57|Part 2 of —– 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代) 1393-1467


This is the continued chapter of 21 Muromachi Periods History Please read chapter 21 before this chapter one more time.

57 Muromachi time line      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.  Please look at the above timeline.  The middle line is for sword history and the bottom line is for political history.   The style of the sword has a distinct difference between Nanboku-Cho period (南北朝時代 ), Muromachi period, and the Sengoku period (戦国時代).  Therefore, it has to be divided into three separate periods for sword study.   But school history textbook shows that Muromachi Period is from 1333 (Fall of Kamakura Bakufu ) until 1573 when Oda Nobunaga(織田信長) removed Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki (足利義昭) from Kyoto (the fall of Muromachi Bakufu).   The school history textbooks describe that the Nanboku-Cho period and the Sengoku period is a part of the Muromachi period.  For the purpose of sword study, we need to divide into three periods, Nanboku-Cho period, Muromachi period, and Sengoku period.

Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満)

The best time for the Muromachi period was when Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満, Grandson of Ashikaga Takauji) was in power.  Ashikaga Yoshimitsu moved the Bakufu to the place called Muromachi (室町), therefore Muromachi period.  By Shogun Yoshimitsu’s time, the majority of the South Dynasty Samurai went under the North dynasty.  The South Dynasty side accepted Shogun Yoshimitsu’s offer to end to oppose to the North Dynasty that completed the power of Muromachi Bakufu of the Ashikaga family.  Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu created a huge amount of profit from trade with China (Ming).  One of a famous beautiful temple in Kyoto, Golden Pavillion (Kinkakuji-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 around this time was called Kitayama Bunka (Kitayama culture 北山文化).

*Golden Pavillion (Kinkaku-Ji 金閣寺)  —— Correct name is Rokuonji –Temple (鹿苑寺 ).  This is a Zen temple of Rinzaishu Sokoku-Ji group (臨済宗相国寺派 ).  The Kinkakuji-temple is one part of the Rokuonji-Temple.  Kinkakuji-temple is a Buddhist hall containing relics of Buddha.  This place was once owned by Saionji Kintsune (西園寺公経 ) in Kamakura period.  Shogun Yoshimitsu acquired it in 1397, and he rebuilt it as his own villa.  It is also functioned as an official guesthouse.  Kinkakuji-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 Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満 ) died (49 years old), the Muromachi Bakufu became financially weaker that made the military power weaker.  As a result,  Daimyo (feudal lord) became powerful.  A few generations after Shogun Yoshimitsu, Ashikaga Yohimasa became a Shogun (8th Ashikaga Shogun).  His wife is the famous Hino Tomiko (refer 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代.  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 Japanese garden, Shoin Zukuri (書院造り)*, Tea ceremony, Flower Arrangement, Painting, and other art forms.  His cultural attribute is called Higashiyama Bunka (Higashiyama culture (東山文化).   As it is described in Chapter, 21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代, Shogun Yoshimasa did not have a child, his brother Yoshimi (義視) was supposed to be a 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 (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 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 Daimyo, “Onin-no-Run (応仁の乱 ) started.  All the Daimyo sided either Hosokawa group or Yamana group.   Eventually, the war spread to the rest of Japan and last over 10 years.  Finally at 1477, after both Hosokawa Katsumono and Yamana Sozen died, Shogun Yoshimasa decided to transfer Shogunate to his son Yoshihisa.  This war caused Kyoto to be devastated and weakened the power of Ashikaga Bakufu.  While all this is happening, people were suffering from the war, Yoshimasa still spent money to build Ginnkakuji Temple (silver Pavillion, 銀閣寺 ).  He died without seeing the completion of Ginkakuji temple.  Onin-no-Run will lead to the next Sengoku-Jidai (100-year warring States period).

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

Below 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

 

53| Part 2 of —- 18 Nanboku-Cho(南北朝) Period History (1333 – 1393)

This section is continued part of18|Nanboku(Yoshino) Cho Period History—— North and South Dynasty History(1333-1393) .  Please read Chapter 18 before this section.

