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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

In the early years of the Heian epoch


minor forms of sculpture call for special attention. The decoration of armour reached a high pitch of elaboration; and the beautiful armour of Minamoto Yoshitsune is still preserved at Kasuga, Nara. And masks to be used in mimetic dances, such as the No, received attention from many great glyptic artists.

ENGRAVING: RAKAN (BUDDHIST DISCIPLE) (Carving in Stone at Horiuji)


In the year 799, cotton-seed, carried by an Indian junk which drifted to the coast of Mikawa, was sown in the provinces of Nankai-do and Saikai-do, and fifteen years later, when Saga reigned, tea plants were brought from overseas and were set out in several provinces. The Emperor Nimmyo (834-850) had buckwheat sown in the home provinces (Kinai), and the same sovereign encouraged the cultivation of sorghum, panic-grass, barley, wheat, large white beans, small red beans, and sesame. It was at this time that the ina-hata (paddy-loom) was devised for drying sheaves of rice before winnowing. Although it was a very simple implement, it nevertheless proved of such great value that an Imperial command was issued urging its wide use. In short, in the early years of the Heian epoch, the Throne took an active part in promoting agriculture, but this wholesome interest gradually declined in proportion to the extension of tax-free manors (shoen).


justify;">The story of trade resembled that of agriculture prosperous development at the beginning of the era, followed by stagnation and decline. Under Kwummu (782-805) and his immediate successors, canals and roads were opened, irrigation works were undertaken, and coins were frequently cast. But coins were slow in finding their way into circulation, and taxes were generally paid in kind. Nevertheless, for purposes of trade, prices of staples were fixed in terms of coin. Thus in the year 996, a koku (about 5 bushels) of rice was the equivalent of 1000 cash (ik-kan-mon); a koku of barley was valued at 2500 cash, and a hiki (25 yards) of silk at 2000 cash. Yet in actual practice, commodities were often assessed in terms of silk or rice. Goods were packed in stores (kura) or disposed on shelves in shops (machi-ya), and at ports where merchantmen assembled there were houses called tsuya (afterwards toiya) where wholesale transactions were conducted on the commission system.

The city of Kyoto was divided into two parts, an eastern capital (Tokyo) and a western capital (Saikyo). During the first half of every month all commercial transactions were conducted in the eastern capital, where fifty-one kinds of commodities were sold in fifty-one shops; and during the second half the western capital alone was frequented, with its thirty-three shops and thirty-three classes of goods. After the abolition of embassies to China, at the close of the ninth century, oversea trade declined for a time. But the inhabitants of Tsukushi and Naniwa, which were favourably located for voyages, continued to visit China and Korea, whence they are reported to have obtained articles of value. Other ports frequented by foreign-going ships were Kanzaki, Eguchi, Kaya, Otsu, and Hakata.


Turning to the inner life of the people in the Heian epoch, we may say with little fear of exaggeration that the most notable thing was

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