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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

This organization was completed in the time of Iemitsu



Through many centuries it had been the custom of the Imperial Court to worship at the great shrine of Ise and to offer suitable gifts. This ceremony was long suspended, however, on account of continuous wars as well as the impecunious condition of the Court. Under the sway of the Oda and the Toyotomi, fitful efforts were made to renew the custom, but it was left for the Tokugawa to re-establish it. The third shogun, Iemitsu, petitioned the Court in that sense, and assigned an estate in Yamashiro as a means of defraying the necessary expenses, the Fujinami family being appointed to perform the ceremony hereditarily. At the same time Iemitsu petitioned that the Court should send an envoy to worship at Nikko every year on the anniversary of the death of Ieyasu, and this request having been granted, Nikko thenceforth became to the Tokugawa what Ise was to the Imperial Court.


It has been shown that the Shimabara revolt finally induced the Bakufu Government to adopt the policy of international seclusion and to extirpate Christianity. In carrying out the latter purpose, extensive recourse was had to the aid of Buddhism. The chief temple of each sect of that religion was officially fixed, as were also the branch temples forming the parish of the sect; every unit of the nation was required to register his name in the archives of a temple, and the

Government ordered that the priests should keep accurate lists of births and deaths. Anyone whose name did not appear on these lists was assumed to belong to the alien faith. This organization was completed in the time of Iemitsu.


Ietsuna, the fourth Tokugawa shogun, eldest son of Iemitsu, was born in 1642 and succeeded to the office in 1651, holding it until his death in 1680. In bequeathing the administrative power to a youth in his tenth year, Iemitsu clearly foresaw that trouble was likely to arise. He therefore instructed his younger brother, Hoshina Masayuki, baron of Aizu, to render every assistance to his nephew, and he appointed Ii Naotaka to be prime minister, associating with him Sakai Tadakatsu, Matsudaira Nobutsuna, Abe Tadaaki, and other statesmen of proved ability. These precautions were soon seen to be necessary, for the partisans of the Toyotomi seized the occasion to attempt a coup. The country at that time swarmed with ronin (wave-men); that is to say, samurai who were, for various reasons, roving free-lances. There seems to have been a large admixture of something very like European chivalry in the make up of these ronin, for some of them seem to have wandered about merely to right wrongs and defend the helpless. Others sought adventure for adventure's sake and for glory's, challenging the best swordsman in each place to which they came. Many seem to have taken up the lives of wanderers out of a notion of loyalty; the feudal lords to whom they had owed allegiance had been crushed by the Tokugawa and they refused to enter the service of the shogun.

The last-named reason seems to have been what prompted the revolt of 1651, when Ietsuna, aged ten, had just succeeded in the shogunate his father Iemitsu who had exalted the power of the Tokugawa at the expense of their military houses. The ronin headed by Yui Shosetsu and Marubashi Chuya plotted to set fire to the city of Yedo and take the shogun's castle. The plot was discovered. Shosetsu committed suicide, and Chuya was crucified. In the following year (1652) another intrigue was formed under the leadership of Bekki Shoetnon, also a ronin. On this occasion the plan was to murder Ii Naotaka, the first minister of State, as well as his colleagues, and then to set fire to the temple Zojo-ji on the occasion of a religious ceremony. But this plot, also, was discovered before it matured, and it proved to be the last attempt that was made to overthrow the Bakufu by force until more than two hundred years had passed.

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