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Chapter Eighteen Arts and Culture



Chapter Eighteen Arts and Culture

As will be revealed later on, at the end of the Kamakura era the Ōtomo family constructed the temple of Manjuji, thereby laying the foundations for the spread of Zen throughout Bungo province. Furthermore, Ōtomo Sadamune strengthened the bonds of his household to the Zen faith by exchanging correspondence with an illustrious Zen monk, whom he eventually persuaded to reside in Bungo.(227) At the time of the Ōnin War, a famous artist by the name of Sesshū Tōyō (雪舟等揚) paid a visit to Bungo province (as recorded in the Tenkai Toga Rō Ki, 天開図画楼記), and as we have seen, trade between Bungo and the continent flourished through contacts with intermediaries in Hakata which put the Ōtomo in touch with the culture of the Chōsen peninsula and China. Sōrin, himself raised within a traditional, cultured atmosphere, brought about the zenith of Ōtomo rule using foundations provided by his ancestors. He, more than any other head of the family, would be most fervent in his appreciation of culture. This is not to say that he was a mere patron of the arts, but that he tried to achieve a fundamental understanding of all forms of artistic expression. He engaged in friendly relations with the aristocrats and artisans of the central provinces, and urged them to visit him in Bungo.(228)

A passage within the Satsuhan Kyūki (薩藩旧記), dated for the 21st day of the 5th month of Ganki 2 (1571) illustrates this point most clearly…


Lord Kuga (久我) was probably the former general of the right (or Udaishō, 右大将) Kuga Harumitsu Nyūdō Shūnyū (久我晴通入道宗入). His journey to Bungo was ostensibly for sightseeing, yet the truth was that his visit had a political purpose in shoring up a treaty (known as the Hōgei Waboku, or 豊芸和睦) between the Ōtomo and the Mōri. Sōrin`s dealings with aristocrats included his relationship with his nephew, Ichijō Kanetada, who was in exile in Tosa province, and to whom he had given a daughter as a bride. Murasakino Wadō (紫野和堂) was undoubtedly Iun Shūetsu (怡雲宗悦) of Daitokuji, whose reasons for visiting Bungo have already been discussed.(229)

Mokuan (牧庵) most likely referred to Yoshida Mokuan, a doctor of notable skill. He would be indispensable to a person with such a weak constitution as Sōrin. Karino Genshirō (狩野源四郎) was most likely Karino Eitoku (永徳). He was the founder of the Karino school of painting which would become renowned during the Edo period. The Ōtomo Kōhai Ki had the following to say in relation to Eitoku…


What this tells us is that Sōrin had a first-rate artisan decorate the interior of Usuki Nyūjima castle. It probably stemmed from his desire to be charmed by such refinement. Sōrin had an avid interest in artwork, as revealed by yet another passage from the Ōtomo Kōhai Ki…


Together with tea utensils (more about which will be revealed later), Sōrin possessed the following paintings, the evidence of which we may regard as reliable.(229) These paintings were referred to in the following manner (according to the Ōtomo Kōhai Ki)…


Sōrin possessed major works of art by Jinzai (仁斎), Shunkei (舜挙), Sekkan (雪礀), Esō (恵崇), Ganki (顔輝), and Josai (恕斎), in addition to paintings of fishermen signed by Mokukei (牧渓, in Chinese Mu Xi) and paintings of maples signed by Gyokukan (玉礀, Yu Jian). His collection also included written works by Gidō (虚堂, Xu Tang) of subtle yet refined beauty. As the painting titles suggest, there were many themes covered by Sōrin`s collection, from fishermen, maples, and celebratory pictures (known as Shōchikubai, or 松竹梅), to mountain scenery, birdlife, flowers, and the priest Daruma. With such a collection, one can imagine that the atmosphere around Sōrin was steeped in culture. Furthermore, it appears as though Sōrin received the works of Gidō as a gift from his retainer Takita Kuro. Hence Sōrin`s predeliction for culture was apparently imitated by his retainers. It is said that Yoshihiro Kaei (吉弘嘉兵衛) owned snow and scenery pictures by Kakugi (郭凞, Guo Xi) and pictures of water buffalo by Rōyū (老融, Lao Rong), while Usuki Shōsaku (臼杵紹冊, also known as Shigetsugu or 鎮続) possessed pictures of quails painted by Gisō (徽宗, or in Chinese Hui Zong), the cultured emperor of the late Northern Song dynasty. Sōrin thus appears to have possessed a kind of cultural salon, with himself at its centre.(232)

