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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Konin could not correct this conception


*The

height recorded is five feet eight inches, but as that would be a normal stature, there can be little doubt that "great" (dai) measure is referred to and that the figures indicate six feet nine inches.

RELATIONS WITH KOREA

During the eighth century relations of friendship were once more established with Koma. A Manchurian tribe, migrating from the valley of the Sungali River (then called the Sumo), settled on the east of the modern province of Shengking, and was there joined by a remnant of the Koma subjects after the fall of the latter kingdom. Ultimately receiving investiture at the hands of the Tang Court, the sovereign of the colony took the name of Tsuying, King of Pohai, and his son, Wu-i, sent an envoy to Japan in 727, when Shomu was on the throne. Where the embassy embarked there is no record, but, being blown out of their course, the boats finally made the coast of Dewa, where several of the envoy's suite were killed by the Yemishi. The envoy himself reached Nara safely, and, representing his sovereign as the successor of the Koma dynasty, was hospitably received, the usual interchange of gifts taking place.

Twenty-five years later (752), another envoy arrived. The Empress Koken then reigned at Nara, and her ministers insisted that, in the document presented by the ambassador, Pohai must distinctly occupy towards Japan the relation of vassal to suzerain, such having

been the invariable custom observed by Koma in former times. The difficulty seems to have been met by substituting the name "Koma" for "Pohai," thus, by implication, admitting that the new kingdom held towards Japan the same status as that formerly held by Koma. Throughout the whole of her subsequent intercourse with the Pohai kingdom, intercourse which, though exceedingly fitful, lasted for nearly a century and a half, Japan uniformly insisted upon the maintenance of that attitude.

ENGRAVING: EMPEROR KWAMMU

CHAPTER XVIII

THE HEIAN EPOCH

THE FIFTIETH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR KWAMMU (A.D. 782-805)

JAPANESE history divides itself readily into epochs, and among them not the least sharply defined is the period of 398 years separating the transfer of the Imperial palace from Nara to Kyoto (794) and the establishment of an administrative capital at Kamakura (1192). It is called the Heian epoch, the term "Heian-jo" (Castle of Peace) having been given to Kyoto soon after that city became the residence of the Mikado. The first ruler in the epoch was Kwammu. This monarch, as already shown, was specially selected by his father, Konin, at the instance of Fujiwara Momokawa, who observed in the young prince qualities essential to a ruler of men. Whether Kwammu's career as Emperor reached the full standard of his promise as prince, historians are not agreed.

Konin receives a larger meed of praise. His reforms of local abuses showed at once courage and zeal But he did not reach the root of the evil, nor did his son Kwammu, though in the matter of intention and ardour there was nothing to choose between the two. The basic trouble was arbitrary and unjust oppression of the lower classes by the upper. These latter, probably educated in part by the be system, which tended to reduce the worker with his hands to a position of marked subservience, had learned to regard their own hereditary privileges as practically unlimited, and to conclude that well nigh any measure of forced labour was due to them from their inferiors. Konin could not correct this conception, and neither could Kwammu. Indeed, in the latter's case, the Throne was specially disqualified as a source of remonstrance, for the sovereign himself had to make extravagant demands upon the working classes on account of the transfer of the capital from Nara to Kyoto. Thus, although Kwammu's warnings and exhortations were earnest, and his dismissals and degradations of provincial officials frequent, he failed to achieve anything radical.


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