Table of Contents
Izawa Motohiko, Gyakusetsu no Nihonshi: Muromachi Bunka to Ikki no Nazo (An Alternative Japanese History: Muromachi Era Culture and the Peculiarities of Protest), Shogakkan, Tokyo, 2003


“The power of the people in demanding the complete withdrawal of troops from the armies of Hatakeyama Yoshinari and Masanaga”.

It appears that the Japanese have a particular fondness for those above them. In fact, it might be best to describe this as the “Mito Komon Wish”. Some time ago, someone said that “the Japanese harbor the hope that a person of wisdom and strength will appear among them in order to right the wrongs of the world”. However, such a `god`-like person does not exist. In the end, all that remains are people, each with their own particular flaws, who may be `used` in one way or another. That is the way of the world. Though a nation may be governed by laws and any violation of those laws constitutes a crime, the law itself should be considered in relation to society, for there is no such thing as a `flawless person`. The age in which the Japanese understood this fact more than any other was the Muromachi era. For the people of this era, they knew that they could not rely upon either the shōgun or daimyō. They had seen with their own eyes the destruction wrought by the Ōnin War, and knew that their social superiors were `incompetent`. They became more confused as the conflict progressed, as it was seemingly without purpose.(196).

All they could do was voice their frustration, and state that `enough was enough`. They united their `resolve`, and by combining their strength they became known as `ikki`, or united as one in protest. The most prominent examples of such thinking were the kuni-ikki of Yamashiro (modern Kyoto-fu) and the Ikkō ikki. When one mentions `ikki`, the image that most comes to mind is the Edo era and the peasant protests, however protests in the Muromachi era were carried out by regional `citizens`, that is, people of some wealth (those with propertied class, usually armed). It might seem difficult to reconcile this image of armed peasants, however if one were to put this in modern terms, you could call them `self-defence forces for villages`. This is how I would like you to think of them. Like the `cowboys` of the old west in the United States who armed themselves in order to protect livestock, these warriors existed to protect recently developed land and goods from thieves, bandits, and the leaders of nearby villages. (196)

The reason that peasants in the Edo era did not possess weapons was because society had already been divided into warriors and peasants, however in the Sengoku era peasants still possessed weapons. The leading peasants in the local era acted as a `group leader` of the regional armed posse. There were, of course, average peasants below this rank who mostly engaged in tilling the soil, however as they might at any time be called on to go to war they kept their weaponry close at hand. Just as there was no such thing as an `unarmed` cowboy, since one could not rely on one`s superiors for protection, if one did not at least train in using a bamboo spear one could not survive. One thing I want to stress here is that the shugo daimyō of the Muromachi era did not exercise direct control over all of the peasants on their estate. The position of shugo (provincial ruler) was received from the shōgunate, meaning that those at this rank in society were not familiar with the regions they were appointed to. There were examples of families such as the Akamatsu of Harima who were raised up from the lower classes, however from a residential point of view, by and large shugo were forced upon local citizens.(197)

Of course, the residents of these properties were expected to obey the orders of the shugo. However, most of these shugo daimyō did not reside on their local properties but in Kyoto. The capital was always filled with intrigue, and if one did not remain vigilant one never knew when one might lose what authority they possessed. Needless to say, this did not endear the shugo to the local residents on their properties. Usually it was the shugo-dai (deputy provincial ruler) who held close ties with the local populace, and was thus easier for them to gain the trust of the local residents. Those appointed to such a position normally had a very high standing within the local population. To put this in modern terms, it was like the head of a store, since they spent most of their time in Tokyo, who doesn`t know much about the local area, whereas the deputy manager, since they are in the store most of the time, gathers popularity around them.(198)

Famous families of the Sengoku era, such as the Asakura of Echizen, the Saito of Mino, and the Oda of Owari were all appointed to the position of shugo-dai, with countless other examples. Hence what I would like you to keep in mind is that the shugo held comparatively little power over the local populace. If this were the Edo era, whenever a disturbance occurred at the local level (a hyakusho-ikki, or peasant uprising), all one would need to do is instruct the local samurai (the Hanshi) to direct their energies towards suppressing it. Through such an example, one may see that the system of hyakusho, hanshi, and daimyō and authority were all directly related to one another. All the shugo-daimyō could do was order local residents to obey him. In order to understand why local residents were expected to obey an unfamiliar shugo-daimyō, one must first look at the background to the broad authority of the Muromachi Bakufu.(198)

In modern terms, if a deputy manager from Tokyo is sent down to run a local store, the reason he/she must be obeyed is because he/she bears the authority of the `main office`. The employees don`t want to be fired, and don`t want to lose their pay, hence they obey the assistant manager. Thus when the `main office` starts to fall apart, and becomes increasingly unreliable, what should be done when ordered to act in a certain manner yet no advantage can be gained by obeying such instructions? “I`m not going to follow your orders anymore. Go back to Tokyo, we`ll do things our way here”. It more than likely that such a scenario would end in this manner. In truth, this is how things worked out in historical events such as the Yamashiro Kuni-ikki and the Ikkō-ikki (or more correctly, the Kaga Ikkō-ikki).(198)

In this era, `ikki` meant `Kuni-ikki`, in sum `a protest by the local citizen classes`. When Japan experienced its first protest by those below this rank, the so called `tsuchi-min` (or `commoners`) ikkiin the first year of Shōchō (1428), the chief abbot of Kōfukuji, in order to discriminate this from other protests, described it as a `tsuchi-ikki` or land (literally `soil`) protest and thus the expression stuck. In order to understand my point clearly in relation to ikki, it is important to remember that Kuni-ikki occurred before this date and would continue after it. Hence why should one choose to emphasize the Kuni-ikki that occurred in 1485, almost half a century after the original ikki of 1428? Ikkō-ikki did not occur in Kaga alone. Hence why should one focus on the Kaga Ikkō-ikki that occurred in almost the same time frame (1487)? The reason lies in the fact that these ikki did not end in a single act of violence.(199)

Protest occurs when dissatisfaction and unfairness accumulates to the extent that it explodes. These `explosions` are very much like a form of `letting off steam`, for once the violence and looting ends usually everything goes back to the way it was. Yet these two particular ikki, rather than petering out, escalated to the extent that they expelled the rulers of their regions and created the first self-governing `republics` in Japanese history devoid of upper class participants. It`s for these reasons that I`ve singled them out for review. First, we`ll look at the Yamashiro Kuni-ikki. Put simply, the local residents involved in this ikki did not have much faith in their shugo. To put it another way, they had a very strong sense of independence. Yet if this was the only reason, why didn`t similar `republics` (or regions without government appointed leaders) emerge throughout Japan? This is because of the particular circumstances surrounding Yamashiro province. In order to examine this closely, let`s backtrack a bit.(200)

Around the time of the end of the Ōnin War (Bunmei 9, 1477), Hatakeyama Yoshinari, having lost his position, looked to support from one of his sympathizers, Saito Myōchin. With this aid he took military control over Kawachi (southern Osaka prefecture) and created a type of `republic`. However, as far as his rival Hatakeyama Masanaga was concerned, this was a particularly unwelcome development. Masanaga was allied to the victors (eastern army) camp, and thus was acknowledged as both the shugo of Yamashiro province and the legitimate successor to the Hatakeyama household. However the `nobody` Yoshinari had taken control over Kawachi, a territory that fell within the Hatakeyama sphere of influence yet was being illegally occupied by Yoshinari. This infuriated Masanaga. Moreover, Yoshinari was not content merely to rule over Kawachi. His ultimate goal was to overthrow Masanaga and take back control over the Hatakeyama family. In order to achieve this, Yoshinari repeatedly attacked Yamato province (Nara prefecture) and the castle of Nanzan, said to be the crux of Masanaga`s authoritative power. Needless to say, this was the start of ferocious fighting between the two sides.(200)

On the surface, it would appear that Masanaga would have the advantage over Yoshinari. Masanaga was backed by the Bakufu. However he possessed one fatal flaw. He had no aptitude for military matters, and had no inclination to win any battles against Yoshinari. In contrast to this, Yoshinari was adept at waging war, and was one of the mainstays of the western army. It was probably Yoshinari who possessed the most ability in battle of any generals in this age. In order to trap Masanaga, Yoshinari devised the first ever large scale attack using water in Japanese history – the battle of the seventeen stations – in 1483. It`s here that one can recognize Yoshinari`s military genius. Hence things boiled down to a clash between Masanaga`s `rights` versus Yoshinari`s `strategy`. The struggle itself continued for quite some time.(200)

As the conflict went on for so long, the people living within the area found their lives were turned upside down. Fields were trampled on, houses burned, and from their lord (in this case, Masanaga) came orders for temporary taxes and collection of goods. It was indeed a time of strife. Roads and bridges had to be repaired, castles and forts had to be built. However in a state of war, things that were built yesterday could be destroyed today. The citizens of Yamashiro had reached the limit of their patience. On the 11th of December, 1485 (Bunmei 17) all of the male citizens of Yamashiro between the ages of 16 to 60 gathered together and made the following resolutions: 1. Neither faction was to enter southern Yamashiro. 2. Only the original rulers (from temples and sō properties) would be acknowledged. 3. No new toll barriers were to be built. The citizens formed a united group, and demanded that the warring factions withdraw their troops from the local territory. Unlike Yoshinari, Masanaga was the legitimately acknowledged shugo of Yamashiro, and was formally appointed to suppress any violence using the army appointed to him. In spite of all this, he was effectively being told to `get out of Yamashiro`. This was a first in Japanese history. Quite naturally the rulers at the time dubbed this a `kuni-ikki`. However, as far as the citizens were concerned, theirs was not a temporary action, but one that ignored the authority of the shugo and the Bakufu and resolved to act under their own power. Hence one could not call this a mere `ikki`. The citizens preferred to call this new territory of theirs a sō-koku or `sō-region/province`.(202-203)

The sō-koku pitfall unrecognized by political master Hosokawa Masamoto.

Unfortunately no record survives indicating where this monumental meeting took place. Though many, including complaintants from Kōfukuji, wrote of this epoch in Japanese history, no one bothered to note where the meeting was held. Why on earth did this fact escape their attention?

I would like you to cast your memory back to the first volume in this series and the point about the `logic of the Chūnichi Dragons`. It would be best to go into detail on this again, but for the sake of clarity it will suffice to summarize the argument by saying that as far as the people of the time were concerned, `things perceived as everyday occurrences were not recorded in historical documents`. Apparently the number of places that such a meeting could take place at were extremely limited. (203)

In this age the only places with large buildings were temples, shrines, and the residences of the upper classes. It may have been possible for meetings to be held out in fields etc, however at the time there was no such thing as a space for public assembly such as a park or plaza. If there were they were mostly likely part of a temple complex. As this meeting, which should be dubbed a `union gathering`, could not be held within a designated official or upper-class residence, it most likely took place within the confines of a temple. In other words, the meeting took place at a large temple within Yamashiro province. Moreover, as the meeting was situated in the southern part of Yamashiro, then obviously one should expect to find a suitable candidate for a venue in that area. The citizens of southern Yamashiro were probably not prepared to march all the way up north to attend a gathering. As such, the most likely venue was Iwashimizu Hachimangu. It would have been sufficiently removed from central Kyoto so as not to raise the ire of those opposed to the meeting.(204)

There are probably those among you who feel that the Phoenix Hall at Uji Byōdō-in would also have been a suitable candidate. However I believe this possibility is rather remote. The reasons lies in the fact that, not only because this series is an `alternative history` (gyakusetsu), but because a kuni-ikki, or more correctly sō-koku, did indeed take place at Uji Byōdō-in. A record survives to prove it. This is exceedingly unusual. At this `Byōdō-in meeting`, the detailed rules outlining the sō-koku, or the `precepts of the land` were laid out. In the 3rd article of what should be described as the `constitution` of the sō-koku the venue of the first meeting is not explicitly recorded, yet it is for the second meeting. Why was this so? (204-205)

The reason is probably because the first venue was regarded as an everyday occurrence, whereas the second venue was not, hence this unusual event was noted for the records. This is the `logic of the Chunichi Dragons`. The unusual is recorded, whereas the everyday is not. To put this in modern terms, the annual high school baseball tournament is usually associated with `Kōshien` (and usually recorded as such), a fact understood by all. Yet if this year the tournament were to be held somewhere other than Kōshien, that would be regarded as unusual and thus recorded by many people. This is basically the same thing as the Uji record. (205)

Hence what was `common place` for the people of this era? Firstly, in order to a large assembly of people to make a decision on a matter of importance, there was a ritual known as `drinking holy water` (shinsui). This involved the purified `misogi` water found within the confines of shrines. The participants would pray in front of the shrine, and then drink the water. If anybody broke their pledge, then they would suffer divine vengeance and die. There was another slightly different form of this ceremony in which pieces of paper onto which vows had been written would be burned, then the ashes would be mixed with the water and drunk. This ceremony was known as ichimi-shinsui, or `a taste of holy water`. Incidently, Hōjō Sōun (Ise Shinkurō, founder of what was later known as the daimyō household of Go (or `latter`) Hōjō), when he announced his intention to rule the Kanto region, conducted an ichimi-shinsui ritual with 7 of his supporters.(205)

In this era both shrines and temples were thought of as one (shinbutsu konkō), however this concept was more in keeping with `management`, for the buildings themselves remained separate. Thus if the ichimi-shinsui ritual did not take place at a shrine, then basically it did not take place at all. The formation of these sō-koku meant that one had to risk one`s life in protest against the Bakufu. In keeping with standard practice, after the head of a large temple conducted a ceremony of ichimi-shinsui, a proclamation would be probably be made. When considering that the shrine for the gathering of citizens was made close to southern Yamashiro, was a fairly large shrine and removed from central part of the capital, then the shrine that fulfills all of those conditions is Iwashimizu Hachimangu. I prefer to think that the assembly that raised the flag of the sō-koku in December of 1485 (Bunmei 17) did so at Iwashimizu Hachimangu.(205-206)

And so, why did the second meeting of the sō-koku held in December of the following year (1486) take place at the Phoenix Hall of Byōdō-in? Most likely this was because for those citizens in the southern regions Byōdō-in was closer than Iwashimizu Hachimangu, and that transportation to the venue was better. There are few large temple complexes in the Uji area, hence the reason the organizers chose a temple complex instead of a shrine was because the organizers were planning to conduct a ceremony of ichimi-shinsui hence they would have prioritized access to a large venue. They may also have felt that the name Byōdō (equal) made the temple a suitable place to hold the meeting. One further reason may be because the organizers gained support from the temple itself. Byōdo-in, which had originally been a retreat house for Fujiwara Michinaga, had been transformed into a temple by his son. Yet why did this temple complex, so obviously part of the `system`, come to attract the favor of the masses? I`d like us to take a look at three conditions set down at the beginning of the chapter. If the sō-koku intended to create a new `self-governing republic`, doesn`t condition two strike you as odd? The temple complex was originally the owner of a sō-en. Hence why would the sō-koku acknowledge the temple`s and officialdom`s right to control territory? (206-207)

What one should pay particular attention to here is the fact that the sō-koku was a movement manipulated by old forces, and could not be regarded as a true `revolution` for it had in truth existed before.(207)

There has been a lot of debate among ikki researchers on historical records that question the revolutionary degree of kuni-ikki, particularly when considering that condition two set down by the kuni-ikki meant obeying the right of the original owner of the sō-en to direct control (jikimu, or direct service) over his property. A desire for control by temples with their old aristocratic ties and highly placed officials was conservative and retrogressive. Yet I believe that the kuni-ikki had made an effective choice in their demand for self-governance vie controlling rights, and that this was an independent demand by the citizens.(207)

The reason for this decision lies in the fact that the leaders of the sō-en and the military houses each had different levels of public duties and tribute due to them. The leaders of the sō-en, though divided into those with strength and those without, were in the process of being made militarily redundant, hence they would exact a standard amount of tribute from peasants and expect them to provide upkeep of the estate (shigeuke), and in many cases were prepared to allow villages to govern themselves. Professor Wakita Haruko (of Taikei Nippon no Rekishi Sengoku daimyō) states that rather than the citizens of Yamashiro being responsible for the ikki for 1485, it was in fact those below that level, the jizamurai (or village-based samurai) and peasants who `poked up from below` who initiated the protest. As a result of the many wars that had raged across Yamashiro, it was this level of society that had suffered most, both economically and in numbers. If this social group, who bore most of the responsibility for production and for military service chose to band together they could move the citizenry into action.(208)

And so, what preserved this union of peasants and jizamurai? In a word, it was the `guild` or za, a form of unofficial organization. In the present day we have organizations such as the `actors guild` and the `literary guild`, and theatre groups often use the word `guild`, however in the 15th century `guild` had a much broader meaning, and any group of people might be referred to as a `guild`. If one were to refer to the guild of peasants and jizamurai in modern terms it would be `the local town life improvement support organization`. Such a designation betrays the effects of a world in chaos. If the central government had been doing its duties correctly, there would be no need for such an organization.(208).