Sōrin had a great fondness for the game of Kemari (蹴鞠), or `kick ball`.(232) Kemari was one of the most aristocratic of all entertainments. Many generations of the Ōtomo family learned the game from the Asukai family (飛鳥井氏). Sōrin`s own son Yoshimune received instruction from Asukai Masanori (飛鳥井雅教) (according to articles in the Ōtomo Monjo). The shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (足利義輝) heard from Asukai Masatsuna (飛鳥井雅綱) that Sōrin was fond of Kemari, and so sent Sōrin clothing known as `kaori no kami` to be worn when playing Kemari. Such pastimes as these must have been very much to the liking of Sōrin.(232)

As for Nō drama, we have touched upon this subject during the course of our narrative. We know that Kanze Daibu had been invited to Bungo as a result of negotiations made with the shōgun. In order to pay for Kanze`s expenses, a levy had been imposed on the Ōtomo territories, with persons such as Kamaike Jūrō (蒲池十郎) of Chikugo ordered to provide money (according to the Kamaike Monjo). When Sōrin visited Toyotomi Hideyoshi at Osaka castle, he happened to meet the performer Kanze Matasaburō (観世又三郎). Nō had, however, been performed and admired by the Ōtomo family and their retainers long before Sōrin`s time. For example, as was revealed in an earlier passage, in the 16th year of Tenbun (1547) Tajiri Chikatane of Chikugo Takao and his son were invited to Funai by Ōtomo Yoshiaki, who bestowed upon them permission for Yoshitane`s son to succeed as heir to the Tajiri family. In celebration of this event, Yoshiaki allowed a performance of Nō for his guests. The Nō drama consisted of five parts, from the Gosechi (五節), to the Kumasaka (熊坂), Usugumo (薄雲), Morihisa (守久), and Kakitsubata (燕子花). The performers themselves were Shundō Jinsaburō (春藤仁三郎), Matsuhikari Matajirō (松光又二郎), Taiko Goei`mon (太鼓五衛門) and six others. Both members of the Tajiri family were also fond of Nō, as Chikatane`s son Akitane joined the performers to beat the taiko drum during the performance of the Kakitsubata. As a reward, Yoshiaki himself passed a drinking cup to Akitane, and poured sake for him (all documented in the Tajiri Ke Monjo).(232-233)

Sōrin also participated in the sport of `inuōmono` (犬追物), or `dog hunting`. From the records of the Ōtomo family, we know that this pastime had been practiced by the Ōtomo since the time of Sōrin`s grandfather Yoshinaga. Yoshinaga enjoyed hunting in the company of his retainers, although this was probably a strategy aimed at keeping relations cordial between himself and his senior councillors. The pastime was then handed on to Yoshiaki and Sōrin. Sōrin was apparently quite passionate about inuōmono, as Tajiri Chikatane wrote a description of an excited Sōrin participating in inuōmono when Chikatane paid a visit to Funai.(233) Falconry and other forms of hunting were another of Sōrin`s favourite pastimes. He had a number of `waystations` (or machiya, 待屋) placed throughout his territories, and as we have seen, had a waystation official (known as a machiya bugyō) appointed to oversee the administration of such facilities. He also had an official `beater` (or seko, 勢子), `lookout` (or kenmi, 検見), `caller` (or wamekihiki, 喚引) and official in charge of hunting dogs (known as an inukake, 犬かけ).(234)

Sōrin also had a profound interest in the tea ceremony. According to the Ōtomo Kōhai Ki, Sōrin possessed the following tea utensils…


