Who's Who in Kamakura


Aoto, Fujitsuna (13th century)
A faithful retainer for Fifth Regent Tokiyori Hojo (1227-1263), and known as a samurai of integrity. Aoto {pronounced ah-o-toh} once lost a coin, say a dime in today's denomination, into the Nameri River, which runs through the city of Kamakura. Ordinary men would have ignored it. Instead, he ordered his men to find out the dime by whatever measures were possible. Finally it was found, but cost him 5 dimes, or five times as much money as he lost. People laughed at him. He said to them, "The recovered dime will long serve as money. Once lost, it will not." A monetarist in the 13th century.


Ashikaga family

Takauji Ashikaga (1305-1358)
A warrior chieftain. The First Shogun of the Muromachi Shogunate. Grown up in Kamakura, his family was closely related to the Hojo family by marriage (as a matter of fact, his wife was sister of the 16th Hojo Regent), and assisted Hojo Regents as loyal retainers. However, in 1331 when military forces of Kamakura Shogunate attacked Kyoto to fight against the loyalist forces of Emperor Godaigo, he betrayed the Hojos, and suddenly sided with the Emperor, which triggered the downfall of the Kamakura Shogunate and Hojo regime. Inviting Takauji and his troops as an ally, Emperor Godaigo established a new government in Kyoto and restored the imperial supremacy. The new government did not last long, however, due to lack of supporters. Takauji turned traitor to the emperor this time, and formed his own government after a series of winning battles against the emperor's troops. As a result, he had been dubbed a national traitor until recently. Takauji relocated the capital of Japan back to Kyoto. He set up the government in the Muromachi district in Kyoto, hence the Muromachi Period, which lasted for more than 200 years until 1573. The post of the Shogun was succeeded hereditarily by the first son of Takauji's direct line down to the 15th generation. Takauji gave the governorship of Kamakura to his second son Motouji, and the seat was also continuously succeeded by the first son of Motouji's bloodline. A woodblock print on display at MFA showing the battle between Takauji Ashikaga and Yoshisada Nitta. Temple related to Takauji: Chojuji, Jokomyoji, Kakuonji.

Governorship in Kamakura was succeeded as follows:
1st: Motouji Ashikaga (1340-1367)
2nd: Ujimitsu Ashikaga (1359-1398)
3rd: Mitsukane Ashikaga (1378-1409)
4th: Mochiuji Ashikaga (1398-1439)
5th: Shigeuji Ashikaga (1434-1497)

Adachi family
A warlord family fought for the Minamotos against the Taira, and helped Yoritomo Minamoto establish the Kamakura Shogunate.


Baldwin, George Walter (1830-1864)
Born in Britain, he came to Japan as an officer of British Navy and was stationed in Yokohama. For foreigners living in Yokohama, Kamakura was a favorite day-trip site. On November 21, 1864, he visited the Great Buddha together with his colleague Robert Nicholas Bird on horseback. On their way from the Great Buddha to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, they were attacked by two local samurai with swords probably because the officers did not know how to respond to samurai when they encountered. Unfortunately, the two British officers were killed. One assassin was caught and executed. The other escaped, but reported to the police a year later. He too was executed. The two officers were buried at Yokohama Foreigners' Cemetery, which is now one of the major sightseeing spots in Yokohama with its exotic gravestones. This Kamakura Incident was not an isolated one as xenophobia in Japan was on the rise. Two years earlier in September 1862, a British merchant Charles L. Richardson and his three comrades visiting Heikenji in Kawasaki were attacked by retainers of the feudal lord (daimyo) of Kagoshima Prefecture at eastern part of today's Yokohama when they rode across the path of daimyo's 400-strong procession. Back at the time, commoners had to prostrate themselves before the procession. They were not permitted to stand in the way, much less to ride across. The merchant was murdered. (Refer to Sojiji for details.) The British demanded an apology and an indemnity from the Tokugawa Shogunate as well as the daimyo. The Shogunate apologized and paid the indemnity amounting to 100,000 pounds. In contrast, the daimyo did not apologize nor pay anything, which led to the war between the British Navy and Kagoshima domain. They exchanged cannon fires, but Kagoshima was no match for the British squadrons. The superiority of British military technology was obvious. As large parts of Kagoshima were destroyed by seven British warships, the daimyo surrendered in 1863. Both reached an amicable settlement and Kagoshima sought British technology. Later, Kagoshima became the dominant force of modern Japan producing government ministers and high-ranking officers, and employed British systems. America was not influential at this time since they were in the middle of the Civil War.