Based on these combined groups, the peasantry “through mutual production and benefit via compromise with the influence of temples and nobles, expelled military powers from outside the province, brought government to the citizenry, and developed the sō-koku”, or so says Professor Wakita in her book `Yamashiro-guni Ikki (sō-koku). I agree with this theory, mainly because, if I may say so, one can see the same trend in the Yamashiro Ikki as in the Kaga Ikko Ikki. In the same way that the jizamurai and peasants of Yamashiro rose to the surface to take control of the citizenry, the people of Kaga brought the priesthood of Honganji to the surface and in the same way took control of their province. Hence in a number of ways the Kaga Ikko Ikki touches upon what has been said up to now.(208)

The Yamashiro sō-koku continued for eight years, hence one may begin to wonder why the Bakufu chose not to act against it? This was because as far as the Bakufu was concerned, any of the `Kawachi independent province` under the control of Hatakeyama Yoshinari was territory over which they had only a very shaky influence. Nevertheless, why didn`t they suppress it, and why did they leave it be?(208) Professor Wakita provides an answer in the following manner. Essentially the key to the problem lies in the extraordinarily large amount of tribute collected in 1486 by the gachigyōji (an organization that administered the sō-koku), a tribute known as hanzei (or `half payment`). In July of 1491 (third year of Entoku), the following record appeared in a diary of the era.

The withdrawal of both Hatakeyama armies was a strategy of the Kishida. As the Kuni-ikki had failed to provide 200 kan amongst the many offerings that it had promised to pay the Kishida as a goodwill gesture, this raised the ire of the Kishida faction, who then decided to blockade the streets of Nara. The Kishida that are mentioned here were officials of the Ochi family in Yamato province (part of Yoshinari`s faction) and provided a go-between the ikki and the army of Yoshinari. In the same way the ikki faction paid a large amount of tribute to Masanaga and the influential military leader Hosokawa Masamoto hoping that this would result in the withdrawal of Masamoto and win tacit approval for self-governance. We may infer that Masamoto demanded that approval and withdrawal depended on the citizenry confirming the Hosokawa as officials over their territory.(209)

Hanzei, as mentioned before, was half of the yearly tribute (or tax) that was originally paid to the owner of the land. Supposing that a taxation rate of 50% was placed half on public officials and half on the common citizenry, then the sō-koku which controlled the southern part of Yamashiro would gain 25% of the revenue of the three districts that made up southern Yamashiro. As the sō-koku sent a large proportion of this money (the amount is unknown) to the `half shōgun` Hosokawa Masamoto, as an offering, and this earned his quiet recognition of their `self-government`.(210) This may strike some as a severe way of looking at the situation, but it is nonetheless true. Hosokawa Masamoto was not the shugo of Yamashiro. That title was held by Hatakeyama Masanaga. To surpass Masanaga, the sō-koku would be a `funnel company`, sending large amounts to money into Masamoto`s pocket. Moreover, in this era the shugo daimyō coveted placing the citizenry under their control, in sum making them vassals of their household above all other political goals. It`s entirely likely that Masamoto thought he could `kill two birds with one stone` by using this strategy. Hence in the background of the creation of the sō-koku lies this engagement between various social strata and the unusual balance that this created.(210)

No matter how Masamoto was rewarded, tacit approval of `self-government` would spell the end of established rule. Supposing this was at first `incomplete self-government`, those at the time would have, quite naturally, come to demand `complete self-government`. Even a genius of politics like Hosokawa Masamoto failed to notice this pitfall.(210)

The militarized peasant `leaders` who aimed at `a self-governing republic`

There are probably a number of readers who currently think that the ikki of Japan are a fairly difficult concept to grasp. There reason for this belief lies in the complicated nature of land ownership (and the problems therein). If one thinks of this era in modern terms with all its clearly delineated property rights, then things are bound to get even more difficult to understand. Hence there is one thing I would like you to remember. That is, from the Nara era right up to the Edo era, the shape of land ownership in Japan was not `even` but `spotted`. For example, if one looks at the fiefdom of Edo-era Satsuma, this territory was `evened out` by having its lands declared `Satsuma province`, which excluded any territories outside of the designated region (indeed the Edo Bakufunate had a system known as kunigae, which referred to the transfer of territories. It`s a little different to the modern concept of ownership, but for simplicity we will think of them as the same here). Yet before the Edo era Satsuma province had both shō-en (or `estates`) and land owned by military families, hence if one drew up a map of region at the time it would indeed look `spotted`. Why on earth did this situation come about? (211)

This point has been covered countless times before, however in the interest of revision we`ll go over it once more. The lands of Japan, ever since the Imperial family had announced the formation of a system of public titles during the Asuka era, had belonged to the Imperial family in an `even` form. To other words, it was a legal system of territorial rule. The first holes in this system appeared during the Nara era in the `Privatization Laws of Hirata Nagase`, which brought forth the development of the shō-en system in the Heian era. What this meant was that even if your lands were private, one part of the produce created on those (farming) lands would have to be paid to the authorities as tax. Despite the existence of such laws, the Fujiwara family stated that `those aren`t farms. They are a shō-en for our private separate residences (which meant they didn`t create or collect produce ). This was the beginning of legal tax evasion.(212)

What is particularly galling is that the highest officials in government played a leading . part in allowing this to happen. Occasionally large and influential temples (such as Tōdai-ji and Kōfukuji) would also state `Oi. Give us that right as well`. Very soon all of the most productive land in Japan was being converted into shō-en. In short, as taxes weren`t being collected, the finances of government began to collapse. Naturally this meant that the very minimum effort required to ensure public stability disappeared. For those persons living some distance away from the central region, they had to resort to arming themselves in order to protect their lives and possessions. Indeed, the warriors (or samurai) were very much like the cowboys of the era of expansion in the US. In a similar way to the original meaning of cowboy, or a youth that tended cows, these samurai were farmers. Even if these farmers banded together and cultivated the land, they would never be recognized as the legitimate owners of that land. The reason for this was because a shō-en was a right reserved for the very highest in noble families and influential temples. At this point, a person of particularly intelligent disposition (who this was remains a mystery) came up with a concept which could be expressed in modern terms as a `dedicatory shō-en`. Basically, those persons who opened up the land and produced crops would send this as tribute to the noble families such as the Fujiwara and influential temples. These people would then act as geshi (下司) (or local manager) and ensure proper payment of tribute. The reason they would do this was if the land came under the control of the Fujiwara, it would become a legitimate shō-en, and thus earn the right to exemption from taxation and extra-territoriality.(212)

Ordinarily, the peasants would not be able to make an offering directly to the Fujiwara, but would first make offerings to the middle-rung families and temples. Those persons who received this tribute, in order to firmly secure it, would then offer this to those related to the Fujiwara house. This offering (or tribute) was formal, however as it was paid using income derived from the shō-en `in name only`. As far as those at the top of society were concerned this was a `nice little earner`. Those at the middle rung of society who received this tribute were known as ryōke, with those at the top known as honjyo. Hence this system of honjyo-ryōke-geshi were responsible for the creation of the shō-en (of course, according to the time both the honjyo and ryōke could be known as the `owner` of the land hence a little caution is in order. Though really this type of knowledge is only necessary for those majoring in Japanese history).(213)

What is particularly difficult to comprehend here is that public lands (that is, territory belonging to the central authorities as per the government system), though few in number, did not disappear altogether. The central system consisted of related controls via the court, provincial samurai (kokushi), and local samurai (gunshi). Of course, the court meant the Imperial family. The Fujiwara, who were originally a family of high status, were included in this category as well. This was the beginning of the shō-en system, hence here the story will get a bit complicated. The Fujiwara, as part of the government, should have said `Do not create shō-en, and pay your taxes`, yet as the largest profiteers from the shō-en system, they reaped its rewards.(213)

Even the Imperial family, which had started out as the largest landowners in Japan, ended up as owners of a shō-en. What new system should have emerged to replace the old? Ideally it should have been created for the true owners of the land, the warriors (or armed farmers) who had opened up the land to cultivation and managed it. This desire was first aired by Taira no Masakado, however the first to realize it in terms of a specific vision of an independent Kanpachi-shū (Tō-koku, or Eastern Counties) was Minamoto no Yoritomo. Yoritomo made himself ruler over the powerful warriors of the Eastern Counties who all harboured resentment against the central authorities. This leader, soon to be called the Seii Tai Shōgun, came up with the idea of a system that would procure the political stage from the court. As it was `based` on the shōgun, it is known as the Bakufu political system.(214)

What one should take care to note here is that although the Bakufu became the ruler of Japan instead of the court, it did not remove the court altogether to take complete control (the reasons for which have been told countless times before, hence I`ll skip over them).(214)

Thus in the formation of Bakufu politics, the government of the warrior houses effectively `cut in` on landownership that until now had centered on the shō-en and public (court) lands. The Bakufu forced the court to recognize that warrior houses were allowed to become landowners. The merit of this was that the warriors thus became the rulers of the Bakufu government. Their territories thus became estates of warrior houses.(215) In the midst of the shō-en system、the Bakufu placed their own subordinate managers unaffiliated with the geshi chosen by the original owners. These `managers` were known as jitō. In other areas throughout the country, in order to encourage stability influential warriors were appointed to govern local regions as `an administrative military ruler` (the Bakufu was the one who issued the orders). This position was known as a shugo.

The jitō thus interrupted the system of control based on the honjyo-ryōke-geshi, and slowly but surely methods of control such as jitōuke (or possession of land by the jitō) and the shitajichūbun (or concentration of authority over land) began to eat away at the shō-en. The shugo, in their capacity as a shugo, used their military strength to take over the shō-en and place those persons living on such property under their control. The shugo daimyō of this era did not at first aim at creating an even framework for their lands, but sought to gain as much influence over territory as possible by ruling it according to their own unique methods. This may be somewhat confusing - for example in the province of Shinano, the Shinano kami (or protector) and the Shinano shugo were completely different entities. The title of kami was one bestowed by the court, whereas that of the shugo came from the Bakufu. These titles were concurrent, hence it`s easy to get them confused. To add to the problem, in the Edo era, daimyō, even though they were not appointed by the court, would take the name `Ōkami` which just confuses things even further.

Of course, the further away one went from the capital the more likely the position of shugo would be given to an influential local warrior family. Hence those in such a position were fairly powerful. The Ouchi of Suō are a classic example of this, for the Ouchi army was particularly active during the Ōnin War, and ruled over stable, secure lands (i.e., their territories were not particularly spotted).(215-216)

However, in places such as the relatively advanced region of Yamashiro, where shugo were exchanged time and again, such an example would not survive. Even skilled politicians like Hosokawa Masamoto who possessed great influence had to struggle to have their position as shugo recognized. In spite of this, Yamashiro was still secure. That is to say, despite all the ruckus over transfer of the shugo title, the position of shugo still existed. Regions such as Yamato were still rife with shō-en belonging to Kōfuku-ji and Tōdaiji, hence there were hardly any lands in the hands of warriors. Both the Kamakura Bakufu and the Muromachi Bakufu did not succeed in placing a shugo over this territory. Indeed Kōfukuji was particularly strong.

The leader of the Kōfukuji temple, a position known as the Jisson Daizōsei, was no ordinary priest. As he was at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of priesthood that ruled over the temple, he could effectively be called `the lord of Yamato`. With a large income brought in from huge shō-en and protected through the existence of warrior monks, his power was in the same league as a daimyō. This was precisely the reason why the Bakufu, for all their military might and attaches, could not place a shugo over this territory.(216)

Incidently, Kōfukuji was the tutelary temple of the Fujiwara family. Hence the Jisson was the son of the Kampaku Ichijō Kanera (although his actual family name was Fujiwara. Kampaku was a title bestowed by the Emperor). Using his authority, Kanera had his son enter the priesthood and encouraged his promotion. In this era, all priests (except those of the Jōdō Shinshu sect) were forbidden from having children, hence the position of Jisson was not hereditary, yet as the Fujiwara placed more of their sons in the temple, in the end this is exactly what happened – a hereditary priesthood. Thus influential temples and influential families became, in a sense, `as one`. Up until now, what we have done is look at the history of landownership from the `top down`. Next we will look at things not from the point of view of officialdom, but from the perspective of the peasantry.(216)

When looking at things from the point of view of cultivation, even though it may often be said that `this land was divided between the officials of the court and the jitō `, in reality this statement has little meaning. The lands were not divided along any lines, there were many who claimed ownership, and the cultivators would only work moderately (or as circumstances suited them). When drawing water or cutting grass, they might be ordered by authorities to move time and again because `that section isn`t owned by us`. Consequently, local logic came into play. Basically co-operative work became the priority of the peasantry. Even though they might be stationed in different sections of the land, they had no choice but to work together when tilling it. This was a completely different sense of unity to that of those higher up the social ladder, and created a different form of organization. This `farming village` was in fact a `meeting village`. You probably already know the meaning behind this, for when the Yamashiro Ikki occurred with its aim of `self-government`, the reason they called this `republic` a sō-koku was precisely because they already bore knowledge related to this concept (the meeting village was known as a sō-mura ). When seen in this light, which would be better – to rule yourself, or to have a socially higher but more remote ruler?

In other words, would it be better to have a militarily strong, forceful warrior ruler, or an official ruler of the court who possessed no real strength and who had abolished a `national army` back in the Heian era? The answer was obvious. This was indeed why the sō-koku, when they made their declaration, said that `Only the original rulers would be acknowledged`.(216-217) If you don`t consider this background first, you won`t be able to reach the right conclusion regarding this statement.

Oda Nobunaga and the destruction of temple control over toll gates and guilds.

According to modern definitions of the law, details which aren`t spelled out in the Constitution (the nation`s highest body of laws) are laid out in enough detail within the law itself. Certainly, if you look at modern concepts of the law, such statements appear to be true. Yet people who say such things know nothing of how much meaning these statements carry when applied to the Middle Ages and its `toll gates`. The `toll gates` of the Middle Ages period were a representation of oppressive government, or bad government. Readers of this series should know that the toll gates of the Muromachi period (Sengoku period) were more like a tax collection office (or toll collector) than an inspection station. Of course, the ostensible reason why they were built was to provide the Bakufu (the Ashikaga Bakufunate) with an income for public use in carrying out government functions. This was their original purpose, unlike the appearance of the so-called `new` toll gates.

