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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

And when Heijo ascended the throne


THE

FIFTY-FIRST SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR HEIJO (A.D. 806-809)

Heijo, the fifty-first sovereign, was the eldest son of Kwammu. The latter, warned by the distress that his own great expenditures on account of the new capital had produced, and fully sensible of the abuses practised by the provincial officials, urged upon the Crown Prince the imperative necessity of retrenchment, and Heijo, on ascending the throne, showed much resolution in discharging superfluous officials, curtailing all unneeded outlays, and simplifying administrative procedure. But physical weakness--he was a confirmed invalid--and the influence of an ambitious woman wrecked his career. While still Crown Prince, he fixed his affections on Kusu, daughter of Fujiwara Tanetsugu, who had been assassinated by Prince Sagara during Kwammu's reign, and when Heijo ascended the throne, this lady's influence made itself felt within and without the palace, while her brother, Nakanari, a haughty, headstrong man, trading on his relationship to her, usurped almost Imperial authority.

Heijo's ill-health, however, compelled him to abdicate after a reign of only three years. He retired to the old palace at Nara, entrusting the sceptre to his brother, Saga. This step was profoundly disappointing to Kusu and her brother. The former aimed at becoming Empress--she possessed only the title of consort--and Fujiwara Nakanari looked for the post of prime minister. They persuaded

the ex-Emperor to intimate a desire of reascending the throne. Saga acquiesced and would have handed over the sceptre, but at the eleventh hour, Heijo's conscientious scruples, or his prudence, caused a delay, whereupon Kusu and her brother, becoming desperate, publicly proclaimed that Heijo wished to transfer the capital to Nara. Before they could consummate this programme, however, Saga secured the assistance of Tamuramaro, famous as the conqueror of the Yemishi, and by his aid Fujiwara Nakanari was seized and thrown into prison, the lady Kusu being deprived of her rank as consort and condemned to be banished from Court. Heijo might have bowed to Nakanari's fate, but Kusu's sentence of degradation and exile overtaxed his patience. He raised an army and attempted to move to the eastern provinces. In Mino, his route was intercepted by a force under Tamuramaro, and the ex-Emperor's troops being shattered, no recourse offered except to retreat to Nara. Then the Jo-o (Heijo) took the tonsure, and his consort Kusu committed suicide. Those who had rallied to the ex-Emperor's standard were banished.

THE FIRST JAPANESE THAT ENTERED INDIA

When Heijo ceded the throne to Saga, the former's son, Takaoka, was nominated Crown Prince, though Saga had sons of his own. Evidently that step was taken for the purpose of averting precisely such incidents as those subsequently precipitated by the conspiracy to restore Heijo. Therefore on the day following Heijo's adoption of the tonsure, Takaoka was deprived of his rank.* Entering the priesthood, he called himself Shinnyo, retired to Higashi-dera and studied the doctrine of the True Word (Shingori). In 836, he proceeded to China to prosecute his religious researches, and ultimately made his way to India (in his eighty-first year), where he was killed by a tiger in the district now known as the Laos States of Siam. This prince is believed to have been the first Japanese that travelled to India. His father, the ex-Emperor Heijo, was a student of the same Buddhist doctrine (Shingon) and received instruction in it from Kukai. Heijo died in 824, at the age of fifty-one.


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