Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Search results: "bakufu" Page 2 of 3

Episode 130 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 13

 

This week, we cover 1867: the final year of the Tokugawa shogunate (sort of). Caught between a loyalist rock and an imperial hard place, Tokugawa Yoshinobu will consider the unthinkable: resignation, and an end to 260 years of bakufu tradition.

 

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Images

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The young emperor Meiji. This photo dates from 1871, four years after his enthronement.

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Another view of the Emperor Meiji, depicted early in his reign with a group of shishi loyalists. Meiji, unlike his father Komei, was not a consverative and had no attachment to the Tokugawa, and was thus willing to throw in with the shishi.

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Katsu Kaishu in the 1860s. Katsu was tapped to try to negotiate a settlement between the two sides in 1867, but failed — there was no common ground from which to even begin a negotiation, let alone conclude one.

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Nijo Castle, home of the shogunal presence in Kyoto. While staying here during negotiations, Tokugawa Yoshinobu made the fateful decision to agree to resign and return power to the emperor.

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A stylized depiction of Yoshinobu’s announcement of his resignation. The real ceremony, I suspect, was not this tranquil.

Episode 127 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 10

1864 is probably the most important year in the Meiji Restoration that nobody really has heard of; the Tokugawa will come as close to winning their fight for control of Japan as they ever will, and the shishi movement will end up on the ropes. So, how did the Tokugawa stage such an effective comeback, and why did Tokugawa victories end up laying the groundwork for Tokugawa defeats down the line? All that and more, this week!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Totman, Conrad. The Collapse of the Tokugawa Bakufu, 1862-1868.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Images

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This print depicts the early stages of the Mito Rebellion. On the right side are the rebels, with their leader holding a banner reading “Sonno Joi” (Honor the Emperor, Expel the Barbarian). The retreating forces of the Tokugawa are on the left.

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British troops pose with captured Choshu artillery during the attack on Shimonoseki. The allied British-French-American-Dutch force smashed the defenses of Choshu and easily destroyed its coastal forts.

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The site of the original Ikeda Inn was for a long time a pachinko parlor. A few years back, a new owner converted it into a Shinsengumi themed restaurant named after the original Ikeda Inn.

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A view of the Choshu attack on Hamaguri gate. The palace is on the upper side of the picture; Choshu forces are distinguished by their banner (the line with three dots under it).

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A second view of the Hamaguri attack showing the defeated Choshu attackers.

Episode 124 – The Fall of the Samurai, Part 8

This week, the turbulent politics following the death of Ii Naosuke will result in the rise of one of the most famous symbols of the late Tokugawa era: the shishi, or men of spirit. These shishi groups, radicalized by the political trials of recent years, will introduce a degree of violence to Japanese politics not seen in generations, and pave the way for a fundamental change in Japanese politics.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, Marius. Sakamoto Ryoma and the Meiji Restoration.

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Beasley, W.G. The Meiji Restoration.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Images

Sakamoto Ryoma, a minor samurai from Tosa domain, started his political career as a devoted Shishi. However, Katsu Kaishu convinced him of the utility of foreign ideas, and instead Sakamoto began working at the bakufu's naval training academy in Nagasaki.

Sakamoto Ryoma, a minor samurai from Tosa domain, started his political career as a devoted Shishi. However, Katsu Kaishu convinced him of the utility of foreign ideas, and instead Sakamoto began working at the bakufu’s naval training academy in Nagasaki.

Katsu Kaishu, the head of the bakufu's naval training academy, was able not only to convince Sakamoto Ryoma not to kill him but to join him in spreading Western naval technology.

Katsu Kaishu, the head of the bakufu’s naval training academy, was able not only to convince Sakamoto Ryoma not to kill him but to join him in spreading Western naval technology.

This statue of Sakamoto Ryoma in Kochi (the former capitol of Tosa) speaks to his enduring popularity. We'll be spending a lot of time with young Sakamoto in coming weeks.

