Sunday, October 24, 2010

Miyazaki Governor Won't Seek Re-election

Miyazaki Governor Higashikokubaru

MIYAZAKI -- Miyazaki Gov. Hideo Higashikokubaru has announced he will not seek re-election in the prefecture's December gubernatorial race as his term of office expires, hinting at his intention to make the leap to national politics.
"I've come to the conclusion that I won't run in the election. There is still a mountain of issues left, including the aftermath of the foot-and-mouth disease crisis, but I feel like I've reached the limit of what I can do as governor," Higashikokubaru, 53, told the prefectural assembly's plenary session on Sept. 29.
After the plenary session, the governor said at a press conference, "I want to take action to change the form of the nation. I will gradually think what to do in order to return political powers from Kasumigaseki (a district in Tokyo known as the headquarters of the central bureaucracy) to the people of the country."
According to sources close to the governor, Higashikokubaru has been considering establishing a new party with himself serving as party leader ahead of the next House of Representatives election, or standing for the Tokyo governor election slated for next spring. The Higashikokubaru prefectural administration will come to an end after his first four-year term of office.
After announcing his decision not to run in the Miyazaki governor race at the plenary session, Higashikokubaru also said that the nature of the central governance system must be changed. Regarding the upcoming gubernatorial election in Miyazaki, he told reporters, "I won't pick my successor. I want a person who can take over what I've been doing to be selected."
Higashikokubaru, a former comedian, was first elected as Miyazaki governor in the 2007 election after the previous governor was arrested over collusive bidding at the initiative of government agencies. Capitalizing on his name recognition, Higashikokubaru, as new governor, successfully boosted sales of local products, and received broad attention when he reformed the prefecture's bidding system for public works. After a July survey conducted by a local newspaper found that some 90 percent of the residents of Miyazaki Prefecture support Higashikokubaru, he was considered a certainty to be re-elected if he ran again for governor.
However, the charismatic governor made headlines when he expressed his intention to switch to national politics after he became frustrated with the financial and authority gaps between the central and prefectural governments. Before the House of Representatives election in summer last year, Higashikokubaru, who was asked to run on the Liberal Democratic Party ticket, said, "Are you ready to fight in the election while having me as a candidate for the next president of your party?"
Earlier this year, the governor clashed with the central government over the responsibility for security measures following the foot-and-mouth disease epidemic.
From the Mainichi Newspaper

Friday, October 8, 2010

Post War Reconstruction (1945 - 1993)

Abandoned Tachibana Resort, Aoshima, Miyazaki

After the defeat of Japan in World War II, many in Miyazaki became discontent with news of the Emperor vacationing in the resort town of Karuizawa and playing tennis with Gen. Douglas MacArthur while they went without food, medicine, and in some cases potable water.
By May 1946, there was a group in Miyazaki calling for self rule.  During each day of Golden Week that year, this group – Citizens for an independent Miyazaki – gathered at Heiwadai Park.  Here speakers from the newly formed Miyazaki Workers Party took to the park’s large platform to layout their platform.
Party leader Ueda Masanori in one sentence summed it all up:
We in Miyazaki sacrificed for nothing, and now we continue to sacrifice for nothing, but I assure you that if we can rule Miyazaki independent of Tokyo we shall prosper.
Many in Miyazaki saw Tokyo as the direct reason for Miyazaki’s suffering and they wanted free.  How could they make this happen?  Well, they didn’t because of what plagued the rest of Japan, money.
In 1946 there was enormous inflation due to the massive amount of currency in circulation.  There was 14 times the amount of currency in circulation as in 1937.  Add to this the fact that Korea, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines were no longer under Japanese control and could not help with the famine that faced Japan.  What drought didn’t destroy in domestic crops, typhoons and storms did.  US and allied militaries airlifted food to all prefectures to prevent mass starvation.
Thoughts of an independent Miyazaki faded away in the spring air when Golden Week ended.  Then the reconstruction of Miyazaki got under way earnestly when Gen. MacArthur arrived in the prefecture to personally inspect the coordination.  Bridges had to be replaced, rail lines reestablished, cities rebuilt, so there was no time as he said in Heiwadai Park, “…to dream of a situation so far from reality that Saigo Takamori himself would die laughing at.”
