Minamoto no Yoshitsune
Minamoto no Yoshitsune was a military commander of the Minamoto clan of Japan in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods. During the Genpei War, he led a series of battles which toppled the Ise-Heishi branch of the Taira clan, helping his half-brother Yoritomo consolidate power, he is considered one of the greatest and the most popular warriors of his era, one of the most famous samurai fighters in the history of Japan. Yoshitsune perished after being betrayed by the son of a trusted ally. Yoshitsune was the ninth son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, the third and final son and child that Yoshitomo would father with Tokiwa Gozen. Yoshitsune's older half-brother Minamoto. Yoshitsune's name in childhood was Ushiwakamaru, he was born just before the Heiji Rebellion of early 1160 in which his father and two oldest brothers were killed. He survived this incident by fleeing the capital with his mother, while his half-brother Yoritomo was banished to Izu Province. At age 10, Yoshitsune was placed in the care of the monks of Kurama Temple, nestled in the Hiei Mountains near the capital of Kyoto.
Not wanting to become a monk, Yoshitsune left by way of a gold merchant who knew his father, in 1174 relocated to Hiraizumi, Mutsu Province, where he was put under the protection of Fujiwara no Hidehira, head of the powerful regional Northern Fujiwara clan. A skillful swordsman, Yoshitsune defeated. From on, Benkei became Yoshitsune's retainer dying with him at the Siege of Koromogawa. In 1180, Yoshitsune heard that Yoritomo, now head of the Minamoto clan, had raised an army at the request of Prince Mochihito to fight against the Taira clan which had usurped the power of the emperor. In the ensuing war between the rival Minamoto and Taira samurai clans, known as the Genpei War, Yoshitsune joined Yoritomo, along with Minamoto no Noriyori, all brothers who had not met. Yoshitsune, together with his brother Noriyori, defeated the Taira in several key battles, in early 1184, on the orders of Yoritomo and killed his cousin Minamoto no Yoshinaka, a rival for control of the Minamoto clan, at the Battle of Awazu in Ōmi Province.
Yoshitsune, who had by been given the rank of general, went on to defeat the Taira at the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani in present-day Kobe in March 1184, again at the Battle of Yashima in Shikoku in March 1185. He destroyed them one month at the Battle of Dan-no-ura in present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture. Following the Genpei War, Yoshitsune was appointed as Governor of Iyo and awarded other titles by cloistered emperor Go-Shirakawa, his suspicious brother Yoritomo, opposed the presentation of these titles, nullified them. Yoshitsune secured imperial authorization to ally with his uncle Minamoto no Yukiie in opposing Yoritomo. Incurring Yoritomo's wrath, Yoshitsune fled Kyoto in 1185, his faithful mistress, Shizuka Gozen, carrying his unborn child, fled with him at first, but was left behind, soon taken into custody by forces loyal to Yoritomo. Yoshitsune made his way to Hiraizumi, once again to the protection of Fujiwara no Hidehira, lived undisturbed for a time. Hidehira's son Fujiwara no Yasuhira had promised upon Hidehira's death to honor his father's wishes and continue to shelter Yoshitsune, giving in to pressure from Yoritomo, betrayed Yoshitsune, surrounding his Koromogawa-no-tachi residence with his troops, defeating Yoshitsune's retainers, including Benkei, forcing Yoshitsune to commit seppuku.
Yasuhira had Yoshitsune's head preserved in sake, placed in a black-lacquered chest, sent to Yoritomo as proof of his death. Historical sources differ as to the fate of their son. Yoshitsune is enshrined in a Shinto shrine in the city of Fujisawa; the death of Yoshitsune has been elusive. According to Ainu historical accounts, he did not commit seppuku, but instead escaped the siege at Koromogawa, fleeing to Hokkaido and assuming the name Okikurumi/Oinakamui. In Hokkaido, the Yoshitsune Shrine is erected in his honor in the town of Biratori. An alternate and discredited theory states that after evading death, Yoshitsune made his way past Hokkaido and sailed to the mainland of Asia, re-surfacing as Genghis Khan; the "Koshigoe Letter" was written by Yoshitsune on 6 May 1185 as he waited in Koshigoe for approval from Yoritomo to enter Kamakura. This letter was Yoshitsune's "final appeal" to Yoritomo of his loyalty; the letter is a "mixture of bravado and an masochistic indulgence in misfortune." An excerpt: So here I remain, vainly shedding crimson tears....
