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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Thereupon the yama hoshi discarded the divine car

A notable instance occurred, in 1095, when these yama-hoshi of Hiyoshi preferred a charge of blood-guiltiness against Minamoto Yoshitsuna, governor of Mino. They flocked to the palace in a truculent mob, but the bushi on duty, being under the command of a Minamoto, did not hesitate to use their bows. Thereupon the yama-hoshi discarded the divine car, hastened back to the temple, and assembling all the priests, held a solemn service invoking the wrath of heaven on the State. In an age of profound superstition such action threw the Court into consternation, and infinite pains were taken to persuade Shinto officials of an independent shrine to carry the divine car back to Hiei-zan.

Instances of such turbulence were not infrequent, and they account in part for the reckless prodigality shown by Shirakawa in building and furnishing temples. The cenobites did not confine themselves to demonstrations at the palace; they had their own quarrels also. Kofuku-ji's hand was against Kimbusen and Todai-ji, and not a few priests doffed the stole and cassock to engage in temporary brigandage. The great Taira leader, Tadamori, and his son, Kiyomori--one of the most prominent figures on the stage of medieval Japan--dealt strongly with the Shinto communities at Hiyoshi and Gion, and drove the Kofuku-ji priests out of the streets of Kyoto, the result being that this great military family became an object of execration at Kofuku-ji and Enryaku-ji alike. With difficulty the Court kept peace between them. It is related of Shirakawa Ho-o that the three things which he declared to defy his control were the waters of the Kamo River, the fall of the dice, and the yama-hoshi.





THE period we are considering is a long one which owes its unity to the sole fact that the capitol was at Kyoto. It is, therefore, unsafe to generalize on its manners and customs. But we may say with a degree of accuracy that the epoch was marked by an increasing luxury and artificiality, due largely to the adoption of Chinese customs. The capital city was built on a Chinese pattern and the salient characteristics of the Court during the period named from the new capital are on the Chinese pattern too. The Chinese idea of a civil service in which worth was tested by examinations was carried to a pedantic extreme both in administration and in society. In these examinations the important paper was in Chinese prose composition, which was much as if Latin prose were the main subject to prove the fitness of a candidate for an English or American administrative post! And the tests of social standing and the means of gaining fame at Court were skill in verse-writing, in music and dancing, in calligraphy and other forms of drawing, and in taste in landscape gardening.

Ichijo was famed as a musician and a prose writer, and Saga as a calligraphist. The Ako incident (see p. 240) illustrates the lengths to which pedantry was carried in matters of administration. And the story of the ill-success at the capital of the young soldier Taira Masakado, contrasted with the popularity of his showily vicious kinsman Sadabumi (see p. 253), illustrate what Murdoch means when he says that the early emperors of the Heian epoch had an "unbalanced craze for Chinese fashions, for Chinese manners, and above all for Chinese literature." Remarkable though the power of the Japanese people always seems to have been to assimilate foreign culture in large doses and speedily, it is hardly to be expected that at this period, any more than at a later one when there came in a sudden flood of European civilization, the nation should not have suffered somewhat--that it should not have had the defects of its qualities.

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