The British and Australian regiments began working to rebuild roads and bridges and US forces over saw the cities reconstructions.  By 1950, Miyazaki was completely reconnected with the rest of Japan by rail, highway, communications, airplanes, and also television.
Through the 1950s, Miyazaki rebuilt its agriculture and other industries.  Nyutabaru Airforce Base in Shintomi opened to the Japanese Air Force.  Miyakonojo Army Barracks reopened to the Japanese Army.  Miyazaki, Hyuga, and Nichinan ports reopened and a ferry from Miyazaki to Osaka began service.
By 1960, Governor Kuroki Hiroshi came up with the idea looking at Miyazaki’s beaches, palm trees, and climate to “Recreate Miyazaki as the Palm Beach of Japan.”  Soon investment in resorts began, and golf courses were designed.  By 1964, world class resorts were in Nichinan, Miyazaki City, Aoshima, and Takaoka boasted the first PGA course in Miyazaki.  Miyazaki had recreated itself again.  The phoenix was adopted as the unofficial symbol of Miyazaki.  Just as the phoenix rose from the ashes, so did Miyazaki.
Miyazaki was the honeymoon destination of Japan.  Soon every city was catering to the well heeled honeymooners from Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Kyoto.  They came and left behind them their money.  Before long people from all over Japan and Kyushu came for weekend trips.  Finding a hotel was almost impossible.  Some people booked a year to two years in advance.
By the 1980s, Miyazaki had no problem competing with Hawaii, The Gold Coast, or LA.  There was no need to leave Japan for these destinations since Miyazaki had beaches, service, resorts, and surfing comparable to those destinations.  To add more convenience, the tourists didn’t have to worry about language – “Japanese is spoken in Miyazaki” as the tourist association tagline went.
At the height of the bubble in 1989, Miyazaki had over 150 resorts, 4 PGA golf facilities, 50 private golf clubs, 8 surfing only beaches, and 60% of Miyazaki’s economy was tourism related.  The indoor Seagaia Beach Dome opened in 1990 along with the Sheraton Seagaia Resort and the Tom Watson Phoenix Golf Resort.  A brand new toll road took tourists from the airport to Seagaia in under 30 minutes.  Tokyo was taking notice.
A bullet train was planned to take tourists from Fukuoka to Miyazaki Station via Oita in under two hours.  A major freeway was planned to run the entire length from Fukuoka to Oita to Miyazaki City.  Tokyo was investing in Miyazaki.  Then in 1993 the unimaginable happened, Japan’s bubble burst.  Almost immediately the tourists stopped coming.  JAL took over the bulk of the tourist industry and naturally pushed Hawaii and other foreign locations.  Other tour agencies like JTB and HIS followed JAL’s lead and pushed foreign locations as well.
Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, and Kyoto didn’t need help in tourism, domestic and international travelers naturally headed to those locations, but Miyazaki found itself locked out.  The reason – too far from the exciting places people want to travel to.  With the discounts agencies provided, it was cheaper for a tourist in Tokyo to travel to Hawaii and stay at a JAL hotel, go on JAL tours than to travel to Miyazaki.
At the end of 1993 half of the resorts were in foreclosure or bankruptcy.  Unemployment hit record highs in Miyazaki, and airlines cut flights.  No bullet train, freeway, or new Tokyo investment happened.  Tokyo stopped taking notice of Miyazaki.  Miyazaki was the disco queen of Japan; nice for a while, but long past its prime and popularity.
By 1994, there was an exodus beginning from Miyazaki to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Chiba.  In one year the population of Miyazaki fell from 1,479,000 to 1,340,000.  Miyazaki desperately needed to recreate itself.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Imperial Japan (1912 - 1945)

Miyazaki Kamikaze Monument, Miyazaki City

After the Meiji Reformation, Miyazaki had emerged from rural back water to a major industrial center.  By 1912, Japan had defeated both China and Russia in wars for Asian hegemony.  Crafting the military strategy and diplomatic treaties was a Miyazaki native from Obi, Komura Jutaro.
Graduating from the Ito primary and secondary schools in Obi, Komura went to study at the Imperial University in Tokyo.  From a peasant background, Komura was a true example of how the Meiji Reformation bred success and urged Japan to pursue Japanese interests.  Studying at Harvard in 1877 he wrote in his diary, “If we (Japanese) can learn the modern ways of law, politics, military, and medicine and make these Japanese then we can set Japan on an equal level with the Europeans and Americans no other Asian nation has been able to.”  This desire is what drove the Japanese of his generation.  By the time he negotiated Japanese interests in the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905, there was no doubt that Japan was well on the way to being an empire to rival those of Europe and the newly discovered imperial desires of the USA.