This leads us to a problem, for although the central government had toll gates set up to collect toll fares, both daimyō and temples brazenly created their own `new` forms of toll gate. This would be like private businesses and local governments suddenly deciding to place their own toll gates on the national highway system in addition to those of the Roads and Transport Authority Office. To add to the problem, the practice was fairly widespread, with the thinking being that… `If he`s got one, I`ve got to have one too`. In the midst of the `spotted` situation with regard to landownership rights, if the idea that` we too shall grow wealthy through tolls` (Ōnin Ki) began to gain favour, where would this lead? The answer was pretty clear.

The largest holder (or sekimu) of toll gates in the inland sea area during the Muromachi era were the temple complexes of the southern regions. In ways similar to the 11 stations such as Kōdō-seki and Dōfu-seki found on Lake Biwa, and affiliated to the clergy of Mt Hiei and Enryakuji, most of the toll ways on the rivers during the Muromachi period were owned by the important temples of the southern areas of Yamashiro and northern Yamato provinces. In addition to these, there were a number of toll gates on the Naniwa estuary, known as `floating toll ways` (kawanoue soseki). According to records, in 1457 (the first year of Chōroku) there were 69 original toll gates and over 300 new ones, thus showing a huge increase in toll gate numbers.

There were, of course, different toll gates for different goods, hence there was no need to pay a toll at each and every gate. Nonetheless, it was important to take a large amount of money in order to pay one`s way when transporting goods along the Naniwa river.(218-219)

Hence when looking for reasons why shrines and temples engaged in these activities, the first of these stems from the invasion of the sō by warriors, hence toll-ways would make up the shortfall stemming from the lack of income. However, even if the original purpose of the toll-gates was to serve as [insurance against losses], if it became a source of income that couldn`t be exhausted, then it would be turned into a right and be applied continuously. According to Imatani Akira (who appeared earlier in the series)…” Supposing that [the toll gates] were a fixed point which generated economic profits, then in this regard they were a type of shō-en”.

There is a chart within a diary that details calculations for the transport of dried fish and sake from Yamato to Mino at the time of the Jinson-Daizōsei. According to the diary, the cost of the goods themselves came to 1 kan, 690 mon, and the cost of transport (or paying for the labor costs involved) came to 1 kan, 496 mon. What`s surprising about this is that is shows that the cost of the toll-gates was greater than the cost of transporting the goods. It would be fair to call this a 100% customs tax. It`s not necessary to go into how much of a barrier (sic) this proved to be against economic and transport development. There are probably many people who believe that if so many toll-gates existed, they would impede economic sustainability and ultimately ruin the economy itself. However such fears are unfounded. In the Muromachi era, certain merchants held exclusive rights, and only those merchants could earn a free pass through the toll gate. The organization that these merchants belonged to was known as a `za` or guild.

For example, in the case of seed oil, there was the oil guild. Those merchants associated with this guild (ie, those responsible for the manufacture and selling of oil) held a monopoly on the creation and sale of oil. The members of this organization would exchange `free passes`, and improve the degree of monopoly they held. Yet in the background of these guilds that the large temple complexes adding to the profitability of these businesses. In the case of seed oil, Oyamazaki Hachimangu in Kyoto was the `head office`. If a business selling seed oil did not have a license issued by Hachimangu, then they could not practice their business. In order to gain such a license it was necessary to have a large amount of capital. Even after receiving a license, such businesses were not `free` but had to pay a type of patent fee to Hachimangu. Moreover, in order for members of the guild to make a profit, they had to put their prices up. Thus prices shot up to unbelievable rates. Although the present is an age of (unfulfilled) free competition, if prices are high, a new business comes into play and through the principle of competition prices decrease. However, such practices did not exist in the Muromachi era. The first reason was because regardless of whether it was oil or paper, in order to manufacture and sell products it was necessary to have a license. If one ignored the `certificate to practice trade`, this would be deemed an illegal act. Thus large fees had to be paid no matter what the circumstances were. Supposing one did ignore the fees and licensing system and set up a secret factory in the mountains and began to manufacture oil. This would in the end result in failure. First, you wouldn`t be able to distribute it. In order to bring it to market it would need to be transported. Persons without a license had to pay toll fares. Thus in the end it cost a lot of money. As was mentioned earlier, the toll gates were the right of the temples along with the guilds. If one attempted to transport `illegal oil`, it would be reported.(221-222)

If this happened, then things could become perilous. This was a world of instability, with gangs of thugs armed with weapons all over the place. The guilds and temples hired these characters as their own private soldiers. Hence if anyone was suspected of being a `price fixer`, these private soldiers would be dispatched to destroy the property of and injure or kill the person concerned. These soldiers were known as sōhei (understood to mean `warrior monks` ) when hired by temples, and jinnin (literally, God`s people) by shrines. In reality, though, they were no different to the criminal gangs of today. There was no specific name for soldiers raised by guilds, although it seems that in all provinces rōnin was the more commonly used title, and should anyone try to take their rights away, they would eliminate them. When talking about the difficulty of entering a trade, this was related to problems within the marketplace. One could not make a living just by making goods, they also had to be sold. However in this age, large markets lay within the towns in front of the large temple gates. The home territory of Mt Hiei`s Enryakuji in Otsu was a prime example of this. It was a vital link in transportation, as it had a large port, and was the point at which many roads converged. Thus it was the large temples who held rights over any profits made at the markets. If you wanted to sell an item there, then you had to pay a substantial `tenant fee` to the temple or shrine concerned. But of course, merchants had to make a profit too, hence to make up the shortfall, traders had to mark up the cost of their goods. This meant, quite naturally, that prices rose, and the people suffered.

On the other hand, temples and shrines became more corpulent. For the Jinson, no matter how much money was made through the transport of sake and fish, the reason they never said `let`s do away with the toll gates` was because of their very profitability. To put it simply, the Jinson himself became extremely wealthy from the profits of this system.(222)

Yet wasn`t anything done to relieve this situation in which only temples and shrines profited through the destruction of the economy? I would like us to once again have a look at the slogan of the sō-koku of Yamashiro province. The phrase `new barriers` did not refer to the toll-gates of the court or Bakufu but meant `private toll-gates`. We now understand just how justified this demand was. Pay particular attention to the fact that money had to be paid not just to distribute goods, but also just to move from one place to another. One had to take along money if one wanted to go and visit a sick relative. Hence we can understand why Article 2 “the tribute from the temple lands shall be as before” and Article 3 “All new barriers are to be removed” were in fact influenced by this idea of `movement`. As the lands of the temples were being overtaken by warriors, the temples themselves could not operate. Hence they erected new toll gates to collect fares – the logic of `compensation for losses` was in fact `the logic of the temples`. If so, then sooner or later one might say `if the tribute from the temples lands could be secured, there would be no need for new toll-gates`. This was the `logic of the sō-koku, and the reason for inclusion of Articles 2 and 3 related to movement. However, this demand was never realized, and thus came to nothing.

The reason for this was because no one could halt the warrior invasion of property. Humans cannot let go if they ever manage to make an enormous profit, thus in the case of the temples, it meant a mindset that said ”You`ve got to be kidding. You expect me to give away such a sweet life as this?`. As long as this idiotic system continued, only the temples and shrines profited from the death of the economy.(222-223)

So what had to be done to conquer this system? My readers, I`d like you to stop and think for a moment. There were a number of possibilities in the bag. The first involved the source of the dilemma – meaning the rights given out by the temples and shrines and the monopoly by the merchants who received such rights. If both rights were abolished, then this would improve the situation. Which is to say, manufacturing would become a free enterprise. Next, if one wasn`t allowed to sell goods according to their own prices, then trading had no meaning. Hence all toll-gates had to be removed. The third point shows that one would need to create an alternative venue for selling separate to the town markets set up outside temples in the past. What this meant was the creation of a completely new, large-scale city (a place where people gathered together) to compete with the market towns. In order to make points 1,2, and 3 a reality, one would need to have military power great enough to block the large temples and shrines. Block does not simply mean military strength by itself, but the ability to withstand slurs such as `enemy of the Buddha`, and `scum that stand in the way of divinely sanctioned duties`, or to use the language of the day `the cursed ones`. In sum, if one did not possess military power of the sort wielded by a daimyō-class figure, then such reforms could not go ahead. Hence I believe you have already noticed that such a plan already had names for its different aspects – 1. referred to open manufacturing, 2. to the abolition of toll-gates, and the creation of a castle town, accompanying a liberal market. It is not at all necessary to go into detail about how Oda Nobunaga made these conditions a reality, yet there are probably a number of people reading this who particularly dislike Nobunaga. One of the reasons for this animosity is because he burnt Enryakuji to the ground and slaughtered 3,000 priests. Yet take a look at what was introduced in the first half of the chapter. Who was it who was setting up new toll-gates, thereby disrupting the economic development of Japan, and causing suffering to the people? One thing I have to say is that Nobunaga died protecting the public interest. A politician like Nobunaga `lived according to public duty, and died according to it too`.(224-225)

Why was Akechi Mitsuhide`s rebellion `The Honnoji Incident` successful?

What exactly does this phrase mean, that Nobunaga `lived according to public duty, and died according to it”? The new economic strategy that Nobunaga created, that of `open manufacturing, liberal markets, and the abolition of toll gates` was, quite naturally, carried out within the Oda domains. In the realms of other daimyō such as the Takeda and Uesugi, this did not really happen. Hence there was a considerable difference between the lands of the Oda with their liberal trade, absent toll gates, cheap prices and comfortable living and those of other daimyō.

Within the “Shinchō Kōki” which tells the history of the exploits of Nobunaga, the following is written in reference to the politics of his rival Takeda Katsuyori (son of Shingen)…”As he was very harsh, the people of the Takeda lands fervently awaited the conquest of the Oda army”. Of course, because this is a record of Nobunaga, it exaggerates his enemies and paints them in a bad light. However I happen to think that in this case the record is true. Takeda Katsuyori had a love for war and would raise troops at the slightest provocation. In order to meet the coming invasion of Nobunaga, Katsuyori had a large castle (Shinpu-jō) complex hastily built, which cost an enormous sum of money. In the time of Shingen this cost would have been met by income from the gold mines, however by the time of Katsuyori these were already bare. There was no economic policy of the sort concocted by Nobunaga.

There was no other recourse but to impose heavy taxes and rely upon those. Of course, this also meant toll gates in order to raise the necessary revenue. In the lands of Nobunaga, such institutions did not exist, hence only the peasants had to pay tax. As far as the warriors and townspeople were concerned, they lived in a `tax-free realm`. Moreover, as the economy was being stimulated, the economic resources of the Oda realms were abundant, with the tribute rate of the peasantry comparatively cheap compared to that of other provinces. Hence no wonder the theory of the `expectation of Nobunaga` emerged.(225-226)

Thus, as said earlier, I would like you to read one episode related to this epoch in the life of Nobunaga. I`ve noticed something about `a certain incident` that I wasn`t aware of until now.

“The first day of the sixth month (of Tenshō 10, 1582) was the day for the army to depart. Around the hour of the monkey (4 p.m), Mitsuhide, at the head of his household retainers, moved rapidly from Shinran-maru in Kyoto, reporting that before setting off with men and horses for the camp in the Chugoku region, he would present gifts to Nobunaga. After leaving Kameyama-jō, none thought it strange that he headed in the direction of Oi-no-saka instead of Migusagoe on the road to Chugoku. The army set off at the hour of the bird (6 p.m), arranged in three stages, drawing together 13,000 troops. Mitsuhide, a block and a half ahead of the army, called together his son-in-law Yaheiji Hidemitsu, Saitō Toshimitsu and another 5 persons and resolved to tell them of his grievances against Nobunaga (then residing in Honnōji). Mitsuhide spoke of his experiences, stating that if they weren`t of the same mind as him, he was prepared to attack Honnōji himself and commit seppuku. Hidemitsu spoke, saying he had already informed the other 5, thus there was no need for persuasion, a point with which the others agreed. Passing over Oi-no-saka at the double and using their provisions, after moving straight along the Katsuragawa river, the entire army paused to prepare their armor. Those armed with arquebuses set a flame to their wicks and readied their triggers, after which the following was relayed to the entire army…”Today, whilst we await the Lord of the Realm, make haste in all things, down to tying your sandals”. A report was then made that their enemy was to be found within Honnōji”.

This is a well-known scene from novels and period dramas. Hence you may wonder `what`s new about this?`. What I`d like you to think about is why was Mitsuhide able to arrive at Honnōji with ease? I think you know the answer. It`s “because there were no toll-gates in that territory”. The original purpose of toll-gates was for them to act `as a checkpoint in order to promote public order`, and not as a `customs office`. Yet by this age they had become this very institution, and existed in order to collect fares. Thus Nobunaga made a `public vow` that “all toll-gates shall be removed from my territories (of course, there are toll gates on the borders with other provinces. As we are at war it can`t be helped. Yet at the very least we are talking about the situation in my own territories)”. As promised, all of the toll-gates disappeared from Nobunaga`s territories. And this is why Mitsuhide was able to invade Kyoto so easily. If the toll-gates were there this wouldn`t have been possible, even if he possessed his own army. He would have been `checked`.(227-228).

Mitsuhide`s plan for rebellion was based upon the precept that `Nobunaga would not notice him`. If Nobunaga had got wind of Mitsuhide`s plan, he could have immediately retreated to his castle of Azuchi, or fled to Osaka to the safety of the army under command of his third son Nobutaka awaiting embarkation for the subjugation of Shikoku. If this had happened, then Mitsuhide`s revolt would have ended in failure. To put this another way, if the toll-gates had existed, then Mitsuhide would probably not have considered a surprise attack. Incidently, there was another reason why Mitsuhide was `motivated` to take action when he did. The place that Nobunaga lodged in was not a `castle` but the `temple` of Honnōji. At this stage in its history, there were no castles in the center of Kyoto. If Nobunaga had chosen to reside in a fixed castle of the likes of Azuchi, then it would have been impossible to take in just one night, and thus Mitsuhide would have been forced to cancel his plans. It was for this reason that Nobunaga`s successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi and later Tokugawa Ieyasu had the `castle` of Nijōjō built as a palatial residence for lodging.(228)

In Ieyasu`s case, he must have thought `I know the economy is important, but doing away with all of the toll-gates is a bit much`. Hence Tokugawa political strategy depended upon the spread of toll-gates. At Daigawa, on the border between Tōtomi and Suruga provinces, no bridge was built to span the river. This was because of a strategy that said… `it is better to prioritize stability than economics`. This method of thinking was thoroughly put to use by Ieyasu`s successors, which resulted in the creation of the Kido and Jishinban on the borders between towns in order to act as a kind of `toll-gate`. If one backtracks for a minute, the reason for this decision lay in the `trauma` that Ieyasu suffered as a result of the Honnōji Incident. Incidently, the koban boxes that safeguard the community in modern Japan are, in retrospect, a continuation of this Jishinban tradition. This is how far the effect of Honnōji has spread.

There is one more point in relation to the `trauma` of the elimination of all of the toll-gates, a point on which Ieyasu believed Nobunaga had `gone too far`. That was the `use of human resources with abilities similar to one`s own` (Jitsuryoku honi no Jinzai Tōyō). It might seem a bit strange to mention it now, but I would like you to cast you mind back to Akechi Mitsuhide once again. Mitsuhide was a native of Mino (Gifu prefecture) and served the Oda household after Nobunaga became its leader. To use the language of the time, this made Mitsuhide a Shinzan, or `new addition`. In contrast to this, those who had served the same household for generations were known as Fudai. Most daimyō (in a similar way to modern Japanese companies) would prioritize the Fudai and treat the Shinzan fairly casually. However, only Nobunaga made no distinction between the two, and would promote those with ability. As a result of this, Mitsuhide rose to be number 2 among the Shinzan in Nobunaga`s entourage, and no matter how you look at it, within the top 5 of Nobunaga`s entire organization. These 5 people played a `crucial role` in the execution of Nobunaga`s policies. Hence their designation as a `best 5`. If one were to rank them from most important downwards, Hashiba (later Toyotomi) Hideyoshi, Shibata Katsuie, Akechi Mitsuhide, Takigawa Kazumasu, and Niwa Nagahide would most likely have been the order decided on. Amidst this lineup, Hideyoshi, Mitsuhide, and Kazumasu were Shinzan, with only Katsuie and Nagahide as Fudai. Looking at this lineup, you can see how these subordinates were used in a `modern` sense of the strategic application of human resources. However Nobunaga was murdered by Mitsuhide, a man he had raised to be `Shinzan number 2`. Not only this, these `Nobunaga Consultants` were taken over by `Shinzan number 1`, Hideyoshi.

