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  #1  
Old 01-24-2021, 01:44 AM
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On This Day in Japanese History

I thought it a shame with the European monarchies having history threads, the others don't. Japan has such rich royal history.

January 24, 1924 wedding of Emperor Hirohito and Empress Kojun.

https://www.gettyimages.ca/detail/ne...?adppopup=true

Hirohito was Crown Prince at the time of his wedding. His father Emperor Taisho had come to the throne in 1912. His mother Empress Teimei was the daughter of Prince Kujō Michitaka (head of the senior branches of the Fujiwara clan). He was the eldest of four sons. Prince Mikasa who died in 2016 was his last sibling, his other two brothers pre-deceased him.

His bride was Princess Nagako Kuni (later Empress Kojun). She was the daughter of Kuniyoshi, Prince Kuni. Her father belonged to an Oke branch of the imperial royal family and her mother's family were daimyos (feudal lords).

The couple were betrothed when the Princess was 14 years old, in 1917. She was withdrawn from the school for aristocrats she had attended to undergo six years of training expected to be needed for a future crown princess.


In a change from tradition Hirohito had been allowed to choose his wife. He had selected from a group of elligible young women who had been brought for a tea party. He watched from behind a screen and selected Nagako. The engagement was made known in 1919.


In contrast to those before him, Hirohito gave up his concubines on marriage. The couple had four daughters early in marriage, but took 10 years to have a son. In the end the couple had five daughters and two sons. Her husband became emperor in 1926.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empres...ce_Akihito.jpg

The couple were married for nearly 65 years. Her husband died January 7, 1989, 2 1/2 weeks before their anniversary. The empress had been in poor health for years and had been unable to attend her husband's funeral. She remained in seclusion until her own death 2000 at the age of 97. She was the longest empress consort in history, having surpassed an over 800 year record in 1995.


The couple had 7 children, 10 grandchildren and have at least 4 great-grandchildren (I only know about Akihito's grandchildren. I am not sure if any of their other grandchildren have kids).
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Old 01-31-2021, 01:18 AM
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January 31, 1543 – Birth of Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康), the founder and first shōgun of the Tokugawa, or Edo, shogunate of Japan, which ruled Japan from 1603 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He was one of the three "Great Unifiers" of Japan, along with Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Ieyasu was born as Matsudaira Takechiyo into the family of a local warrior situated several miles east of modern Nagoya. His father, Matsudaira Hirotada, was involved in a network of shifting alliances that repeatedly drew him into battle. When Ieyasu was two years old, his mother was permanently separated from his father’s family because of one such change in alliances, and in 1547 military adversity compelled his father to send him away as hostage to the Imagawa family, powerful neighbours headquartered at Sunpu (now the city of Shizuoka) to the east.

In 1560 Imagawa Yoshimoto was slain during a battle with Oda Nobunaga, who was rapidly gaining power, and young Ieyasu seized the opportunity to return to his family’s small castle and assume control of his surviving relatives and vassals. Within months he took steps to ally himself with Nobunaga.

Relying heavily on his alliance with the now-mighty Nobunaga, Ieyasu survived the vicissitudes of endemic war and slowly extended his territory until, by the early 1580s, he had become an important daimyo, in control of the fertile and populous area stretching from Okazaki eastward to the mountain barrier at Hakone.

After the death of Nobunaga at Honnō-ji castle in 1582; Toyotomi Hideyoshi moved to assume Nobunaga’s preeminent political position while Ieyasu emerged as his principal rival. After a few bloody but indecisive skirmishes, however, the cautious Ieyasu offered a vow of fealty, and Hideyoshi was content to leave Ieyasu’s domain intact. During the rest of the 1580s, while Hideyoshi busily extended his control over the daimyo of southwestern Japan, Ieyasu strengthened himself as best he could. He continued to enlarge his vassal force, increase his domain’s productivity, and improve the reliability of his administration. And in 1586, for greater security, he moved his headquarters even farther to the east, away from Hideyoshi, to Sumpu,

During the 1590s Ieyasu, unlike several daimyo from western Japan, avoided involvement in Hideyoshi’s two disastrous military expeditions to Korea. Instead, he made a risky move by leaving his home domain to the Kantō region. He stationed his most powerful vassals on the perimeter of his territory and along main access routes, keeping the least powerful—and least dangerous to himself—nearer Edo, and built a castle in Edo. This castle would later be known as Edo Castle, the residence of the shogun and location of the Tokugawa shogunate, and also functioned as military capital during Edo period. After Meiji Restoration, it became the Tokyo Imperial Palace.

When Hideyoshi died in 1598, Ieyasu had the largest, most reliable army and the most productive and best organized domain in all Japan.
Hideyoshi’s death precipitated another power struggle among the daimyo which led to Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 in which Ieyasu, as the most powerful and most respected of Hideyoshi’s former vassal advisers, became the head of one faction in that struggle. In the ensuing battle Ieyasu’s eastern army triumphed.

Having secured the strategic heartland, he proceeded over the next several years to make his control more sure by issuing regulations and establishing supervisory organs to constrain daimyo, imperial court nobles, and clerics, as well as his own vassals. In 1603 the powerless imperial court dutifully assigned Ieyasu title of shōgun, thereby acknowledging that this most powerful daimyo in Japan was the man officially authorized to keep the peace in the emperor’s name. Two years later Ieyasu formally retired, left Edo for the more pleasant surroundings of his old home at Sunpu, and had the shogunal title assigned to his son Hidetada, intending thereby to assure that the title was recognized as a hereditary Tokugawa prerogative.

As the retired shōgun (ōgosho), he remained the effective ruler of Japan until his death in 1616.

Four years after his death, his granddaughter, Masako (youngest daughter of Hidetada and his wife, Oeyo) entered the palace as a consort of the Go-Mizunoo tennō. Masako’s daughter later ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne as Meishō tennō.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokugawa_Ieyasu
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Old 01-31-2021, 06:45 AM
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Thanks, Yukari.

A very fascinating family dynasty.

Ieyasu is perhaps better known in the West as Toranaga from the TV series Shogun, convincingly played by Toshiru Mifune.
Mariko and Blackthorne were also historical figures even though it's doubtful they ever met and the two of them having a relationship would be next to unthinkable.