Barth, Johannes
A German. Introduced Kamakura in his two-volume books; Kamakura/ I-II. Die Geschichte einer Stadt und einer Epoche published in 1969.

Bird, Robert Nicholas (1841-1864)
A British Navy officer murdered, together with G. W. Baldwin, in Kamakura by a local samurai while on his way from the Great Buddha to Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

Blyth, Reginald Horace (1898-1964)
Born in Essex, England. Came to Japan in 1924 to study Japanese literature. Wrote English Literature and Oriental Classics in 1942. He had a keen interest in Zen Buddhism through Daisetz T. Suzuki (appearing below), a famous Zen scholar. Japanese short poem haiku was another area he was engaged in. Given a Ph.D degree in literature from Tokyo University in 1954. He was buried at Tokeiji.



Choyu (?-1426)
A local sculptor in Kamakura, who took an active part in the 15th century. Buddha statues carved by him and his disciples are enshrined at Kakuonji, which include statues of Nikko Bosatsu, Gakkoo Bosatsu and Twelve Guardian Deities. His sculpture technique is said to be reminiscent of the Sung style in China.



Fujiwara, Yoritsugu (1239-1256)
Son of Fourth Shogun Yoritsune, he succeeded to his father as the Fifth Shogun at the age of 6. His job as the Shogun was only nominal like his father, and the real ruling power was always in the hand of Hojo Regents or the Hojos. After 7 years in office, he was forced to step down in 1252, and moved to Kyoto. Died at age 17, strange to say the same year as his father did.

Fujiwara, Yoritsune (1218-1256)
The Fourth Shogun of the Kamakura Government. Born into a court noble in Kyoto and a remote relative of Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of Kamakura Shogunate, he was invited to Kamakura at the age of only one to succeed to the Third Shogun Sanetomo Minamoto in 1219 shortly after Sanetomo was assassinated. As he grew up, he began to feel dissatisfied with his position being a figurehead, and harbored ambition to gain real power. In 1244, the Regent and the Hojos suspected that he was plotting a coup against the Hojo regime. Eventually, he was forced to resign. Assigning the post to his son Yoritsugu, he took the tonsure. Later, he was deported to Kyoto by Tokiyori Hojo. Myo-o-in was founded by him. Also known as a good tanka poet.



Godaigo, Emperor (1288-1339)
Enthroned in 1318 as the 96th emperor. Tried unsuccessfully to overthrow the Kamakura regime twice, and was exiled to an island called Oki off the coast of Shimane Prefecture after the second attempt. In the third attempt of 1333, he achieved the long-cherished ambition to restore the imperial supremacy. The new government was doomed to fall soon, however. Takauji Ashikaga, the founder of Ashikaga Shogunate, revolted against him, and the emperor was ousted down to Yoshino, Nara Prefecture, where he died in disappointment. Hokaiji was erected by his instructions.


Goshirakawa, Emperor (1127-1192)
Ascended to the throne in 1155 as the 77th Emperor, and retired only 3 years later. His real capability was displayed after retirement. Known as a Machiavellian monarch confronting both the Taira and the Minamoto clans when each was in power.

Gotoba, Emperor (1180-1239)
Grandson of Emperor Goshirakawa. He was on the throne from 1183 to 1198. His influence rather extended after the retirement. The coup attempt in 1221 to overturn the Kamakura Shogunate failed, and he was deported to Sado, an island off Niigata Prefecture, where he died of illness. He loved Tanka poem and other arts. Included among them was his keen interest in chrysanthemum. Because of his enthusiasm for chrysanthemum, it was recognized as the symbol flower of the Imperial Family. Its 16-pedal, golden color design is the Imperial crest, and appears on the cover of Japanese passports and at the gate of Japanese embassies. Sword is also one of the regalia of the Imperial Family and enshrined on the altar of many shrines. Both chrysanthemum and sword are symbols of the Family. They represent peace and war respectively according to the Ruth Benedict's The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.



