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

42|Part 2 of —- 8|Overview of the Kamakura Period Sword 1192-1333)

This is the second part of chapter 8.  Overview of the Kamakura Period Sword.  Please read chapter 8 before reading this section.

7 Kamakura timeline

                                   The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section.

Kamakura period was the golden age of sword making.  Approximately, half of the well-known swords at present were made during the Kamakura period.  Probably because of the war between the Genji and the Heishi demanded large numbers of swords, and they had a live experience to improve the sword.  Also, Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽) invited many able swordsmiths to his palace and treated them highly and encouraged them to create a good sword by giving them high ranks.  During the Kamakura period, the technic of sword making improved greatly.

Middle Kamakura Period —- Yamashiro Den (山城伝)

The Middle Kamakura period was the height for the Yamashiro Den.  Among Yamashiro Den, there are three major groups (or families).  They are Ayanokoji group (綾小路 ) Awataguchi group (粟田口)、and Rai group (来).  Among the Awataguchi group, 6 swordsmiths received the honor as the “Goban-kaji “ from the Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽上皇 ).  Awataguchi is the name of the area in Kyoto.  Ayanokoji ( 綾小路 ) group lived in the Ayanokoji area in KyotoMy sword textbook had a note that I saw Ayanokoji Sadatoshi (綾小路定利 ) on March 22nd, 1972.  The note said O-suriage, Funbari, narrowbody, and ji-nie.  I should have written more in detail then, had I known I am writing the website in the future.  Rai group started from Rai Kuniyuki (来国行 ).  Rai Kuniyuki and Ayanokoji Sadatoshi are said to have a close friendship.  Rai Kuniyuki created many well-known swords.  His famous Fudo Kuniyu (不動国行) was owned by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshiteru (足利義輝 ) then changed hand to Matsunaga Danjo (松永弾正)  then to Oda Nobunaga ( 織田信長 ) to Akechi Mitsuhide (明智光秀 ), then to Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉).  They are all historically well-known powerful daimyos.  It is said that this sword was held by Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s arm for the memorial service of Oda Nobunaga.  Rai Kuniyuki’s son is Niji Kunitoshi.  He also created well-known swords.

Middle Kamakura Period —– Bizen Den (備前 )

During the Heian period, Bizen Den called Ko-Bizen existed.  They are similar to the one to Yamashiro-Den style.  The true Bizen Den and also the height for the Bizen-Den was the Middle Kamakura period.  Bizen area (Okayama prefecture now) has many ideal aspects of sword making.  The weather is good, produced good iron, abundant wood for fuel nearby, and the location is conveniently situated.  Naturally many swordsmiths moved there and became the main place to produce swords.

Bizen made a large number of swords, their quality level is higher than any other places, and more famous swordsmiths came out.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Norimune (則宗) and his son Sukemune (助宗 ) of Fukuoka Ichimonji group received the honor of the Goban-kaji from the Emperor Gotoba.  Among the Osafune group (長船), famous Mitsutada (光忠) and Nagamitsu (長光) appeared.  My father owned four Mitsutada.  Three Tachi and one Tanto.  He was so proud that he owned four Mitsutada, he ordered his tailor to monogram Mitsutada on the pocket of the inside of his suit jacket.  From Hatakeda group (畠田), Hatakeda Moriie (畠田守家), from Ugai (鵜飼) group, Unsho (雲生 ), Unji (雲次), and Kunimune (国宗) appeared.  Because of a large number of swordsmiths in Bizen Den, a large number of bizen swords exist.  Of those swordsmiths have his characteristics.  Therefore kantei can be complex.  This is the time Ikubi Kissaki started to appear.

Below is my father’s four Bizen Osafune Mitsutada.  My father took those pictures many years ago at home by himself.  You can see he is not much of a photographer.  The writing on the square white paper is written by him.  He wrote the name of the swordsmith, the period the sword was made, which Daimyo owned it in the past and classification.

