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Thread: The Birth and Rise of the Ishida Shogunate: Volumes 1 and 2 - An A-H Japan AAR

  1. #81
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    A very impressive adventure in westernization. Though you must wonder if the restrictions on firearms will lead to troubles down the line.
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    Fascinating stuff. As someone who knows little of Japanese history beyond those excellent and reliable sources such as Kessen and Shogun Total War this is proving a very enlightening read, even if fictional. A number of great moments throughout the AAR but the description of Hideaki's 'charge' was particularly good! I'm certainly subscribed and looking forward to reading more about this interesting alternate history.
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  3. #83
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    King: You'll see what I meant soon enough

    Estonianzulu: You would think that restricting dangerous weapons like firearms would make Japan safer than if they fell into the hands of rebellious clans like the Date, for instance, provided that Japan keep out of any wars with foreign powers.

    From a gameplay point of view, it was imperative that I keep Japan's army from modernising too much. All but one of the techs Japan needs to westernise are Army techs.

    morningSIDEr: Oh God, don't bring up STW and its slew of historical inaccuracies. Fun game though. Kessen is actually pretty accurate up to a point, if you can look past all those silly costumes and voices. Kessen I had a certain "campy, over-the-top" appeal and is extremely quotable, I must admit I've used Fukushima's "fishbait" line several times in real life!

    I'm glad you like the AAR and especially glad you loved Hideaki's "charge", as I was very worried at the time that it wouldn't work! Its good to have you following.
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  4. #84
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    The Reign of Shogun Ishida Shigenori: (1694 - 1702)


    An Heir is Born:


    The late Shogun never seemed to have much time for women, indeed he only got married (at the age of 42) because his mother threatened to commit seppuku if he didn't! His bride was to be the 14 year old daughter of Date Munetoshi, yet another vain attempt to secure the loyalty of that most rebellious clan. Shigeru paid little attention to his wife, preferring instead to spend his time with the army. His favourite activity in peacetime was to go on large camping trips in the deer-rich Japanese mountainsides of Izu, where he would partake in hunting or swordplay, or hunting and then swordplay, with his favourite soldiers and what seemed to observers as an endless supply of camp followers. Shigeru took up the yari spear, and spent much of his spare time thrusting with his young soldiers, working up quite a sweat in the summer heat, after which they would retire to Izu's famous onsen bath houses. Naturally the Shogun's wife was nowhere to be seen on such trips.

    The poor woman was left to languish in boredom at Osaka castle, alone, sometimes for months on end. She found ways to "amuse" herself however, becoming quite popular with the single castle guards. Shigeru was rather surprised after returning from a nine-month camping trip to find that his wife had given birth to an heir, which looked absolutely nothing like him, such were the mysteries of human procreation. For such a brilliant mathematician, Shigeru was never able to put two and two together.

    The young boy was named Shigenori, and from very early on it was obvious that there was something... not quite right about the young boy. He had no aptitude for kenjutsu or kyujutsu, much to the disappointment of his "father". Nor did he find either physical activity enjoyable, instead preferring the strenuous and ever-so-manly sport of sucking one's thumb. Shigenori must have been rather good at it, for he continued to practice his "sport" throughout adolescence and well into adulthood, often in lieu of actually running the country. Fortunately for Japan the Ishida had able civil servants to handle the finer points of governance, like ensuring the Shogun sign his name correctly on official documents. Shigenori had no interest in intellectual matters and paid little attention to his tutors, instead preferring to bury his head in the sand; he nearly suffocated on no less than three occasions.

    Now that his trips to the seaside were banned lest the shogun-to-be dig (part of) himself into an early grave, the young Shigenori had to find something else to occupy his free time. He took to rearing rabbits, (probably the only animal he wasn't afraid of), and grew rather fond of them, perhaps a little too fond. In fact his only meaningful act as shogun was to issue an edict providing for the protection of rabbits and hares: "any living thing which injured a rabbit was to be injured, and living thing which killed a rabbit was to be killed, including humans". Shigenori had been born in 1663, the Year of the Rabbit[1] and thus may have felt a special duty to protect them. He was popularly known as Usagi Shogun, or the Rabbit Shogun.