This statue of Sakamoto Ryoma in Kochi (the former capitol of Tosa) speaks to his enduring popularity. We’ll be spending a lot of time with young Sakamoto in coming weeks.

Takasugi Shinsaku, leader of the Choshu shishi, former student of Yoshida Shoin, kendoka and all around party guy.

Takasugi Shinsaku, leader of the Choshu shishi, former student of Yoshida Shoin, kendoka and all around party guy.

Episode 44 – A Review of The Last Samurai

This week, we’ll be going all Tom Cruise for our second media review, and discussing the actual history behind the mishmash of stories used as the background for the 2003 film The Last Samurai.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Drea, Edward. Japan’s Imperial Army: Its Rise and Fall, 1853-1945.

Jansen, Marius. The Making of Modern Japan.

Ravina, Mark. The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Watanabe Ken as Katsumoto, the leader of an anti-government samurai rebellion. Note the historically inaccurate lack of firearms.

Watanabe Ken as Katsumoto, the leader of an anti-government samurai rebellion. Note the historically inaccurate lack of firearms.

Saigo Takamori in the uniform of a French officer.

Saigo Takamori in the uniform of a French officer.

Some of the major Western characters from the film. On the right is Tom Cruise's character Nathan Algren, based in part off the French officer Jules Brunet. In the center is Simon Graham, based on the real life British diplomat Sir Ernest Satow.

Some of the major Western characters from the film. On the right is Tom Cruise’s character Nathan Algren, based in part off the French officer Jules Brunet. In the center is Simon Graham, based on the real life British diplomat Sir Ernest Satow.

Jules Brunet during his time in Hakodate. This was taken in 1869 as the Ezo Republic was collapsing in the face of the Imperial Army.

Jules Brunet during his time in Hakodate. This was taken in 1869 as the Ezo Republic was collapsing in the face of the Imperial Army.

Sir Ernest Satow: diplomat, scholar, gentleman. Satow was one of the first Westerners to seriously engage with Japanese culture and brokered many of the early deals between Japan and the United Kingdom.

Sir Ernest Satow: diplomat, scholar, gentleman. Satow was one of the first Westerners to seriously engage with Japanese culture and brokered many of the early deals between Japan and the United Kingdom.

Tokugawa troops being drilled by Brunet and his compatriots in the French fashion.

Tokugawa troops being drilled by Brunet and his compatriots in the French fashion.

Bakufu troops being loaded onto transports and shipped to Hokkaido to serve the Ezo Republic.

Bakufu troops being loaded onto transports and shipped to Hokkaido to serve the Ezo Republic.

The French and Japanese military leadership of the Ezo Republic. The French officers were sent to serve the Tokugawa, but came to respect the Japanese to such a degree that they volunteered their services to fight for the final holdouts of the Tokugawa regime. Top row, left to right: Andre Casenueve, Jean Marlin, Fukushima Tokinosuke (one of their students), Arthur Fortrant. Bottom Row: Hosoya Yasutaro (one of the Japanese commanders), Jules Brunet, Matsudaira Taro (Vice President of the Ezo Republic), Tajima Kintaro

The French and Japanese military leadership of the Ezo Republic. The French officers were sent to serve the Tokugawa, but came to respect the Japanese to such a degree that they volunteered their services to fight for the final holdouts of the Tokugawa regime.
Top row, left to right: Andre Casenueve, Jean Marlin, Fukushima Tokinosuke (one of their students), Arthur Fortrant.
Bottom Row: Hosoya Yasutaro (one of the Japanese commanders), Jules Brunet, Matsudaira Taro (Vice President of the Ezo Republic), Tajima Kintaro

 

The Battle of Hakodate, the final combat of the Boshin War. Bakufu troops are charging in at left, facing Imperial troops at right. Soldiers in French uniform are visible at the bottom left on the bakufu side.

The Battle of Hakodate, the final combat of the Boshin War. Bakufu troops are charging in at left, facing Imperial troops at right. Soldiers in French uniform are visible at the bottom left on the bakufu side.

