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The Rise of the Military Power
ALMOST the whole of authentic Japanese history is comprised in one vast episode: the rise and fall of the military power.... It has been customary to speak of Japanese history as beginning with the accession of Jimmu Tenno, alleged to have reigned from 660 to 585 B.C., and to have lived for one hundred and twenty-seven years. Before the time of the Emperor Jimmu was the Age of the Gods, — the period of mythology. But trustworthy history does not begin for a thousand years after the accession of Jimmu Tenno; and the chronicles of those thousand years must be regarded as little better than fairy-tales. They contain records of fact; but fact and myth are so interwoven that it is difficult to distinguish the one from the other. We have legends, for example, of an alleged conquest of Korea in the year 202 A.D., by the Empress Jingō; and it has been tolerably well proved that no such conquest took place.1 The later records are somewhat less mythical than the earlier. We have traditions apparently founded on fact, of Korean immigration in the time of the fifteenth ruler, the Emperor Ōjin; then later traditions, also founded on fact, of early Chinese studies in Japan; then some vague accounts of a disturbed state of society, which appears to have continued through the whole of the fifth century. Buddhism was introduced in the middle of the century following; and we have record of the fierce opposition offered to the new creed by a Shintō faction, and of a miraculous victory won by the help of the Four Deva Kings, at the prayer of Shōtoku Taishi, — the great founder of Buddhism, and regent of the Empress Suikō. With the firm establishment of Buddhism in the reign of that Empress (593-628 A.D.), we reach the period of authentic history, and of the thirty-third Japanese sovereign counting from Jimmu Tennō.
But although everything prior to the seventh century remains obscured for us by the mists of fable, much can be inferred, even from the half-mythical records, concerning social conditions during the reigns of the first thirty-three Emperors and Empresses. It appears that the early Mikado lived very simply — scarcely better, indeed, than their subjects. The Shintō scholar Mabuchi tells us that they dwelt in huts with mud walls and roofs of shingle; that they wore hempen clothes; that they carried their swords in simple wooden scabbards, bound round with the tendrils of a wild vine; that they walked about freely among the people; that they carried their own bows and arrows when they went to hunt. But as society developed wealth and power, this early simplicity disappeared; and the gradual introduction of Chinese customs and etiquette effected great changes. The Empress Suikō introduced Chinese court-ceremonies, and first established among the nobility the Chinese grades of rank. Chinese luxury, as well as Chinese learning, soon made its appearance at court; and thereafter the imperial authority appears to have been less and less directly exerted. The new ceremonialism must have rendered the personal exercise of the multiform imperial functions more difficult than before; and it is probable that the temptation to act more or less by deputy would have been strong even in the case of an energetic ruler. At all events we find that the real administration of government began about this time to pass into the hands of deputies, — all of whom were members of the great Kugé clan of the Fujiwara.
This clan, which included the highest hereditary priesthood, represented a majority of the ancient nobility, claiming divine descent. Ninety-five out of the total one hundred and fifty-five families of Kugé belonged to it, — including the five families, Go-Sekké, from which alone the Emperor was by tradition allowed to choose his Empress. Its historic name dates only from the reign of the Emperor Kwammu (782-806 A.D.), who bestowed it as an honour upon Nakatomi no Kamatari; but the clan had long previously held the highest positions at Court. By the close of the seventh century most of the executive power had passed into its hands. Later the office of Kwambaku, or Regent, was established, and remained hereditary in the house down to modern times ages after all real power had been taken from the descendants of Nakatomi no Kamatari. But during almost five centuries the Fujiwara remained the veritable regents of the country, and took every possible advantage of their position. All the civil offices were in the hands of Fujiwara men; all the wives and favourites of the Emperors were Fujiwara women. The whole power of government was thus kept in the hands of the clan; and the political authority of the Emperor ceased to exist. Moreover the succession was regulated entirely by the Fujiwara; and even the duration of each reign was made to depend upon their policy. It was deemed advisable to compel Emperors to abdicate at an early age, and after abdicating to become Buddhist monks, — the successor chosen being often a mere child. There is record of an Emperor ascending the throne at the age of two, and abdicating at the age of four; another Mikado was appointed at the age of five; several at the age of ten. Yet the religious dignity of the throne remained undiminished, or, rather, continued to grow. The more the Mikado was withdrawn from public view by policy and by ceremonial, the more did his seclusion and inaccessibility serve to deepen the awe of the divine legend. Like the Lama of Thibet the living deity was made invisible to the multitude; and gradually the belief arose that to look upon his face was death.... It is said that the Fujiwara were not satisfied even with these despotic means of assuring their own domination, and that luxurious forms of corruption were maintained within the palace for the purpose of weakening the character of young emperors who might otherwise have found the energy to assert the ancient rights of the throne.