If this record is correct, then Sōrin held a remarkable number of tea urns, spoons, bowls, whisks, and tea chests. The tea urn known as the Shiga (志賀) was given as a gift to Hideyoshi when Sōrin sought his assistance in Tenshō 14 (1586). In return, Hideyoshi gave Sōrin a tea urn known as the `yon jū koku` (or 四十石) and showed the content of his private collection to Sōrin. Based on the source quoted above, Sōrin appears to have sought out tea utensils in the same manner as he sought out artworks, by receiving gifts from his retainers, in this case Mōri Hyōbu and Usuki Etchū no Kami Akisumi, and from merchants such as Bandōya Shūchin (宗椿) and Iyōya.(235) We have seen how Sōrin maintained friendly relations with the merchants of Hakata, particularly the tea master Shimai Sōshitsu. Sōrin received a great number of tea utensils from this relationship, almost as a matter of course. It leads one to feel that perhaps Sōrin suffered from an advanced case of `collector`s mania`.(236)  

We have seen in the Shin Ōtomo Yoshinaga Jōjō how…
Many generations of the Ōtomo family possessed a spirit of culture that included each and every form of art and artistry. One could say, then, that Sōrin closely and avidly adhered to the above condition laid down by his grandfather. However, as for poetry, song, and musical instruments, no evidence exists for them, which is indeed a shame. There is one more thing that remains to be said about Sōrin and his fondness for culture, and that concerns his usage of names. The Buddhist name by which he is generally known – Sōrin – only came about after he took the tonsure at the end of the sixth month or beginning of the seventh month of Eiroku 5 (1562). He had many other names. Some of these included Shūteki (宗滴), Kyūan (休庵), Enzai (円斎), Genzai (玄斎), Sangenzai (三玄斎), Sanhizai (三非斎), Genhizai (玄非斎), in addition to his Christian name of Francisco. While his Christian name was sometimes rendered as `Furan` (or 府蘭), an approximate pronunciation of this name in Chinese characters led to Furanshiko (府蘭獅子), as well as Furanshisuko (普蘭師司枯). As we will soon see, when Sōrin travelled to Osaka to request aid from Hideyoshi, he was known as Tentokuji (天徳寺). Taken together with the many and varied number of personal seals that Sōrin possessed, these two phenomena speak volumes not only about Sōrin`s many interests, but also about the capricious nature of his psyche.(236-237)

Belief in gods and bodhisattva

We now turn our attention to Sōrin`s beliefs expressed in relation to gods and bodhisattva. As has been touched upon many times during this narrative, Sōrin met Francis Xavier in the year following his succession to the head of the Ōtomo household (Tenbun 20, or 1551), gradually warmed to Christianity, was baptized in Tenshō 6 (1578), and ended his days as a Christian. Yet he was originally a student of the Rinzai Zen sect and exhibited a profound belief in the god Hachiman. Without touching upon areas already covered in the section on problems that accompanied Sōrin`s belief in Christianity, we will look at the historical forms of worship of gods and bodhisattva exercised by the Ōtomo family, and through that will try to come to an understanding of Sōrin`s religious beliefs.(237)

To begin with, it is certainly true to say that we have not been blessed with historical sources vis-à-vis the religious beliefs of the early Ōtomo family. It does appear though that the Ōtomo had a predeliction for the god Hachiman, as demonstrated by the presence of members of the gokenin Ōtomo family in the retinue of Minamoto no Yoritomo in pilgrimages to worship at Tsuruoka Hachiman shrine.(237) However the Ōtomo family, at the time of their transfer to Bungo province, do not appear to have held close relations with the head shrine to Hachiman in Japan, Usa Hachiman, located in the neighbouring province of Buzen. This may have been a result of the fact that Usa shrine had previously had a very close relationship with the Taira family under shrine official Ōmiya no Tsukasa Usa Kinmichi (大宮司宇佐公通) (according to the Heike Monogatari). Hence the shrine`s relations with the Kamakura Bakufu were not particularly amicable.(238) Instead, the Ōtomo expressed their veneration of Hachiman at the shrines of Chinshu Fukuyama Hachiman, located in Ōno gun, Bungo province, and Yusuhara Hachiman located close to Funai in Ōita gun. The latter shrine was particularly influential, for it was the Ichinomiya (or chief) shrine in Bungo, and had a close relationship to the office of Kuni no Tsukasa. In the later stages of the Kamakura period, the Ōtomo would deepen their ties to Yusuhara Hachiman, eventually adopting the shrine as the family`s tutelary (or guardian) deity, a relationship that continued on into the Sengoku era.(238-239)

