In return for these grants of land, the Hatamotos
had in war-time to furnish a contingent of soldiers
in proportion to their revenue. For every thousand
kokus of rice five men were required. Those Hatamotos
whose revenue fell short of a thousand kokus substituted
a quota of money. In time of peace most of the
minor offices of the Tycoon’s government were
filled by Hatamotos, the more important places being
held by the Fudai, or vassal Daimios of the Shogun.
Seven years ago, in imitation of the customs of foreign
nations, a standing army was founded; and then the
Hatamotos had to contribute their quota of men or
of money, whether the country were at peace or at war.
When the Shogun was reduced in 1868 to the rank of
a simple Daimio, his revenue of eight million kokus
reverted to the Government, with the exception of
seven hundred thousand kokus. The title of Hatamoto
exists no more, and those who until a few months ago
held the rank are for the most part ruined or dispersed.
From having been perhaps the proudest and most overbearing
class in Japan, they are driven to the utmost straits
of poverty. Some have gone into trade, with the
heirlooms of their families as their stock; others
are wandering through the country as Ronins; while
a small minority have been allowed to follow the fallen
fortunes of their master’s family, the present
chief of which is known as the Prince of Tokugawa.
Thus are the eighty thousand dispersed.
The koku of rice, in which all revenue is calculated,
is of varying value. At the cheapest it is worth
rather more than a pound sterling, and sometimes almost
three times as much. The salaries of officials
being paid in rice, it follows that there is a large
and influential class throughout the country who are
interested in keeping up the price of the staple article
of food. Hence the opposition with which a free
trade in rice has met, even in famine times. Hence
also the frequent so-called “Rice Riots.”
The amounts at which the lands formerly held by the
chief Daimios, but now patriotically given up by them
to the Mikado, were assessed, sound fabulous.
The Prince of Kaga alone had an income of more than
one million two hundred thousand kokus. Yet these
great proprietors were, latterly at least, embarrassed
men. They had many thousand mouths to feed, and
were mulcted of their dues right and left; while their
mania for buying foreign ships and munitions of war,
often at exorbitant prices, had plunged them heavily
BEING THE SUPPLEMENT OF
The word Otokodate occurs several times in these Tales;
and as I cannot convey its full meaning by a simple
translation, I must preserve it in the text, explaining
it by the following note, taken from the Japanese
of a native scholar.