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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Herself a descendant of the Central Master


In every case these offices were hereditary for all time, and the families of their holders constitute the aristocracy of the nation, marrying among themselves and filling the highest offices from generation to generation. Their members bore the title of hiko (son of the Sun) and hime (daughter of the Sun), and those that governed towns and villages were called tomo no miyatsuko, while those that held provincial domains were entitled kuni no miyatsuko.

This was the origin of the Japanese polity. The descendants of Amaterasu, herself a descendant of the Central Master, occupied the throne in unbroken succession, and the descendants of the two Constructive Chiefs served as councillors, ministers, and generals. But the lineage of all being traceable to three chiefs who originally occupied places of almost equal elevation, they were united by a bond of the most durable nature. At the same time it appears that this equality had its disadvantage; it disposed the members of the aristocratic families to usurp the administrative power while recognizing its source, the Throne, and it encouraged factional dissensions, which sometimes resulted disastrously. As to the middle and lower classes, no evidence bearing on their exact composition is forthcoming. It is plain, however, that they accepted a subordinate position without active protest, for nothing like a revolt on their part is alluded to, directly or indirectly, in the Records or the Chronicles. The term for all subjects was tomobe.

DWELLING-HOUSES

The palace of the sovereign--called miya or odono--corresponded in appearance and construction with the shrines of the deities. It was built by erecting central pillars--originally merely sunk in the ground but in later times having a stone foundation--from which rafters sloped to corner posts, similarly erected, the sides being clapboarded. Nails were used, but the heavy timbers were tied together with ropes made by twisting the fibrous stems of climbing plants. A conspicuous feature was that the upper ends of the rafters projected across each other, and in the V-shaped receptacle thus formed, a ridge-pole was laid with a number of short logs crossing it at right angles. This disposition of timbers was evidently devised to facilitate tying and to impart stability to the thatch, which was laid to a considerable thickness.

It is not certain whether in the earliest times floors were fully boarded, or whether boarding was confined to a dais running round the sides, the rest of the interior being of beaten mud. Subsequently, however, the whole floor was boarded. Chimneys were not provided; charcoal being the principal fuel, its smoke did not incommode, and when firewood was employed, the fumes escaped through openings in the gable. For windows there were holes closed by shutters which, like the doors, swung upon hooks and staples. Rugs of skin or of rush matting served to spread on the boarded floor, and in rare cases silk cushions were employed.


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