    The Seven Year Shogun:


    Calamity struck Japan when the great Shogun Shigeru died, and left this rabbit-loving fool to run things in his stead. Fortunately, Japan had many able bureaucrats and civil servants to help Shigenori with the finer points of statecraft, like ensuring the new Shogun signed his name correctly on official documents. Now that he was Shogun, Shigenori was pressured into marriage. As he had shown no previous interest in non-rabbit females an appropriate one was chosen for him: Princess Aikiko. Previous Ishida Shoguns had steered clear of marrying into the royal family, for fear they'd be called usurpers. Times had changed since then and the Shogunate had existed for almost 100 years, so such modesty could be done away with.


    Princess Aikiko in a contemporary portrait, circa 1690. Unfortunately for Japan she was more than just a pretty face.


    One may be inclined to think that a beautiful woman like Aikiko was wasted on a man such as Shigenori; if so you'd be wrong. Aikiko saw her marriage as a means to an end, that end being the restoration of the monarchy as the sole executive power-holder in the land, and by "monarchy" Aikiko meant "herself". Aikiko was a reactionary in the truest sense of the word: A devout Shintoist, Aikiko believed, as most Japanese still did, that she was a descendant of the Sun Goddess Ameratsu, and thus divine. The Shogun had no such divine right to rule, let alone his court officials and to make matters worse, a majority of these (and by now a sizable portion of Japan's population) were Roman Catholics. Aikiko was fundamentally anti-Christian, she saw Christianity as nothing less than a conspiracy to topple the institution of the monarchy, after all if people renounced Amaterasu they renounced the divinity of the monarch and therefore, according to Aikiko and her supporters, the monarchy itself.

    Aikiko had been privy to a classical education, so she was also well versed in Confucian theories on society and economics. She resented the bourgeois and the artisan class, and deeply sympathised with the Nara rebels of a generation ago. The fact that the bourgeois were predominantly Catholic might also have had something to do with it. The merchant middle class and Japanese Christians both owed their existence to the "southern barbarians". If Japan was to once more "Revere the Emperor" the "barbarians must be expelled". the sonno joi movement was born[2].

    After their marriage, Shigenori quickly returned to his own little world of rabbits and thumb-sucking leaving the affairs of state to his Court ministers. This was Aikiko's chance. She quickly built up an alliance of former Nara rebels and anti-Shogunate daimyo in the Kizokuin, old enemies the Date and Mogami foremost amongst them but also too some previously loyal clans in Shinto-Buddhist strongholds like Yamato and Kaga. As any political faction that professed outright opposition to the shogunate would be rightly and promptly outlawed, the alliance branded itself as pro-Imperial, as one couldn't possibly be prosecuted for professing support for the Emperor. The vanguard of Aikiko's reactionary revolutionaries were Date Yoshimura, Mogami Yukitomo and Uesugi Tsunanori, who along with Aikiko were collectively known as the Shitenno or Four Heavenly Kings. [3]

    The Shitenno moved swiftly to eliminate rivals in the Kizokuin, and without a powerful (or at least a competent) Shogun to keep them in check, there was little stopping them. Prominent ministers of Christian faith and/or merchant backgrounds were slowly eased out in favour of Shinto-Buddhist cronies with no objection whatsoever from the Shogun, indeed Shigenori even gave his wife his tacit support on some occasions, most likely having no idea of the repercussions of her actions. This blatant entryism allowed Aikiko to dictate policy, and pushed forth with a reactionary agenda: Christian schools were closed, funding cut to churches and even those great pillars of economic strength, the trading ports, were regulated to the point of stagnation. Tariffs and taxes were levied at punitive levels to discourage foreign trade and make Japan's merchants poorer while Japanese trade missions to other lands were severely restricted. Some of this money was used to create some fancy shrines and temples, but the mast majority of it Aikiko spent on herself. In 1698 she was actually considered the third richest person in the world at the time.

    This didn't exactly go unnoticed. Prominent Christian clans like the Otomo and Konishi had to be spared (they were far too prominent and respected to be mistreated), and both used their vast wealth to mitigate the impact of Aikiko's policies as best they could. Japanese Christians rallied behind the Shogun's cousin (Shigeru's brother's son) Ishida Mitsushige, a Roman Catholic with foreign connections. Unlike the current Shogun, Mitsushige was no fool and had no illusions about what Aikiko was really trying to achieve. In order to save the Shogunate, Mitsushige threatened to "commit treason in the name of the Shogun" and rebel, even going so far as to threaten to ally himself with Portugal and Spain. Japan was on the brink of civil war, and its head of government was none the wiser.

