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

49| Part 2 of —-14|Late Kamakura Period (鎌倉後期歴史)

This is the detailed part of chapter 14|Late Kamakura Period History (鎌倉後期.  Please read chapter 14 before starting this chapter.

Genko (元寇) —  Mongolian Invasion 

In Chapter 14, the Mongolian invasion was simply described.  Here is the more detailed description.  The Mongol Empire was a vast empire spread between present Mongol areas to all the way to Eastern Europe from 1206 to 1368.  Grandson of Genghis Kahn, Kublai Kahn sent several official letters to Japan demanding Japan to become a dependency state of the Mongol Empire (Yuan) and demanded to send a tribute to them.   They threatened Japan that they will invade if Japan did not accept their demand.  Hojo Tokimune (北条時宗 ) who was in power in Kamakura Bakufu (government) then, refused and ignored the letters many times.  That caused the two times invasions by the Mongol Empire.  The prevailing notion is that the strong typhoon hit Japan on each invasion, Mongols were chased away by the typhoon.  There was more to it to the story.

Bunei-no-Eki (文永の役  )  1274

The first Mongolian invasion is called Bunei-no-Eki.  In the early part of October 1274, 40,000 Mongol troops (Mongol, Han people, and Korean) departed heading to Japan from the Korean peninsula on 900 large and small ships.  After they arrived on the Tsushima island (対馬 ), Mongol troop burnt villages and killed many people including the island people.  Many people were captured and presented to the top officials of the Mongols as their slaves.  It was a really miserable sad scene.  The Mongols moved to Iki Island (壱岐の島), then to Hizen shore (肥前 ),  Hirato Island (平戸 ),  Taka-Shima (鷹島 ), then to Hakata bay (博多).   At each place, the disastrous scene was the same as everywhere.   At each battlefield, Japanese soldiers and villagers were killed in great numbers.  Kamakura Bukufu (government) sent many Samurai to the battlefield, the Japanese side won and pushed the Mongols back here and there but mostly Japanese sides lost.  Many wives and children were captured, eventually, even no soldiers dared to fight against Mongols.  Mongols arrows were short and not so powerful, but they put on the poison at the tip, and they shoot the arrows like rain.  Also, this is the first time the Japanese saw the firearms.  Their loud sound of the explosion made horses and Samurai frightened.  Japanese troops had to retreat and the situation was really bad for Japanese.  But all of a sudden, surprisingly, one morning of the of October 21st (today’s calendar, Nov 19thall the ships were gone, nowhere to be seen on the shore.   Mongols were all disappeared from the shore of Hakata.  What happened was Mongols decided to quit the fight and went back.  For Mongols, even though they were winning, they also lost many people and lost one of the major key people in the army.  The different history book of Korea and Mongols had several records about the reasons to leave Japan.   The Mongols realized no matter how Mongols were winning, the Japanese kept coming more and more from everywhere.  The Mongols could not expect reinforcements from their country over the ocean.  Also, their stocks of weapons were getting low.  It was the Mongols decision to go back.  Here is a twist.  Around the end of October (November by today’s calendar), the sea between Hakata (where Mongols were) and Korea was very dangerous because of the bad weather, unless the clear daytime of south wind day.  This place is called Genkai Nada (玄界灘 ) famous for the rough sea.   Yet Mongols decided to go back at night.  They may have caught the moment of the south wind, but it did not last long.  As a result, they encountered the usual severe rainstorm.  Many ships hit against the cliff, ships capsized, people fell into the ocean, and several hundred broken ships were found on the shore.  This is called Bunei- no- Eki (文永の役 ).  Mongols lost a large number of people, ships, troop, food, weapons, and Korea who was forced to supply all of them by the Mongols lost a great deal.  Only old men and children were left on Korean land to work on the farm, on top of it, they had a drought and then a long period time of rain.

At this Bunei-no-Eki (文永の役), it was not a typhoon that caused the Mongols to be defeated, Mongols decided to leave but encountered usual bad weather.