Perhaps this usurpation — which prepared the way for the rise of the military power — has never been rightly interpreted. The history of all the patriarchal societies of ancient Europe will be found to illustrate the same phase of social evolution. At a certain period in the development of each we find the same thing happening, — the withdrawal of all political authority from the Priest-King, who is suffered, nevertheless, to retain the religious dignity. It may be a mistake to judge the policy of the Fujiwara as a policy of mere ambition and usurpation. The Fujiwara were a religious aristocracy, claiming divine origin, — clan-chiefs of a society in which religion and government were identical, and holding to that society much the same relation as that of the Eupatridć to the ancient Attic society. The Mikado had originally become supreme magistrate, military commander, and religious head by consent of a majority of the clan-chiefs, — each of whom represented to his own following what the "Heavenly Sovereign" represented to the social aggregate. But as the power of the ruler extended with the growth of the nation, those who had formerly united to maintain that power began to find it dangerous. They decided to deprive the Heavenly Sovereign of all political and legal authority, without disturbing in any way his religious supremacy. At Athens, at Sparta, at Rome, and elsewhere in ancient Europe, the same policy was carried out, for the same reasons, by religious senates. The history of the early kings of Rome, as interpreted by M. de Coulanges, best illustrates the nature of the antagonism developed between the priest-ruler and the religious aristocracy; but the same thing took place in all the Greek communities, with about the same result. Everywhere political power was taken away from the early kings; but they were mostly left in possession of their religious dignities and privileges: they remained supreme priests after having ceased to be rulers. This was the case also in Japan; and I imagine that future Japanese historians will be able to give us an entirely new interpretation of the Fujiwara episode, as reviewed in the light of modern sociology. At all events, there can be little doubt that, in curtailing the powers of the Heavenly Sovereign, the religious aristocracy must have been actuated by conservative precaution as well as by ambition. There had been various Emperors who made changes in the laws and customs — changes which could scarcely have been viewed with favour by many of the ancient nobility; there had been an Emperor whose diversions can to-day be written of only in Latin; there had even been an Emperor — Kōtoku — who, though "God Incarnate," and chief of the ancient faith, "despised the Way of the Gods," and cut down the holy grove of the shrine of Iku-kuni-dama. Kōtoku, for all his Buddhist piety (perhaps, indeed, because of it), was one of the wisest and best of rulers; but the example of a heavenly sovereign "despising the Way of the Gods,” must have given the priestly clan matter for serious reflection.... Besides, there is another important fact to be noticed. The Imperial household proper had become, in the course of centuries, entirely detached from the Uji; and the omnipotence of this unit, independent of all other units, constituted in itself a grave danger to aristocratic privileges and established institutions. Too much might depend upon the personal character and will of an omnipotent God-King, capable of breaking with all clan-custom, and of abrogating clan-privileges. On the other hand, there was safety for all alike under the patriarchal rule of the clan, which could check every tendency on the part of any of its members to exert predominant influence at the expense of the rest. But for obvious reasons the Imperial cult — traditional source of all authority and privilege — could not be touched: it was only by maintaining and reinforcing it that the religious nobility could expect to keep the real power in their hands. They actually kept it for nearly five centuries.
The history of all the Japanese regencies, however, amply illustrates the general rule that inherited authority is ever and everywhere liable to find itself supplanted by deputed authority. The Fujiwara appear to have eventually become the victims of that luxury which they had themselves, for reasons of policy, introduced and maintained. Degenerating into a mere court-nobility, they made little effort to exert any direct authority in other than civil directions, entrusting military matters almost wholly to the Buké. In the eighth century the distinction between military and civil organization had been made upon the Chinese plan; the great military class then came into existence, and began to extend its power rapidly. Of the military clans proper, the most powerful were the Minamoto and the Taira. By deputing to these clans the conduct of all important matters relating to war, the Fujiwara eventually lost their high position and influence. As soon as the Buké found themselves strong enough to lay hands upon the reins of government, — which happened about the middle of the eleventh century, — the Fujiwara supremacy became a thing of the past, although members of the clan continued for centuries to occupy positions of importance under various regents.
