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The 1894 (Meiji 27) Book of Divination of Leading Figures

It seems that politicians, who are forced to make risky decisions when the future, even a short moment away is unknowable, are often attracted to prognostications and predictions. Hitler's predilection for astrology is quite well known, and in more recent memory, Nancy Reagan was rumored to have given her husband advice on the basis of her penchant for horoscopes. An example of that in Japan, perhaps, can be found in the "1894 (Meiji 27) Divination Book" found among the Papers of ITO Hirobumi. At the front of the book are listed the fortunes of the Kokoku (Empire of Japan) and Seijo (His Majesty, the Emperor), and it moves on to the fortunes of national institutions, policy issues, and each government office. It ends with fortune readings for twenty seven important political figures, beginning with ITO.

1894 (Meiji 27) coincided with the 1st Sino-Japanese War (also known as the Meiji 27-28 War) and the signing of the Agreement to repeal extraterritoriality treaties (in 1899). According to this Book, the reading for chiran (war and peace) is kajifuniko, that is, that while rough going will be experienced, one who sticks to his original purpose will find it realized. The divination for treaty revision is sanchihakuniko, which means inauspiciousness, making it dangerous to carry out negotiations. Meanwhile, in the same year, Tokyo had an earthquake whose epicenter was directory below it. It totally wreaked the Government's Rokumeikan. The divination for "earthquake" is kachifugoko, which means that everything would proceed smoothly. The divination for the leading personage, ITO Hirobumi, is takusankengoko, that is, means one should not be swayed by desire; prudence is recommended. The divinations for MUTSU Munemitsu, the leading player both the Sino-Japanese War and the treaty revisions, is sansuimogoko, that is, one will have good fortune if one listens to the opinions of one's superiors or mentors.

ITO Hirobumi [portrait]
ITO Hirobumi
From "Kinsei Meishi Shasin.1"
("NDL Digital Collections")

At any rate, it seems to be reading what one wishes to read into the divination. The divination for Minister of Education INOUE Kowashi is chikameiishiko, that is, 'danger is acute', was accurate, as his worsening lung disease had caused his health to deteriorate rapidly, leading to his death the following spring. Still, it was common knowledge that INOUE was a very sick man, so one cannot flatly state that his divination was on the mark.

The next question is, who authored the Book of Divination? The first person who comes to mind is Donsho TAKASHIMA Kaemon, famous for his great success in Japanese divination. He was originally from the Yokohama business world. Takashima-cho near Yokohama Station still bears his name. He was also the father-in-law of ITO's adopted son, Hirokuni, making him a relative of ITO's. Whenever there were questions about a political situation, TAKASHIMA would make a reading at the behest of ITO. Article's can be found here and there in contemporary newspapers about ITO's having had readings taken of the Diet's prospects. There is a common belief that he urged Ito to cancel his trip when he gave Ito his reading, kon'isan, right before he was assassinated. TAKASHIMA's divinations were also a subject of discussion by important figures, as can be seen in sent to Ito by men such as IWAKURA Tomomi and MOTODA Nagazane, but as the divinations were left unsigned, one also cannot say for certain from the handwriting who wrote them. Still, KOMATSU Midori, a confidante to ITO in his later years, did say that ITO had said that the divinations were accurate because they were made "after the fact"

1894 (Meiji 27) Horoscope Papers of ITO Hirobumi, Document #341

1894 (Meiji 27) Horoscope Papers of ITO Hirobumi, Document #341[image]
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