23 time line Sengoku Period

The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

Under political history, Sengoku Period (戦国時代),  is a part of Muromachi period.  But under sword history, we separate Muromachi period and Sengoku period (Warring States period).  Because the sword style changed and the environment of sword making changed a lot.

After Onin-no-Ran has started (21|Muromachi Period), the beautiful capital city, Kyoto was in a devastated condition.  The Shogun’s power only reached the very limited small area.  The rest of the counties were divided into 30 or so small independent countries.  The head of those independent countries was Shugo Daimyo (government officials, originally appointed and sent by the central government), and powerful local Samurai.  Each of those countries fought against each other to take over each other’s land.  At this time, vassals killed his superior and stole his domain, farmers revolted against their lords.  This is called “Gekoku-jo (lower class Samurai overthrow the superior)”.  This is the time of Sengoku period (Warring States period).  The head of the domain was called Sengoku Daimyo (warlord).  Sengoku period lasts about 100 years.  Little by little, after a long hard battles, stronger countries defeated less powerful countries and gained larger territory.  30 countries became 20 then 10 and so on.  Eventually, a few powerful big Sengoku Daimyo (warlord) were left.  Each of those tried to fight his way up to Kyoto and unite the country.  The first person who almost succeeded was Oda Nobunaga.  But he was killed by his own vassal, Akechi Mitsuhide, and Akechi was killed by his colleague, Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  After Hideyoshi defeated Akechi and a few more warlords, Toyotomi Hideyoshi almost completed to unite Japan.  But one more person was left.  That is Tokugawa Iyeyasu. Now, two big power clans were left.  One is Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the other is Tokugawa Ieyasu. Both knew that their opponents are smart and powerful Daimyo, any wrong move on your part would be a fatal mistake.  So they stayed co-existed amicably on the surface for a while, though Toyotomi Hideyoshi tried Tokugawa Ieyasu made his vassal but did not succeed.  For Tokugawa Iyeyasu, since he was younger, he knew that he could just wait until Hideyoshi’s naturally dies.  And that happened.  After Hideyoshi’s death, Tokugawa Ieyasu fought with the vassals who used to work under Hideyoshi and won at the war of Sekigahara  in 1600.  Then 1615 Tokugawa won against Hideyoshi’s son’s army.  After this time, Edo period started.  Edo period is called Edo period because Tokugawa Ieyasu lived in Edo, which is Tokyo now.

*Sengoku period is often depicted in TV’s and movies.  People who lived through the Sengoku period had a very hard time but it is the most interesting time for TV’s and movies.  Stories of Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu are the most favorite stories in Japan.  Especially Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s story is one of the most popular ones.  He was born in a poor farmer family who became the top of Japan.  This is one fascinating success story.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi drawn by Mitsunobu Kanou in 1601 owned by Kodaiji-Temple

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