For Ieyasu, as this took place in the same age as himself, he was in a position to look closely at how things unraveled. It`s fairly obvious as to the ideas Ieyasu would adopt in order to administer the realm. “No matter how talented they are, one cannot rely on Shinzan. Thus I should concentrate authority in the hands of the Fudai”. Before the Battle of Sekigahara (which means this was still the age of Toyotomi authority), Ieyasu had those subordinates who had pledged their loyalty made Fudai, with all others designated as Tozama. Within the Tokugawa household, only the Fudai were appointed to the most coveted positions. It may have been `discriminatory`, however if one looks at the course that led to this decision, it was only natural. Thus when examining the strategy by which Ieyasu put pressure on daimyō, it would be unfair rather than a mistake to believe that Ieyasu was `unaffected by a desire for unmitigated power`.(230-231)

Ieyasu was certainly a politician who `led from behind`. Ieyasu`s motto, according to tradition, was `extending too far leads to misfortune`. This was based upon a Chinese proverb of similar fame, which states that `when one overdoes things, it may seem good at first glance, but in truth it`s the same as not doing enough (in other words, bound to lead to misfortune)`. Hence `rather than overdoing things, it`s better for one not to do enough`. There are some theories that state that this was not Ieyasu`s true intention, yet even if this wasn`t so, no other phrase captures Ieyasu`s attitude towards to politics and strategy so succinctly. Nobunaga and Hideyoshi`s strategy of `overdoing things` ended in their failure to conquer all, hence Ieyasu`s motto became `not stretching oneself too far`. History only has one form. To understand it one has to look at the overall picture. However if one only concentrates on a single piece, then this leads to mistaken beliefs.

At any rate, let`s return to our discussion on the sō-koku. We now know the deep meaning behind Articles 2 and 3 of the slogan which could be described as a `constitution` drawn up by the ikki of Yamashiro, that which stated that `the shō-en` territories shall remain as they are`, and that `no new toll-gates shall be built`.

Put simply, the sō-koku were `self-governing`, yet what did this encompass? First of all, there`s the problem of economics, as manifested in expressions like `money is the first to leave`. This has already been explained. To summarize, the sō-koku secured their finances through measures such as half-payments etc.(232)

The other important condition for the creation of an independent sō-koku was the question of the right to legal powers. For example, legal powers that exist in criminal law to deal with cases involving murder or theft, or else legal powers that exist in civil law to deal with territorial disputes or water disputes. Though there may be an infinite number of different laws, for the `independent` sō-koku, the legal power they sought most of all was the right to conduct criminal trials, in short the right to dispense punishment. At the time, this was known as the `right to make judgements`, or the kendanken. The use of the kendanken appeared at an early stage in the formation of the sō-koku, as records exist detailing the arrest and punishment metered out against murderers and thieves. In the so-called civil trials as well, the citizenry dispensed punishment within the sō-koku.

However, one problem that remains involves those laws which did not fall under the jurisdiction of the sō-koku. If there were problems with traders, then things could be resolved quite easily, yet if their opponents consisted of influential Bakufu officials or large scale temple complexes, then things became considerably more difficult. One example of this involves a dispute over `a domain`. This case is extremely complex, with a problem that the `gods of history` have left as a gift for later generations. To put this in today`s language, it`s a time capsule that preserves the record of a single sō in a dispute against the state. These documents are known as the `Writings of Sugaura`. Sugaura (now part of Nishi Azai-machi in Shiga prefecture) is a small village situated at the northern end of Lake Biwa. (233)

The mystery of why the writings of Sugaura, which record a land dispute, became an `unopened box`

The settlement of Sugaura is in one corner of `Tsuzura Ozaki`, a peninsula at the northern end of Lake Biwa. The village itself in located near Chikubushima, which appears in the `Lake Biwa Ferry Song`. It is almost perpendicular to Tsuzura Ozaki and is hemmed in by the lake. It used to be an isolated island with exceedingly inconvenient modes of transport to the mainland. Within the guardian of this island, Suga Shrine, there was an `unopened box` which was handed down for generations, and whose `contents were never to be seen.` Even the villagers didn`t know what was in it. During the Taishō era, an academic survey was carried out on the box. When `the unopened box` was opened, they discovered a very large (some say over 1200) number of documents dating from the medieval period. The documents spoke of a time when Sugaura had been `self-governing` - in other words they were `a record of past glories`. So, what was in this history that the villagers took such pride in? (234)

The records go back to the Eijin period (between 1293 to 1299). At the time (as now), Sugaura was in one part of a fairly mountainous peninsula, teetering on the very edge between the lake and mountains. As such it was particularly difficult to harvest rice in the area. No matter how much their production centered on fishing, the villagers still held a desire to raise their level of grain production. Thus the people of Sugaura began, without permission, to start cultivating one part of the land belonging to the substantial Ōura no Shō shō-en found on the western side of the peninsula (still part of Nishi Azai-machi). The villagers thought that if they farmed just a portion of extra land no one would really mind. However the Ōura were not about to remain silent over such an infringement. To add insult to injury (or perhaps this should be called `luck`) Sugaura was in the territory belonging to Chikubushima shrine found on the opposite bank (to the village) which, if one looked closer, was under the control of the Sanmon (of Enryakuji). In contrast to this, the Ōura claimed the area for the Jimon of Mii-dera (or Onjyōji). Though both schools belonged to the Tendai sect, relations between them were so poor that they would put the torch to each others property. Within this dispute,clearly the `legitimate` claim lay with the Ōura (of Onjyōji). Sugaura were, on the other hand, the `invaders, or perpetrators`. Yet they won the dispute.

The Sanmon had in their background the backing of powerful families, and thus planned with the villagers of Sugaura to allow them to take full possession of and administer this enclave of the Ōura. This aggravated the Ōura, who sent out men of their own to harvest all of the rice plants from the enclave. To prevent this from happening, the villagers armed themselves and fought against the Ōura, thus drenching the land in blood. In this particular case, there was a `government` who could govern over this dispute-government in its medieval form. Warrior families of the Bakufu acknowledged the `raison d`etre` of Bakufu authority when moved swiftly to fairly judge disputes between warriors over land distribution.(236)

However the Ashikaga Bakufu, particularly after the murder of Ashikaga Yoshinori, had neither the legal power nor ability to arbitrate in land disputes. The Bakufu, so as to observe proceedings in the conflict over representation being waged between Enryakuji and Mii-dera, gradually withdrew their presence. Put simply, the Bakufu abandoned its role of `arbitrator`, hence the direction that the land dispute took was decided through a trial of strength between the local residents.

To change the topic, in November of 1999 Chiaki Masashi, who played the role of one of the samurai in director Kurosawa Akira`s film `The Seven Samurai`, passed away, the last of the actors who played samurai in the film to do so. `The Seven Samurai` is definitely one of Japan`s, nay, one of the world`s most famous films. In truth I myself am a big fan of the film.

However one thing that I want to say in advance is that the `era` (or at least the situation) depicted in the film never actually happened. Of course, the film is a work of fiction, and since it is fiction it can freely use whatever setting it wants, therefore what I have to say here will neither damage the value of the film, and neither will it look like nitpicking. Whilst we remain aware that this era never took place, it is necessary to step up to discover the historical reality. You may want to look at the video again, for it is plainly evident that the setting of the film is the `era of the warring states` Battles take place in abundance, and the lead characters are already `men of action`. The story itself is very simple. “A poor village suffers raids from bandits every year who take virtually everything they have. If this situation continues, all the villagers will die. However the villagers are only peasants, and only know how to till the soil. They know nothing of weapons or conflict. Yet they must fight, hence they hire professional warriors, the `seven samurai` ”.

How this film differs from reality revolves around the idea that `peasants had no experience of battle`. As you may already know, the `warriors` of the period had their origins in an armed peasantry. The peasantry took up arms in order to defend their lives and property – they were the actual `samurai`. Hence the peasantry of the Middle Ages were not so `feeble`. In the age of the warring states, all order had collapsed in the chaos of the times, hence the peasantry had to resort to arms to defend their fields. It was only to be expected. If they didn`t, their fields would be taken away by others. The enemies of villagers were not bandits but peasants from other villages. The Sugaura case clearly shows this to have been the reality. As far as the residents of neighbouring Ōura were concerned, the peasants of Sugaura were the `bandits`. They would force them to withdraw through struggle - armed struggle. Sugaura thus fought back with a combination of military and political power. (236-237)

The person who brought the dispute to a conclusion was what might be termed the `evaluator (or lawyer)` of Sugaura – Otona no Seikurō. Incidently, Otona was not a surname, but the name given to the most influential man in the village. This `evaluator`, if one were to describe it in modern terms, was a person who would receive a various amounts of `canvassing expenses` and the support of various powerful figures in the political world, and would then have the Bakufu acknowledge those lands that Sugaura had already invaded (lands known to the locals as Hisashi and Morokawa). In Sugaura, this `historical victory` continued to be remembered for many years, hence in order to pass on this record to their grandchildren the villagers decided to collect all of the records of the conflict and store them within the symbol of the village, Chikubushima shrine, in the `unopened box`. Yet why did the villagers end up locking up these rather illustrious records of the villages` past in an `unopened box` where they were never to be seen?

The reason, to put it simply, was because the times had changed.

The letters were enclosed in the box during the Keian period of the Edo era (1648-1652). The Keian period, as will be familiar to most people who know about the Edo era, was the time of the `Yuishōsetsu Incident`. The military scholar Yuishōsetsu gathered together disaffected rōnin and planned to raise a disturbance (which ultimately failed) however this movement had a profound effect on the villagers of Sugaura who had previously sought `independence`. (238)

The villagers probably thought `this type of document, which conveys a sense of pride, might be taken as a indication of `rebelliousness` by those `higher up`, hence they were hidden and enclosed in the dark. Yet the fact that they weren`t burned or buried was the result of a clever decision. In the end, because they were hidden away, the `unopened box` became something of a time capsule for later generations. If the `unopened box` had never existed, these documents would not have survived. They would have been scattered or thrown away.

Within the law, there exists a word known as `self-help`. It means not relying on the law or public rights, but taking matters into one`s own hands in order to resolve them. Legally speaking, this is `wrong`. Even if a father`s daughter has been kidnapped, he cannot conduct a search by himself nor bring `justice` to the culprit. Japan is a country of laws, and even now the rule of law is being practiced. However this was not the case in the Sengoku era. In the Sengoku era the `law` was nothing more than a name, hence Japan was a `self-help` paradise. The documents of Sugaura show that even in the conflict against the Ōura, elderly men took up arms and fought as warriors, with their women supporting them, a source of pride for all concerned. It might be difficult to believe that our ancestors, who were usually fairly polite and patient when dealing with foreign countries in territorial disputes, could have been so violent. Yet just as the people make the age, the age makes the people.(238-239)

The people of Sugaura in their fight over land achieved a complete victory, yet as the residents of Ōura had justice on their side, the sense of unease between the two could not be contained. In one incident, a resident of Sugaura, when trying to pass by the Ōura estate, was suspected of being a thief by the residents of Ōura and put to death. In truth he was probably innocent, yet the strong sense of dissatisfaction within Ōura exploded in such a manner. The Sugaura side learned that one of their number, though innocent, had been killed. Unable to bear this in silence, they attacked Ōura, in the process `slaughtering` some 45 residents. The Ōura immediately reported this to the Bakufu. A case between the two was opened at the residence of Hino Katsumitsu, who held sway between Sugaura and Ōura. This Katsumitsu was the older brother of Hino Tomiko, and was known as the `Minister of Persuasion` such was his political ability. Katsumitsu understood that the actions of the villagers of Sugaura were an insult against the rights of the owner. If this were to be Katsumitsu`s decision, it placed Sugaura at a disadvantage. What is more, the villagers would be branded as `bandits`, which would lead to their village being surrounded by Bakufu forces in order to suppress them. The villagers thus resolved to fight for all they were worth. Rather than surrendering to central authority and an ignoble defeat, they chose to prepare themselves to lose all through resistance. Yet fortune had something else in mind. Had they chosen to fight, both sides resolved to expend themselves and suffer great losses, yet there were friends both sides, and in the end the leader of Sugaura, Seikurō, shaved his head and offered himself up, taking on full responsibility for the massacre in order to resolve the impass. Acknowledging his sincerity, Seikurō`s life was spared, and the villagers of Sugaura were allowed to go back to their way of life, truly a `happy ending` for those involved. For the residents of Ōura, they learnt that merciless revenge is a self-inflicting wound. (241)

At long last Sugaura became a land of peace and quiet. Thus how did the sō-koku which featured the most extreme form of protest (ikki) (the Yamashiro ikki) come about and how did it end? (241)

Three reasons why the sō-koku, which aimed at becoming an independent nation, collapsed in just eight years.

The Yamashiro ikki was, to put it simply, a tokusei ikki, in short not simply a protest demanding a tokusei (or government edict), but a sō-koku whose administration was based upon an audacious plan to build an independent nation. However the life of this sō-koku lasted from 1485 (Bunmei 17) to 1493 (Meiō 2), a mere eight years.

In the meantime, in 1488 (Chōtei 2) the Kaga Ikkō Ikki attacked the shugo of Kaga To ( gashi ) Masachika and forced him to commit suicide. In this era of `communes`, how is it that the sō-koku collapsed? The people who administered the sō-koku came from the southern region of Yamashiro province – these were the same people that assembled at Byōdō-in and created the demands for their region. The representatives were known as the `group of 36`.

Unfortunately we do not know their names. What we do know is that their `administrative organization` was known as the `sō-koku gachigyōji ` (or `monthly matters`). At these meeting finances and punishments to be meted out against criminals were decided. In order to run a nation, it was first necessary to secure finances, and in order to protect both the nation, citizens, and resources one had to have military strength. As has been said before, if one only possessed `money`, this would be snatched away by groups in such a chaotic world. It wasn`t just thieves and bandits who were after abundant land and bountiful fields. These were also sought by the shōgunate, officials, and temples. Therefore, if one did not have military strength of the likes of Sugaura, one could not resist the force of other claims.