There were a few Europeans in advisory roles at the time. Blackthorne wasn't English though, but Dutch (Can't remember his name off hand), and he became quite influential in regards to foreign policy after Ieyasu took over as Shogun and ensured that Japan and the Netherlands had a trade deal.
The Dutch shipped goods to and from China to the closed-off port of Nagasaki (IIRC), in return they didn't interfere in local affairs, as was the usual custom of the Dutch.

Because the political and economic background described in Shogun was historically correct, only the names were changed.
The influence of the Portuguese was exaggerated in the series though. Japan was indeed under the Portuguese sphere of influence, but it is more correct to say that competing religious orders interfered in Japanese politics - with some success. More on that later.

By 1600 Japan was divided into two pretty much equally strong alliances, East and West. Ieyasu controlling the Eastern Alliance. Which is also why the battle of Sekigahara was so bloody. It was very much a slogging match. In Japan battles were usually won by the side with the largest army (depending on who switched side and when. A major ally of the Western Alliance switched side during the battle of Sekigahara BTW) typically overwhelming the smaller army.
One factor at Sekigahara was the use of muskets (or more correctly matchlocks) from behind fortified positions, which neutralized a good deal of the Western Alliance's cavalry. It was here Japan had been influenced by European suppliers of weapons and advisors in regards how to best utilize matchlocks. However the Japanese were the first to standardize calibers. Previously matchlocks had all kinds of calibers, depending on who made them. Which meant that each musketeer was issued a mold, so that he could make his own musket balls for his particular weapon. A logistic nightmare!

After Sekigahara there were a few mopping up operations, but nothing that could threaten Ieyasu's position as Shogun.
In the 1630's there was a serious rebellion by Christian Daimyo's it was crushed with considerable difficulty and that led to the banning of all foreigners on Japanese soil, except Nagasaki. Foreigners who landed or were shipwrecked outside Nagasaki were either escorted to Nagasaki or killed.
That only ended in the 1850's when an American squadron sailed into Tokyo Bay demanding Japan being opened up for foreign trade - and getting very close to being colonized as well. Something the Japanese were all too aware of. But that's another and equally fascinating story.

But after the Christian rebellion had been put down, nothing happened.
The two first Shoguns after Ieyasu were energetic, competent and dynamic - the rest less so.
By 1650 the whole Samurai class basically had nothing to do. Apart from policing, hunting the odd bandits and sometimes putting down a small and remote rebellion, they had nothing to do. A samurai born in 1650 could very well expect to live his entire life without ever seeing action of any sort.
This is were various forms of art took over, because they had to do something, besides training for a battle they most likely would never experience.
Poetry, the tea ceremony and erotic, not to forget, were three art forms that were elevated to pretty much hysterical heights.

Japan, although remaining very cultured, well organized and well run, became lethargic, extremely traditional, static (there was no movement between classes) and all reforms and progress was frowned upon.
So when the world came knocking on the door in the 1850's it came as a huge shock and it dawned upon the Japanese how backwards (and thus vulnerable) they had become.
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Old 01-31-2021, 10:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
Ieyasu is perhaps better known in the West as Toranaga from the TV series Shogun, convincingly played by Toshiru Mifune.
When I hear “Mifune”, the first think that come up in my mind is Kurosawa’s Rashomon (he’s the God of jidaegeki!). Never watched Shogun, I tend to avoid “western jidaegeki”, even Mifune can’t tempt me. And why did they change his name? (“Toranaga” makes me imagine lion-dragon).

Thank you for adding stuff about Sekigahara.
Quote:
A major ally of the Western Alliance switched side during the battle of Sekigahara BTW) typically overwhelming the smaller army.
But don’t forget, there’s Sanada Maru incident too (the Ueda castle, not the Osaka castle one). Hidetada’s blunder there had significantly reduced Ieyasu’s troop in Sekigahara. Not only full of switching side, but this battle also full of fighting against family (which not really uncommon actually).

Quote:
That only ended in the 1850's when an American squadron sailed into Tokyo Bay demanding Japan being opened up for foreign trade - and getting very close to being colonized as well. Something the Japanese were all too aware of. But that's another and equally fascinating story.
Do you mean Capt Perry? Indeed, it’s another (long) fascinating story; start with Black Ships and end with Meiji Restoration.

Quote:
But after the Christian rebellion had been put down, nothing happened.
This is also another story. The frictions with the Christian converts actually had happened since Hideyoshi. One of sore point with Christianity was seppuku, since you know, it’s basically suicide and Christianity condemns suicide.
One of the most famous convert that time was Hosokawa Tama (or Garasha/Gracia), wife of Hosokawa Tadaoki and daughter of Akechi Mitsuhide (who’s responsible of Nobunaga’s death). She is said to play a part on the outcome of Battle of Sekigahara. Mitsunari (Ieyasu’s opponent) planned to take her as hostage to sway her husband alliance, but she was then killed by Tadaoki’s retainer who then committed seppuku (there’s some dispute whether it was her idea or Tadaoki’s order). The outrage over her death did much damage to Mitsunari’s reputation which greatly reduced his chances of recruiting more allies, some of whom were also secretly Christians.

Quote:
By 1650 the whole Samurai class basically had nothing to do. Apart from policing, hunting the odd bandits and sometimes putting down a small and remote rebellion, they had nothing to do. A samurai born in 1650 could very well expect to live his entire life without ever seeing action of any sort.
Imagine if sengoku period last longer ....

Quote:
This is where various forms of art took over, because they had to do something, besides training for a battle they most likely would never experience.
Poetry, the tea ceremony and erotic, not to forget, were three art forms that were elevated to pretty much hysterical heights.
And that’s the interesting part. Many of Japanese artistries flourish thanks to bushi class (warrior class) who’s job was to fight, not kugyo (nobles/palace court) or Imperial family members like in Europe (which happened way since near the end of Heian period with the rise of Taira clan), simply because they were the one with money.
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Old 01-31-2021, 11:46 AM
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I've allowed myself to add numbers to your posts. Makes it easier.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yukari View Post
When I hear “Mifune”, the first think that come up in my mind is Kurosawa’s Rashomon (he’s the God of jidaegeki!). Never watched Shogun, I tend to avoid “western jidaegeki”, even Mifune can’t tempt me. And why did they change his name? (“Toranaga” makes me imagine lion-dragon).
(1)

Thank you for adding stuff about Sekigahara.

