Kenmu no shinsei
|Common languages||Late Middle Japanese|
• Genkō War begins
|May 18, 1333|
|February 23 1336|
|Part of a series on the|
|History of Japan|
The Kenmu Restoration (建武の新政, Kenmu no shinsei) was a three-year period of Imperial rule in Japanese history between the Kamakura period and the Muromachi period from 1333 to 1336. The Kenmu Restoration was an effort made by Emperor Go-Daigo to overthrow the ruling Kamakura Shogunate (de facto ruled by Hōjō clan) and restore the Imperial House to power in Japan, returning to civilian government after 148 years of de facto military government from Kamakura. Go-Daigo launched the Genkō War in 1331 against the Kamakura Shogunate but was defeated and forced to exile to the Oki Islands. Go-Daigo launched a second uprising, and with the assistance of the defected Kamakura general Ashikaga Takauji and rebel leader Nitta Yoshisada, defeated the Kamakura Shogunate at the siege of Kamakura in 1333. The Imperial House was restored to power but Go-Daigo's policies failed to satisfy his major samurai supporters and most Japanese people. The Kenmu Restoration was ultimately overthrown when Takauji became Shōgun and founded the Ashikaga Shogunate in 1336, beginning the "Northern and Southern Courts" period and the Muromachi period.
The Kenmu Restoration was the last time the Emperor of Japan held significant power until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
The Emperor's role had been usurped by the Minamoto and Hōjō families ever since Minamoto no Yoritomo had obtained from the Emperor the title of shōgun in 1192, ruling thereafter from Kamakura. Kotesashigahara (小手差原), Kumegawa (久米河) (both near today's Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture), and Bubaigawara, in today's Fuchū, ever closer to Kamakura. The city was finally reached, besieged, and taken. Kamakura would remain for one century the political capital of the Kantō region, but its supremacy as political centre was over.For various reasons, the Kamakura shogunate decided to allow two contending imperial lines—known as the Southern Court or junior line, and the Northern Court or senior line—to alternate on the throne. The method worked for several successions until a member of the Southern Court ascended to the throne as Emperor Go-Daigo. Go-Daigo wanted to overthrow the shogunate and openly defied Kamakura by naming his own son his heir. In 1331 the shogunate exiled Go-Daigo but loyalist forces, including Kusunoki Masashige, rebelled and came to his support. They were aided by, among others, future shōgun Ashikaga Takauji, a samurai who had turned against Kamakura when dispatched to put down Go-Daigo's rebellion. At roughly the same time, Nitta Yoshisada, another eastern chieftain, attacked the shogunate's capital. The shogunate tried to resist his advance: Yoshisada and shogunate forces fought several times along the Kamakura Kaidō, for example at
When Emperor Go-Daigo ascended the throne in 1318, he immediately manifested his intention to rule without interference from the military in Kamakura.Historical documents show that, disregarding evidence to the contrary, he and his advisers believed that a revival of the Imperial House was possible, and that the Kamakura's shogunate was the greatest and most obvious of the obstacles.
Another situation that begged for a solution was the land-ownership problem posed by the manors and their lands (see the article shōen).The great landowners (shugo (governors) and jitō (manor's lord), with their political independence and their tax exemptions were impoverishing the government and undermining its authority, and Kitabatake Chikafusa, Go-Daigo's future chief adviser, discussed the situation in his works on succession. Chikafusa admitted that nobody had any intention of abolishing those privileges, so the hope of success on this front was from the beginning clearly very dim. What he planned to replace shugo and jitō with is unclear, but he surely had no intention of sharing power with the samurai class. However serious the land ownership problem, Go-Daigo and his advisers made no serious effort to solve it, partly because it was samurai from the manors in the western provinces that had defeated the shogunate for him. In such a situation, any effort to regulate the manors was bound to cause resentment among key allies.
The Emperor reclaimed the property of some manors his family had previously lost control of, rewarding with them, among others, Buddhist temples like Tō-ji and Daitoku-ji in the hope to obtain their support.He however failed to protect the rights of tenants and workers, whose complaints poured into the monasteries.
