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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Officiated as tandai of Kyushu



We now arrive at a chapter of Japanese history infinitely perplexing to the reader. It is generally called the Onin War because the struggle described commenced in the year-period of that name, but whereas the Onin period lasted only two years (1467-1469), the Onin War continued for eleven years and caused shocking destruction of life and property. When war is spoken of, the mind naturally conjectures a struggle between two or perhaps three powers for a cause that is respectable from some points of view. But in the Onin War a score of combatants were engaged, and the motive was invariably personal ambition. It has been described above that when the Ashikaga chief, Takauji, undertook to re-establish the Minamoto Bakufu, he essayed to overcome opposition by persuasion rather than by force. Pursuing that policy, he bestowed immense estates upon those that yielded to him, so that in time there came into existence holders of lands more extensive than those belonging to the shogun himself. Thus, while the landed estates of the Muromachi shogun measured only 15,798 cho* there were no less than eight daimyo more richly endowed. They were:

*A cho at that time represented 3 acres. It is now 2.5 acres.

Daimyo Area of Estates in cho (3 acres)

(1) Yanada Takasuke 32,083

(2) Uesugi Akisada 27,239

(3) Ouchi Mochiyo 25,435

(4) Hosokawa Katsumoto 24,465

(5) Shiba Mochitane 23,576

(6) Sasaki Takayori 16,872

(7) Hatakeyama Yoshmari 16,801

(8) Sasaki Mochikiyo 16,725

If we examine the list still more minutely, we find no less than twenty-two families, each of whose estates was equal to, or larger than, one-half of the Muromachi manors. Some families consisted of several branches whose aggregate properties represented an immense area. This was notably the case of the Yamana; their five branches held lands totalling 45,788 cho. The owners of such estates must not be confounded with the high constables (shugo). Thus Yamana Sozen, as the high constable of Harima province, held administrative authority in fourteen districts covering an area of 10,414 cho, and if to this be added the expanse of his fief, namely, 8016 cho, we get a total nearly equal to the manors of Hosokawa Katsumoto. Again, Shiba Yoshitoshi, in addition to owning 10,816 cho, officiated as tandai of Kyushu, which gave him jurisdiction over another extent of 106,553 cho, though it is true that his authority was defied in the provinces of Satsuma and Osumi. The military owner of one of these great estates levied a revenue on a scale which will be presently discussed, but the high constable was nominally empowered to collect and transmit only such taxes as were payable to the Bakufu, namely, the "military dues" (buke-yaku) and the "farmers' dues" (hyakusho-yaku), whereof the former were originally assessed at two per cent., and subsequently raised to five per cent., of a family income; and the latter varied from one to two per cent, of a homestead's earnings. So long as a high constable or a tandai was loyal to the Bakufu, the latter received the appointed quota of imposts; but in times of insurrection, the shugo or tandai appropriated to his own purposes the proceeds alike of the buke-yaku and the hyakusho-yaku.

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