But don’t forget, there’s Sanada Maru incident too. Hidetada’s blunder there had significantly reduced Ieyasu’s troop in Sekigahara. Not only full of switching side, but this battle also full of fighting against family (which not really uncommon actually).
(2)


Do you mean Capt Perry? Indeed, it’s another (long) fascinating story; start with Black Ships and end with Meiji Restoration.
(3)


This is also another story. The frictions with the Christian converts actually had happened since Hideyoshi. One of sore point with Christianity was seppuku, since you know, it’s basically suicide and Christianity condemns suicide.
One of the most famous convert that time was Hosokawa Tama (or Garasha/Gracia), wife of Hosokawa Tadaoki and daughter of Akechi Mitsuhide (who’s responsible of Nobunaga’s death). She is said to play a part on the outcome of Battle of Sekigahara. Mitsunari (Ieyasu’s opponent) planned to take her as hostage to sway her husband alliance, but she was then killed by Tadaoki’s retainer who then committed seppuku (there’s some dispute whether it was her idea or Tadaoki’s order). The outrage over her death did much damage to Mitsunari’s reputation which greatly reduced his chances of recruiting more allies, some of whom were also secretly Christians.


Imagine if sengoku period last longer ....


And that’s the interesting part. Many of Japanese artistries flourish thanks to bushi class (warrior class) who’s job was to fight, not kugyo (nobles/palace court) or Imperial family members like in Europe (which happened way since near the end of Heian period with the rise of Taira clan), simply because they were the one with money.
(4)

(1) The TV-series Shogun wasn't bad actually. Better than the book it was based on.
It was pretty accurate in regards to history, even though all historical figures were renamed.
And to appeal to a Western audience a western man had the main part and a love story was added.
Hosokawa Tama was Mariko in the series, and like the TV-figure, Hosokawa Tama was a linguist as well. Her death is also well covered in the series. She didn't commit suicide per se, but she placed herself in a situation where her death was almost inevitable. In a sense she committed seppuku by proxy.
Anyway, the death of Hosokawa Tama meant that Ieyasu's main protagonist, Mitsunari, was forced to allow his other high ranking "guests" to walk free. Leading their families to openly side with Ieyasu at Sekigahara.
Her husband was by all accounts not the brutal wife-beater he was presented as in the series.

(2) Oh yes, switching sides in the middle of a battle was almost endemic!
And the blunder of Hidetada, not "marching towards the sound of guns" almost cost Ieyasu his victory. Sekigahara was a very close thing! Which is also why Ieyasu lost his composure a couple of times during the battle. The most famous being his order to fire at a passive part of the armies (there were actually several armies converging at Sekigahara) prompting it to finally switch sides from Mitsunari to Ieyasu as agreed previously...
Ieyasu was a man of his time. He had the morbid habit of closely studying the facial expressions of the decapitated heads of his enemies.

(3) Indeed I do.
It was a giant humiliation of the shogunate! It was realized that the Shogun was unable to prevent foreign invaders from conquering Japan, if they really wanted to and also was unable to protect the sacred person of the Emperor.
That simply could not be allowed to happen, hence the Meiji Restoration.
Which was an astonishing feat!
Unfortunately too successful, as the rearmament and the subsequent victories over China and Russia, led to a militarization, isolation and not least an over confidence of the Japanese leadership.

(4) Hmm, the merchant class had money too and lots of it! But they were looked down upon, mainly because they didn't fight. But also because they didn't own land. They were not allowed to form a class competing (openly) with the samurai class! But in private they did.
Nobunaga came from a pretty humble origin and rose to de facto dictator of Japan. That ended after the Ieyasu family took over. No more social mobility.
Japan anno 1575 was as close to social equality as it had ever been before or after. Until after 1945 that is.

Once the Imperial family had been - confined - for a lack of better word to Edo, they focused on Shinto and fine arts. A way to avoid degenerating. The Emperor was paraded once a year on a fairly short stretch of road in Edo, reserved only for the Emperor and that was pretty much all the public ever saw of him, if they even saw that much.
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Old 02-03-2021, 04:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
(4) Hmm, the merchant class had money too and lots of it! But they were looked down upon, mainly because they didn't fight. But also because they didn't own land. They were not allowed to form a class competing (openly) with the samurai class! But in private they did.
I’m not really sure about merchant class having lot of money. Near the end of Edo period and after, yes, but not during the majority of Edo period. Not with the shogunate practically control everything (including trade) and Japan under isolation (which come account mentioned was not actually full isolation since at some point the shogunate still did some foreign trade in secret).

For those merchants (and farmers) there’s tax to be paid to the daimyo and bandit to deal in which because non-samurai were banned from owning sword (thanks to Hideyoshi) they basically had nothing to defend themselves (unless they hired samurai for protection). Sure, not every samurai were rich, many were poorer than merchant especially by the end of Edo period. There’s story about samurai selling his katana blade to get money and replaced it with bamboo (since only the tsuka/handle was visible, so unless he drew it nobody would know). There’s also ronin/masterless samurai (who mostly turned into bandit). So the big chunk of money during that era was circulating within samurai class (mainly daimyos). The shogunate was even richer than Imperial family and its court (something that started way during the end of Heian era).
Quote:
Once the Imperial family had been - confined - for a lack of better word to Edo, they focused on Shinto and fine arts. A way to avoid degenerating. The Emperor was paraded once a year on a fairly short stretch of road in Edo, reserved only for the Emperor and that was pretty much all the public ever saw of him, if they even saw that much.
You mean post-Meiji Restoration, right? Because AFAIK, until the end of Tokugawa shogunate, the Imperial family and its court resided (or borrowing your word, confined) in Kyoto.
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Old 02-03-2021, 03:21 PM
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Numbers again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yukari View Post
I’m not really sure about merchant class having lot of money. Near the end of Edo period and after, yes, but not during the majority of Edo period. Not with the shogunate practically control everything (including trade) and Japan under isolation (which come account mentioned was not actually full isolation since at some point the shogunate still did some foreign trade in secret).
(1)

For those merchants (and farmers) there’s tax to be paid to the daimyo and bandit to deal in which because non-samurai were banned from owning sword (thanks to Hideyoshi) they basically had nothing to defend themselves (unless they hired samurai for protection). (2) Sure, not every samurai were rich, many were poorer than merchant especially by the end of Edo period. (3) There’s story about samurai selling his katana blade to get money and replaced it with bamboo (since only the tsuka/handle was visible, so unless he drew it nobody would know). There’s also ronin/masterless samurai (who mostly turned into bandit). (4) So the big chunk of money during that era was circulating within samurai class (mainly daimyos). The shogunate was even richer than Imperial family and its court (something that started way during the end of Heian era). (5)

You mean post-Meiji Restoration, right? Because AFAIK, until the end of Tokugawa shogunate, the Imperial family and its court resided (or borrowing your word, confined) in Kyoto.
(6)

(1) It was as you know put into system. Vis a vis the port city of Nagasaki, where foreigners were allowed to off load cargo. Not least the Dutch.
Smuggling had for centuries been a lucrative trade, going all the way through the social strata.
The merchant class certainly funded a good deal of the endemic wars during the 1500's. They had the money - and an economic interest in a Japanese expansion into Korea. Something that is often overlooked by historians. It wasn't just territorial ambitions.
And while it is indeed true that the Tokugawa dynasty did its very best to control the merchant class, that control slipped away certainly be the latter half of the 1600's. The merchant class never gained real direct political influence but they still had money and desired goods.

