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  #21  
Old 03-11-2021, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Countessmeout View Post
I mean when a princess went to her new home it was usually a big show, but I think that might put most of them to shame in the Western world. The length, the numbers, the cost is just wow.

Feel bad for the peasants and other travelers along the road during all of that.
Imagine something like this happened in any European monarchy. They're not even allowed to watch, in contrast to how it was/is in Europe where the crowd would gather to watch as the procession passed.
There would be a huge riot!

The thing is, Japanese Emperors were protected by their divinity status and it the past, the "authority" (aka shogunate) protected it by hiding them. It was the contrary of "to be believed, I'll have to be seen", but more like "to be believed, nobody should see me." I mean, they're "God" and people would start to wonder if they saw how the said "God" look like ordinary human, right?

Actually Kazu-no-miya was not the first Imperial Princess who married into Tokugawa shogunate, but I couldn't find any reference whether the previous princesses had as "extravagant" travel as her or not.
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  #22  
Old 03-11-2021, 11:06 AM
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What a remarkable account!

Fascinating read.

It is quite true that that first foreign treaties were a downright humiliation of Japan. One stipulation was that foreign (Western) citizens could not be tried and sentenced by a Japanese court for crimes in Japan. And that Japanese legislation did not necessarily apply to foreigners. It basically had to be a crime according to what was common internationally.

There was one example where a samurai killed a foreigner for committing a serious transgression. (I can't remember the exact details though.) The samurai was forced to commit seppuku in front of representatives of the country, the killed foreigner came from
The samurai died with honor, but it was a dishonor for Japan as a whole.

Japan soon send the best and brightest out into the world to learn. To learn about the world, technique, organization, development you name it.
The lessons learned was brought back and became the start of Japan as a modern industrialized nation - with a military strong and modern enough to deter foreign intervention.
It worked. In two generations Japan was string enough to inflict no less that than three crippling defeats of a major western power, Russia. In the 1905 war.
The naval attack on Port Arthur, knocking out the Russian Pacific fleet. The defeat of the Russian Baltic fleet later on at Tsushima. (Moving a fleet halfway across the world, was a remarkable achievement! Russian almost ended up having a war in Britain on their hands though. See the Doggerbank incident.)
And the army defeating the Russian land forces taking Port Arthur, and thereby Korea.
That victory led to a Japanese overconfidence and in Japan expanding, first in Manchuria and later China.
What Japan also, most adeptly, did was to exploit the Western rivalry and in particular in courting both Britain and Germany. Germany had a number of smaller colonies in the Pacific and wished for Japan to help protecting them.
While Britain wanted Japan to help an already over extended Royal Navy to help patrol and protect the British interests in the Pacific. Not least in regards to a recovering Russia, with ambitions in Asia. If Russia focused on Japan, Russia wouldn't move south towards India.
Already by around 1900 Japan was in a position where it was considered an equal to the Western powers during the intervention in the Boxer Rebellion in China.
Japan viewed USA with a mix of admiration. They wanted to become a developed industrial nation, with considerable possessions in the Pacific, just like USA.
But also with a great deal of trepidation. That had not forgotten that it was USA that forced Japan to open up - with Japan being powerless. A huge humiliation!
At the same time as Japan was building up its industrial strength, there was an increasing need for raw-materials. But most of the available natural supplies were already colonized by Western powers. Hence Japans interest in China, but also, quietly, Siberia.

Japan was on the winning side in WWI, and gained quite a lot with very little effort. And by the early 1920's Japan turned into a nationalist, militarist state...
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  #23  
Old 03-12-2021, 09:29 PM
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IMO the Tokugawa-Edo shogunate approach in maintaining their power seems to be by wealth instead of by military force like the two previous shogunate regimes (Hojo-Kamakura and Ashikaga-Muromachi), perhaps taking lesson from the downfall of Ashikaga (with the sengoku) and Hideyoshi (the failed Korea campaigns). So after eliminating their opponent through force (Sekigahara and Osaka Seige), to prevent any potential threat from other daimyo the Tokugawa did a regular “domain arrangement” so no daimyo could amass enough wealth to be any threat. Another way is by ordering them to make regular visit to Edo (which of course would be costly for those daimyo).

By “closing” Japan from foreigner, which was not really fully close since the shogunate still engaged in foreign trade in secret. Or in another word, they had the full control of foreign trade and by monopolising it they also made sure that they’re the only one who’d gain wealth. In this case, I don’t buy if they’re not aware of the development outside Japan. So when the “Black Ship” happened, they knew that fighting would potentially make them being colonised (like India by UK and Indonesia by Dutch). Therefore, signing the treaties to (maybe) buy a time. I see it as pragmatic move.

On the other side, the Imperial palace (both imperial family and noble courtiers) had been completely isolated in Kyoto for long time. Sure, there’s a couple foreign embassy’s visit, but if there’s any “talk” it’d be more like pleasantries of gift presenting (the “serious talk would be with the shogunate) and most likely the one who received and engaged them was the daijo-kan, not the emperor himself. So I will not surprise if everyone in the palace was ignorant of the outside development, and coupled with the emperor’s god-status, they might even think that the world really revolved around them and the coming of foreigner would “tarnish” their culture. The way of seeing foreigner/stranger as barbaric is not exclusive to Japan, Westerners also thought like that to almost every foreign civilisation they’d encountered, wasn’t it?

Then there’s Satsuma-Tosha side, which mostly consisted of samurai who’d been “fell victim” of those early domain rearrangement. Understandably they held long grudge against the Tokugawa. But with their position in the south of Japan, they were far from Edo and used it as excuse to limit their visit to Edo while secretly gathering wealth and man power. It was said that they made a move after the death of Iemochi because they feared the potential of Yoshinobu would become “the 2nd Ieyasu”.

Sometimes I wonder, if Yoshinobu had been picked as shogun instead of Iemochi or even earlier Iesada could abdicate for him, maybe the outcome of Meiji Restoration would be different so did Japan’s involvement in the WWII.
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  #24  
Old 03-13-2021, 03:15 AM
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Originally Posted by yukari View Post

IMO the Tokugawa-Edo shogunate approach in maintaining their power seems to be by wealth instead of by military force like the two previous shogunate regimes (Hojo-Kamakura and Ashikaga-Muromachi), perhaps taking lesson from the downfall of Ashikaga (with the sengoku) and Hideyoshi (the failed Korea campaigns). So after eliminating their opponent through force (Sekigahara and Osaka Seige), to prevent any potential threat from other daimyo the Tokugawa did a regular “domain arrangement” so no daimyo could amass enough wealth to be any threat. Another way is by ordering them to make regular visit to Edo (which of course would be costly for those daimyo). (1)

By “closing” Japan from foreigner, which was not really fully close since the shogunate still engaged in foreign trade in secret. Or in another word, they had the full control of foreign trade and by monopolising it they also made sure that they’re the only one who’d gain wealth. In this case, I don’t buy if they’re not aware of the development outside Japan. So when the “Black Ship” happened, they knew that fighting would potentially make them being colonised (like India by UK and Indonesia by Dutch). Therefore, signing the treaties to (maybe) buy a time. I see it as pragmatic move.
(2)

On the other side, the Imperial palace (both imperial family and noble courtiers) had been completely isolated in Kyoto for long time. Sure, there’s a couple foreign embassy’s visit, but if there’s any “talk” it’d be more like pleasantries of gift presenting (the “serious talk would be with the shogunate) and most likely the one who received and engaged them was the daijo-kan, not the emperor himself. So I will not surprise if everyone in the palace was ignorant of the outside development, and coupled with the emperor’s god-status, they might even think that the world really revolved around them and the coming of foreigner would “tarnish” their culture. The way of seeing foreigner/stranger as barbaric is not exclusive to Japan, Westerners also thought like that to almost every foreign civilisation they’d encountered, wasn’t it?
(3)

Then there’s Satsuma-Tosha side, which mostly consisted of samurai who’d been “fell victim” of those early domain rearrangement. Understandably they held long grudge against the Tokugawa. But with their position in the south of Japan, they were far from Edo and used it as excuse to limit their visit to Edo while secretly gathering wealth and man power. It was said that they made a move after the death of Iemochi because they feared the potential of Yoshinobu would become “the 2nd Ieyasu”.

Sometimes I wonder, if Yoshinobu had been picked as shogun instead of Iemochi or even earlier Iesada could abdicate for him, maybe the outcome of Meiji Restoration would be different so did Japan’s involvement in the WWII.
(4)

Numbers again.

(1) In the same way as Louis XIV started the practice about gathering the nobility at Versailles. It was also very much for control. - And just around the same time the "Edo-pilgrimages" started. There are a number of remarkable and parallel similarities between Europe and Japan, independent of each other.
It was not only expensive for the Daimyos, but certainly also for the Shogunate! But then again, civil war and rebellions are even more expensive.

(2) They were certainly not ignorant. The Shogunate among other things imported books from Europe and they questioned tradesmen who had gone abroad. The problem was that the political elite in Japan didn't fully understand what they read or were told. How could they? The information was simply too fragmented and the world described too alien to fully comprehend. In order to do that, you have to go out, see, hear and talk.
And you are right. The treaties bought time. Japan had no choice. They would suffer the salami-approach, as was happening in China. The various major powers would slowly (because no single power would be allowed to take control of China) take control of China one slice at the time. Using a mix of treaties, internal rivalry, backed up by military force. In Japan, probably one island at the time... There would unquestionably be daimyos who were willing to be set up as local puppet kings and the Shogunate would have been powerless against them.

(3) The concept of regarding foreigners as barbarians is pretty universal. IIRC the Greek word for foreigner is basically barbarian. Practically all major cultures worth mentioning looked down upon outsiders to some degree.
Even the Apache tribe (Tineh tribe actually) who were by no means rich or powerful, regarded everybody else not as inferior, but as vassals - to be treated as such.
I find you thoughts about the isolated Imperial family interesting! There is little doubt in my mind, that the Shoguns made sure they were as little informed as possible. But to what extent were they really ignorant? Fascinating, eh?

(4) How so?
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  #25  
Old 03-13-2021, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
(4)

(4) How so?
I take it you mean my opinion about Yoshinobu. Well, here's my reason:

- Even when the shogunate was "ruled" by the roju (the elders/chamberlains, because the shogun wasn't capable or not interested in governing like the case of Ieshige), there's no big "war" during Edo period, compared to the Kamakura and Muromachi period. It's also said that Tokugawa clan valued frugality, simplicity and discipline (there's some exception like Ienari) so either that or they're good at preventing insurgent.

- Yoshinobu was taught in the literary and*martial arts, as well as receiving a solid education in the principles of politics and government at*Kōdōkan. He was brought up and groomed to be a leader. Compared to the few previous shogun, he's the most prepared one. I mean in short time he managed to significantly strengthen national army and navy, which had already been formed under Tokugawa command, by gaining the assistance of the Russians, and the*Tracey Mission*provided by the British Royal Navy and purchasing equipment from the United States. This guy knew what's he's doing.

- Unlike the previous shogunate, the Tokugawa shogunate didn't end because they "lost" the war. Yoshinobu resigned from his position and for me it said something about his character/wisdom (Boshin War happened after he resigned and he's not the one who instigated it) . And don't forget, his mother was an Arisugawa princess so those bakufu-imperial family reconsiliation might work better with him as shogun.

