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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Her Majesty is known in history as Go Sakuramachi


THE

117TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPRESS GO-SAKURAMACHI (A.D. 1762-1770), AND THE 118TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR GO-MOMOZONO (A.D. 1770-1780)

The Emperor Momozono died in 1762 after having administered the Government for sixteen years. His eldest son, Prince Hidehito, being a mere baby, it was decided that Princess Tomo, Momozono's elder sister, should occupy the throne, Prince Hidehito becoming the Crown Prince. Her Majesty is known in history as Go-Sakuramachi. Her reign lasted only eight years, and in 1770 she abdicated in favour of her nephew, Hidehito, who ascended the throne as the Emperor Go-Momozono and died after a reign of nine years. This exhausted the lineal descendants of the Emperor Nakanomikado.

THE 119TH SOVEREIGN, THE EMPEROR KOKAKU (A.D. 1780-1816)

In default of a direct heir it became necessary to have recourse to one of the "Four Princely Families," and the choice fell upon Prince Tomohito, representing the Kanin house. He succeeded as Kokaku, and a Japanese historian remarks with regard to the event and to the growth of the spirit fostered by Yamazaki Ansai, Takenouchi Shikibu, and Yamagata Daini, that "the first string of the Meiji Restoration lyre vibrated at this time in Japan." Kokaku's reign will be referred to again later on.

ENGRAVING: (Keyari) SPEAR CARRIER (One of a Daimyo's Procession)

ENGRAVING:

PICKING TEA LEAVES IN UJI, A CELEBRATED TEA DISTRICT

CHAPTER XLI

THE LATE PERIOD OF THE TOKUGAWA BAKUFU.

THE ELEVENTH SHOGUN, IENARI. (1786-1838)

NATURAL CALAMITIES

THE misgovernment of Tanuma and his son was not the only calamity that befell the country during the closing years of the tenth shogun, Ieharu's, administration. The land was also visited by famine and pestilence of unparallelled dimensions. The evil period began in 1783 and lasted almost without intermission for four years. It is recorded that when the famine was at its height, rice could not be obtained in some parts of the country for less than forty ryo a koku. Sanguinary riots took place in Yedo, Kyoto, Osaka, and elsewhere. The stores of rice-merchants and the residences of wealthy folks were plundered and, in many cases, destroyed. To such extremities were people driven that cakes made from pine-tree bark served as almost the sole means of subsistence in some districts, and the Government is found gravely proclaiming that cakes made of straw were more nutritious. There are records of men deserting their families, wandering into other provinces in search of food and dying by thousands on the way. An official who had been sent to Matsumae, in the province of Mutsu, to observe the state of affairs, reported that the villages to the east of Nambu had been practically depopulated and the once fertile fields converted into barren plains. "Although farmhouses stood in the hamlets, not a solitary person was to be seen on the road; not a human voice was to be heard. Looking through a window, one saw dead bodies lying without anyone to bury them, and sometimes skeletons covered with quilts reposed on the mats, while among the weeds countless corpses were scattered."


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