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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Principal retainer of Nambu Nobunao


Among the Osaka partisans was one called Ono Harunaga, the son of the lady Yodo's nurse. This youth led a life of great profligacy, and although not wanting in any of the attributes of the samurai, he altogether lacked political insight. Thus, his relations with Katsumoto were strained, and Harunaga constantly essayed to undermine Katsumoto's influence. Hideyori himself did not want for ability, but acting by the advice of his mother, Yodo, and of his friend, Harunaga, he adopted a false policy of opposition to Ieyasu.


The fact that the feudatories who called themselves friends of the Osaka party had refused to sign the oath of fealty, and the fact that the lady Yodo and Harunaga threw their influence into the anti-Tokugawa scale, had the effect of isolating Osaka so far as the laws of the Bakufu were concerned. Men who had broken those laws or otherwise offended against the shogun took refuge in Osaka. Such was the case with the son of Hosokawa Tadaoki; with Goto Matabei, chief vassal of Kuroda Nagamasa, and with Nambu Saemon, principal retainer of Nambu Nobunao. These three and many others repaired to the castle of Osaka, and being there secure against any unarmed attempt of the Tokugawa to arrest them, they virtually defied Ieyasu's control. By degrees a constant stream of ronin, or free-lances, flowed into that city, and a conspicuous element among its inhabitants consisted of Christian feudatories, who, regardless of the edicts of the Bakufu, openly preached their faith and were in no wise checked by the Toyotomi rulers. Even the Buddhist and Shinto priests in Osaka and its territories were independent of the Bakufu authority, and there were cases of boundary disputes in which the Tokugawa officials declined to give judgment since they were not in a position to enforce it. It may well be supposed that this state of affairs grew steadily more obnoxious to the Tokugawa. Ieyasu only awaited a pretext to assert the supremacy of his authority.


It has already been stated that, in the year 1586, a colossal image of Buddha was erected by Hideyoshi at the Hoko-ji in Kyoto. This idol was made of wood, and the great earthquake of 1596 destroyed it. Subsequently, Ieyasu advised Hideyori to replace the wooden idol with a bronze one. Ono Harunaga stood opposed to this idea, but Katagiri Katsumoto, constant to his policy of placating Ieyasu, threw his influence into the other scale. It is impossible to tell whether, in making this proposal, Ieyasu had already conceived the extraordinary scheme which he ultimately carried out. It would appear more probable, however, that his original policy was merely to impoverish the Toyotomi family by imposing upon it the heavy outlay necessary for constructing a huge bronze Buddha. Many thousands of ryo had to be spent, and the money was obtained by converting into coin a number of gold ingots in the form of horses, which Hideyoshi had stored in the treasury of the Osaka castle as a war fund. Five years later, that is to say, in 1614, the great image was completed and an imposing ceremony of dedication was organized. A thousand priests were to take part, and all the people in the capital, as well as many from the surrounding provinces, assembled to witness the magnificent fete. Suddenly an order was issued in the name of Ieyasu, interdicting the consummation of the ceremony on the ground that the inscription carried by the bell for the idol's temple was designedly treasonable to the Tokugawa. This inscription had been composed and written by a high Buddhist prelate, Seikan, reputed to be one of the greatest scholars and most skilful calligraphists of his time.

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