In order to administer a country well, the organization that administered it had to work properly. Sorting finances, mobilizing armies, all of this had to be grasped by an organization with administrative ability. Moreover, organizations made up of councils usually end up having `too many cooks`, hence they need a leader of the likes of Sugaura`s Seikurō. Japan`s first ever `self-governing body` comprised the `independent countries of the Kantō` under Taira no Masakado. Though this `government` had a charismatic leader in Masakado, it had no organization with which to administer itself. Actually to tell the truth, they did create an organization but it was nothing more but an imitation of the imperial court for there was no vision on how to insert the newly created class of warriors into politics nor on what political rights warriors should have. Eventually it all ended in a brief rebellion.(242)

Almost 250 years later, Minamoto no Yoritomo, raising a similar rebellion, only had a fraction of the forces that were available to Masakado. The rebellion of Masakado involved a number of provinces, however Yoritomo`s rebellion was like a single village raising a rebellion against the nation. Yet the reason that Masakado failed and Yoritomo succeeded was because Yoritomo had a vision of how to use the political power of warriors and had the wits to know what to do in order to make this a reality. Moreover Yoritomo possessed leadership, whereas his brother Yoshitsune provided him with charisma. Looking at it this way, the birth of the Kamakura Bakufunate was a matter of course.(242) Although the warrior class supported the nation, they could not exercise political power. There was no way this situation would continue, however if there were no leader of the likes of Yoritomo, then warrior political power would probably never have emerged. Thus the Kamakura Bakufunate fulfilled all of the conditions necessary to establish an `independent` country, which in turn lead to it growing from an independent `Kantō` nation to a national power that replaced the court.(243)

With this in mind, let`s take a look at why the sō-koku lasted no more than 8 years. At first the sō-koku certainly raised complaints from the government at the time. While it is true that in the background to the establishment of the sō-koku stood the figure of the influential politician Hosokawa Masamoto, at the very least the sō-koku possessed a vitality that was absent from the Bakufu at the time. “The Bakufu government is not strict enough. Both of the Hatakeyamas are running about southern Yamashiro causing havoc. This is causing us a hell of a lot of problems. Get out of here, Masanaga and Yoshinaga! This country doesn`t need a shugo. We`ve had enough” (243) This was the reasoning of the sō-koku.

In order to make this happen, residents paid an `independence fee` to Masamoto, and thus secured their right to self-government. The problem here, however, was although all were united in their determination to force out Hatakeyama, they had no vision of what to do after this had been achieved. They had an administrative organization in the sō-koku gachigyōji, yet without a vision, they were performing mere aimless administration. With no sense of development, earlier gains began to dwindle. One other problem they faced was that they had no influential leaders. As current historians pay a lot of attention to the roles played by individuals, scholars tend to place the reasons for the disintegration of the sō-koku on social conditions and inadequacies in the system itself. That might be so, but for me the biggest reason for the fact that they collapsed was because they lacked a charismatic leader. Organizations, both now and then, move according to the people working in them. In the same manner as at the end of the Kamakura era, though the system was failing it was still functioning somehow or other, hence the quality of the system could change depending on who the `administrator` was. To use baseball as an example, if the head coach is changed, even if the players aren`t all that great, their results will improve just a little. This is the same as the sō-koku.(244)

The direct reason for the collapse of the sō-koku came with the change of heart experienced by Hosokawa Masamoto, the main administrator and influential power-broker. In the beginning Masamoto allowed the sō-koku to exist. In exchange for acknowledging the `independence` of the sō-koku, various `under-the-table` funds would be paid to Masamoto. However, in the interim this trend spread to neighbouring regions. Another sō-koku arose in the Otokuni part of southern Yamashiro. The representatives of Otokuni consisted of a mere six people, and because of the records kept by the shrine in that region, we know their names.

Eventually, the situation began to progressively change, enough to cause Masamoto to lose the color in his face. The sō-koku phenomenon spread to his own territory of Tamba. There was no way that Masamoto could allow this to continue. Yamashiro was not his territory, hence even if a sō-koku occurred in the middle of it he would not suffer any damage. Rather he would receive a large amount of funds for `self-government` from these organizations. However Tamba was his land. To have a revolt break out in his own territory was a grave insult to such a powerful warlord. Hence Masamoto was put in a position in which he had to crush the sō-koku. Masamoto made a pact with his some-time enemy Hatakeyama, despite the fact that he had previously forsaken Masanaga. The main reason for this about-face was because Masanaga was poor at warfare, and thus unable to resist the sō-koku. Also, when compared to Masamoto, Hatakeyama Yoshinaga held a weak position.(244-245)

The region of Kawachi, which had ignored central power and declared itself independent, was Masamoto`s home territory. In the midst of uncertainty, the new independent sō-koku represented a grave threat. Masamoto could have borrowed from the military might of other daimyō, however for a lone wolf like Masamoto this was impossible. Fear of this sō-koku was not to be taken lightly, hence it was to drive both the east and west to form an alliance in the midst of the Ōnin War. The most fatal flaw that the sō-koku possessed was an inability to read the change in temperament by such a powerful central figure as Masamoto. Actually, I think it would be more correct to say that as the sō-koku possessed no leader of ability such as Seikurō of Sugaura to think of a means of resistance. In the end, the Bakufu (re:Masamoto) ordered the shugo of Yamashiro Ise Sadamune to suppress the sō-koku. Of course, Sadamune had the support of Masamoto, hence with his forces he took hold of southern Yamashiro and brought the rule of the sō-koku to an end. As there are no specific records dating from the incident, all we know is that the people who were to defend the sō-koku were suppressed and disappeared.(/p>

Thus why did the sō-koku disintergrate? This is a question for which no easy answer comes to mind. The sō-koku itself was formed out of a balance of powers, hence one would expect that its collapse was a result of a number of elements.(246)

However one thing I can say clearly is that the sō-koku lacked a vision, an idea of what it wanted to become. Thus the reason it collapsed when attitudes changed. Creating their own laws and dispensing justice – it was as though some itinerant workers had occupied a vacant building.

This may be putting it a bit too flippantly, however doesn`t it seem a bit much to style this an `independent republic`? Japanese historians, in the wake of World War II, received a very strong influence from the Marxist view of history, and thus had a tendency to look favorably when evaluating anything like `government of the people`. Yet no matter what the organization, if it wants to continue indefinitely, then like the Kamakura Bakufunate, it needs to have a plan for how it intends to be set up. Furthermore, another thing that is necessary to support `self-government` are ideals, however these are in short supply in Japan. Right now we are living in a democratic society, and the rights of citizens are discussed freely as a matter of course. Yet this ideal really has only recently taken root in Japan. Nah, actually the Japanese still have this extraordinary sense of loyalty and favoritism to those above them. Just as things are now, in the Middle Ages ideas that venerated the emperor and shōgun were so plentiful that they could be dispensed with. In contrast, the idea that `commoners` could rule territory, in sum that they could exercise `self-government` was unheard of. Hence the word that I created by means of comparison, `commune`, is not correct. A `commune` was a self-governing city that existed in France from the 11th to the 12th centuries.

Moving on, during the French Revolution (1789) this title briefly referred to an established form of revolutionary authority. In sum, the background of the ideals involved in both of these movements were quite different. In contrast, it may not have been an accidental balance of politics but a firmly established background of ideals that led the Kaga Ikkō Ikki, as an ikki, to occur at the same time (as the Yamashiro uprising). There definitely was a charismatic leader involved in this rebellion. It was precisely because of this leader that the Kaga Ikkō Ikki was successful in its `independence`. That leader was Amida Nyōrai.(248)

The reasons why the founder of Jōdō Shinshū Shinran and Honganji were `forgotten`

The Ikkō Ikki, as most are aware, was an uprising organized by the followers of Jōdo Shinshū (otherwise known as the Monto). Of course, revolution is, at the very least, an `ideal` that becomes the logic of protest. It was precisely because of this `ideal` that the Ikkō Ikki was created and continued for such a long time. Thus in order to explain the Ikkō Ikki, we must first analyze the content of its ideals. This may be a bit tough, however I`d like you to recall the teachings of the founder of Jōdō Shinshū Shinran were covered in detail in the sixth volume “Kamikaze of the Middle Ages” and “Holy Men of the Jōdō Mon”. Put simply, amongst the many different buddhas, Amidha Nyōrai is the only venerated as a savior. Believers reject `jiriki power of the self` in favor of single-minded faith in the power of Amidha Nyōrai (absolute tariki, or power of another), and aim at being reborn as a Buddha themselves within the afterlife “the Paradise of the Pure Land” controlled by Amidha. The only measure needed to do this is to chant the Nembutsu “Namu Amida Butsu”, the title to this practice. Up until the arrival of Amidha Nyōrai, the practice of Buddhism was particularly severe, and though one may make acts of veneration (such as building temples and carving statues) it did not mean that one could become a Buddha. As Shinran taught that all that was necessary was for a person to say the Nembutsu, this idea spread rapidly through the common strata of society – or so a mistaken view of history goes.

The truth is, at the beginning of the Muromachi era, Shinran was a `forgotten idealist`. For those who haven`t yet read the sixth volume in this series, this is probably something of a surprise. Shinran is regarded as one of the most significant religious figures in Japanese history, or to put it more casually, he has a high degree of visibility. Yet it is true, although it’s the source of many theories within the academic world. As was explained in volume six, historians in the Meiji period began to question the historical existence of Shinran. What they found is that Honganji, in order to raise its authority, looked back into history and created a fabricated existence. When one asks why, it appears that Shinran does have a historical blank period in his `degree of popularity`. Here scholars are divided into two schools of thought. If one asks why Shinran was `forgotten`, then other asks why Shinran has such a degree of popularity and recognition now. (249-250)

I`ll answer both of these questions at once. The reason he was forgotten is because the Honganji sect suffered from a lack of vitality and disintegrated. His revival came about through the actions of a prophet of genius, who brought about a comprehensive revival of faith. That man`s name was Rennyo.

Rennyo himself is something of a `monster`. This is not meant in a pejorative sense. It just means that as a human his scale was enormous. Before we discuss this figure, just how did Honganji fall into disrepair before the appearance of Rennyo? This deserves our attention. For if we don`t know how this situation came about we can`t measure just how great Rennyo`s achievement was. We won`t be able to understand just how dire the situation was for Honganji at the time, considering that nowadays it has the largest group of followers among the traditional schools of Buddhism.

After the death of Shinran, those most likely to pass along his message were his children and grandchildren. Of course, Rennyo could be counted among them. This was the peculiar characteristic of Jōdō Shinshū that other faiths did not have. As Shinran allowed the practice of eating meat and taking wives, the priests of Shinshū had wives and children. Nowadays the priests of any sect may marry, however this did not come about until after the Meiji Restoration. Before this era, priests were not permitted to openly have children, although countless many probably had children `hidden away`. Thus Kūkai, Saitō, Hōnen, and Nichiren had no direct descendants. Yet Shinran did. These children were responsible for building Honganji.

Just how bad the situation was before `the era of Rennyo` can be seen in the following comment from the foremost scholar on Rennyo, Kasahara Kazuo. Honganji was in the grip of the descendants of Shinran, and that legacy meant they possessed an authority unlike any found among the principle organizations of other faiths. Nevertheless, they were still unable to raise the number of followers, whose recruitment had come to a standstill. There were virtually no pilgrims making their way to Honganji, The teachings of Honganji were fairly poor at establishing a basis in the lives of followers, let alone affirming their faith. “Rennyo” Yoshikawa Hirofumi Kankan Bōsen”. What I want us to pay attention to here is the line “There were virtually no pilgrims making their way to Honganji”. What this means is that hardly anyone was paying a visit to the grave of Shinran. If we compare this to Nichiren, which emerged during the Kamakura era, we can see the scale of this difference. From the very beginning, the Nichiren sect was that of `Nichiren`, with the name of the founder clearly displayed for all to see. Moreover, the places that Nichiren had lived in (and been attacked) had become highly valued relics, with most converted into temples.(250-252).

At the temple in which Nichiren died (Ikegami Honmonji), both then and now an annual ceremony is held to commemorate his teachings. In comparison, why is it that Shinran of the Middle Ages era had such little popularity? Weren`t the teachings of Jōdō Shinshū popular at the time? Things become more complicated when we find that wasn`t the case at all. The truth was that although Honganji wasn`t popular, other Shinshū sects had followed the path to prosperity, so much so that by the time Rennyo was born they had reached their peak. When one speaks of sects other than Honganji, nothing really comes to mind, does it? You might honestly say “Really? There were other sects?” In truth, it`s not a case of `was`, it`s more a case of `is`. For example, the Senjūji sect of Jōdō Shinshū, or the Bukkōji sect – all of these were created by the followers of Shinran. It`s probably a matter of course to mention this, however in addition to the direct descendents of Shinran, there were also a number of direct followers. If one looks at history with an objective frame of mind, this is fairly obvious, however as Shinran is reputed to have said “ I have no followers “, they do not call themselves as followers, but refer to themselves as “those treading the same path to the light” (or Ondōbō Ondōgyō ). In modern terms, they would be referred to as `fellow believers`. Thus the highly regarded `followers` of Shinran did not align themselves with the Honganji sect, but instead preached independently. In the aftermath of Shinran`s death, Honganji did not constitute a unified, singular sect, but was one among a variety of different Shinshū factions.

Being one of the direct descendents of Shinran was of course a particular `sales point`, and there was a lot of value in being the guardian of Shinran`s grave. Yet according to the teachings of Shinshū, it was only the existence of Amidha Nyōrai who could assure birth in the afterlife, not Shinran. Hence while the chant of `Namu Amidha Butsu` was confirmed by the Monto (or group of Shinshū believers), Shinran, that `plain man` (as he described himself), was no more than an ordinary human being, hence there wasn`t any real interest in wanting to pay a visit to his grave. One great difference between this and Nichiren was that Nichiren, being the founder of his faith, was worshipped as the reincarnation of a `higher level bōsatsu` or boddhisatva. Hence Nichiren himself was the subject of veneration, whereas Shinran wasn`t. This, again, is the difference between Shinran and Kūkai, who was venerated as a living Buddha. Yet no matter how `ordinary` he was, Shinran was the founder of Shinshū and its teachings. It stood to reason that the content of such teaching should occur in line with his thought. If I were the founder of a private university, no matter how many chancellors came after me, I would still be respected as the first and foremost – in the same way, Shinran should be worshipped by each of the different sects of Shinshū.

Nevertheless, why were the “so few believers making a pilgrimage to Honganji, and why were the lives of the leaders of Honganji so poor?”. To put this simply, it was because of a `strategic mistake` by the Honganji sect. In the beginning, no matter how divided the sects of Shinshū were, an image of Shinran was set up and worshipped by each sect. The grandson of Shinran, Kakunyō, who grew tired of this practice, was of one of the families descended from Shinran and attempted to expand an independent form of Shinshū.(252-253)

This was the rise of Honganji. Kakunyō styled himself as the third generation of Honganji (of course the first was Shinran). In the era of the first generation there were no temples of the likes of Honganji. It was Kakunyō who created its buildings, lived and worked within them, and came to be called `holy father` by those representatives of other sects descended from Shinran. However, these arrangements, which may be termed `corporate strategies` were in the end unsuccessful. Kakunyō may have thought that if he took sole possession of Honganji as Shinran`s direct descendent then many of the Monto would flock to follow him, yet in truth it had exactly the opposite effect, with many of the Monto heading for Senjūji or Bukkōji sects, leaving Honganji forsaken. No matter how much one states that Shinran was not to be a figure for worship, this was by far the exception rather than the rule. Hence why was it that Honganji had such little popularity? It`s a bit ironic to say so, however the reason lay with the fact that Shinran`s teachings were `honest`. I wonder if you are able to recall what was said about Shinran when we touched upon the reasons why he was `forgotten` in Book 6? This was `Shinran and Jishu believed with all their might in the power of Amidha Nyōrai. Hence, because this power was so all-encompassing, it wasn`t necessary to perform any rites – in other words, one could `do nothing`. Yet there is a spirit of volunteerism in humans which makes them want to do things for the benefit of others and to improve themselves.

