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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

That of Kamakura and that of Kyoto







From the establishment of the Bakufu, Japanese art separated into two schools, that of Kamakura and that of Kyoto. The latter centered in the Imperial Court, the former in the Court of the Hojo. Taken originally from Chinese masters of the Sui and Tang dynasties, the Kyoto art ultimately developed into the Japanese national school, whereas the Kamakura art, borrowed from the academies of Sung and Yuan, became the favourite of the literary classes and preserved its Chinese traditions. Speaking broadly, the art of Kyoto showed a decorative tendency, whereas that of Kamakura took landscape and seascape chiefly for motives, and, delighting in the melancholy aspects of nature, appealed most to the student and the cenobite. This distinction could be traced in calligraphy, painting, architecture, and horticulture. Hitherto penmanship in Kyoto had taken for models the style of Kobo Daishi and Ono no Tofu. This was called o-ie-fu (domestic fashion), and had a graceful and cursive character. But the Kamakura calligraphists followed the pure Chinese mode (karayo), as exemplified by the Buddhist priests, Sogen (Chu

Yuan) and Ichinei (I Ning).

In Kyoto, painting was represented by the schools of Koze, Kasuga, Sumiyoshi, and Tosa; in Kamakura, its masters were Ma Yuan, Hsia Kwei, and Mu Hsi, who represented the pure Southern Academy of China, and who were followed by Sesshu, Kao, and Shubun. So, too, the art of horticulture, though there the change was a transition from the stiff and comparatively artificial fashion of the no-niwa (moor garden) to the pure landscape park, ultimately developed into a Japanese specialty. Tradition ascribes to a Chinese bonze, who called himself Nei-issan (or Ichinei), the planning of the first landscape garden, properly so designated in Japan. He arrived in Kyushu, under the name of I Ning, as a delegate from Kublai Khan in the days of Hojo Sadatoki, and was banished, at first, to the province of Izu. Subsequently, however, the Bakufu invited him to Kamakura and assigned the temple Kencho-ji for his residence and place of ministrations. It was there that he designed the first landscape garden, furnishing suggestions which are still regarded as models.


The conservatism of the Imperial city is conspicuously illustrated in the realm of literature. Careful perusal of the well-known work, Masukagami, shows that from year's end to year's end the same pastimes were enjoyed, the same studies pursued The composition of poetry took precedence of everything. Eminent among the poetasters of the twelfth century was the Emperor Go-Toba. The litterateurs of his era looked up to him as the arbiter elegantiarum, especially in the domain of Japanese versification. Even more renown attached to Fujiwara no Toshinari, whose nom de plume was Shunzei, and who earned the title of the "Matchless Master." His son, Sadaiye, was well-nigh equally famous under the name of Teika.

After the Shokyu disturbance (1221), the empire enjoyed a long spell of peace under the able and upright sway of the Hojo, and during that time it became the custom to compile anthologies. The first to essay that task was Teika. Grieving that the poets of his time had begun to prefer affectation and elegance to sincerity and simplicity, he withdrew to a secluded villa on Mount Ogura, and there selected, a hundred poems by as many of the ancient authors. These he gave to the world, calling the collection Hyakunin-isshu, and succeeding generations endorsed his choice so that the book remains a classic to this day. Teika's son, Tameiye, won such favour in the eyes of the Kamakura shogun, Sanetomo, that the latter conferred on him the manor of Hosokawa, in Harima. Dying, Tameiye bequeathed this property to his son, Tamesuke, but he, being robbed of it by his step-brother, fell into a state of miserable poverty which was shared by his mother, herself well known as an authoress under the name of Abutsu-ni. This intrepid lady, leaving her five sons in Kyoto, repaired to Kamakura to bring suit against the usurper, and the journal she kept en route--the Izayoi-nikki--is still regarded as a model of style and sentiment. It bears witness to the fact that students of poetry in that era fell into two classes: one adhering to the pure Japanese style of the Heian epoch; the others borrowing freely from Chinese literature.

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