The Muromachi period 1336 - 1573


 emperor Go-Daigo


  Ashikaga Takauji



 Go Daigo Tenno and the Revolt Against Kamakura


The Muromachi period (室町時代, Muromachi-jidai) is a division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573. Despite the success against the Mongols, the Hojo ( Kamakura ) shogunate suffered. It was unable to make payments to the warrior families involved and dissatisfaction rose .  



 The Muromachi Period


This dissatisfaction came to a head with the unusually assertive emperor Go-Daigo ( 1288 - 1339 ) who escaped exile and started an anti-Hojo rebellion .The Hojo shogunate dispatched troops under the general Ashikaga Takauji ( 1305 - 1358 ) , who joined forces with the emperor against the Hojo shogunate. This brought an end to the Hojo shogunate, but Go-Daigo and Takauji became distrustful of each other and Go-Daigo sent forces to attack Takauchi .


Takauchi installed a puppet emperor who declared him shogun and Go-Daigo set up court in exile in Yoshino. This is known as the Nanboku-cho or Northern and Southern Court period, as the Imperial court was split in two. This continued till 1392 when Takauji's grandson Yoshimitsu ended the exile court .Yoshimitsu built the famous Kinkakuji Temple in Kyoto .


Kinkakuji temple



 Kinkakuji video



 Temple of the Golden Pavilion-"Kinkakuji"-Mishima


Yoshimitsu allowed the constables, who had limited powers during the Kamakura period, to become strong regional rulers, later called daimyo (大名 big names ).The line of shoguns gradually weakened after Yoshimitsu and increasingly lost power to the daimyo and other regional strongmen. The shogun's decisions about imperial succession became meaningless, and the daimyo backed their own candidates.


Onin war 1467 - 1477


In time, the Ashikaga family had its own succession problems, resulting finally in the Ōnin War (応仁の乱 Ōnin no Ran, 1467–1477), which left Kyoto devastated and effectively ended the national authority of the bakufu. A dispute between Hosokawa Katsumoto and Yamana Sōzen escalated into a nationwide war involving the Ashikaga shogunate and a number of daimyo in many regions of Japan The power vacuum that ensued launched a century of anarchy, the warring States era

( Sengoku ) .


After the Ōnin War, the Ashikaga bakufu completely fell apart; for all practical purposes, the Hosokawa family was in charge and the Ashikaga shoguns became their puppets. It was during this time, though, that there would emerge three individuals who would later be considered the three great daimyo of the Sengoku Period, and who would eventually unite Japan under one rule; they were Oda Nobunaga ( 織田 信長 ), Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu. In 1568 the daimyo Oda Nobunaga entered Kyoto and ends the civil war. In 1573 Oda Nobunaga overthrows the Muromachi bakufu and extended his control over all of Japan

Despite the turmoil of the times this is the period when arts such a the No drama, ikebana ( flower arranging ) and the tea ceremony flourished . The later period saw the arrival of the Portuguese, who arrived off Kyushu in 1543 , they and other Europeans brought two items of importance, Christianity and firearms ( mostly arquebuses ) .


Portuguese trader


Contact with Ming Dynasty (明, 1368-1644) China was renewed during the Muromachi period after the Chinese sought support in suppressing Japanese pirates in coastal areas of China.


 Azuchi - Momoyama period 1568 - 1600


 The Azuchi-Momoyama period (安土桃山時代 Azuchi-Momoyama-jidai) runs from approximately 1568 to 1600 during which time Oda Nobunaga and his successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, imposed order upon the chaos that had pervaded since the collapse of the Ashikaga Shogunate. The name Azuchi-Momoyama comes from the Azuchi castle of Nobunaga and the Momoyama castle of Hideyoshi .