- So given time, if he became a shogun a decade earlier (him instead of the teenage Iemochi), Meiji Restoration might still happen but in more peaceful way.

- As for World War, I always think that "pride" is the biggest source of Japanese's strength but it's also one that brought their downfall. After restoration, the power returned to people at the palace aka the noble courtiers. As I wrote on my previous post, being isolated in Kyoto for too long might make them become out of touch towards the real world outside, more than the people in charge in the shogunate (marriage between imperial family and noble was a norm so those noble might also thought they had "blood of god" in their veins). Out of touch, big ego, arrogance >>> rule the world because we're superior.

Maybe if there's still some influence of the shogunate (mere mortal, not "god"), the sense of superiority wouldn't be that big.
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  #26  
Old 03-14-2021, 04:35 AM
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Fascinating.

I'll have to do some reading up on Yoshinobu.

See? You are again making me read stuff. This really can't go on.

Becoming out of touch may (probably was) have been a problem at the court. But by the early 1930's it had become a genuine problem at the military/political leadership (That was pretty much the same thing as Japan was de facto run by a military junta by that time.)
Japan had stopped sending out their best and brightest to learn and study abroad.
What was the point? Japan is the best country in the world with the purest and strongest moral fiber and most stellar civilization. - Nationalism at full throttle...
In fact those who had traveled abroad were the nationalists seen as "tainted." Their sense of Bushido had gone "soft" so to speak by associating with foreigners.
Even admiral Yamamoto, who was untouchable after Pearl harbor, was frowned upon, and he was increasingly ignored when he presented his thoughts on the long term military and political strategy of the Japanese leadership.
Many if not most of his contemporaries, who had studied abroad, and who had risen to prominent positions during the 1930's were either sidelined or promoted out - some were even murdered!
That also included top politicians and diplomats, who were also sidelined, ousted or murdered.
- When I repeatedly state that it was the best and brightest who were send abroad, it's no exaggeration. They were the ones who were destined to go all the way to the top and they were selected early on.

In contrast to those were the nationalists. Practically none of them had even been abroad, let alone studied. In fact they prided themselves of never having been abroad.
They failed to understand the West, in particular USA. They failed to comprehend the vast resources and economic strength of in particular USA, once mobilized. It's down to basics: They failed to comprehend that a plant that produced say 100.000 cars a year, could after a period be modified to produce tens of thousands of planes a year.
Japan had no such resources, that they did comprehend though.
Just as bad, the nationalists failed to understand that they had awoken something in China. Patriotism among the ordinary Chinese.
In the eyes of the nationalists, China was a political chaos and weak, ripe for the plucking. The ordinary Chinese should have a knock on the head and be told what to do, that's should suffice.
The result was that by 1940 Japan had been mired in a hopeless and endless, unwinnable war, from which it could not extract itself. Not without Japan, and the Japanese nationalists losing face.
Something similar happened in the late 1500's when Japan invaded Korea, as you will remember.

Deliberate isolationism, especially combined with nationalism, simply couldn't work.

And that leads me to Emperor Hirohito.
The big question is how much did he know before 1945 and to what extent did he support the nationalist policy?
It was in everybody's interest that Emperor Hirohito was presented as benign after WWII, and he certainly learned and adapted to the changed circumstances after WWII - something present day Japanese, should perhaps be more grateful for than they are...
However, there is IMO very little evidence to even suggest that Emperor Hirohito had any qualms about the aggressive policy of the 1930's. I.e. invading China and declaring war on basically all the Allied nations. (They made sure to stay clear of the Soviet Union, because Japan had been bloodnosed severely in a number of border battles in 1938 IIRC.)

And a little definition, just for the sake of it:
Patriotism: Loving your country and wanting the best for your country, while acknowledging that other people love their country as well.
Nationalism: The firm belief that your country may not be the most powerful in the world, but it's certainly the best in the world and as such should have a leading global role. - Even at the cost of other countries.
- Nationalism is alive and well in leading political circles in Japan these days...
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  #27  
Old 03-17-2021, 10:49 AM
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17 March 1537 – Birth of Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣 秀吉, the second "Great Unifier" of Japan.

Note: The date of birth is more of tradition instead of actual record. Very little is known for certain about Toyotomi Hideyoshi before 1570 and he spoke very little about his past.

He was born as a farmer's son with no traceable samurai lineage in Nakamura Village in Owari Province (Aichi Prefecture). Initially he didn’t have surname. It is said that he met Nobunaga the first time when he was standing under a tree, for that he later took a surname of Kinoshita (literally means “under a tree”). He later served Oda Nobunaga as an ashigaru – a peasant employed by the samurai as a foot soldier and distinguished himself gradually.

There are several famous episodes in his sandal-bearer period, such as, he had voluntarily taken the position of the construction director of Kiyosu Castle, or food procurement director, and achieved great success with all of them; but these episodes have no historical evidences and seem to be just a legend. By these achievements he made a success to gain Nobunaga's favour and distinguished himself among Oda followers.

He was assigned to govern Kyoto with Akechi Mitsuhide and others in 1568 when Nobunaga went up to Kyoto. In 1570, he served the battle to defeat Asakura Yoshikage of Echizen province. Oda troops made inroads well, but when they were on the march around Kanegasaki, Nagamasa AZAI of northern Omi, who was on Oda's side, suddenly attacked them from behind. Although it was a desperate struggle of pincer operation by Azai and Asakura, Hideyoshi brought up the rear successfully with Ikeda Katsumasa and Akechi Mitsuhide.

After Azai clan was subverted in 1573, Hideyoshi was given three counties of northern Omi, which had been ruled by Azai, changed the place-name of Imahama to Nagahama, and became a lord of Nagahama Castle (in Omi Province). Around this time, he changed surname from Kinoshita to Hashiba. He tried to recruit human resources well from Omi province and promoted former Azai vassals and talented young men such as Ishida Mitsunari aggressively.

He continued to rise as Nobunaga’s general; he successfully subdued followers of Akamatsu clan (an official of Muromachi Shogunate) and got Himeji Castle from Kodera Takataka, defeated several vassal of the Mori clan over Uezuki Castle after the offensive and defensive battle, defeated Bessho Nagaharu who was a lord of Harima Miki Castle by starving strategy for two years, and in the same year he also defeated Arikoyama Castle where Yamana Takahiro of Tajima province stuck. Yamana vassals rose in revolt at Tottori Castle after an exile of Yamana Toyokuni, Hideyoshi took starving strategy after dominating foods around Tottori and defeated them (the battle of Tottori Castle). He continued to fight against Mori Terumoto, who ruled Chugoku region. In the same year, he attacked Iwaya Castle (Awaji province) and ruled Awaji province, and later invaded Bicchu province and flooded Takamatsu Castle (Bicchu Province), which Shimizu Muneharu of Mori’s side protected (Mizuzeme against Takamatsu Castle). For the capture of Chugoku region such as the battle at Miki, starving strategy of Tottori Castle and flooding Takamatsu Castle, he showed his real ability as 'Hideyoshi, an expert at assault of castle'.

After Nobunaga was killed (suicide) at the incident of Honno-ji Temple during Mitsuhide’s rebellion, Hideyoshi went back to Kyoto to manage other warriors' activities, and defeated Mitsuhide at the battle of Yamazaki, which resulted him in becoming Nobunaga's successor. That position was cemented after he came up as winner in his conflict with Shibata Katsuie (who committed seppuku).

He also had a brief conflict with Tokugawa Ieyasu, but resolved by “exchanging hostage”. Hideyoshi sent his mother to “live” under Ieyasu’s watch and marrying his sister to Ieyasu (she was married, and for that, her husband was ordered to commit seppuku). In exchange, Ieyasu sent his second son Ogimaru to be Hideyoshi’s adopted son. Ieyasu later went to Kyoto to swear to become a vassal of Hideyoshi.

As he rose in power, Hideyoshi’s wealth was also increase. He built Osaka Castle in the former place of Ishiyama Honganji Temple. Otomo Yoshishige, a daimyo of Bingo province was said to be very surprised at luxuriousness of this castle and praisedit as 'the most wonderful castle in the world'.

Following Nobunaga’s example, he didn’t aim the position of shogun. Instead, using his wealth, he bribed Konoe Sakihisa to adopt him as son and given new surname Toyotomi (Sakihisa was only one year older than him) to secured a succession of high court titles Chancellor (Daijō-daijin) and later became kampaku (regent). As kampaku, he managed to fulfil Nobunaga’s ambition to unify Japan, effectively ending the sengoku period. At that point, practically he’s the one who rule Japan.

He introduced such policies as 'Taiko Kenchi' (nationwide location survey), the imposition of a rigid class structure, restrictions on travel, and 'Katanagari' (sword hunt). During the Sengoku period, it had become common for peasants to become warriors, or for samurai to farm due to the constant uncertainty caused by the lack of centralized government and always tentative peace. Upon taking control, Hideyoshi decreed that all peasants be disarmed completely. Conversely, he required samurai to leave the land and take up residence in the castle towns. This solidified the social class system for the next 300 years. Politically, he set up a governmental system that balanced out the most powerful Japanese warlords (or daimyōs). A council was created to include the most influential lords. At the same time, a regent was designated to be in command.

Despite having many concubine, at the age of 52 he only had one son who later died in 1591. Hideyoshi then adopted his nephew, Hidetsugu, and named him as his heir. He resigned as kampaku to take the title of taikō (retired regent) and Hidetsugu succeeded him as kampaku.

Yearning for some accomplishment to solidify his legacy, he adopted Oda Nobunaga's dream of a Japanese conquest of China and launched the conquest of the Ming dynasty by way of Korea (at the time known as Koryu or Joseon). As an ally of Ming China, the Joseon government of the time at first refused talks entirely, and in April and July 1591 also refused demands that Japanese troops be allowed to march through Korea. The government of Joseon was concerned that allowing Japanese troops to march through Korea (Joseon) would mean that masses of Ming Chinese troops would battle Hideyoshi's troops on Korean soil before they could reach China, putting Korean security at risk. In August 1591, Hideyoshi ordered preparations for an invasion of Korea to begin.

In only four months, Hideyoshi's forces had a route into Manchuria and occupied much of Korea. The Korean king Seonjo of Joseon escaped to Uiju and requested military intervention from China. In 1593, the Wanli Emperor of Ming China sent an army under general Li Rusong to block the planned Japanese invasion of China and recapture the Korean peninsula. The Ming army of 43,000 soldiers headed by Li Ru-song proceeded to attack Pyongyang. On January 7, 1593, the Ming relief forces under Li recaptured Pyongyang and surrounded Seoul, but Kobayakawa Takakage, Ukita Hideie, Tachibana Muneshige and Kikkawa Hiroie won the Battle of Byeokjegwan in the suburbs of Seoul. At the end of the first campaign, Japan's entire navy was destroyed by Admiral Yi Sun-sin of Korea whose base was located in a part of Korea the Japanese could not control. This, in effect, put an end to Hideyoshi's dream of conquering China as the Koreans simply destroyed Japan's ability to re-supply their troops who were bogged down in Pyongyang.