(2) Oh yes! Because by the late 1500's the peasants, who constituted the majority of the armies, scared the samurai class!
The well known quote about a cheap spear being able to match an expensive sword, wasn't just a tactical observation, but just as much a reference to the growing albeit still dormant power of the peasants class. Hence why the peasant class was disarmed shortly after Ieyasu taking over. (Someting similar happened about a century earlier in Central and Northern Europe BTW.)
Kurosawa explained the peasant versus ronin relationship very well in his masterpiece. Including the mutual contempt and cynicism.

(3) Most samurais very relatively poor. Sure they were supplied with food, lodging and clothes by their daimyo, however most didn't own land themselves, but mostly lived in "barracks" so to speak.
What was worse for the "private" samurais was that advancement was very slow, due to there being no wars where you could rise by merit or bravery. On top of that there was a lot of bribery and patronages in regards to what promotion there was. So most samurais led a safe, but pretty modest life.
They certainly didn't have the means to pursue the modern trends in regards to art and the highly elevated tea ceremony.

(4) Some of these ronin became monks, who were a real menace! The idea of monks being devoted to religion and contemplation, was not universal. Some monasteries were de facto "robber baronies" extorting their surroundings. One such monastery was for a period located near Kyoto. Embarrassingly close to the Imperial family.
You are, I suppose, familiar with the 47 ronins?
What is of interest is not so much what they did. (That has been widely praised in Japan then and today, even though their actions may have been much less praiseworthy.) What IMO is interesting are the details around the events in Edo in 1703. Not least the shift in power from the daimyos to what was basically civil servants (from the samurai class of course). To an extent that daimyos, even relatively junior daimyos, anno 1603, would never have accepted.
It caused a huge stir! And while it was a much admired return to the "good old days" the shogunate made very sure, that it would not repeat itself!

(5) IIRC the Japanese emperor had stopped having a direct political not to mention military role by the 1200's. (I haven't read up on that though.) And it was well known that the Shogun/most powerful daimyo controlled the finances of the court - and used that as a means to control the Imperial Family. Perhaps not least the extended branches of the Imperial Family.

(6) Yes. Kyoto.
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Old 02-05-2021, 03:38 AM
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Glad I started this thread. I have been enjoying reading the last few posts.


February 5, 976 birth of Emperor Sanjo.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empero...Sanj%C5%8D.jpg

His given name was Iyasada-shinnō. He was the second son of Emperor Reizei who was the 63rd emperor of Japan. His mother was Fujiwara no Chōshi. He had two full brothers and a full sister. He was the half brother of Emperor Kazan (as well as two sisters who were all the children of another one of his father's consorts Fujiwara no Kaishi/Chikako).
His mother would be granted the posthumous title of Zō-Kōtaigō, Empress mother, when her son succeeded as emperor.

His mother died when he was 7 years old. From that point he was raised in the household of his maternal grandfather.

Iyasada-shinnō was named crown prince at the age of 11. His brother Kazan gave up the throne 986 to become a monk. He was not succeeded by his brother as by tradition the throne alternated between two lineages. Instead a son of Emperor En'yū took the throne as Emperor Ichijo.

In July 16 1011 Ichijo would abdicate the throne. The throne returned to the line of Reizel and Iyasada became Emperor Sanjo. His father who had abdicated in 969, would die at age 62, months after his second son became emperor.

He would abdicate in 1016 as he had become increasingly blind at the time.

He was succeeded by Emperor Ichijo's son Emperor Go-Ichijō.

In May 1017 he entered the priesthood. He would die the next month at the age of 42. His posthumous name Sanjō-in was in honor of the palace he spent his life in after his abdication. The in would later be dropped. His actual grave is unknown but he is venerated at shrine in Kyoto.

None of his sons would succeed the throne. But a grandson of his through a daughter would ascend the throne.

During the reign of the previous emperor it had become custom to have two empresses.


His first was Fujiwara no Kenshi. The empress was the daughter of Imperial regent Fujiwara no Michinaga. They had one daughter.

-Princess Teishi: She married the future Emperor Go-Suzaku and would be empress in 1036. Through her Sanjo's line returned to the throne as her son became Emperor Go-Sanjō.


A year after his first empress he married Fujiwara no Seishi. Her father was first cousins with Michinaga (making the two empresses related).She bore her husband four sons and two daughters. Though her eldest son would be crown prince for a time, none of them came to the throne.

-Imperial Prince Atsuakira
-Imperial Prince Atsunori
-Imperial Prince Atsuhira
-Imperial Princess Tōshi: she served as the 37th Saiō in Grand Shrine of Ise.
-Imperial Princess Shishi: married Fujiwara no Norimichi.
-Imperial Prince Moroakira

He also had two consorts (not empresses). Fujiwara no Yasuko was a daughter of Fujiwara no Kaneie. The other was Fujiwara no Genshi, daughter of Fujiwara no Michitaka.
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Old 02-10-2021, 11:27 PM
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February 11, 1948 birth of Yoshihito, Prince Katsura.

Yoshihito was the son of Takahito, Prince Mikasa. His father was the youngest brother of Emperor Hirohito. His mother Yuriko was a daughter of Viscount Masanari Takagi. He was their third child and second son out of five children. Prince Tomohito of Mikasa was his elder brother, and Norihito, Prince Takamado is his younger brother. He was born in the Mikasa Family Home at Kamiōsaki, Shinagawa, Tokyo.

He was a graduate of the Department of Political Studies in the Faculty of Law of Gakushuin University.He would later go to Australia to study graduate school in Canberra.

