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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

But the prince's procedure was largely regulated by Kamatari


*Only

three earthquakes are recorded up to the year A.D. 645, and the second alone (A.D. 599) is described as destructive.

**This was a Chinese custom, as was also the sacrificial rite mentioned in the same context.

Such an incident cannot have contributed to popularize the Indian creed. The people at large adhered to their traditional cult and were easily swayed by superstitions. The first half of the seventh century was marked by abnormal occurrences well calculated to disturb men's minds. There were comets (twice); there was a meteor of large dimensions; there were eclipses of the sun and moon; there were occultations of Venus; there was snow in July and hail "as large as peaches" in May, and there was a famine (621) when old people ate roots of herbs and died by the wayside, when infants at the breast perished with their mothers, and when thieves and robbers defied authority. It is not, perhaps, surprising in such circumstances, and when witches and wizards abounded, that people fell into strange moods, and were persuaded to regard a caterpillar as the "insect of the everlasting world," to worship it, and to throw away their valuables in the belief that riches and perpetual youth would be thus won. A miyatsuko, by name Kawakatsu, had the courage to kill the designing preacher of this extravagance, and the moral epidemic was thus stayed.

ENGRAVING: ONE OF THE STATUES OF "SHITENNO"

IN THE KAIDAN-IN, TODAIJI (Tembyo Sculpture, Eighth Century)

ENGRAVING: UTENSILS USED IN THE TEA CEREMONY (CHA-NO-YU)

CHAPTER XV

THE DAIKA REFORMS

THE THIRTY-SIXTH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR KOTOKU (A.D. 645-654)

AFTER the fall of the Soga and the abdication of the Empress Kogyoku, her son, Prince Naka, would have been the natural successor, and such was her own expressed wish. But the prince's procedure was largely regulated by Kamatari, who, alike in the prelude and in the sequel of this crisis, proved himself one of the greatest statesmen Japan ever produced. He saw that the Soga influence, though broken, was not wholly shattered, and he understood that the great administrative reform which he contemplated might be imperilled were the throne immediately occupied by a prince on whose hands the blood of the Soga chief was still warm. Therefore he advised Prince Naka to stand aside in favour of his maternal uncle, Prince Karu, who could be trusted to co-operate loyally in the work of reform and whose connexion with the Soga overthrow had been less conspicuous. But to reach Prince Karu it was necessary to pass over the head of another prince, Furubito, Naka's half-brother, who had the full sympathy of the remnant of the Soga clan, his mother having been a daughter of the great Umako. The throne was therefore offered to him. But since the offer followed, instead of preceding the Empress' approval of Prince Karu, Furubito recognized the farce, and knowing that, though he might rule in defiance of the Kamatari faction, he could not hope to rule with its consent, he threw away his sword and declared his intention of entering religion.

Very soon the Buddhist monastery at Yoshino, where he received the tonsure, became a rallying point for the Soga partisans, and a war for the succession seemed imminent. Naka, however, now Prince Imperial, was not a man to dally with such obstacles. He promptly sent to Yoshino a force of soldiers who killed Furubito with his children and permitted his consorts to strangle themselves. Prince Naka's name must go down to all generations as that of a great reformer, but it is also associated with a terrible injustice. Too readily crediting a slanderous charge brought against his father-in-law, Kurayamada, who had stood at his right hand in the great coup d'etat of 645, he despatched a force to seize the alleged traitor. Kurayamada fled to a temple, and there, declaring that he would "leave the world, still cherishing fidelity in his bosom," he committed suicide, his wife and seven children sharing his fate. Subsequent examination of his effects established his innocence, and his daughter, consort of Prince Naka, died of grief.


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