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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

They took the territorial names of Nitta and Ashikaga

A correlated fault was excessive reverence for rank and rigid exclusiveness of class. There was practically no ladder for the commoner,--the farmer, the artisan, and the merchant--to ascend into the circle of the samurai. It resulted that, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, gifted men of the despised grades sought in the cloister an arena for the exercise of their talents, and thus, while the bushi received no recruits, the commoners lost their better elements, and Buddhism became a stage for secular ambition. It can not be doubted that by closing the door of rank in the face of merit, bushido checked the development of the nation. Another defect in the bushido was indifference to intellectual investigation. The schoolmen of Kyoto, who alone received honour for their moral attainments, were not investigators but imitators, not scientists but classicists. Had not Chinese conservatism been imported into Japan and had it not received the homage of the bushi, independent development of original Japanese thought and of intellectual investigation might have distinguished the Yamato race. By a learned Japanese philosopher (Dr. Inouye Tetsujiro) the ethics of the bushi are charged with inculcating the principles of private morality only and ignoring those of public morality.


It has been noticed that the disposition of the Central Government was to leave the provincial nobles severely alone, treating their feuds and conflicts as wholly private affairs. Thus, these nobles being cast upon their own resources for the protection of their lives and properties, retained the services of bushi, arming them well and drilling them assiduously, to serve as guards in time of peace and as soldiers in war. One result of this demand for military material was that the helots of former days were relieved from the badge of slavery and became hereditary retainers of provincial nobles, nothing of their old bondage remaining except that their lives were at the mercy of their masters.


As the provincial families grew in numbers and influence they naturally extended their estates, so that the landed property of a great sept sometimes stretched over parts, or even the whole, of several provinces. In these circumstances it became convenient to distinguish branches of a sept by the names of their respective localities and thus, in addition to the sept name (uji or sei), there came into existence a territorial name (myoji or shi). For example, when the descendants of Minamoto no Yoshiiye acquired great properties at Nitta and Ashikaga in the provinces of Kotsuke and Shimotsuke, they took the territorial names of Nitta and Ashikaga, remaining always Minamoto; and when the descendants of Yoshimitsu, younger brother of Yoshiiye, acquired estates in the province of Kai, they began to call themselves Takeda.

It is unnecessary to pursue the subject further than to note that, while the names of the great septs (uji) were few, the territorial cognomens were very numerous; and that while the use of myoji (or shi) was common in the case of the Fujiwara, the Taira, and the Minamoto septs, the uji alone was employed by the Abe, the Ono, the Takahashi, the Kusakabe, the Ban, the Hata, and certain others. It will readily be conceived that although the territorial sections of the same sept sometimes quarrelled among themselves, the general practice was that all claiming common descent supported each other in war. The Minamoto (Gen) bushi recognized as the principal family line that of Tsunemoto from whom were descended the following illustrious chiefs:

Minamoto (Gen) no Tsunemoto, commander-in-chief of local Governments | Mitsunaka | +---------+--------+ | | Yorimitsu Yorinobu | Yoriyoshi | Yoshiiye | +----------+------------+-----+-----+-----------+-----------+ | | | | | | Yoshimune Yoshichika Yoshikuni Yoshitada Yoshitoki Yoshitaka | Tameyoshi | +----------+------------+-----------+ | | | | Yoshitomo Yoshikata Tametomo Twenty others | | | Yoshinaka | (of Kiso) | +----------+---------+-----------+------------+ | | | | Yoritomo Noriyori Yoshitsune Six others

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