free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Who had been the chief accuser of the Adachi



Braziers now came into general use, and quickly became objects of ornament as well as of utility. Manufactured of brass or bronze, and sometimes even of silver, they had decorative designs repousse or chiselled, and sometimes they took the shape of a metal receptacle inserted in a case of finely grained or richly lacquered wood. Another important warming utensil was the kotatsu, a latticed wooden frame enclosing a brazier and covered by a quilt. Lanterns were also employed. They consisted of a candle fixed in a skeleton frame on which an envelope of thin paper was stretched. Their introduction was quickly followed by that of a kind of match which took the form of a thin piece of wood tipped with sulphur.


The military class did not allow themselves to be influenced by any religious scruples in their choice of viands. They ate everything except the flesh of oxen or horses. In serving meals, tables of Chinese form ceased altogether to be used, edibles being placed on a tray which stood about four inches high. These trays and cups, and the bowls and plates ranged on them, showed great refinement, rich lacquer, silver, and gold being freely used in aristocratic dwellings.


Agriculture was, of course, greatly interrupted by the long continuance of military campaigns; but, on the

other hand, it received every encouragement from the Minamoto and the Hojo. The most important incident of the era in this context was the introduction of the tea-shrub from China in 1191. As for industrial pursuits, signal progress took place in the art of tempering steel. The Japanese swordsmith forged the most trenchant weapon ever produced by any nation. The ceramic industry, also, underwent great development from the thirteenth century onwards. It may be said to have owed its artistic beginning to Kato Shirozaemon Kagemasa, who visited China at that time, and "learned the art of applying glaze to pottery biscuit, a feat not previously achieved in Japan." Another profession carried to high excellence was the sculpturing of Buddhist images. This reached its acme in a celebrated bronze Buddha which was set up at Kamakura, in 1252, and which remains to this day "one of the most majestic creations of art in any country."


The laws enacted by the Hojo regents bear ample testimony to their desire of enforcing frugality. In the middle of the thirteenth century, they went so far as to interdict the brewing of sake throughout the empire, and another ordinance vetoed the serving of cakes at meals. Such interdicts could not possibly be strictly enforced, but they undoubtedly exercised much influence, so that the samurai limited themselves to two meals a day and partook only of the coarsest fare.






WITH the accession (1284) of the seventh Hojo regent, Sadatoki, the prosperous era of the Bakufu came to an end. Sadatoki himself seems to have been a man of much ability and fine impulses. He succeeded his father, Tokimune, at the age of fourteen, and during nine years he remained under the tutelage of the prime minister, Taira no Yoritsuna, thereafter taking the reins of government into his own hands. The annals are unfortunately defective at this, period. They fail to explain the reason for Sadatoki's retirement and adoption of religion, in 1301, after eight years of active rule. It may be that the troubles of the time disgusted him. For alike politically and financially an evil state of affairs prevailed. In 1286, the Adachi clan, falling under suspicion of aiming at the shogunate, was extirpated. A few years later, the same fate overtook Taira no Yoritsuna, who had been the chief accuser of the Adachi, and who, being now charged by his own first-born with coveting the regency (shikken), was put to death with his second son and all his retainers. Yet again, three years subsequently to this latter tragedy, Yoshimi, a scion of Yoritomo's brother, the unfortunate Yoshinori, fell a victim to accusations of treachery, and it needed no great insight to appreciate that the Bakufu was becoming a house divided against itself.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us