The circle indicates the time we discuss in this section.
After Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) died, his son, Yoriie (頼家) succeeded the shogun position. His mother, Hojo Masako (北条政子) Yoritomo‘s wife, thought her son was too incompetent. She was afraid that others could take over the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government). To prevent this from happening, she established a council system consisting of 13 members including herself, her father, Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政) and her brother, Hojo Yoshitoki (北条義時).
In time, Shogun Yoriie‘s in-law became powerful. During the Heian and the Kamakura period, the wife’s family was considered very important. To suppress her son’s in-laws, Masako and her father, Tokimasa, plotted an assassination of Yoriie and killed him.
After Yoriie’s death, Masako’s younger son, Sanetomo (実朝), became the next shogun. Now, his grandfather, Hojo Tokimasa’s second wife, wanted her son-in-law to be the next shogun. To please his young wife, Hojo Tokimasa attempted to kill Sanetomo, bud failed. Finding this plot, Hojo Masako imprisoned her father, Tokimasa. Although Sanetomo was Masako’s son, she was again very disappointed in his incompetence. In the end, Shogun Sanetomo was killed by his nephew Kugyo, the son of the previous shogun, Yoriiee.
After all these incidents, Masako’s brother, Hojo Yoshitoki, took control of the Kamakura Bakufu and brought a figurehead from the Fujiwara family, a powerful aristocrat family in Kyoto. After all the turmoil, the Hojo family eventually took full control of the Kamakura Bakufu (government).
Meanwhile, in Kyoto, Emperor Gotoba had been planning an attack on the Kamakura Bakufu. He had built up military power. When Sanetomo was killed, Emperor Gotoba saw the chance to attack Kamakura. He ordered local feudal lords to attack the Kamakura Bakufu, but very few followed the order. Instead, the Hojo family captured the emperor and exiled him to Oki island. It was in 1221 and called Jokyo-no-Ran or Jokyu-no Hen.
Emperor Gotoba was the one who really encouraged sword making and treated swordsmiths respectfully. After the Jokyu-no-Ran, the Imperial family’s power decreased, and the Kamakura Bakufu became a powerful and stable regime. From the time of Minamoto-no-Yoritomo‘s death to the end of the Jokyu-no-Ran, the Kamakura Bakufu was still an unstable government. It was Hojo Masako who led the Kamakura Bakufu to a stable regime. She was called “Ama Shogun” or a “Nun Shogun.” She was a sharp and talented but tough, critical, and often mean politician.
Kamakura people (I am one of them) like Hojo Masako very much. Minamoto no Yoritomo and Hojo Masako were both buried in Kamakura City. Minamoto no Yoritomo at Shirahata Shrine (白幡神社), and Hojo Masako at Jufukuji Temple (寿福寺). Compare to the Jufuku-Ji, where Hojo Masako was buried, Yoritomo’s tomb is a little humble. Some say Kamakura is the land of the Hojo’s.
Kamakura is about one hour from Tokyo by train on the Yokosuka line. Both Jufuku-Ji temple and Shirahata shrine are within walking distance from Kamakura station.
Jufuku-ji (寿福寺) Temple From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository Minamoto-no-Yoritomo’s tomb.