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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

When Go Ichijo occupied the throne


was, indeed, much need of a strong hand. One had only to emerge from the palace gates to find oneself among the haunts of bandits. The names of such robber chiefs as Hakamadare no Yasusuke, Kidomaru, Oeyama Shutendoji, and Ibaraki-doji have been handed down as the heroes in many a strange adventure and the perpetrators of many heinous crimes. Even the Fujiwara residences were not secure against the torches of these plunderers, and during the reign of Ichijo the palace itself was frequently fired by them. In Go-Ichijo's tune, an edict was issued forbidding men to carry bows and arrows in the streets, but had there been power to enforce such a veto, its enactment would not have been necessary. Its immediate sequel was that the bandits broke into Government offices and murdered officials there.


In the spring of 1019, when Go-Ichijo occupied the throne, a large host of invaders suddenly poured into the island of Tsushima. There had not been any warning. Tsushima lies half-way between the south of Korea and the northeast of Kyushu, distant about sixty miles from either coast. Since the earliest times, its fine harbours had served as a military station for ships plying between Japan and Korea, but such intercourse had long been interrupted when this invasion took place.

The invaders were the Toi, originally called Sushen or Moho, under the former

of which names they make their appearance in Japanese history in the middle of the sixth century. They inhabited that part of the Asiatic continent which lies opposite to the island of Ezo, but there is nothing to show what impulse they obeyed in making this sudden descent upon Japan. Their fleet comprised some fifty vessels only, each from forty to sixty feet long and propelled by thirty or forty oars, but of how many fighting men the whole force consisted, no record has been preserved. As to arms, they carried swords, bows, spears, and shields, and in their tactical formation spearmen occupied the front rank, then came swordsmen, and finally bowmen. Every man had a shield. Their arrows were short, measuring little over a foot, but their bows were powerful, and they seem to have fought with fierce courage.

At first they carried everything before them. The governor of Tsushima, being without any means of defence, fled to the Dazai-fu in Kyushu, and the inhabitants were left to the mercy of the invaders, who then pushed on to the island of Iki. There the governor, Fujiwara Masatada, made a desperate resistance, losing his own life in the battle. It is said that of all the inhabitants, one only, a Buddhist priest, escaped to tell the story.

Ten days after their first appearance off Tsushima, the Toi effected a landing in Chikuzen and marched towards Hakata, plundering, burning, massacring old folks and children, making prisoners of adults, and slaughtering cattle and horses for food. It happened, fortunately, that Takaiye, younger brother of Fujiwara Korechika, was in command at the Dazai-fu, whither he had repaired partly out of pique, partly to undergo treatment for eye disease at the hands of a Chinese doctor. He met the crisis with the utmost coolness, and made such skilful dispositions for defence that, after three days' fighting, in which the Japanese lost heavily, Hakata remained uncaptured.

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