Saturday, 22 August 2015

Narrow Road To The Deep North 43

     People on the Island of Zipangu have tremendous quantities of 
     gold. The King’s palace is roofed with pure gold, and his floors 
     are paved in gold two fingers thick.’
                                                                           Marco Polo

The future is the past again, entered through another gate. Most of both our experiences in Japan began through one. This one appeared on the rise of a pine path. The granite had come from 1200 kilometers away, and the thirty-foot high spaces between the Ishidorii pillars had come from Emperor Gomizunoo in 1618. The crossbars of the Divine designation of Ieyasu Tokugawa slipped apart widely in an earthquake in 1949, only to shift back into their original places in the aftershock.
The stone stairway on the approach was deceiving. Deliberately, for the width of each step got narrower and the height became shorter as it ascended, looking higher and further than it really was. The top Terifuri-ishi step, the tenth, was a forecasting barometer; the brown and blue color of the contrast intensifies before the weather worsens. 
The Nikkō Tōshōgū Shrine was built by Ieyasu’s grandson, Iemetsu, the third Tokugawa shogun, as an act of devotion. His commitment was extravagant, and no expense was spared. For the modern equivalent of $400,000,000, Iemetsu recruited 4,540,000 workers for two years, including 15,000 artists and craftspeople brought to Nikkō from all over Japan, to construct a group of 35 buildings, using 140,000 wooden materials, that would remain the most richly-colored and elaborately-carved shrine on the archipelago. Iemetsu created a wonderland maze, with 2.4 million sheets of gold leaf covering an area of 6 gilded acres, and some 5173 sculptures. Robyn and I paused to ponder the perplexity of the labyrinth depicted on our ukiyo-e crimson map.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Narrow Road To The Deep North 42

Kakugyo Tobutsu founded the modern cult of Mount Fuji. In his late teens, Kakugyo began to lead the life of an ascetic, and moved northward, into a cave in Mutsu province. Here he had a dream vision of En no Gyoja, the night flight wizard founder of Shugendō, who asked him why he had undertaken so arduous an ascesis. Kakugyo answered with a lamentation. 
“At the wish of my father and mother.” He said. “The world is present in ceaseless warfare, so that the very Sovereign, above, is ever uneasy in his mind; and so that the people, below, are suffering. I wish to bring comfort to these, but it is beyond human power to do so. Therefore I have undertaken this great practice.”
En no Gyoja told him to relocate to the ‘Pillar of the World.’ In 1560, Kakugyo move into the Hotoana, a celebrated cavern on the west side of Mount Fuji. Here he began a bizarre activiy of tsumetachi-gyo tip-toe practice. Kakugyo stood in the Hotoana on a piece of wood less than two square inches in area, neither moving nor sleeping, interrupted only three times day and night for rigorous bouts of mizugori, repeated immersions in cold water.
Kakugyo’s object of devotion was Sengen, the mountain-as-deity, who finally appeared to him with the gift of a mystical illustration of Fuji.
“The diagram I have given you is the pillar of the world.” He said. “Your great practice too is the pillar of the world. Thus your practice of standing upon the square of wood is to be the pillar of the world.” 
In reconceiving Fuji as a truly cosmic mountain, as the cosmos itself, and in becoming identical with the mountain, Kakugyo had brought heaven and earth into attunement, and made the birth of a stable order possible. In 1583, Sengen told Kakugyo to expect the arrival of the samurai that heaven had designated to be the ruler over generations to come. Ieyasu was essential for the success of Kakugyo’s mission, to carry out the work of establishing the peace and abundance.
The Fuji legend acknowledges Ieyasu’s deepest gratitude to Kakugyo and to Sengen for his every success. Kakugyo’s instructions, took the form of three sermons, the first offering the ten main principles of his deification.

