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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yoriiye was then in his eighteenth year

Towards religion, it would seem that his attitude was sincere. Not in Kyoto and Kamakura alone did he adopt drastic measures for the restoration or erection of temples and shrines, but also throughout the provinces he exerted his all-powerful influence in the same cause. He himself contributed large sums for the purpose, and at his instance the Courts of the Emperor and of the Bakufu granted special rights and privileges to bonzes who went about the country collecting subscriptions. Thus encouraged, the priests worked with conspicuous zeal, and by men like Mongaku, Jugen, Eisai, and their comrades not only were many imposing fanes erected and many images cast, but also roads were opened, harbours constructed, and bridges built. Yoritomo knew what an important part religion had contributed in past ages to the country's national development, and he did not neglect to utilize its services in the interests, first, of the nation's prosperity and, secondly, of the Bakufu's popularity. Incidentally all this building of fanes and restoration of palaces promoted in no small degree the development of art, pure and applied. Experts in every line made their appearance, and many masterpieces of architecture and sculpture enriched the era. These reflected the change which the spirit of the nation was undergoing in its passage from the delicacy and weakness of the Fujiwara type to the strength, directness, and dignity of the bushi's code.






IN the year 1198, the Emperor Go-Toba abdicated the throne in favour of his son, who reigned during twelve years (1199-1210) under the name of Tsuchi-mikado, eighty-third sovereign. Of Go-Toba much will be said by and by. It will suffice to note here, however, that his abdication was altogether voluntary. Ascending the throne in 1184, at the age of four, he had passed the next eight years as a mere puppet manipulated by his grandfather, Go-Shirakawa, the cloistered Emperor, and on the latter's death in 1192, Go-Toba fell into many of the faults of youth. But at eighteen he became ambitious of governing in fact as well as in name, and as he judged that this could be accomplished better from the Inchu (retired palace) than from the throne, he abdicated without consulting the Kamakura Bakufu. It is more than probable that Yoritomo would have made his influence felt on this occasion had any irregularity furnished a pretext. But the advisers of the Kyoto Court were careful that everything should be in order, and the Kamakura chief saw no reason to depart from his habitually reverent attitude towards the Throne.


On the demise of Yoritomo (1199), his eldest son, Yoriiye, succeeded to the compound office of lord high constable and chief land-steward (so-shugo-jito), his investiture as shogun being deferred until Kyoto's sanction could be obtained. Yoriiye was then in his eighteenth year, and he had for chief adviser Hatakeyama Shigetada, appointed to the post by Yoritomo's will. He inherited nothing of his father's sagacity. On the contrary, he did not possess even average ability, and his thoughts were occupied almost uniquely with physical pleasures. His mother, Masa, astute, crafty, resourceful, and heroic, well understood the deficiency of his moral endowments, but as her second son, Sanetomo, was only seven years old, Yoriiye's accession presented itself in the light of a necessity. She therefore determined to give him every possible aid. Even during her husband's life she had wielded immense influence, and this was now greatly augmented by the situation. She shaved her head--after the manner of the cloistered Emperors--and taking the name of Ni-i-no-ama, virtually assumed charge of the Bakufu administration in association with her father, Hojo Tokimasa.

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