    Seeking to act as a mediator in this escalating conflict and save the country from the brink of civil war, Uesugi Tsunanori pleaded with Aikiko to give in before tensions boiled over. Aikiko invited him to a banquet in his honour, had his food drugged to paralyze him and then had him boiled alive while he was still semi-conscious. The lady was not for turning.

    Fortune however still had a hand to play, and it undoubtedly sided with Mitsushige. Now that Shigenori was Shogun, he was free to resume those trips to the seaside which he so sorely missed. Taking his favourite pet rabbit with him, he stumbled across a rather vicious Mamushi[4] with a taste for fresh usagi. Shigenori threw himself at the snake, thinking perhaps if he used his hand to cover the snake's mouth it would stop it from biting his pet rabbit. True perhaps, but Shigenori failed to take into account that him being bitten might just result in his own death. Ironically this turned out to be the greatest achievement of Shigenori's reign, as his death simultaneously removed Aikiko from her position of power and influence and saved Japan from a potentially long and bloody civil war. As Shigenori had no issue the title passed to none other than Ishida Mitsushige: Aikiko's rival and champion of the Catholic Bourgeoisie. His first act as Shogun was to have her and her surviving cohorts executed in a manner most befitting traitors; they were boiled alive.



    Ishida Shigenori, circa 1701. Only two months shy of his 39th birthday when he died, his "reign" was one of the most chaotic in Japan's history. History will always remember Shigenori as man totally unfit for the strain of governance, the Usagi Shogun, and with an intellect to match. Also note the utter lack of resemblance between Shigenori and his "father" Shigeru.

    Notes:


    [1] 1663 actually was the Year of the Rabbit, I took the time and effort to look that up. Shigenori's rabbit obsession is borrowed from the horse-faced Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, who had a similar obsession with dogs, having been born in the Year of the Dog.

    [2] Literally "Revere the Emperor, Repel the Barbarians", the sonno joi movement was (ironically) a catalyst for the Meiji Revolution in our timeline.

    [3] After the Four Heavenly Kings of Buddhism.

    [4] A White-coloured venomous snake.
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  5. #85
    Go Japanese Reformed Church!

    Also great AAR and wonderful alternate history.

  6. #86
    This reign probably spawned a few books and movies in the modern era. A regrettable interlude, but I'm looking forward to seeing what the new Shgun will do.

  7. #87
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    Shigeru was just too great for his own good. Looks like he should have just let his mother commit seppuku and saved Japan some grief.

  8. #88
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    A very amusing update. A pity Shigeru proved a bit too fond of his 'spear drills', as if only he had been able to produce his own heir Japan would have been spared Shigenori! Still, the thumb sucker has been removed without him and his wife having done too much damage, hopefully Ishida Mitsushige can get things back on track.
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  9. #89
    Glad that little crazy time period is over. Or is it?
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  10. #90
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    Crazy Japanese, boiling everyone.
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  11. #91
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    Hannibal: Welcome aboard! Japan doesn't actually have a church of it's own yet; most Japanese Protestants are members of the Dutch Reformed Church. I was planning on writing a bit more about religion in Japan next update, so I may yet create one.

    Omen: I'm not sure about that, I'm sure its a period most Japanese would like to forget, especially the Shogunate!

    King: Shigeru was too filial to do that. Besides, its not like he knew his "son" would turn out like that...

    morningSIDEr: On the contrary, Aikiko has done a lot of damage. I didn't cover the repercussions fully in the last update because it's Mitsushige who will have to fix them.

    Terraferma: Yes, it's over. My previous AAR was about just one monarch, so I'm really enjoying writing this AAR because it gives me a a chance to work with a number of eccentric rulers.

    Nikolai: Takeda Shingen was a particular fan of boilings, still beats being hung, drawn and quartered if you ask me.
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  12. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanzhang (譚張) View Post
    Takeda Shingen was a particular fan of boilings, still beats being hung, drawn and quartered if you ask me.
    Which leads us to the ultimate question in the universe:

    Would you rather be ripped limb from limb by horses or would you rather be boiled alive?

  13. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by scholar View Post
    Which leads us to the ultimate question in the universe:

    Would you rather be ripped limb from limb by horses or would you rather be boiled alive?
    Can I call a friend?
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  14. #94
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    Quote Originally Posted by scholar View Post
    Which leads us to the ultimate question in the universe:

    Would you rather be ripped limb from limb by horses or would you rather be boiled alive?
    Neither, duh.

