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

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)

 

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.