But the Buké could not realize their ambition without a bitter struggle among themselves, — the longest and the fiercest war in Japanese history. The Minamoto and the Taira were both Kugé; both claimed imperial descent. In the early part of the contest the Taira carried all before them; and it seemed that no power could hinder them from exterminating the rival clan. But fortune turned at last in favour of the Minamoto; and at the famous sea-fight of Dan-no-ura, in 1185, the Taira were themselves exterminated. Then began the reign of the Minamoto regents, or rather shōgun. I have elsewhere said that the title “shōgun" originally signified, as did the Roman military term Imperator, only a commander-in-chief: it now became the title of the supreme ruler de facto, in his double capacity of civil and military sovereign, — the King of kings. From the accession of the Minamoto to power the history of the shōgunate — the long history of the military supremacy really begins; Japan thereafter, down to the present era of Meiji, having really two Emperors: the Heavenly Sovereign, or Deity Incarnate, representing the religion of the race; and the veritable Imperator, who wielded all the powers of the administration. No one sought to occupy by force the throne of the Sun's Succession, whence all authority was at least supposed to be derived. Regent or shōgun bowed down before it: divinity could not be usurped.
Yet peace did not follow upon the battle of Dan-no-ura: the clan-wars initiated by the great struggle of the Minamoto and the Taira, continued, at irregular intervals, for five centuries more; and the nation remained disintegrated. Nor did the Minamoto long keep the supremacy which they had so dearly won. Deputing their powers to the Hōjō family, they were supplanted by the Hōjō, just as the Fujiwara had been supplanted by the Taira. Three only of the Minamoto shōgun really exercised rule. During the whole of the thirteenth century, and for some time afterwards, the Hōjō continued to govern the country; and it is noteworthy that these regents never assumed the title of shōgun, but professed to be merely shōgunal deputies. Thus a triple-headed government appeared to exist; for the Minamoto kept up a kind of court at Kamakura. But they faded into mere shadows, and are yet remembered by the significant appellation of "Shadow-Shōgun," or "Puppet Shōgun." There was nothing shadowy, however, about the administration of the Hōjō, — men of immense energy and ability. By them Emperor or shōgun could be deposed and banished without scruple; and the helplessness of the shōgunate can be inferred from the fact, that the seventh Hōjō regent, before deposing the seventh shōgun, sent him home in a palanquin, head downwards and heels upwards. Nevertheless the Hōjō suffered the phantom-shōgunate to linger on, until 1333. Though unscrupulous in their methods, these regents were capable rulers; and proved themselves able to save the country in a great emergency, — the famous invasion attempted by Kublai Khan in 1281. Aided by a fortunate typhoon, which is said to have destroyed the hostile fleet in answer to prayer offered up at the national shrines, the Hōjō could repel this invasion. They were less successful in dealing with certain domestic disorders, — especially those fomented by the turbulent Buddhist priesthood. During the thirteenth century, Buddhism had developed into a great military power, — strangely like that church-militant of the European middle ages: the period of soldier-priests and fighting-bishops. The Buddhist monasteries had been converted into fortresses filled with men-at-arms; Buddhist menace had more than once carried terror into the sacred seclusion of the imperial court. At an early day, Yoritomo, the far-seeing founder of the Minamoto dynasty, had observed a militant tendency in Buddhism, and had attempted to check it by forbidding all priests and monks either to bear arms, or to maintain armed retainers. But his successors had been careless about enforcing these prohibitions; and the Buddhist military power developed in consequence so rapidly that the shrewdest Hōjō were doubtful of their ability to cope with it. Eventually this power proved capable of giving them serious trouble. The ninety-sixth Mikado, Go-Daigo, found courage to revolt against the tyranny of the Hōjō; and the Buddhist soldiery took part with him. He was promptly defeated, and banished to the islands of Oki; but his cause was soon espoused by powerful lords, who had long chafed under the despotism of the regency. These assembled their forces, restored the banished Emperor, and combined in a desperate attack upon the regent's capital, Kamakura. The city was stormed and burned; and the last of the Hōjō rulers, after a brave but vain defence, performed harakiri. Thus shōgunate and regency vanished together, in 1333.