During this invasion, his concubine Yodo-dono gave birth to Toyotomi Hideyori, creating a potential succession problem. To avoid it, in 1595, he exiled Hidetsugu and later ordered him to commit seppuku by the reason of his immorality. His wife and children were also put to death at the same time. Hidetsugu's family members who did not follow his example were then murdered in Kyoto, including 31 women and several children. There are various views as to whether Hidetsugu's immorality was true or not; there is a view that Hideyoshi regarded him as a nuisance because his son was born.

This birth of a son also gave Hideyoshi a new motivation for his Korean Campaign, which met with less success than the first invasion. While Hideyoshi's battle at Sacheon was a major Japanese victory, all three parties to the war were exhausted. He told his commander in Korea, "Don't let my soldiers become spirits in a foreign land.” This put a seed of displeasure in the heart of several daimyo towards Toyotomi clan, something that Ieyasu took benefit later.

On 18 September 18 1598 Hideyoshi passed away at Fushimi Castle, asking Tokugawa Ieyasu and Maeda Toshiie, a guardian of Hideyori to look after affairs. There are various views on the reason of his death such as a stomach cancer. He died at 61 years old. Hideyori inherited the family estate. His death was kept secret by the Council of Five Elders to preserve morale, and they ordered the Japanese forces in Korea to withdraw back to Japan. Because of his failure to capture Korea, Hideyoshi's forces were unable to invade China. Rather than strengthen his position, the military expeditions left his clan's coffers and fighting strength depleted, his vassals at odds over responsibility for the failure, and the clans that were loyal to the Toyotomi name weakened. It was not until the late 19th century that Japan again fought a war against China through Korea, using much the same route that Hideyoshi's invasion force had used.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyotomi_Hideyoshi
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  #28  
Old 03-17-2021, 10:49 AM
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Hideyoshi's favourite concubine and the mother of his two sons, Yodo-dono or Chacha, was the eldest daughter of Ichi (younger sister of Nobunaga) and Azai Nagamasa.

Hideyoshi killed Nagamasa when he attacked the Azai clan and Ichi committed suicide when he attacked Shibata Katsuie (he was her second husband after Nagamasa).

It was said that Hideyoshi was attracted to Ichi and wanted to marry her, but after Nagamasa's death, she chose Katsuie. After Ichi's death, Hideyoshi adopted her three daughter (including Chacha). Chacha was 30 years his junior.
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Old 03-20-2021, 02:36 AM
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20 March 1181 – Death of Taira no Kiyomori 平 清盛, the first samurai to establish samurai-dominated administrative government in the history of Japan.

>>Note: the official recorded date is 治承5年閏2月4日(Jishō 5, 4th day of the 2nd month). I found several version of its Christian calendar date, which are 20 March 1181 (Wikipedia), 21 March 1181 (Britannica), and 27 March 1181. I choose 20 March simply because I found more books/references with 20 March than 21 March. There’s table of comparison between Jishō year to Christian calendar/Julian date here (in Japanese) if you’re interested.<<

He was born the first son of Taira no Tadamori, the head of the Ise branch of the Taira clan. There’s also speculation that he’s actually Emperor Shirakawa’s son who was later given to Tadamori who raised him as his own son.

It has been said that, when he was young, he often visited the residence of Fujiwara no Ienari, who was the most favoured retainer of cloistered Emperor Toba (who ruled through insei). After the death of his first wife, Kiyomori married Taira no Tokiko, daughter of Taira no Tokinobu. Tokinobu was a Hogan-dai (an administrative official of the retired-Emperor's Office) of cloistered Emperor Toba, and together with Fujiwara no Akiyori and Takashina no Michinori (Fujiwara no Shinzei), he was in charge of business affairs at the government affairs office, thus another connection to Toba.

In 1147, during the Gion-toran-jiken (the Gion Brawling Incident), an arrow shot by the Kiyomori’s side accidentally hit the holy shrine. Although the Enryaku-ji Temple, whose branch temple was Gion-sha Shrine, strongly demanded deportation of Tadamori and Kiyomori, Toba protected them from the wrath of the temple. With the death of Iemori, his younger half brother, in 1149, Kiyomori's position as a person of the direct clan lineage therefore became firmly established. He created huge profits by being appointed Aki-kokushu (Governor of Aki Province) and obtaining naval dominance over the Seto Inland Sea, and he and his father together expanded their power to Sai-goku (Western Japan) and in 1153, after the death of Tadamori, he became the head of the Ise branch of the Taira clan in Kyoto.

In 1156 a conflict for power erupted between the retired emperor Sutoku and his younger brother, the reigning emperor Go-Shirakawa (both were sons of Emperor Toba). Sutoku attempted a coup d’état with the support of the Minamoto warrior clan, led by Minamoto Tameyoshi. Kiyomori supported Go-Shirakawa in the ensuing conflict, known as the Hōgen Disturbance (Hōgen no ran), one of the bloodiest and bitterest in Japanese history, and emerged victorious, partly because of the defection of Tameyoshi’s son, Yoshitomo.

Dissatisfied with his share of the spoils, Yoshitomo took advantage of Kiyomori’s absence from the capital during the winter of 1159–60 to seize power, an act that precipitated the Heiji Disturbance. Although taken by surprise, Kiyomori gathered what forces he could muster and advanced in a series of daring, cleverly executed maneuvers. Victorious, he returned to the capital and annihilated his enemies, allowing only Yoshitomo’s two infant sons to live, a leniency he later regretted.

Due to his status as the head of the sole remaining warrior clan, it allowed Kiyomori to gain control over the Imperial army and police. This led Kiyomori to establish the foundation of a samurai government.

He put himself to be the guardian of Emperor Nijō and was also appointed to betto (a chief official of the retired emperor's office) of Go-shirakawa-incho (the Retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa's Office), creating a situation where Kiyomori worked for both the Emperor and the retired Emperor. He also arranged a marriage between Go-Shirakawa and his sister in law, Shigeko (Tokiko’s sister) and later a marriage between his daughter, Moriko, to the kanpaku, Fujiwara no Motozane, to establish a firm and close relationship with a sekkan (court noble) family. This arrangement allowed him to establish a strong political system.

Because Emperor Rokujō, the successor to Emperor Nijō, was still young, Motozane took political leadership as regent, and Kiyomori was promoted to Dainagon (Chief of the Counsellor of State) and assisted Motozane. Kiyomori then pushed Norihito, Shigeko’s son, to become crown prince and he became Naidaijin (Minister of the Center) and eventually rose to become the first courtier of a warrior family to be appointed Daijō-daijin (Chancellor of the Realm), the chief minister of the government and the de facto administrator of the imperial government. In 1168, he forced Rokujō to abdicate in favour of Norihito, who later became Emperor Takakura, and in 1171, arranged marriage between the new emperor and his daughter, Tokuko.

However, many of the courtiers from traditional (non-warrior) noble families were less than pleased with both Kiyomori's attainment of power, and how he comported himself with regard to other high ranking courtiers. This include Go-Shirakawa.

In July, 1177, the Shishigatani Incident occurred. The occurrence of incident was revealed by the betrayal of Tada Yukitsuna, and this made Kiyomori plan to remove vassals of the Cloistered Emperor in the cloister government. As a result, Fujiwara no Moromitsu was executed, Fujiwara no Narichika was deported to Bizen no kuni (Bizen Province) (where he did not received any food and died). Kiyomori, however, did not charge Go-Shirakawa.

In 1179, Go-Shirakawa seized shiteki-keryo (the land for official hereditary Court nobles) and Echizen no kuni (Echizen Province)without consulting Kiyomori. Furthermore, the Cloistered Emperor appointed 8-year-old Matsudono Moroie to be Gon-chunagon (Deputy Middle Counselor) instead of 20-year-old Motomichi (whose wife was Kiyomori's daughter, Hiroko). As a result of this appointment, it became clear that the Matsudono family would succeed the sekkan family post.

Kiyomori, finally becoming furious about Go-Shirakawa's moves that had ignored him, led an army to the capital, this was the so-called Jisho-sannen no seihen (the Coup in 1179: the third year of the Jisho era); Kiyomori fired all 39 court nobles and Imperial vassals (8 aristocrats and a total of 31 tenjo-bito (high-ranking courtiers allowed into the Imperial Palace), zuryu (a provincial governor), and kebiishi (police and judicial chiefs) who were considered to be anti-Taira clan, including kanpaku Motofusa, Gon-chunagon Moroie, and Fujiwara no Moronaga, and replaced them with court nobles who were pro-Taira clan. Go-Shirakawa was afraid of Kiyomori's move and therefore asked to be forgiven, but Kiyomori never forgave him and confined him in the Toba-dono palace. The Go-Shirakawa insei came to a complete end there.

Finally, in 1180 Kiyomori forced Emperor Takakura to abdicate and give the throne to his two years old son, Tokihito, who then became Emperor Antoku. Exercising power through his grandson, Kiyomori moved the capital from Kyoto to his own city of Fukuhara (modern Kōbe), which provided ready access to the Inland Sea and the rich trade routes with China.

With the exertion of Taira power and wealth and Kiyomori's new monopoly on authority, many of his allies, most of the provincial samurai, and even members of his own clan turned against him. The first wave of resistance against the Taira clan's tyranny was the rise of an army led by Mochihito, the second son of Go-Shirakawa, backed by one of Kiyomori’s trusted chieftains, Minamoto no Yorimasa, but the rebellion was easily crushed. Yorimasa was executed, but Mochihito managed to flee.

Mochihito managed to gain support from Minamoto no Yoritomo, Yoshitomo’s son who had been spared in his youth and then seized the opportunity to raise a revolt, in which he gained the support of many warriors in the outlying provinces. Meanwhile, temples also started to show an anti-Taira clan trend even at Enryaku-ji Temple (at that time, the temple had their own army) and this created a situation where Kiyomori was surrounded by powerful temples.

An army was dispatched from the capital to quell the rebellion, but the Taira forces, weakened by many years of luxurious living, were no match for the frontier troops and were immediately defeated. Turning over all government administration to his son, Munemori, Kiyomori devoted himself to building a new army, but before the task could be accomplished, he died in Kujo-kawaraguchi at the age of 64 due to fever.

In 1185, 4 years after Kiyomori’s death, Yoritomo annihilated the last of the Taira clan, including the emperor Antoku, and established the first shogunate government; the Kamakura shogunate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taira_no_Kiyomori
https://www.japanese-wiki-corpus.org...0Kiyomori.html (The chronology and events are fine, but the date is not accurate. It seems whoever wrote this, has "translated" the Japanese date directly into Christian date without proper conversion).

Fiction recommendation:
Novel: Yoshikawa Eiji's "Shin Heike Monogatari" (English translation by Fuki Wooyenaka Uramatsu: (2002) The Heike Story: A Modern Translation of the Classic Tale of Love and War. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8048-3318-9)

Film: 2012 NHK Taiga drama "Taira no Kiyomori" (if you've never watched Taiga before, I suggest to skip the first 10 episodes. Taiga never changes the actors of the main characters throughout the series. It's a bit hard to stomach a 27 years old Matsuyama Kenichi plays 12 years old Kiyomori or 27 years old Matsuda Shota plays 7 years old Masahito (later Emperor Go-Shirakawa)).
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  #30  
Old 03-20-2021, 04:21 PM
Muhler's Avatar
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As always interesting posts from you, Yukari.

