The Maker of Modern Japan: The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu

The Maker of Modern Japan: The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu

The Maker of Modern Japan: The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu

The Maker of Modern Japan: The Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu

Excerpt

In the course of Japanese medieval and modern history there have been five great military administrators who by common consent stand out above the rest, numerous though the type has always been. Of these, two lived in the twelfth century, Taira Kiyomori and Minamoto Yoritomo, the latter the founder of the institution of the Shogunate or Hereditary Military Dictatorship, while the other three, Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, were contemporary in the sixteenth. The last of these, with whose life this book deals, may well be described as the perfecter of the system inaugurated by Yoritomo, for after his death in 1616 it continued to be carried on according to his plans by his descendants till 1868, when the administration of the Empire ceased to be a Tokugawa family affair, but became entrusted to officials chosen from all the people by examination and selection.

And not only did Tokugawa Ieyasu found a dynasty of rulers and organize a system of government, but he rounded off his achievement by contriving before his death to arrange for his deification afterwards, and to set in train the re-orientation of the religion of the country so that he would take the premier place in it.

As the Great Gongen, a Shinto-Buddhist reincarnation, he played an imposing divine part, and there is no town in Japan where his shrine in this capacity is not to be found, while his headquarters is the world-famous resort of Nikko, in the province of Shimozuke, where embowered in giant cryptomerias stands that perfectly situated and gorgeous mausoleum of which the late Lord Curzon observed that "no sovereigns, not even the Pharaohs of Egypt, had more glorious and worthy sepulchres." And with it, too, commenced a new style of architecture to be perpetuated in the hardly less resplendent shrines of his successors, the lords of Edo, whose two groups of mausolea are with the mighty castle they tenanted in life, still the glory of the modern capital of Tokyo.

And this man, who rose to be undisputed Lord of the Empire and who for nearly three hundred years was the tutelary deity of his successors, who continued this dominion and of all who . . .

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