PRIOR to the Meiji era, which began in 1867, the Shogun (known in foreign countries as the Tycoon), who was the Emperor's deputy at Yedo, now Tokio, personified the military supremacy of a feudal system which had existed for many centuries, the last occupant of the post being the direct descendant of the founder of the Tokugawa house in which the office of Shogun had been hereditary from the year 1603. Possibly the history of Modern Japan might have taken a different turn but for the recognition by the Shogun Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu, otherwise Tokugawa Keiki, of the necessity of introducing reforms into his country if it were to hold its own against the tendency to deal arbitrarily with the nations of the Orient which was half-a-century since being manifested by some of the powers of the Occident. Prince Keiki placed his resignation in 1868 in the hands of his imperial master and counselled the adherents of the Tokugawa house to unite with those of the Southern clans in efforts for the well-being of the nation at large. That his followers could not be persuaded at once to take his advice can scarcely be regarded as the fault of the Shogun, who had only the year previously succeeded to the honours of the position yet was prompt to relinquish them in order, as he hoped, to avert some of the horrors of civil war. Tokugawa Keiki was chosen by the Mito branch of the family to follow the Shogun Iyemochi in 1866, and he succeeded to power at Yedo castle at a moment when Japan was racked with dissensions between the party which opposed the opening of the ports to foreign trade and that which was in favour of the admission of strangers. The Shogun Iyesada, who in 1854 and subsequent years had entered into the treaties with 54the representatives of the Occidental nations, had been repudiated by his imperial master, the Emperor Komei, who for a long time refused to ratify these agreements. Even though he eventually signed them the nation remained sharply divided within itself on the question of the introduction of foreign methods. It is almost necessary, in order that the position occupied at this period by the Shogun should be fairly comprehended, to allude briefly to the earlier history of Japan, from about the time of the Emperor Konoye, who was contemporary with King Stephen of England. The rise of the military caste in Japan dates from that era, when the Taira and Minamoto families were contending for the mastery, and it was a period which has been termed not altogether inaptly that of the Japanese "wars of the roses" (the badges worn were really red and white chrysanthemums), inasmuch as the rival clans were intimately related to each other, and strove to place their respective candidates in possession of the real executive power, which was even then becoming gradually acquired by the deputies of the true sovereigns who dwelt at Kioto. Ultimately the Minamoto family prevailed, in the person of the famous warrior Yoritomo, about 1185 A.D., and seven years later, when his authority had been firmly established, he received from the reigning sovereign the title of Sei-l-Tai-Sho-Gun—i.e. Barbarian-vanquishing-Generalissimo, in allusion to the duty of guarding Japan from the inroads of those northern savages who at that period made occasional descents on the coasts of Oshiu. The headquarters of the Shogun's government were then at Kamakura, a place of great interest to travellers at the present day, and within easy reach of the port of Yokohama. Kamakura as it now stands contains but few traces of its former glories, but the temple dedicated to Hachiman, the Japanese Mars, is of noble proportions and annually attracts thousands of pilgrims who journey thitherward in confident expectation of obtaining relief or benefit from the virtue inherent in this celebrated shrine. In Yoritomo's day it was a city of 1,000,000 inhabitants, but its yashiki walls, crumbling to powder, are fast dis55appearing, and its magnificent avenues of cedar ceased to resound to the martial tread of mail-clad warriors centuries ago, Kamakura fell, as Yedo rose, and Yedo castle, some portions of which yet exist, adjoining the Imperial palace, was begun in 1592. It is Kamakura that boasts the possession of the bronze image of Buddha, over fifty feet in height, towering from its high pedestal above the groves of pine that surround the temple, and forming a conspicuous landmark as the village is first seen from a hill on the Fujisawa road. After Yoritomo's death the Ho-jo family gained an ascendency in the affairs of the nation and practically ruled it until 1333 A.D., for the Shoguns of that epoch were scarcely more than figureheads. But it is to the everlasting credit of the Ho-jo that when Kublai Khan sought to subjugate Japan, in the thirteenth century, the defence of the country was in their hands so complete as to have led to as overwhelming a defeat of the Mongol armada as that which Queen Elizabeth of England inflicted upon the presumptuous Spaniards in 1588. The Mongol invaders had, like the Duke of Medina Sidonia, not only to contend against the very active defenders of the realms which they sought to invade, but also with fierce storms at sea that threw their vessels into confusion and exposed the scattered fragments of Kublai Khan's immense fleet to separate and disastrous attack from the Japanese vessels manned by resolute samurai.