    Perhaps the penultimate question is whether or not you have anything to say on the AAR?
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  15. #95
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    The Reign of Shogun Ishida Mitsushige: (1702 - 1733)


    Sins of the Cousin:


    31 year old Ishida Mitsushige inherited not only a nation on the brink of civil war, but a pariah state. Aikiko's anti-Christian and Mercantilistic trade policies had not been well received in Christian Europe, and if they had not been busy fighting each other may have surely decided to invade Japan! Ironically, Japan once more owed its security to a recently deceased, incompetent monarch. [1]

    Whereas Aikiko was an isolationist, Mitsushige was what a later generation would call an "internationalist". A good foreign policy was cornerstone to Mitsushige's vision of Japan, so he worked tirelessly to improve Japan's standing abroad. But first he would have to improve the dire economic situation at home. The national tax rate was cut from 98% of income under Aikiko to only 10%, tariffs were abolished and import subsidies introduced to re-encourage Japanese merchants to trade abroad. To pay for his economic policies, Mitsushige took out loans from the country's banks, banking that big growth in the long term was worth big national debt in the short term.

    Planning for Japan's economic future was all well and good, but as Aikiko had shown, meaningless if "the reactionaries" ever got back in power. Mitsushige had to ensure that someone like Aikiko could never take control of the reign of power again. To do this, he went back to the root of the rise of the reactionaries and the Nara rebellion; religion. As a Catholic himself, Mitsushige had a natural desire, a missionary's zeal if you will, to propagate his religion amongst the heathen Japanese masses. The reactionaries were devout Shintoists and /or Buddhists who had (especially during the Nara Rebellion) pushed forth a Shinto-Buddhist agenda and achieved mass support from Shinto-Buddhists. Mitsushige's concluded that if Japan had more Catholics, it would have less reactionaries. And what was the best way to convert the Japanese to the 'alien religion" of Catholicism? Mitsushige's answer was simple: indoctrinate the young.

    The Education Edict of 1703 required by law that all Japanese children over the age of six attend a minimum of 5 years of basic schooling regardless of class of gender. Students would be taught basic literacy and numeracy, history, agricultural theory, sojutsu[2] and of course, religion. Such a program would require a large number of new schools and an even larger number of schoolteachers prepared to live in some of Japan's most remote and backwater areas. Mitsushige had the perfect candidates in mind, missionaries, or more accurately, Jesuit Missionaries.

    The Society of Jesus had been present in Japan for over 150 years, on and off. Hideyoshi had been concerned by the Order's growing influence and expelled it in 1580; this was repealed in 1601 through the lobbying of Japan's Catholic daimyo. A century after the ban, the Jesuits had already made great inroads into converting Japan to Catholicism.


    Religious demographics in Japan circa 1700. In the 100 years since the legalisation of the Order, Japan's religious landscape had changed drastically.

    The War of Spanish Succession:


    Japan may have been unfortunate to have had a Shogun of the "calibre" of the late Shigenori, but unlike his recently-deceased Spanish counterpart, at least he could speak, walk and chew his food properly without drooling incessantly. More importantly from the people's perspective, Shigenori's cousins weren't ambitious European monarchs prepared to go to war with each other over "who governs the Spanish Empire". Unfortunately for Western Europe, the late King Carlos' cousins were.

    In his will, Carlos named his cousin Phillip -a French Bourbon - as his preferred successor. To have a Frenchman on the throne of Spain was an affront to England and The Netherlands, who backed Carlos' Austrian cousin, Karl. Spain herself (and her Empire) were divided on who to support, with most Spaniards at home and abroad backing Felipe (as they called him) while the Francophobe north became a bastion of - to use a most appropriate future term - "Carlist" resistance.

    With his subversive Education Edict passing through with no serious opposition, Mitsushige was now in a position to enter Japan in another war -and earn some foreign goodwill in the process. After carefully analysing the two factions (Japan's trading partners of The Netherlands, Portugal and England on one side, France and Bavaria on the other) and also after consulting with foreign diplomats to find out what exactly a "France" was, Mitsushige made the painstakingly difficult choice to side with Japan's allies against France. The fact that the nearby Spanish colony of the Philippines had wholeheartedly thrown its support behind Felipe may had also have something to do with it.

