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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Okura no Tsubone and her companion took their way to Osaka


It

was inconceivable that such a man should err flagrantly in the use of the ideographic script. Ieyasu, however, despatched to Kyoto two rival prelates, Soden and Tengai, with instructions to convoke a meeting of the priests of the Five Temples and invite them to express an opinion about the inscription. Soden held the post of administrator of temples. This placed him officially at the head of all the other priests, and thus the opinions he expressed at the instance of Ieyasu possessed special weight. It was in vain that Seikan repudiated all intention of disrespect and pointed out that the inscription did not for a moment lend itself to the interpretation read into it by the Tokugawa chief. Only one priest, Kaizan of Myoshin-ji, had sufficient courage to oppose Soden's view, and the cause of the Tokugawa chief triumphed.

Without a full knowledge of the Chinese ideographic script it is impossible to clearly understand either the charges preferred by the Tokugawa or the arguments employed in rebuttal. Western readers may, however, confidently accept the unanimous verdict of all modern scholars, that the interpretation assigned to the inscription in the first place by the Tokugawa officials, and in the second by Hayashi Doshun, representing the Confucianists, and Soden and Tengai, representing the Buddhists, was grossly unreasonable. That many experts should be found to range themselves on the side of a ruler so powerful as Ieyasu was not wonderful,

but it says little for the moral independence of the men of the time that only one Buddhist priest among many thousand had the courage to withhold his consent to a judgment which outraged truth and justice.

Naturally the news of the decision threw Osaka into a state of great excitement. Lady Yodo hastened to despatch to Sumpu her principal lady-in-waiting, Okura-no-Tsubone, accompanied by another dame of the chamber. These two were received by Acha-no-Tsubone at the court of Ieyasu, and through her they conveyed fervent apologies to the Tokugawa chief. Ieyasu treated the whole matter lightly. He granted an interview to the two ladies from Osaka and sent them on to Yedo to visit the wife of Hidetada, the lady Yodo's younger sister. The Osaka deputies naturally drew favourable inferences from this courteous mood, and taking an opportunity to refer to the affair of the inscription on the bell, elicited from Ieyasu an assurance that the matter need not be regarded with concern.

Not for a moment suspecting any deception, Okura-no-Tsubone and her companion took their way to Osaka. On the other hand, Honda Masanobu and the priest, Tengai, were instructed to inform Katsumoto that the umbrage of Ieyasu was deeply roused, and that some very strong measure would be necessary to restore the Bakufu's confidence in Hideyori. Katsumoto vainly sought some definite statement as to the nature of the reparation required. He was merely told to answer the question himself. He accordingly proposed one of three courses, namely, that the lady Yodo should be sent to Yedo as a hostage; that Hideyori should leave Osaka and settle at some other castle; or, finally, that he should acknowledge himself a vassal of the Tokugawa. To these proposals the only reply that could be elicited from Ieyasu was that Yodo and her son should choose whichever course they pleased, and, bearing that answer, the disquieting import of which he well understood, Katsumoto set out from Sumpu for Osaka. Travelling rapidly, he soon overtook Okwra-no-Tsubone and explained to her the events and their import. But the lady was incredulous. She was more ready to suspect Katsumoto's sincerity than to believe that Ieyasu had meant to deceive her.


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