I have not been permitted to refute the accusations of my slanderers or to set foot in Kamakura, but have been obliged to languish idly these many days with no possibility of declaring the sincerity of my intentions. It is now so long since I have set eyes on His Lordship's compassionate countenance that the bond of our blood brotherhood seems to have vanished. Yoshitsune has long been a popular figure in Japanese literature and culture due to his appearance as the main character in the third section of the Japanese literary classic Heike Monogatari; the Japanese term for "sympathy for a tragic hero", Hōgan-biiki, comes from Yoshitsune's title Kurō Hōgan, which he received from the Imperial Court. Many of the literary pieces that Yoshitsune appears in are legend rather than historical fact. Legends pertaining to Yoshitsune first began to appear in the fourteenth century. In early works at that time, Yoshitsune was described as a sh
Battle of Dan-no-ura
The battle of Dan-no-ura was a major sea battle of the Genpei War, occurring at Dan-no-ura, in the Shimonoseki Strait off the southern tip of Honshū. On April 25, 1185, the fleet of the Minamoto clan, led by Minamoto no Yoshitsune, defeated the fleet of the Taira clan; the morning rip tide was an advantage to the Taira in the morning but turned to their disadvantage in the afternoon. The young Emperor Antoku was one of those; the Taira were outnumbered, but some sources say that they had the advantage over the Minamoto in understanding the tides of that particular area, as well as naval combat tactics in general. The Taira split their fleet into three squadrons, while their enemy arrived en masse, their ships abreast, archers ready; the beginning of the battle consisted of a long-range archery exchange, before the Taira took the initiative, using the tides to help them try to surround the enemy ships. They engaged the Minamoto, the archery from a distance gave way to hand-to-hand combat with swords and daggers after the crews of the ships boarded each other.
However, the tide changed, 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 and attacked the Taira from the rear, he revealed to the Minamoto which ship the six-year-old Emperor 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. Many of the Taira committed suicide. Among those who perished this way were Antoku and his grandmother, Nun of the Second Rank, the widow of Taira no Kiyomori. To this day, the Heike Crabs found in the Straits of Shimonoseki are considered by the Japanese to hold the spirits of the Taira warriors; the Taira attempted to toss the imperial regalia off the ship but only managed to get the sword and jewel into the water before the ship holding the regalia was captured. The jewel was recovered by divers; this decisive defeat of the Taira forces led to the end of the Taira bid for control of Japan.
Minamoto no Yoritomo, the elder half-brother of Minamoto Yoshitsune, became the first shōgun, establishing his military government in Kamakura. In this battle the Taira lost Taira Tomomori, Taira Noritsune, Taira Norimori, Taira Tsunemori, Taira Sukemori, Taira Arimori and Taira Yukimori, who were killed. In 1965, a dramatized version of the battle dated for March 24, 1185, appeared as part of the movie Kwaidan. In his book and television series Cosmos, Carl Sagan presents a brief, dramatic account of the battle in chapter/episode 2. Sagan uses the Heike crabs as examples of artificial selection. In the anime film Pom Poko, by Studio Ghibli, one of the venerable Shape-Shifting Tanuki Masters is an eyewitness to the battle and delights in telling the Tama Tanuki of his exploits, where he was responsible for firing the first critical shot of the battle disguised as one of the mounted archers. In Sukiyaki Western Django, this battle is referred to as part of the film's backstory; the battle is recounted near the beginning of the Usagi Yojimbo story arc Grasscutter.
The Japanese anime, Angolmois: Genkō Kassen-ki depicts the battle in a historical flashback and provides an alternative story where the young emperor survived the sea. Media related to Battle of Dan-no-ura at Wikimedia Commons ShimonosekiBooks: Stephen Turnbull: Fighting Ships of the Far East: Japan and Korea AD 612–1639. Osprey Publishing 2012, pp. 41–42 Other: According to Shimonoseki City Information:"In the Middle Age, the last battle between the Genji clan and the Heike clan broke out in Dannoura on 24 March 1185 and Yoshitsune won the battle by using the tides. On the other hand, Emperor Antoku died with three sacred treasures and the Heike clan was ruined."Opera: "The battle is the subject of an opera by the Thai-American composer S. P. Somtow. Called Dan no Ura, the opera premiered in Bangkok in 2014." Stephen Turnbull: Samurai - The World of the Warrior. Osprey Publishing 2006, pp. 34–38 Excerpt from the City of Shimonoseki homepage http://www.city.shimonoseki.yamaguchi.jp/seisaku/kokusai/y_english/history/ Gaskin and Vince Hawkins.'The Ways Of The Samurai'.