As ambassador to Great Britain, Komura helped win Miyazaki many British contracts for manufactured goods.  These contracts were set for a minimum of 20 years.  His final act for Japan was negotiating the Korean Annexation Treaty of 1911.  By 1912 Komura’s legacy was the fact that Japan was an imperial power and Meiji passed on his throne to a sickly son, Emperor Taisho.
Emperor Taisho suffered severe neurological problems stemming from childhood illnesses.  This set in motion a military and imperial household coalition that actually performed the duties of the emperor behind the scenes of the parliament and people.  The stage was set when he addressed the first opening of parliament under his reign.  Taking out a stack pages from an envelope he read only five words, “Parliament is open for session.”  The emperor then rolled up all the pages like a telescope and peered at the parliamentary delegates.  The emperor then placed all the sheets, individually, back into the envelope and left with his escorts.  It was determined that very day that Emperor Taisho perform the few ceremonial duties for the year and the real business be conducted by the military elite and imperial household agents.  This would not change until his son Hirohito took the Chrysanthemum Throne in 1926.
By 1916, the Japanese National Railway had run the length from Oita Prefecture, through Miyazaki, and to the south to Kagoshima.  Miyazaki Station was the premier station in Miyazaki.  Opened in August 1913, the station was designed as a samurai mansion.  The wide front and back lots provided plenty of room for carriages, cargo wagons, trucks, and even picnics.  The many military endeavors Japan engaged in made the related businesses in Miyazaki more efficient with the railway opening in the prefecture.
For Miyazaki, this meant another boom for the prefecture.  With Japan’s new military strength, naval yards were built in Hyuga City and Nichinan.  Munitions from factories were picked up by Japanese Navy vessels and taken to their destinations.  By 1920, Miyazaki Town also boasted a naval yard that sent chemicals, food, and munitions on naval vessels bound for imperial military use.  By 1924, Miyazaki City went from township to city.  A stunning new prefectural capital building was built to celebrate the occasion.  Nobeoka had a very large chemical industry, and also new factories producing a new invention from the USA called the radio.  With the radio came factories that needed to produce the vacuum tubes, so Miyazaki was boasting industry of high tech for the times.
Towns like Sadowara, Takanabe, Kushima, Ebino, and Tsuno used their agricultural prowess.  Canned foods were the rage for convenience and for military use.  These towns canned seafood, pork, poultry, beef, vegetable, and rice products by the tens of tons every day; the fisheries, livestock lots, and agricultural lands nearby assured freshness and soon Miyazaki was known as “the prefecture that feeds Japan’s empire.”  Demand was so great that by 1922 almost every town had consolidated farms and all farming was done by machine and almost none by hand.  Unfortunately, towns like Takaoka and others on the periphery never saw the opportunity the others did.  These towns were seen as, “Too different, too poor, too everything.”
This may be unfair.  Towns like Takaoka just didn’t see economic progress as an end all to problems and progress.  These towns enjoyed their simple ways and slower way of life that others forgot in the rush to get rich and comfortable.  Being at the foot of towering mountains, they hunted an equal share of their food as that they grew in fields.  Where you needed a car, bus, or train to get around in the cities, they could walk or ride a horse to their fields and tend them, then hunt, then fish, then return home and have the three meals for the day ready before 9 am.  To pay bills outside of their farming, they made tofu, miso, and other daily staples they took by cart into the cities to sell at the markets.  Depending on the season, they also sold the wild boar, deer, rabbits, pheasants, and quails they had hunted.  The towns that were inland simply had no desire to be industrialized to gain status as an industrialized town.
This set in motion in Miyazaki a clear distinction between the cities and rural areas.  By night fall it became quite clear that rural dwellers were to be back from whence they came and allow the city dwellers to enjoy their night life.
December 25, 1926 all of Japan learned that Japan would have a new emperor.  Emperor Taisho had died and his son Hirohito would ascend the Chrysanthemum Throne.  Dedicated to building further Japan’s military strength, Hirohito promised to eject all other imperial powers from Asia and set Japan as the dominant power.  Miyazaki again saw benefit of this.  Air bases were opened in Hyuga, Miyazaki City, and Miyakonojo.  Army bases were opened in Miyakonojo and Sadowara.  Coal mines began operation in Miyakonojo, Ebino, and Kushima.
