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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

When he abdicated in favour of Momozono



According to a rule made in the beginning of the Tokugawa dynasty, a lady of Tokugawa lineage was forbidden to marry a Court noble, but the shogun himself was expected to take a consort from one of the noble houses in the Imperial capital. From the days of Iemitsu this latter custom was steadily maintained, and gradually the feudatories came to follow the shogun's example, so that marriages between military magnates and noble ladies of Kyoto Were frequent. To these unions the Court nobles were impelled by financial reasons and the military men by ambition. The result was the gradual formation of an Imperial party and of a Bakufu party in Kyoto, and at times there ensued sharp rivalry between the two cliques. In the days of the seventh shogun, Ietsugu, the Emperor Reigen would have given his daughter Yaso to be the shogun's consort for the purpose of restoring real friendship between the two Courts, but the death of the shogun in his boyhood interrupted the project.


Higashiyama abdicated (1710) in favour of Nakanomikado, who reigned for twenty-five years. This reign is remarkable for a change in the system hitherto uniformly pursued, namely, that all Imperial princes with the exception of the direct heir should become Buddhist priests (ho-shinnd), and all princesses except

those chosen as consorts of the shoguns, should become Buddhist nuns (bikuni-gosho). It has already been shown that this custom found many followers in the days of Ashikaga administration, and it was observed with almost equal strictness under the Tokugawa, who certainly aimed at the gradual weakening of the Imperial household's influence. Arai Hakuseki remonstrated with the shogun, Ienobu, on the subject. He contended that however humble a man's lot may be, his natural desire is to see his children prosper, whereas in the case of Imperial princes, they were condemned to the ascetic career of Buddhist priests. He denounced such a system as opposed to the instincts of humanity, and he advised not only that certain princes should be allowed to form families of their own, but also that Imperial princesses should marry into branches of the Tokugawa. Ienobu is said to have acknowledged the wisdom of this advice, and its immediate result was the establishment of the princely house of Kanin, which, with the houses of Fushimi, Kyogoku (afterwards Katsura), and Arisugawa, became the four Shinnoke. Among other privileges these were designated to furnish an heir to the throne in the event of the failure of direct issue. When Yoshimune succeeded to the headship of the Bakufu, and after Arai Hakuseki was no longer in office, this far-seeing policy was gradually abandoned, and all the relations between the Imperial Court and the Bakufu became somewhat strained.


After the death of the ex-Emperor Reigen (1732), the Emperor Nakanomikado administered affairs himself during three years, and then abdicated in 1735 in favour of Sakuramachi, who was sixteen years of age, and who reigned until 1747, when he abdicated in favour of Momozono, then seven years of age. It was in this reign that there appeared an eminent scholar, Yamazaki Ansai, who, with his scarcely less famous pupil, Takenouchi Shikibu, expounded the Chinese classics according to the interpretation of Chutsz. They sought to combine the cults of Confucianism and Shinto, and to demonstrate that the Mikados were descendants of gods; that everything possessed by a subject belonged primarily to the sovereign, and that anyone opposing his Majesty's will must be killed, though his brothers or his parents were his slayers. The obvious effect of such doctrines was to discredit the Bakufu shoguns, and information having ultimately been lodged in Yedo through an enemy of Takenouchi, seventeen Court nobles together with others were arrested and punished, some capitally and some by exile. Among those executed the most remarkable was Yamagata Daini, a master of military science, who, having endured the torture without confession, was finally put to death on the ground that in teaching the method of attacking a fortress he used drawings of Yedo Castle. This incident is remarkable as indicating the first potent appearance of a doctrine to the prevalence of which the fall of the Tokugawa Bakufu was ultimately referable.

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