For the moment the whole power of administration had been restored to the Mikado. Unfortunately for himself and for the country, Go-Daigo was too feeble of character to avail himself of this great opportunity. He revived the dead shōgunate by appointing his own son shōgun; he weakly ignored the services of those whose loyalty and courage had restored him; and he foolishly strengthened the hands of those whom he had every reason to fear. As a consequence there happened the most serious political catastrophe in the history of Japan, a division of the imperial house against itself.
The unscrupulous despotism of the Hōjō regents had prepared the possibility of such an event, During the last years of the thirteenth century, there were living at the same time in Kyōto, besides the reigning Mikado, no less than three deposed emperors. To bring about a contest for the succession was, therefore, an easy matter; and this was soon accomplished by the treacherous general Ashikaga Takéuji, to whom Go-Daigo had unwisely shown especial favour. Ashikaga had betrayed the Hōjō in order to help the restoration of Go-Daigo: he subsequently would have betrayed the trust of Go-Daigo in order to seize the administrative power. The Emperor discovered this treasonable purpose when too late, and sent against Ashikaga an army which was defeated. After some further contest Ashikaga mastered the capital, drove Go-Daigo a second time into exile, set up a rival Emperor, and established a new shōgunate. Now for the first time, two branches of the Imperial family, each supported by powerful lords, contended for the right of succession. That of which Go-Daigo remained the acting representative, is known in history as the Southern Branch (Nanchō) and by Japanese historians is held to be the only legitimate branch. The other was called the Northern Branch (Hokuchō), and was maintained at Kyoto by the power of the Ashikaga clan; while Go-Daigo, finding refuge in a Buddhist monastery, retained the insignia of empire.... Thereafter, for a period of fifty-six years Japan continued to have two Mikado; and the resulting disorder was such as to imperil the national integrity. It would have been no easy matter for the people to decide which Emperor possessed the better claim. Hitherto the imperial presence had represented the national divinity; and the imperial palace had been regarded as the temple of the national religion: the division maintained by the Ashikaga usurpers therefore signified nothing less than the breaking up of the whole tradition upon which existing society had been built. The confusion became greater and greater, the danger increased more and more, until the Ashikaga themselves took alarm. They managed then to end the trouble by persuading the fifth Mikado of the Southern Dynasty, Go-Kaméyama, to surrender his insignia to the reigning Mikado of the Northern Dynasty, Go-Komatsu. This having been done, in 1392, Go-Kameyama was honoured with the title of retired Emperor, and Go-Komatsu was nationally acknowledged as legitimate Emperor. But the names of the other four Emperors of the Northern Dynasty are still excluded from the official list.
The Ashikaga shōgunate thus averted the supreme peril; but the period of this military domination, which endured until 1573, was destined to remain the darkest in Japanese history. The Ashikaga gave the country fifteen rulers, several of whom were men of great ability: they tried to encourage industry; they cultivated literature and the arts; but they could not give peace. Fresh disputes arose; and lords whom the shōgunate could not subdue made war upon each other. To such a condition of terror was the capital reduced that the court nobility fled from it to take refuge with daimyō powerful enough to afford them protection. Robbery became rife throughout the land; and piracy terrorized the seas. The shōgunate itself was reduced to the humiliation of paying tribute to China. Agriculture and industry at last ceased to exist outside of the domains of certain powerful lords. Provinces became waste; and famine, earthquake, and pestilence added their horror to the misery of ceaseless war. The poverty prevailing may be best imagined from the fact that when the Emperor known to history as Go-Tsuchi-mikado — one hundred and second of the Sun's Succession died in the year 1500, his corpse had to be kept at the gates of the palace forty days, because the expenses of the funeral could not be defrayed. Until 1573 the misery continued; and the shōgunate meanwhile degenerated into insignificance. Then a strong captain arose and ended the house of Ashikaga, and seized the reins of power. This usurper was Oda Nobunaga; and the usurpation was amply provoked. Had it not occurred, Japan might never have entered upon an era of peace.
