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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

When Junna laid down the sceptre


ENGRAVING:

HYO-NO-MA ROOM IN THE KOHOAN OF DAITOKU-JI, AT KYOTO

THE FIFTY-THIRD SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR JUNNA (A.D. 824-833)

Junna was Kwammu's third son. He ascended the throne on the abdication of his elder brother, Saga, and he himself abdicated in favour of the latter's son, Nimmyo, nine years later. Junna's reign is not remarkable for any achievement. No special legislation was inaugurated nor any campaign against abuses undertaken. The three brothers, Heijo, Saga, and Junna, may be said to have devoted paramount attention to the study of Chinese literature. History refuses, however, to connect this industry with a desire for ethical instruction. Their efforts are said to have been limited to the tracing of ideographs and the composition of verselets. A perfectly formed ideograph possesses in Japanese eyes many of the qualities that commend a pictorial masterpiece to Western appreciation. Saga achieved the distinction of being reckoned among the "Three Penmen" of his era,* and he carried his enthusiasm so far as to require that all the scions of the aristocracy should be instructed in the Chinese classics. Junna had less ability, but his admiration was not less profound for a fine specimen of script or a deftly turned couplet. It is, nevertheless, difficult to believe that these enthusiasts confined themselves to the superficialities of Chinese learning. The illustrations of altruism which they furnished by abdicating

in one another's favour may well have been inspired by perusing the writings of Confucius.** However that may be, the reign of Junna, though not subjectively distinguished, forms a landmark in Japanese history as the period which closed the independent exercise of sovereign authority. When Junna laid down the sceptre, it may be said, as we shall presently see, to have been taken up by the Fujiwara.

*The other two were Kobo Daishi, and Tachibana Hayanari.

**Vide the remarks of the Chinese sage on Tai-pei, Chou-kung, Wen-wang, and Wu-wang.

ENGRAVING: "SHAKUHACHI," FLUTES MADE OF BAMBOO

ENGRAVING: "KARAMON" GATE OF NISHI HONGWAN-JI TEMPLE, AT KYOTO

CHAPTER XIX

THE HEIAN EPOCH (Continued)

54th Sovereign, Nimmyo A.D. 834-850

55th " Montoku 851-858

56th " Seiwa 859-876

57th " Yozei 877-884

58th " Koko 885-887

59th " Uda 888-897

60th " Daigo 898-930

BEGINNING OF FUJIWARA SUPREMACY


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