1. Mt Fuji is the ‘pillar of the land’ and the ‘root origin from which 
    the ten thousand things are born.’
2. Hence it is thanks to the divine might of the deity of Fuji that the 
    ‘Offspring of the Divine Grandchild (the emperor) rules from 
    generation to generation.’
3. Kakugyo had accomplished a most difficult practice ‘as the first 
    condition of Ieyasu’s rule.’
4. Ieyasu is winning the land, not for himself, but for the sake of all 
    the people
5. Heaven provides man with all he needs.
6. Nonetheless, modesty and frugality are essential. ‘Outside of 
    rice, salt and water, all else is foolish pride.’ Again, ‘ one who \   
    does not know this is not in accord with heaven.’
7. One who is thus attuned to the mind of heaven with flourish  
    prosperously, and likewise his descendents for many generations. 
    One who does not will be destroyed.
8. In this situation, the people shall live out their lives in security, 
    and each person shall honorably ‘ preserve his inherited station.’
9. As shogun, Ieyasu will be the ‘fountainhead of all things’ and 
    likewise the ‘source of kami and Buddhas,’ Thus his teaching 
    will make him the ‘origin of the world’s teaching.’
10. When the shogun is the ‘source of kami and Buddhas’, evil is 
      crushed, and virtue is rewarded; provincial governors and   
      government officials are loyal to theur lord; and the people 
      observe the five relationships. Under these circumstances, the 
      shogun fulfills the function of, for example, shakyamuni 

On one occasion, Kakugyo came down to Edo with two disciples, to help relieve an epidemic raging in the capital. His success came to the attention of the Bakafu authorities that, puzzled by these unusual men, detained them on suspicion of being Christians. The officials demanded to know what deity they worshipped.
“We reverently serve our two parents and the five grains; and morning and night we worship Fuji Sengen Daibosatsu, the sun and the moon. We have not other objects of worship.”
Kaugyo’s affirmation of Fuji as the central pillar of the world coincided with an affirmation of the centrality of Ieyasu’s role in the restoration of harmony in the land. The first Tokugawa shogun was posthumously deified with the name Tōshō Daigongen the ‘Great Gongen, Light of the East.’ the prefix Dai meant great, and a Gongen was a buddha who has appeared on Earth in the shape of a kami to save sentient beings.
After the first anniversary of his death, Ieyasu’s remains were reburied at the Tōshō-gū Shrine, in Nikkō. The mausoleum's architecture became known as gongen-zukuri, gongen-style. Robyn and I climbed his hill, and walked up into the light of the east.

                              ‘The star swooped from the heavens.
                               I searched among dead leaves
                               But could not ever find it.’
                                                                     Tsuboi Shigeji 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Narrow Road To The Deep North 41

On June 1, 1616, Ieyasu died, at the age of 73. The cause of death was either cancer, or syphilis. Syphilis had arrived in East Asia during the 16th century, and rapidly spread across China’s coastal provinces and the Japanese archipelago. By the end of the 18th century the infection rate in Japan may have been as high as half the population.

‘Life is like unto a long journey with a heavy burden. Let thy step be slow and steady, that thou stumble not. Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the lot of natural mortals, and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair. When ambitious desires arise in thy heart, recall the days of extremity thou hast passed through. Forbearance is the root of all quietness and assurance forever. Look upon the wrath of thy enemy. If thou only knowest what it is to conquer, and knowest not what it is to be defeated; woe unto thee, it will fare ill with thee. Find fault with thyself rather than with others.’
                                             Tokugawa Ieyasu’s last instruction

What made this samurai, of all others, the grand prizewinner? Ieyasu was not very well liked or personally popular but, in this Sengoku era of violence, sudden death, and betrayal, these were not qualities that much mattered. What did matter he had more than enough of. Ieyasu was intelligent and decisive and calculating and subtle. Respected for his leadership and cunning, he was both careful and bold, at the right times, at the right places. He switched alliances when he thought he would benefit from the change. He allied with the Hōjō clan; then he joined Hideyoshi's army of conquest, which destroyed the Hōjō, and took over their lands. He wisely kept his soldiers out of Hideyoshi's campaign in Korea. Still, he was capable of great loyalty. He was devoted towards his personal friends and vassals, whom he rewarded. Once allied with Nobunaga, he never went against him, and both leaders profited from their long alliance. He protected many former Takeda retainers from the of Nobunaga’s wrath, and managed to convert many Takeda, Hōjō, and Imagawa clan retainers, all whom he had defeated, into steadfast followers.
Ieyasu was feared, and ruthless when crossed. He ordered the executions of his first wife and his eldest son, and a man because he had insulted him when he was young.
His physical fitness was undeniable. Ieyasu was skilled in various kenjutsu techniques, had personal sword instructors, and swam often. He fought, as a warrior or a general, in 90 battles. His favorite pastime was falconry, and regarded it as excellent training for a warrior. When you go into the country hawking, you learn to understand the military spirit and also the hard life of the lower classes. You exercise your muscles and train your limbs. You have any amount of walking and running and become quite indifferent to heat and cold, and so you are little likely to suffer from any illness.
Ieyasu’s fitness translated into fecundity. He had nineteen wives and concubines, by whom he had eleven sons and five daughters. His children and grandchildren were established as the daimyôs of his provinces.
The most important quality of this samurai was, as every Japanese schoolchild knows, his patience. Wait until it sings.