Koan-no-Eki (弘安の役) 1281

The second Mongolian invasion is called Koan-no-Eki in 1281.  After the first attempt to invade Japan, Kublai Khan kept sending messengers to Japan to demand to become a dependency state.  Kamakura Bakufu kept ignoring and they killed messengers.  Kublai Kahn decided to attack Japan again in 1281.  Kublai Kahn’s top advisers suggested not to attack Japan because it is too far, the ocean is too dangerous, the country is small, and nothing to gain even if Mongols win.  But Kublai Kahn still insisted to attack.  This time they came in two groups.  They were the East-route troop, the number was 60,000 soldiers on 900 ships, and the South-route troop, the number was 100,000 soldiers on 3,500 ships.  This is the largest scale forces in history.  Their plan was to depart from each one’s port and join on the Iki-no-Shima island (壱岐の島 ) by June 15th, then work together.  The East-route troop arrived before the South-route troop came.  Instead of waiting for the South-route troop, the East-route troop started to attack the Hakata Bay (博多) on their own.  But by that time, Japan already prepared to fight and built a 20 kilometer long stone wall.  This stone wall was 3 meters high and 2 meters thick.  The East-route troop had to give up to land on Japan from Hakata and moved to Shiga-no-Shima (志賀島 )At this place, the fight between Mongols and Japan was even battle but at the end, East-route troop lost and retreated to the Iki-no-Shima and decided to wait for the South-route troop to arrive.  The South troop never arrived there, they changed the plan.   On top of that, while they were waiting for the South-route troop to come, they lost over 3,000 men over the epidemic.   With difficulty like this, the East- route troop discussed the choices they can take.  One opinion was going back home but in the end, they decided to wait for the South-rout troop to arrive as long as the food last.  Meantime, the South-route troop changed the plan and decided to go to Hirato-Shima  (平戸島 ) where it is closer to Dazaifu (太宰府).  That is the final and most important place they wanted to attack.   Later, the East-route troop found out the South-route troop went to Hirato Shima.   Finally, two troops joined at Hirato-Shima and each group stationed nearby island called Taka-shima (鷹島 )The problem was this island had very high tide and low tide, the ships were not easily maneuvered.   Meantime, 60,000 Japanese men were marching toward where the Mongols were stationed.   Before those men arrived to fight against Mongols, A big typhoon came on July 30th and Mongols were caught in a big typhoon, ships hitting each other,  people fell from the ships and drowned and the majority of ships sank.   July 30th was about three months after the East- route troop left Mongol on early May.  That means they were on the ocean and the shore of Japan for about three months or so.  Around North Kyushu area (九州 ), usually, a typhoon comes average 3.2 times between the month of July to September.   Mongols were on the ocean and the shorelines of Japan for approximately three months; they were bound to be hit by a typhoon soon or later.

The Mongol Empire lost 2/3 of its naval forces.   After Mongols failed two attempts to attack Japan, Kublai Khan still insisted to attack Japan the third time, no matter how much his men reasoned him.  But the plan was delayed and terminated because of many rebellions, upheavals and no lumber was left to build ships.  Soon, Kublai died in 1294. The record book of Mongols and Korean indicated that Mongols officials gave a high evaluation of Japanese swords.  Some even say one of the reasons it was not easy to defeat Japan was because of the long sharp swords.  The experience of the Mongolian invasion changed Ikubi Kissaki (猪首切先) sword to a new Soshu-Den (相州伝) style sword.

49 Photo of part 2 of 14 Late Kamakura

The stone wall scene.  Photo from Wikipedia.  Public Domain

*Wikipedia was referred for the chapter 49 article.

45|Part 2 of —- 11|Jyokyu-no-Hen and Gotoba Joko 後鳥羽上皇 1221

Chapter 11 (11|Jokyu-no-ran (承久の乱) 1221 ) was how Jyokyu-no-Hen ( 承久の変 ) 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 ).  Waka is a short poem.   It requires to express scenery, one’s inner feeling with the refined sentiment, or the surrounding state with a limited number of words.  It requires 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, painter 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 accomplished all those fields to the top level.  Especially his Waka (poetry) is highly regarded.  He also edited Shin-Kokin-Wakashu (新古今集).  This is a collection of Waka.

Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four

Emperor Gotoba was enthroned at the age of four (some say three).  The problem was the Emperor Antoku already existed at the same time.  They were both about the same age.  Two emperors at the same time is 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, Emperor Antoku was appointed by Taira –no- Kiyomori (平清盛), who was the head of powerful Samurai but not the Emperor family.  That is against the tradition.  Remember, Taira-no-Kiyomori was the most powerful man of the Heike clanThis was not accepted by the Go-Shirakawa Emperor (後白河天皇 ).  Go-Shirakawa Emperor was furious toward Taira-no-Kiyomori and he picked his own choice and enthroned Gotoba as the Emperor.  This is how 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 ) that is three items the Emperor must have to be a legitimate Emperor.  They are Mirror, sword, and 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 the Heike clan was defeated there.   Dan-no-Ura is a sea between Kyushu (九州 ) and Honshu (本州 ).  When it became obvious 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, but they could only recover jewelry, and mirror,  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.  Today, those mirror and jewelry are with the present Emperor family.  The sword is still missing.

* Sanshu-no-Jingi (三種の神器 )—–sword (Kusanagi no Tsurugi(草薙の剣),   Mirror (Yata-no-Kagami八咫の鏡),  Magatama (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 controlled by Chotei (朝廷).  Chotei is the central government controlled by the Emperor and aristocrats.  Gotoba-Joko decided to rely on the armed power for this.  He set up the Saimen-no-Bushi (armed forces directly under the Emperor create by Gotoba-Joko).  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 fight against Kamakura Bakufu to all over Japan to fight against Kamakura Bakufu.  He expected an easy victory, but Kamakura Bushi was united tightly and maneuvered well under Hojo Masako as a one organized armed forces.  Gotoba-Joko side was not very organized.  They were not used to fighting.  In the end, Gotoba-Joko side lost.  After he realized he has lost, he claimed it was not him, it was done by his men only, nothing to do with the Emperor.  So he claimed it is wrong to punish him.  But of course, Kamakura Bakufu did not believe that and exiled him to Oki Island.  Gotoba-Joko ended his life on the island.  As smart as he was and accomplished so many different fields, he could not win against the grandma 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 made them as his assistants or instructor.  He invited top-class sword smiths every two months 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 did not inscribe his name; instead, he inscribed Chrithantamum with 16 petals which are still used present Emperor as the Emperor’s crest.  The sword which has this 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.

11 «part 2» Gotoba Joko photo
Gotoba Joko (owned by Minase Shrine) This picture is public domain

11 «part 2» .Oki-no-Shima map

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

41|Part 2 of —7 Kamakura Period History (1192 – 1333)

This chapter is the continued part of Chapter 7. Kamakura Period History 1192 – 1333.  Please read chapter 7 before reading this section.  Some of the information here may overlaps with chapter 7 since this is the continued part.

 

7 Kamakura timeline

                           The circle above indicates the time we discuss in this section

Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛)

Chapter 7 described there were two major samurai groups, the Genji (源氏) and the Heishi (平氏) at the end of the Heian period.  The head of the Genji was Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo (源義朝) and the head of the Heishi (or Heike) was Taira-no-Kiyomori(平清盛).  They were childhood friends.  As they grew up, they became enemies because of the political situation.  After their several power struggle, the Genji side lost, and Taira-no-Kiyomori became very powerful.  He gave his men high positions, and his daughter marries the emperor.  As a result, Kiyomori’s power went even beyond the emperor.  This is the time it was said that “if you are not a part of the Heishi family, you are not a human being”.   The situation like this created too many opponents.                    Eventually, suppressed Genji and other samurai groups gathered together and raised an army, fought against the Heishi, and defeated them.  While Taira-no-Kiyomori was in power, he started active trading with China which contributed to economic prosperity tremendously.  The picture below is the Itsukushima Jinja (厳島神社) built by Taira-no-Kiyomori.  It is registered at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

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From Wikipedia   Photo is a public Domain.  Author: Rdsmith4       File Itsukushima Floating Shrine.jpg 8 /05/04

*The Itsukushima Floating Shrine is a very beautiful place.  Below is the site for the tour information.      Miyajima Sightseeing  Official site Ad page: http://www.miyajima-wch.jp

Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源頼朝)

Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) was a son of Minamoto-no-Yoshitomo(源義朝).  After Yoshitomo was defeated by Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛 ),  the direct line of Genji, Minamoto-no-Yoritomo was sent to Izu Island.  He was in his early teens.  Yoritomo grew to be a young man in Izu island, eventually, he met Hojo Masako (北条政子) who was a daughter of Hojo Tokimasa (北条時政).  He was a local government official.  While Tokimasa was on a business trip to Kyoto, Yoritomo and Masako had a baby.  Tokimasa was afraid if the Heike finds out about his daughter and Yoritomo, the Hojo family may get into trouble.  So, he planned Masako to marry somebody else.  But she escaped a night before the wedding day eloped with Yoritomo.  This story was written in the famous Japanese history book called  “Azuma Kagami:吾妻鏡” and a few other books, and also TV shows depict the story this way.  However, some say this story may not be exactly how it happened.  Meantime In Kyoto, the Heishi became very powerful and tyrannical in the central government, called Chotei (朝廷), and suppressed the opponents.  All the angry dissatisfied groups raised an army to attack the Heishi.  Minamoto-no-Yoritomo was the head of those opponents and his army grew bigger and stronger with the help of Masako ’s father, Hojo Tokimasa.  By this time Hojo Tokimasa realized he has a better chance to side with the son-in-law.

The Genji power pushed the Heike all the way to the Southern part of Japan.  The Heike was defeated at the place called Dan-no-Ura (壇ノ浦 ) near Kyushu area (九州 ) at 1185.  Yoritomo set up the Kamakura Bakufu (Kamakura government) in Kamakura.  After Yoritomo’s death, his wife Masako proved herself as a very able politician and she saved Kamakura Bakufu when they were attacked by the central government.  Here is one famous story about her.  When Yoritomo went around for different women in the town of Kamakura, Masako sent her men to follow her husband and set the fire of the woman’s house her husband was after.  Masako is well-known as a jealous wife in Japanese history.  But in her mind, the Hojo is one who made Yoritomo the head of the Kamakura Bakufu.  Without the aid of the Hojo, Yoritomo could not be what he became.

1024px-Kaguraden-Hachimangu_Kamakura

Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu  in Kamakura  Author: Urashimataro      From Wikipedia  Photo is public domain

*Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu is one of the major shrines in Kamakura.  It is a walking distance from the Kamakura train station.  On top of the long steps into the hill, there is a big shrine.  Every year on Dec 31, a large number of people come to here to listen to the Joya-no-Kane(除夜の鐘:the New Year’s  bell-ringing)

Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune (源義経)

Minamoto-no-Yoritomo (源頼朝) had several half brothers.  Taira-no-Kiyomori (平清盛) saved the lives of those young boys with the condition of they become a monk when they grew up.  One of them was Ushiwaka-Maru (牛若丸: later Minamoto-no-Yoshitsune源義経) who was raised by Taira-no-Kiyomori while he was an infant, believing Kiyomori is his father.  Later Yoshitsune was raised in Kurama-Yama temple.  He spent his life there until he became mid-teens.  After that, he made a flight to live with O-shu Fujiwara(奥州藤原).   They were in the northern part of Japan, quite some distance from Kyoto.  O-Shu Fujiwara was a very wealthy clan and they had a luxurious culture there. Because of the long-distance from Chotei (central government), they could behave almost like an independent county.   They created grand wealth by mining the gold nearby and the trade with the outside of Japan.  Yoshitsune was living there rather happily for a while, but when he heard his half-brother Yoritomo raised an army to attack the Heike, he decided to join this war.  Yoshitsune was quite skillful at the battle, he won many well-known battles which was a very critical battle for Genji to win the war.  For Yoritome’s mind, he had a big political plan on how to proceed to take over the Heike’s power.  Yet Yoshitusune really could not understand this.  That made Yoritomo angry at his brother.  On top of it, Yoshitsune became very popular among people in Kyoto.  That made Yoritomo fearful and he decided to get rid of Yoshitsune Yoshitsune fled to O-Shu Fujiwara.  In the beginning, O-Shu Fujiwara protected Yoshitsune but could not hold it.  Yoritomo destroyed O-Shu Fujiwara entirely at the end.

Chinese knew about the wealth of O-Shu Fujiwara.  Later, Marco Polo heard about the small wealthy country further into the East.  He mentioned this small wealthy island in his book, “The travels of Marco Polo”.  The famous quote “all the houses are made of gold”.  This is O-Shu Fujiwara.  Of course, all the houses were not made of gold.  Marco Polo introduced Japan as “Zipangu” in his book.  It means the golden country.  That evolved into Japan.  However, we Japanese don’t call Japan as Japan.  We call our country “Nihon” or “Nippon”, both are correct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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.