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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

From Yasutoki down to Tokimune


it must be confessed that these tales rest on very slender evidence. Better attested is the story of Aoto Fujitsuna, which illustrates at once the character of Tokiyori and the customs of the time. This Fujitsuna was a man of humble origin but considerable learning. One year, the country being visited by drought, Tokiyori gave rice and money to priests for religious services, and himself worshipped at the shrine of Mishima. These measures were vehemently criticized by Fujitsuna, who described them as enriching the wealthy to help the impoverished. When informed of this, Tokiyori, instead of resenting it, sent for Fujitsuna and nominated him a member of the Court of Recorders,* where he earned the reputation of being one of Japan's greatest judges.** It is related of him that he devoted his whole fortune to objects of charity, and that when Tokiyori, claiming a revelation from heaven, proposed to increase his endowments, his answer was, "Supposing heaven revealed to you that you should put me to death, would you obey?" ***

*The Hikitsuke-shii, a body of men who kept the archives of the Man-dokoro and conducted preliminary judicial investigations. It was organized in Tokiyori's, time and from its members the Hyojoshu was recruited.

**The other was Ooka Tadasuke of the Tokugawa period.

***It is related of this Aoto Fujitsuna that, having dropped a few cash into the Namera River

at night, he expended many times the amount in paying torch-bearers to recover the lost coins, his argument being that the money thus expended was merely put into circulation, whereas the dropped money would have been irrevocably lost.

Tokiyori, as already related, though he nominally resigned and entered religion in 1256, really held the reins of power until his death, in 1263. Thus the Insei (camera administration) came into being in Kamakura, as it had done previously in Kyoto. There were altogether nine of the Hojo regents, as shown below:

(1) Tokimasa 1203-1205

(2) Yoshitoki 1205-1224

(3) Yasutoki 1224-1242

(4) Tsunetoki 1242-1246

(5) Tokiyori 1246-1256 Retired in 1256, but ruled in camera till 1263

(6) Tokimune 1256-1284

(7) Sadatoki 1284-1301 Retired in 1301, but ruled in camera till 1311

(8) Morotoki 1301-1311

(9) Takatoki 1311-1333

The first six of these were men of genius, but neither Tokimasa nor Yoshitoki can be called really great administrators, if in the science of administration its moral aspects be included. The next four, however, from Yasutoki down to Tokimune, are distinctly entitled to a high place in the pages of history. Throughout the sixty years of their sway (1224-1284), the Japanese nation was governed with justice* and clemency rarely found in the records of any medieval State, and it is a strange fact that Japan's debt to these Hojo rulers remained unrecognized until modern times.

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