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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Hideyoshi presented a sum equivalent to L14






THE epochs of Japanese history from the eighth century until the fall of the Ashikaga shogunate are generally divided into the Nara, the Heian, the Kamakura, the Muromachi, and the Higashi-yama. To these has now to be added the Momo-yama (Peach Hill), a term derived from the name of a palatial residence built by Hideyoshi in the Fushimi suburb of Kyoto. The project was conceived in 1593, that is to say, during the course of the Korean campaign, and the business of collecting materials was managed on such a colossal scale that the foundations could be laid by September in the same year. Two months sufficed not only to construct a mansion of extraordinary magnificence and most elaborate interior decoration, but also to surround it with a spacious park presenting all the choicest features of Japanese landscape gardens. The annals state that fifty thousand men were engaged on the work, and the assertion ceases to seem extravagant when we consider the nature of the task and the singularly brief period devoted to its completion. It was Hideyoshi's foible to surpass all his predecessors and contemporaries alike in the magnitude of his designs and in the celerity of their achievement. Even his pastimes were conceived on the same stupendous scale. Thus, in 1594, at the very time when his armies in Korea were conducting an oversea campaign of unprecedented magnitude, he planned a flower-viewing fete which will live in the pages of history as more sumptuous and more magnificent than the hitherto unrivalled festivities of Yoshimasa. The places visited were the cherry-clad hills of Yoshino and the venerable monastery of Koya, and some idea of the scale of the fete may be gathered from the fact that to a shrine on Koya-san, dedicated to the memory of his mother, Hideyoshi presented a sum equivalent to L14,000 or $68,000.

Still more lavish was a party organized four years later to visit the cherry blossoms at Daigo in the suburbs of Kyoto. This involved the rebuilding of a large Buddhist temple (Sambo-in) to accommodate Hideyoshi and his party as a temporary resting-place, and involved also the complete enclosing of the roads from Momo-yama to Daigo, as well as of a wide space surrounding the slopes of the cherry-clad hills, with fences festooned in silk curtains. Numerous tea pavilions were erected, and Hideyoshi, having sent home all his male guests and attendants, remained himself among a multitude of gorgeously apparelled ladies, and passed from pavilion to pavilion, listening to music, witnessing dancing, and viewing works of art.


A conspicuous figure at the Daigo fete was Hideyori, the five-year-old son of Hideyoshi. Fate treated Hideyoshi harshly in the matter of a successor.

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