without was most welcome for us.
Of wars serviceable to such an end, however, there had been very scanty chances offered to us. Though the wars against the Ainu had continued much longer than is apt to be imagined by modern Japanese, and had made their influence felt in bringing about the consolidation of the Japanese as a nation, the spasmodic insurrections of the aboriginies were but flickerings of cinders about to die out. For several centuries the Ainu had been a race destined only to wane irrevocably more and more, so that no serious danger was to be feared from that quarter. Outside of the Ainu, no other foreign people dared for a long time to invade us on so large a scale as to cause any serious damage.
As regards China, the dynasty of the Sung, which began to reign over the empire in the year 960, had been constantly harassed by the incursions of various northern tribes. After an existence of a century and a half, the greater portion of northern China was bereft of the dynasty by the Chin, a state founded by a Tartar tribe called the Churche. The Chin, however, was in turn overthrown in the year 1234 by the Mongols, another nomadic tribe, which rose in the rear of the latter state. Within a half century from that, the Chinese dynasty of the Sung, which had been long gasping in the south, drew its last breath under pressure of the same Mongols that founded the Empire of the Yuan.
From China, therefore, in the state it had been, we had nothing to fear. As to the Korean peninsula, which had come under the influence of China at the time of the T'ang dynasty, the state founded there by the inhabitants was enabled now to breathe freely on account of the anarchical condition of the suzerain state. Though Kokuri and Kutara had, in spite of our assistance, been both destroyed by the army of the T'ang, Shiragi, which had been left unmolested by the T'ang as a half independent ally, conquered the greater part of the peninsula, and the people of that state, frequently pillaged our western coasts. This Shiragi surrendered at the beginning of the tenth century to Korea, a new state which arose in the north of the peninsula. The relations of the new Korea with our country were on the whole very peaceful, except for some interruptions caused by the incursions of the pirates from that country on our coast at the end of the same century.
Besides the Koreans, there were many tribes inhabiting the north and the east of Korea and along the coast of the Sea of Japan, which made themselves independent of China one after the other, though all the states founded by them had but an ephemeral existence. Some of those minor states kept up a very cordial intercourse with our country, while others acted in a contrary way. Among the latter may be counted the pirates from Toi, that is to say, from the region of a Churche tribe, though the real home of this throng of sea- thieves has not yet been identified with any exactness, pirates who devastated the island of Iki and the northern coast of Kyushu with a fleet consisting of more than fifty ships. This took place in the year 1019, and the repulse of this piratical attack was the last military exploit of the Fujiwara nobles.
After that complete tranquillity reigned in our western quarter for more than two centuries and a half until the first Mongolian invasion of 1274. Hitherto, to repel the inroads of priates, the forces which could be set in motion in the western provinces only, had proved to be more than sufficient for the purpose. Against the first Mongolian invasion also, the retainers of the Shogun in the western provinces only were mobilised as usual by command from Kamakura. The battle scenes of the war were described by one of the warriors who took part in it, and painted by a contemporary master on a scroll, which has come down in good preservation to our day, and now forms one of the imperial treasures to be handed on to prosperity. The expeditionary fleet of the Yuan consisted of more than nine hundred ships, with 15,000 Mongols and Chinese and 8,000 Koreans on board, besides 6,700 of the crews, so that it was too overwhelming in numbers even for our valiant soldiers to fight against with some hope of victory. It was not by the valour of our soldiers alone, therefore, that the invasion was frustrated. The elements, the turbulent wind and wave, did virtually more than mere human efforts could have achieved in destroying the formidable enemy's ships.
Irritated at this failure of the first expedition, Khubilai, the Emperor of Yuan, immediately ordered the preparation of another expedition on a far larger scale. The second invasion of Japan was undertaken at last in the 1281, after an interval of seven years. This time the invading forces far outnumbered those of the first expedition, totalling more than one hundred thousand in all. On the other hand, the forces which the Shogunate could raise in the western provinces only proved this time plainly inadequate. Seeing this, Tokimune Hôjô, who was the virtual master of the Shogunate, mobilised the retainers in the eastern provinces too, and sent them to the battlefield in Kyushu. A fierce battle was fought on the shore near Hakata. Our soldiers made a desperate effort to prevent the landing of the enemy's troops, contending inch by inch against fearful odds, so that the Mongols could not complete their disembarkment, before a hurricane suddenly arose that swept away at least two-thirds of their men and ships. A lasting check was thus put upon the expansion of the triumphant Mongols on the east, just forty years after the battle of Liegnitz in Silesia had been fought successfully by the Teutonic nobles on the west against the same foe.
