Sunday, 6 December 2009

Reflections on Meiji Jinju and the internet

At Meiji Jingu were were given an information sheet (Bilingual English Japanese) that explained very briefly the history of Meiji Jingu, a topic naturally ingtriguing to me ;)  The information sheet says it "first belonged to  Lord Kato and later to Lord Ii during the Edo period (Edo period = Tokugawa shogunate era = 1603-1863). " The passage continues "In the reign of the Emperor Meiji (1868-1912)  it was passed into the Imperial estate under the supervision of the Imperial Household Agency....."

2 major land ownership changes and no explanation why......

The imperial household agency are in charge of the shrine and they are never known for transparency or pursuit of historical truths.

From my limited knowledge of Japanese history I had some theories but wanted to see what the internet had to say.  A google of 'Kato, Ii, Meiji Jingu"  turns up a plethora of shallow tourist sites and photos sites that either have repeated verbatim the information guide from the park, or more likely have just copied and pasted another shallow information internet site.  sigh... 

Though I have found nothing specifc regarding the transfer to Lord Ii presumably  it occurred as a result of the battle of Sekigahara, arguably the most defining battle in Japanese domestic history, a battle that resulted in Japan being united under the Tokugawa shogunate and the capital being shifted away from the traditional power centres in the west - Kyoto, Nara - to Tokyo.  Although Lord Kato, of Satsuma (south of Kyushu Island) was on the winning side at the Battle of Sekigahara, he had previously been a supporter of   Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the nemesis of the Tokugawa.  When Lord Kato died, rather than succession of feudal lands passing to his son,  the entitlements were cancelled by the Tokugawa, and presumably some were passed to the Ii. (There seems to be historical debate on the reasons for the entitlements being cancelled, but connection to Toyotomi seems plausible.)

As for the change from the Ii to Imperial control, again I have found nothing specific related to Meiji Shrine. Lord Ii Naosuke, like many of his forebears,  was the Tairo (kind of like a feudal primeminister).  He signed port treaties with the Americans, but was assassinated in 1860.  His son Naonori also was a supporter of the Shogun, but during the Boshin wars which resulted in the restoration of the emperor and dismantling of the Tokugawa shogunate, Naonori switched to the Imperial side.  Lords who remained loyal to the Togukawa had their lands seized.   Lords who supported the emperor in many cases turned over land to the emperor voluntarily. Naonori married someone who was part of the Imperial family, though I am not sure whether his Tokyo holdings were given over to the Imperials govt. or whether they were taken forcibly.  Ii Naonori went on to study in the US and UK and became part of the Meiji govt.

Further research is in order...research beyond plagiarised internet pages.

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