Hatakeyama, Shigetada (1164-1205)
An immediate vassal of Yoritomo Minamoto, the First Shogun. At first, he belonged to the Taira clan. Later, joined the Minamoto troops and showed distinguished services in the battle against the Taira. Also helped defeat the Fujiwara family in northern Honshu. After Yoritomo's death, his son Shigeyasu (?-1205) went into conflicts with a son-in-law of Tokimasa Hojo. Tokimasa's wife made a false charge against Shigeyasu saying that the Hatakeyamas were masterminding a revolt against the Hojo regime. Enraged at the charge, Tokimasa ordered Yoshimura Miura, chief of the Miura faction, to kill leaders of Hatakeyama family. Thus, the Hatakeyamas were annihilated. Incidentally, the wife of Shigetada was daughter of Tokimasa Hojo. Shigeyasu's monument or hokyo-into stands on the main street of Wakamiya-oji between the first and the second torii gate of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu..

Hearn, Lafcadio(1850-1904) a.k.a. Yakumo Koizumi,
A famous writer in Japan. He was born in Greece, son of an Anglo-Irish surgeon major in the British army and a Greek mother, brought up in Dublin, Ireland, and moved to Ohio, America at age 19. As@a journalist, he visited Japan in 1890, and was naturalized as a Japanese citizen marrying a Japanese woman Setsu Koizumi (hence Yakumo Koizumi).@Later, he began to teach English literature at Tokyo University. His books,@all written in English, are good guidance to the Japanese cultures. One of them is "Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan" published in 1894, in which he wrote his visit to the Kamakura and Enoshima area, and described how the area looked like back then. The book is available at the Project Gutemberg.

Hiki, Yoshikazu (?-1203)
An immediate vassal of Yoritomo Minamoto, the First Shogun. Since his foster mother served as a nursemaid for Yoritomo, he had close relationship with Yoritomo from the beginning, and fought against the Taira clan for the Minamotos showing distinguished merits in the battles. His wife became a wet nurse of Yoriie, the first son of Yoritomo and later his daughter Wakasa married Yoriie. Wakasa gave birth to a baby boy, an heir-apparent to the Shogun. In fear that the Hikis would get more powerful in the Shogunate, Tokimasa Hojo, head of the Hojo family, assassinated Yoshikazu. This caused a bloodshed battle between the Hikis and the Hojos ending with Hiki's defeat. Yoshikazu's son Yoshimoto somehow survived the battle, and erected Myohonji for the solace of the souls of his father and victims.


Hojo Family
A local warlord family in the Izu Peninsula. While Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of Kamakura Shogunate, was in exile in the Peninsula, he fell in love with Masako Hojo, daughter of Tokimasa Hojo. Later, they married. After defeating the rival clan of the Taira, Yoritomo settled in Kamakura, where they gave birth to two boys. The first son Yoriie became the Second Shogun and the second son Sanetomo the Third. Upon the assassination of Sanetomo by his nephew, the Minamoto family lost successors of direct line. Thereafter, Masako, widow of the First Shogun and mother of two Shoguns, turned powerful figure in the Shogunate office. With her political power, the Hojo family gained momentum and gradually extended influence, purging and pacifying such rival factions as Kajiwara, Hiki, Hatakeyama, Wada, Miura and Adachi, all of whom had once been loyal retainers of Yoritomo. After her second son Sanetomo (the Third Shogun) was assassinated, the post of Shogun was given to court nobles in Kyoto, who were, however, young and only nominal. To assist the Shogun, the Hojos established the regent system, by which they let the real ruling power rest on their hands. After Yasutoki Hojo assumed the Third Regent, there were no rival factions any longer around them, and the Regents or the Hojos virtually took control of the Shogunate. The seat of power continued to remain in the Hojo family for more than a century until the downfall of the Hojo regime in 1333.