Though the frustration of the two Mongolian attempts upon our country should rather be attributed to the intervention of elemental forces which worked at very propitious opportunities, than to the bravery of our warriors, it cannot be disputed that they fought to their utmost, so that it would be derogatory to the military honour of our forefathers, if we supposed that nothing worth mentioning was achieved by them at all. In any case, the annihilation of the Mongolian fleet by us is an historical feat which might be considered together with the defeat of the Invincible Armada by the English three centuries later. In both countries the memorable victory was due to the dauntless courage of the warriors engaged in the battle, and the firm attitude of the person who stood then at the helm of the state. In Japan, Tokimune did not lend his ears to the milder counsels of the shrewder diplomatists at the court of Kyoto.
What is more noteworthy, however, than anything else in this war was not the bravery of our forefathers, but the fact that men recruited from the eastern as well as from the western provinces of the empire fought for the first time side by side against the foreign invaders. Such a coöperation of the people from all quarters of Japan in defence of the country was not a sight which could have been witnessed before the establishment of the military régime, for until that time the unification of the Empire had not extended to the northern extremity of Honto, and for ninety years after the inauguration of the Shogunate at Kamakura, there had been no occasion for our warriors to try their fortune in arms against any foreign enemy. Now the Japanese were induced for the first time to feel the necessity for national solidarity, only because enterprising Khubilai dared to attack the island empire, which would have done no harm to him if he had left it unmolested, and would have added very little to his already overgrown empire, if he had succeeded in his adventurous expedition. It may be perhaps exaggerating a little to call this war a national undertaking on our part when we consider the small number of men engaged in it. The retainers of the Shogunate, however, who were the representatives of the Japanese of that time, all hurried to the northern coast of Kyushu, even from the remotest part of the empire, in order to defend their country against their common foe. The peculiar custom of intimidating children to stop their crying, by reminding them of the Mongolian invasion, an obsolescent custom which has existed even in the northernmost region of Honto, shows how thoroughly and deeply the Mongol scare shook the whole empire, and left its indelible impress on the nation as a whole. The first beat of the pulse of a national enthusiasm has thus become audible.
If this feeling of national solidarity had gone deep into the consciousness of the people, and had continued steadily increasing without relaxation, then it might have done considerable good in facilitating the wholesome organisation of our national state. Viewed from this point, it must be considered rather a misfortune to our country that the terrible enemy was too easily put to rout. The pressure once removed, men no more troubled themselves about the need for solidarity. Nay, the war itself sowed the seeds of discontent among the warriors engaged, on account of the incapacity of the Shogunate to recompense them amply for their services. Already after the civil war of the Jôkyu era, the military government of Kamakura had been reduced to a straitened condition, for what it could get by the confiscation of the properties of the vanquished proved insufficient to provide the rewards for the faithful followers of the Shogunate. In the war with the Mongols, there was no enemy within the country from whom land could be confiscated. Nevertheless those warrors had to be rewarded with grants of land only, which the Shogunate could find nowhere. If the private moral bond, which had linked the retainers with the Shogun at the time of Yoritomo, could long continue in the state it had been, the Shogunate could have sometimes expected from them service without recompense. The military government, with the Hôjô family as its real master, however, could not likewise exact gratuitous service from them. The relation between the Shogunate and its retainers became too public and formal for this.