When we look at the ties between the Ōtomo and Buddhism, the early generations of the family are believed to have had ties to either the Tendai or Shingon sects. Thereafter, in or around the Genkō (元寇) period (late Kamakura era), the third head of the family, Chikayasu met with the itinerant monk Ippen (一遍) and became a fervent believer in the Jishū sect (as shown in the Ippen Shōnin Eshi – 一遍上人絵詞 – and the Ippen Shōnin Nenpu Ryaku – 一遍上人年譜略). It was in the reign of the fifth head of the family, Sadachika, that the Ōtomo began to embrace the teachings of Zen Buddhism. Sadachika often paid visits to Kamakura, and was once granted an audience with the Shikken, Hōjō Sadatoki. Sadatoki turned to Sadachika, and asked him as to whether or not he had built any temples, or showed any concern for priests. These questions troubled Sakachika, for he hadn`t done either of those things. Fearing that he would be treated coldly if he answered honestly, Sadachika replied that he had built a small temple, and had one hundred priests in residence. Both Sadatoki and his councilors were very pleased with this response. Sadachika then quickly returned to Bungo, and in the following year (Tokuji 1, 1306) invited the priest Jikiō (直翁) of Hakata Shōtenji (承天寺) to Bungo to act as founder of a temple in Funai. Lodgings were also provided for one hundred priests (according to the Jikiō Washō Tōmei or 直翁和尚塔銘). This temple became the first Rinzai sect temple in Bungo, Manjuji (万寿寺).(239) It would be the spark that ignited the spread of Zen teaching throughout the province.(240)

While the shugo of Bungo province provided the impetus for the spread of Zen, the idea was not Sadachika`s alone, but was in part encouraged by the Shikken Hōjō Sadatoki, and was thus a mutual act. From the details surrounding the construction of Manjuji, we know that Sadachika, rather than becoming a follower of Zen, was content to be known as the temple`s protector. However every generation that followed Sadachika, right up to that of Sōrin, was steeped in the lore of Rinzai Zen.(240) Why did this period in time see the Ōtomo family convert to Zen? Common thinking suggests that after the Ōtomo arrived in Bungo province, they were successful in creating a feudal lordship based on the office of shugo, which raised their awareness of themselves as rulers. For the Ōtomo, the religion of Zen was, amidst all of the Buddhist sects in Kamakura, the most Chinese-like, both cultured and sophisticated, combining a strict religious sensibility together with Confucianism, and which was most in line with their own image of themselves. Such ideas probably had a resonance within the Ōtomo family, and so were passed on down the generations to Sōrin.(241)

At the end of the Kamakura era, following on from Sadachika, the next head of the Ōtomo family, Sadamune, would be more passionate in his defence of Zen Buddhism as well as having a more profound understanding of its teachings. He would surpass his father in the amount of requests he made for visits from famous monks of the `five Zen mountains` (or Gozan, 五山) monasteries in Kyoto, and from monks coming from China. The first of many illustrious monks that answered his request was the well-reknowned Chūgan Engetsu (中巌円月). He met with Sadamune in the 1st year of Shōchū (正中, 1324), and accepted Sadamune`s invitation to travel to Bungo (as recounted in the Chūgan Washō Jireki Fu 中岩和尚自暦譜). Sadamune also sent a request to Sentei Shōgu (闡提正具) of Hōganji (法観寺) in Kyoto, asking that he come and reside in Manjuji. Sadamune would later build the temple of Kenkōji (顕孝寺) in Hakata, and named Sentei Shōgu as its founder.(241)

Sadamune was equally active in inviting illustrious monks to visit from China. After Kenkōji was completed, it became an avenue for Zen teachings imported from China. Cordial relations were maintained between the Ōtomo and such monks as Seisetsu Seichō (清拙正澄, Qing Zhuo Zheng Deng), Mingi Soshun (明極楚俊, Ming Ji Chu Jun) and Jikusen Bonsen (竺仙梵僊, Zhu Xian Fan Xian). At the outset of the Muromachi era, the shōgun Ashikaga family grew very attached to Rinzai Zen, which in turn re-affirmed the Ōtomo family`s faith in the Rinzai sect. Manjuji was made a branch temple of Tōfukuji in Kyoto, and was added to the great `ten` temples of Rinzai Zen (known as the Jissetsu, or 十刹). The head priest at Manjuji was appointed as an aide or `subsidiary` to the Muromachi shōgunate. It was around this time that Manjuji was also named as the tutelary temple (or Bodaiji, 菩提寺) to the Ōtomo family. Subsequently many illustrious monks from Japan and China made their way to and from Manjuji as they had for generations, turning the temple into the centre of learning and culture in Bungo province.(242)