For there had been no peace since the fifth century. No emperor or regent or shōgun had ever been able to impose his rule firmly upon the whole country. Somewhere or other, there were always wars of clan with clan. By the time of the sixteenth century personal safety could be found only under the protection of some military leader, able to exact his own terms for the favour of such protection. The question of the imperial succession, — which had almost wrecked the empire during the fourteenth century, — might be raised again at any time by some reckless faction, with the probable result of ruining civilization, and forcing the nation back to its primitive state of barbarism. Never did the future of Japan appear so dark as at the moment when Oda Nobunaga suddenly found himself the strongest man in the empire, and leader of the most formidable Japanese army that had ever obeyed a single head. This man, a descendant of Shinto priests, was above all things a patriot. He did not seek the title of shōgun, and never received it. His hope was to save the country; and he saw that this could be done only by centralizing all feudal power under one control, and strenuously enforcing law. Looking about him for the ways and means of effecting this centralization, he perceived that one of the very first obstacles to be removed was that created by the power of Buddhism militant, — the feudal Buddhism developed under the Hōjō regency, and especially represented by the great Shin and Tendai sects. As both had already given aid to his enemies, it was easy to find a cause for quarrel; and he first proceeded against the Tendai. The campaign was conducted with ferocious vigour; the monastery-fortresses of Hiyei-san were stormed and razed, and all the priests, with all their adherents, put to the sword — no mercy being shown even to women and children. By nature Nobunaga was not cruel; but his policy was ruthless, and he knew when and why to strike hard. The power of the Tendai sect before this massacre may be imagined from the fact that three thousand monastery buildings were burnt at Hiyei-san. The Shin sect of the Hongwanji, with headquarters at Ōsaka, was scarcely less powerful; and its monastery, occupying the site of the present Ōsaka castle, was one of the strongest fortresses in the country. Nobunaga waited several years, merely to prepare for the attack. The soldier-priests defended themselves well; upwards of fifty thousand lives are said to have been lost in the siege; yet only the personal intervention of the Emperor prevented the storming of the stronghold, and the slaughter of every being within its walls. Through respect for the Emperor, Nobunaga agreed to spare the lives of the Shin priests: they were only dispossessed and scattered, and their power forever broken. Buddhism having been thus effectually crippled, Nobunaga was able to turn his attention to the warring clans. Supported by the greatest generals that the nation ever produced, — Hidéyoshi and Iyéyasu, — he proceeded to enforce pacification and order; and his grand purpose would probably have been soon accomplished, but for the revengeful treachery of a subordinate, who brought about his death in 1582.
Nobunaga, with Taira blood in his veins, had been essentially an aristocrat, inheriting all the aptitudes of his great race for administration, and versed in all the traditions of diplomacy. His avenger and successor, Hidéyoshi, was a totally different type of soldier: a son of peasants, an untrained genius who had won his way to high command by shrewdness and courage, natural skill of arms, and immense inborn capacity for all the chess-play of war. With the great purpose of Nobunaga he had always been in sympathy; and he actually carried it out, — subduing the entire country, from north to south, in the name of the Emperor, by whom he was appointed Regent (Kwambaku). Thus universal peace was temporarily established. But the vast military powers which Hidéyoshi had collected and disciplined, threatened to become refractory. He found employment for them by declaring unprovoked war against Korea, whence he hoped to effect the conquest of China. The war with Korea opened in 1592, and dragged on unsatisfactorily until 1598, when Hidéyoshi died. He had proved himself one of the greatest soldiers ever born, but not one of the best among rulers. Perhaps the issue of the war in Korea would have been more fortunate, if he could have ventured to conduct it himself. As a matter of fact, it merely exhausted the force of both countries; and Japan had little to show for her dearly bought victories abroad except the Mimidzuka or "Ear-Monument" at Nara, — marking the spot where thirty thousand pairs of foreign ears, cut from the pickled heads of slain, were buried in the grounds of the temple of Daibutsu....
