あ:military service

07/31/2020

About the political reformation by the Kanmu Emperor from the late 8th century to the early 9th century.

The Kanmu Emperor ruled for 25 years. During that period, he established the Emperor's authority and tried to improve systems of the Court, especially the regional administrative systems. For example, the Emperor decreased the number of regional officers called Kokushi and Gunji. Kokushi were similar to today’s governors, but they were officers of the Court. Gunji were local lords who assisted Kokushi.

In addition, the Emperor created a new position to check Kokushi's work, called "Kageyushi". Kageyushi strictly watched over the audits which were conducted when new Kokushi took over the position. The audits were enforced to confirm that previous Kokushi had properly collected taxes and managed government properties.

Moreover, the Kanmu Emperor disbanded the government forces, except for the forces in north-eastern Japan and Kyusyu. In north-eastern Japan, the Court was trying to conquer the Emishi, and Kyusyu is close to other Asian countries, therefore forces were still needed in these two regions. On the other hand, other regions in Japan had no major wars, hence the Kanmu Emperor disbanded the forces in order to reduce the burden on farmers, because most soldiers were farmers.

In those days, farmers had to pay heavy taxes and male farmers had to be engaged in construction work for the government without payment, and had to join the military service as well. Therefore they were very exhausted.

After the forces were disbanded, the Court still needed security. Therefore, the Emperor established an organization called Kondei to be professional security guards for the Court. Kondei was composed of the  sons of Gunji and sons of wealthy farmers who applied for the job. They were talented and well trained.

During this reformation period, two other projects were also conducted, construction of the capital and conquest of Emishi. These two projects were a heavy burden not only on the finances of the Court but also farmers, so the reformation didn't produce good results. Although the Kanmu Emperor ended these two projects in 805, he passed away three months later. His reformation were taken over and conducted by his sons, the Heizei Emperor and the Saga Emperor.

03/15/2019

About the conquest of the Emishi by the Imperial Court from the 7th century to the early 9th century

Since the 7th century, the Imperial Court had been trying to conquer the Emishi, who lived in northern Japan and had not assimilated to the Court’s rule.
 
Therefore, official defense-sites called Josaku were constructed along the Mogami river and along the Japan sea coasts in north-east Japan. Some Josaku were actual castles and others were smaller structures. These facilities had governmental buildings for administrative offices and warehouses.
 
Many farmers in Kanto region were moved to areas around Josaku for the development. On the other hand, captured Emishi were forced to move to the areas west of Kanto-region.
 
In 780, an Emishi lord Azamaro Koremori who had previously submitted to the Konin Emperor raised an army against the Court, because Emishi were being severely discriminated against.
 
Azamaro burnt down Taga-castle which was an important military base in today's Miyagi prefecture. After this battle, many wars broke out between the Court and Emishi.
 
In 789, the Court dispatched a large army commanded by a high ranking-general, Kino-Kosami, to conquer Emishi living in the Izawa region, which is located around the middle basin of the Kitakami river.
 
Castles_for_emishi_conquering_in__2
 
Nevertheless, the Imperial army suffered a crashing defeat by Emishi's resistance which was led by an Emishi great lord, Aterui.
 
In 802, the Court dispatched troops commanded by Shogun Tamuramaro Sakanoue. He built Izawa castle in the region where Aterui was headquartered.
 
Aterui had many soldiers but he surrendered to Sakanoue without fighting. Although the reason why Aterui surrendered is not exactly known, it is said that Sakanoue was a great strategist who could persuade Aterui to surrender peacefully.
 
Sakanoe also respected Aterui as an outstanding leader, and therefore, petitioned the Court to spare the Aterui's life. But the petition was refused and Aterui was executed.
 
Thereafter, Sakanoue used Izawa castle as the main military base to conquer northern Japan.
 
In 803, Sakanoue built Shiwa-castle in the upper basin of the Kitakami river, consequently, rule of the Court was extended to today's Akita prefecture.
 
As a matter of fact, two big projects by the Court, conquering Emishi and building the capital in Kyoto became heavy burden on people and the Court's finance.
 
Therefore, the Kanmu Emperor broke off these two projects in 805.
※Some details about Sakanoue
 
Shogun Tamuramaro Sakanoue was the founder of Kiyomizudera-temple in Kyoto.
 
This temple is a very popular sightseeing spot and registered as a World Heritage site.
 
This temple was originally built in 780.
 
According to a book written about the origin of this temple, a monk, Kenshin, had a dream in 778.
 
In the dream, an old man told Kenshin that he should go to northern Kyoto and find clean water.
 
Following the message in the dream, Kenshin visited northern Kyoto and found a waterfall at Otowa mountain where Kenshin met the man he had seen in his dream.
 
This man said he lived on the mountain and trained as a Buddhist monk.
 
He asked Kenshin to create a wooden Kannon statue and protect this holy waterfall, and then, the old man disappeared.
 
Kenshin believed the man was the embodiment of Kannon.
 
Thus, Kenshin created a wooden Kannon statue and protected the waterfall.
 
Two years later, in 780, Tamuramaro Sakanoue visited the area to hunt deer.
 
He met Kenshin at the waterfall. Kenshin admonished Sakanoue against hunting in this holy area and told him about the Kannon's virtue, Kannon is believed to save and protect people.
 
Since Sakanoue deeply impressed with Kenshin's preaching, Sakanoue built a temple on Otowa mountain and enshrined the Kannon statue there.
 
He named the temple Kiyomizudera, which means a temple of clean water.
Kiyomizudera-temple was burnt by fires many times.
 
Kiyomizu_temple_3
 
Today's Kannon statue in this temple is believed to have been created in the 13th century.
 
This statue is enshrined in a closed room in the main building of the temple, so visitors cannot see it, but they can see a replica placed in front of the closed room.
 
In Kiyomizudera-temple, visitors can also see that waterfall which Kenshin found. This waterfall is called Otowa-no-taki, and it is believed that the water has special power.

06/21/2018

About heavy burden on farmers in the 8th century

Farmers cultivated not only rice-fields which were allocated by the government but also rice-fields owned by the government, temples or nobles.
 
Basically, farmers were lent these rice-fields for 1 year and paid 20% of the crops to the owners as the rental-fee.
 
In addition, farmers had to serve in the army and be engaged in government assigned work for about 60 days a year without pay.
 
Moreover, adult males also had to submit special products of the district such as silk, fabrics or thread to the Court and they had to deliver these products to the capital themselves.
 
In addition, they were often suffering due to famine because of bad weather or insect plagues.
 
Therefore, farmers' lives were very severe, though local governments created policies to encourage agriculture.

01/24/2018

About expanding the territory in the 8th century

As the national governmental system was established, the Imperial Court gained stable political power. Therefore, they started to make an effort to expand the territory.
 
In the 8th century, the Court began to subdue the northern part of the main island of Japan’s archipelago where native people called Emishi lived.
 
Along the Japan sea side, Dewa-no-Kuni was established and Akita castle was built, while on the Pacific Ocean side, Mutsu-no-Kuni was established and Taga castle was built. Each castle was used as a political center and a military base against the Emishi.   
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