Hideyoshi is a most fascinating person!

His rise is an interesting consequence of the endemic civil wars during the 1500s.
Ashigarus were conscript (mainly) peasants soldiers, who were given rudimentary training a simple weapons and send in en mass to overwhelm an opponent, be that samurais or other ashigaru units. Casualties were largely irrelevant, they were basically arrow-fodder.
But the constant warfare meant that ashigaru units were retained longer and as such became more and more professional and battle-hardened.
Combined with the losses among the samurai-class that meant that individual ashigarus could advance by merit and cross the class-boundaries. Something most unusual in Japanese history!
At the same time the military commanders also became more professional and result-oriented. Otherwise they lost and died. So why the samurai class frowned upon ashigarus rising up the ranks, it was simply a question of necessity.

So Hideyoshi were among those who proved his worth and rose to the top and a Japan, that was a close to being egalitarian as it had ever been before or would be for the next 350 years.

Interesting Hideyoshi indeed did take stern initiatives to prevent ashigarus from doing like him - in fact they were to be disarmed as soon as possible. And that included the ordinary peasants who scavenged the battlefields for discarded weapons and armor - very often killing wounded in the process.
It was also very much a concern in the samural class that they would be usurped by the peasants if the ashigarus got too much power - or just as bad, realized how much power they actually had! The samurais were certainly outnumbered.

Ieyasu, who later became Shogun, quickly ensured that the ashigarus were neutralized. It's interesting to speculate as to whether it was Ieyasu who convinced Hideyoshi to agree with that policy or whether that was a part of a political deal.
Hideyoshi, who had risen to the top, might also have more simply selfish political motives: he didn't want competition from people like himself nor was he interested in a more unruly peasant political uprising, that could also turn into a revolution. That was to be avoided!
The samurais were more easy to deal with perhaps, as long as they retained their status and property they would stick to status quo.

- This situation where Japan, could very well have faced a serious peasant rebellion had parallels to Europe. In the early 1500s there were a number of serious peasant rebellions in Central Europe in particular and they got close to attaining their goals: More political influence, distribution of wealth and a more rights, not least human rights. These rebellions were crushed with great difficulty and great cruelty.
It is said that the Central European "obedience to orders", were founded around 1520. - Sie werden so oft geknecht das Knechte geworden. (Forgive my German.) = They were broken so often that they became slaves.

- In Japan, that happened too, though without the same bloodbath. But the result was similar: The peasant class ended up with very few rights. They were reduced to serfs.
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  #31  
Old 03-20-2021, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
As always interesting posts from you, Yukari.

Hideyoshi is a most fascinating person!

His rise is an interesting consequence of the endemic civil wars during the 1500s.
Ashigarus were conscript (mainly) peasants soldiers, who were given rudimentary training a simple weapons and send in en mass to overwhelm an opponent, be that samurais or other ashigaru units. Casualties were largely irrelevant, they were basically arrow-fodder.
But the constant warfare meant that ashigaru units were retained longer and as such became more and more professional and battle-hardened.
Combined with the losses among the samurai-class that meant that individual ashigarus could advance by merit and cross the class-boundaries. Something most unusual in Japanese history!
At the same time the military commanders also became more professional and result-oriented. Otherwise they lost and died. So why the samurai class frowned upon ashigarus rising up the ranks, it was simply a question of necessity.

So Hideyoshi were among those who proved his worth and rose to the top and a Japan, that was a close to being egalitarian as it had ever been before or would be for the next 350 years.

Interesting Hideyoshi indeed did take stern initiatives to prevent ashigarus from doing like him - in fact they were to be disarmed as soon as possible. And that included the ordinary peasants who scavenged the battlefields for discarded weapons and armor - very often killing wounded in the process.
It was also very much a concern in the samural class that they would be usurped by the peasants if the ashigarus got too much power - or just as bad, realized how much power they actually had! The samurais were certainly outnumbered.

Ieyasu, who later became Shogun, quickly ensured that the ashigarus were neutralized. It's interesting to speculate as to whether it was Ieyasu who convinced Hideyoshi to agree with that policy or whether that was a part of a political deal.
Hideyoshi, who had risen to the top, might also have more simply selfish political motives: he didn't want competition from people like himself nor was he interested in a more unruly peasant political uprising, that could also turn into a revolution. That was to be avoided!
The samurais were more easy to deal with perhaps, as long as they retained their status and property they would stick to status quo.

- This situation where Japan, could very well have faced a serious peasant rebellion had parallels to Europe. In the early 1500s there were a number of serious peasant rebellions in Central Europe in particular and they got close to attaining their goals: More political influence, distribution of wealth and a more rights, not least human rights. These rebellions were crushed with great difficulty and great cruelty.
It is said that the Central European "obedience to orders", were founded around 1520. - Sie werden so oft geknecht das Knechte geworden. (Forgive my German.) = They were broken so often that they became slaves.

- In Japan, that happened too, though without the same bloodbath. But the result was similar: The peasant class ended up with very few rights. They were reduced to serfs.
I agree on the comparison to 16th century Europe. I once had this discussion with a friend comparing Napoleon and Hideyoshi/Kiyomori (but without the abolition of the monarchy for the latter two).

I also wonder whether enforcing class boundary was Hideyoshi's or Ieyasu's idea. Then again, when Hideyoshi was "adopted" by Konoe, he basically rose to become noble, something that the Tokugawa never did. But then, I will compare him with Kiyomori. Over 2 centuries before, samurai was treated as the noble's "dog", they're expendable similar to ashigaru to the daimyo during Hideyoshi's era. If Hideyoshi had Nobunaga, Kiyomori had Tadamori to pave the way so they could rise in status. And just like Hideyoshi prevented other peasant to rise like him, Kiyomori also didn't let other samurai clans to rise their status like him. So maybe it's Hideyoshi (being greedy. Something like giving a beggar $1m, he'd spend it with the rich but won't share it with other beggar). Ieyasu simply saw the benefit of his action and decided to continue it.
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  #32  
Old 04-25-2021, 12:03 AM
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25 April 1185 (Genryaku 2, 24th day of the 3rd month 元暦2年3月24日) – Death of Antoku-tennō, 安徳天皇, at the Battle of Dan-no-ura, 壇ノ浦の戦い, the final major naval battle of the Genpei War, occurring in Nagato Province at Akamaseki, Dan-no-ura (modern-day Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture).

Antoku was born as Tokohito, son of Takakura-tennō (fourth son of cloistered emperor Go-Shirakawa and Taira no Shigeko) and Taira no Tokuko (daughter of Taira no Kiyomori). He was named crown prince at around one month old. When he was 2 year old, his father was forced to abdicate and he ascended the throne with his grandfather, Kiyomori, ruled in his name as sesshō (regent).

Kiyomori died from illness in the spring of 1181, and around the same time Japan began to suffer from a famine which was to last through the following year. Meanwhile the rival clan, Minamoto clan, started to gain power under the leadership of Minamoto no Yoritomo as the head of the clan in Kamakura while his cousins, Yoshinaka raised forces in the north and Yukiie in the east.

In 1183, Yoshinaka and Yukiie (in a move backed by Go-Shirakawa) attacked Kyoto. The Taira was forced to flee the city, taking Antoku and the three Imperial Regalia with them. The Minamoto then proclaimed the 3 year old Takahira (later known as Go-Toba-tennō), the 4th son of Takakura, as emperor. Consequently, this means that there were two proclaimed emperors, one living in Heian-kyō and another in flight towards the south.

After a crushing defeat in the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani in March 1184, and the Taira fled further by way of the sea and established strongholds at Yashima in Sanuki Province and Hikoshima in Nagato Province.

The Minamoto clan first sent Yoritomo’s half-brother, Noriyori, to lead the attack, but lacking sufficient provisions and opposed by the Taira's superior naval strength, was forced to halt its advance and could not even cross into Kyushu. Yoritomo formed together a separate force for his other half-younger brother, Yoshitsune, to attack the Taira at their stronghold on Yashima. By means of a surprise attack, Yashima was captured and the Taira fled via the sea to Hikoshima. Noriyori's army, on the other hand, having succeeded in being supplied with provisions and warships, crossed over into Kyushu and defeated the Taira forces of that region in the battle of Ashiyaura, and successfully cut off the main Taira clan's army from behind, thus isolating them at Hikoshima.

In the "Azuma Kagami" (Mirror of the East), the official (or semi-official) diary of the Kamakura Shogunate, listed under the entry of 24th day of the third month of Genryaku 2, the battle of Dannoura is described as follows: “The ships of the Minamoto and Taira, their forces apart from each other by approximately 300 meters, met in battle on the sea of Dan-no-ura in Akamaseki of Nagato Province. The Taira clan split their 500 ships into three fleets, and with Hyotoji Yamaga Hideto as well as Matsuura Akira as the generals in command, challenged the Minamoto clan to fight. At the hour of the Horse (around noon), the battle turned against the Taira clan, and it ended in their defeat.”

Nothing is known of the progress of the battle in any greater detail other than to base it on war chronicles like Heike Monogatari or Genpei Monogatari despite the fact that such chronicles are plagued with credibility issues, but the widely accepted progress of the battle was the tidal theory, first proposed in the Taisho period by Kuroita Katsumi, professor at Tokyo Imperial University.

Yoshitsune managed to assemble a force of 840 ships (according to the "Azuma Kagami") by calling together support from his allies, hence outnumbering the Taira. Meanwhile, having better understanding of the tides of that particular area, the Taira, mainly commanded by Taira no Tomomori (Kiyomori’s son), split their fleet into three squadrons, while the Minamoto arrived en masse; their ships abreast, and archers ready.

The beginning of the battle consisted mainly of a long-range archery exchange, before the Taira took the initiative, using the tides to help them try to surround the enemy ships and initially seemed to be winning due to skillful positioning of archers on the boats. The archery from a distance eventually gave way to hand-to-hand combat with swords and daggers after the crews of the ships boarded each other.

However, the tide changed, and the advantage was given back to the Minamoto. One of the crucial factors that allowed the Minamoto to win the battle was that a Taira general, Taguchi Shigeyoshi, defected and attacked the Taira from the rear. He also revealed to the Minamoto which ship the six-year-old Antoku was on. Their archers turned their attention to the helmsmen and rowers of the Emperor's ship, as well as the rest of their enemy's fleet, sending their ships out of control.

Sensing their defeat, many of the Taira committed suicide by jumping to the sea rather than having to face defeat at the hands of the Minamoto. The most famous one is Tomomori who, according to the legend, either shouldered an anchor or donned two suits of armor as a weight to avoid the indignity of being seen floating on the surface of the sea as a dead body or still alive. “Tokai-ya” and “Daimotsu-ura” of the “Yoshitsune Senbon-zakura” ballad drama of kabuki are based on this legend (known as “Ikari Tomomori”). The climax when he says “見るべき程の事をば見つ。 今はただ自害せん” (I have seen everything that needs to be seen. Now I shall end my life) before he throws himself into the sea with an anchor on his shoulder is one of the most iconic death scene other than Benkei’s die standing.