Into the vacant place of power then stepped the most remarkable man that Japan ever produced, — Tokugawa Iyéyasu. Iyéyasu was of Minamoto descent, and an aristocrat to the marrow of his bones. As a soldier he was scarcely inferior to Hidéyoshi, whom he once defeated, — but he was much more than a soldier: a far-sighted statesman, an incomparable diplomat, and something of a scholar. Cool, cautious, secretive, — distrustful, yet generous, — stern, yet humane, — by the range and the versatility of his genius he might be not unfavourably contrasted with Julius Cćsar. All that Nobunaga and Hidéyoshi had wished to do, and failed to do, Iyéyasu speedily accomplished. After fulfilling Hidéyoshi's dying injunction, not to leave the troops in Korea "to become ghosts haunting a foreign land," — that is to say, in the condition of spirits without a cult, — Iyéyasu had to face a formidable league of lords resolved to dispute his claim to rule. The terrific battle of Sekigahara left him master of the country; and he at once took measures to consolidate his power, and to perfect, even to the least detail, all the machinery of military government. As shōgun, he reorganized the daimiates, redistributed a majority of fiefs among those whom he could trust, created new military grades, and ordered and so balanced the powers of the greater daimyō as to make it next to impossible for them to dare a revolt. Later on the daimyō were even required to furnish security for their good behaviour: they were obliged to pass a certain time of the year2 in the shōgun's capital, leaving their families as hostages during the rest of the year. The entire administration was readjusted upon a simple and sagacious plan; and the Laws of Iyéyasu prove him to have been an excellent legislator. For the first time in Japanese history the nation was integrated, — integrated, at least, in so far as the peculiar nature of the social unit rendered possible. The counsels of the founder of Yedo were followed by his successors; and the Tokugawa shōgunate, which lasted until 1867, gave the country fifteen military sovereigns. Under these, Japan enjoyed both peace and prosperity for the time of two hundred and fifty years; and her society was thus enabled to evolve to the full limit of its peculiar type. Industries and arts developed in new and wonderful ways; literature found august patronage. The national cult was carefully maintained; and all precautions were taken to prevent the occurrence of another such contest for the imperial succession as had nearly ruined the country in the fourteenth century.
We have seen that the history of military rule in Japan embraces nearly the whole period of authentic history, down to modern times, and closes with the second period of national integration. The first period had been reached when the clans first accepted the leadership of the chief of the greatest clan, — thereafter revered as the Heavenly Sovereign, Supreme Pontiff, Supreme Arbiter, Supreme Commander, and Supreme Magistrate. How long a time was required for this primal integration, under a patriarchal monarchy, we cannot know; but we have learned that the later integration, under a duarchy, occupied considerably more than a thousand years.... Now the extraordinary fact to note is that, during all those centuries, the imperial cult was carefully maintained by even the enemies of the Mikado; the only legitimate ruler being, in national belief, the Tenshi, "Son of Heaven," — the Tennō, "Heavenly King.” Through every period of disorder the Offspring of the Sun was the object of national worship, and his palace the temple of the national faith. Great captains might coerce the imperial will; but they styled themselves, none the less, the worshippers and slaves of the incarnate deity; and they would no more have thought of trying to occupy his throne, than they would have thought of trying to abolish all religion by decree. Once only, by the arbitrary folly of the Ashikaga shōgun, the imperial cult had been seriously interfered with; and the social earthquake consequent upon that division of the imperial house, apprised the usurpers of the enormity of their blunder.... Only the integrity of the imperial succession, the uninterrupted maintenance of the imperial worship, made it possible even for Iyéyasu to clamp together the indissoluble units of society.
Herbert Spencer has taught the student of sociology to recognize that religious dynasties have extraordinary powers of longevity, because they possess extraordinary power to resist change; whereas military dynasties, depending for their perpetuity upon the individual character of their sovereigns, are particularly liable to disintegration. The immense duration of the Japanese imperial dynasty, as contrasted with the history of the various shōgunates and regencies representing a merely military domination, illustrates this teaching in a most remarkable way. Back through twenty-five hundred years we can follow the line of the imperial succession, till it vanishes out of sight into the mystery of the past. Here we have evidence of that extreme power of Resisting all changes which is inherently characteristic of religious conservatism; on the other hand, the history of shōgunates and regencies proves the tendency to disintegration of institutions having no religious foundation, and therefore no religious power of cohesion, The remarkable duration of the Fujiwara rule, as compared with others, may perhaps be accounted for by the fact that the Fujiwara represented a religious, rather than a military, aristocracy. Even the marvellous military structure devised by Iyéyasu had begun to decay before alien aggression precipitated its inevitable collapse.
1 See Aston's paper, Early Japanese History, in the translations of the Asiatic Society of Japan.
2 The period of obligatory residence in Yedo was not the same for all daimyō. In some cases the obligation seems to have extended to six months; in others, the requirement was to pass every alternate year in the capital.