Those who were appointed as djito by Yoritomo at the beginning of the Shogunate had all been retainers of the Minamoto family from the first. Though they discharged the duties of military police within their respective manors as if they were public officials, yet their private character far outweighed their public semblance. As the Shogunate gradually took the form of a regular government, this private and personal bond between the Shogun and his retainers grew weaker, and the public character of the djito began to predominate. This was especially the case after the virtual management of the Shogunate fell into the hands of the Hôjô family. It is true that those retainers still called themselves the go-kenin, or the domestics of the Shogun of Kamakura. The later Shogun, however, sprung from the Fujiwara family or of blood imperial, and could not demand the same obedience which Yoritomo had found easy to obtain from his hereditary vassals. In effect, the Shogunate reserved to the end the right of giving sanction as regards the inheritance of the office of djito, but the exercise of the reserved right was generally nominal. A djito could appoint as his successor either his wife or any of his children, or could divide his official tenure among many inheritors. No Salic law and no law of primogeniture yet existed in Japan of the Kamakura period, so that, besides many djito who were incapable of discharging the military duties in person on account of sex or age, there were to be found eventually a great number of djito, whose official tenure covered a very small patch of ricefield, so small that it was too narrow to exercise any jurisdiction within it! Moreover, men of utterly unwarlike professions like priests, and corporations such as Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, were also entitled to succeed to the inheritance of the office of djito, if only it were bequeathed to them by a lawful will. In these cases, where the rightful djito could not officiate in person, a lieutenant, private in character, used to be appointed. Those lieutenants, however, not being publicly responsible to the Shogun, behaved very arbitrarily. That was a breach severely felt in the military system of the Shogunate.
The worst evil of all was that the Shogunate, which should have been an office for household affairs and the camp of the Shogun, was gradually turned into a princely court. Those warriors who did valiant service under Yoritomo in establishing the Shogunate had been in a great measure illiterate, so that only with great difficulty could the Shogun find a secretary among his retainers. As the organisation of the military government approached completion, the need of a literary education on the part of the warriors increased accordingly. Such an education, the source of which, however, was not to be sought at that time out of Kyoto, could hardly be introduced into Kamakura without being accompanied by other elements of the metropolitan civilisation represented by the Fujiwara nobles. The installation of a scion of the Fujiwara and of princes of the blood imperial into the Shogunate facilitated the permeation of the Kyoto culture, which by its nature was too refined to suit congenially men of military profession. The bodyguard of the Shogun began to be chosen from warriors whose demeanor was the most courtierlike, and one of the accomplishments necessary was the ability to compose short poems. Such a condition of the Shogunate could not fail to estrange those retainers who did not live habitually in Kamakura, and were, therefore, not yet tainted with the effeminacy of a courtier's life. The main support, on whom the Shogun should have been able to depend in time of stress, became thus unreliable. At this juncture an Ainu insurrećtion, which was the last recorded in our history, broke out in the year 1322, and continued till the downfall of the Kamakura Shogunate. It was by this insurrection that the tottering edifice of the military government was finally shaken, instantly leading to its catastrophe.
The force which gave the finishing stroke to the Shogun's power and prestige came, as had long been expected, from Kyoto. Inversely as the warriors of Kamakura had been turned to pseudocourtiers, the court-nobles of Kyoto had become tainted by the militaristic temperament of the Kamakura warriors. The training in archery, the dog-shooting in an enclosure, which was considered a specially good training for a real battle, and many other martial pastimes became the fashion among the Kyoto nobles, as it had been among warriors. After their defeat in the civil war of the Jôkyu, they felt more keenly than before the magnitude of their power lost to Kamakura, and became the more discontented. Moreover, from the four corners of the empire the malcontents against the Hôjô family flocked to Kyoto, and persuaded the already disaffected courtiers, to attempt the restoration of the real command of the government to themselves. The Shogunate, having been apprised of the plot, tried to suppress it in time by force, but was unable to strike at the root of the evil, for the recalcitrants rose against the Hôjô one after another. On the other hand, those retainers who would have willingly died for a Shogun of the Minamoto family did not like to stake their lives on behalf of the Hôjô. Kamakura was at last taken by a handful of warriors from the neighbouring provinces led by a chieftain of one of the branch families of the Minamoto. The last of the Hôjô committed suicide, and with the downfall of the family, the Shogunate of Kamakura broke down. This happened in the year 1334. The real power of the state was restored to Kyoto in the name of the Emperor Go-Daigo.