Tokiko (Kiyomori’s widow) took his grandson and leapt into the water with him, holding the sword Kusanagi no Tsurugi and the jewel Yasakani no Magatama, drowning the child emperor rather than allowing him to be captured by the opposing forces. Antoku came to be worshipped as Mizu-no-kami (Water God). The mirror was recovered and it’s said that a Minamoto soldier who tried to force open the box containing it was struck blind. The jewel was recovered by divers shortly afterwards, but the sword was lost. There are numbers of old text relating the loss of the sword which variously contended that a replica was forged afterwards, or that the lost sword itself was a replica, or the sword was returned to land by supernatural forces.

Antoku’s mother, Tokuko, tried to drown herself but was saved and captured. She later became nun (known as Kenreimon-in). Munemori, the head of Taira clan, and his heir, Kiyomune, tried to drown themselves, but being skilled swimmers, they floated back and managed to swim to the land but was later captured and beheaded.

Heikegani (Heikeopsis japonica), a species of crab native to Japan with a shell that bears a pattern resembling a human face of an angry samurai, is locally believed to be reincarnations of the Heike (Taira) warriors defeated in this battle.

This crucial battle was a cultural and political turning point in Japanese history with Minamoto no Yoritomo became first military ruler as shōgun, marking the beginning of 7 centuries in which Japan was ruled by samurai clans and shōguns instead of emperors and aristocrats.

Sources and further reading:
https://www.japanese-wiki-corpus.org...0Dannoura.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genpei_War
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tale_of_the_Heike

Paintings depicting the battle:
https://www.artelino.com/articles/na...e_dannoura.asp
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  #33  
Old 05-09-2021, 03:11 AM
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9 May 1147 (Kyūan 3, 8th day of the 4th month 久安3年4月8日) – Birth of Minamoto no Yoritomo 源 頼朝, the first and founder of the of Kamakura shogunate, thereby inaugurated the bakufu, a military government system where feudal lords ruled Japan for the next 7 centuries.

Yoritomo was the third son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, the heir of the Minamoto (Seiwa-Genji) clan, and his official wife, Yura-gozen, a daughter of Fujiwara no Suenori, head of Atsuta Shrine and a member of the illustrious Fujiwara clan.

The Heiji Rebellion ended with the Taira, under the leadership of Taira no Kiyomori, decisively defeated the Minamoto, who were commanded by his father, Yoshitomo. Yoshitomo was eventually betrayed and killed by a retainer while escaping from Kyōto in Owari. However Yoritomo (then only 13 years old) and two of his younger half-brothers, Noriyori and Yoshitsune, were spared and sent into exile.

It is believed that, even though he was in exile in Ito, Izu province, Yoritomo was able to spend a relatively stable and free way of life. In “The Tale of Soga”, it’s mentioned that he fathered a son named Sentsurumaru with Yae-hime, daughter of Ito Sukechika, a local busho who was in charge to watch Yoritomo. Fearing that the wrath of the Taira clan, Sukechika drowned the baby in the Matsu river, married his daughter off to Ema no Koshiro, and plotted to kill Yoritomo. Yoritomo managed to escape on a horse at night to Soto-gongen shrine in Atami and was hidden in the residence of Hōjō Tokimasa. He later married Tokimasa’s eldest daughter, Masako.

In 1180, Prince Mochihito, a son of Cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa, sent out ryoji (orders issued by princes, empresses, etc.) to the Minamoto clan in various districts ordering to search and kill the Taira clan. Prince Mochihito died in action in Uji City with Minamoto no Yorimasa, but Yoritomo did not move and watchfully waited the course of events. However the Taira clan planned to search out and kill the Minamoto clan in various districts after learning they had received ryoji. Yoritomo discovered the activity, realizing that his own life was at risk, and he decided to raise an army. He sent an envoy to each Gozoku in Bando, to whom he had connections with from the time of Yoshitomo, for assistance to raise the army. He set himself up as the rightful heir of the Minamoto clan and set up a capital in Kamakura to the east. Not all Minamoto thought of Yoritomo as rightful heir. His uncle, Minamoto no Yukiie, and his cousin Minamoto no Yoshinaka, conspired against him.

Kiyomori died in March 1181 and few months later, Yoritomo sent letter to Go-Shirakawa stating that he had no intention of rebellion and ‘both Genpei (the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan) shall be taken into your service once again.' However, Kiyomori’s successor, Taira no Munemori, rejected the peace suggestion and instead took a much more aggressive policy against the Minamoto, and attacked Minamoto bases from Kyoto. The year after, in 1182, the Taira clan could not carry out activities of searching and killing because of the Famine of Yowa caused by unsettled weather. In the same year, Yoritomo’s wife, Masako, gave birth to a son, Minamoto no Yoriie.

In spring 1183, Minamoto no Yoshihiro, Yoritomo’s uncle raised an army to attack Kamakura. At the time, most of his vassals were at Suruga Province to prepare for attack of the Taira clan, so Yoritomo entrusted the situation to Oyama Tomomasa. He defeated Yoshihiro in the Battle of Nogimiya, whom then fled and sought protection from Yoshinaka. Since Yoshinaka was also sheltering Yukiie, this put Yoritomo and Yoshinaka on the verge of an armed conflict. However, after discussions they agreed with Minamoto no Yoshitaka, the legitimate son of Yoshinaka, to be sent to Kamakura to marry O-hime, the eldest daughter of Yoritomo, and concluded peace.

Yoshinaka, together with Yukiie and Yoshihiro, continued to win the battle against the Taira clan and took over Kyoto while the Taira clan and Emperor Antoku fled from the capital. However army of Yoshinaka was not well disciplined, as it was a medley army and Yoshinaka himself provoked antipathy from Go-Shirakawa and the retainer of Imperial Court as he intervened with the succession to the Imperial Throne when he placed Go-Toba as emperor. Go-Shirakawa demanded Yoritomo go to Kyoto, but Yoritomo sent back an envoy and rejected the demand. One of the reason was that there was a risk of Kamakura being attacked by Fujiwara no Hidehira and Satake Takayoshi, the other was that Kyoto would not hold such a large army.

On November that year, the Imperial Court restored Yoritomo's Ikai (Court rank) that was stopped during the Heiji War and an Imperial Decree was issued, stating to move shoryo of Tokaido and Tosando back to the original honjo (guarantor of manor), and Yoritomo would present nengu (land tax) and kanmotsu (tribute goods paid as taxes or tithes) of the area, also he would decide on punishment of those who disobeyed the order. Yoritomo had already been confiscating shoryo that he obtained by force and giving rewards and punishments to his gokenin (vassal), but that had been unofficial as far as the Imperial Court was concerned. With the Imperial Decree was issued, the Kamakura government led by Yoritomo, which was originally a rebel, became a power that was officially certified by the Imperial Court.

Yoshinaka, who feared Yoritomo's going to Kyoto, wished for an order to search for and to kill Yoritomo when he returned to Kyoto, but it was not granted so he took Go-Shirakawa into custody and forced him to appoint him as shōgun. In retaliation in February 1884, Yoritomo sent an army, led by his half-brothers, Noriyori and Yoshitsune to Kyoto with army of 55,000 horsemen, and Yoshinaka was killed in Otsu City, Omi Province.

The conflict between Minamoto clan and Taira clan ended in 1885 when the former triumphed over the latter who suffered a terrible defeat at the Battle of Dan-no-ura.

Not long after, Yoritomo received a message from Kajiwara Kagetoki, who once assisted Yoshitsune when in the pursuit of the Taira clan, informing that 'Yoshitsune indulged in trumpeting that the pursuit was achieved exclusively owing to his merit.' Apart from the Kagetoki's letter, reports stating the tyranny of Yoshitsune, such as punishing Togoku samurai following him according to his own judgment, came to Yoritomo's knowledge (as his vassal, anything that Yoshitsune did should be approved by Yoritomo first).

Yoritomo, already at odd with Yoshitsune whom offended him by receiving title from the Imperial Court without his approval, then ordered gokenin not to follow Yoshitsune and did not allow him to enter Kamakura. Yoshitsune blamed Yoritomo on this cruel treatment and boldly said, 'Those who are not satisfied serving in Kanto, come and join Yoshitsune's side.' When Yoritomo heard it, he confiscated all of his properties and ordered Noriyori to arrest their brother; after unsuccessfully trying to convince Yoritomo to change his mind, Noriyori simply disobeyed outright.

Yoshitsune then attempted to raise a rebellion against him with the aid of his uncle, Minamoto no Yukiie, but, failing, he was forced to flee. Yoshitsune perished after being betrayed by the son of a trusted ally.

In December 1185, Go-Shirakawa granted Yoritomo the authority to collect the commissariat tax (the hyoro-mai or levy contribution of rice) and to appoint stewards (jito) and constables (shugo). Thus the Throne "handed to the leader of the military class effective jurisdiction in matters of land tenure and the income derived from agriculture". Upon the death of Go-Shirakawa in the spring of 1192, Go-Toba commissioned Yoritomo shōgun.

The strength of Yoritomo's rulership lay in the feudal-type, lord-vassal relationships he established with his followers. In return for allegiance and military service, Yoritomo provided his vassals with protection, confirmed them in their existing landholdings, and bestowed new lands upon them. These fiefs later became the basis of the power of the daimyo (feudal lords). With the assistance of scholars recruited from the imperial court, Yoritomo set up an administrative network that soon replaced the imperial court at Kyoto as the effective central government of Japan. Thus a feudal state was now organized in Kamakura while Kyoto was relegated to the role of "national ceremony and ritual".

The shogunate of Minamoto no Yoritomo marked the beginning of a vigorous period in the history of Japanese culture, during which Zen Buddhism was officially sponsored and the bushido system of military virtue was cultivated.

In May 1193, when Yoritomo held a grand hunt on Mount Fuji, an incident occurred. A rumor spread that Yoritomo had been killed. His wife, Masako, was worried, but Noriyori comforted her, assuring her that even if Yoritomo were killed, he would be there for her and for the clan. These words caused Yoritomo to doubt his brother, who confined Noriyori to Izu Province and later had him killed on charges of conspiracy.

Yoritomo died at the age of 52 in 1199. His two young sons, Yoriie and Sanetomo, who became the second and third shōguns, were unable to sustain the power of the Minamoto. Before long the Hōjō family, assumed control of the government at Kamakura, maintaining power over the shogunate until 1333 under the title of shikken (regent to the shōgun). To legitimize their position, the Hōjō installed Fujiwara courtiers and, later, imperial princes as figurehead shoguns.

In contrast to Yoritomo, who had ruled in a generally autocratic fashion, the Hōjō regents established a council of state at Kamakura that gave other warrior chieftains of the east the opportunity to participate more directly in the decision-making process of the shogunate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minamoto_no_Yoritomo
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Minamoto-Yoritomo
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  #34  
Old 05-31-2021, 02:23 AM
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31 May 1408 (Ōei 15, 6th day of the 5th month 応永15年5月6日)– Death of Ashikaga Yoshimitsu 足利 義満, the 3rd shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate.

