Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Tag: Hojo Page 1 of 2

Episode 285 – Rags to Riches, Part 3

This week: how did the Hojo go from the zenith of their power to utter destruction in a single generation? The answer: a difficult neighborhood, dangerous neighbors, and bad decisions.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. Arms and Equipment of the Samurai Warrior, 1200-1800.

Berry, Mary Elizabeth. The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto.

Souyri, Pierre. The World Turned Upside Down

Birt, Michael J. “Samurai in Passage: The Transformation of the Sixteenth-Century Kanto.” Journal of Japanese Studies 11, No 2 (Summer, 1985), 369-399.

Images

Tateyama castle, home base of the Satomi clan, which despite being badly outgunned would never fall to the Hojo.

Hideyoshi orders the attack on Odawara, from the late Edo/early Meiji Era, by Utagawa Toyonobu. Where the main narrative of Japanese history mentions the latter Hojo, it tends to emphasize the moment of their destruction as the completion of Hideyoshi’s ambition to reunify Japan. There are, however, plenty of other valid reasons to study them!

A map of the forces arrayed against the Hojo during the 1590 siege. Useful for seeing just how impressive the forces Hideyoshi had arrayed (the blue markers) were.

The graves of the latter Hojo leadership remain popular tourist destinations. This particular one is Ujimasa’s.

Episode 284 – Rags to Riches, Part 2

This week, we will talk about the innovations the Latter Hojo used to secure their dominance, and about their long war against one of the great clans of the Kanto, the Ogigayatsu Uesugi.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. Arms and Equipment of the Samurai Warrior, 1200-1800.

Berry, Mary Elizabeth. The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto.

Souyri, Pierre. The World Turned Upside Down

Birt, Michael J. “Samurai in Passage: The Transformation of the Sixteenth-Century Kanto.” Journal of Japanese Studies 11, No 2 (Summer, 1985), 369-399.

Images

1568

Hojo territories as of 1568 (a bit later than this episode but the best map I could find). Using my highly advanced photo editing skills I’ve highlighted the Hojo on this map.

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The central building of Kawagoe Castle, site of Hojo Ujiyasu’s great victory in 1545. That victory would ultimately break the Ogigayatsu Uesugi and assure Hojo dominance in the central Kanto.

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The head of a Sengoku era spear. This photo is useful for illustrating just how little valuable steel is used in a spear versus a sword; that’s what makes it so cheap, and thus made spears the central weapon of the era.

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Hojo Ujiyasu in the attire of a court aristocrat. The third lord of the Hojo would come to leadership relatively untested, but his victory at Kawagoe would quickly silence the doubters.

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The layout of the Hojo home fortress at Kawagoe. Not all Hojo fortresses looked like this, but they all served similar purposes in terms of establishing the clan’s hold on their territories.

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A map showing the array of forces in the Battle of Kawagoe in 1545. The red armies are the besiegers; the blue are the Hojo counterattack force.

Episode 283 – Rags to Riches, Part 1

This week, we start a series on one of the also-rans of the Sengoku period: the Latter Hojo clan. Who were they, and where did they come from, and why is their first leader sometimes considered the first of a new breed of samurai warlord?

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. Arms and Equipment of the Samurai Warrior, 1200-1800.

Berry, Mary Elizabeth. The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto.

Souyri, Pierre. The World Turned Upside Down

Steenstrup, Carl. “Hojo Soun’s Twenty-One Articles: The Code of Conduct of the Odawara Hojo.” Monumenta Nipponica 29, No 3 (Autumn, 1974), p. 283-303.

Images

Hojo Soun late in life. Like many samurai, in his later years he would take the vows of a Buddhist monk and retire to a monastic complex, though he would exercise defacto control over his family until his death in 1519.

A statue of Hojo Soun outside the Odawara train station commemorating his conquest of Odawara castle. Note the deer, a reference to the “hunting expedition” that let Soun take control of the castle.

The original Odawara Castle was ripped down after the Meiji Restoration; the rebuilt one does give you some sense of the design, though what you see today is based off the design towards the end of the Hojo era, not when the family first took it.

The traditional 60 provinces of Japan. The upper left of this map has a nice detail of the Kanto provinces, though this particular one is from the Edo period and so the road placement is anachronistic to what we’re talking about.

The Hojo clan kamon, or family crest — the Mitsu-uroko, or three triangles. Sometimes it is shown as being inscribed in a circle.
Hojo Soun (or his son Ujitsuna) would decide to adopt the moniker Hojo after seizing the old Hojo clan’s capital city of Kamakura as a way of legitimating themselves.

Episode 216 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 7

This week: what did it all mean?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

Temur Khan, successor of Kubilai. His hair is done in Mongolian fashion for this portrait, but Temur was a Confucianizer just like his grandfather.

A printing plate (left) and example of paper currency (right) from the Yuan dynasty. Paper money was an attempt to fund the dynasty’s wars, but overprinting led to destructive levels of inflation.

The Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming Dynasty who would displace the Mongols only a few generations after Kublai’s death.

One of these days I’ll watch the taiga about Hojo Tokimune.

Younger folks might know Tokimune as the face of Japan in Civilization VI. Incidentally, the “triforce” actually was the Hojo family mon, or crest — it was the symbol of the Hojo family.

Episode 215 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 6

The 1281 invasion is at the gates (or the seawall, I suppose). How will round 2 play out?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

Japanese forces arrayed along the new defensive walls of Hakata. The walls proved invaluable to holding the city and preventing a large scale Mongol landing.

Samurai and Mongol vessels engage in Hakata bay.