He did not understand the importance to him of the warrior class either, because he never properly rewarded his minor samurai supporters, as he could have done using lands from the confiscated Hōjō lands, indulging instead in favoritism.These errors are the key to understanding the events of the next few decades. After rewarding religious institutions, he prepared to redistribute Hōjō lands, and samurai came to him in great numbers to lay their claims. The biggest rewards were given to samurai, among them Nitta Yoshisada, the man who had destroyed the Kamakura shogunate, and Ashikaga Takauji. In so doing, however, he failed to return control of the provinces to civilians. But he made his greatest error when he failed to properly reward minor warriors who had supported him. The tribunals set up to the purpose were inefficient and too inexperienced for the task, and corruption was rife. Samurai anger was made worse by the fact that Go-Daigo, wanting to build a palace for himself but having no funds, levied extra taxes from the samurai class. A wave of enmity towards the nobility started to run through the country, growing stronger with time. The Taiheiki also records that, although Takauji and Yoshisada were richly rewarded, the offices of shugo and jito in more than fifty provinces went to nobles and court bureaucrats, leaving no spoils for the warriors. By the end of 1335 the Emperor and the nobility had lost all support of the warrior class.
Go-Daigo wanted to re-establish his rule in Kamakura and the east of the country without sending a shōgun there, as this was seen as still too dangerous.As a compromise, he sent his six-year-old son Prince Norinaga to Mutsu Province (the eastern part of today's Tōhoku region, stretching from Fukushima Prefecture in the south to Aomori Prefecture in the north) and nominated him Governor-General of the Mutsu and Dewa Provinces. In an obvious reply to this move, Ashikaga Takauji's younger brother Tadayoshi without an order from the Emperor escorted another of his sons, eleven-year-old Nariyoshi (a.k.a. Narinaga) to Kamakura, where he installed him as Governor of the Kōzuke Province with himself as a deputy and de facto ruler. The appointment of a warrior to an important post was intended to show the Emperor that the samurai class was not ready for a purely civilian rule.
Later, a third son of Go-Daigo's, Prince Morinaga, was appointed sei-i taishōgun together with his brother Norinaga, a move that immediately aroused Ashikaga Takauji's hostility.Takauji believed the military class had the right to rule and considered himself not a usurper but, since the Ashikaga descended from a branch of the Minamoto clan, rather a restorer of Minamoto power. When the Hōjō garrison at Rokuhara was destroyed in 1333, he immediately stepped in and installed there his office (bugyōsho). It kept order in the city and in general took over the original's function. Extending its authority to controlling travel along highways, issuing passports and exercising rights previously belonging to the shogunate's deputies (the Rokuhara Tandai), Takauji showed he believed that samurai political power must continue. His setting himself apart as a representative of the military made him an aggregation point for the warriors' discontent. Samurai saw him as the man who could bring back the shogunate's heyday, and therefore his strength was superior to that of any other samurai, Nitta Yoshisada included. His only obstacle to the shogunate was Prince Morinaga.
Prince Morinaga, with his prestige and his devotion to the civilian government cause, was Takauji's natural enemy and could count therefore on the support of his adversaries, among them Nitta Yoshisada, whom Takauji had offended.Tension between the Emperor and the Ashikaga gradually grew, until Takauji had Morinaga arrested on a pretext and first confined him in Kyoto, then transported him to Kamakura, where the Prince was kept prisoner until late August 1335. The situation in Kamakura continued to be tense, with Hōjō supporters staging sporadic revolts here and there. In the course of the same year Hōjō Tokiyuki, son of last regent Takatoki, tried to re-establish the shogunate by force and defeated Tadayoshi in Musashi, in today's Kanagawa Prefecture. Tadayoshi had to flee, so before leaving he ordered the beheading of Prince Morinaga. Kamakura was therefore temporarily in Tokiyuki's hands. Heard the news, Takauji asked the Emperor to make him sei-i tai-shōgun so that he could quell the revolt and help his brother. When his request was denied, Takauji organized his forces and returned to Kamakura without the Emperor's permission, defeating the Hōjō. He then installed himself in Kamakura's Nikaidō neighborhood. When invited to return to Kyoto, he let it be known through his brother Tadayoshi that he felt safer where he was, and started to build himself a mansion in Ōkura, where first Kamakura shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo's residence had been.