In less than 60 years, Miyazaki had reinvented itself from a feudal agricultural fiefdom and into a major military complex.  Everything was being geared to the military effort; from Nobeoka’s chemicals, Hyuga’s port, Sadowara’s canning, Miyazaki City’s aircraft machining, Miyakonojo’s bases and coal, and Kushima’s fishing.  Miyazaki’s mild climate, deep coastal harbors, and plentiful land space gave the Imperial government reason to celebrate.  People from all over Japanese rural areas were moving in to take factory jobs, work in the canneries, drive trucks, work in warehouses, unload freight train cars, and work in engineering positions with such companies as Mitsubishi, NYK Steel, and Hino Industries.  Many also came to serve at the military installations.  Miyazaki fed, assembled, designed, equipped, hosted, trained and transported the Imperial military personnel and its equipment.
By 1931, Miyazaki was contributing to the start of a war of domination that would end in a literal firestorm of defeat.  Imperial Japanese forces invaded Manchuria.  Civilian rule of the government fell to military nationalists.  Before long, Miyazaki children were being military drilled in their school yards.  Town and neighborhood associations had their control taken by nationalist groups from Tokyo that demanded all citizens drill in military parades and learn to use common household items as weapons.  All of Japan, and Miyazaki, soon learned what “marching in step” meant.
By 1940, Japan had found itself deep in alliance with Nazi Germany and Italy.  Miyazaki hosted German and Italian military officers to the opening of the nationalist Hakku Ichiu Park (now Heiwadai Park) to celebrate the 2600th anniversary of the reign of the mythical Emperor Jimmu, Japan’s first emperor mythically born of the sun goddess Amaterasu.  The park contains a large column that celebrates the fact that Japan will be the eight threads (islands) that tie the entire world as one (empire).  Many of the German and Italian military guests took exception to this, but the Emperor placated their feelings by saying, “Just as you relish in your Nordic and Roman myths, we relish in our Yamato myths.”  The park became a popular Shinto pilgrimage and tourist attraction during the war years, and still is today.  It sits adjacent to Miyazaki Shrine, which supposedly houses the throne of Emperor Jimmu.
By late 1944 the airbases in Hyuga, Miyazaki City, and Miyakonojo were converted into Special Command (kamikaze) bases.  The ports in Hyuga and Miyazaki City were designated as military priority facilities.  By May 1945, Nobeoka, Hyuga, Miyazaki City, Nichinan, Miyakonojo, and Kushima were effectively rendered by US bombers as out of action for the Imperial effort.  Miyazaki had become accustomed to US bombers and fighters.
The drills at schools increased, entire towns and neighborhoods were now drilling with real weapons.  But come August 1945 it was all over.  When commanded to work longer and harder, Miyazaki did.  When told to drill because Japanese survival depended upon it, Miyazaki did.  When it all ended, Miyazaki found Nobeoka 40% in ruins, Miyazaki City 38% in ruins, Nichinan 25% in ruins, Miyakonojo also in ruins.  An estimated 60,000 lives were lost.  Bridges, rail lines, train stations, roads and factories were destroyed, right along with kamikaze bases and Army barracks.
On August 15, 1945 Miyazaki citizens heard broadcast on radio and CD speakers the following from Emperor Hirohito at 12 pm that all of Japan heard:
Despite the best that has been done by everyone—the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of our servants of the State, and the devoted service of our one hundred million people—the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.
Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.
Such being the case, how are we to save the millions of our subjects, or to atone ourselves before the hallowed spirits of our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers without condition.
The hardships and sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that we have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is insufferable.
Like the rest of Japan, Miyazaki became frozen in fear of what was to happen.  The cities were quickly bustling with people leaving to walk, hitch hike, or ride bicycles into the rural areas.  The cities lay in ruin, and served as a reminder of what the Emperor commented as “the sufferings to which our nation is to be subjected hereafter”.  At least the rural areas still had the farms, and farms meant food.  Working as a hired hand meant you got fed.  The cities lost all they had to offer.  Factories were gone, roads were in tatters, and dreams disappeared with the Emperor’s speech.  If Miyazaki was spared one thing, the farms were still producing.  Yet, that summer of 1945 had been horrible in rural areas because of a drought.  The farms had as much to offer as the cities.  It was the “Grapes of Wrath” in Kabuki style.