The courtiers of Kyoto rejoiced in the thought that they could now conduct themselves as the true masters of Japan, but they were instantly disillusioned. Those warriors who had assisted them in the restoration of their former power, would not allow the courtiers to have the lion's share of the booty. Supported by a multitude of such dissatisfied soldiery, Takauji Ashikaga, another scion of the Minamoto, made himself the real master of the situation, and was appointed Shogun. Though once defeated by the army of his opponents at Kyoto, he was soon enabled to raise a large host in the western provinces, where, since the Mongolian invasion, the majority of the warriors thirsted for the change more than in other provinces, and he captured the metropolis. His opponents, however, continued their resistance in various parts of the empire. The courtiers, too, were divided into two parties, and the majority sided with the stronger, that is to say, with the Ashikaga family. At the same time the imperial family was divided into two. Thus the civil war, which strongly resembled the War of the Roses, ensued and raged all over the provinces for about fifty-six years, until the two parties were reconciled at last in the year 1392. In this way the whole of the empire came again under one military régime, and for about two centuries, the family of the Ashikaga continued at the head of the new Shogunate.
The new Shogunate was established at Kyoto, instead of Kamakura, which became now the seat of a lieutenancy, administered by a branch of the Ashikaga, and therefore reduced in political importance. This change of the seat of the military government is a matter of great moment in the history of our country. One of the several reasons which may be assigned for the change, was that the supporters of the Ashikaga were not limited to the warriors of the eastern provinces, as they had been with the Kamakura Shogunate. Takauji owed his ultimate success rather to the soldiers from the western provinces, so that Kyoto suited far better as the centre of his new military régime than Kamakura.
Another reason which the Ashikaga Shogunate had in view in changing its seat, was that a great apprehension which had been entertained by the former Shogunate, would thereby cease. One of the anxieties which had harassed the government of Kamakura constantly had been the fear that it might one day be overthrown by attack from Kyoto. To provide against the danger a resident lieutenant,-afterwards increased to two, -a member of the family of Hôjô, was stationed at Kyoto. The function of these lieutenants was to look out for the interests of the Shogunate at Kyoto, and at the same time to superintend the retainers in the western provinces. Besides, being two in number, these lieutenants watched each other closely, so that it was impossible for either of them to try to make himself independent of Kamakura. This system worked excellently for a time, but was ultimately unable to save the declining Shogunate. By shifting the seat of the military government to Kyoto itself, this anxiety might now be removed.
The greatest profit, however, which accrued to the Shogunate by the change of its government seat, was that one could facilitate the achievement of the political concentration of the empire, by making it coincide with the centre of civilisation. If the Shogunate of Kamakura could keep, with its political power, its original fresh spirit, which had remained latent during the long régime of the courtiers and begun suddenly to develop itself along with the establishment of the military government, the result would have been not only the prolonging of the duration of the Shogunate, but the full blossoming of a healthy and unenervated culture, and Kamakura might have become the political as well as the cultural centre of the empire. The history of our country, however, was not destined to run in that way. The time-honoured civilisation, which had been nurtured at Kyoto since many centuries, was, though of exotic origin, in itself a highly finished one. Notwithstanding its effeminacy, it had its own peculiar charm, which ranked in perfection far above the naïve culture of Kamakura, the latter being too rough and new, however refreshing. Those Buddhist priests who had once hoped to make Kamakura the centre of their new religious movement, found at last that unless they secured a firm foothold in the old metropolis, nothing permanent could be attained. The missionary campaign of the various reformed sects had been undertaken with renewed vigour at Kyoto since the end of the thirteenth century. In other words, the enervation of the Kamakura Shogunate disappointed those torch-bearers of the new civilisation, who might perhaps have expected too much from the political power of the military government established there. Thus the Shogunate of Kamakura had lost its raison d'être, before other factors of civilisation, such as art and literature, had time to develop themselves there independent of those of Kyoto, so as to suit the new spirit of the new age, that is to say, before the Shogunate could accomplish its cultural mission in the history of Japan. The culture of Kyoto proved itself to be omnipotent as ever.
