京のキー 6) A Short Guide to the History of Kyoto: The Shogun and the Emperor

6) A Short Guide to the History of Kyoto: The Shogun and the Emperor

The peninsula of Yashima.
There are shrines to the fallen Taira on the rocky outcroppings. The flat-topped, volcanic Mt. Yashima. The two opposing tidal currents remain dangerous for shipping.
Minamoto no Yoritomo marched victoriously back to Kamakura. He had slain the Taira*, had control of the emperor (Antoku's half-brother Go-Toba) and was ruler of Japan. He then promptly killed his own family (including the heroic Yoshitsune who had been one of his key commanders), to ensure his sons alone succeeded him. His wife was to be made regent upon his death and her family would take effective control (the Regency) now that the Minamoto were reduced to a few male heirs. Emperor Go-Toba attempted rebellion but was utterly humiliated and imprisoned within his own palace, forced to retire (his sons replaced him). Yoritomo placed lieutenants in Kyoto and threatened death to all those that threatened the will of Kamakura. He then had himself named shogun (the generalissimo of Japan from 1192 until the Meiji Restoration). Go-Toba could be the heart of Japan, but Yoritomo would be the undisputed brains and brawn.

The Nionmon gateway to Mt. Kurama. Kurama guarded the Northern passes of Heian-kyo Kurama Temple.
A tiger guardian at Kurama. Plum trees hide the main hall of Kurama Shrine. Minamoto no Yoshitsune famously trained at Kurama.
Kurama is famous for its tengu (long nosed goblins). Kurama Fire Festival is held in October. The Eizan Train has an easy ride down the mountain.
During the Minamoto shogunate Kyoto was a decorative bauble to Kamakura's political machine. A Council of State replaced the Imperial Government, a warrior-code was set in stone and Yoritomo ruled with undisputed force. He could do no wrong. Two times the Mongols attempted an invasion of Japan, but twice their armadas were destroyed by storms. The people called it Kamikaze (Divine Wind) and at Ise built a shrine to thank the gods. Yoritomo passed away and the shogun became an inherited title. All seemed well, except for the fact that the Hojo family were stirring up jealousy and hatred amongst the ruling families. One weak link in the chain of succession and Kamakura lost power. A weak ruler would give the rivals to the shogunate the opportunity to pounce.
Revolving sutra cabinet at Seiryo-ji. Seiryo-ji once held a lifelike statue of the historical buddha (made in his lifetime). This is not it. Turn the cabinet once for good fortune.
Seiryo-ji was built on the marshes of Saga (originally Minamoto no Toru's villa). The shakado of Seiryo-ji Temple. The tahoto in the grounds of Shaka-do (Seiryo-ji).
Ashikaga no Takauji was sick and tired of playing second fiddle to the Hojo. After traveling to Kyoto to put down the Genko Rebellion (Emperor Go-Daigo had failed to take Kamakura, was stripped of his title and exiled), he changed sides on the promise that the title of shogun would pass to him. He planned to restore his friend Emperor Go-Daigo to the throne with the help of Kusunoki Masashige. In quick succession Kyoto was taken back and an assault launched upon the Minamoto-Hojo. Nitta Yoshisada was dispatched to eliminate Ashikaga. Instead he sided with him and together they proved themselves to be an unstoppable force. Hojo Takatoki and his family were forced to commit suicide. Power in a beat skipped back to Kyoto, but friendships die hard when there is a possibility of power. Go-Daigo wished power to revert to the emperor and Nitta Yoshisada felt reluctant to destroy Kamakura completely. Takauji ignored both of them in light of the increasing unrest amongst the samurai (who had no desire to see their power diminished with a return to Heian-style imperial government), turned upon Go-Daigo (replacing him) and made himself shogun. The emperor would remain a puppet. In a series of battles Takauji and Nitta fought one another across the country (Nitta fighting on behalf of Go-Daigo). It was Takauji who emerged victorious.
The main hall of Choraku-ji Temple. After the death of her son (Emperor Antoku), Kenreimon-in became a nun here (Jess stands under the Jizo-lined waterfall). A replica of the flag given by Kenreimon-in to the temple, fashioned from the clothes her son wore when he died.
After becoming a nun, Kenrei-mon-in went into seclusion. The main hall of Jakko-in Temple, Kenreimon-in's home until her death Jakko-in was reconstructed after a fire in 2000 (it was arson).
*The Taira had escaped to Yashima (Takamatsu, Shikoku) after being routed on the beaches of Suma (Kobe). They improvised a palace for the abducted Emperor Antoku, and kept hold of the looted imperial regalia. Despite losing most of his forces to a storm at sea, Minamoto no Yoshitsune followed in hot pursuit of his mortal enemies, deceiving the Taira in to believing that he was attacking landwards by lighting bonfires along the coast. Meanwhile, his men stole onto the beaches in secrecy. The Taira -in chaotic panic- fled to Kyushu (not before further losses to at sea, the coastal currents treacherous about Yashima) with the boy Emperor and imperial regalia. Less than a month later the Emperor would be drowned and the Taira destroyed at Dan-no-ura (the sacred sword lost forever). The two opposing tides on the Yashima peninsula make the waters here dangerous and unpredictable. Yoshitsune would have known this prior to his attack.
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