Hojo, Masako (1157-1225)
Wife of Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of Kamakura Shogunate. After Yoritomo died in 1199, the post of the Second Shogun was succeeded by her first son Yoriie. Nevertheless, she did not like Yoriie as he was selfish and favored the rival clan Hiki, which led to a bloodshed disturbance between the Hojos and the Hikis. Blaming Yoriie for the incident, she ousted him to the Izu Peninsula where he died a year later. The Third Shogun was succeeded by her younger son Sanetomo. Unfortunate to her, he was abruptly assassinated by his nephew when he was 27 years old. Having no heir apparent to the Shogun, she invited a son of court noble in Kyoto as the Fourth Shogun, who was a one-year-old baby. She selected this infant by design. Thereafter, Masako and his father Tokimasa gained a real ruling power. She was called Nun General. Masako had four children by Yoritomo: Ohime (1177?-1197), Yoriie (1182-1204), Otohime (1186-1199) and Sanetomo (1192-1219). The couple once tried to make Ohime the wife of Emperor Gotoba but to no avail. Ohime died young at age 20. They tried again to make Otohime the wife of Emperor Gotoba. She also died young at age 16. With the assassination of Sanetomo in 1219, Masako lost all her immediate family. Temples related to Masako: Jufukuji, An-yo-in.

Hojo, Takatoki (1303-1333)
Assumed the 14th Regent position at age 14. Back then, Hojo powers were on the decline. The loyalist troops led by Yoshisada Nitta finally conquered Kamakura in 1333, resulting in the downfall of the Hojo regime. Takatoki and his followers, nearly 870 samurai, committed mass suicide at Hojo's family temple 'Toshoji' (no longer exists) situated close-by today's Hokaiji.


Hojo, Tokimune (1251-1284)
Son of Tokiyori and the Eighth Regent. During his term in office, Mongolian envoys visited Japan to make Japan acknowledge the suzerainty of Genghis Khans. Tokiyori rejected their proposal and Mongolian troops attacked northern coast of Kyushu island twice. Like his father, he patronized Rinzai Zen, and founded Engakuji inviting Priest Mugaku-Sogen from China as its founding priest. Meanwhile, NHK (a Japanese public service broadcasting organization like the BBC in the U.K.) has long been televising a 45-minute Sunday-night, special drama featuring the saga of historic heroes in Japan. In 2001, the hero was Tokimune and the role of Tokimune was played by a young Kyogen player Motoya Izumi (1974-). Kyogen is a comic piece performed between the two Noh plays.

Hojo, Tokiyori (1227-1263)
The Fifth Regent and father of Tokimune. He patronized religions, Zen Buddhism in particular, and erected Kenchoji. Priest Rankei-Doryu was invited by him to be the founding priest of Kenchoji. Tokiyori showed distinguished achievements in developing Rinzai Zen in Japan. He died young at the age of 36 at the site where Meigetsu-in stands today. His tomb also stands in the Meigetsu-in grounds.


Ippen-Chishin, Priest (1239-1289)
Founder of the Ji sect Buddhism. Born in Ehime Prefecture, he began his career as an mendicant priest of Jodo sect at first. Developed the Ji sect with his independent doctrines. He preached commoners that chanting the sacred name or 'Nam-ahmy-dah-boo-t' repeatedly and dancing with this chant will bring them salvation immediately. Travelling all over the country, he also gave them paper talismans inscribed with the sacred name of Amida Buddha. Dancing coupled with chant of the holy Lord Buddha's name put them in ecstasy. This practice was easy and his mission grew increasingly popular. In 1282, his group rallied at the Fujisawa, the neighboring town of Kamakura, and his campaign was most successful. As a result, Yugyoji, the mother temple of this sect, exists today in the middle of this city. Related temples in Kamakura: Kosokuji at Juniso, Betsuganji.



Kakusan-ni (1252-1306)
Daughter of Yoshikage Adachi. Her mother was daughter of Tokifusa Hojo. Born and educated as a child of the two most powerful families at the time. She married Tokimune Hojo at the age of 10. Tokimune assumed the position of the Eighth Hojo Regent, but died young at age 33. With his death, she entered nunhood and established Tokeiji, known as a refuge convent for the oppressed women. Reputed as the first women-lib advocate in Japan. She was buried at Tokeiji.

