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TitleThe Dog Shogun: The Personality And Policies of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi
File Size5.4 MB
Total Pages393
Document Text Contents
Page 1

bodart bar.eps

The Personality
and Policies
of Tokugawa

Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey

e D







Tsunayoshi (1646–1709), the fifth Tokugawa shogun, is one of the most no-
torious figures in Japanese history. Viewed by many as a tyrant, his policies
were deemed eccentric, extreme, and unorthodox. His Laws of Compassion,
which made the maltreatment of dogs an offense punishable by death, earned
him the nickname Dog Shogun, by which he is still popularly known today.
However, Tsunayoshi’s rule coincides with the famed Genroku era, a period
of unprecedented cultural growth and prosperity that Japan would not experi-
ence again until the mid-twentieth century. It was under Tsunayoshi that for
the first time in Japanese history considerable numbers of ordinary towns-
people were in a financial position to acquire an education and enjoy many
of the amusements previously reserved for the ruling elite.
Based on a masterful reexamination of primary sources, this exciting
new work by a senior scholar of the Tokugawa period maintains that Tsuna-
yoshi’s notoriety stems largely from the work of samurai historians and offi-
cials who saw their privileges challenged by a ruler sympathetic to commoners.
Beatrice Bodart-Bailey’s insightful analysis of Tsunayoshi’s background sheds
new light on his personality and the policies associated with his shogunate.
Tsunayoshi was the fourth son of Tokugawa Iemitsu (1604–1651) and was
left largely in the care of his mother, the daughter of a greengrocer. Under her
influence, Bodart-Bailey argues, the future ruler rebelled against the values of
his class. As evidence she cites the fact that, as shogun, Tsunayoshi not only
decreed the registration of dogs, which were kept in large numbers by samu-
rai and posed a threat to the populace, but also the registration of pregnant
women and young children to prevent infanticide. He decreed, moreover, that
officials take on the onerous tasks of finding homes for abandoned children
and caring for sick travelers.
In the eyes of his detractors, Tsunayoshi’s interest in Confucian and
Buddhist studies and his other intellectual pursuits were merely distractions
for a dilettante. Bodart-Bailey counters that view by pointing out that one of
Japan’s most important political philosophers, Ogyû Sorai, learned his craft
under the fifth shogun. Sorai not only praised Tsunayoshi’s government, but
his writings constitute the theoretical framework for many of the ruler’s con-
troversial policies. Another salutary aspect of Tsunayoshi’s leadership that
Bodart-Bailey brings to light is his role in preventing the famines and riots that
would have undoubtedly taken place following the worst earthquake and tsu-
nami as well as the most violent eruption of Mount Fuji in Japan’s history—all
of which occurred during the final years of Tsunayoshi’s shogunate.

Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey is professor of Japanese history and a founding
member of the Department of Comparative Culture, Otsuma Women’s Uni-
versity, Tokyo.

Cover art: Portrait of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, reproduced courtesy of Hasedera, Nara.

Cover design by Santos Barbasa Jr.

University of Hawai‘i Press
Honolulu, Hawai‘i 96822-1888

ISBN-13: 978-0-8248-3030-4
ISBN-10: 0-8248-3030-X

Page 2


Page 196


Financial Matters

Copper coins ¶ow like currents of water, while silver piles up like drifting
snow. Visible in the distance is Mt. Fuji, rising in all its magni¤cence against
the horizon, while footsteps of people streaming across Nihon Bridge sound
exactly like the passage of thousands of wagons along the highway. Every
morning ¤sh are sold in such quantities in the Funa Street market that one
may well wonder whether or not the supply in the seas surrounding our fair
islands has been exhausted.1

The words of the novelist Ihara Saikaku published in the ¤fth year of the
Genroku period (1692) have a modern ring. Consumption at the time had
reached a point where nature’s supply seemed near exhaustion. Elsewhere in his
novel ��������� �
��� �����
� �
��� Saikaku expresses the fear that
millstones are being sold in such quantities “that there’s danger the very hills
from which they are quarried will eventually disappear.”2 Edo, at the time per-
haps the largest city in the world,3 was booming. He noted: “Shops of every va-
riety are open for business, and never a day passes but goods from every
province in the country are shipped in by boat and packed on the backs of thou-
sands of horses. No further proof is needed that there is an abundance of gold
and silver in the world, and it would be a pity indeed if a merchant were unable
to lay hands on at least a bit of it.”4