He worked for the Japanese National Broadcasting Company after he finished school. He would make a few return trips to Australia to promote the ongoing relationship with the two countries.

He was named Prince Katsura (Katsura-no-miya) and authorized to start a new branch of the royal family at the age of 39.

Unfortunately health wise he was never in good shape. He suffered a stroke and had surgery for a hematoma in 1988. Despite being in a wheelchair following this he continued to be quite active in public service as a royal. From 2008 though he was hospitalized off and on often suffering from sepsis. In 2014 he suffered an illness which caused damage to his heart.

He died from a massive heart attack June 8, 2014 at the age of 66.


His funeral was attended by 560 dignitaries including the imperial family. His niece Akiko served as hostess as he never married.


He was outlived by both of his parents, his father dying in 2016. His mother is currently the oldest living member of the royal family. He out lived both of his brothers. Norihito died in 2002 from heart failure at 47 and Tomohito died in 2012 from multiple organ failure at 66 (he had been suffering from several forms of cancer for some time). His sisters are alive at 76 and 69.
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Old 02-18-2021, 11:56 PM
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February 19, 1709 death of Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, fifth shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty of Japan.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tokuga...Tsunyaoshi.jpg

He was born February 23, 1646. He was the son of Tokugawa Iemitsu, third shogun and one of his concubines Otama. His father had 10 concubines as well as his wife. As well as five siblings he also had five adopted sisters. His brother Tokugawa Ietsuna was five years older and would succeed as the 4th shogun.

After his birth he lived with his mother in her private apartments in Edo castle. His childhood name was Tokumatsu.

He should have been raised as a samurai warrior given his station in life. But his father feared that he was too strong and personable. His older brother was quite dull and over shadowed by his younger brother. The shogun feared his younger son would displace his heir. He had Tokumatsu raised as a scholar instead of a warrior in hopes to limit the risk of him displacing his brother.

He was extremely close to his mother who he relied on for advice until her death. The natural daughter of merchants, she had been adopted by the Honjo family. She was considered quite a remarkable woman in her life.

In 1651 his father died and his elder brother became shogun. Little is known of him during his brother's reign as he had no part in governing.

His brother died in 1680 and there was a dispute over the succession. Some thought the shogun should pass to the royal blood line and to a son of the emperor, Emperor Go-Sai. But it was one of his brother's advisors Hotta Masatoshi, who promoted Tsunayoshi to succeed his brother. In 1681 he was officially recognized as the 5th shogun of the dynasty.

Gokoku-ji was founded in honor of his mother. The temple is notable for having survived air raids when many other historical buildings around it had not.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gokoku-ji


Hotta Masatoshi was named tairo in thanks for his support of him becoming shogun. He was committed to the samurai ways from early on his reign.


Under the influence of his mother he was a very relgious man. He continued his studies while shogun into religion. He cracked down on societal vices like prostitution and even banned certain fabrics.


His deep religious faith led him to introduce laws for the protection of animals. Having been born in the year of the dog he introduced laws to protect canines and other animals in the kingdom.

He was given the nickname Inu-Kubō, which means the Dog shogun.

His death in 1709 is debatable. There were rumors that he was stabbed by his consort when he wished to appoint one of of his natural sons as heir. But the general census is that he died from the mesaels, days before his 63rd birthday.

As his children had pre-deceased him he was succeeded by his nephew Tokugawa Ienobu, the son of his brother Tokugawa Tsunashige.

Like his father he had a wife Takatsukasa Nobuko as well as numerous concubines (he had 5).

He had three children:
-Tsuruhime: his daughter died in 1704 following a miscarriage, and her husband Tokugawa Tsunanori of Kii Domain seems to have died a few months later. She was his last child. She was daughter of his concubine Oden.

-Tokugawa Tokumatsu: his first son died at the age of four in 1683. He was also the child of Oden.

-Tokugawa Chomatsu: died at the age of 2. He seems to have been poisoned by the shogun's official wife. He was son of his father's favorite concubine Yasuko.

Like his father he also had five adopted children including his nephew and future heir.
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  #11  
Old 02-19-2021, 02:51 AM
Aristocracy
 
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If you’re familiar with Chūshingura, also known in western as 47 Rōnin, that incident happened during Tsunayoshi’s reign (watch Mizoguchi‘s film, but don’t watch the 2013 American’s film one – it’s insulting).

It is said that Tsunayoshi's father, Iemitsu, drummed Confucianism into him was to get Tsunayoshi to learn his place as a younger brother and not to act disrespectfully to Ietsuna, hence causing succession conflict. Previously, there dispute between Iemitsu and his younger brother, Tadanaga, in which Iemitsu as the oldest son by right was Hidetada’s heir, but their mother favour Tadanaga more than him. It ended with Tadanaga being ordered to commit seppuku by the brother.

Of all the shoguns, Tsunayoshi is also known as the one who, due to the influence of Confucianism, revered the emperor the most. Tsunayoshi increased the "goryo" (Imperial family's estate) from 10,000 koku to 30,000 koku and presented it to the emperor. He also had Imperial mausoleums throughout Yamato and Kawachi Provinces investigated, spending a huge amount of money to restore 66 of them which were in need of repair. Most of the court nobles' territory of also doubled during Tsunayoshi's time.

Although there are some exaggerated reports about Tsunayoshi's behavior in documents with little value, in recent years, Tsunayoshi's politics have undergone a reevaluation. On one hand, there is the negative assessment that Tsunayoshi "ignored the opinions of anyone except his close advisors and favourite retainers and burdened the people with evil laws." On the other hand, Engelbert Kaempfer, a German doctor who had an audience with Tsunayoshi in 1691 and in 1692, rated him highly in his book "The History of Japan," saying, "I had the impression that he was a great monarch." Kaempfer's view of Tsunayoshi and the interaction between them are described in detail in Kenperu to Tokugawa Tsunayoshi" (Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey, 1994, ISBN 4-12-101168-6). >> Kaempfer was part of Dutch embassy contingent who did annual visit to Edo from Dejima in Nagasaki << (note that he referred him as “monarch”).

His most controversial law was Shorui Awaremi no Rei (生類憐れみの令 or Laws of Compassion), aimed at protecting both men and animals from cruelty, but at same time also has been recognised as a "seriously wrong law" and an "evil, autocratic law" and even being called as “the worst laws in the feudal history of mankind”. Since he was born in the year of the Dog, dogs were treated with special care but it actually also covered many living things such as cats, birds, and even fish, shellfish and insects.

