Episode 437 – The Fist of the Buddhas, Part 2

This week: where does our stock image of the sohei come from, and why does it tell us more about Japan after the age of warrior-monks than anything else?


Adolphson, Mikhael S. The Teeth and Claws of the Buddha: Monastic Warriors and Sohei in Medieval Japan.

Adolphson, Mikhael S. The Gates of Power: Monks, Courtiers, and Warriors in Premodern Japan.


Siege of Enryakuji, from the Ehon Taikoki. The destruction of Enryakuji (which was rebuilt and is still there today) was one of the watershed moments in breaking the independent power of the armed monasteries.
This image of the first Benkei-Yoshitsune fight from Gikeiki depicts Benkei in a more monastic style on the far left. Original print by Kuniyoshi.
Benkei, by Yosai. Note the samurai-esque dress.
Ichikawa Ebizo V as Benkei (left) in a poster for a performance of Kanjincho.
Ichikawa Ennosuke II as Benkei in Kanjincho. Note the stylized ‘naginata’ he’s holding.