By Bunmei 12 (1480), in spite of the general decline in the number of temples and shrines present in Bungo, of Manjuji it was said that…「住僧百余人ノ在所ニテ、諸堂周備富貴寺也」(from the Nobutane Kyō Ki 宣胤卿記). Sōrin`s great grandfather Chikaharu, facing stagnation in the shugo system of rule and harried by a lack of funds, nonetheless exempted those taxes (or tenyaku, 点役) that had previously been extracted from Manjuji, and did not shirk from his responsibility to defend the temple. As for Yusuhara Hachiman shrine, the Ōtomo family created the office of `shake bugyō` (社家奉行) (or minister for shrines, also known as the shake mōshitsugu, 社家申次) for this institution in the Muromachi era, and through it continued their veneration of Hachiman. With the development in Ōtomo rule, Yusuhara not only served as a tutelary guardian to the Ōtomo family, but also provided…`peace within the realm, and stability in the nation` (天下泰平、国家安全). This transformed Yusuhara into a guardian over `all territories in the realm` (or ryōkoku shugo kami 領国守護神). The Kaku (賀来) family was appointed as the Ōmiya no Tsukasa (or chief priest) to the shrine. While Yusuhara Hachiman served as the `collective shrine` (or sōsha, 惣社) in the east (a title known as hōtō, or 豊東), the shrine of Ōhara Hachiman in Hida gun was the collective shrine in the west (or hōsei, 豊西). Together these shrines acted as the `protectors` of Ōtomo lands.(242-243)  

Sōrin both venerated Yusuhara Hachiman and, through the influence of Manjuji, developed an affinity for Rinzai Zen, going so far as to study the teachings of the sect. With an eye firmly fixed on the central provinces, in addition to maintaining his territories in Kyushu, Sōrin built the residence of Zuihōin (瑞峰院) at the Kyoto temple of Daitokuji, which became one of the founding `towers` (or tacchū, 塔頭) of that temple. In addition, either just before or after the completion of Nyūjima castle, Sōrin had the temple of Jurinji built in one corner of the town of Usuki. He then invited the venerable monk Iun Sōsetsu to travel from Zuihōin to take up lodgings at the temple. Sōrin received a first-class education in Zen Buddhism from Iun, which served to deepen his understanding of the faith. There are, however, a number of differences surrounding the date upon which Jurinji was completed. The Hōshō Zenmei Roku (豊鐘善鳴録) gives the date as Kōji 3 (1557), while the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku records the date as Eiroku 6 (1563). In a letter written by the missionary João Bautista, he states that as of the 9th month of Ganki 2 (1571), the temple was in the midst of being constructed. This was most probably the temple into which Sōrin attempted to install his second son Chikaie as a priest. However, as Sōrin grew more attached to Christianity, he became more interested in the lucid, practical teachings of Christianity as opposed to the profound, complex messages of Zen Buddhism. In the end he abandoned Zen Buddhism and converted to Christianity.(243)

This act outraged Iun, who made preparations to return to Kyoto, although as we have seen the intervention of Yoshimune managed to placate Iun, who agreed to remain in Bungo. Yet the turmoil that threatened to shake Yoshimune`s hold over his territories led him to put Manjuji to the torch and distribute the lands of the temple amongst his retainers. Sōrin likewise had Usa shrine reduced to ashes, while Chikaie, after he converted to Christianity, had a number of temples destroyed.  The veneration that the Ōtomo had shown towards the gods and bodhisattva thus began to stagnate as the family moved closer to Christianity. Indeed one might say that they abandoned it altogether. Its revival slowly came about only after the suppression of Christianity under Toyotomi Hideyoshi.(244)

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© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in February 2012