By September 1945, GHQ had sent US, British and Australian forces to assess and help rebuild Miyazaki.  Miyazaki was short on food, medicine, and hope; as one US officer reported to GHQ in Tokyo, “If you could send God himself, these people need a miracle.”  While Japan kept the emperor, many in Miyazaki questioned, “Just what empire is he the Emperor of?”
By February 1946, another 5,000 in Miyazaki would die of starvation, privation, disease, and infection from earlier injuries in the bombings.  The Emperor enjoyed his winter in the Nagano resort town Karuizawa.  He and Gen. Douglas MacArthur played tennis quite frequently together at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.  While his nation starved, Hirohito felt no pain.  Hirohito kept his throne and his subjects suffered his defeat.  This caused a great resentment in Kyushu that was not felt anywhere else in Japan.  By May 1946, Miyazaki had a number of citizens calling for self rule.  Tokyo had caused the suffering and many wanted out of Tokyo’s control.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tokugawa Shogunate Era (1603 - 1868)

Shimazu Hisamitsu, final daimyo of the Sadowara Domain
Photo courtesy of the Shimazu Museum, Miyakonojo, Miyazaki

By 1603 Tokugawa Ieyasu had most of his reforms in place.  These were to restrict the power of daimyo and samurai from rebellions that would threaten the power of the Shogunate government.  This was done in three steps: require residency of all the daimyo and their families in Edo (Tokyo), restrict foreign contact with Japan, and control the import and export of goods through commerce.  Anything that threatened the success of the Shogunate was banned, limited, or exterminated.
One of the misconceptions is that during this period there was no foreign contact in Japan.  In reality, the Shogunate allowed contact in only one city, Nagasaki.  Here only Chinese, Dutch, and Koreans could dock and conduct commerce.  All domains were expected to contribute forces to the garrison protecting the harbor.
In Hyuga, the Ito grew wealthy due to the astounding success of their farms.  Wheat production alone accounted for the fact it was one of the few domains to produce the crop.  Adding to this the success of pig, cow, dairy, horse, and tea commodities the Ito were content to send their news continually to their daimyo in Tokyo.
The Azuzaki also grew wealthy in their rice crops.  The lands they controlled were idea for the labor intensive crops.
The Otomi used the colder regions of Nobeoka and the mountains to produce some of the finest swords Japan produced in the Era.  Maezuru and Tanaka swords were some of the most sought after in Japan.  The Otomi domain also traded in granite and limestone that came from the mountains in the region.
The Shimazu bred some of the most sought after horses in Japan.  Their lands from Satsuma to Miyakonojo were dedicated to either horse breeding or firearm production, as well as agriculture.  Salt which was abundant in their domain was also a major commodity they traded in with the Chinese, Dutch, and Koreans.
By 1610 the Shogunate became uneasy with the increasing wealth and power of local daimyo.  Tokugawa Ieyasu enacted strict laws to hedge off trouble.  Daimyo were ordered to reside in Edo every other year and their families were commanded to reside in Edo full time.  This meant that at any time a daimyo left Edo, their family was kept back as a token that there would be no trouble.
Samurai were under the control of the Shogunate.  Samurai were moved from daimyo to another quite often to hedge off alliances.  Some samurai found themselves master less when a daimyo refused their service.  This created the ronin, master less samurai, who would then either find a trade or become a hired assassin.
The Shogunate enacted the “One domain, one castle” policy.  Each daimyo was allowed only one castle in their domain.  All others had to be destroyed.  This prevented a number of castles from being used to hide munitions, stores, and warriors from the Shogunate.  Each domain had to allow a building of Shogunate governance.  Like a federal office, the control of registrations and official government business fell on these officers.
In Hyuga the Ito maintained Obi Castle, the Simazu maintained Sadowara Castle, the Azuzaki maintained Takanabe (Maezuru) Castle, and the Otomi maintained Nobeoka Castle.  The Azuzaki and Ito maintained a close alliance of resource, information, wealth, and intermarriage to keep in check the power of the Shimazu.  The Shimazu were as much untrusted by their fellow daimyo as by the Shogunate.  As the wealth of the Shimazu increased, the distrust for them did proportionately as well.