Kajiwara, Kagetoki (?-1200)
Used to be a warlord for the Taira clan. On the occasion that Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, first challenged a battle against the Taira clan at Ishibashiyama(MFA) in Izu Peninsula, where Yoritomo had been exiled, Kajiwara was among the Taira troops. Yoritomo was almost beaten at the first attempt. It was Kajiwara who secretly helped him out at the last moment. Since then, Yoritomo favored him giving the highest rank in the Shogunate. After the death of Yoritomo in 1199, however, he was involved in the power struggles and failed to gain credibility among the fellow factions, earning the wrath of the leading warrior families. Later he was ousted from the government. On his way back to home town, he was killed. Kenchoji holds Kajiwara Segaki or requiem mass specifically for his soul on July 15 every year. Kajiwara (MFA) is also known in a kabuki play entitled 'Kajiwara Cutting a Stone Washbasin'.

Kiso, (Minamoto) Yoshinaka (1154-1184)
Yoritomo Minamoto's cousin. Rose up in arms against the Taira clan in 1189 acting in concert with Yoritomo. He greatly contributed to Yoritomo's victory. After occupying Kyoto, he was named Supreme Commander by the Emperor, which invited Yoritomo's distrust, and was killed by his troops in the end. A woodblock print of Kiso at MFA.

Kiso, (Minamoto) Yoshitaka (1173-1184)
Yoshinaka's son. His father Yoshinaka once confronted Yoritomo over the territorial issues. To show a pledge to Yoritomo, Yoshinaka sent his 10-year-old son Yoshitaka to Kamakura in 1183 as a hostage. Soon, Yoritomo's daughter Ohime fell in love with Yoshitaka, and he was engaged to Ohime, Both loved each other. After Yoritomo killed Yoshinaka, he also ordered to kill Yoshitaka lest Yoshitaka should someday revolt against him. With the lover killed by her father, Ohime fell sick and never recovered. Yoshitaka is often referred to as an example to show Yoritomo's cruelty.

Koyu (date of birth and death unknown)
A pioneer sculptor in Kamakura who played a pivotal role in developing technique of carving Buddhist statues in the mid-13th century. His craftsmanship is highly valued and is said to be of the Kei school element. (Kei means Unkei, a Japanese Michelangelo). A masterpiece fashioned by him is the sedentary statue of Shoko-o at En'noji. Other statues enshrined at En'noji are also believed to have been carved by his disciples.

Kukai a.k.a. Kobo-Daishi, Priest (774-835)
Founded the Shingon Sect. Returning from China in 806, he introduced esoteric Lamaistic Buddhism. In China, he met the great master of esoteric Buddhist Hui-Kuo (746-805). Kongobuji at Mt. Koya in Wakayama, one of the largest monastic complexes, is the headquarters of this sect. It emphasizes spells, magic formula and ceremonials. Related temples in Kamakura: Joju-in, Kakuonjii, Jokomyoji. For further details on Kukai, refer to Buddhism and Shorenji. A stone figure of Kobo Daishi at MFA.

Kugyo (1200-1219)
Third child of Second Shogun Yoriie Minamoto. As Yoriie was unable to control the government properly, he was deported down to the Izu Peninsula where he died in 1204. Kugyo thought this was a conspiracy plotted by the Third Shogun Sanetomo (his uncle) and Yoshitoki Hojo, the Second Regent. Taking advantage as the chief priest of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Kugyo assassinated Sanetomo on the evening of ceremony for Sanetomo celebrating his promotion conferred by the Emperor. Immediately after the assassination, Kugyo was also killed by Yoshimura Miura.


Matsuo, Basho (1644-1694)
Pioneer of haiku or 17-syllable poem consisting three metrical units of 5, 7, 5 syllables each. Haiku is similar to tanka, though shorter than tanka by 14 syllables. There is a stone monument near the sidewalk of the main road between Kamakura Station and the Great Buddha. It was built in 1786, and the following haiku written by Basho Matsuo is engraved, though the letters are blurring:

Natsukusaya {nah-tsu-koo-sah-yah} (5 syllables)
Tsuwamonodomoga {tsu-wah-moh-noh-doh-mo-gah} (7 syllables)
Yumenoato {yoo-meh-no-ah-toh} (5 syllables)

It depicts a scene that was once a battlefield where many brave warriors fought bitterly centuries ago. The field today is covered with overgrowing summer weeds and nothing is reminiscent of the fierce battle.

