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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

He was often obliged to perform expensive purgation


*The

cho was two and a half acres approximately.

Thus it is seen that a regular system of national taxation was introduced and that the land throughout the whole empire was considered to be the property of the Crown. As for the nobles who were deprived of their estates, sustenance gifts were given to them, but there is no record of the bases upon which these gifts were assessed. With regard to the people's share in the land, the plan pursued was that for every male or female over five years of age two tan (about half an acre) should be given to the former and one-third less to the latter, these grants being made for a period of six years, at the end of which time a general restoration was to be effected. A very striking evidence of the people's condition is that every adult male had to contribute a sword, armour, a bow and arrows, and a drum. This impost may well have outweighed all the others.

SEPULCHRES

Another important reform regulated the dimensions of burial mounds. The construction of these on the grand scale adopted for many sovereigns, princes, and nobles had long harrassed the people, who were compelled to give their toil gratis for such a purpose. What such exactions had entailed may be gathered from Kotoku's edict, which said, "Of late the poverty of our people is absolutely due to the construction of tombs." Nevertheless, he did not undertake to limit the size of Imperial

tombs. The rescript dealt only with those from princes downwards. Of these, the greatest tumulus permitted was a square mound with a side of forty-five feet at the base and a height of twenty-five feet, measured along the slope, a further restriction being that the work must not occupy more than one thousand men for seven days. The maximum dimensions were similarly prescribed in every case, down to a minor official, whose grave must not give employment to more than fifty men for one day. When ordinary people died, it was directed that they should be buried in the ground without a day's delay, and, except in the case of an Emperor or an Empress, the custom of temporary interment was strictly vetoed. Cemeteries were ordered to be constructed for the first time, and peremptory injunctions were issued against self-destruction to accompany the dead; against strangling men or women by way of sacrifice; against killing the deceased's horse, and against cutting the hair or stabbing the thighs by way of showing grief. It must be assumed that all these customs existed.

ABUSES

Other evil practices are incidentally referred to in the context of the Daika reforms. Thus it appears that slaves occasionally left their lawful owners owing to the latter's poverty and entered the service of rich men, who thereafter refused to give them up; that when a divorced wife or concubine married into another family, her former husband, after the lapse of years, often preferred claims against her new husband's property; that men, relying on their power, demanded people's daughters in marriage, and in the event of the girl entering another house, levied heavy toll on both families; that when a widow, of ten or twenty years' standing, married again, or when a girl entered into wedlock, the people of the vicinity insisted on the newly wedded couple performing the Shinto rite of harai (purgation), which was perverted into a device for compelling offerings of goods and wine; that the compulsory performance of this ceremony had become so onerous as to make poor men shrink from giving burial to even their own brothers who had died at a distance from home, or hesitate to extend aid to them in mortal peril, and that when a forced labourer cooked his food by the roadside or borrowed a pot to boil his rice, he was often obliged to perform expensive purgation.


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