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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

It received uniform patronage at the hands of the Tokugawa



The above laws remained unchanged throughout the Tokugawa era. A special law was also enacted with reference to Buddhist sects and the principal Buddhist temples. Ieyasu secured to these temples the possession of their manors by granting title-deeds bearing what was called the "go-shuinji," or "vermilion signature." The term was not really applicable in the case of Ieyasu. It is true that Hideyoshi, doubtless in imitation of Chinese custom, stamped a vermilion seal upon documents of this character; but the Tokugawa shoguns employed a black signature written with a pen. Nevertheless, the term "go-shuinji" continued to be used from the time of the Taiko downwards. It was an outcome of Ieyasu's astuteness that the great Hongwan temple was divided into two branches, eastern and western, by which process its influence was prevented from becoming excessive. During the administration of the third shogun, every daimyo was required to adhere to a definite sect of Buddhism, and to the Buddhist and Shinto temples was entrusted the duty of keeping an accurate census of their parishioners. The direct purpose of these latter laws was to facilitate the extermination of Christianity. Anyone whose name was not enrolled on one of the above lists fell under suspicion of embracing the foreign faith.


Referring to the above laws the Tokugawa

Jidaishi says:

"The above laws and regulations were the Constitution of the Tokugawa Bakufu. By the aid of their provisions the influence of Yedo was extended to every part of the nation from the Imperial Court to the world of religion. No such codes had ever previously existed in Japan. Any unit of the nation, whether a Court noble, a great feudatory, a priest, or a common samurai, had to yield implicit obedience or to suffer condign punishment. Thus, it fell out that everybody being anxious to conform with the rules, the universal tendency was to share in preserving the peace. From the point of view of this system, Ieyasu was eminently above all modern and ancient heroes. Hideyoshi won brilliant victories in war, but he saw no better method of maintaining peace at home than to send the country's armies to fight abroad. He seems to have conceived a hope that his generals would find goals for their ambition in Korea or China, and would exhaust their strength in endeavouring to realize their dreams. But his plan brought about the contrary result; for the generals formed fresh enmities among themselves, and thus the harvest that was subsequently reaped at Sekigahara found hands to sow it.

"Ieyasu, however, prized literature above militarism. He himself became a pioneer of learning, and employed many scholars to assist in constructing a solid framework of peace. The territorial nobles had to follow his example. Even Kato Kiyomasa, Asano Yukinaga, and Kuroda Nagamasa, each of whom during his lifetime was counted a divinely inspired general, found themselves constrained to study the Chinese classics under the guidance of Funabashi Hidekata and Fujiwara Seigwa. How much more cogent, then, was the similar necessity under which lesser men laboured. Thus, Ieyasu's love of literature may be regarded as a cause of the peace that prevailed under the Tokugawa for 260 years."


Ieyasu employed four instruments for educational purposes--the establishment of schools, the engagement of professors, the collection of ancient literary works, and the printing of books. In accordance with his last will his son Yoshinao, daimyo of Owari, built, in 1636, the Daiseiden College beside the temple of Kiyomizu in Ueno Park, near the villa of Hayashi Kazan, the celebrated Confucian scholar; but, in 1691, the college was moved to the slope called Shohei-zaka, where a bridge--Shohei-bashi--was thrown across the river. "Shohei" is the Japanese pronunciation of "Changping," Confucius's birthplace, and the school was known as the Shohei-ko. It received uniform patronage at the hands of the Tokugawa, whose kinsmen and vassals were required to study there, their proficiency, as determined by its examinations, being counted a passport to office. Yoshinao laid the foundation of a great library at the school and the number of volumes was constantly increased.

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