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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Father of the celebrated Oda Nobunaga


style="text-align: justify;">It will be remembered that, early in this sixteenth century, Yoshioki, deputy kwanryo and head of the great Ouchi house, had contributed large sums to the Muromachi treasury; had contrived the restoration of several of the Court nobles' domains to their impoverished owners, and had assisted with open hand to relieve the penury of the throne. The task exhausted his resources, and when recalled to his province by local troubles in 1518, the temporary alleviation his generosity had brought was succeeded by hopeless penury. From time immemorial it had been the universal rule to rebuild the two great shrines at Ise every twentieth year, but nothing of the kind had been possible in the case of the Naigu (inner shrine) since 1462, and in the case of the Gegu (outer shrine) since 1434. Such neglect insulted the sanctity of the Throne; yet appeals to the Bakufu produced no result. In 1526, the Emperor Go-Kashiwabara died. It is on record that his ashes were carried from the crematorium in a box slung from the neck of a general officer, and that the funeral train consisted of only twenty-six officials. For the purposes of the coronation ceremony of this sovereign's successor, subscriptions had to be solicited from the provincial magnates, and it was not until 1536 that the repairs of the palace could be undertaken, so that the Emperor Go-Nara was able to write in his diary, "All that I desired to have done has been accomplished, and I am much gratified." On
this occasion the Ouchi family again showed its generosity and its loyalty to the Throne.

The extremity of distress was reached during the Kyoroku era (1528-1531), when the struggle between the two branches of the Hosokawa family converted Kyoto once more into a battle-field and reduced a large part of the city to ashes. The Court nobles, with their wives and children, had to seek shelter and refuge within the Imperial palace, the fences of which were broken down and the buildings sadly dilapidated.

A contemporary record tells with much detail the story of the decay of the capital and the pitiful plight of the Throne. The Emperor Go-Nara (1527-1557) was reduced to earning his own living. This he did by his skill as a calligrapher--at least one instance of something useful resulting from the penchant of the Court for the niceties of Chinese art and letters. Any one might leave at the palace a few coins for payment and order a fair copy of this or that excerpt from a famous classic. The palace was overrun, the chronicler says. Its garden became a resort for tea-drinking among the lower classes and children made it a play-ground. It was no longer walled in, but merely fenced with bamboo. The whole city was in a similar desolation, things having become worse and worse beginning with the Onin disturbance of 1467 and the general exodus of the samurai from the capital at that time. At this time the military nobles came to the city only to fight, and the city's population melted away. All was disorder. The city was flooded and the dike which was built to check the flooded rivers came to be thought a fine residence place in comparison with lower parts of the town.

It was at this time that men might be observed begging for rice in the streets of the capital. They carried bags to receive contributions which were designated kwampaku-ryo (regent's money). Some of the bags thus used are preserved by the noble family of Nijo to this day. Another record says that the stewardess of the Imperial household service during this reign (Go-Nara), on being asked how summer garments were to be supplied for the ladies-in-waiting, replied that winter robes with their wadded linings removed should be used. The annals go so far as to allege that deaths from cold and starvation occurred among the courtiers. An important fact is that one of the provincial magnates who contributed to the succour of the Court at this period was Oda Nobuhide of Owari, father of the celebrated Oda Nobunaga.

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