At first, it was a spiritual law simply carrying the message "refrain from taking lives", however the number of offenders did not decrease. Therefore, a registration system for Dogs was established, dogs were protected from cruel treatment by appointing inspectors, and from 1696 the shogunate offered rewards to people who informed on cruel treatment towards dogs. In his way, the law went beyond the spiritualism, the society was put under surveillance, and as the result, it is thought that dissatisfaction with the bad law among people in general was heightened against government.

The warrior class was also partially subject to punishment, although this was limited to the lower classes and in the highest ranks only the vassals were punished, however there was a case of a warrior being sentenced to death. Few examples:
- On April 9th, 1687, 10 villagers in Musashi Province were ordered to exile for deserting sick horses (On February 27th, 1689, 14 indirect vassals and 25 farmers were exiled to Kozu island for same reason).
- On June 26th, 1687, Tatara Jintayu, a vassal of the Akita family, was sentenced to death because Akita Kihin (the heir of Akita Suehisa, middle inner page, a direct retainer of Edo bakufu) shot a dart with a blowgun at a swallow.
- On February 1st, 1688, the use of crane as a trade name or family crest was prohibited.
- On October 3rd, 1688, villagers in Niiha-mura Village, Musashi Province were punished for cutting trees on which birds built nests.
- On October 4th, 1689, Sakai Masanao, a direct retainer of the Shogunate, was sentenced to house arrest, because dogs had a fight and were killed in front of a conference chamber.
- On October, 16 th, 1695, 11 people including a police sergeant, were ordered to commit Seppuku due to a violation of the law. Their children were exiled.
The consumption of fish and birds (including chickens, turtles and shellfish) was prohibited; the use of crane as a trade name or family crest was prohibited; teaching dogs, cats and mice to do tricks for shows was prohibited; and even later on, the trade of live fish was also prohibited.

The Great Famine (1695-1696) of the Genroku era was caused by cold-weather damage in the Tohokoku region which lead harvests to drop to 30% of the average, and in Tsugaru Domain over 50,000 people (one third of the domain's population) died. It is said that the ordinances of animal protection added to the misery because they were neither allowed to hunt animals or birds for food, nor kill pests. In addition, due to the persevering law, birds and animals were not afraid of humans and men wandering around due to famine were attacked by crows and kites, becoming the prey of stray dogs if they fell.

This famine affected the entire country and the increase in rice prices lead to destructive urban riots by farmers in Izushi Domain, Tajima Province. However even during the famine the Shogunate accommodated 80,000 wild dogs in the kennels in Nakano and gave them 3 go (0.18L) of polished rice, 50 moon (187g) of bean paste and 1 go of sardines daily. Citizens of Edo were furious about how well dogs were treated by the Shogunate.

After Tsunayoshi's death in 1709, when Arai Hakuseki took the office of Shogun Ienobu's assistant, he abolished this law before even holding a funeral ceremony for Tsunayoshi. It is said that at that time some residents of Edo kicked and mistreated dogs to make up for all the times they had been unable to up till then. From then on, among common people in Edo, the eating of meat including pork and wild boar rapidly spread and changed from 'medicine' for the purpose of nourishment to something to be enjoyed. In this period, specialist meat shops which remain even today appeared.
>> While in Korea and in China, they usually eat dog meat, in Japan dog meat is actually not regarded as a common foodstuff <<

https://www.japanese-wiki-corpus.org...otection).html

Here is another interpretation of the law if you're interested:
https://www.jstor.org/stable/2384718...o_tab_contents


PS: So does it mean this thread is for Japanese history in general? Not limited to royal/Imperial family related stuff like the European OTD thread?
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  #12  
Old 02-19-2021, 10:20 PM
Countessmeout's Avatar
Imperial Majesty
 
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I included a shogun as though they were military leaders, they were still a dynastic ruler of Japan. Perhaps I was wrong to include him.

But yes when I started the thread the focus was to be on royal history.

But thank you for the more information on the animal laws. It was actually what drew me to him. While protection of animals is very important (I actively volunteer and donate to such work), it has to be done within limits. It certainly seems he went to far extremes, which led to a lot of issues for the people. I can imagine not allowing hunting and fishing, especially in times when crops were limited, would cause great distress to the people.

And thank you for the link, I am happy to have more to read up on.
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  #13  
Old 02-20-2021, 12:10 AM
Aristocracy
 
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Actually I'd like to propose the inclusion of historical figures from samurai class (particularly the daimyo, not just shōgun) even though they couldn't be considered as royal (the Imperial family) nor noble (that would be kuge or the palace courtier) because compare to its European counterpart, post 10th century until Meiji, the Imperial family barely had any significant contribution to Japanese history.

Take for example how the French and English kings were involved in the Hundred Years' War (1337 to 1453) while the Japanese Emperor had almost nothing to do during the Mongol invasions of Japan (元寇, Genkō, 1274 and 1281) or the Korean Campaign (1592–1598) – the first would be Hōjō clan and the later was Hideyoshi.

Or the notable country's civil war; Wars of the Roses (1455 – 1487) was basically a royal war between kings/queens, but sengoku period in Japanese (1467-1615) was pure samurai class with no record of the Palace did anything about it. To put it simply, a random Japanese is most likely be better informed about Oda Nobunaga than Ōgimachi (I don't think non-historian would even know who Ōgimachi was) compare to how the average British would recognise Elizabeth I better than Robert Dudley.

The Hōjō clan, Hideyoshi, and Nobunaga were never shōgun.

Plus unlike in the European monarchies, pre-Meiji there's hardly any information about Japanese Imperial family members who's not emperor because the non-heir children were usually either became Buddhist monk/nun or married within palace wall and basically did nothing other than living in the palace.

PS: btw, many of the most famous and powerful samurai clans claimed descent from the Seiwa Genji (清和源氏), which is a line of the Japanese Minamoto clan that is descended from Emperor Seiwa. So in a way, they were royal (yeah, very far-fetched. It's like saying your British neighbour is royal because they're descendant of George I's illegitimate child )
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Old 02-20-2021, 05:49 AM
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Imperial Majesty
 
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I believe that you cannot truly understand a historical royal/monarchy without at least a basic understanding of the culture, history, politics and leading figures.

Not least with such an obscure monarchy as the Japanese, where the Imperial Family led a very closed off life and with an even lesser political role, as was the case for centuries.