Nanboku-Cho Period (1333 to 13930 is after the fall of Kamakura Bakufu till Muromachi Bakufu was established.  That is the time when the North dynasty and the South dynasty existed at the same time.  Right around the Mongolian Invasion, Emperor Go-Saga passed away without deciding the heir.  Because of that, from this time on, two lines of his heir, the Daigakuji-To line and the Jimyoin-To line became the emperor alternatively.  This is a very unstable situation politically.  On top of it, the inconvenient situation happened like, one Emperor was too young, the other Emperor died young while he was playing on the slippery stone and hit his head, etc.   At the time like this, Emperor Godaigo was put on the throne.  He was put on the throne as an Emperor to fill in the gap between the other young Emperors to be.  Around this time, the Emperor’s power was weakened, they were controlled by Kamakura Bakufu (government).  Also, after the Mongolian Invasion, even though typhoon chased Mongolian troops away, 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 cost and they were also in trouble financially.  All these problems piled up and people resented Kamakura Bakufu. Go-Daigo Emperor did not want to stay as a filler between the Emperors, he decided to stay as an Emperor himself, and decided to attack Kamakura Bakufu. Somehow, this plan was revealed by Kamakura Bakufu.   Emperor Godaigo managed to avoid being accused as an instigator.  After this happened, Kamakura Bakufu appointed another heir as a next Emperor.  But Go-Daigo insisted remain as an Emperor, and he planned another attack one more time.  This time around, he had carefully planned and allied with big powerful temples in Nara (Yamato), since they were not controlled by the Kamakura Bakufu. Refer, 16|The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)and 51| Part 2 of —– 16 The Revival of Yamato Den (大和伝復活)

This time again, the rebellion plot came to light.   Go-Daigo sneaked out Kyoto and fought with the Kamakura army.  Go-Daigo’s army had a smaller number of soldiers than the Kamakura army, but several uprising groups who were opposed to Kamakura Bakufu appeared from the different areas of Japan.  Eventually, Go-Daigo was captured and sent to the Oki island (same place where the Emperor Go-Toba was sent to). Kamakura Bakufu still had to fight with other uprising groups who were against them.  One of the famous ones is Masashige Kusunoki (楠正成 ).  Also, Go-Daigo’s son was still active fighting with Kamakura Bakufu and he went around to ally with more people to side with the Emperor.

Those who want the Kamakura Bakufu to be overthrown was increasing more and more.  Even Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏), he was one of the Kamakura Bakufu’s top men who was sent to fight against Emperor Go-Daigo betrayed Kamakura and changed his side and became the Emperor’s ally.  Meantime, Go-Daigo escaped from Oki island.  More and more uprising against Kamakura Bakufu from different areas.  Eventually, the main political center called Rokuhara Tandai (六波羅探題 ) of Kamakura Bakufu fell.  Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞)*, who was another uprising group attacked Kamakura and won. Kamakura Bakufu fell at 1333.  Go-Daigo started a new political system called Kennmu no Shinsei (建武の新政).  This was a disaster.  He tried to do the right thing so that he can show he is the great Emperor.  But this reform created a big commotion.  It was bad for everybody and nobody could gain.  Ashikaga Takauji 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 Go-Daigo and Ashikaga won.  Go-Daigo left the Imperial Palace and opened a new government in Yoshino, that is south of Kyoto.  Therefore called South dynasty.  Ashikaga Takauji established a new Emperor, Komyo Emperor in Kyoto, this is a North dynasty.  This is how North and South dynasty came about.  This state lasted about 60 years.  Little by little, many Samurai group went under the North dynasty and after Go-Daigo and his several top key men died, South dynasty became weaker and weaker.  The South Dynasty accepted Ashikaga Yoshimitsu’s (足利義満 ) offer and the south and the north united in 1392.  During all those fights between emperor side and Kamakura Bakufu,  the sword style changed to wider and longer.  Majority of the Nanboku-Cho style sword was shortened later.  A shortened sword is called Suriage or O-Suriage.