‘The strong manly ones in life are those who understand the meaning of the word patience. Patience means restraining one's inclinations. There are seven emotions: joy, anger, anxiety, adoration, grief, fear, and hate, and if a man does not give way to these he can be called patient. I am not as strong as I might be, but I have long known and practiced patience. And if my descendants wish to be as I am, they must study patience.’ 

In life, Ieyasu had expressed the wish to be deified after his death in order to protect his descendants from evil. In this, he had an unusual champion, who would link his pacification of Japan to the iconic mountain that defines its sense of place.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Narrow Road To The Deep North 40

But there were bitter seeds of dissent sown from Sekigahara- While most clans were content, some resented their dishonor or displacement or defeat. Three bore grudges that would have consequences two centuries later- the relocated Mōri clan, headed by Mōri Terumoto; the Shimazu, led by Shimazu Yoshihiro, virtually autonomous during its last days; and the Chōsokabe, ruled by Chōsokabe Morichika, sent into exile. The descendants of these three clans would ultimately collaborate to bring down the Tokugawa shogunate, ushering in the Meiji Restoration.
On March 24, 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu received the title of shogun from Emperor Go-Yōzei. At 60 years old, he had outlasted all the other great men of his times: Nobunaga and Hideyoshi and Shingen and Kenshin and many other brave samurai. Ieyasu used his remaining years to consolidate his rule. In 1605 he abdicated his official position as shogun. Appointing his third son and heir, Tokugawa Hidetada, as his formal successor. 
He retired to supervise the building of a massive construction project, where the Imperial Palace stands today.  The costs of Edo, the largest castle in all of Japan, would be borne by all the other daimyô, while Ieyasu reaped the benefits. Even late in his life, he swam in the moat. You can't manage the Empire properly without economy, for if those at the top are extravagant, taxes mount up and the lower orders are embarrassed, not to speak of the effect it has on military finances. But a lot of people can't understand the meaning of the word thrift, and think it means only omitting to do what you ought to do.
In 1611, Ieyasu, at the head of 50,000 men, visited Kyoto to witness the coronation of Emperor Go-Mizunoo. Two years later he put the court daimyô under strict supervision, leaving them as mere ceremonial figureheads. 
While the Dutch had been given exclusive trading rights, there were signs that Ieyasu meant to close down the country to outside influences. In 1614, he signed the Christian Expulsion Edict, expelled all Christians and foreigners, and banned ‘Kirishitans’ from practicing their religion. 
The last remaining threat to Ieyasu's rule was Hideyori, Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s son and rightful heir, a young daimyô living in Osaka Castle. Ieyasu ordered him to leave the fortress, but he refused and summoned samurai. The Winter Siege of Osaka led to Tokugawa filling Osaka Castle's outer moats with sand, so his 155,000 troops could walk across to the Summer Siege of Osaka. In late 1615, Osaka Castle fell. Nearly all the defenders were killed, including Hideyori, his infant son, and his mother, Hideyoshi's widow. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Narrow Road To The Deep North 39

It all worked brilliantly. He pacified and controlled and reformed and improved his new lands. Within a few years, Ieyasu became the second most powerful daimyô in Japan. And because Kantō was somewhat isolated, he was able to maintain a measure of autonomy from the most powerful one, and inspire a proverb. Ieyasu won the Empire by retreating. 
In 1598, with his health failing, Hideyoshi called a meeting to create the Council of Five Elders, responsible for ruling on behalf of his son after his death. Ieyasu was the most powerful of the five. Two of the others, Uesugi Kagekatsu and Mōri Terumoto, would ultimately form an alliance with Ishida Mitsunari, the commander of the Western Army that would fight Ieyasu’s Eastern Army at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. 
The winner writes the narrative. Four years after the battle, Tokugawa’s historian, Hayashi Gahō, summarized the consequences. Evil-doers and bandits were vanquished and the entire realm submitted to Lord Ieyasu, praising the establishment of peace and extolling his martial virtue. That this glorious era that he founded may continue for ten thousands upon ten thousands of generations, coeval with heaven and earth.
Ieyasu quickly seized power, redistributing the lands and fiefs of the participants, rewarding those who assisted him, and displacing, punishing, or exiling those who fought against him. He ordered the public execution of Ishida Mitsunari and other Toyotomi loyalists, and gained the control and wealth of their territories. Nobunaga pounds the national rice cake, Hideyoshi kneads it, and in the end Ieyasu sits down and eats it. One of Ieyasu’s Christian daimyô, Kuroda Nagamasa, would write of the ideal balance between the arts of peace and war.