The classification of the sword from the top

  1. Kokuho (国宝: National treasure)
  2. Jyuyo Bunkazai (重要文化財: Important Cultural Object)
  3. Jyuyo Bijutu Hin (重要美術品: Important Art Object)
  4. Juyo Token (重要刀剣: Important Sword)                                                                          The rest is omitted

img028 img027

Osafune Mitsutada                                                                                  Osafune Mitsutada
(長船光忠: Jyuyo Bunkazai)                                                                   長船光忠: Jyuyo Bunkazai)

img029 img030

Osafune Mitsutada                                                                                  Osafune Mitsutada
(長船光忠: Jyuyo Token)                                                                          (長船光忠: Jyuyo Bunkazai)

 

 

Late Kamakura Period —– Soshu Den (相州伝 )

Yamashiro Den started to decline at the later part of the Kamakura Period.  At this time, many swordsmiths moved to Kamakura area under the new power of Kamakura Bakufu (鎌倉幕府) by the Hojo clan.  The new group, Soshu Den (相州伝 ) started to emerge.  Fukuoka Ichimonji Sukezane (福岡一文字助真) and Kunimune (国宗) from Bizen moved to KamakuraToroku Sakon Kunitsuna (藤六左近国綱) from Awataguchi group of Yamashiro Den moved to KamakuraThose three are the ones who originated the Soshu Den in Kamakura.  Kunitsuna’s son is Tosaburo Yukimitsu, then his son is the famous Masamune (正宗)Outside of Kamakura, Yamashiro Rai Kunitsugu (来国次), Go-no-Yoshihiro  (郷義弘) from Ettshu (越中) province, Samoji  (左文字) from Chikuzen province (筑前) were the active swordsmiths.

 

 

 

 

 

 

11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221

 

 11-time-line-jokyu-no-ran-1.jpg
 The circle indicates the time we are discussing in this section.

After Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) died, his son, Yoriie(頼家) succeeded in the Shogun position.  But his mother, Hojo Masako (北条政子) Yoritomo’s wife, thought her son was too incompetent.She was afraid that the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government) may be taken over by other force.  To prevent this to happen, she started a council system consisting of 13 people including herself, her father, Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政 ) and her brother, Hojo Yoshitoki (北条義時).  Soon Yoriie’s (present Shogun) in-law became powerful.  During the Heian and the Kamakura period, the wife’s family was considered very important.  To suppress them, Hojo Masako and her father, Tokimasa plotted against Shogun Yoriie and killed him.  After Yoriie’s death, Masako’s younger son Sanetomo (実朝) became the next Shogun.  Now, Hojo Tokimasa’s young wife wanted her son-in-law to be the next Shogun Hojo-Tokimasa attempted to kill Sanetomo, bud failed.  Finding this plot, Hojo Masako confined Tokimasa (her father) in prison. Although the Shogun Sanetomo was Hojo Masako’s son,  she was very disappointed in him.  He was also very incompetent.  The Shogun Sanetomo was killed by Kugyo who was the son of the previous Shogun Yoriiee.  After all these incidents happened, Hojo Yoshitoki took control over the Kamakura Bakufu and brought a figurehead from the Fujiwara family (aristocrat from Kyoto).  After all those turmoils, the Hojo family took control over the Kamakura Bakufu (government).

Meanwhile, in Kyoto, Emperor Gotoba had been planning to attack the Kamakura Bakufu.  He had built up the military power.  When Sanetomo was killed, Emperor Gotoba saw the chance to attack Kamakura, he ordered local feudal lords to attack but very few followed the Emperor.  Instead, the Hojo family captured Emperor Gotoba and exiled him to Oki island. This is called Jokyo-no-Ran (or Jokyu-no Hen), at 1221.

Emperor Gotoba was the one who really encouraged sword making and treated sword smiths highly.  After the Jokyu-no-ran, the power of the Royal family decreased and the Kamakura Bakufu became a powerful and stable regime.  Hojo Masako was called “Ama (nun) Shogun”.  From the time her husband, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo died until the end of Jokyu-no-ran, it was the period when the Kamakura Bakufu was still unstable.  Hojo Masako was the one who carried the Kamakura Bakufu to the stable regime.  She was one of the able but mean, tough, sharp politician.

Kamakura people (I am one of them) like Hojo Masako very much Minamoto-no-Yoritomo and Hojo-Masako are both buried in Kamakura City.  Minamoto-no-Yoritomo is at Shirahata Shrine (白幡神社), Hojo Masako is at Jufukuji temple (寿福寺).  Compare to the Jufuku-Ji where Hojo Masako was buried, Yoritomo’s tomb is a little humble.  Some say Kamakura is Hojo’s land.

Kamakura is about one hour from Tokyo by the train, Yokosuka line.  Both Jufukuji temple and Shirahata shrine are walking distance from the Kamakura station.

 

11 Jufuku-JiJufuku-Ji (寿福寺) From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

 

11 Yoritomo GraveFrom Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository       Minamoto-no-Yoritomo’s tomb.