Kyoto by then was aware that Takauji had assumed wide powers without imperial permission, for example nominating an Uesugi clan member to the post of Constable of Kōzuke, Nitta Yoshisada's native province.By late 1335 several thousand of the emperor's men were ready to go to Kamakura, while a great army at the command of Kō no Moroyasu was rushing there to help it resist the attack. On November 17, 1335, Tadayoshi issued a message in his brother's name asking all samurai to join the Ashikaga and destroy Nitta Yoshisada. The Court, meanwhile, had done the opposite, ordering samurai from all provinces to join Yoshisada and destroy the two Ashikaga. The war started with most samurai convinced that Takauji was the man they needed to have their grievances redressed, and most peasants were persuaded that they had been better off under the shogunate. The campaign was therefore enormously successful for the Ashikaga, with huge numbers of samurai rushing to join the two brothers. By February 23 of the following year Nitta Yoshisada and the Emperor had lost, and Kyoto itself had fallen. On February 25, 1336, Ashikaga Takauji entered the capital and the Kenmu Restoration ended.
The Kenmu era is in the anomalous condition of having two different durations. Because Japanese era names (nengō) change with the Emperor and the Imperial House split in two after 1336, the Kenmu era was counted by the two sides in two different ways. "Kenmu" is the era after the Genkō era, and it is understood to have spanned the years 1334 through 1336 before the beginning of the "Engen" era, as time was reckoned by the Southern Court; and it is concurrently said to have spanned the years 1334 through 1338 before Ryakuō, as time was reckoned by the rival Northern Court. Because the Southern Court, the loser, is nonetheless considered the legitimate one, its time reckoning is the one used by historians.
Shogun, officially Sei-i Taishōgun, was the title of the military dictators of Japan during most of the period spanning from 1185 to 1868. Nominally appointed by the Emperor, shoguns were usually the de facto rulers of the country, although during part of the Kamakura period, shoguns were themselves figureheads, with real power in the hands of the Shikken of the Hōjō clan.
Emperor Go-Daigo was the 96th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. He successfully overthrew the Kamakura shogunate in 1333 and established the short-lived Kenmu Restoration to bring the Imperial House back into power. This was to be the last time the emperor had real power until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. The Kenmu restoration was in turn overthrown by Ashikaga Takauji in 1336, ushering in the Ashikaga shogunate. The overthrow split the imperial family into two opposing factions between the Ashikaga backed Northern Court situated in Kyoto and the Southern Court based in Yoshino. The Southern Court was led by Go-Daigo and his later successors.
The Kamakura shogunate was the feudal military government of Japan during the Kamakura period from 1185 to 1333.
The Ashikaga shogunate, also known as the Muromachi shogunate, was the feudal military government of Japan during the Muromachi period from 1336 to 1573.
The Kamakura period is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo after the conclusion of the Genpei War, which saw the struggle between the Taira and Minamoto clans. The period is known for the emergence of the samurai, the warrior caste, and for the establishment of feudalism in Japan.
Ashikaga Yoshiakira was the second shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate who reigned from 1358 to 1367 during the Muromachi period of Japan. Yoshiakira was the son of the founder and first shōgun of the Muromachi shogunate, Ashikaga Takauji. His mother was Akahashi Tōshi (赤橋登子), also known as Hōjō Nariko.
Ashikaga Takauji was the founder and first shōgun of the Ashikaga shogunate. His rule began in 1338, beginning the Muromachi period of Japan, and ended with his death in 1358. He was a male-line descendant of the samurai of the (Minamoto) Seiwa Genji line who had settled in the Ashikaga area of Shimotsuke Province, in present-day Tochigi Prefecture.
Prince Moriyoshi was a Japanese prince and monk.
The Nanboku-chō period, spanning from 1336 to 1392, was a period that occurred during the formative years of the Muromachi (Ashikaga) shogunate of Japanese history.
