This is a detailed part of the 20 | Nanboku-Cho Tanto(南北朝短刀).  Please read chapter 20 before reading this section.

57 -timeline Muromachi & Sengoku Red

                                  The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this chapter

Until the Muromachi (室町) period, the way to divide the political history and sword history is the same.  The above timeline shows:  the middle line is for a sword history and the bottom line is for political history.   The style of swords had a distinct difference between the Muromachi period, and the Sengoku period (戦国時代).  Therefore, the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period has to be divided for sword study.   School history books divide the time as follows: the Muromachi period is from 1392 (the end of Nanboku-cho) until 1573 when Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) removed Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) from Kyoto (the fall of Muromachi Bakufu).   School history books describe that the Sengoku period was a part of the Muromachi period.  For the purpose of the sword study, we need to divide the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period separately.

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満)

The best time during the Muromachi period was when Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満, Grandson of Ashikaga Takauji) was in power.  Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu moved the Bakufu to the place called Muromachi (室町), therefore called the Muromachi period.  By the Shogun Yoshimitsu’s time, the majority of the South Dynasty samurai went under the North Dynasty.  The South Dynasty side accepted the Shogun Yoshimitsu’s offer to end the fight against the North Dynasty.  This acceptance established the power of Muromachi Bakufu by the Ashikaga family.

Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu created a huge amount of profit from trades with China (Ming). One of a famous beautiful temple in Kyoto, the Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji temple 金閣寺*) was built by Shogun Yoshimitsu.  It is said that he created the Golden Pavillion to display his power and wealth.  The beautiful culture called Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture 北山文化) was created around this time.

*Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji Tempe金閣寺)  —– Correct name is Rokuon-Ji Temple (鹿苑寺).  This is a Zen temple of the Rinzaishu Sokoku-Ji group (臨済宗相国寺派 ).  The Kinkaku-ji Temple is a part of the Rokuon-Ji Temple.  This is a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha. This place was once owned by Saionji Kintsune (西園寺公経 ) in the Kamakura period.  Shogun Yoshimitsu acquired it in 1397, and he re-built it as his villa.  It has also functioned as an official guesthouse.  Kinkaku-Ji Temple represents the height of the glory of Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture).  After Shogun Yoshimitsu’s death, his villa was converted to a temple, called Rokuon-Ji Temple.  In 1994, it was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

57 Kinkakuji trip 2019

The photo was taken in May 2019, a family trip to Kyoto

Ashikaga Yoshimasa (足利義政)

After Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満) died, the Muromachi Bakufu became less prosperous financially, and that caused the lesser military power.  As a result,  daimyos (feudal lord) gained more power.  A few generations after Shogun Yoshimitsu, Ashikaga Yohimasa became a shogun (8th Ashikaga Shogun).  His wife was the famous Hino Tomiko (refer  Chapter 20 Muromachi Period History.  It is said that Shogun Yoshimasa was not interested in his job as a shogun, but he was a great culture person who influenced the base of today’s Japanese art, such as the Japanese garden, Shoin Zukuri (書院造)*, Tea ceremony, Flower Arrangement, Painting, and other art forms.  His cultural attribute is called Higashiyama Bunka (Higashiyama culture (東山文化).   As it was described in 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代), Shogun Yoshimasa did not have a child, his brother Yoshimi (義視) was supposed to be the next shogun.  But his wife, Hino Tomiko gave birth to a son, Yoshihisa (義尚).  Hino Tomiko asked Yamana Sozen (powerful family 山名宗全 ) to back up her son, and brother Yoshimi joined with Hosokawa Katsumoto (another powerful family 細川勝元).  The problem was Shogun Yoshimasa was paying attention too much to all his cultural hobbies, did not pay attention to the problem he created by not being clear who should be the next Shogun.  He did not yield the Shogunate to either one.  He kept enjoying his cultural hobby.   In 1467, on top of the successor problem, because of the other conflict of interest of other powerful daimyos, “Onin-no-Run (応仁の乱 )” broke out.  All the daimyo sided either the Hosokawa group or the Yamana group.   Eventually, the war spread to the rest of Japan and last over 10 years.  Finally in 1477, after both Hosokawa Katsumono and Yamana Sozen died, Shogun Yoshimasa decided to transfer the Shogunate to his son Yoshihisa.  Because of this war, Kyoto was devastated and the power of the Muromachi Bakufu was weakened.  While all this is happening, people were suffering from the war.   Yoshimasa still spent money to build the Ginnkaku-ji Temple (The Silver Pavillion, 銀閣寺).  He died without seeing the completion of the Ginkaku-ji temple.  The Onin-no-Run would lead to the next Sengoku period (100-year Warring States period).

*Shoin Zukuri (書院造)———- Traditional Japanese residential architecture style, with a Tatami mat, an alcove on a wall, and a Shoji sliding screen.

Shoin Zukuri style Japanese room

57 Shoin zukuri

Public Domain   GFDL,cc-by-sa-2.5,2.0,1.0 file: Takagike CC BY-SA 3.0view terms      File: Takagike Kashihara JPN 001.jpg

2 thoughts on “56|Part 2 of —– 20|Muromachi Period History (室町時代)

  1. Domo arigatou sensei

    Sasha Sydney Australia

    On Tue, 18 Jun 2019 at 6:43 am Study of Japanese Sword wrote:

    > Yurie Endo 遠藤由利江 posted: ” This is the continued chapter of 21 Muromachi > periods history.docx. Please read chapter 21 before this chapter one more > time. The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this chapter > Until the Muromachi (室町) Period, the way to divide the po” >


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