Episode 43 – The Great Traitor

This week, we’ll be doing our second shogunal biography. We’re going to discuss the life and legacy of the man who destroyed the Hojo family, established the Ashikaga bakufu, and who was until very recently reviled as the worst traitor in Japanese history: Ashikaga Takauji.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Sansom, George. A History of Japan, Volume 2: 1334-1615.

Totman, Conrad. A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Ashikaga Takauji in full battle gear.

Ashikaga Takauji in full battle gear.

The statue of Nitta Yoshisada erected by the Meiji government.

The statue of Nitta Yoshisada erected by the Meiji government.

Kusunoki Masahige, Go-Daigo's loyal servant to the end. His valorous death earned him a statue in the Imperial Palace, but Ashikaga Takauji earned nothing but scorn in the Meiji Period.

Kusunoki Masahige, Go-Daigo’s loyal servant to the end. His valorous death earned him a statue in the Imperial Palace, but Ashikaga Takauji earned nothing but scorn in the Meiji Period.

The twin capitols of Nanbokucho Japan: Kyoto (home to the Ashikaga-backed Northern Court) and Yoshino (home to Go-Daigo's Southern Court)

The twin capitols of Nanbokucho Japan: Kyoto (home to the Ashikaga-backed Northern Court) and Yoshino (home to Go-Daigo’s Southern Court)

Kumazawa Hiromichi (center) claimed to be the true emperor of Japan after World War II owing to his line of descent from the Southern Court (the current Imperial line comes from the Northern Court).

Kumazawa Hiromichi (center) claimed to be the true emperor of Japan after World War II owing to his line of descent from the Southern Court (the current Imperial line comes from the Northern Court).

The box art for NHK's 1991 Taiheiki, featuring Ashikaga Takauji on the front cover. The drama portrays Takauji in a more sympathetic light. Courtesy of the Nippon Hosokai.

The box art for NHK’s 1991 Taiheiki, featuring Ashikaga Takauji on the front cover. The drama portrays Takauji in a more sympathetic light. Courtesy of the Nippon Hosokai.

Travels in Japan, Part 1 – Sakuradamon, Kan’eiji, and Yokohama

So, for those of you who aren’t caught up yet — I’m in Japan doing some summer work for the next few weeks (which is why the supply of new episodes is going to slow down for a bit).  I feel bad leaving y’all in the lurch with no new Japanese history-related fun to fill your days, though, so I figured that I would put together some short posts talking about fun historical places in Tokyo and its surrounding areas that I’ll be visiting while I’m here.

First up, we have Sakuradamon, Kan’eiji, and the city of Yokohama, home to the old Foreign Settlement.

Sakuradamon

Sakuradamon, or the Gate of Cherry Blossom Fields, is the southern gate leading out of the Imperial Palace. Today, it faces towards the Kasumigaseki district, where the various branches of the governmental bureaucracy are headquartered.

This is the spot where, in 1860, the repressive bakufu tairo Ii Naosuke was killed by assassins from Mito. The assassins were angry about Ii’s permissive attitude towards foreigners entering the country (in fact, Ii simply felt that he had no choice in the matter) and about Ii’s treatment of the former daimyo of Mito, a political rival named Tokugawa Nariaki. Nariaki was a distant relative of the shogun who advocated for immediate expulsion of all foreigners regardless of the cost. Ii had him placed under house arrest (where he died). It’s worth noting, as a measure of Ii’s power, that he was able to do this to a member (if a distant one) of the shogun’s own family — the influence and authority the man wielded in his day was astounding.

All the influence in the world couldn’t stop his assassins, though. Sakuradamon tended to be somewhat busy with people coming and going from the palace, which gave the assassins enough  cover to get close. They jumped Ii and killed him as some of their members distracted his bodyguards. Those not killed by said bodyguards later committed suicide.