A strict caste system was in place.  At the top was the Shogun equal with the Emperor.  The Emperor was the ceremonial ruler and the Shogunate set up a liason office in Kyoto to manage and deal with the Imperial household.  In all practicality, the Shogun was the dictatorial ruler of Japan.  Next were the daimyo, then the samurai.  At the bottom were the farmers, artisans, and merchants.  Another misconception is that merchants were the very bottom; the fact of the matter is that taxes were so high that for all intent and purposes outside of the samurai class all others were classified as being peasants, this included the clerics and teachers.  Some merchants in fact were richer than the Shogun, and some farmers carried more weight in their community than the daimyo did.  The more land their samurai lord allotted them, the more they produced and the more they were allocated by their lord.  Land holding samurai were the only exception to being placed under a new daimyo.  Some of these samurai actually controlled great portions of the daimyo’s domain.
While Nagasaki was the only permitted city for foreign trade and business, the Shogunate did make exceptions when it served their utility.  Medical professionals from Germany arriving on a Dutch vessel were met by the Shogun himself in 1746 to discuss medical advances in Europe.  They were escorted under Shogunate banner to Edo where they stayed at Edo Castle under the care of the Shogun.  Numerous texts were produced in Japan to disseminate the new knowledge brought in.  Many a daimyo and samurai were treated by the newly licensed “Court Doctors” and the treatments they used.
For the domains in Hyuga the trade was brisk and wealthy.  Over half of which was produced found its way to Nagasaki and on board Dutch, Chinese, and Korean vessels.  All of Hyuga’s domains shared a distribution center where a variety of goods from rice to silk to livestock to iron tools were sold and loaded for export.  The Hyuga domains also imported firearms from Europe, horses from Arabia, and silk goods from China and Korea.  All transactions were done with a Dutch bank keeping track of the trades.  The official currency may have been rice, but a Hyuga trade association created by the Hyuga domains paid the Shogunate in gold and silver.
In order to skirt the Shogunate controls on trade, the Hyuga domains set up a trade partnership that paid the Shogunate 17% of trading.  To keep things honest the Shogunate required all transactions be registered by a Dutch bank given the license by the Shogunate to do so in the Hyuga Trade Association (日向貿易協会) complex.
By combining forces the Hyuga domains created one of the strongest trade alliances in Japan.  The Shimazu still sat back, however, waiting to take advantage of the situation where they could take either take control of the Shogunate or the Imperial Court.  Their domain in Okinawa was their real prize.  With control of the vast islands, they operated underground trade with foreign nations the Shogunate had no way of monitoring. 
For example, it is has long been rumored that the Shimazu received cotton plants from a British vessel in Okinawa in the mid 17th century.  These plants were cultivated in Satsuma (modern Kagoshima Prefecture).  In time Shimazu cotton textiles were the most sought after in Japan.  By the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the Shimazu operated cotton production facilities throughout Japan with their main facility in Edo.  Never once did the Shogunate risk money, time, or lives to check Shimazu power or call them to task for breaking trade restrictions.  Too much would have been risked in such a move.  The Shogunate instead turned blind eyes and kept the peace.  The Shimazu controlled Okinawa, most of Kyushu, and were a powerful force in Edo.  With trade between fellow daimyo and Shimazu all over Japan, the Shogunate risked civil war and an end to Tokugawa control by ever confronting the Shimazu.
The Ito created an education facility in Obi that educated some of top elite thinkers in Japan.  Aside from agriculture, Ito Mansho set the Ito Clan focus with his words, “A man with no intellect is incapable of action”.  In the tradition of his ancestors, all in the Ito domain, including peasants, were entitled to at least a primary education.  Talented students went onto be educated in the Ito secondary schools and promoted by the Ito into the Hyuga Trade Association.
For the Shogunate, keeping a unified Japan was the main goal.  As long as the daimyo played nicely with one another and were content to get rich then all was well.  The samurai on the other hand were another matter.  With continual peace, many samurai were perplexed how to spend their time.  Trained continually as warriors, with no war many turned to the arts such as shodo (calligraphy), sumie (ink painting), and even haiku (Japanese poetry) to fill their time.  The goal became as a samurai not just be a killing machine, but to become well rounded in all pursuits.  Other samurai simply looked for ways to use their lethal talents as hired assassins, defecting mercenaries leaving on Chinese or Dutch ships, or as paid protectors of wealthy merchants.