As people exert themselves in order to achieve this desire, the teachings of Shinran did not answer their concerns (from Volume 6 The Kamikaze of the Middle Ages - The Saints of Jōdō). That is to say, in the interaction between society and group religion, this aspect is by far the most important. For Ippen too, the saving grace of Amidha Nyōrai was absolute. The more absolute it was, the more `one need not do anything`. For Shinran, the `nembutsu` meant that one should not say his name but that of `Amidha Nyōrai, through which one would be saved. Hence one did not need either ceremonies or groups, yet because people felt that Honganji lacked these things, they ultimately left the fold.(254-255)

For Jishu, the “dancing nenbutsu” was a brilliant performance that allowed the participation of believers. The act of the “dancing nenbutsu” did not mean that one would go to paradise (as this was not a condition for entry), yet at the very least it was an expression of joy at being saved, and thus its place surpassed mere doctrine. Yet Honganji, before the era of Rennyo, had no such traditions, and was merely content with being “a direct bloodline and descendent”. Other Shinshū sects, in order to snatch away this very attractive epithet of descendent, and in order to assemble believers, gradually began to repeat performances that would surpass the “dancing nembutsu” of Jishu. This “corporate effort” on the part of other sects was the reason that Honganji sank out of sight.(255)

The strategic struggle for followers by the Bukkōji and Senjūji sects in conflict with the “bloodline” of Honganji

In the mid Muromachi era, what were the “corporate strategies” that other Shinshū sects used in order to steal believers away from Honganji, an institution which should have been acknowledged as the origin of Jōdō Shinshū? First of all, I would like to introduce the “strategy” pursued by the sect that was most successful in snatching away believers, the Bukkōji. In truth Shinshū in this era was the Shinshū of the Bukkōji sect, as virtually no one held any image of the Honganji group (incidently, the reason I haven`t been using the term `Honganji sect` to refer to Honganji itself is because the Honganji of today is divided into the Ōtani sect (eastern) and the Honganji sect (western), hence I didn`t want to confuse the modern Honganji sect with that of the past). Why was the Bukkōji sect so popular? The founder of the Bukkōji sect was Ryōgen, yet Ryōgen himself was of the `seventh generation` of Shinshū disciples, meaning that his teacher was the `sixth generation` and so forth all the way back to the first. The first was of course the founder of Shinshū, Shinran. This type of lineage is referred to as a `lineage of faith` (hōmyaku). Hence Ryōgen was Shinran`s `seventh generation disciple`. If you trod along the lineage of Ryōgen, eventually you would meet up with Shinran. Of course, this is not confined to Shinshū alone, but is a characteristic of all Buddhist sects. The reason for this is because priests cannot take wives, hence they can`t pass along their mantle directly to their children. This is therefore the reason why `lineages of faith` were established.

However, only the Shinshū sect was different with its `bloodline lineage from Shinran`. The blood line in this case literally refers to direct descent from Shinran. In order to resist this characteristic `peculiar to Honganji`, Ryōgen decided to make full use of that most traditional of Buddhist sect thought, the `lineages of faith`. He insisted that “Honganji might be the direct descendants of Shinran, but we of the Bukkōji sect carry on the `correct teaching` of Shinran, hence we are the `lineage of faith`. This raises us above Honganji”. It was quite a strategy. In order to further establish his legitimacy and convince the faithful of the superiority of Bukkōji, Ryōgen came up with the idea of drawing a map of his lineage. Representations of the various generations were depicted in lineage form. This idea of a pictorial lineage map was a stroke of genius. Lineages were not usually made available to the public, and they usually consisted of difficult kanji characters that commoners could make neither heads nor tails of. (256-257)

However, if the lineage was expressed in the form of a pictorial map, one could see at a glance who was who. Another particularly impressive point was the fact that Bukkōji alone held the right to decide who would be included in the map. In sum, those priests who did not have a blood lineage to Shinran could show their heritage through the `lineage of faith` practiced in Bukkōji, which also had the exclusive right to appoint such a title. If you notice this, you should be able to work out why it was that Bukkōji was able to expand its influence based on its lineage map. Like the modern day teachers of ikebana and the tea ceremony, Bukkōji of the Middle Ages period had the power of life and death over its disciples. If it could appoint someone, it could just as easily expel them. As the priesthood had a type of `license` in the form of the pictorial map, it was a sign of their loyalty to Bukkōji.

Nevertheless, no matter how much Ryōgen may have stressed the legitimacy of the map, if his teachings failed to reach the faithful, then all this effort would be wasted. Hence, like the ikebana and tea ceremony systems, the disciples of the Bukkōji `school` would be gathered together and given their `license` with which to practice their faith. In this regard Ryōgen was no slouch. In order to draw together the faithful, Ryōgen came up with the idea of a `list of names`.

What exactly does this mean, `a list of names`? Put simply, it meant `a list of names of those who are to be born again in the afterlife`. If one looks as this list, it doesn`t appear to be anything out of the ordinary. It`s just a list of names of the faithful written out one after another. However only the priests of Bukkōji held the right to decide whose name would be included in the list.(258)

Ryōgen stated that those who had their names written on the list were guaranteed of rebirth in the afterlife, which laid the foundation for a new way of thinking. This was the reason for the wild popularity of Bukkōji. Those who wished to be reborn entered Bukkōji in droves and asked for their names to be included on the list. This activity meant that virtually no pilgrims were making their way to Honganji. Why did this come about? There is something that I would like my readers to know in advance. Even at the risk of repeating myself, it`s something that surpasses religion, society, even human relationships in its importance. It is the promise (hongan) that Amidha Nyōrai made that guaranteed all believers re-birth in the afterlife. “Believe in me, and you shall be born into the next life” – this promise surpassed those of Nyōrai (Buddha – he who first opened the way to enlightenment) as the promises of Amidha had already been fulfilled. Therefore it did not matter what you did in the future. You did not need either ceremonies or groups, You did not need to repent, or to indulge in good works, which is why Shinran denied their practice outright. Yet what you have to remember here is that people are not usually satisfied with such an explanation.

What I mean by this is people feel that something is lacking when their spirit of volunteerism is not fulfilled. They may want to do something in order to improve themselves, but may not be satisfied in just improving their mind. Another thing they may have is a sense of unease. A sense of unease means that people may worry whether or not they will truly be born into the afterlife, or else they worry that there may be something wrong with the way they express their faith. Hence they may want to do something to confirm their faith. Yet Shinran was a simple man of faith and ignored all of these desires. From the point of view of Honganji, what Bukkōji had created to relieve the anxieties of their believers was an `add-on`.(259-260)

As for Senjūji, which was in the same position as Bukkōji, how did they resist the bloodline of Honganji? Their priestly example consisted of Nyodō. Nyodō insisted on the following…: The historical lineage of Senjūji had been received directly from Shinran by word of mouth, and only Senjūji had been blessed in this manner. What this meant is that essentially they were the same as Shinran. In order to understand this concept, it might be easier to put it in terms of kenjutsu, or sword techniques. In kenjutsu, there is a way of thinking called the menkyosaiden, which states that those who hold this qualification are at the same level as a master, and are the successors to whatever techniques their master may possess. It is not confined to the immediate descendents of a master, for if the child of a master does not possess sufficient technique they will not be declared heirs to the tradition. In sum, what Nyodō was effectively saying was that `we received a menkyosaiden from Shinran himself in regard to Shinshū faith`. Moreover, Nyodō made sure that this menkyosaiden would only be handed on to priests of Senjūji. This was the meaning behind the `sole transition by word of mouth`. It was indeed an ingenious strategy, which stated that Honganji were `no more than the descendents of Shinran, yet Senjūji is the true heir (to Shinran)`.

Nyodō stated that as the sole inheritor of the faith (meaning Nyodō himself), he held the same standing as Shinran. Actually, far from that, he said that there was no need to worship Amidha Nyōrai. As Senjūji priests were a living Buddha and that their place in the afterlife was assured, they had the same qualification as Amidha Nyōrai. Paradise was within them.

In short, there was no need to venerate the Nembutsu or statues, nor to undergo corporeal training. Rather believers should not worship the Buddha, but priests (meaning Senjūji priests) in their immediate vicinity. There might be those among you who believe this closely resembles the teachings of Ippen`s Jishū (in volume 6). Certainly, if one looks at them at face value, they do resemble each other. Yet there was one very large difference, and I would like you to keep this in mind. In the teachings of Ippen, “through song the Buddha and I will be as one, Amidha Butsu, Amidha Butsu”, yet those born into the afterlife are not priests (or mere humans), but the Buddha (Amidha Nyōrai). For this reason, those who believed in Jishū took on the name of Amidha Butsu. In sum, what this meant was that both commoners and priests would become buddhas according to the same standards, and totally different to the idea that priests who had hold of the right to birth in the afterlife would be the only ones reborn.(260-261)

We`ve already explored why Ryōgen and Nyodō took this path – for by pursuing their methods they brought believers into the fold and developed their sect. This isn`t much of a problem. Throughout the east and west, religious groups have used various measures in order to increase the number of faithful. Yet what we can equally say about these religions by being high minded about this issue is that in the words of the time…”taking of goods belief, and requests for goods in return” became popular. What “belief in the taking of goods” means is that people would offer goods to the priests of the temple. Of course, donations by ordinary citizens to the priesthood were perfectly legitimate, and under present religious legislation such donations are exempt from taxation. These traditions exist in Buddhism, in Christianity, and in Islam. Yet the “belief in the taking of goods” went beyond a common donation and constituted quite an exceptional gift.

The biggest problem faced here had to do with “the taking of goods”. In short, these were monetary gifts from believers to the priesthood that became a condition for being born into the afterlife. Looking at things from the point of view of the priesthood, they thought “these believers are always making large donations to us, so let`s make them “good believers”, whereas those who don`t donate much will be called “poor (or bad) believers”. This started off a competition among believers, with the temple insisting that the faithful “work hard, and send donations to us. If you do, you will be born into the afterlife (either you`ll become a Buddha, or you`ll receive enlightenment)”. So, don`t worry about repeated your `oms`, don`t concern yourself with the Lotus Sutra, and leave those other `dodgy` new faiths alone. Only by using our methods will you `prosper`. The point to remember here is this is what happens when people with a fairly noble frame of mind want to do something for others and that spirit is used for foul deeds. This reveals how religion can succeed as a `business`. When this is misused, it is called `heresy`.(262-263)

The monster `Rennyo`s` audacious plan to revitalize Honganji

There is a saying that goes “the single light from a poor man`s lantern is greater than the light from 10,000 lanterns of a rich man”. What this means is that “the money that a poor man is able to gather together and offer as a donation is more worthy than the large donation made by a wealthy man”. The fact that this saying has been passed on since ancient times (according to one theory-since the time of Shakamuni) is proof that it isn`t really put into practice. In somewhat suspicious `religions` such as the Lotus sect, Butsujyari are sold to believers for 2,000 yen. The origins of the Butsujyari lie in the `bones of the Buddha`, and though there is little chance that they are actually relics of Shakamuni, there are plenty of believers who will happily buy them. This is most likely the beginnings of `religion`. Yet honestly speaking, the time that this becomes a problem is after a religion becomes somewhat popular and a group of followers are formed. This practice is not limited to religion, yet once it begins gradually the foundations and core beliefs of the religion undergo a slight shift. For example, this was seen in the Imperial Japanese Forces before the war (particularly in the army) and in the labor unions of postwar Japan. Although the army was originally raised to protect the country, the prewar Japanese army caused a war and brought the country to ruin. In the case of unions, they were raised in order to protect the rights of workers, yet most unions became passionately involved in political movements, gradually started to engage in pointless strikes, and thus damaged the rights of Japanese workers. It`s for these reasons that Ōtaku Yōichi mentioned the irony that “yesterday it was the army, now it`s the Council of Unions”.

Religious groups, in order to expand their faith, form organizations. In this sense, the religion itself becomes the `leader`, whereas the group becomes the `follower`. Yet one of the ironies of society is that this `leader/follower relationship` is often turned on its head. In order to spread the faith it`s not a question of what the religion should do, but how the organization can change the message. It`s completely at odds with the beginnings of the religion, and as faiths such as Senjūji, which was at the center of the Shinshū faith, went in this direction it is but one example of this paradox. (264-265)

If you look at why such things occur, it`s because religions are made up of groups of people. To put this a little more plainly, dogma doesn`t eat, but people do. Hence the principles of the side that doesn`t eat must change to suit the conditions of the side that does. Let`s look at a more extreme example. Suppose that `if one follows the dogma of this faith to the letter, one will die of starvation` was a condition of a certain religion. If so, there would be no followers left. They would have all died. Yet if this religion survived to the modern day, there`s only one conclusion that we can draw – that is, “somewhere along the line the message changed”, which means that “the teachings of the founder were altered”.

Rennyo, who planned to go back to the original teachings of the founder of Shinshū, Shinran, found that he faced a grave problem. What was the reason that Honganji was so unpopular? It was because it carried out the teachings of the founder to the letter. Few would visit Honganji, hence it became difficult to follow the life laid out by Shinran. Yet Honganji could not imitate Bukkōji, although it did fall under Bukkōji influence.(265-266) Obviously if this situation was allowed to continue Honganji would disappear. Hence the problem of what to do to relieve matters.

Before answering as to what measures Rennyo came up with to resolve problems, it might be worthwhile learning something about Rennyo himself. Religious figures, as we know them, are people who usually exhibit a lot of energy, yet in Rennyo we see a person imbued with more than a normal share of this element. Many records speak of the effort this `monster` put into creating children. In the space of his 85 years, he had 5 wives, with 13 sons and 14 daughters, making a total of 27 children. All 5 of his wives were legitimate. His first wife, Nyoro, gave birth to 4 sons and 3 daughters before she died. His second wife, Renyu had 3 sons and 7 daughters, his third wife Nyoshō had 1 daughter, whereas his fourth wife Shūnyo had 1 son and 1 daughter before she too died. His fifth wife Rennō, who was 20 at the time, married Rennyo when he was already 72. For the next few years until his death at the age of 84, he would have another 5 sons and 2 daughters. What extraordinary power this man possessed.

If all we were going to do is compare the child-making capacity of men, then the 11th shōgun of the Tokugawa dynasty Ienari would come in for scrutiny, as he had some ability in the child-making stakes as well. Yet he achieved this through the overwhelming use of concubines, whereas Rennyo only had `ma` for a companion. Yet hasn`t this record already been broken? What one has to remember that this was an age when `life only lasted until 50`. With this in mind, you can understand just how amazing Rennyo actually was.

Hence how did this Rennyo, brimming with physical prowess, come to revitalize Honganji`s fortunes? Firstly, we need to know just how much the heretics (as we are taking this from the point of view of Honganji) had `twisted` the teachings of Shinran, and how much they had left alone, what was right, and what was wrong. Unlike today, at the time there was no mass media – no radio, no television, no newspapers. There were no magazines, and as the printing press had not yet been invented, the only thing they did have were mimeographs. It was therefore almost impossible to preach the word. To overcome this, Rennyo, in his own hand, wrote thousands of letters in easy-to-understand language that any commoner would be able to grasp. These were the O-fumi.

The O-fumi were shorter than books, hence commoners could easily copy them, which had the effect of spreading the message to a wider audience (266-267). The most famous of the O-fumi is the `Hakkotsu no O-fumi` (or `bare bones letter`). This letter, which begins with the line “that which is red faced (or healthy) in the morning is but mere bones (or dead) by evening”, describes in simple, impressionistic language the core Buddhist doctrine of `shogyō mujō ` or `the impermanence of all things`. Moreover, the O-fumi were written in order to convey the `true teachings` of Shinshū (or what Rennyo believed to be `true`), hence any teachings at odds with the content of the O-fumi were ruthlessly expunged. This was probably the first time that the Monto (or believers) had ever learned about the difference between correct and false doctrine in Shinshū.

To quote one section of the O-fumi… “At the moment, there are a number of believers who misunderstand the purpose of tariki. They have not a single prayer bead in their possession. This is as grave an insult as if one had `snatched the hand of the Buddha`. Shinran never said anything like `throw away your prayer beads`. Of course, if one believes in the power of tariki, one could say that there is no need to have prayer beads. Yet true believers (ie, priests) should appear in possession of them. They who have a duty to explain matters to the faithful should don robes and carry prayer beads”.