    Japan's role in the war may have been brief and confined to the "Pacific Theatre" and even though the war was half over by the time they joined, it would be foolish to say they did not play a significant role in the eventual Carlist victory, even if said role was primarily from the sidelines. Entering late had actually proved advantageous for the Japanese, as the Spanish garrisons present on the island had largely been moved either to Europe or the Americas to fight in those theatres. Only a skeleton army - or more accurately a glorified colonial police force - remained, and despite their technological superiority were no match for the Japanese invaders. The Japanese occupied the Philippines within 10 months and unlike the Spanish, were more than able to afford a large troop garrison. Not that they needed one of course, for Japan was safe in its isolation from Europe and the Americas, it simply would not be worth the money and manpower for the "Felipists" to retake the islands. Besides, things in Europe were going well for the Felipists, why risk retaking useless territory in Asia when one could take useful territories in Europe?

    Japan's freedom from attack, backed by the two strongest navies in the world at the time led to freedom of trade, or in the case of New Spain, freedom not to trade. Japan now waged economic warfare, offering low-interest loans to it's English, Dutch and Portuguese allies to keep them in the fight. One of Japan's major trade partners before the war was New Spain, most of which had initially sided with Felipe. Japan issued a full embargo on all trade against New Spain for as long as it sided with Felipe, causing mass unemployment in the colony. The West coast was scarcely defended before the war, let alone during it, and after word spread of what had happened to the Philippines genuine fears (outrageous as they may have been) of a Japanese invasion spread like wildfire. The Viceroys were eventually left with no choice and one by one switched their allegiance from Felipe to Karl. The Carlists now had the big momentum in the Americas, pushing back the remaining Felipists and French back with the force of a tidal wave. This would prove to be the decisive factor in the war, as success after success in the Americas allowed more men and resources to be put to use in Europe, turning the tables in the Carlists favour. In 1711 Karl was proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor, leading the HRE states to enter the war en masse, by 1712 it was all over, Felipe had lost and was sent to live in exile in France while Karl was crowned as King Carlos III of Spain, adding the Kingdom to his growing list of territories.


    Emperor Karl VI, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Austria and Spain. Karl had not only won a war, he had created an Austrian superpower, with rich and vast lands across the globe. Austria's ascension to becoming the foremost power in Europe did not sit well with it's former allies, let alone enemies.


    Mitsushige's primary goal in entering the war was to earn back some of the foreign goodwill Aikiko had lost, and was most definitely successful in doing so. Despite being under no obligation to do so and the protests from almost all sections of Japanese society, Mitsushige handed the Philippines back to Spain after the war; he felt it was the right thing to do. The foreign loans were eventually repaid, helping to pay off the national deficit he had initiated, while wartime trade had helped boost growth faster than anticipated. Taxes were returned to ordinary (i.e. pre-Shigenori) levels by 1620, ending the deficit and stabilising Japan's economy. The nation was back on track and it had Mitsushige to thank.



    Shogun Ishida Mitsushige present in his traditional Shogunal robes, circa 1704. A devout Catholic and skilled diplomat, Mitsushige was the man who saved Japan from destroying itself, and set it a little further on the path to modernity in the process. He died of a "bellyache" (most likely stomach cancer) on the 14th of July, 1733. He had just turned 62 years old.

    Notes:


    [1] Referring to King Carlos II of Spain and the War of Spanish Succession.

    [2] Spearmanship. The yari spear was the traditional weapon of the ashigaru, or footsoldiers, whereas Samurai would tend to be in proficient in any number of weapons.
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  16. #96
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    Shoulda kept the Philippines mate... Joking, great update! I find it funny that it was Japan that turned the tide of the War of Spanish Succession.
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    I loved the part about the Spanish war, although I was disappointed in the handing back of such a juicy colony... Oh, and catholic Japan = WIN!
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    Mitsushige seems to have proven himself a very able ruler, exactly what Japan was needing after the mess left by Shigenori's reign. I like Mitsushige's choice to indoctrinate Japan to his religion but I hope it does not end up causing future religious turmoil. His handling of the War of Spanish Succession was impeccable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanzhang (譚張) View Post
    ...and also after consulting with foreign diplomats to find out what exactly a "France" was...
    Very good, I smiled at this part.
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  19. #99
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    I actually hope the indoctrination of the youth to Catholicism does cause more religious turmoil. How epic would it be to have a grand civil war between the old but experienced Shinto-Buddhist samurai and the young but brash Catholic IJA?

  20. #100
    I really hope Japan ends up Protestant- I've seen Catholic Japan, but never Protestant Japan.

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