During this time legends of the actual thief Goemon Ishikawa became popular folklore in Japan.  Born in 1558 and put to death around 1581 for theft, Goemon went from common thief to ninja assassin.  Hyuga would not be outdone by the legends.  One legend in Hyuga painted Goemon as a Robin Hood character that stole from the wealthy and gave the bounty to the poor, orphaned, and widowed using his ninja prowess.  One Hyuga version had Goemon camping under a Gingko tree in Sarukawa and falling in with his band of nine ninjas.  They then went throughout Hyuga, Kyushu, and Japan righting injustice against the poor and weak by the wealthy and powerful.  According to some accounts, that even corrupt officials in the Shogunate were put in their place by Goemon.  Goemon was put to death by the Shogunate, supposedly, by being boiled alive in a pot of oil.  To this day traditional iron bathtubs are called “goemonburi” or Goemon tubs.  These tales began to rub the Shogunate wrong.
This would later be changed in the mid 18th century by the Shogunate.  The nephew of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (Mito Komon), was ordered to be a replacement to the Goemon legends.  This character travelled Japan and put corrupt daimyo and samurai in their place by simply displaying the komon (seal) of the Tokugawa.  Bad guys trembled in fear before the disguised vagabond and his samurai companions who sought to show the eye of the Shogunate is not far from even the most remote domains.  Various versions in Hyuga had him helping harvest rice in Obi, helping in the building of a home for a widow in Sadowara, or saving a drowning child in Nobeoka.
In any case, these show that feudal societies vacillate between the good thief (Goemon – Robin Hood) and the benevolent noble (Tokugawa Mitsukuni – Ivanhoe).  In times of want the good thief rights wrongs, and in times of prosperity the benevolent noble rights the wrongs.  Hyuga and Japan were no different.  Later the Shogunate relaxed the taboo against Goemon by allowing Kabuki plays to be produced using the character.  As long as in the plot the villain was plotting against the noble Shogunate.
With the US and other nations forcing Japan to open to international trade, and the daimyo demanding the same for their financial benefit, the Shogunate began to lose influence and power against the forces of modernization.  The elite wanted all that entailed their position, including a monarchy on the European model with a parliament and class structure.  Peasants wanted out of the farm fields and in urbanized modern cities working factory jobs and sending their children to schools.  The merchants wanted lucrative trade with the Europeans, Americas, and Africa without the stiff Shogunate restrictions.  Little by little, the controls set in place by Tokugawa Ieyasu 250 years before became the Shogunate’s undoing.  By 1868, the Meiji Reformation was well under way.  Japan’s feudal society for almost 700 years was in for great upheaval and tensions.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Feudal Era (1185-1603)

Aya Castle

In 1185 Minomoto no Yoritomo defeated Imperial loyalists at the Battle of Dan no Ura.  A Fujiwara Clan family, Ito (伊東) were among those who fought with Minomoto and his wife’s family the Hojo.
Minomoto established a firm Shogunate after he forced the Emperor to name him the Shogun over all Japan.  Minomoto had the Emperor stripped of all power except for ceremonial power and as the nominal head of Shinto.
Two clans were given lands and titles in Kyushu.  The Shimazu (島津) were named the military heads of the Kyushu province.  The Ito were given all of Hyuga for their loyalty to Minomoto in combat against the loyalists.
The Ito set up their first castle outside of Saito and named it Tonokori.  This would become the Ito’s base of power.  In the present day boundaries of Miyazaki Prefecture the Takahashi controlled Nobeoka, the Otomi controlled Takachiho, the Tomochi controlled Ebino, and the Shimazu controlled Miyakonojo.  With this situation the Ito began to construct a network of 48 castles throughout their domain.  The most important castles being Tonokori, Sadowara, Miyazaki, Takaoka, Aya, Obi, Hyuga, and Takachiho.
The Ito built a series of roads connecting the castles and built the castles upon mountains that provided natural protection and fortification.  Buddhist temples were built within the castles and peasants would be protected in caves at the base of mountains.  All men in their domain would be expected to bear arms with the samurai in the event of an invasion by another clan.