Regarded in this manner, the return of the governmental seat to Kyoto had a great advantage. The new Shogunate, having located its centre in the same historical place where the classical civilisation of Japan had had its cradle also, its military and political organisation could work hand in hand with the social and cultural movement. The prestige of the Shogun was bedecked with a brighter halo than when Kamakura had been the seat of his government. The change, however, was accompanied with invidious results, ruinous not only to the Shogunate, but to the political integrity of the country at large.
After having experienced the vicissitudes of a long civil war, the courtiers became convinced that they could not overthrow by any means the military régime, which had already taken deep root in the social structure of our country. So they began to think that it was wiser for them to make use of that military power than to try any abortive attempts against it. They heaped, therefore, on the successive Shoguns of the Ashikaga family titles of high-sounding honour, much higher than those with which the Shoguns of Kamakura had been invested. In the imperial palace, too, special deference was paid to the Shogun. Such a rise in the court-rank of the Shogun induced his retainers to vie with one another in obtaining some official rank of distinction in the courtiers' hierarchical scale. Those who belonged to the higher classes among them, though they were mostly the shugo or military governors of one or more provinces, used to spend a greater part of their time at Kyoto, on account of holding some civil office in the government of the Shogun, and lived in a very aristocratic way, which was easy and indolent, that is to say, not much different from that of the courtiers. There were many social meetings, in which both courtiers and warriors participated together, and the object of these meetings mostly consisted in enjoying various kinds of literary pastimes, among which the commonest was a trick in versification called renga, that is to say, the composing by turns of a line of an unfinished poem, which should form a sequence to the preceding and at the same time become the prologue to the next. Through manifold channels of this and the like kinds of amusements, a very intimate relation between the two classes was cemented. The refinement of the courtiers' circle, though somewhat vulgarised compared with that of the previous period, freely penetrated into the families of the rough soldiery. Marriages between members of the two classes also took place frequently, by which the courtiers gained materially, while the soldiers could thereby assuage the uneasiness of their parvenu-consciousness. A new social life thus sprang up.
Among the two parties, which were reconciled in this way, that which profited the more by it, was of course the courtiers. Although the income from their manors, to which they were entitled as proprietors de jure, might have become less in comparison with that of the age anterior to the establishment of the Kamakura Shogunate, yet they were now relieved of all the troubles which might have beset them had they remained holding the real power of the state. Having relinquished their political ambitions and shifted all the cares of the state and military affairs upon the shoulders of the Shogunate, they became utterly irresponsible, could breathe freely and enjoy their idle hours not in the least disturbed. On the other hand, the militarists, having found that it was no longer necessary to circumscribe the privileges of the courtiers still more narrowly than before, forgot that ultimately their interests must necessarily collide in principle with those of the latter. What were contradictory at bottom seemed to them practically reconcilable. The Shogunate thought that it was its duty to uphold the interests of the courtiers by its military power, a task which was soon found to be impossible. On account of the weakness of the central government, disorder ruled in Kyoto and in the provinces as well, and paved the way for the political disintegration of the whole empire. To explain the political phenomena I must turn for a while to the relations between the shugo, the military governors of provinces, and the djito under their protection.
In the time of the Kamakura Shogunate, as aforesaid, each province had a military governor, called the shugo, appointed by the Shogun. The shugo, himself a djito, and a very influential one of that class, served as an intermediate commander in transmitting to the djito under him the military instructions which he had received from Kamakura. He was, therefore, nothing else but a marshal of all the djito within that province. There existed no relation of vassalage between him and the djito under his military jurisdiction. The latter remained to the end the direct vassals of the Shogunate at Kamakura, and only as regards the military organisation were subordinated to the shugo. The office of the shugo was not the hereditary possession of any family, so that the Shogun could nominate any djito to be shugo of any province at his pleasure, without fear of disturbing thereby the personal relation between him and his retainers in that province. In some respects this relation resembled that of the English king and the barons, who swore, besides their oath of fealty to a higher noble as their liege lord, direct allegiance to their king. As long as the line of Yoritomo, therefore, continued as hereditary Shogun, the Shogunate could depend on the fidelity of those djito, who were but the household vassals of the Minamoto family, and by this personal tie keep the political unity of the country infrangible.