Japanese raiding vessels (right) raid a Yuan dynasty warship. These naval raids were incredibly effective, leading to the decision to lash Yuan ships together for safety — and making the ships vulnerable in turn to typhoon winds.

An Edo period print of the 2nd typhoon.

Wrecks of Mongol vessels from the 1281 invasion, like this one discovered in 2011, are shedding new light on our understanding of both the invasion itself, and of medieval Chinese shipbuilding techniques.

General Tran, who led the war effort against the Mongols in Vietnam, remains a cultural hero to the Vietnamese people. His skillful generalship also prevented Kubilai from amassing a new force for a third invasion.

Episode 214 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 5

This week, we prepare for round two. How are the Japanese getting ready for another invasion, and how does that new invasion begin?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

A detail shot of a Mongol ship from Takezaki Suenaga’s scrolls (called the Moko Shurai Ekotoba, or Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasions). Though initially composed as proof of Takezaki’s valor in battle, they also provide a handy source of information about Mongol weapons and ships.

Another shot from the Moko Shurai Ekotoba, showing Takezaki single-handedly fighting a group of Mongols. As a record of his achievements, we can’t really trust this text to be entirely honest about his fighting skills — this depiction of how many Mongols he could defeat at once should be taken with a few grains (if not an outright fistful) of salt.

Remnants of the defensive walls of Hakata, still visible today.

Another shot of the Hakata walls, giving you a better sense of what their height at the time would have been.

Episode 213 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 4

This week, we cover exciting topics like meteorology and internal Mongol family politics! But wait, there’s also a bit of Zen theology dashed in to spice things up!

It’s an eclectic week on the podcast for sure!

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281

Adams, Ryon F. “Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.”

Images

An ink painting by Yosai Kikuchi from the late Edo Period depicting the 1274 typhoon. The exact nature of the storm remains unclear, but the story has retained popularity throughout Japan’s history.

Discovered Mongol shipwrecks like this one (from the 1281 campaign) help us investigate the truth (or lack thereof) behind the stories of the “divine wind.”

This isn’t really super relevant to this week, but I found this example of a Yuan dynasty hand cannon too cool not to include.

A park in Jingmen, Guangdong commemorating the final Yuan dynasty victory over the old Song dynasty in 1279. The final destruction of the Song absorbed a great deal of Kublai’s attention between the invasions.

The divisions of the Mongol Empire at the time of the war between Kublai and Kaidu. Green is Kublai’s territory, Grey is Kaidu’s, and purple is that of the Ilkhan Abaqa.

Episode 212 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 3

This week I promise we’ll actually get to the 1274 invasion. But first, how were the samurai who defended Japan organized, and what weapons did they use?

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Conlan, Thomas D. In Little Need of Divine Intervention: Takezaki Suenaga’s Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan. 

May, Timothy. The Mongol Conquests in World History.

Images

Modern practitioners of kyudo, or the martial art of archery, use a weapon very different in composition from Kamakura era samurai. Yet the basic structure remains the same, particularly the size of the weapon and unusual placement of the grip.

A Kamakura armor set; this particular one was for the heir of a major shugo family, and is thus more ornate than normal.

This detail from a scroll depicting the Mongol invasions gives you a good sense of the relative equipment of both sides.

This map labels both Tsushima and Iki islands, the first two targets of the 1274 invasion. Hakata bay is just to the left of the name Fukuoka.

A depiction of the 1274 combat. Note the exploding bomb in the center.

Episode 216 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 7

This week: why is a military failure worth 7 episodes of our time? The legacy of the Mongol invasions of Japan, explained.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Sansom, George. A History of Japan to 1334.

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Rossabi, Morris. Kublai Khan: His Life and Times.

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of Japan of 1274-1281.

Adams, Ryon. Outfought and Outthought: Reassessing the Mongol Invasions of Japan.

Images

Temur Khan, successor of Kubilai. His hair is done in Mongolian fashion for this portrait, but Temur was a Confucianizer just like his grandfather.

A printing plate (left) and example of paper currency (right) from the Yuan dynasty. Paper money was an attempt to fund the dynasty’s wars, but overprinting led to destructive levels of inflation.

The Hongwu Emperor, the founder of the Ming Dynasty who would displace the Mongols only a few generations after Kublai’s death.

One of these days I’ll watch the taiga about Hojo Tokimune.

Younger folks might know Tokimune as the face of Japan in Civilization VI. Incidentally, the “triforce” actually was the Hojo family mon, or crest — it was the symbol of the Hojo family.

Episode 211 – The Scourge of the Gods, Part 2

This week: why did Kublai go to Japan? A quick overview of the tensions that led to the first invasion, and a look at the armies of Mongols and Chinese that would fight it.

Listen to the episode here.

Sources

Turnbull, Stephen. The Mongol Invasions of 1274 – 1281.

May, Timothy. The Mongol Conquests in World History.

Conlan, Thomas. In Little Need of Divine Intervention.

Images

The reconstructed walls of Xiangyang. Though these walls are from a later time than the Mongol invasions, they give some sense of how imposing the original works were.

A Song dynasty river warship with a traction catapult attached to it. Warships like this one kept the Mongols out of south China for decades.

A basic schematic for a counterweight trebuchet. This design helped the Mongols break through the walls of the Chinese fortress of Xiangyang.

A reconstruction Mongol bow unstrung, strung, and at full draw. The bent horn tips add extra power by enabling the bow to flex more.

Lamellar armor from one of the predecessors of the Yuan (the Jin Dynasty). You can see how the loose arrangement of scales provides protection but also keeps the armor relatively light.

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