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It’s worth wondering if Japan would be a different place if Ii had lived — certainly, the bakufu was on an upswing under his rule, but the tactics he used to make that happen were so heavy-handed that in retrospect an assassination attempt seems like an inevitability.  We can’t know how different things might have been had he lived, but it’s certainly fun to speculate on whether the bakufu’s future died with Ii Naosuke.

A view of Sakurada Gate from the west -- behind the gate are the skyscrapers of central Tokyo from whence, after World War II, General Douglas MacArthur ran the American occupation forces.

A view of Sakurada Gate from the west — behind the gate are the skyscrapers of central Tokyo from whence, after World War II, General Douglas MacArthur ran the American occupation forces.

By the way, in an ultimate (and ironic) historical tribute to the man who believed that the entry of Western ideas and technology into Japan was inevitable, there’s now a Tokyo metro station about 100 feet from where he died. I imagine he would have had mixed feelings about that.

Kan’eiji

Those of you who have visited Ueno Park in Tokyo might have noticed that the area of the park is littered with Buddhist temples and shrines. In fact, these different shrines and temples were, once upon a time, subsections of one massive temple of which only part remains, called Kan’ei Temple (ji meaning temple in Japanese).

Kan’eiji was one of the largest temples in the city at one point — it was built by order of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and enjoyed a great deal of official patronage. In fact, it’s one of two temples (along with Zōjōji, which is just south of Tokyo Tower) to house the graves of the old shoguns (with the exception of Ieyasu, who gets a whole shrine all to himself up in the city of Nikko called Tōshōgu).

A bronze lantern in one of the remaining areas of Kan'eiji -- note the Tokugawa crest on the top part.

A bronze lantern in one of the remaining areas of Kan’eiji — note the Tokugawa crest on the top part.

But if Kan’eiji was so great, you ask, why is it a park now? The answer lies in the final days of the Tokugawa shogunate.  The city of Edo surrendered to the Emperor’s army specifically to avoid the destruction of the city’s many great monuments and temples, but some of the younger and more hot-headed Tokugawa supporters in the city couldn’t accept the idea. They formed a military organization called the shōgitai, or “league for the preservation of righteousness,” and seized control of Kan’eiji in July 1868, defying the Imperial Army to come kick them out. They chose Kan’eiji for reasons that were partially military (the temple is atop a hill, and the southern approach is covered by a small lake, limiting the directions from which an attack is possible) and partially symbolic (choosing the sight of the Tokugawa burial grounds in order to demonstrate their loyalty).

The shōgitai, however, had more bravery than sense;though they had numbers on their side and were able to stop the initial head-on attacks by the Imperial Army, they lacked modern artillery and had only a small number of rifles. Seeing this, the Imperial Army began shelling the temple, before launching a two-pronged assault that destroyed the remaining shōgitai forces.  In the process, huge swaths of the temple, including its honden, or main hall, were destroyed.

The modern honden of Kan'eiji, built after the battle of Ueno. It is about 2/3rds the size of the original.

The modern honden of Kan’eiji, built after the battle of Ueno. It is about 2/3rds the size of the original.

The shōgitai were and are venerated as an example of devotion to the last measure for one’s  cause — the idea of dying to prove the righteousness of one’s position is an old one in Japanese culture, and thus the shōgitai‘s actions had a lot of resonance with the common folk. Personally, though, I’m not sure that justifies their actions — their rebellion left hundreds dead and hundreds more homeless (their homes being “collateral damage”), all for a cause that, by July of 1868, was clearly dead.

Part of a monument to the Shogitai erected by the surviving members of the group with the permission of the new government.

Part of a monument to the Shogitai erected by the surviving members of the group with the permission of the new government.

Yokohama

The city of Yokohama’s claim to fame is that, from the 1860s up until the 1920s, it was the heart of the expat community in Japan. Yokohama was the site where Commodore Perry came ashore to sign the Treaty of Amity and Friendship with Japan in 1854 (the spot where he signed it eventually became the British consulate in the 1920s, and now houses the Yokohama Historical Archives).