After the extinction of the Minamoto family, the Shogun who succeeded one after another had no hereditary nor personal relations with those djito, and could claim no more than the official prestige of the Shogun allowed them to do. As to the Hôjô family, though the real power of the Shogunate was in its hands, originally it was no higher in rank than the djito, and could not, in its own name, command obedience from any of the Shogun's retainers. There is some similarity between the organisation of the time of the Kamakura Shogunate in this second phase and the "Kreis" institution of the German empire in the fifteenth century, which was initiated with the object of political concentration by Maximilian I., whose real power lay in his being a duke of Austria, and not Emperor of Germany. However admirable as an organisation, such a political status was undoubtedly untenable. No wonder that the military régime of Kamakura gradually collapsed.
The relation of shugo and djito in the time of the Ashikaga was quite of a different sort from that in the former Shogunate. The office of shugo became now the hereditary possession of certain privileged families, which constituted a body of higher warriors, towering above the common djito. The shugo stood in the position of protector to all the djito of the province he governed, and those djito who stood under a shugo were designated his "hikwan" or protégés. The relation of vassalage arose thus between the shugo and the djito in the same province, a legal status which had not existed in the Kamakura period. The direct relation between the common djito and the Shogun, which was the main spring of the political régime of the Kamakura era, was now cut off. No doubt the shugo in the Ashikaga period had in their provinces, besides their suzerainty over the djito, the tenure of certain tracts of land, as in the days of Kamakura. The great difference between them, however, was that in the Kamakura era a retainer of the Shogun was first installed as a djito of a manor, and then appointed shugo, while in the Ashikaga age the land which the shugo held directly was his demesne as shugo and not the land held as a retainer of the Shogun at Kyoto, independent of his office of shugo. To sum up, the shugo of the Ashikaga period was not a mere office, as in the days of Kamakura, but a legal status of the warriors ranking next to the Shogun. As the result of such an organisation each province or group of provinces under a shugo became a political entity, while it had been but a military entity in the Kamakura era. If the Shogun at Kyoto, therefore, had been strong enough to enforce his will over all the shugo of the provinces, then the political unity of the country at large could safely continue in the hands of the Ashikaga.
The Shogunate of the Ashikaga, however, had not been originally so formulated as to enable it to impose implicit obedience on all the higher military officials of the shugo class. For this family, though a branch of the Minamoto, had nothing in its history that could attract, as Yoritomo did, a vast number of willing warriors to serve under its banner. That Takauji was promoted to the headship of the second military government was largely due to the assistance of the warriors from various parts of the empire who were not personally related to his family, but were disaffected at seeing the power of the courtiers restored, neither was it by any means to be attributed to his personal capacity, which was rather mediocre both as general and as statesman. This origin of the Ashikaga family, therefore, made it difficult from the first for the Shogun of the line to curb the arrogance of his influential generals.
Insurrection against the Shogunate followed one after another, so that no year passed without some small disturbance somewhere.
This state culminated in the civil war begun in the Ohnin era, that is to say, in 1467. The war had its origin in the quarrel about the succession to the Shogunate between the son and the adopted son, in reality the younger brother, of the Shogun Yoshimasa. This family question of the Ashikaga became mixed up with other quarrels about the succession in two of the influential military families, Shiba and Hatakeyama. Other shugo of various provinces sided with this or that party, brought their liege-men to Kyoto, and turned the streets of the metropolis into a battle-field. Thus the most desultory civil war in our history was waged under the eyes of the Emperor and of the Shogun, neither of whom had any power to stop it. After the burning, plundering, and killing, carried on most ruthlessly for nine years, the street-fighting in Kyoto ceased, leaving almost no trace of the historical city of yore. The scenes of anarchy were then transferred to the provinces, and it took many years before the whole country became pacified. Nay, complete peace was not restored till the fall of the Ashikaga Shogunate itself. Such was one phase of the political disintegration of the age, and its result was that Japan was torn asunder into a number of semi-independent bodies, each with a shugo at its head.