53 Ashikaga Takauji

Kibamusha (騎馬武者蔵)    It once believed this is a portrait of Ashikaga Takauji, now several other opinions this is somebody else.   “Public Domain” owned by Kyoto National Museum

*Nitta Yoshisada (新田義貞 )

When Minamoto no Yoritomo opened Kamakura Bakufu, he chose Kamakura area as the center of Bakufu because Kamakura is surrounded by mountains on three sides, and one side facing the ocean.  That means it is hard to be attacked and easy to protect.  And there are seven narrow steep roads called Kiri Toshi (切り通し) that connect to several different directions. This is the only way to go out and to come in.  When Nitta Yoshisada tried to attack Kamakura, first he tried to attack from the land road but failed.  So he came from the ocean side but the cliff sticks out to the ocean too far, which made impossible to pass.  It is said that when Nitta Yoshisada came to the place called Inamura gasaki (稲村ヶ崎, near my sister’s house)、he threw his golden sword into the ocean and prayed.  Then the tide went out and all the soldiers could pass the place.  There are several opinions about this.  Some scholars say that is not true, some say it really happened but the date is wrong, some say unusual ebb tide happened that day and so on.   Today, Inamura Gasaki is a very beautiful place in the evening.  Sunset is the most beautiful scene from Inamura Gasaki to Enoshima direction.  This is one of the favorite places for young people to go for dating in the evening.

53 Inamura gasaki

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

21|Muromachi Period History (室町時代)

21 murimachi -timeline
            The circle indicate the time we are discussing in this section

Ashikaga Takauji(足利尊氏) and several other main leaders ended Nanboku-Cho period  and started Muromachi period  (discussed in 18|Nanboku Cho Time History (North and South Dynasty History) 1333-1393

AshikagaTakauji’s grandson, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (often called Shogun Yoshimitsu 義満) built a new beautiful Palace at Muromachi (室町) area in Kyoto.  The palace became the center of the government called Muromachi Bakufu (室町幕府).   This is the beginning of the Muromachi period.  Ashikaga Yoshimitsu built the famous “Kinkaku-Ji Temple” (golden pavilion)* in Kyoto as his second house.

 

Kinkaku-Ji Temple (金閣寺) Golden Pavillion—————-Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満) built Kinkaku-Ji in 1397.   Later it became Rinzai-Shu (臨済宗) school Buddhistic temple, but it was originally built as a second house for Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and used as a state guesthouse.  Today it is designated as a world heritage site.  This temple was burnt down by an arsonist in 1950, rebuilt in 1955.  The novelist Mishima Yukio wrote the novel “Kinkaku-Ji” related to the Golden Pavillion and an arsonist.  The famous quote in his book, “The golden bird (Hou-ou in Japanese, it is a Chinese version phoenix) on the roof of the Kinkaku-Ji temple is stationary but fly through the space of the time eternally”

 

In the Muromachi period, the emperor’s power became weaker.  A shogun (将軍) held all the political power.  Little by little, several groups of samurai who were officially appointed as a Shugo Daimyo (守護大名) started to gain the political power and economic power by holding the important offices in the Muromachi Bakufu (government).  They also owned a large land.  Some of the names of Shugo Daimyo were the Hosokawa family and the Yamana family.

Ashikaga family made a great effort to make the Muromachi Bakufu a sound political power through the political maneuver.  At the beginning of the Muromachi period, the economy flourished and it was a peaceful time.   Yet by the time Ashikaga Yoshimasa (義政 8th Ashikaga Shogun) became the shogun, the Ashikaga Bakufu was corrupted very badly.  Shogun Yoshimasa did not pay much attention to his job as a politician.  Instead, he was chasing women (his mother had to scold him for that), spend a huge amount of money to build a Silver Pavilion called “Ginkaku-Ji” and retreated himself there.  Shogun Yoshimasa did not have an heir.  Therefore, his brother, Yoshimi was decided to be the next Shogun.  But later, Yoshimasa’s wife Hino Tomiko (日野富子)* had a son, Yoshihisa (義尚).  Now, brother Yoshimi (義視) allied with the Hosokawa family (細川) who was a high official in Muromachi Bakufu, and Yoshihisa (the son) allied with the Yamana (山名) family who was another high official in Muromachi Bakufu and several other smaller groups of Samurai allied with either side, and the war broke.  This is called Onin -no-Ran (応仁の乱) in 1467 and spread all over the country and continued for 11years.

