Episode 515 – Slouching Towards Kyoto

This week: the dramatic career of Emperor Go-Daigo, who brought down the Kamakura shogunate and ended Hojo rule in Japan. This despite the fact that just a few months before victory, his forces were on the verge of defeat!


Hall, John Whitney, “The Muromachi Bakufu” in The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol III: Medieval Japan

Goble, Andrew Edmund. “Go-Daigo, Takauji, and the Muromachi Shogunate” in Japan Emerging: Premodern History to 1850


Kusunoki Masahige, Go-Daigo’s loyal servant to the end. His valorous death earned him a statue in the Imperial Palace.
Ashikaga Takauji dressed in the style of his class for battle.
Armor belonging to Ashikaga Takauji (sans shoulder guards). Now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Siege of Chihaya, as depicted in an Edo period print by Ichijusai Yoshikazu. Despite his ultimate defeat, Kusunoki Masahige’s stand here was the start of his legend as a valiant warleader.
Edo period woodblock by Yoshitoshi, depicting Nitta Yoshisada. In this scene, Yoshisada is offering his sword to the sea god Ryujin in exchange for a safe crossing–he bypassed several of Kamakura’s defenses by taking a sea route instead of land.