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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

On the whole Iemitsu must be regarded as an economical ruler


At

first these orders were not very seriously regarded, but by and by, when many persons had been banished to Hachijo-jima for killing dogs; when several others had been reproved publicly for not giving food to homeless animals, and when officials of the supreme court were condemned to confinement for having taken no steps to prevent dog-fights, the citizens began to appreciate that the shogun was in grim earnest. A huge kennel was then constructed in the Nakano suburb of Yedo as a shelter for homeless dogs. It covered an area of about 138 acres, furnished accommodation for a thousand dogs, and was under the management of duly appointed officials, while the citizens had to contribute to a dog-fund, concerning which it was said that a dog's ration for a day would suffice a man for a day and a half.

Tsunayoshi came to be spoken of as Inu-kubo (Dog-shogun), but all his measures did not bring him a son; neither did their failure shake his superstitious credulity. Solemn prayers were offered again and again with stately pomp and profuse circumstance, and temple after temple was built or endowed at enormous cost, while the laws against taking animal life continued in force more vigorously than ever. Birds and even shell-fish were included in the provisions, and thus not only were the nation's foodstuffs diminished, but also its crops lay at the mercy of destructive animals and birds. It is recorded that a peasant was exiled for throwing a stone at a pigeon,

and that one man was put to death for catching fish with hook and line, while another met the same fate for injuring a dog, the head of the criminal being exposed on the public execution ground and a neighbour who had reported the offence being rewarded with thirty ryo. We read, also, of officials sentenced to transportation for clipping a horse or furnishing bad provender. The annals relate a curious story connected with these legislative excesses. The Tokugawa baron of Mito, known in history as Komon Mitsukuni, on receiving evidence as to the monstrous severity with which the law protecting animals was administered, collected a large number of men and organized a hunting expedition on a grand scale. Out of the animals killed, twenty dogs of remarkable size were selected, and their skins having been dressed, were packed in a case for transmission to Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, whom people regarded as chiefly responsible for the shogun's delirium. The messengers to whom the box was entrusted were ordered to travel with all speed, and, on arriving in Yedo, to repair forthwith to the Yanagisawa mansion, there handing over the skins with a written statement that the Mito baron, having found such articles useful in the cold season, availed himself of this opportunity to submit his experience together with a parcel of dressed hides to the shogun through Yoshiyasu. It is said that the recipient of this sarcastic gift conceived a suspicion of the Mito baron's sanity and sent a special envoy to examine his condition.

FINANCE

In the sequel of this corrupt administration, this constant building of temples, and this profusion of costly ceremonials, the shogun's Government found itself seriously embarrassed for money. Ieyasu had always made frugality and economy his leading principles. He had escaped the heavy outlays to which his fellow barons were condemned in connexion with the Korean campaign, since his share in the affair did not extend beyond collecting a force in the province of Hizen. Throughout his life he devoted much attention to amassing a reserve fund, and it is said that when he resigned the shogunate to his son, he left 150,000 gold oban (one and a half million ryo), and nearly two million ounces (troy) of silver in the treasury. Further, during his retirement at Sumpu, he saved a sum of one million ryo. The same economy was practised by the second shogun, although he was compelled to spend large sums in connexion with his daughter's promotion to be the Emperor's consort, as well as on the repairs of Yedo Castle and on his several progresses to Kyoto. On the occasion of these progresses, Hidetada is said to have distributed a total of 4.217,400 ryo of gold and 182,000 ryo of silver among the barons throughout the empire. The third shogun, Iemitsu, was open handed. We find him making frequent donations of 5000 kwamme of silver to the citizens of Kyoto and Yedo; constructing the inner castle at Yedo twice; building a huge warship; entertaining the Korean ambassadors with much pomp; disbursing 400,000 ryo on account of the Shimabara insurrection, and devoting a million ryo to the construction and embellishment of the mausolea at Nikko. Nevertheless, on the whole Iemitsu must be regarded as an economical ruler.


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