His childhood name was Haruo, he was Ashikaga Yoshiakira's third son by his concubine but the oldest son to survive. In 1367 Yoshiakira fell ill and died by the end of that year. Some months after his death, the 10 year old Yoshimitsu was installed as shōgun. In 1374, he welcomed Hino Yoriko as his wife.

In 1370, in order to strengthen control over Kyoto, the Court gave him authority to control the Sanmon Kunin (a clique of influential people of Enryaku-ji Temple and its affiliates, as well as member of the temple)

In 1378, the Shogunate was moved from Sanjo Bomon to Kitanokoji Muromachi. The Shogunate, after the move, was nicknamed "Hana no Gosho" (Flower Palace), and also called the Muromachi Bakufu (Shogunate) after its new location. The administration and taxation authorities, which had been divided between the Court and the Shogunate, were integrated and a unit called Hokoshu or Bugyoshu was organized to handle practical matters, and was a standing army comparable to the Shugo Daimyo's army in military strength. He also undertook the following actions to demonstrate his power: visit to Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple in 1385, sight-seeing trip to Mt. Fuji in Suruga Province in 1388, visit to Itsukushima Shrine in Aki Province in 1389.

In 1392, Yoshimitsu accelerated negotiations with the Southern Court as the national influence of the Southern Court was declining. In the negotiations, he presented several following proposals for reconciliation: the emperor should be selected alternately from the two imperial lineages, Jimyōin-tō and Daikakuji-tō; all the state-owned territories (of which there was actually very little) should belong to the Daikakuji-tō; the Three Sacred Treasures which were in the possession of Emperor Go-Kameyama should be presented to Emperor Go-Komatsu of the Jimyōin-tō, so that the Southern Court would be dissolved. In this way, he achieved integration of the Northern and Southern Courts, and brought the end to Nanboku-chō fighting which had last for 58 years.

Even then however, he didn’t have firm control of the Kyushu province and foreign intercourse, which in the preceding decades had remained largely in the hand of Go-Daigo’s son, Kaneyoshi Shinnō.

Since young, Yoshimitsu had interest in re-opening trade with Ming (modern China). He began making efforts as early as the year 1374. He sent a mission in the year 1374 and another one in the year 1389. But the government of Ming would not accept an envoy dispatched by someone who presented himself as a vassal of the Emperor, because Ming traditionally did not trade with any retainer of a vassal.

In 1394 Yoshimitsu handed the position of shōgun to his son, Yoshimochi, while continued to maintain authority over the shogunate. He succeeded in gaining greater authority over Kyushu from 1396, gaining allies in Shibukawa Mitsuyori and Ouchi Yoshihiro, shogun who controlled three provinces in Kyushu, who later became his closest allies and intermediaries in his negotiations with Ming and Joseon (modern Korea). After Yoshihiro’s death in 1339, Yoshimitsu managed bakufu foreign relations on his own, conducting correspondence directly with his counterparts on the continent: King Taejong of Joseon and Emperor Jianwen and then later with Emperor Yongle of Ming.

Yoshimitsu sent a merchant called Koitsumi from Hakata City and the priest Soa as missionaries to Ming in 1401, with the aristocratic title of "Junsangu of Japan, Minamoto Michiyoshi," instead of using the higher (but samurai) title of " shōgun." Finally Emperor Jianwen of Ming offered a master-and-man relationship (sakuho) to the Japanese sovereign instead of to Prince Kaneyoshi, with whom Ming had wanted to have contact until then, and when Ming gave the Datongli calendar to Japan, the two countries' diplomatic relations were formally established. Later on he also established communication with Joseon. In recognition for his diplomatic efforts (and overt displays of subservience), the Chinese sovereign pronounced Yoshimitsu "King of Japan" (Ribenguo wang日本国王 or Nihon koku ō in Japanese).

In 1407, he set into motion a plan to become "Daijō tenno" (太上天皇), a title customarily applied to a retired emperor. Although unrealised due to his sudden death the following year, this last venture was particularly audacious because Yoshimitsu never actually sat on the Japanese throne.

His son, the 4th shōgun, openly criticised his attitude toward Ming as humiliating. He refused to grant an audience to the next Ming mission and responded negatively to their demands for the submission tribute. In his official letter to the Ming court, Yoshimochi wrote: “Before his death, my father received from a fortune-teller this: ‘Since antiquity our country has never declared itself the vassal of a foreign country, but you departed from the stance taken by preceding enlightened sovereigns. You accepted the (Ming) calendar and the seal (with the title “king of Japan”) and did not refuse them. This is the reason of your illness’.”

However, Yoshimochi’s attitude didn’t change the tributary hierarchy. The Ming continued to address the shōgun as king, and after Yoshimochi, the later shōguns used this title again in their correspondence with Ming, but they didn’t use the title in their messages addressed to Joseon in which Joseon kings viewed shōgun as their equals as fellow vassal of Ming. Thus, Yoshimitsu had set the tone for the diplomatic affairs of the Muromachi bakufu for the next one and half centuries.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashikaga_Yoshimitsu
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu: A Great Example of the Ashikaga Shogunate | YABAI - The Modern, Vibrant Face of Japan
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  #35  
Old 05-31-2021, 02:26 AM
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A little background about Sino-Japanese diplomatic affair pre-Yoshimitsu.

At the early stages of official relations between the two countries, in the famous letters sent in 607 and 608 by Empress Suiko to Emperor Yangdi of Sui China, the title “king of Yamato/king of Wa” (Wa ō倭王) was avoided to refer the Yamato ruler to establish diplomatic parity. However, by sending official embassies to Sui and Tang China, the rulers of Yamato had submitted themselves to the rules dictated by Chinese sovereigns. At the same time, they attempted to assert their prestige by obtaining precedence over other countries at audiences at the Chinese court.

After the official embassies ended in 839 and throughout the Heian period, in dealing with Chinese traders, Japanese court nobles treated them sometimes with respect and at other times with pride and even condescension. Several Japanese monks, who travelled to the continent often called attention to the issue of the title of the Japanese sovereign. One of them was Chonen who submitted a genealogy of the Japanese sovereigns to the Chinese (Song) court that mention the “tennō” and at his audience with Emperor Jōjin of Song in 1073, stated that the Japanese sovereign was called kōtei or shōju.

However a century later, Taira no Kiyomori compromised Japan’s diplomatic protocol for the sake of trade with Song. He invited a Song merchant to his residence in Fukuhara near the port of Ōwada (later Hyōgo) and arranged an audience with retired emperor Go-Shirakawa. Contemporaries criticised this as violating ancient precedents that prohibited Japanese sovereigns from meeting with foreigners. As one noble noted: “Not since the Engi era (901-923) have we seen such disaster inflicted by evil spirits!” Even worse, Kiyomori responded by sending in return a set of valuable present, notwithstanding the fact that the Chinese letter referred to the “king of Japan”. Regarding this incident, Kiyohara no Yorinari, a Confusian scholar and lecturer to the emperor, exclaimed: “There are no words for this, no way to understand this! How should a foreign country (ikoku) decide such matters according to its own inclination? This is a most unhappy event!”

The submissive diplomacy of Kiyomori and Yoshimitsu contrasts not only with the efforts of the early Yamato rulers to avoid being incorporated into a subordinate position within a sinocentric world order, but also with the strong attitudes of some other Asian countries. Several local chieftains, especially North and Central Asia, refused to submit to the dictates of the Chinese world order at various historical moments, including Yoshimitsu’s contemporary, Tamerlane, the khan of an immense Mongol empire extending from the Central Asia to northern India and Iran and Ankara in Turkey.

Similar to Kiyomori, Yoshimitsu’s stance had also not been received well. Zuikei Shuhō, the author of Zenrin kokuhōki, noted Yoshimitsu’s acceptance of Ming suzerainty by styling himself king of Japan as “improper” and how his acknowledging vassal status to a foreign country as “wrong” so did his use of Chinese era names (instead of Japanese one) in dating his letters. He concluded that Japan’s diplomatic correspondence should be handled by the imperial court and not by the Zen monks who authored the letters of the shōgun (rather hypocrite since he himself was also a Zen monk and adviser to the shōgun in 1464 and drafted a letter addressed by Ashikaga Yoshimasa (the 8th shōgun) to the Ming court).

For more, you can read this journal article:
Ashikaga Yoshimitsu's Foreign Policy 1398 to 1408 A.D.: A Translation from "Zenrin Kokuhōki," the Cambridge Manuscript by Charlotte von Verschuer
(you have to register to be able to read it)
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  #36  
Old 06-04-2021, 12:48 AM
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4 June 1615 (Keichō 20, 8th day of 5th month, 慶長20年5月8日)– The Fall of Osaka Castle, marking the end of the Siege of Osaka and putting an end to the last major armed opposition to the Tokugawa shogunate's establishment.

The siege of Osaka (Ōsaka no Eki, 大坂の役), refers collectively to Winter Siege of Osaka (Ōsaka Fuyu no Jin) and Summer Siege of Osaka (Ōsaka Natsu no Jin), was a series of battles undertaken by the Tokugawa shogunate against the Toyotomi clan.

When Toyotomi Hideyoshi died in 1598, his heir, Hideyori, was only 5 years old. But before he died, he had appointed the five regents (called Go-Tairō) to rule in Hideyori's place (he held the position of Kampaku/Emperor Chief Advisor). Those five regents were Tokugawa Ieyasu, Maeda Toshiie, Ukita Hideie, Uesugi Kagekatsu, and Mōri Terumoto. Amongst them, Ieyasu and Toshiie were the one who held the most influence until the death of the later in 1599. Ieyasu seized control in 1600, after his victory over the others at the Battle of Sekigahara.

Although all the major daimyo pledged themselves to Ieyasu, many actually remained loyal to Hideyori. To mollify them, Ieyasu allowed Hideyori and his mother Yodo-dono (also known as Chacha) to maintain his father’s castle at Ōsaka, a fortress that had served as Hideyoshi's residence and that was he found himself, and to govern the large surrounding fief. Ieyasu also arranged marriage between Hideyori to his granddaughter, Sen-hime (both were seven years old) to mitigate Toyotomi clan dissension and plotting.

Not until 1611, when the last of the old warriors loyal to the memory of Hideyoshi died, did Ieyasu dare to move against Hideyori. His opportunity came in 1614 in the form of a bronze bell that Hideyori had restored and hung in the Hōkō-ji (Hōkō Temple). Inscribed on the bell were two ideographs also used in writing Ieyasu’s name. Accusing Hideyori of attempting to jinx him, Ieyasu called for an attack on Hideyori’s castle.

None of the great feudal lords came to his aid, but Hideyori managed to assemble an army of more than 90,000 rōnin, masterless warriors dispossessed during the Tokugawas’ consolidation of power. Although the Tokugawa forces vastly outnumbered the defenders, the walls of the great Ōsaka castle proved impregnable.

The winter campaign began on 19 November 1614. Tokugawa forces led by Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada, while Toyotomi forces were under Sanada Yukimura’s command. Previously, both had clashed in the Battle of Ueda Castle, which resulted in Hidetada’s defeat despite sizeable army (40,000 men vs Yukimura’s 2,000) and his late arrival at the Battle of Sekigahara.