Basho Matsuo made this haiku somewhere in northern part of Japan. The stone monument inscribed with this haiku was placed at the present site as it fits Kamakura, where many samurai fought and lost their lives. Here, you may understand 5-7-5 syllabic tones, or the rhythm in this short poem and this rhythm is essential in writing a haiku or tanka.

Minamoto Family (A samurai video at MMA).
Yoritomo (the First Shogun)---Yoriie (the Second Shogun)---Sanetomo (the Third Shogun)

Minamoto, Yoritomo (1147-1199)
Born in Kyoto as a legitimate son of the Minamoto clan. In his childhood, the Minamoto clan headed by his father had a civil-war type battle with the Taira clan, the arch-rival enemy. The Minamoto was defeated to near extinction. Yoritomo somehow survived the battle, but was exiled to the Izu Peninsula, where he found his wife Masako Hojo and gathered support from local warriors in eastern Japan. From then on, the Minamotos headed by Yoritomo fought a series of battles against the Tairas defeating them one by one. In 1185, Yoritomo finally unified Japan and took over the position of the commander-in-chief as well as the political dictator. He placed headquarters in Kamakura and designated it as the capital of Japan. He died unexpectedly at the age of 52 shortly after he fell off his horse. His tomb (cenotaph) stands at the foot of a hill roughly 1,200 meters northeast of Kamakura Station. If he had fallen today, however, he might have survived the injury with the help of modern medical technology like actor Christopher Reeve, who paralyzed from the neck down in a horse-riding accident in 1995. A woodblock print of Yoritomo at MFA.

Minamoto, Yoriie (1182-1204)
Since his father Yoritomo died accidentally in 1199, he immediately succeeded to post of the Shogun at the age of 17, unprepared and too young to be a capable Shogun. He was at odds with his mother Masako and other Hojo members probably because his wife came from the Hiki family, the rival faction of the Hojos. After the bloodshed battle between the Hojos and the Hikis, he was exiled to the Izu Peninsula, where he died or, some say, was assassinated. Related temple: Shuzenji in Shizuoka.

Minamoto, Sanetomo (1192-1219) the Poet and his Anthology
Second son of Yoritomo. Assumed the post of the Third Shogun at the age of 12, and married an aristocrat girl in Kyoto at age 13. He was much interested in the Kyoto culture and liked to write tanka, to which samurai warriors in Kamakura were quite indifferent. Tanka (also called 'waka') is a 31-syllable verse, said to be comparable to the English sonnet. Columbia University Professor Donald Keene (1922-) says, "Over the last thousand years or so there was no period when tanka fell from its position as Japan's most popular poetic form." It forms in 5 syllabic groupings with 5 syllables in the first group, 7 in the second, 5 in the third and 7 in each of the final two. This pattern of syllables sounds rhythmical, similar to rhyme in the English poem. Sanetomo started making tanka before marriage. Here is a tanka composed by Sanetomo, and engraved on a stone marker placed in the right-hand corner of the Kamakura Museum courtyard. The marker was erected in 1942 in commemoration of the 750th anniversary of his birth, and it reads:

Ya-ma-wa-sa-ke, (5 syllables) {yah-mah-wah-sah-kay}
U-mi-wa-a-se-na-n, (7 syl.) {woo-me-wah-ah-seh-nah-n}
yo-na-ri-to-mo, (5 syl.) {yoh-nah-re-toh-mo}
ki-mi-ni-hu-ta-go-koro, (7 syl.) {key-me-nee-foo-tah-go-koro}
wa-ga-a-ra-me-ya-mo (7 syl.) {wah-gah-ah-rah-meh-yah-mo}