The Genroku period (1688–1704) spanning the central part of the ¤fth
shogun’s government was one of the most prosperous in Japanese history before
the post–World War II boom in the second half of the Shôwa era. Yet in spite of
the well-acknowledged prosperity of the Genroku period, the ¤nancial policies
of Tsunayoshi’s government have been roundly condemned as the bankrupt
machinations of a luxury-loving and spendthrift tyrant. The earlier part of his
administration is recognized as one of ¤nancial sobriety and stringency, but
these measures—generally referred to as the Tenna Government, since they
took place during the brief Tenna period of 1681–1684—have been credited to
his grand councilor Hotta Masatoshi. After Masatoshi’s assassination in 1684,
Tsunayoshi’s chamberlains rose in political importance, and the ¤nancial policy
during the ensuing years has been much censured by historians. However, on

Page 197

184 Financial Matters

examining the relevant documentation it becomes evident that there was a con-
tinuation of policy and that the ¤nancial predicament in which Tsunayoshi
found himself was not altogether of his making.

The Financial Foundations of the Bakufu

The ¤rst shogun Ieyasu cemented the foundations of the ������ by amassing
considerable wealth. Con¤scating the domains of his defeated enemies, he cre-
ated the so-called ��
��� or ��
���������� the land directly under the control of
the ������� After the battle of Osaka in Genna 1 (1615), this land reached ap-
proximately 2,300,000 �
���5 providing the administration with a steady in-
come. A further source of Ieyasu’s wealth was his direct engagement in trade,
both domestic and foreign.6 But the greatest source of wealth was undoubtedly
the country’s gold and silver mines. Indeed, some scholars maintain that the
system could not have been established without the great wealth de-
rived from the mines in the ¤rst half of the seventeenth century.7

Mining is mentioned in Japanese sources as early as the seventh century,
but it was only in the middle of the sixteenth century that techniques came to
be known that permitted adequate exploitation of Japan’s mineral resources.8

From the late Ashikaga period onwards it became apparent that ownership of
mines was an important factor in determining political supremacy. In Tenshô
17 (1589), one year after the minting of his large gold coin the Tenshô ���

Toyotomi Hideyoshi began to con¤scate the country’s mines and declare them

��� �� the “ruler’s (or government’s) mountains.” His reasoning was
that in taking on the responsibility for the monetary system, the central gov-
ernment required bullion to mint the coinage.9

On establishing his political supremacy over the Toyotomi regime, Ieyasu
similarly claimed possession of the country’s mines. He was, moreover, fortu-
nate in ¤nding in Ôkubo Nagayasu (1545–1613) a skillful administrator who,
by introducing Western methods of amalgamation and new management tech-
niques, considerably increased the output of the mines.10 Thus the productive
gold and silver mines of Sado and the equally rich silver mines of Iwami and Izu
came under Ieyasu’s control and Nagayasu’s supervision in Keichô 6 (1601).
Under the latter’s ef¤cient management the Sado mines alone produced a steady
60 million ��
of silver during the ¤rst twelve years of the seventeenth century,
peaking at 100 million ��
in Keichô 7 (1602).11

In the second half of the seventeenth century, foreign visitors such as the
Dutch were given an obligatory tour of Kyoto’s most prominent temples, includ-
ing the large Buddha of Hôkôji—rivaling that of Nara—to impress them with Ja-
pan’s wealth and culture.12 In Ieyasu’s time, however, it was the mines that were
the country’s pride. When the Jesuit vice provincial Francisco Pasio and his en-

Page 392

About the Author

Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey received her postgraduate degrees from
the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies of the Australian
National University. She has published books, book chapters, and
articles on a wide range of topics on early Tokugawa Japan in sev-
eral languages, including her translated work /�
�2�� 3�0��4
��.�� "

� 1��
� (University of Hawai‘i Press, 1999).
She is professor of Japanese history and a founding member of the
Department of Comparative Culture at Otsuma Women’s Univer-
sity, Tokyo.

Page 393

Production Notes for Bodart-Bailey/#�

Cover design by Santos Barbasa Jr.

Text design by Lucie Aono in Minion with display
in Bernard MT Condensed.

Composition by inari information services.

Printing and binding by the Maple-Vail Book Manufacturing Group.

Printed on 60 .b. Sebago Eggshell, 420 ppi

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