free ebooks

A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

He is thenceforth known as inkyo or recluse


was consulted, and to the surprise of Kyoto, the Bakufu prime minister assumed an attitude hostile to the Court's desire. The explanation of this singular act on Sadanobu's part was that a precisely analogous problem perplexed Yedo simultaneously. When Ienari was nominated shogun, his father, Hitotsubashi Harunari, fully expected to be appointed guardian of the new potentate, and being disappointed in that hope, he expressed his desire to receive the title of o-gosho (retired shogun), so that he might enter the western citadel of Yedo Castle and thence administer affairs as had been done by ex-Emperors in Kyoto for hundreds of years, and by ex-shoguns on several occasions under the Tokugawa. Disappointed in this aspiration, Harunari, after some hesitation, invited the attention of the shogun to the fact that filial piety is the basis of all moral virtues, and that, whereas the shogun's duty required him to set a good example to the people, he subjected his own father to unbecoming humiliation, Ienari referred the matter to the State council, but the councillors hesitated to establish the precedent of conferring the rank of o-gosho on the head of one of the Sankyo families--Tayasu, Shimizu, and Hitotsubashi--who had never discharged the duties of shogun.

The prime minister, Sadanobu, however, had not a moment's hesitation in opposing Harunari's project. He did, indeed, order a well-known Confucian scholar to search the annals in order to find

whether any precedent existed for the proposed procedure, either in Japan or in China, but he himself declared that if such an example were set in the shogun's family, it might be the cause of grave inconvenience among the people. In other words, a man whose son had been adopted into another family might claim to be regarded as the head of that family in the event of the death of the foster-father. It is certain, however, that other and stronger reasons influenced the Bakufu prime minister. Hitotsubashi Harunari was generally known as Wagamama Irikyo (the Wayward Recluse*). His most intimate friends were the shogun's father-in-law, Shimazu Ei-O, and Ikeda Isshinsai. The latter two were also inkyo and shared the tastes and foibles of Harunari. One of their greatest pleasures was to startle society. Thus, when Sadanobu was legislating with infinite care against prodigality of any kind, the above three old gentlemen loved to organize parties on an ostentatiously extravagant scale, and Sadanobu naturally shrank from seeing the title of o-gosho conferred on such a character, thus investing him with competence to interfere arbitrarily in the conduct of State affairs.

*It has always been a common custom in Japan for the head of a family to retire nominally from active life after he attains his fiftieth year. He is thenceforth known as inkyo (or recluse). The same is true of women.

Just at this time, the Court in Kyoto preferred its application, and Sadanobu at once appreciated that if the rank of dajo tenno were conferred on Prince Tsunehito, it would be impossible to withhold that of o-gosho from Harunari. Consequently the Bakufu prime minister wrote privately to the Kyoto prime minister, Takatsukasa Sukehira, pointing out the inadvisability of the proposed step. This letter, though not actually an official communication, had the effect of shelving the matter for a time, but, in 1791, the Emperor re-opened the question, and summoned a council in the palace to discuss it. The result was that sixty-five officials, headed by the prime minister and the minister of the Right, supported the sovereign's views, but the ex-premier, Takatsukasa Sukehira, and his son, the minister of the Left, with a few others, opposed them.

eBook Search
Social Sharing
Share Button
About us is a collection of free ebooks that can be read online. Ebooks are split into pages for easier reading and better bookmarking.

We have more than 35,000 free books in our collection and are adding new books daily.

We invite you to link to us, so as many people as possible can enjoy this wonderful free website.

© 2010-2013 - All Rights Reserved.

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Contact Us