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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Of this anthology Masamune was much enamoured


ancestor of the Shimazu family was Tadahisa, an illegitimate son of Minamoto Yoritomo. His mother, to escape the resentment of Yoritomo's wife, Masa, fled to Kyushu, and Tadahisa, having been named governor of Satsuma, proceeded thither, in 1196, and by conquest added to it the two provinces, Hyuga and Osumi. The Shimazu family emerged victorious from all campaigns until Hideyoshi in person took the field against them, as will be presently related.*

*The family is now represented by Prince Shimazu.


The 0-U region (Mutsu-Dewa) was the home of many septs which fought among themselves for supremacy. Of these the most influential were the Mogami of Yamagata, the Date of Yonezawa, and the Ashina of Aizu. In the extreme north were the Nambu who, however, lived too remote from the political centres to occupy historical attention. The Date maintained friendly relations with the Ashikaga, and Harumune was nominated tandai of Oshu by the shogun Yoshiharu, of whose name one ideograph (haru) was given to the Date chief. The family attained its greater distinction in the time of Masamune (1566-1636), and was fortunate in being able to stand aloof from some of the internecine strife of the sixteenth century. Nevertheless, the region was sufficiently disturbed. Thus, the Tsugaru and the Nambu struggled in the north, while the Date, further north, shattered the power of the

Nikaido, the Nihonmatsu, the Ashina, and the Tamura, or fought less decisively against the Satake (of Hitachi), and in Ushu (Dewa) the Mogami were confronted by the Uesugi of Echigo.


The most renowned of the Date family was Masamune, who to great military skill added artistic instincts and considerable poetic ability. Tradition has handed down some incidents which illustrate the ethics of that time as well as the character of the man. It is stated that Masamune came into possession of a scroll on which were inscribed a hundred selected poems copied by the celebrated Fujiwara Ietaka. Of this anthology Masamune was much enamoured, for the sake alike of its contents and of its calligraphy. But learning accidentally that the scroll had been pawned to the merchant from whom he had obtained it, he instituted inquiries as to its owner, and ultimately restored the scroll to him with the addition of five gold ryo. The owner was a knight-errant (ronin) named Imagawa Motome, who thereafter entered Masamune's service and ultimately rose to be a general of infantry (ashigaru). The sympathy which taught Masamune to estimate the pain with which the owner of the scroll must have parted with it was a fine trait of character. Another incident in this remarkable man's career happened at an entertainment where he accidentally trod on the robe of one Kanematsu, a vassal of the Tokugawa. Enraged by an act of carelessness which amounted almost to a deliberate insult, Kanematsu struck Masamune, A commotion at once arose, the probable outcome being that Masamune would return the blow with his sword. But he remained pertly cool, making no remark except that he had been paid for his want of care, and that, at any rate, Kanematsu was not an adversary worthy of his resentment.

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