The O-fumi are not books. They are letters. The longest of them goes for about the length of a page. They are therefore easy to copy. Rennyo wrote out thousands of these letters, and then set about preaching the word. Of course, this meant traveling the country (in the Muromachi era this didn`t include Hokkaido or Okinawa). Thus as the number of like-minded followers increased, Rennyo began inviting believers to meetings – not large meetings, but ones involving just a few participants. In his own words, Rennyo said “Talk together with groups of four to five people. These five will all come from different backgrounds and hold different experiences. By talking about their shared faith, they draw closer and a bond is formed between them”. Hence if there were any problems surrounding the faith, Rennyo himself wrote the answer in a letter, this was then copied and handed around. Hence these group talks came to be called `lectures` by Rennyo.(268-269)

Both the O-fumi and lectures have an inseparable relationship. It is precisely because of the O-fumi that people were attracted to Rennyo in the first place and participated in the lectures. It is also precisely because of the lectures that the O-fumi came to be read by so many people which effectively raised the effect of Rennyo`s proselytizing. Hence Rennyo was a pillar of spiritual support in the creation the central axis of `Namu Amidha Butsu`, which he then distributed to the nation. The proselytizing strategy of Rennyo was a great success. Honganji, that was facing extinction, not only completely revitalized its message and the spread of its influence, it `crushed` all other Shinshū sects, including Bukkōji.

One thing I should mention is that the 14th successor to the head of Bukkōji, Kyōgō, abandoned his own sect in order to return to the Honganji fold. He changed his name to Renkyō, and became a fervent believer in the truth of the Honganji message. If this was a war, it was as though Honganji had won a great victory through the surrender of the enemy general (incidently, Bukkōji continued on after the defection of Kyōgō by passing the mantle of 14th successor on to his younger brother Kyōyo).

As you can see, the strategic plan for revitalizing the fortunes of Honganji that Rennyo devised brought about one of the great dramatic turnarounds in Japanese history. Yet the huge organization that was born from this effort began to move in a completely different direction to what Rennyo had anticipated.(270) First of all, the lectures came to have a different meaning depending on who was listening. The lectures were meant to be a `study forum` through which heretical ideas could be expelled and awareness of correct teachings raised. Yet gradually the act of meeting itself came to change the purpose of the lectures. Basically, it provided a place where you could meet up with good friends and speak freely without fear of so-en rulers or the Bakufu. Up until this time, no such organization existed in medieval Japan. The actual mood of the lectures gradually became something resembling a recreational event, with wine and singing as their main attractions. Moreover, the peasantry were able to air their concerns at these lectures. Concerns over the harshness of the revenue collecting of their lord, or arguments, depending on the mood, in relation to criticism of various gods and buddhas (from Kasahara Kazuo`s [Rennyo] Yoshikawa Hirofumi Kankan). (270-271)

More than anything else, these were `gatherings of friends`, hence there was little fear that you might be recorded in secret if you happened to criticize the government. In modern China, why have lectures held by `Falun Gong` achieved such phenomenal popularity? Conversely, why have the Chinese government worked so hard to crack down on the sect? You probably already know the reason. It`s because if they leave the sect as is, it will generate an `uprising`.

The mystery of why the system of `lectures` led to a sudden outbreak in `group uprisings`

It`s one of the quirks of history that the system of lectures that Rennyo created would in turn become the basis of the largest uprisings of the Sengoku era, those of the Ikkō-ikki. The freedom to gather, or else the freedom to form a society (which means the freedom to create a group by individuals who may have ties to political or religious organizations) which are protected under the modern constitution did not exist in earlier times. Actually, there are still countries (without such guarantees) like this quite close to Japan. The system of lectures, if we leave out special events such as festivals, had an abstract existence as a place where people could freely gather during the Middle Ages period.(271-272)

Yet the fact that believers were only gathering together and airing their grievances against the government did not mean that an uprising would therefore take place. It was only a form of “letting off steam” which, from the point of view of society`s rulers, should have been a welcome situation. In order for it to become the focus of military action against the state, there needed to be another stage of development – a change, if you will. In Rennyo`s case, this change was a situation that he did not wish for at all. In no way did he condone group violence by the Monto, or protests against the government. Rather he believed that authority should be respected and obeyed. The laws of this world were, in the Buddhist view, those of Ōbō (or `The King`s Law`). However, why did the Monto come to engage in uprisings against the will of Rennyo, the same Rennyo who tried so hard to ensure that respect for the laws of the realm did not collapse?

This change came about because many higher class warriors (which is to say, wealthy farmers and those of the class of `kokujin` or `citizen`) became believers in the Ikko shū. Originally Ikko shū (or the Ikko faith) was a religion aimed at commoners – or more specially, peasants, fishermen, and hunters. Actually, fishermen and hunters were particularly important. Not only did these professions deal with life and death on a daily basis, they had, since the Kamakura era, been known as the `forsaken professions` which Buddhism refused to touch. This was the same for lower class peasants, or to put it another way, before the Kamakura era there was no doctrine that aligned itself with this social class. As far as those in power were concerned, they were in an ideal situation, as it was inconceivable that the villagers in their territory would combine with villagers from territories outside of their control.(272-273)

In the case of kuni-ikki like that described in the section on Sugaura, at this level other villages were not allies but rivals. The peasants of other villages were without a doubt peasants and thus all alike, yet the question of whether they could unite through similar intent is a different matter altogether. In the case of modern company workers, even though they may get together with fellow workers it does not mean that they will be able to act together. There may a sense of rivalry because they are involved in the same line of work. Farming villages had serious problems such as rivalry over water resources, hence it would be a mistake to think that just because they were all peasants they would somehow share a common goal.(273)

However, the spirit of the believers (or Monto) of Ikko-shū and the Ondōbō Ondōgyō made such a collaboration a reality. Yet in the very early stages they would unite and air their grievances, hence they wouldn`t suddenly jump to armed rebellion. Yet before long questions such as “why is it that we are paying so much in tribute while the village next to us isn`t?” and “ why are we being pushed so hard when our neighbors` lord doesn`t require his workers to toil so much?” started to emerge. More than anything else, the meetings in which lectures were conducted provided a forum for the exchange of information. When this happened, the largest impact these meetings received came from the wealthier peasants and citizen warriors who occasionally came into contact with the peasant classes. Just like in modern union negotiations, they were the human resource managers that emerged from among the union representatives. As far as they were concerned, Ikko-shū was a neither here nor there faith, yet they soon came to realize that they could manipulate it. If they too entered the fold, they would be allied in faith with the lower class peasantry.(273) and become one with them.

Of course, there were other intentions on top of these. They required these wealthier members of society to enter into the faith if they were to stand any chance of getting the peasants to listen to them. As for a reason for this union, it would have to be fairly important if it were enough build the conditions by which samurai on the lower strata of society would bind together with peasants. It goes without saying that the samurai possessed military power, and in this age the division between those who could carry weapons and those that couldn`t did not exist, hence the peasants themselves were also armed. Of course, in such territories if there suddenly came a need to go to war, the lower class samurai could quite easily take up arms in order to form the nucleus of an army. It was through these conditions that the foundations for armed resistance were built. To put this in modern terms, if the peasants were the members of the labor union, the samurai would constitute the middle management. The middle management had doubts about the upper ranking nobility and samurai, in other words the shūgo and jitō. Until now, there was no way for them to air their dissatisfaction. However by tying themselves with the peasantry, they were able to bring their demands to the surface. By combining with the laborers, middle management could oust the executives and take hold of the wealth for themselves. This type of modern union conflict is a good parable for the Ikkō-ikki.

Thus what was the course of the development of the Ikkō-ikki? The Ikkō-ikki spread across the nation, yet their fiercest uprisings occurred within the Hokuriku region. This is why Rennyo chose it as the focal point for his believers. Originally Honganji was in Kyoto, and in its early age it, like many other temples, was situated in the mountains. However, this area was close to Mii-dera of Ōtsu, a Tendai sect temple. The Tendai sect were the most critical of Honganji, hence their proximity to each other meant that disputes would break out easily.(274)

Another reason had to do with the battle against `heresy`. The remained a pressing need to pursue heresy wherever it may spread and then proselytize in order to mitigate its effects. Hence the Hokuriku was chosen based upon its position as a region in which heresy was rife. The next problem was where to establish a base within the Hokuriku.(274-275) As in the case of Honganji, large temples that served as a focal point for belief were described as a gobō. It was exceedingly difficult to decide on where to build these gobō. Firstly one needed the permission of the owner of the land. If the land in question was a shōen, then the owner would be a shugo. No matter how you look at it, these members of society did not exactly have a friendly relationship with the Ikkō-shu. However, the Ikkō-shu did possess a sociable, energetic leader in Rennyo, particularly since he had the energy to father 10 or more children. As has been gradually discussed in this series on `alternative history`, there were two people of particular importance in this stage of proceedings - one was Rennyo and his choice of land on which to build the temple. The other was the head priest of Kōfukuji, Jinson. Rennyo had caught site of the area known as Yoshizaki, an area situated in the Kawaguchi sō in Echizen province (modern Fukui prefecture), and an area owned by Kōfukuji. Yoshizaki was an area on the border between Echizen and Kaga facing toward the sea. Rennyo had a particular eye for choosing locations, for a secluded spot that he chose would one day grow into a major metropolis – the city of Osaka.(275)

Another person of note was the “first class Sengoku daimyō” Asakura Takakage (Toshikage). As this was an age in which the authority of shōen rulers was waning, it was important to gain the favor of local influential warriors.(275) For this time and age, Takakage had very acute foresight. It is possible that he thought that enticing the temple would contribute to the development of the local region. Yet conversely, there was no way that Takakage could have realized that this action would lead to the creation of his nemesis, the Ikkō-ikki. On this point, the fact he didn`t realize that this would happen puts him on a par with Rennyo. In the beginning, Rennyo was very pleased with the development of Yoshizaki and how it functioned as a focal religious center and gladly oversaw its operations. Yet gradually he became more concerned. Those followers who had gathered in Yoshizaki included some `middle ranking` priests who had invited local lower ranking warriors and locally prominent citizens into the faith. They had then proceeded to show signs that they were prepared to actively rebel against the rule of shugo daimyō and the owners of sō-en. Rennyo had a sense of foreboding about these activities, and periodically released an O-fumi condemning such behaviour.

The O-fumi released on February 17th, 1474 (Bunmei 6) conveyed these thoughts… “Thus if you are a person that truly understands the meaning of tariki as practiced by Honganji, you should store this faith deep inside your heart, and not criticize other sects. You should not harp on about the brilliance of the beliefs of the Ikko-shu in front of others, whether you are traveling on the road or within your own village. You should not act in violation of the orders of the jitō or shugo, yet should act in accordance to public morals. You should neither insult nor speak ill of the ancient gods of Japan or of other faiths. The reason for this is that all of these gods and buddhas are found within the manifestation of namu amidha buddha. In sum, you should abide by the laws and customs of this land, and treasure belief in Amidha Nyorai within your heart. This should be the crux of our faith. On this, I ask for your understanding.(276-277)

Yet this O-fumi had no effect. The Monto had already planned to express their dissatisfaction in the political reality of society through use of the ikki, or revolt. For Toshikage, who was the most powerful ruler within the province of Kaga, the outbreak of the Ikkō-ikki was “a mistake on the part of those in power”. In Kaga prefecture the post of shugo was contested between members of the family of the Togashi. The present shugo Togashi Masachika was in conflict with his younger brother Kochiyo over who should exercise the post of shugo. The biggest mistake made during this dispute was the decision by Masachika, who had suffered defeat at the hands of his brother, to cross the border into Echizen and ask for the support of the Monto of Yoshizaki. Whether or not he was involved in a internal dispute or civil war, Masachika brought an outside faction into the conflict that he should never have contemplated. History has a tendency to show that those who take such foolish actions soon disappear, and in this sense Masachika was no exception.(277-278)

The idea of equality that continued for one hundred years as a result of the `religious revolt` of Kaga province

The Ikkō-ikki of Kaga province expelled the shugo from their lands and ruled over themselves for a period of one hundred years or so. In the records of the time, they refer to Kaga as `the province in the hands of the peasants`. Originally Kaga had been a province run by the Togashi family, yet as the impact from the Ōnin war spread to the provinces, the elder brother Togashi Masachika had joined the faction of the eastern army (under the Hosokawa) whereas his younger brother Kochiyo had joined that of the western army (under the Yamana). Added to this was a faction of supporters from Shinshū belonging to the Takada Senjūji sect, for the Senjūji were supporters of Kochiyo. As a result of this alliance, Masachika had lost control over Kaga Masachika then asked for the support of the eastern army-affiliated shugo of the neighbouring province of Echizen, Asakura Takakage. As was said earlier, Takakage was on good terms with Rennyo and had provided support for the establishment of Yoshizaki. He was mostly likely friends with Rennyo. As such, the Monto led by Rennyo and the shugo of Togashi Masachika entered into an alliance with each other. Consequently, there were two aspects to this ikki, the “Kaga chapter of the Ōnin war” and the “anti-Senjūji conflict”.(279)

However, why did Rennyo, who gradually began to demand that the Monto “obey the laws of the land (ōbō)” and “cease criticizing other sects”, allow the Monto to carry out such acts in the first place? The first answer can be understood if one looks at the situation from the point of view of Honganji, who were in a “holy war” against the radical Takada Senjūji for whom there could be no forgiveness. The second answer stems from the fact that it was the `shugo`, the legitimate ruler of the land, who asked for assistance from the Monto, hence it was not illegal to support him in a kind of `legal compromise`. However this did not mean that Rennyo gave unconditional support to such acts. Rennyo issued the O-fumi in an effort to halt some of the more extreme behaviour, however in July of 1474 (the 6th year of Bunmei), an ikki answered Masachika`s call for support and invaded Kaga, the result of which ended in the fall of Rentaiji-jō (in modern Komatsu City in Ishikawa prefecture), the seat of Kochiyo`s authority. Thus the military power of the citizens of the province together with the proselytizing spirit of the priesthood who wished to expand their teachings to all corners of Kaga (these priests being the regional branch of Honganji led by the head priest) were things that not even Rennyo could control.(279)

Hence Masachika got his revenge on his younger brother Kochiyo, yet as was said earlier, it was extraordinarily dangerous to bring an outside force into an internal conflict. If you eliminate a common enemy, the person who was your ally yesterday will become your enemy. Masachika basically `stepped into this trap`. The Monto, which had expanded its influence, had also fulfilled its obligations to the shugo. They did not increase their yearly tribute, in fact they reduced it, and anything left over was not paid to the province but to Honganji. Thus it was to be expected that Honganji would expand its power whilst the shugo would lose his.

Infuriated by this situation, Masachika, a mere year after his victory, would lead his army against the Ikkō-ikki in March of 1475 (the 7th year of Bunmei). In the following year, again an ikki broke out.(280) According to the records of Honganji for this period, both Rennyo, the Monto, and Masachika had wished for a compromise, yet a priest by the name of Shimotsuma Hōgen Rensō (Shimotsuma was a surname granted by Honganji to the kasai (or senior councilors), whereas Hōgen Rensō was a Buddhist name) had defied Rennyo`s orders and had directed the Monto to resist Masachika. Of course, the purpose of these records was to absolve Rennyo, so it`s necessary to take them with `a grain of salt`.(280)

There is one thing that is certain. Rennyo, unable to control the Monto of Echizen and Kaga, deserted Yoshizaki and once again headed for the Kinai region. In this way Rennyo`s four year stint in Yoshizaki came to an end.

