The red circle indicates the time we discuss in this chapter.
This chapter is the continued part of Chapter 11. Please read Chapter 11 before reading this chapter.
The first part of Chapter 11 was how Jyokyu-no-Ran (承久の乱) started. In the end, Emperor Gotoba (or Gotoba- Joko) was exiled to Oki Island (隠岐の島 ). He was a very talented man in many fields. He was very good at waka (和歌) which is a Japanese short poem. It requires several elements in a limited number of words, such as; express scenery, a season, one’s inner feeling with the refined sentiment, or the surrounding state. It really needs a literary talent. He was also good at equestrianism, Kemari (ball game for upper class at that time), a great swimmer, Sumo, good at music, archery, swordsmanship, calligrapher, painting and became a great swordsmith. His contribution toward sword made the Golden Age of sword making at the middle Kamakura period. Surprisingly, Gotoba Joko was not only good at in the different field, he really mastered in all those fields to the top level. Especially his waka (poetry) is highly regarded. He edited Shin-Kokin-Wakashu (新古今集). This is a collection of waka; it contains 1980 wakas.
Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age four
Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four (some say three). The problem was the Emperor Antoku had already existed at the same time. They were both about the same age. Two emperors at the same time was a big problem. How did it happen?
To become an emperor, the head of the emperor family has to appoint the next emperor. While the Emperor Go-Shirakawa (後白河天皇) was in jail, the Emperor Antoku was appointed by Taira – no – Kiyomori (平清盛), who was the head of the most powerful Samurai group but not the emperor family. That is against the tradition. Remember, Taira-no-Kiyomori was the most powerful man of the Heike clan. Yet this was not accepted by the Go-Shirakawa Emperor (後白河天皇). Go-Shirakawa Emperor was furious toward Taira-no-Kiyomori and the emperor picked his own choice and enthroned Emperor Gotoba. This is the reason two emperors coexisted. One more thing, to be an emperor, the emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器: Three Sacred Treasures) which is three items the emperor must have to be a legitimate emperor. They are the Mirror, the special sword, and the Magatama (jewelry)*. But Sanshu-no-Jingi was taken by the Heike family together with the Emperor Antoku when they fled from Genji. The Heike clan was chased by the Genji all the way to Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦) and they were defeated there. Dan-no-Ura is a sea between Kyushu (九州) and Honshu (本州). When it became clear for the Heike family, that they were defeated, all the Heike people including the young Emperor Antoku jumped into the sea and drowned. They took Sanshu-no-Jingi with them into the ocean. Later, people searched for the Sanshu-no-Jingi frantically, however, they could only recover the jewelry, and the mirror, but could not find the sword. Because of the tradition that the emperor must have Sanshu-no-Jingi otherwise not a legitimate emperor, Gotoba Joko was tormented for a long time for not having all three. Today, jewelry is with the present Emperor family and the Mirror is with Ise-Jingu (伊勢神宮: Ise Shrine). The sword is still missing somewhere in the ocean. Some say this sword was a copy and the real one is at Atsuta-Jingu (熱田神宮).
* Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 )—–the sword is Kusanagi no Tsurugi (草薙の剣), the Mirror is Yata-no-Kagami (八咫の鏡), the Magatama is Yasakani-no-Magatama (八尺瓊勾玉)
Politics by Gotoba-Joko
Gotoba-Joko wanted political power back from the Kamakura Bakufu. He was a very impulsive and passionate and unpredictable quick-tempered person. He wanted to revive the politics by the Chotei (朝廷). The Chotei is the central government controlled by the emperor and aristocrats. Gotoba-Joko decided to rely on the armed forces to achieve this. He set up a Saimen-no-Bushi (armed forces directly under the Emperor Gotoba). When he saw Minamoto-no-Sanetomo was killed, he realized Kamakura Bakufu must be in a turmoil. Thinking this is a good chance, he sent out the emperor’s order to all the daimyos to fight against Kamakura Bakufu. He expected an easy victory, but Kamakura Bushi was united tightly and maneuvered well under Hojo Masako, the nun shogun. She organized one united armed force. Whereas Gotoba-Joko side was not very organized. They were not used to fight. In the end, Gotoba-Joko side lost. After he realized he had lost, he claimed it was done by his men only, not by him. He claimed it was nothing to do with the emperor, therefore it is wrong to punish him. But Of course, Kamakura Bakufu did not believe that and exiled him to Oki Island. Gotoba-Joko ends his life there. As smart as he was and accomplished so many different fields, he could not win the grandma nun-shogun Hojo Masako.
Sword making by Gotoba-Joko
Gotoba Joko had a superior ability to connoisseur sword and he became the superior swordsmith himself. He invited many top-level sword smiths from different sword groups to his court and gave them the title and treated them respectfully. Also, he made them as his instructor and assistants. Gotoba Jyoko brought in skilled sword smiths every two months alternately from a place like Bizen, Awataguch, and Bicchu. Those who were invited were called Gobankaji (御番鍛冶), an honorary title. On the sword he created, he inscribed the Chrithantamum with 16 petals which are still used present emperor as the emperor’s crest. The sword which has the Chrithantamus is called Kiku Gosaku (菊御作). Today, in Oki island you can visit Emperor Gotoba museum and there are a few sites that are believed to be the Emperor’s sword making site. Some people say the sites are debatable.
Today, Oki Island is a beautiful resort island. It can be reached by ferries from Shimane Prefecture. It is about 2 hours by boat, also by an airplane directly from Osaka.