And the German doctor visiting Japan, was in a sense right. The Shogun was the de facto king of Japan. Certainly in the European/global definition of the role: i.e. a king rules or at least has a direct hands on influence on political affairs.

I cannot help wondering whether Japan got close to a general uprising in the early 1700's?
The first three Shoguns were hands on and had a direct influence on political affairs, after that Japan seems to have reverted into a civil servant rule. Which is not necessarily a bad thing but such a rule is typically very static. The main aim being to preserve status quo, with little thought about reforms or change.
Even the dog-loving Shogun, albeit altruistic and religious was a terrible politician! Who would have lasted for about half an hour in 1570.
Louis XVI was by all accounts a decent, kind, caring and conscientious man - it didn't prevent him from losing his head though... He too was a terrible politician.
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Old 02-22-2021, 03:29 AM
Aristocracy
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muhler View Post
And the German doctor visiting Japan, was in a sense right. The Shogun was the de facto king of Japan. Certainly in the European/global definition of the role: i.e. a king rules or at least has a direct hands on influence on political affairs.
If we're talking about de facto "ruler" and direct hand on political influence, then we'll also have to include the nobles (the kugyō 公卿 - which was hereditary position), particularly the Fujiwara clan, because during the majority of Heian era, they were the de facto ruler of Japan (with some emperors managed to take some control back by exercising insei). Even later on during bakufu era, the kugyō was basically the one who control of the palace.

IMO the Yamato dynasty survives until today because they were/are no longer wield political power and stop "ruling" (other than protected by their "God" status). I mean, the only emperor who's killed during power struggle that I know of is Antoku, compare that with the bloody dynasty change in the neighbor monarchies (China and Korea) or in Europe.

Quote:
I cannot help wondering whether Japan got close to a general uprising in the early 1700's?
The first three Shoguns were hands on and had a direct influence on political affairs, after that Japan seems to have reverted into a civil servant rule. Which is not necessarily a bad thing but such a rule is typically very static. The main aim being to preserve status quo, with little thought about reforms or change.
Not really.

The next shōgun after Tsunayoshi, Ienobu, was actually a very hands on shōgun. For one, he removed all the power from the chamberlains (who were given strict power by Tsunayoshi). He was credited to transform the bakufu from a military to a civilian institution (which was already in the making during the rule of Ietsuna and Tsunayoshi), e.g he discontinued the censorship (telling his subordinates that the thoughts and feelings of the populace should reach the high levels of the bakufu), reformed the judicial system, and created the gold coin to stabilize the economy.

In fact, the one who's been considered among the best of the Tokugawa shōguns is Yoshimune, the 8th shōgun (some even put him as one of Japan’s greatest rulers). His far-reaching reforms totally reshaped the central administrative structure; such as improving the quality of the administration and raising national morale by instituting a vigorous program of education for all his subordinates, designed to improve their literary skill and to imbue them with the old warrior values of discipline and leadership, combating corruption, increasing crop yields by developing new land and popularizing new crops, such as sweet potatoes and sugarcane, that could be grown in soil not used for rice cultivation (since the chief source of revenue was the tax on agricultural produce).

Sadly it's not long lasting because his successor, Ieshige, was uninterested in government affairs and left all decisions in the hands of his chamberlain, thus after Yoshimune's death corruption and inefficiency became rampant again.

I would say that even Yoshinobu, the last shōgun, was not a bad ruler/statesmen. Unfortunately for him, thing was already so bad that he barely could do anything about it.
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Old 02-25-2021, 12:14 AM
Aristocracy
 
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25 February 1336 – Ashikaga Takauji entered Kyoto, marking the end of the Kenmu Restoration (建武の新政, Kenmu no shinsei)(1333-1336).

The Emperor's role had been usurped by the Minamoto clan ever since Minamoto no Yoritomo had obtained the title of shōgun in 1192, ruling thereafter from Kamakura. In the latter days, the government of the Kamakura bakufu was controlled in all but name by the tokuso (head) of the Hōjō clan (the clan of Yoritomo’s wife). However, the political situation had been unstable ever since the Mongol invasion, and due to this and other factors, criminals were active in several provinces and the shogunate gradually found itself losing the support of the warrior class.

Meanwhile, in the Imperial Court conflict had arisen between the Kameyama (Daikakuji-tō) and the Gofukakusa (Jimyōin-tō) branches of the Imperial line; in which the bakufu then put a system in place of alternating emperors from each lineage every decade which worked for awhile. On the accession of Go-Daigo, the retired emperor Go-Uda (Go-Daigo’s father) broke the long-established custom and dissolved the office of retired emperor (in no chō) – it’s still debatable whether it was intentional or mainly due to his health. As a result, the entire authority of the imperial government was concentrated in the hands of a single emperor, Go-Daigo.

>>(Back then, to outmanoeuvre Fujiwara clan’s control of the government who had maintained power through marriages to the imperial family around mid 9th century, in which they then abused their position as sessho or kampaku (both are translated as regent, sessho is regent for young emperor while kampaku is for adult emperor) and daijō-kan /chancellors, the emperor would abdicate in favour of his son (or grandchild). By abdicating, the emperor was free from the burden of largely meaningless ceremonial duties and escaped the control of the kugyō, thus they could now concentrate on wielding real political power. The retired emperor (jōkō 上皇 or hōō 法皇 after joining monastery) was considered as having authority equivalent to that of the emperor and once inside a temple or monastery, they surrounded themselves with capable non-Fujiwara aristocrats. It was the edicts of the jōkō, not the reigning one, that were obeyed in a form of imperial government called insei 院政. This practice was continued through Kamakura bakufu era and things got interesting when several tennō only reigned for a decade then abdicated, hence multiple jōkō in the same time )<<.

(A bit about insei and brief summary of how the power shifted from Imperial family to samurai clans)
https://www.ancient.eu/article/1106/...20a%20cloister.

Go-Daigo's ideal was the Engi era (901–923) of the reign of emperor Daigo, a period of direct imperial rule and to achieve it, the only obstacle left was the bakufu. He appointed his own son as his heir (which in a way defying the bakufu since by contention it should be Jimyōin-to’s turn) and twice instigated anti-shogunal uprisings (Shōchū Incident of 1324 and Genkō War of 1331). He failed and in the aftermath of Genko War, Go-Daigo was taken captive and exiled to the island of Oki (modern-day Shimane Prefecture), and the Jimyōin lineage, which had the backing of the Kamakura bakufu, was able to raise their candidate, Kōgon, to the throne.