 Azuchi-Momoyama Period


Oda Nobunaga



One of the most successful daimyos to use firearms was Oda Nobunaga ( 1534 - 1582 ) from Owari, modern day Nagoya . Even though he was from a relatively minor power base he was able win a series of victories over rivals .At the Battle of Okehazama in 1560 he defeated a much larger army of 25,000 with an estimated 3,000 soldiers .  



 Oda Nobunaga- A Man that Changed Japan


Nobunaga waged war even against Buddhists when they armed themselves and did not obey him. The Enryaku-ji monastery on Mt. Hiei, with its sōhei (warrior monks) of the Tendai school who aided anti-nobunaga group by helping Azai-Asakura alliance, was a particular thorn in Nobunaga's side, residing as it did so close to his residence in Kyoto. Nobunaga attacked Enryaku-ji and burnt it to the ground in 1571, even though it had been admired as a significant cultural symbol at the time, and killed between 3,000 and 4,000 men, women and children.



 Oda Nobunaga episode 1

TV movie 1998


One of the strongest rulers in the anti-Nobunaga daimyo alliance was Takeda Shingen . At the decisive Battle of Nagashino in 1575 , the combined forces of Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu devastated the Takeda clan with the strategic use of arquebuses .The victory of Oda's Western-style tactics and firearms over Takeda's cavalry charge is often cited as a turning point in Japanese warfare; many cite it as the first 'modern' Japanese battle. Nobunaga was the first to conceive of rotating volleys of fire which led to a decisive victory .


Though Nobunaga was the supreme power of the land, he did not take the title of shogun .Oda Nobunaga was well on his way to the complete conquest and unification of Japan when Akechi Mitsuhide, one of his generals, forced Nobunaga into committing suicide in Honnō-ji in Kyoto in 1582. Akechi then proceeded to declare himself master over Nobunaga's domains, but was quickly defeated by Nobunaga's general Toyotomi Hideyoshi.


Toyotomi Hideyoshi


Nobunaga appointed his retainers and subjects to positions based on ability, not wholly based on name, rank, or family relationship as in prior periods. One of his generals, who rose from being a common foot soldier was Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi took the title of regent and kept hostages of daimyo families at his base at Momoyama and also banned weapons for all classes except samurai .In 1590, at the head of an army of 200,000, Hideyoshi defeated the Hōjō, his last formidable rival in eastern Honshū. The remaining daimyo soon capitulated, and the military reunification of Japan was complete.


Invasion of Korea 1592 the Imjin War



After Japan was under control Hideyoshi had many unemployed samurai and used these for his dream of conquering Ming China . Hideyoshi asked King Seonjo, the king of Korea for an alliance against China, who refusesd  and Hideyoshi invaded Korea as a stepping stone to China in 1592 with 200,000 soldiers .The Japanese were successful in land battles against Korean with its battled hardened samurai and arquebus, which were unknown in Korea, but found their supplies cut off by the Korean navy, which employed iron plated ' turtle boats . The Koreans had built up a strong navy to deal with raids of Japanese pirates .The invasion stalled out in 1593 when Ming China sent troops to support Korea and was renewed by Japan in 1587. After the loss to the Korean and Ming navies at Noryang in 1598 and the death of Hideyoshi in 1598 , the Japanese retreated from Korea except for a small foothold around Pusan .



 Admiral Yi Sun-sin who saved the Joseon dynasty(Medieval dynasty of Korea)

from the invasion of Japanese is the most admired figure in Korea.


Hideyoshi became increasingly paranoid as he got older, executing family members and issued the first order expelling Christians in 1587 who he suspected of being an advanced force for an invading European army . After Hideyoshi's death, one of his generals, Tokugawa Ieyasu, was to act as regent for his son. Tokugawa Ieyasu, however, betrayed this trust and defeated the forces supporting Hideyoshi's son at the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 . In 1603, the emperor conferred the title of shogun upon Ieyasu . Ieyasu's power base in the small fishing town of Edo ( Tokyo ) became the real power base in Japan and marked the beginning of the Edo Period 1600 -  1868 .






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