Within the Ito domain things were much more stable than in others.  The Ito allowed local samurai greater freedoms than other daimyo allowed.  For example, the Hosokawa of Aya were allowed to educate peasants in basic reading and writing, something unheard of during this period.  To the Ito, a happy peasant class and a happy merchant class produces much more than a class that was treated harshly.  Lavish festivals were held monthly and sponsored by the local lord.  The Ito sponsored two festivals during the year in Sadowara, New Years and summer.  People (samurai and common) from all over their domain attended these.
The agricultural success of the Ito domain began to gather the attention of the Shimazu.  Their attention would have to wait though.  In 1268 news of a new Mongul Emperor demanding Japanese tribute and submission reached the Ito and all clans of Japan.  Kublai Khan amassed an invasion force of 600 ships to invade Japan in 1274.
The Kamakura Shogunate responded by calling an army of all districts in Japan to defense.  The Ito joined forces in Kyushu with the Shimazu, Otomi, Tomochi, Takahashi, and Azuzaki.  The Mongul invaders were defeated more by a typhoon than the gathered armies.  After the first invasion the Kamakura Shogunate began to reinforce protection by constructing a network of defense positions along the western coast of Japan, and along all coasts of Kyushu.
By 1281, Khan had assembled another invasion force.  Hakata on the coast of Fukuoka was the determined invasion point.  For seven weeks the Ito and other clans held off the invasion.  Again, a typhoon saved Japan.  While Japan had been spared, the defense of the invasion cost the Kamakura dearly in terms of finances, food stores, and men.  The clans of Japan were afraid that this would lead to breakdown of Shogunate rule.
Along with the other clans, the Ito demanded that the Kamakura ease taxation.  By 1333 the Imperial family and supporters staged a successful coup against the Shogunate.  The Ito joined forces with anti-Imperial forces with the Shimazu.  Soon in 1336 the Imperial faction was defeated, and those loyal to the Ashikaga Shogun were granted their lands.  Those not loyal had their lands stripped.  The Takahashi lost their lands to the Otomi and the Ito.  The Tomochi lost their lands to the Shimazu.
With new strength, controlling all of Satsuma, a big portion of Hyuga, Saga, and Kumamoto the Shimazu began to quickly build plans to dominate Kyushu.  They had plenty of salt and knew that curing fish, meats, and preserving vegetables meant they could feed a large siege army.
The Shimazu in 1572 launched an invasion of Ito’s domain.  Encircling their holdings and holding out in siege, in 1577 the Ito surrendered and sought protection from the Otomi in Shikoku.  By the end of 1577 more than 90% of Kyushu was in Shimazu hands.  The Otomi were concerned the Shimazu had plans to take Shikoku and then with an army comparable to that of the ruling Shogun, launch an invasion of Japan.
The Otomi and Ito went to Kyoto to talk to Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  The Shogun also showed concern of Shimazu power and formed an army to reclaim Kyushu.  Agents of the Shogun negotiated with the Shimazu.  Convinced of Shimazu assurance it was about controlling Kyushu and not Japan, the agents bartered a domain for the Ito centered in Obi.  The Otomi were given half the Nobeoka domain.  The Shogunate ordered a Shogunate controlled domain between the Ito and Shimazu to keep tensions from spreading.
The Shimazu then began acquiring from Portuguese traders the one thing their next round of conquest would give advantage, the arquebus rifle.  With unification successfully resored through Japan by Toyotomi he set eyes of conquest on Korea.  The Ito and Shimazu offered meager numbers of samurai.  The invasion failed and greatly weakened the power of Toyotomi.  The Shimazu used this as an opportunity to invade Okinawa and successfully establish it as a vassal domain to the Shimazu.
After the death of Toyotomi, the Shogunate was placed under the command of five Samurai clan leaders until Toyotomi’s six year old son came of age to claim the Shogunate.  One of the regents was Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Seizing the Shogunate ina bid for power the other four regents assembled an army and this came to a head at the battle of Sekigahara.  The Ito and Otomi supported Ieyasu and the Shimazu supported the army under the command of Mitsunari Ishida.  The forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu succeeded and Hyuga was restored under the control of Ito.
In 1603, Ieyasu became concerned of large domains and commanded that Obi be the domain of Ito, Sadowara be under the Shimazu, Takanabe under the Azuzaki, and Nobeoka under the Otomi.  This balanced out power between fighting clans.  As Ieyasu wrote in the command, “The Ito and their allies will control the farms, and the Shimazu will control the mountains.”  This is one of the first changes Tokugawa would usher in to protect the Shogunate into the future.