To defend Osaka Castle, Yukimura built a small fortress called Sanada-maru in the southwest corner of the castle. The Sanada-maru was an earthwork barbican defended by 7,000 men under his command. From there, he defeated the Tokugawa forces (aprrox. 30,000 men) with groups of 6,000 arquebusiers. The fortress was impregnable and after several losses, Ieyasu offered for peace treaty with Hideyori.

Ieyasu issued a document, sealed with blood from his finger and signed also by Hidetada, which said: “That the rōnin in the castle are not found guilty; that Hideyori's income remain the same as before; that Yodo-dono is not asked to live in Edo; that if Hideyori chooses to leave Ōsaka he may choose any other province as his fiefdom; that his person is inviolable.” in exchange of destroying the outer moat of the castle.

Hideyori and Yodo-dono sent Ieyasu a solemn oath stating that they would not rebel against Ieyasu or Hidetada and that he would consult any matter directly with him, but he then complained after upon entering the castle ground, Tokugawa envoy not only tore down the walls and filled the the outer moat but also the inner moat as well. They answered by blaming the workers for having misunderstood their instructions. Although the work stopped momentarily, soon the soldiers of the shogunate continued, so Yodo-dono sent one of her maids and Ōno to Kyoto. Several days later Ieyasu gave an elusive official response, where he assured that since he had signed an eternal peace, the walls were not necessary.

In April 1615, Ieyasu received word that Hideyori was gathering even more troops than in the previous November, and that he was trying to stop the filling of the moat of Osaka Castle. Toyotomi forces began to attack contingents of the shōgun's forces near Osaka.

On 3 June 1615 at the Battle of Dōmyōji, Sanada Yukimura was in command of the Osaka Army on the right wing and engaged in a battle with Date Masamune forces in the area of Emperor Ōjin's Tomb and Konda Hachiman Shrine. He later made the decision to retreat towards Osaka Castle. after hurrying back to Osaka castle, Yukimura found the massive Tokugawa force of nearly 150,000 moving into positions in order to make their final assault on the castle.

As the Tokugawa units were still moving into formation, the Toyotomi forces launched a last ditch offensive with their approximate 54,000 to 60,000 troops that hoped to take the still loose Tokugawa formations off-guard. Initially the Toyotomi forces might have a chance at victory (or so he hoped), thus he sent message to the castle to urge Hideyori to seize the moment and sally forward. But Hideyori was too late and Yukimura perished.

Hideyori’s smaller force was chased right back into the castle by the advancing enemies; there was no time to set up a proper defense of the castle, which was completely defenseless with moats all filled up except in Honmaru. Around midnight of 3 June 1615, the castle was soon ablaze and pummeled by artillery fire. It is said that the rising flames lit up the night sky, and the brightly reddened sky over Osaka could be seen even from Kyoto.

Hidetada managed to retrieve his daughter, but he ignored her plea for the life of her husband and mother-in-law. Toyotomi Hideyori and Yodo-dono committed seppuku in the flames of Osaka castle, ending the Toyotomi legacy.

The Toyotomi clan was then disbanded. Roughly one year later, Tokugawa Ieyasu died at the age of 75. Sen-hime remarried but later became a Buddhist nun. Tokugawa clan would rule Japan for the next 250 years under the Tokugawa shogunate.

After the fall of the castle, the shogunate announced laws including ikkoku ichijō 一国一城 (one province can contain only one castle) and Bukeshohatto (or called Law of Buke, which limits each daimyō to own only one castle and obey the castle restrictions). The shogunate's permission had to be obtained prior to any castle construction or repair from then on. Many castles were also forced to be destroyed as a result of compliance with this law.

Sources and further reading:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Osaka
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanada_Maru
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyotomi_Hideyori
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanada_Yukimura
>>>Said to be "A Hero who may appear once in a hundred years", "Crimson Demon of War" and "The Last Sengoku Hero". The famed veteran of the invasion of Korea, Shimazu Tadatsune, called him the "Number one warrior in Japan". I often wonder, if he was by Mitsunari’s side or the one who led instead of the latter during the Battle of Sekigahara, would it end differently).
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  #37  
Old 06-05-2021, 07:20 PM
Muhler's Avatar
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Thanks, Yukari.

Osaka Castle was indeed near impregnable. I've seen the plans of the castle from just prior to these events and apart from being huge, the castle defenses consisted of one deathtrap after another for assaulting forces. Which indeed proved to be the case.
Because Japan at the time did not possess heavy siege artillery. In fact hardly any artillery at all.
The reason was interesting. While Japan had many and pretty good roads, they often went through mountainous terrain and the roads were not paved.
On top of that wheeled wagons and carriages were reserved for ceremonial use only - in fact the Emperor each year embarked on such a ceremonial drive for a short distance on a special road near Kyoto.
Because wheels make tracks and together with hooves and hoofs from whatever animal was used to pull the wagons (and artillery) the roads would quickly be ruined and combined with rain, turned into a mire.
On reasonable even stretches like in central Asia, India, the Middle East and Europe that was an annoyance but in Japan where the terrain was difficult, it was a genuine problem!
Apart from that a European army on the march, with hundreds of wagons and pieces of artillery would live off the land. I.e. plunder the enemy countryside they marched through of food and livestock. In Japan an army on the march would just as often march through the land of an allied daimyo as an hostile daimyo. On top of that the peasantry were the basis of the wealth of samurai class. - They were the prize.
So just as in the Wars of the Roses in England during the 1400's, the samurais avoided raiding the peasants when possible. It was simply a question of money.

So Japan rarely deployed artillery at all. But as you mention arquebusiers and even wheel-lock muskets were employed in considerable number and with devastating effect!
They were relatively cheap and simple to manufacture. Basically only a lever, a steel tube and a wooden stock and you could train a man to use an arquebus in days, a unit could be trained within a couple of months - while it took years to train an archer. And a bow is a complex weapon to manufacture. Apart from that lamellar armor and silk-shirts offered no protection against musket-balls. While you could pull out an arrow, because it pushed the silk into the wound, but mostly not penetrating the silk itself, a musket ball went right through with almost inevitable infection as a result. Especially if bones were smashed.
Japanese doctors faced wounds they had little experience in dealing with, so the psychological effect of muskets was considerable as well.

I mention this because that is instrumental in understanding one of the reasons why Japan closed down to foreigners after the Christian rebellions had been put down during the 1630's - and with considerable difficulty!
The Christian rebels were supported and armed by the Portuguese in particular, as well as getting advise and know-how in regards to tactics and how best to deploy firearms by European mercenaries. (An often overlooked detail in Japanese military history.)
So when the Tokugawa dynasty had finally quelled the last Christian rebels and killed a number of priests, monks and "other" Europeans (Read: advisors) the immediate thought was: Never again! And how do we ensure that this never happens again?
The Japanese were not uninformed. There were Japanese theological students going to Europe, there were emissaries going to Europe. There were Japanese samurais (ronins mostly) sailing aboard European ships as far as India. And they reported back over time and it became clear that while the Europeans were unable to invade and take Japan, they were masters in dividing and conquering by turning local lords against each other and gaining decisive influence that way.
There was a genuine fear in Japan that this could happen. And the recent Christian rebellion proved that it might very well succeed!
So the isolationists won. Japan closed down to foreigners. Turned it's back on the world for 225 years and collectively tried to forget that there were some serious bogeymen out there.

The only contact to the outside world was through the port of Nagasaki, via Dutch traders and ships that set up a merchant colony there. The samurai class saw trade and dealing with money as beneath their dignity and left all that to an ever and quietly more wealthy merchant class.
Out of sight out of mind...

But why was japan left alone?
By the mid 1600's every single European country that was capable of launching ocean going ships send out expeditions to China and India. The Dutch were but one of a number of nationalities. Trading ports shut up along the coasts of India and China, with Spain and Portugal having the largest and strongest presence. There was a huge profit in such trips! If you made it to the East and back alive, you were pretty much set up for life.

I personally think that Japan was simply too out of the way, like Korea at the time. And to be frank, Japan didn't have that much to offer - perhaps apart from silver.
Japan did not produce porcelain, silk, tea or spices to any particular extent. In fact Japan imported such products, so there was little incentive to sail to Japan - which the Dutch had secured an exclusive deal with anyway, in return for non-interference in Japanese domestic affairs. A policy the Dutch used in a number of places.
So if you made it to China, and they were more than happy to trade, why take an extra risk by also sailing to Japan?

So Japan was left alone until they were rudely woken up in the 1850's.
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Old 06-07-2021, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
Thanks, Yukari.

Osaka Castle was indeed near impregnable. I've seen the plans of the castle from just prior to these events and apart from being huge, the castle defenses consisted of one deathtrap after another for assaulting forces. Which indeed proved to be the case.

(...)
It should be noted that Osaka Castle was built by Hideyoshi and back then as Nobunaga's general, he's known as "an expert at assault of castle" due to his many wins conquering several castles. So seems like he learnt a thing or two about castle defence from his past battles.

I also find it interesting that the castle was burnt to the ground in the beginning and the end of Tokugawa shogunate, in both case by the Tokugawa; 1615 by Hidetada forces and in 1868 by the pro-shogunate who chose to burn the castle down instead of surrendered it to the Imperial royalist forces. It was also on fire two other times between those event because struck by lightning (which is why when someone mention Osaka castle, what I always have in mind is "burning castle").
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Old 06-10-2021, 10:41 AM
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10 June 867 (Jōgan 9, 5th day of the 5th month, 貞観9年5月5日) – Birth of Uda-tennō 宇多天皇, the 59th emperor of Japan.

Born as Sadami, he was the son of Kōkō-tennō and Hanshi (Nakako)-joō (granddaughter of Kanmu-tennō). Four months after Kōkō had become emperor, he gave the surname “Minamoto” to all of his 29 children, thereby removing them from the imperial family and the line of succession. Hence, from Sadami-shinnō he became Minamoto no Sadami.

This practice of demoting imperial princes and princess to be nobles was not new. The first emperor to grant the surname Minamoto 源 (also known as Genji) to his children was Saga-tennō, who reportedly had 49 children, resulting in a significant financial burden on the imperial household. In order to alleviate some of the pressure of supporting his unusually many offspring, he made many of his sons and daughters nobles instead of royals. He chose the word minamoto (meaning "origin") for their new surname in order to signify that the new clan shared the same origins as the royal family. Other honorary surname was Taira 平(also known as Heike), which first granted to grandchildren of Kanmu after 825.

During the Heian Period, government came to be dominated by Fujiwara. Since the reign of Yōzei-tennō, Fujiwara no Mototsune occupied the top most post within the court as kampaku, or chief councillor, through which he could issue commands on behalf of the emperor. Kōkō had been name sovereign only through Mototsune’s intervention who deposed Yōzei under deposition of possessing a "violent disposition" and unfit to be a ruler, but did not wish Kōkō’s descendant to become emperors. Instead, he intended that the next sovereign should be one of the prices whom he had temporarily by-passed because of their youth but who more closely related to him. Although Kōkō was in no position to oppose Mototsune’s desires, privately he would have liked to revive the practices of his father Ninmyō’s day when the imperial family had not been dominated by the Fujiwara. Thus he appointed many of imperial relatives (whom had been demoted as nobles) to high office.