On the other hand, the spirit of ikki which had snatched away the `gravity` of Rennyo continued to expand. More and more tribute was demanded, and the sō-en themselves began to be taken over by commoners. Against this type of phenomenon, Masachika truly had no effective means of suppression. Some years after Rennyo left Yoshizaki, both sides became involved in a fierce stand-off. The cause for this conflict lay in the decision of the ninth shogun Ashikaga Yoshihisa to eliminate the Rokkaku family. As was illustrated in the chapter on Ashikaga Yoshimasa, all of the daimyō of the nation were mobilized for this fight. Masachika himself raised an army, for he would protect his province leading his own forces. In order to support this endeavour, Masachika temporarily raised taxes and enforced labor throughout Kaga. Quite naturally this led to a spread in discontent. To make matters worse, Masachika was not in Kaga at the time these measures were enacted. The timing was perfect for the outbreak of an ikki.(281)

The Monto, utilizing the discontent of Masachika`s uncle Yasutaka towards Masachika himself, at once raised soldiers for the coming conflict. Taken by surprise, Masachika sped back to Kaga in an effort to suppress the revolt, however in the following year he was forced to take refuge in his own castle against the armies of commoners and there he committed suicide. Thus the shugo of a province had been defeated by an ikki and forced to perform seppuku. It was an event unprecedented in history. Afterwards Kaga became known as the `province in the hands of the peasants` and remained a `territory` of Honganji for a generation until Nobunaga brought an end to its self-rule.

It is generally not necessary to have more than some `common knowledge` in relation to the Kaga Ikkō-ikki, yet recently an alternative theory has arisen in relation to this incident. To put it simply, this ikki was not a simply religious ikki, but an ikki raised by village organizations in a similar manner to that of the Yamashiro kuni ikki. To make this even clearer, the ikki that brought down the shugo Togashi family was not an Ikkō-ikki, but something else altogether.(281-282)

Certainly the image of the Ikkō-ikki of the Sengoku period, or the image in general is of a tightly knit religious group led by its priests and centered upon the institution of Honganji, thus constituting a group of militant believers. However, there is a theory that states that as the Kaga Ikkō-ikki drove their head priest Rennyo away and since their strength derived in a large part from their followers, they were no more than a sō-en ikki that made use of the Monto. To be honest, I enjoy new and alternative theories, however I cannot agree with the idea that “the Kaga Ikkō-ikki wasn`t a purely religious revolt”.(282)

Those who would propose such an argument do not, to my mind, understand the ties between religion, ikki, and/or people. Firstly, let`s have a look at the definition of ikki. It is a revolt against pre-established authority. Revolts are, in most societies, defined as a `crime`. Consequently, in order for them to occur, some type of circumstance that cannot be stopped must exist. In the case of the Yamashiro Kuni Ikki, that circumstance was `both Hatakeyama armies are just fighting over and over and not reaching any decision`. The Japanese were originally people who had a great veneration for peace and harmony. Even now, the Japanese don`t really voice their objections to the government. When Matsushita Kōnosuke noted that the high level of income tax “would have led to an ikki in days of old”, hardly any Japanese agreed with him.(283)

Yet in the middle ages, differences in a person`s position in society were accepted as a matter of course. It was an age in which any betrayal or disagreement with the opinions of your superiors would be mean death. What caused the people at this time to think “we don`t need a shugo anymore. Get out of our territory” was the ferociousness of the internal conflict of the Hatakeyama family. Yet what I would like you to remember is that if this `ferocious` situation could be extinguished by a joint action by the people, in short, by an ikki, then both the territory and people would go back to a normal situation. This return to normal meant that “we are going to ignore our social superiors and take over government, yet is this acceptable? Wouldn`t it be better to have a shugo?” This type of `regret` led to the return of the shugo system. For me, it was this regret that led to the end of the Yamashiro Kuni Ikki after a number of years.

Some scholars might comment on this by stating `that can`t be`, yet I say again, an ikki was a revolt, which common sense would call a `crime`. In order for it not to be a crime, the participants had to throw away any feelings of guilt and be convinced of their task. It was, in some sense, necessary to have a strong sense of ideals to deny the authority of their social superiors. In the case of the Yamashiro Kuni Ikki, while there were `circumstances that led to a denial of the authority of their social superiors` there were no ideals. This led to its failure after a number of years. On the other hand, the Kaga Ikkō Ikki held on unwaveringly for 100 years. This was not a simple Kuni Ikki based on circumstance, but it was a pure religious ikki. It had a strong sense of equality, as `Amidha Nyorai is our one and only savior. Emperors and nobles are no greater than any other under his gaze`. It was because of this phenomenon that they were able to do away with Togashi Masachika.(284)

This explains why I went on about the proselytizing activities of Rennyo (to show how the idea of greater equality backed by religious fervor sustained the revolt). There may be some readers who believe that I am idolizing Rennyo, yet this would be a mistake. I rather happen to believe that Rennyo was a man who distorted the `pure` teachings of Shinran. It was because of Rennyo that a system of primogeniture and exclusiveness was installed in Honganji. This led to a widening in the gap between those at the head of the faith and the common believers. When I say `pure`, what I mean is instead of the group ikki that occurred according to the orders of the higher clergy, the ikki that was often in conflict with the higher clergy acted more along the lines of the original teachings of the Ikkō sect which said that `all are equal before the Buddha`.

However, as I wrote in Book 6 on the `Divine Winds of the Middle Ages`, if a sect did not produce a man of genius like Rennyo, then their message did not spread very far. Thus I am willing to admit that Rennyo was an effective proselytizer. Yet I am worried about something entirely different. Amidst many historians there are those who believe that “if this was a purely religious ikki, then there is no way that it could have continued in Kaga for 100 years”, yet I`m inclined to say that this rather odd way of thinking is a characteristic of Japanese historians.

For example, to some degree the French Revolution was an ikki. Didn`t the heads of both the king and queen roll with the slice of the guillotine? In this absolutist kingdom just before the revolution broke out, the king was regarded as having received his authority from God thus making him the absolute authority in the realm. The system that removed the king`s head from his shoulders, in short the republic that was created from the effect of the king`s execution, did not express any regrets. Indeed this same system survives today because it came from a strong set of ideals that justified such an action. If this wasn`t the case, then absolutist government would have eventually been restored.

This therefore constitutes part of the three flaws of Japanese historiography stemming from either a lack of knowledge or decision to ignore aspects of religion in history. (284-285)

The Marxist interpretation of history which ignores the religious aspects of the Kaga Ikkō Ikki

It certainly seems that `ikki` is a concept that one would expect Marxist historians to value quite highly. There`s even a special section devoted to them in high school history textbooks. As for how this came about, I`d like to introduce to you a particularly interesting article that appeared in a local newspaper in Ishikawa prefecture. This article (morning version of the Hokkoku Shimbun for January 24, 2000) introduced a section from a typical high school textbook printed by the Yamakawa corporation called “Japanese History in Detail”. Although the Kaga Ikkō Ikki is described as Japan`s most revolutionary incident, Maeda Toshie (who built the prosperity of Kaga) is only mentioned in passing along with 5 famous councilors.

By pointing out the great difference between these points of view, the newspaper goes on to offer the following reason as to why there is such disparity in what passes for `history`: By back-tracking slightly, one finds that the name of Kasahara Kazuo appears quite often in the list of authors. Kasahara, who was a professor at Tokyo University, wrote a book in 1949 titled “The Japanese Peasant`s War”. This `Peasant`s War` that he refers to is none other than the Ikkō Ikki (abridged) According to the “Study into the Ikkō Ikki” written by former (now deceased) Kanazawa Professor Inoue Tatsuo, the reason for this change in thinking regarding the Ikkō Ikki stemmed from a book written in 1933 by Inemura Ryūichi of Niigata titled “Religious reform and the Japanese Peasant`s War”. Inemura, who was an independent historical researcher and an anti-capitalist activist, used the “History of the German Peasant`s War” written by Marx`s good friend Engels as a reference to create the “Ikkō Ikki as a religious revolt and its ties to the peasant`s war of liberation”. This was the beginning of a view of Japanese history as the struggle between classes.(285-286).

Thus the reason for an extreme disparity in historical thinking lay in the people`s view of history during the prosperous post-war years, when `the peasants as owners of the land (meaning owners of Kaga)` was such an astounding feat that it left one feeling that one couldn`t properly evaluate the exploits of a wealthy, feudal warlord (ie Maeda Toshie). Again, in response to the question “Who built Tōdaiji?” the answer given would be “the carpenters”. If this was meant as wit it would be amusing, but it would be a mistake to use this as a basis for historical education. Yet this is precisely what happened – this type of information passed for historical study for teens at their most impressionable age.

Up until recently, the type of economics taught at Japanese universities was predominantly Marxist. Indeed Japan was the only country outside of the Communist bloc to laud Marxist economics. Yet as one would expect, the shadow of such thinking has all but completely faded. Now that the Soviet Union has “disintegrated” and that China has “changed course”, there seems little point to continue debating such a foolish subject.(286-287)

Yet this debate still continues today in the field of Japanese history. Not all areas have succumbed, yet Marxist historians are still active across a broad range of disciplines.

Why is Marxist history doomed to failure? The reason is that Marxist history tries to make events fit into the ideology of Marxism, or in other words, it insists that Marxist thought is the only correct interpretation of events.(287) In this light, history, rather than being the focus for research, becomes nothing more than a tool for justifying an ideology. Hence as far as Marxism is concerned, events that fit the ideology are lauded as historical turning points, whereas those that don`t fit the ideology are either ignored or given superficial treatment. In terms of the study of the Ikkō Ikki, what this means is that the Ikkō Ikki itself is seen as a `people`s uprising` whereas a `feudal lord` such as Maeda Toshie is all but ignored. By just referring to this one point, we can see the idiocy that defines Marxist historicism.

By walking around the historical ruins and relics of Kanazawa town, the `castle town of great wealth`, one can gradually grasp that Marxist learning (actually, one can`t call it learning at all) with its emphasis on making the lower classes the `rulers`, far from having any value, actually impedes in understanding historical reality. Yet within Japan those who still profess a faith in such nonsense continue to hold sway in academic circles and are still using up the precious time that should be used to educate youth with textbooks that are utterly without merit. Such a grave state of affairs surely stems from this problem. Yet looking at things from the opposite perspective, wouldn`t it be better to treat the Ikkō Ikki with less emphasis, as a sort of failed experiment? This too would not do.

The fact that the people of Kaga province were able to overthrow their rulers and establish at least a generation`s control over their land is an event rarely seen in the annals of history. As this was such a rare event, it is important that history closely analyzes the reasons and background to the outbreak of the revolt. As a slight diversion, it is equally valid to say that a historical view that emphasizes the upper classes is just as unnecessary as the Marxist method of historical enquiry. The reason for this is that like Marxist historicism, it is a field of historical study that “takes the point of view of those in power”, yet in this case “those in power” refers to the emperor (or else the imperial family). To try to justify the rule of the imperial family is an `impericist` form of historical enquiry. Hence only those events that reflect well on the imperial family are included for discussion. Yet it would be fair to say that the imperial family does play an exceedingly important role in Japanese history. However to see everything in terms of whether it agreed or disagreed with the imperial family or not is a mistake.

If we look at the differences between the two extremes, both have been constructed based on false premises, yet the `impericist` form of history relies on a form of nationalism to sustain it. Marxism, on the other hand, seems to have been formulated on a way of perceiving history that leads one to hate one`s country. Marxist historicism serves as the `footsoldier` of Marxist ideology, hence it is only to be expected that the believers in such a faith become the `footsoldiers` of other countries. This is to say, the `country` that Marxist historians refer to in such circumstances is the country (according to Marxist ideology) that `developed` before any other to become a `reality`. Young people reading this might consider the next section to be ridiculous, yet until recently there were many Japanese who lauded the existence of `our motherland, the Soviet Union`. The reason they believed this should be clear from what we have discussed up until now.

So let`s go back to our theme. How should be evaluate the Ikkō Ikki? Firstly by looking at events that don`t lend themselves either to impericism or Marxism. What this means is, the Ikkō Ikki were religious revolts inspired by the ideals of the Ikkō faith. What one must understand is that this ideal emphasized the `group`. No matter revolutionary a set of ideals might be, if there is not group to carry them out, they do not turn into social movements. In the case of Marxism, its social impact was almost zero before the advent of the communist party. Thus from this one can see how great the role of Rennyo was on the Ikkō movement.(287-289)

Well then, let`s look at things from a Marxist point of view. `What?` you might say. Yet be rest assured I`m deadly serious. I just for your patience for a moment. “If I (meaning I who believe in Marxist historicism) look at the events in Kaga, what do I think of them?” First of all, I should consider them to be of prime historical importance. The reason for this is that in the age of feudalism, the Kaga Ikkō Ikki was landmark event in its expulsion of a feudal lord from his realm. It was a monumental achievement not found even in such a `developed` country as the Soviet Union. Well then, what shall we call this event? Ikki seems a bit old. Let`s call it a `war`. As this was the Ikkō Ikki, we`ll call this a `religious war`. That seems right. From the point of view of Marxism, religion is `bunk`, right? So we`ll have to make it clear that this is a class conflict – why don`t we say it was a `peasant`s war`?

This is a `distorted view of history`. This is how the Marxist view of history `values` the Ikkō Ikki. Whether or not this view is `correct` or not is an entirely different story. Yet in the beginning researchers valued the Ikkō Ikki according to its `religious` aspects. Gradually they began to think `this can`t be a religious ikki. To have so many believers means this must have been a political sō-koku ikki. It is precisely because it was a sō-koku ikki that it was able to continue for so long”. As I said before, eventually these sort of `odd` thoughts come to the surface.

Supposing this was an ikki that came about with no religious aspects, why didn`t the Yamashiro Ikki (or else the Tamba Ikki or other ikki that occurred in various places) last very long? Doesn`t this strike you as unusual? Such a point of view takes a very superficial view of the power of religious ideals, which is to say it is a view of history imbued with prejudice for Marxist beliefs. Am I over-thinking this?

There is another pitfall that people with Marxist historical beliefs tend to fall into. It is the belief that revolutions and uprisings sparked by people movements are predominantly good things. If I were to evaluate events using this from a modern point of view, I would conclude that any type of revolution was a good thing. Yet did the people of the time believe that such an ikki was a good thing? As we have seen, they most probably did not. This is not so strange. There were `rules` in society that expected one to follow the instructions of a `leader` or `lord`, hence to break these rules it was necessary, as a person, to take a leap into the unknown, to `jump from the stage of Kiyomizu temple` in you will. In order to make such a decision, one need to have a resolute system of `ideals`.

However the disciples of Marxism are transfixed by the idea that `revolution=utterly favorable situation`, hence they go to great lengths to apply this principle to the past, which shows they don`t understand the importance of `resolute ideals`.

`Correct action` means that `everyone is pleased` which means that `those who deny this are acting against history`. If one thinks like this, one cannot fathom how important a role ideals played for the Ikkō sect. Thus one comes to see the Ikkō Ikki as a non-religious event. Yet rather than trying to seek out the `true nature` of the Kaga Ikkō Ikki, I think it would be more profitable to research into why the Kaga ikki did not spread to other provinces. Of course, this would need to be based on the fact that by the close of the Sengoku era, the Ikkō Ikki had become the greatest of rivals to Oda Nobunaga. By looking at the nature of the Ikkō sect, there was one aspect in particular that made it revolutionary. This was the ideology of equality.

The equality that saw the people of France find it within themselves to execute their king using the guillotine was an equality based upon Christianity and early modern liberal thought. Yet if this was a simple case of regicide, then the event that the people had launched would not have lasted. For it to continue something was needed to eliminate any doubts about the `righteousness` of the `killers`. An ideal that said that all were equal before Amidha Nyorai might have led to the death of a king via execution in Japan, yet it did not. This type of view is one that up until now has been overlooked by the historical studies community of Japan. At present, I see it like this. The Japanese idea of `wa` won over the foreign ideal of `extreme` (remembering that the Jōdō faith itself was of foreign origin). I`ll go over this once more time in the `Sengoku` volume.(290-292)

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© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in December 2011