‘If a general who is to maintain the province does not have a special consciousness, his task will be a difficult one to attain. His attitudes must not be the same as the ordinary man's. Firstly, he must be correct in manners and etiquette, must not let self-interest into government, and must take care of the common people... he should not forget even for a moment that he is the model for the four classes of people. Generally speaking, the master of a province should discharge his duties with love and humanity, should not listen to slander, and should exercise the good. His governing should be as clear as the bright sun in the bright sky, and he should think things over deeply in his mind and make no mistakes. The arts of peace and the arts of war are like the two wheels of a cart which, lacking one, will have difficulty in standing ... When one has been born into the house of a military commander, he should not forget the arts of war even for a moment ... it is essential that he know the Way of Truth, that he be particular about his efforts in the scrutinizing of every matter, that he be just in all affairs and make no mistakes, that he be correct in recognizing good and evil and demonstrate rewards and punishments clearly, and that he have a deep sympathy for all people. Again, what is called cherishing the Way of the Warrior is not a matter of extolling the martial arts above all things and becoming a scaremonger. It is rather in being well-informed in military strategy, in forever pondering one's resources of pacifying disturbances, in training one's soldiers without remiss, in rewarding those who have done meritorious deeds and punishing those who have committed crimes, in being correct in one's evaluation of bravery and cowardice, and in not forgetting this matter of "the battle" even when the world is at peace. It is simply brashness to make a specialty of the martial arts and to be absorbed in one's individual efforts. Such is certainly not the Way of the Warrior of a provincial lord or military commander.’