Yokohama was conceded to the foreign nations as a leased territory to be governed under their rule and house their diplomats and businesses (thus avoiding the indignity of having to submit themselves to Japanese law). Embassies, business and individuals all made their home in a part of Yokohama that was strictly off-limits to the people of Yokohama themselves without permission from one of the foreign embassies.

Yokohama's Nihon-Odori (Japan Avenue) once marked the boundary between the city proper and the foreign quarter.

Yokohama’s Nihon-Odori (Japan Avenue) once marked the boundary between the city proper and the foreign quarter.

The foreign quarter was eventually returned to Japan in the 1910s, but its legacy remains to this day — the area is dotted with Victorian buildings which once housed diplomats, Western businesses or other aspects of Western life which had been imported to Japan.  The city’s done a pretty good job of turning what was once seen as an indignity against the entire Japanese nation into a selling point — tourism of the remaining buildings of the foreign quarter has become a popular way for the city to acquire some much-needed revenue.

The Yokohama Historical Archives, erected on the spot where the Treaty of Kanagawa was signed in 1854. The present building is the former British Embassy, and was sold to the city of Yokohama after the closing of the Foreign Quarter.

The Yokohama Historical Archives, erected on the spot where the Treaty of Kanagawa was signed in 1854. The present building is the former British Embassy, and was sold to the city of Yokohama after the closing of the Foreign Quarter.

Yokohama Presbyterian Church, the oldest Protestant (though not the oldest Christian) church in Japan -- it dates back to the 1870s and remains in use, but now with an entirely Japanese group of pastors and a mostly Japanese congregation.

Yokohama Presbyterian Church, the oldest Protestant (though not the oldest Christian) church in Japan — it dates back to the 1870s and remains in use, but now with an entirely Japanese group of pastors and a mostly Japanese congregation.

That’s all for this week, guys. Next week, I’ll have an actual episode for you all — sorry again for the delay!

Episode 11 – The End of an Era

First and foremost, thank you to everyone who messaged me or commented over the past week. Your input has been incredibly valuable, and I cannot thank you enough.

This week, we’ll be discussing the Bakumatsu, the 15 years prior to the collapse of the Tokugawa and the end of samurai rule in Japan. It’s a very complex, but incredibly fascinating story, and personally I find it to be one of the most compelling in Japanese history. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan

Craig, Albert. Choshu in the Meiji Restoration.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States, c. 1858.

Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the United States, c. 1858.

This Japanese woodblock print depicts Perry (center) flanked by two of his officers during their second voyage to Japan (1854).

This Japanese woodblock print depicts Perry (center) flanked by two of his officers during their second voyage to Japan (1854).

The island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay was used by the shogunate to build a gun emplacement with which to defend the harbor.  However, the inferior quality of Tokugawa weaponry compared to that of the West meant that it never could serve its purpose of warding off Western incursion.

The island of Odaiba in Tokyo Bay was used by the shogunate to build a gun emplacement with which to defend the harbor. However, the inferior quality of Tokugawa weaponry compared to that of the West meant that it never could serve its purpose of warding off Western incursion.

A statue of Ii Naosuke in his hereditary domain of Hikone.

A statue of Ii Naosuke in his hereditary domain of Hikone.

The Sakuradamon Incident. Note the figure on the left escaping with the severed head of Naosuke.

The Sakuradamon Incident. Note the figure on the left escaping with the severed head of Naosuke.

The 1863 British bombardment of Kagoshima, as depicted by Le Monde. This event was one of the blows which led to the collapse of the original Sonno Joi movement and its eventual revival as a purely Emperor-focused anti-Tokugawa movement.

The 1863 British bombardment of Kagoshima, as depicted by Le Monde. This event was one of the blows which led to the collapse of the original Sonno Joi movement and its eventual revival as a purely Emperor-focused anti-Tokugawa movement.