Three and a half years after becoming emperor, Kōkō fell mortally ill. A crown prince still had not been named and so 14 of the highest court officials, including Mototsune, petitioned that the matter be settled promptly. From the surviving fragments of Uda’s diary and a few other sources, the delay in naming a crown prince had resulted from the desire of both Kōkō and Motorsune to retain the appearance of harmony, for to select a successor would bring their conflict of interest into the open. Privately, Kōkō favoured his son the future Uda-tennō, a promising man who was just entering his prime. He conveyed his views to Mototsune who later agreed, thinking that since he had been able to dominate the court during Kōkō’s reign, he would be able to continue to do so during the next reign. Few days later, an edict stated that Sadami, at that time 21 years old, was to have his surname Minamoto taken back so he could return to the imperial family. The next day he was proclaimed crown prince and ascended the throne as Kōkō passed away. He would later be known as Uda-tennō.

This was an unprecedented event. Previously, when a successor to the deposed Yōzei was being sought, another former prince who had been removed to the Minamoto family expressed a desire to resume his status and be named the next sovereign. Mototsune rejected the suggestion because, he argued, a man who had been given a surname and made a subject could not return to the imperial family. That, however, is what now took place that even the mentally deranged Yōzei was displeased by his former retainer’s becoming emperor (Sadami previously served Yōzei as his chamberlain).

The fact that Uda’s mother was not a Fujiwara brought him in unique position compared to the past emperors before him in which he was not fully under influence of Fujiwara clan. His reign is marked by a prolonged struggle to reassert power by the Imperial Family away from the increasing influence of the Fujiwara.

The newly enthroned Emperor Uda issued an imperial edict assigning Fujiwara no Mototsune as Kampaku (Chief Imperial Advisor). However, the Emperor, together with Tachibana no Hiromi, then issued a second edict (Tachibana clan was Fujiwara clan’s rival). In this shochoku, there was a phrase saying "his position should be Akō." Akō was the position to which Koretada, a wise vassal in the Yin period of China, was appointed and Hiromi cited this historical fact. As Monjo hakase (professor of literature) Fujiwara no Sukeyo told Mototsune that "Akō was a high-ranking position with no jobs," this phrase developed into a big problem. Mototsune abandoned all state affairs in anger and national administration was delayed. In fear of Mototsune’s wrath should they appear to be siding with his opponents, many of high court officials claimed illness and refused to do their duty. Uda annulled his edict and Hiromi was dismissed from the court. This event was known as The Ako Controversy (阿衡の紛議) or Ako Incident (阿衡事件) and considered to be the first real seatback of Uda’s reign.

Thing started to change after Mototsune’s death in 891. Uda kept the post of kampaku vacant and followed his father move by selecting his advisers from members of minor Japanese noble families, one of them was Sugawara no Michizane. Michizane rapidly rose in rank within five years to reach the third rank in the court, and supervision of the Crown Prince's household, whilst Mototsune's son and heir, Fujiwara no Tokihira, rose in rank, but only just enough to prevent an open power struggle.

In 897, Uda abdicated in favor of his eldest son, Atsuhito, who would later come to be known as Daigo-tennō, and entered the Buddhist priesthood at age 34 in 900. His Buddhist name was Kongō Kaku. He died in 931 (Shōhei 1, 19th day of the 7th month) at the age of 65.

Source and further reading:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Uda (or in Japanese)
(I would recommend the Japanese wiki, since the English one has several inaccuracies such as that he was born in 866 instead of 867 or that he’s the 3rd son while many other sources note him as the 7th son).
Edit: find this e-book online. Better read this than the eng wiki (the link will lead to page about emperor Uda):
Sugawara No Michizane and the Early Heian Court By Robert Borgen
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Old 06-21-2021, 03:52 AM
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21 June 1582 (Tenshō 10, 2nd day of the 6th month 天正10年6月2日) – Death of Oda Nobunaga 織田 信長 in the Honnō-ji Incident.

Arguably THE most famous samurai in Japan (I lose count how many books, manga, anime, films featuring him I’ve read/watched to date), he is regarded as one of three great unifiers along with his retainers Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. I can’t remember where I read/heard it, but there’s a saying about the three that “Nobunaga provides the ingredients, Hideyoshi cooks it, and Ieyasu eats it”.

Born into a family of local administrators in 1534, Nobunaga's father, Oda Nobuhide was a minor daimyo in Owari Province. On his father's death in 1551, he became the lord of Nagoya castle. Using the castle as his base, Nobunaga extended his domination over rival daimyo, becoming Japan's most-feared military leader. His reputation for ruthlessness was firmly established in 1557 when he ordered the murder of his own brother.

Nobunaga eventually took control of the capital Heian-kyo (Kyoto) in 1568 where he installed Ashikaga Yoshiaki as his puppet shogun, who would be exiled five years later for conspiring with Nobunaga's enemies, thus bringing an end to the Ashikaga shoguns which had reigned since 1388. In 1579 and now in control of all central Japan, Nobunaga established a new headquarters at the magnificent Azuchi castle outside the capital on the edge of Lake Biwa.
(Unlike Hideyoshi’s Osaka castle and Ieyasu’s Edo castle, nothing remains today of the castle except its stone base, but it was the first to have the huge multi-storey tower keep that became the norm in Japanese medieval castles.)

Around 1549, when Nobunaga was a mere 15-year-old, he had created a specialist corps of 500 men each with his own matchlock muskets. Nobunaga used his new weapons well, too, and was the first to employ rotating ranks of musket-men to create a continuous volley of fire. Nobunaga's army was also the first to have each man, including the infantry, issued with a full suit of armour. The territories Nobunaga gained were given to his loyal commanders to govern, and the lands of captured warlords were frequently redistributed and relocated to break old ties of loyalty.

Through his childhood and early teenage years, he became well-known for his bizarre behaviour. A clear speaker with a strong presence about him, he was known to run around with other youths from the area, without any regard to his own rank in society, forming friendships with anybody in any social class including common people. He notably took Kinoshita (future Toyotomi Hideyoshi), a farmer’s son with no traceable samurai lineage under his wing, initially to serve him as an ashigaru but later on promoting him to be one of his trusted general.

After he went to Kyoto, he also had close relationship with kuge (Court Nobles), particularly since as Daijo-daijin (Chancelor of the Realm), he reformed the financial conditions of the noble class including the Imperial Court.

The one he didn’t have good relation was with Buddhist monastery. He was concerned at the power of the monastery and its large army of warrior monks who still descended from the mountain whenever they felt they were not receiving their share of state handouts. The most infamous example of this policy was his destruction of the Enryakuji monastic complex on the sacred Mt. Hiei near Kyoto in 1571 in which he had his troops surround the slopes of Mt. Hiei and set fire to the forest which destroyed the temple and killed 25,000 men, women, and children. Conversely, he encouraged the work of Christian missionaries in Japan as he saw the benefit of European contacts which brought trade and technology such as the firearms.

Nobunaga favoured imported articles, it is said that he wore western amour when he went to the battle fields in his later years. It is said that he understood the meaning of the articles presented by the missionaries such as a world globe, a clock and maps (in those days Japanese did not know that this world was a round object and nobody could understand the explanation about the world being a globe at the time it was presented, but Nobunaga said that 'It makes sense' and understood it). He was interested in a black man who was a servant of Alessandro Valignano, given to him. He named him Yasuke and made him his vassal.

Nobunaga had few concubines relative to his strong power, but they delivered many children. There’s a speculation that he’s a bisexual, also having homosexual relationships with many of his chigo (page).

By the spring of 1582 he had conquered central Japan and began sending his generals aggressively into all directions to continue his military expansion over western Japan. In June that year, Nobunaga invited his ally Tokugawa Ieyasu to tour the Kansai region in celebration of the demise of the Takeda clan. Around this time, Nobunaga received a request for reinforcements from Hashiba Hideyoshi, whose forces were stuck besieging the Mōri-controlled Takamatsu Castle. Nobunaga then parted ways with Ieyasu, who went on to tour the rest of Kansai while Nobunaga himself made preparations to aid Hideyoshi in the frontline. Nobunaga ordered Akechi Mitsuhide also to go to Hideyoshi's aid and travelled to Honnō-ji temple in Kyoto, his usual resting place when he stopped by in the capital. Nobunaga was unprotected at Honnō-ji, deep within his territory, with the only people he had around him being court officials, merchants, upper-class artists, and dozens of servants.

Around this time, Mitsuhide had a session of renga with several prominent poets, where he made clear his intentions of uprising against Nobunaga. Mitsuhide saw an opportunity to act, when not only was Nobunaga resting in Honnō-ji and unprepared for an attack, but all the other major daimyō and the bulk of Nobunaga's army were occupied in other parts of the country.

Mitsuhide led his army toward Kyoto under the pretence of following the order of Nobunaga. It was not the first time that Nobunaga had demonstrated his modernized and well-equipped troops in Kyoto, so the march toward Kyoto did not raise any suspicion from Mitsuhide's men. Before dawn, the Akechi army had the Honnō-ji temple surrounded in a coup d'état. Nobunaga and his servants and bodyguards resisted, but they realized it was futile against the overwhelming numbers of Akechi troops. Nobunaga then, with the help of his young page, Mori Ranmaru, committed seppuku. Ranmaru then set the temple on fire as Nobunaga requested so that no one would be able to get his head, before followed suit, committing seppuku himself. His loyalty and devotion makes him a revered figure in Japanese history. Nobunaga's remains were never found.

According to "Historia de Japan" by Luis Frois whose church was only 200 meter away from the Honno-ji Temple, '(Around three o'clock in the morning), (a small number of) warriors of the Akechi clan invaded the temple without being suspected (It seems that Oda's gatekeepers lost their sharpness because they knew that umazoroe (a troop review) in front of the Imperial Palace was planned for the next day.), and shot Nobunaga, who came out from the toilet and was washing his hands and face, in the back using bows and arrows. Immediately after that, Nobunaga called his pages and counterattacked warriors of the Akechi clan brandishing a sickle-like weapon (naginata), but he was shot his left shoulder by a bullet shot by the musket troops of the Akechi clan. Immediately after that, he closed the shoji (sliding paper door) (and set fire and committed suicide).'

Mitsuhide's reasons for the coup are unknown. Several theories/speculations by historians include:
  • personal grudge (he did not belong to the fudai clan which had served his master's clan for a long time. Many books said Nobunaga insulted and kicked, or even forced Mitsuhide to drink sake at a party, even though he was not a heavy drinker. His mother was also killed because of Nobunaga),
  • ambition to take over Japan (he set his eyes to be shōgun),
  • protecting the Imperial Court (Nobunaga told Ogimachi-tennō to abdicate. However, since it was at the end of the year, abdication of the throne was not implemented. Since he’s the one who provided money for the Court, he’s not pleased),
  • he was manipulated by Hideyoshi and/or Ieyasu,
To date, no consensus has been formed amongst historians about his true motive.

Later, Nobunaga retainer Hideyoshi, subsequently abandoned his campaign against the Mōri clan to pursue Mitsuhide to avenge his lord.

Sources and further reading:
https://www.britannica.com/biography/Oda-Nobunaga
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oda_Nobunaga
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honn%C5%8D-ji_Incident
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