In 1333, Go-Daigo escaped from Oki with the help of Nawa Nagatoshi and his family, raising an army at Senjo Mountain in Hōki Province (the modern town of Kotoura in Tottori Prefecture). Meanwhile the Kinai area, local leaders, supported by militant Buddhist monks, raised an army to overthrow the bakufu. The imperial forces were led by Prince Morinaga (or Moriyoshi, Go-Daigo's own son who had returned to secular life after serving as head abbot of the entire Tendai sect) and Kusunoki Masashige, but the decisive victory was brought about by the two powerful Kantō warrior families of Ashikaga Takauji and Nitta Yoshisada, two discontented vassals of the Hōjō family.

At that time Takauji, who had been sent by the shogunate to find and destroy that army, sided with the emperor and turned on the Hōjō and attacked the Hōjō headquarters in Kyōto. Following after, Yoshisada, who had raised an army in the east, laid siege to Kamakura. When the city finally fell to Nitta, Hōjō Takatoki, the shogunal regent, fled to Tōshō temple, where he and his entire family committed suicide, ending Hōjō power and Kamakura shogunate.

The return of Go-Daigo to Kyōto in 1333 is known as the Kemmu Restoration. He reclaimed the throne and immediately set about to restore direct imperial rule. He abolished the powerful office of kampaku and set up a central bureaucracy. He revived the Records Office (Kirokusho) to settle lawsuits in the provinces and established the Court of Miscellaneous Claims (Zassho Ketsudansho) to handle minor suits and a guard station (musha-dokoro) to keep order among the warriors in Kyōto. He placed Morinaga in charge of his military forces and set up members of the imperial family as provincial leaders in the north and east.

Many local warriors, however, who had joined the imperial forces in the overthrow of the bakufu were disappointed in the division of the spoils and the direction of the emperor’s reforms. The Emperor reclaimed the property of some manors his family had previously lost control of, rewarding with them, among others, Buddhist temples like Tō-ji and Daitoku-ji in the hope to obtain their support. He however failed to protect the rights of tenants and workers. He also did not understand the importance of the warrior class to him either.

Go-Daigo made his greatest error when he failed to properly reward minor warriors who had supported him, even though he gave generous reward to Ashikaga and Nitta. The tribunals set up to the purpose were inefficient and too inexperienced for the task, and corruption was rife. Samurai anger was made worse by the fact that Go-Daigo, wanting to build a palace for himself but having no funds, levied extra taxes from the warrior class. A wave of enmity towards the nobility started to run through the country, growing stronger with time. By the end of 1335 the Emperor and the nobility had lost all support of the warrior class, including Ashikaga Takauji.

Takauji, who had travelled to eastern Japan without obtaining an imperial edict in order to suppress the Nakasendai Rebellion, became disaffected. He believed the military class had the right to rule and considered himself not as usurper but rather a restorer of Minamoto power, since the Ashikaga descended from a branch of the Minamoto clan.

Daigo ordered Nitta Yoshisada to track down and destroy Ashikaga. Ashikaga defeated Nitta Yoshisada at the Battle of Takenoshita, Hakone, but later defeated by Kusunoki Masashige and Kitabatake Akiie and fled to Kyūshū.

Ashikaga Takauji now turned against Go-Daigo, raising a revolt against the emperor. The war started with most samurai convinced that Takauji was the man they needed to have their grievances redressed, and most peasants were persuaded that they had been better off under the shogunate. The campaign was therefore enormously successful for the Ashikaga, with huge numbers of samurai rushing to join him (they saw him as the man who could bring back the shogunate's heyday, hence his strength was superior to that of any other samurai, Nitta Yoshisada included). By 23 February 1336 Nitta Yoshisada and the Emperor had lost, and Kyoto itself had fallen. Two days later, Ashikaga Takauji entered the capital and the Kenmu Restoration ended after just two and a half years. Takauji then enthroned the Jimyōin-tō emperor, Kōmyō (brother of Kōgon), and officially began his shogunate with the enactment of the Kenmu Law Code.

Go-Daigo fled to Mount Hiei but that same year, seeking reconciliation, he returned to Kyoto and made peace with the Ashikaga faction, handing over the three Imperial Regalia to Emperor Komyo. In January 1337, he escaped from Kyoto and fled to Yoshino (near Nara). Claiming that the Regalia he had passed to Kōmyō were fakes and insisting that he himself was the only legitimate Emperor, he established the Yoshino Court (the Southern Dynasty), starting the Nanboku-chō period in which there were two rival courts – the Northern Dynasty (the Jimyōin-tō) in Kyoto and the Southern Dynasty (the Daikakuji-tō) in Yoshino – until 1392 when the two courts reunified.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenmu_Restoration
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Old 02-25-2021, 03:06 PM
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Thank you as always, Yukari, for your informative and educational posts.

I really ought to knock you on the head you know!
You have forced me to do some extra reading up of Japanese history of this most fascinating era.

An annoying thing is that Japanese names are not spelled the same in western languages.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:04 AM
Aristocracy
 
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My deepest apology then, Muhler.
Before you dive further, please be aware, it's full of tangled webs. Luckily there's no inter-country/kingdom marriage to make it more convulted. Don't say I didn't warn you.

But personally, I find that every power shift in Japanese history is a case of history repeating itself. I can draw parallel between Kiyomori – Yoritomo and Hideyoshi – Ieyasu (one entered the court to "rule" while the other stay outside the palace wall and became shogun) or Kenmu Restoration and Meiji Restoration, both started off with foreign's threat, then the discontented vassals using the emperor to usurp the reigning shogunate (because let's be honest here, Shimazu clan and samurai of Satsuma had bone to pick with the Tokugawa, an old grudge from the aftermath of Sekigahara Battle) and ended not with Imperial rule but to the one who "backed" the emperor.

It helps to understand the current imperial family too. Take Akihito's abdication for example. It may puzzles western royal watcher why he couldn't just abdicate or why there's even a stipulation of banning abdication in the Imperial Household Law, afterall the Dutch and Spanish monarch can abdicate easily. But in the past the emperor used insei to take back control of the government from the Fujiwara and the daijō-kan (office that the Fujiwara used to control of the government) was only abolished completely in 1885 in favor of the newly created office of Prime Minister. So who know if Fumihito ascend the throne, he'd just abdicate in favour of Hisahito not long after, only then to meddle in politic as retired emperor?
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