 

Hino Tomiko (日野富子)*——————The wife of Shogun Yoshimasa.  She took advantage of her political privileges to raise a large amount of money by doing things like investing in the rice commodity market to raise the price of rice and sold with a high profit.  Then she loans the money to the high officials with high interest.  The corruption reached an uncontrollable level.

As a result of the Onin-no-Ran, beautiful Kyoto was burnt down to ashes.  The authority of Muromachi Bakufu was reduced only to the vicinity of the small surrounding area of Kyoto.  Onin-no-Ran caused the next period called the Sengoku period (戦国時代 ), that is the Warring States period.  During the Sengoku period, Japan was divided into 30 or so small independent countries and fought each other until Japan was united by Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Iyeyasu.  See above timeline.

 

57 Kinkakuji trip 2019

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

18|Nanboku-cho Period History 1333-1393

18 -red timeline Nanboku-cho
The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section.

 

After Jokyu-no-Ran (11|Jokyu-no-ran ), the power of the Imperial court declined significantly.  The Hojo clan (the main power during the Kamakura period) began to have financial difficulty and started to lose control over the local lords.  One of the reasons was the cost incurred by the Mongolian invasion.  The Kamakura Bakufu (government) could not reward well to the local lords who worked hard at this war. The local lords became very dissatisfied with the Kamakura Bakufu.  Seeing this as a chance, Emperor Go-Daigo attempted to attack Kamakura Bakufu two times but failed both times.  He was exiled to Oki island.  Meantime, Ashikaga Takauji (足利尊氏) and several other groups of Samurai who were opposing the Kamakura Bakufu, gathered their power and succeeded in destroying the Kamakura Bakufu (1333).  This ends the Kamakura period.  Emperor Go-Daigo, who had been exiled to Oki island returned to Kyoto and attempted established a political reforms.  This is called Kenmu-no-Chuko (建武の中興).  But this new policy failed to satisfy most of the ruling class.  Taking advantage of this situation, Ashikaga Takauji attacked the Imperial court in Kyoto, deposed Emperor Go-Daigo and placed the other branch of the Royal family on the Imperial throne.  But the Emperor Go-Daigo insisted upon his legitimacy, moved to Yoshino (located the South of Kyoto) and established a rival Imperial court.  Thus began the North and the South dynasty.  After much strife between the North and the South, together with the problems within themselves,  eventually more Samurai groups went under the control of the North dynasty.  About 60 years later, the Southern dynasty was compelled to accept the North Dynasty’s proposal.  As a result, North Dynasty established as the legitimate imperial court.  This 60 year is the time called Nanboku-Cho or Yoshino-Cho period.  During the Nanboku-Cho period, Samurai demanded larger and showy, and practical swords.  Soshu Den was its height of their prominence.  However,  Soshu group was not the only group that made all the swords. Other schools and other provinces also made Soshu Den style swords.

Well known Early Soshu-Den swordsmith (that is late Kamakura period time)

Tosaburo Yukimitu (藤三郎行光)   Masamune (正宗)      Sadamune (貞宗)

18 Masamune photo    18 Masamune hamon (Sano)

Masamune from Sano Museum Catalog (permission granted)

Well known Middle Soshu-Den swordsmiths (North and South dynasty time )

Hiromitsu (広光)    Akihiro (秋広)

18 Hiromitu photo 20 Hitatsura Hiromitsu Hitatura )

Hiromitsu from SanoMuseum Catalog (permission granted)