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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Go Sanjo strictly interdicted all such transactions


strictly interdicted all such transactions. But this action brought him into sharp collision with the then kwampaku, Fujiwara Norimichi. The latter built within the enclosure of Kofuku-ji at Nara an octagonal edifice containing two colossal images of Kwannon. On this nanen-do the regent spent a large sum, part of which was contributed by the governor of the province. Norimichi therefore applied to the Emperor for an extension of the governor's term of office. Go-Sanjo refused his assent. But Norimichi insisted. Finally the Emperor, growing indignant, declared that the kwampaku's sole title to respect being derived from his maternal relationship to the sovereign, he deserved no consideration at the hands of an Emperor whose mother was not a Fujiwara. It was a supreme moment in the fortunes of the Fujiwara. Norimichi angrily swept out of the presence, crying aloud: "The divine influence of Kasuga Daimyojin* ceases from to-day. Let every Fujiwara official follow me." Thereat all the Fujiwara courtiers flocked out of the palace, and the Emperor had no choice but to yield. Victory rested with the Fujiwara, but it was purchased at the loss of some prestige.

*Titulary deity of the Fujiwara-uji.


Their obviously selfish device of seating a minor on the throne and replacing him as soon as he reached years of discretion, had been gradually invested by the Fujiwara with

an element of spurious altruism. They had suggested the principle that the tenure of sovereign power should not be exercised exclusively. Go-Sanjo held, however, that such a system not only impaired the Imperial authority but also was unnatural. No father, he argued, could be content to divest himself of all practical interest in the affairs of his family, and to condemn the occupant of the throne to sit with folded hands was to reduce him to the rank of a puppet. Therefore, even though a sovereign abdicated, he should continue to take an active part in the administration of State affairs. This was, in short, Go-Sanjo's plan for rendering the regent a superfluity. He proposed to substitute camera government (Insei) for control by a kwampaku. But fate willed that he should not carry his project into practice. He abdicated, owing to ill health, in 1073, and died the following year.


Go-Sanjo was succeeded by his eldest son, Shirakawa. He had taken for consort the daughter of Fujiwara Yorimichi. This lady, Kenko, had been adopted into the family of Fujiwara Morozane, and it is recorded that Yorimichi and Morozane shed tears of delight when they heard of her selection by the Crown Prince--so greatly had the influence of the Fujiwara declined. Shirakawa modelled himself on his father. He personally administered affairs of State, displaying assiduity and ability but not justice. Unlike his father he allowed himself to be swayed by favour and affection, arbitrarily ignored time-honoured rules, and was guilty of great extravagance in matters of religion. But he carried into full effect the camera (or cloistered) system of government, thereafter known as Insei. For, in 1086, after thirteen years' reign, he resigned the sceptre to an eight-year-old boy, Horikawa, his son by the chugu, Kenko. The untimely death of the latter, for whom he entertained a strong affection, was the proximate cause of Shirakawa's abdication, but there can be little doubt that he had always contemplated such a step. He took the tonsure and the religious title of Ho-o (pontiff), but in the Toba palace, his new residence, he organized an administrative machine on the exact lines of that of the Court.

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