Ashikaga Tadayoshi was a general of the Northern and Southern Courts period (1337–92) of Japanese history and a close associate of his elder brother Takauji, the first Muromachi shōgun. Son of Ashikaga Sadauji and Uesugi Kiyoko, daughter of Uesugi Yorishige, the same mother as Takauji, he was a pivotal figure of the chaotic transition period between the Kamakura and Muromachi shogunates. Tadayoshi is today considered a military and administrative genius and the true architect of many of his elder brother's successes. In contemporary chronicles he is rarely called with his name, but is instead called either gosho (御所) or Daikyū-ji-dono (大休寺殿) from the name of his family temple. His posthumous name was Kozan Egen (古山慧源).
Nitta Yoshisada was a samurai lord of the Nanboku-chō period Japan. He was the head of the Nitta clan in the early fourteenth century, and supported the Southern Court of Emperor Go-Daigo in the Nanboku-chō period. He famously marched on Kamakura, besieging and capturing it from the Hōjō clan in 1333.
Kitabatake Akiie was a Japanese court noble, and an important supporter of the Southern Court during the Nanboku-chō Wars. He also held the posts of Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North, and Governor of Mutsu Province. His father was Imperial advisor Kitabatake Chikafusa.
Kamakura-gū (鎌倉宮) is a shrine in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It was erected by Emperor Meiji in 1869 to enshrine the spirit of Prince Morinaga, who was imprisoned and later executed where the shrine now stands in 1335 by order of Ashikaga Tadayoshi. For this reason, the shrine is also known as Ōtōnomiya or Daitōnomiya (大塔宮) from the Prince's full name.
Hōjō Tokiyuki was a samurai of the Hōjō clan who fought both for and against the Imperial Court. His father was Hōjō Takatoki, a Shogunal Regent and de facto ruler of the Kamakura shogunate.
The Genkō War, also known as the Genkō Incident, was a civil war fought in Japan between the Emperor Go-Daigo and the Kamakura Shogunate from 1331 to 1333. The Genkō War was named after Genkō, the Japanese era corresponding to the period of 1331 to 1334 when the war occurred.
Kinryūzan Shakuman-in Endon Hōkai-ji (金龍山釈満院円頓宝戒寺) is a Buddhist temple in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Often called Hagidera (萩寺), or "bush-clover temple", because those flowers are numerous in its garden, its existence is directly linked to a famous tragedy that on July 4, 1333 wiped out almost the entire Hōjō clan, ruler of Japan for 135 years. The temple was founded expressly to enshrine the souls of the 870 members of the clan who, in accordance with the samurai code of honor, committed suicide on that day at their family temple (bodaiji) of Tōshō-ji to escape defeat. Together with ancient Sugimoto-dera, Hōkai-ji is the only temple of the Tendai denomination in Kamakura. Formerly a branch temple of the great Kan'ei-ji, after its destruction it became a branch of Enryaku-ji.
Ashikaga Motouji (足利基氏) (1340–1367) was a warrior of the Nanboku-chō period. The fourth son of shōgun Ashikaga Takauji, he was the first of a dynasty of five Kantō kubō, Kamakura-based representatives in the vital Kamakura-fu of Kyoto's Ashikaga regime. Meant to stabilize a volatile situation in the Kantō, a region where many warrior clans wanted the return of the shogunate from Kyoto back to Kamakura, the dynasty he started almost immediately developed the ambition to usurp the shogunate, becoming a serious headache for the central government. Motouji was the only kubō who always remained loyal to the Kyoto government. During the Kannō disturbance, a historical episode with serious repercussions on his life, he tried to reconcile his father with his uncle Ashikaga Tadayoshi and, after his father's demise, he collaborated with his elder brother, shōgun Ashikaga Yoshiakira, to stabilize the shogunate. He died still young during an epidemic.
Yūki Shrine is a Shinto shrine located in the city of Tsu, Mie Prefecture, Japan. Its main festival is held annually on May 1, 2 and 3. It is one of the Fifteen Shrines of the Kenmu Restoration.
Taiheiki (太平記) is a 1991 Japanese historical television series and the 29th NHK taiga drama. It is based on the 1958 novel Shihon Taiheiki by Eiji Yoshikawa.
Shirahata Castle is the remains of a Muromachi period Japanese castle structure located in the town of Kamigōri, Akō District, Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. Its ruins have been protected as a National Historic Site as one of the Remains of Akamatsu-shi Castles, combining both Okishio Castle and Kanjōsan Castle, since 1996.