Though some bakufu troops were modernized over the course of the 1860s, most were not. These soldiers, marching under the flags of the Tokugawa and their home province of Aizu, are an example of the latter.  By comparison, more or less the entirety of the anti-Tokugawa forces were equipped with modern weapons.

Though some bakufu troops were modernized over the course of the 1860s, most were not. These soldiers, marching under the flags of the Tokugawa and their home province of Aizu, are an example of the latter. By comparison, more or less the entirety of the anti-Tokugawa forces were equipped with modern weapons.

French-trained modern Bakufu troops on campaign in 1868.

French-trained modern Bakufu troops on campaign in 1868.

Episode 7 – Descent into Chaos

This week we will be covering the fall of the Ashikaga bakufu and the beginnings of the Sengoku, or W11arring States Period. As a special bonus (not really) you get to hear me desperately try to produce coherent words while suffering from a nasty head cold.

Hopefully my mutterings are at least reasonably intelligible. Enjoy the show!

Direct link here

Sources

Totman, A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

This is a picture of Rennyo, the Jodo Shinshu monk whose teachings formed the basis of Ikko Ikki doctrine. Rennyo was careful to distance himself from the more violent aspects of Ikko thought; as a result, his teachings remained legal even after the Ikko were suppressed.

This is a picture of Rennyo, the Jodo Shinshu monk whose teachings formed the basis of Ikko Ikki doctrine. Rennyo was careful to distance himself from the more violent aspects of Ikko thought; as a result, his teachings remained legal even after the Ikko were suppressed.

This is the modern restoration of Kinkakuji. The original was burned down in 1950 -- the current version is an exact replica (presumably with more fireproofing).

This is the modern restoration of Kinkakuji. The original was burned down in 1950 — the current version is an exact replica (presumably with more fireproofing).

These are called Tanegashima matchlocks, after the island of Tanegashima where the Portuguese landed in 1542. This particular batch dates to the Edo Period -- after the Sengoku ended, new weapon designs were not imported until the 1800s.

These are called Tanegashima matchlocks, after the island of Tanegashima where the Portuguese landed in 1542. This particular batch dates to the Edo Period — after the Sengoku ended, new weapon designs were not imported until the 1800s.

These hand cannons are based on European designs, and operate as a sort of semi-mobile artillery. Unlike a musket they must be fired from the hip, making them extremely difficult to aim. They compensated with a shotgun-like spread effect, making them devastating at close quarters.

These hand cannons are based on European designs, and operate as a sort of semi-mobile artillery. Unlike a musket they must be fired from the hip, making them extremely difficult to aim. They compensated with a shotgun-like spread effect, making them devastating at close quarters.

This is Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the last effective shogun of the Muromachi bakufu. After the outbreak of the Onin War, Yoshimasa retreated into an escapist world of high culture based out of Higashiyama, a suburb of Kyoto removed from the fighting. The historical image of him engaging in revelry while Kyoto burned just a mile away remains one of the defining symbols of the decline of the Ashikaga.

This is Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the last effective shogun of the Muromachi bakufu. After the outbreak of the Onin War, Yoshimasa retreated into an escapist world of high culture based out of Higashiyama, a suburb of Kyoto removed from the fighting. The historical image of him engaging in revelry while Kyoto burned just a mile away remains one of the defining symbols of the decline of the Ashikaga.

Episode 6 – A New Order

This week’s episode is on the structure of the Kamakura bakufu, its war against the Mongol Yuan dynasty of China, and its eventual destruction and replacement. We’re also going to discuss some cultural innovations of the period, in the form of new Buddhist sects (Zen and Pure Land Buddhism) and the creation of Noh theater.

It’s a bit eclectic, but I think the topics are interesting, and I hope you all agree!

Give it a listen here.

Sources

Totman, A History of Japan.

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

This is Hojo Tokimune, the shikken who defied Kublai Khan's demand for submission and eventually defeated him.

This is Hojo Tokimune, the shikken who defied Kublai Khan’s demand for submission and eventually defeated him.

