Soetsu Yanagi was born on March 21, 1889. Two other events in that year are better known: on February 11, a new constitution, which codified the nature and structure of central government, was bestowed upon the people. Then on 1 April a new system of local government was put in force. These events highlight a major problem in modern Japanese history: the tension between centre and periphery, between national and local loyalties, between the demand for absolute national unity, and the awareness and encouragement of cultural diversity - and a problem which would plague Soetsu Yanagi for the duration of his life.