If the process of the political decomposition of the state had been limited to what is described above, then peace might have reigned at least within each of those bodies. Unfortunately, however, for the welfare of the people, none of these shugo was strong enough to keep order even within his own sphere of military jurisdiction. Most of them had lost their military character, having become accustomed to life in the capital, as stated above, and they left the care of their respective provinces in the hands of their protégés, men who soon made themselves independent of their patrons, so that there arose a number of minor political bodies in the jurisdiction of each shugo. Again these protégés, that is to say, the heads of the minor political bodies, were put down in turn by their vassals, and so forth. Moreover, some of these minor bodies were further divided into still smaller bodies, while others became aggrandised by annexation by the stronger of neighboring weaker ones. In this way Japan fell into a state of chaos, being an agglomeration of political bodies of various sizes, with masters ever changing, and with frontiers constantly shifting without any reference to the former administrative boundaries. This second phase completed the total disintegration of the empire.
The last of the Shoguns who tried to stem this irresistible tendency to disintegration was Yoshihisa, the son of Yoshimasa. His succession to his father, as has already been described, was the cause of the civil war of the Ohnin era, for which, however, he was not responsible in the least, being only eight years old when he was invested with the Shogunate in the year 1473. He grew up, however, to be the most typical Shogun of all the Ashikaga. Though born in the highest of the military families, he had as his mother a daughter of a court-noble, and was educated in his boyhood by Kanera Ichijô, one of the most learned courtiers of the time. When Yoshihisa reached manhood, therefore, he was a courtier clad in military garments. He thought and acted as if he were a high Fujiwara noble, and even had his household managed by a courtier. Through this confidant, the proprietors de jure of manors, that is to say, courtiers, shrines, and temples, clung to the young Shogun, and pressed him to coerce, on their behalf, those arbitrary shugo and minor captains who dared impudently to appropriate the whole of the revenue from those manors to themselves, so that the share due to these proprietors de jure had been kept in arrears for many years. The Shogun was easily persuaded, and Takayori Sasaki, the shugo of the province of Ohmi, was first chosen as the object of chastisement, for his province was the nearest to Kyoto and abounded in those manors belonging to the courtiers and the like. It was in the year 1487 that Yoshihisa in person led a punitive expedition into Ohmi, crossed lake Biwa, and pitched his camp on its eastern shore. Contemporary chronicles unanimously describe in vivid colours how the gallant and refined young prince, clad in bright military costume, marched out of Kyoto surrounded by a bizarre host of warriors and courtiers. The latter group, however, did not count for aught in warfare, while the former followed the Shogun only halfheartedly. It was especially so with those shugo who were of the same caste and of the same status as the attacked, and therefore did not like to see him crushed in the interest of the de jure but fainéant proprietors. The victory of the army of the Shogun was hopeless from the first. After staying two years in camp Yoshihisa died without being able to see his enemy vanquished. One of his cousins, who succeeded to the Shogunate, renewed the expedition, and at last ousted the disobedient shugo from his province, but the proprietors de jure of the manors could not regain their lost rights, what was due to them having been usurped by other new pretenders, not less arbitrary than their predecessors.
The expedition of Yoshihisa was an epochmaking event in the history of our country. To support by military power the courtiers, whose cup had already begun to run over and whose interests could not be always consistent with the welfare of the Shogunate, was evidently a quixotic attempt. Still it cannot be disputed that Yoshihisa fought at least for an ideal, however unrealisable it might have been. He reminds us of the scions of the Hohenstaufen who fought in Italy for the imperial ideal traditional in their family. The failure of the expedition into Ohmi meant the utter impossibility of the restoration of the courtiers' prestige and the approach of the total disappearance of the manorial system from the islands of Japan. This is a mighty economical change for the empire, the importance of which could not be overvalued. The old régime initiated by the reform of the Taikwa was going down to its grave, and new Japan was beginning to dawn side by side with the momentous political disintegration of the country. We see, indeed, simultaneous with this political and economical change, the transformation of various factors of civilisation, preparing themselves for the coming age. The first turning of the wheel of history, however, depended on the political regeneration of the country by a master-hand.