This is a portrait of Kublai Khan dating from his lifetime.

This is a portrait of Kublai Khan dating from his lifetime.

This is the original 1266 letter from Kublai Khan to Hojo Tokimune, whom he addresses as "the King of Japan." He demands Tokimune's submission in the letter, a demand which Tokimune ignored.

This is the original 1266 letter from Kublai Khan to Hojo Tokimune, whom he addresses as “the King of Japan.” He demands Tokimune’s submission in the letter, a demand which Tokimune ignored.

This image dates from the second Mongol invasion. On the left are a group of Mongol warriors; on the right is a charging samurai identified as Suenaga.

This image dates from the second Mongol invasion. On the left are a group of Mongol warriors; on the right is a charging samurai identified as Suenaga.

This is a period image of Go-Daigo, the Emperor who led the overthrow of the Kamakura bakufu. Three years later he would be defeated by his own lieutenant, Ashikaga Takauji.

This is a period image of Go-Daigo, the Emperor who led the overthrow of the Kamakura bakufu. Three years later he would be defeated by his own lieutenant, Ashikaga Takauji.

This is Ashikaga Takauji, the Hojo retainer turned Imperial supporter turned shogun, who betrayed his way to the top of the heap in the 1330s.

This is Ashikaga Takauji, the Hojo retainer turned Imperial supporter turned shogun, who betrayed his way to the top of the heap in the 1330s.

This is an image of a Noh actor; behind him is a group of stage musicians.

This is an image of a Noh actor; behind him is a group of stage musicians.

This shot show the 8-man chorus on the right side of the stage.

This shot show the 8-man chorus on the right side of the stage.

This is a "kojo," or old man mask, used in Noh performances.

This is a “kojo,” or old man mask, used in Noh performances.

Episode 5 – Dream on a Spring Night

This week we’re going to cover the Genpei War between the Minamoto and Taira families and the collapse of the Heian system. We’ll also be covering the formation of the first samurai-dominated government in history, the Kamakura Bakufu.

Listen to the podcast here.

The translation of the first line of the Tale of the Heike is from Helen Craig McCullough’s translation, with a few alterations made by me for reasons of stylistic preference.

Sources

McCullough, Helen Craig. The Tale of the Heike. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1990.

Totman, A History of Japan. 

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

This is a depiction from the mid-Meiji Period (1880s) of Taira-no-Kiyomori being consumed in hellfire upon his death.

This is a depiction from the mid-Meiji Period (1880s) of Taira-no-Kiyomori being consumed in hellfire upon his death.

This is Minamoto-no-Yoritomo; this particular image is unusual in that it's actually from the period. It was painted in 1179, during his exile to the East.

This is Minamoto-no-Yoritomo; this particular image is unusual in that it’s actually from the period. It was painted in 1179, during his exile to the East.

This is an image of the way a samurai would have been armored in the late Heian/early Kamakura period. Note the prominence of the daikyu (bow) and the armor, which is lamelar.

This is an image of the way a samurai would have been armored in the late Heian/early Kamakura period. Note the prominence of the daikyu (bow) and the armor, which is lamelar.

This is a suit of samurai armor noted from the Kamakura Period, slightly after the end of the Heian Period.

This is a suit of samurai armor noted from the Kamakura Period, slightly after the end of the Heian Period.

The Agehacho, the kamon (family crest) of the Taira family. The image is of a stylized butterfly.

The Agehacho, the kamon (family crest) of the Taira family. The image is of a stylized butterfly.

The Sasarindo, the kamon (family crest) of the Minamoto family (a stylized bamboo flower and leaves).

The Sasarindo, the kamon (family crest) of the Minamoto family (a stylized bamboo flower and leaves).

This is the Battle of Dan-no-ura, the climactic naval confrontation of the Genpei War (1185).

This is the Battle of Dan-no-ura, the climactic naval confrontation of the Genpei War (1185).

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