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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

A wrong which Tokiyori hastens to redress


Now,

for many years past the Miura family had ranked next to the Hojo in power and above it in wealth, but the two had always been loyal friends. Some umbrage was given to the Miura at this time, however, owing to the favours enjoyed at the regency by the Adachi family, one of whose ladies was the mother of the two shikken, Tsunetoki and Tokiyori. The situation thus created had its issue in a plot to kill Tokiyori, and to replace him by an uncle unconnected with the Adachi. Whether the Miura family were really involved in this plot, history gives no definite indication; but certainly the ex-shogun, Yoritsune, was involved, and his very marked friendship with Miura Mitsumura could scarcely fail to bring the latter under suspicion. In the end, the Miura mansion was suddenly invested by a Hojo force. Mitsumura and his elder brother, Yasumura, escaped to a temple where, after a stubborn resistance, they and 270 of their vassals committed suicide. No mercy was shown. The Miura were hunted and slaughtered everywhere, their wide, landed estates being confiscated and divided among the Bakufu, the fanes, and the courtiers at Kyoto.

The terribly drastic sequel of this affair illustrates the vast power wielded by the Hojo throughout the empire in the thirteenth century. Yoritomo's system of high constables and land-stewards brought almost every part of the country under the effective sway of Kamakura. It is not to be supposed, however, that these high constables

and land-stewards were suffered to subject the people within their jurisdiction to arbitrary or extortionate treatment. Not only could complaints of any such abuses count on a fair hearing and prompt redress at the hands of the Bakufu, but also inspectors were despatched, periodically or at uncertain dates, to scrutinize with the utmost vigilance the conduct of the shugo and jito, who, in their turn, had a staff of specially trained men to examine the land survey and adjust the assessment and incidence of taxation.

ENGRAVING: HOJO TOKIYORI

HOJO TOKIYORI

Tokiyori, younger brother of Tsunetoki, held the post of shikken at the time of the Miura tragedy. He had succeeded to the position, in 1246, on the death of Tsunetoki, and he nominally abdicated in 1256, when, in the sequel of a severe illness, he took the tonsure. A zealous believer, from his youth upwards, in the doctrines of the Zen sect of Buddhism, he built a temple called Saimyo-ji among the hills of Kamakura, and retired thither to tend his health--entrusting the office of shikken to a relative, Nagatoki, as his own son, Tokimune, was still of tender age--but continuing himself to administer military and judicial affairs, especially when any criminal or civil case of a complicated or difficult nature occurred. Thus, there was a cloistered regent at Kamakura, just as there had so often been a cloistered Emperor in Kyoto. Tradition has busied itself much with Tokiyori's life. He carried to extreme lengths the virtue of economy so greatly extolled by his grandfather, Yasutoki. Such was the frugality of his mode of life that we read of him searching for fragments of food among the remnants of a meal, so that he might serve them to a friend, and we read, also, of his mother repairing with her own hands the paper covering of a shoji in expectation of a visit from him. He is further said to have disguised himself as an itinerent bonze and to have travelled about the provinces, observing the state of the people and learning their complaints. His experiences, on this pilgrimage read like a romance. Lodging at one time with an aged widow, he learns that she has been robbed of her estate and reduced to painful poverty, a wrong which Tokiyori hastens to redress; at another time his host is an old samurai whose loyal record comes thus to the knowledge of the shikken and is subsequently recognized.


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