Monday, 17 August 2015

Narrow Road To The Deep North 38

Honda Tadakatsu was a colorful figure, worthy of special mention. He was known as  ‘The Warrior who surpassed Death itself’ because, despite being the veteran of over 100 battles by the end of his life, he never once suffered a significant wound, and was never defeated by another samurai. Tadakatsu’s helmet was famously adorned with deer antlers, ensuring that he was always a recognizable figure on the field of battle. Dubbed one of the ‘Three Great Spears of Japan,’ his was named tonbo-giri, or Dragonfly Cutter, because the tip of the spear was so sharp that a dragonfly that landed on it was cut in two. 
Nobunaga, notoriously disinclined to praise his followers, called him a ‘samurai among samurai.’ Takeda Shingen praised him as ‘a luxury of Tokugawa Ieyasu.’ And Toyotomi Hideyoshi noted that the best samurai were ‘Honda Tadakatsu in the east and Tachibana Muneshige in the west.’ Hideyoshi’s special experience with Tadakatsu solidified his opinion of the man. His finest moment came in the Komaki Campaign, in 1584. Left at Komaki while Ieyasu departed to engage Toyotomi troops at Nagakute, Tadakatsu observed a huge host under Hideyoshi himself move out in pursuit. With only a handful of men, Tadakatsu rode out, stood tall, and challenged the Toyotomi army to battle, from the opposite bank of the Shonai River. Hideyoshi, who outnumbered Honda by 60 to 1, was struck by the bravery of this warrior, and ordered that no harm come to him, or his men, on this bid to buy time for his warlord.
In 1568, Ieyasu‘s soldiers were part of the Nobunaga army that captured Kyoto. At the same time his own territory was expanding. After forming an alliance with the Tiger of Kai, Takeda Shingen, to conquer all the territory of the Imagawa, he again switched sides, and took up with his enemy, the Dragon of Echigo, Uesugi Kenshin. In late 1570, Ieyasu led 5,000 of his own men supporting Nobunaga at the Battle of Anegawa, against the Azai and Asakura. 
But his betrayal of Shingen would come back to bite him. The Takeda and their Hōjō allies invaded Tokugawa’s Tōtōmi lands in October 1571. Ieyasu asked for help from Nobunaga, who sent him some 3,000 troops. Two years later, at the Battle of Mikatagahara, Shingen hammered at Ieyasu's troops until they were broken. Ieyasu fled with just five men to a nearby castle. After Shingen died the following year, his less capable son, Katsuyori, was ultimately defeated in 1575 by a combined Oda-Tokugawa force of almost forty thousand warriors, at the Battle of Nagashino.
While he was increasingly able to consolidate his power base, it came at a complex cost to Ieyasu’s family dynamics. In 1579 Ieyasu's wife and his eldest son (and Nobunaga’s son-in-law), Nobuyasu, were accused by Nobunaga of conspiring with Katsuyori to assassinate him. Ieyasu's wife was executed and Nobuyasu was forced to commit seppuku. Since his second son would be adopted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ieyasu named his third and favorite son, Hidetada, as heir.
In late 1582, Ieyasu was near Osaka and far from his own territory when he learned that Nobunaga had been assassinated. Some provinces, ruled by Nobunaga's vassals, became ripe for conquest. Ieyasu conspired with Hōjō Ujimasa to take control of Kai and Shinano provinces, while the Hōjō took control of Kazusa. At the same time Ieyasu did not take a side in the war for rule over Japan between Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Shibata Katsuie, won by Hideyoshi at Battle of Shizugatake.
In 1584, Ieyasu decided to support Oda Nobukatsu, the eldest son and heir of Nobunaga, against Hideyoshi. This was a dangerous move and could have resulted in the annihilation of the Tokugawa. Tokugawa troops took the traditional Oda stronghold of Owari; Hideyoshi responded by sending in an army. It was the only time any of the great unifiers of Japan fought each other and, after months of futile marches and feints, proved indecisive. The Komaki Campaign was settled through negotiated truce, despite the fact that Hideyoshi remained understandably distrustful of Ieyasu, and five years would pass before they fought as allies.
When it came, it came with a radical deal, and a gamble of historical proportions.
In 1590, Hideyoshi attacked the last independent daimyô in Japan, the eight eastern Kantō provinces of Hōjō Ujimasa. Hideyoshi ordered them to submit to his authority and they refused. Ieyasu, though a friend and occasional ally of Ujimasa, joined his large force of 30,000 samurai with Hideyoshi's enormous army of 160,000 warriors. During the final siege of Odawara castle, Hideyoshi offered Ieyasu the radical deal- the eight Kantō provinces which they were about to take from the Hōjō, in return for the five provinces that Ieyasu currently controlled (including Ieyasu's home province of Mikawa). Ieyasu accepted. 
After the Hōjō surrendered, their leaders committed seppuku. In the riskiest move he ever made, Ieyasu left his home provinces, moved all his soldiers and vassals to Kantō, and occupied the castle town of Edo, relying on the uncertain loyalty of the former Hōjō samurai.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Narrow Road To The Deep North 37

    ‘Once Lord Ieyasu gained nothing in a battle, but in a later 
     judgement it was said, ‘Ieyasu is a general of great courage. Of 
     his retainers who died in battle, not one of them died with his 
     back turned. They all died facing the enemy lines.’ Since a 
     warrior’s daily frame of mind is manifested even after death, it 
     is something that can bring shame to him.
       Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure- The Book of the Samurai, 

What Nobunaga was to force and Hideyoshi was to persuasion, Ieyasu was to patience. Wait until it sings. It was timing that made him the most powerful man in Japan; just as much what he hadn’t done that set up a dynasty that would last for two and a half centuries.
Tokugawa Ieyasu was born in Okazaki Castle, on last day of January 1543. Some of his patience may have come from his eleven half-brothers and sisters, and some from his nine years of captivity as an Oda and then an Imagawa clan hostage.
In 1557, at the age of sixteen he married his first wife. The Imagawa kept her and released him, provided he agreed to fight against the Oda. He served at the Siege of Terabe and, later that year, successfully delivered supplies to a border fort in a bold night attack.
After Oda Nobunaga's surprise lethal assault on Yoshimoto Imagawa at the Battle of Okehazama, Ieyasu switched his allegiance, secretly because his wife and infant son, Nobuyasu, were still being held hostage.
Ieyasu openly broke with the Imagawa in 1561, after capturing the fortress of Kaminojo, and trading its ruler’s captured family to get his own back. Two years later he married Nobuyasu to Nobunaga's daughter Tokuhime.
For the next few years Ieyasu reformed Mikawa, pacified the bellicose Monto group of monks at the Battle of Azukizaka (and pulled down their temples). He gained invaluable tactical skill with gunpowder, and strengthened key vassals like Hattori Hanzō and Honda Tadakatsu and the three other Four Heavenly Kings of Tokugawa, by awarding them land and castles.