This section is a continued part of 17|Nanboku(Yoshino) Cho Period History (1333-1392) . Please read Chapter 17 before this section.
The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section
The Nanboku-Cho Period (1333 – 1392) was between the fall of Kamakura Bakufu untill the beginning of the Muromachi Bakufu. It was the time when the North dynasty and the South dynasty co-existed at the same time. Right around the Mongolian Invasion time, Emperor Go-Saga passed away without deciding the next emperor. Because of that, two lines of his heir, the Daigakuji-to (大覚寺統) line and the Jimyoin-to (持明院統) line became the emperor alternatively after Go Saga emperor passed away. This system was a very unstable situation politically. On top of it, many times, inconvenient problems happened; for example, while one emperor was still very young, the other emperor died young while he was playing on the slippery stones and hit his head. At the time like this, Godaigo became the Emperor. He was put on the throne as a filler until the young emperors to get older. Around this time, the power of the Emperor declined. They were controlled by the Kamakura Bakufu (government). Also, after the Mongolian Invasion, even though typhoons chased Mongolian troops away, the Kamakura Bakufu was in financial trouble because of the cost of the war. A large number of Samurai who fought during the Mongolian Invasion were never rewarded nor paid for the expense they incurred themselves. They were also in trouble financially. All these problems piled up and people resented Kamakura Bakufu.
Emperor Go-Daigo did not want to stay as a filler emperor. He decided to remain as an emperor himself and chose to attack the Kamakura Bakufu. For some reason, the Kamakura Bakufu found out this plan. Emperor Go-Daigo somehow managed to avoid being accused as an instigator. After this happened, the Kamakura Bakufu appointed another heir as the next Emperor. But Go-Daigo insisted on remaining as an emperor, and he planned another attack one more time. This time, he had carefully planned and allied with prominent, powerful temples in Yamato (Nara today) since the Kamakura Bakufu did not control them. Refer, 15| The Revival of Yamato Den（大和伝復活） and 51| Part 2 of —– 15 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)
This time again, the rebellion plot came to light. Go-Daigo sneaked out of Kyoto and fought against the Kamakura army. Go-Daigo’s army had fewer soldiers than the Kamakura army, but several groups of troops opposed to the Kamakura Bakufu rose from different places in Japan. Eventually, Go-Daigo was captured and sent to the Oki island (the same place where Emperor Go-Toba was sent). The Kamakura Bakufu still had to fight against other uprising groups who were against them. One of the famous ones is Kusunoki Masashige (楠正成). Also, Go-Daigo’s son was still actively fighting against the Kamakura Bakufu and managing to ally with more groups.
More and more people wanted the Kamakura Bakufu to be overthrown. Even Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏), he was one of the Kamakura Bakufu’s top men who fought against Emperor Go-Daigo betrayed the Kamakura and changed his side and became the Emperor’s ally. Meantime, Go-Daigo escaped from Oki island. More and more uprisings against the Kamakura Bakufu emerged from everywhere. Eventually, the main political center called Rokuhara Tandai (六波羅探題 ) of the Kamakura Bakufu fell. Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞)*, who was another uprising group attacked Kamakura and won. The Kamakura Bakufu fell in 1333. Go-Daigo started a new political system called Kennmu no Shinsei (建武の新政). This new system was a disaster. He made a great effort to make things right and wanted to show how great he was. But this reform created a big commotion.
It was not good for anybody and nobody gain. Ashikaga Takauji (one of the prominent people of merit) and his men did not receive any high-rank job. Noble men’s income was stopped. His new policy only invited chaos and corruption. Now Ashikaga Takauji turned against to Go-Daigo and won. Go-Daigo left the Imperial Palace and opened a new government in Yoshino, that is the south of Kyoto. Therefore it was called the Southern dynasty.
Ashikaga Takauji established a new emperor, Emperor Komyo (光明), in Kyoto; this is the North dynasty. This process is how the North and South dynasty came about. Two dynasties co-existed for about 60 years. Little by little, many samurai groups went under the North dynasty, and after Go-Daigo and his several top key men passed away, the South dynasty became weaker and weaker. The South Dynasty accepted the Ashikaga side’s offer, and the North and the South united in 1392. During all those fights between the Emperor and Kamakura Bakufu, the sword style changed to broader and longer, 3, 4, or 5 feet long. Later time, the majority of the Nanboku-cho style long sword was shortened.
Kibamusha (騎馬武者蔵) It once believed this is a portrait of Ashikaga Takauji, now several other opinions that this is somebody else. “Public Domain” owned by Kyoto National Museum
*Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞 )
When Minamoto no Yoritomo opened the Kamakura Bakufu, he chose the Kamakura area as the center of the Bakufu because mountains surround Kamakura on three sides, and one side faces the ocean. That means it was hard to be attacked and easy to protect. And they made seven narrow, steep roads through mountains called Kiri Toshi (切り通し) that connect to several major cities. Those seven roads were the only way to go out and to come in. When Nitta Yoshisada tried to attack Kamakura, he first tried to attack through the land road but failed. So he went from the ocean side, but the cliff sticks out to the ocean too far, making it impossible to pass. The legend said that when Nitta Yoshisada came to the place called Inamura Gasaki (稲村ヶ崎), he threw his golden sword into the ocean and prayed. Then the tide went out, and all the soldiers were able to go around the cliff on foot. They charged into Kamakura, and the Kamakura Bakufu fell. There are several opinions about this. Some scholars say that is not true, some say it happened, but the date is wrong, some say unusual ebb tide occurred that day, and so on.
Today, Inamura Gasaki, a part of the Shonan area. This is one of the favorite dating spots for young people in the evening. The evening scene of Inamura Gasaki is wonderful. The Sunset view from Inamura Gasaki toward Enoshima (江の島；small island, a shrine a top) direction is the most beautiful. My parents’ house was in the vicinity above the cliff.
Inamura Gasaki Photo is “Creative Commons” CC 表示-継承 3.0 File: Inamuragasaki tottanbu.jpg 作成: 2008年6月25日 メディア ビューアーについて | 議論 | ヘルプ Public domain