New York: Barnes & Noble Books
Taira no Tadamori
Taira no Tadamori was a Taira clan samurai, son of Masamori and father of Taira no Kiyomori, member of the Kebiishi. Tadamori was governor of the provinces of Harima, Ise and Tajima, he consolidated the influence of the Taira clan at the Imperial Court, is said to have been the first samurai to serve the Emperor directly, at Court. As a servant of the Court, Tadamori waged campaigns, beginning in 1129, against pirates on the coasts of San'yōdō and Nankaidō, he served his own clan in battling the warrior monks of Nara and of Mount Hiei. Tadamori is credited with the construction of the Rengeō-in, a major and now-famous temple in Kyoto, which includes the longest wooden building in the world, the Sanjūsangen-dō. Tadamori was granted the governorship of Tajima province as a reward for completing this project. Father: Taira no Masamori Wife: Gion Nyogo Ike no Zenni Sons: Taira no Kiyomori Taira no Iemori Taira no Tsunemori Taira no Norimori Taira no Yorimori Taira no Tadanori Frederic, Louis. Japan Encyclopedia.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Papinot, Edmond. Historical and geographical dictionary of Japan. Tokyo: Librarie Sansaisha
History of Japan
The first human habitation in the Japanese archipelago has been traced to prehistoric times. The Jōmon period, named after its "cord-marked" pottery, was followed by the Yayoi in the first millennium BC when new technologies were introduced from continental Asia. During this period, the first known written reference to Japan was recorded in the Chinese Book of Han in the first century AD. Between the fourth century and the ninth century, Japan's many kingdoms and tribes came to be unified under a centralized government, nominally controlled by the Emperor; this imperial dynasty continues to reign over Japan. In 794, a new imperial capital was established at Heian-kyō, marking the beginning of the Heian period, which lasted until 1185; the Heian period is considered a golden age of classical Japanese culture. Japanese religious life from this time and onwards was a mix of native Shinto practices and Buddhism. Over the following centuries, the power of the Emperor and the imperial court declined and passed to the military clans and their armies of samurai warriors.
The Minamoto clan under Minamoto no Yoritomo emerged victorious from the Genpei War of 1180–85. After seizing power, Yoritomo took the title of shōgun. In 1274 and 1281, the Kamakura shogunate withstood two Mongol invasions, but in 1333 it was toppled by a rival claimant to the shogunate, ushering in the Muromachi period. During the Muromachi period regional warlords called daimyōs grew in power at the expense of the shōgun. Japan descended into a period of civil war. Over the course of the late sixteenth century, Japan was reunified under the leadership of the daimyō Oda Nobunaga and his successor Toyotomi Hideyoshi. After Hideyoshi's death in 1598, Tokugawa Ieyasu came to power and was appointed shōgun by the Emperor; the Tokugawa shogunate, which governed from Edo, presided over a prosperous and peaceful era known as the Edo period. The Tokugawa shogunate imposed a strict class system on Japanese society and cut off all contact with the outside world. Portugal and Japan started their first affiliation in 1543, making the Portuguese the first Europeans to reach Japan by landing in the southern archipelago of Japan.
The Netherlands was the first to establish trade relations with Japan, Japan–Netherlands relations dating back to 1609. The American Perry Expedition in 1853–54 more ended Japan's seclusion; the new national leadership of the following Meiji period transformed the isolated feudal island country into an empire that followed Western models and became a great power. Although democracy developed and modern civilian culture prospered during the Taishō period, Japan's powerful military had great autonomy and overruled Japan's civilian leaders in the 1920s and 1930s; the military invaded Manchuria in 1931, from 1937 the conflict escalated into a prolonged war with China. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 led to war with its allies. Japan's forces soon became overextended, but the military held out in spite of Allied air attacks that inflicted severe damage on population centers. Emperor Hirohito announced Japan's unconditional surrender on 15 August 1945, following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria.
The Allies occupied Japan until 1952, during which a new constitution was enacted in 1947 that transformed Japan into a constitutional monarchy. After 1955, Japan enjoyed high economic growth, became a world economic powerhouse. Since the 1990s, economic stagnation has been a major issue. An earthquake, tsunami in 2011 caused massive economic dislocations and a serious nuclear power disaster; the mountainous Japanese archipelago stretches northeast to southwest 3,000 km off the east of the Asian continent at the convergence of four tectonic plates. The steep, craggy mountains that cover two-thirds of its surface are prone to quick erosion from fast-flowing rivers and to mudslides, they have hampered internal travel and communication and driven the population to rely on transportation along coastal waters. There is a great variety to its regions' geographical features and weather patterns, with a Wet season, in most parts in early summer. Volcanic soil that washes along the 13% of the area that makes up the coastal plains provides fertile land, the temperate climate allows long growing seasons, which with the diversity of flora and fauna provide rich resources able to support the density of the population.
A accepted periodization of Japanese history: Land bridges, during glacial periods when the world sea level is lower, have periodically linked the Japanese archipelago to the Asian continent via Sakhalin Island in the north and via the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan in the south since the beginning of the current Quaternary glaciation 2.58 million years ago. There may have been a land bridge to Korea in the southwest, though not in the 125,000 years or so since the start of the last interglacial; the Korea Strait was, quite narrow at the Last Glacial Maximum from 25,000 to 20,000 years BP. The earliest firm evidence of human habitation is of early Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers from 40,000 years ago, when Japan was separated from the continent. Edge-ground axes dating to 32–38,000 years ago found in 224 sites in Honshu and Kyushu are unlike anything found in neighbouring areas of continental Asia, have been proposed as evidence for the first Homo sapiens in Japan. Radiocarbon dating has shown that the earliest fossils in