Rough meaning of this tanka is that although this world is stormy to the extent that mountains and the sea may break up, my feeling of loyalty toward Emperor Gotoba will never change. His name Sanetomo was, meanwhile, conferred by Emperor Gotoba to celebrate his assumption of the The Third Shogun. He made this tanka after his government refused the Emperor's request to transfer a manor and it is the last one in his 663-tanka anthology. Unfortunately, he was assassinated by his nephew. Upon his death, the Emperor took the chance unsuccessfully to overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate and the Emperor was deported to a remote island. As you see, this poem has 5-7-5-7-7 syllabic sequence. Anyhow, no doubt Sanetomo was a great poet, given the fact that tanka back then was a Kyoto culture savored mostly by the aristocrats living in Kyoto, and unrefined samurai in Kamakura had no interest in it. Tanka is quite popular even today. When a Japanese female astronaut Ms. Mukai was aboard the American space shuttle Discovery in November 1998, she composed the first three lines (5-7-5 syllables) of a tanka in the spacecraft and asked TV viewers in Japan to finish it with another two lines. It read: 'Moo-jew-ryok/Nan-doh-moh-deh-key-roo/Chew-gah-eh-re'. The Japan Times translated it as 'Zero gravity/Makes possible somersaults/Any number of time/'. Much to our surprise, more than 140,000 entries with endings were submitted, and 30 winners were selected. Among them was an American from Rhode Island whose endings were 'As free as one in the womb/Bouncing gleefully about.'
Incidentally, Sanetomo Festival is held every year on August 9, his birthday in homage to his achievements at Shirahata sub-shrine in the grounds of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Lovers of tanka, painting and Japanese dancing get together and exhibit their works and performances. Calligraphy and tanka related to Sanetomo on display at MFA.

Minamoto, Yoshitsune (1159-89)
Yoritomo's younger brother by different mother. During the Minamoto clan's losing battle against the Taira clan in the 1150s, both Yoritomo and Yoshitsune were caught. Yoshitsune was sent to Kurama-dera in Kyoto. At age 15, he went to Hiraizumi, Iwate Prefecture to rely on the Fujiwara clan for custody. The Fujiwara clan was flourishing at the time in northern Japan and they accepted Yoshitsune with hospitality. He lived there for nearly six years. Hearing Yoritomo rose to action against the Tairas in 1180, he left Hiraizumi to join the Yoritomo's troops and met his half-brother for the first time. Thereafter, he rendered distinguished services in the ensuing battles, and led to the overwhelming victory over the Taira. However, his tragedy started right after the victory. He received high-ranking official titles from the Imperial Court without getting Yoritomo's prior approval, which made Yoritomo upset. Not only did Yoritomo refuse Yoshitsune to get into Kamakura, but also ordered to assassinate him. Yoshitsune turned fugitive and resorted to the protection of the Fujiwara in Hiraizumi again. The head of the Fujiwara who fostered young Yoshitsune had already passed away, and the new chief was not helpful any longer. In addition, military power of the Fujiwara was no match for Yoritomo's. Besieged with Yoritomo's troops, Yoshitsune had no alternatives but to kill himself. A woodblock print of Yoshitsune on horseback (MFA).
For related story on Yoshitsune, see Manpukuji.

Miura Family
Yoshiaki (1092-1180)---Yoshizumi (1127-1200)---Yoshimura (?-1239)---Yasumura (?-1247)
A local warlord family having its territory in what is now called the Miura Peninsula in Kanagawa Prefecture to which Kamakura also belongs.

Yoshiaki and Yoshizumi fought against the Taira clan helping Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate. Though Yoshiaki was killed during the battle at his castle in Yokosuka, his son Yoshizumi tendered remarkable services for Yoritomo and was promoted to a high-ranking post. Yoshizumi's son Yoshimura also joined his father for the battle against the Taira, and further helped the Hojo win the battle against Kajiwara faction in 1200. When another battle broke out between the Hojo and the Wada factions in 1213, Yoshimura betrayed Wada breaking his word and sided with the Hojos. As a result, the Wada faction was wiped out. On the occasion of the Third Shogun's assassination, Yoshimura even killed Kugyo, the assassin. But Miura's Machiavellianism did not last long. Next was their turn. With its growing influence, Yasumura and his brother approached a branch family of the Hojo to help them plot a conspiracy against the head Hojo family. However, the plot leaked out, and Eighth Regent Tokiyori, aided by the Adachi faction, launched an attack on the Miura residence. Roughly 500 samurai belonging to the Miura factions were forced to commit mass suicide in the Prayer Hall called Hokkedo built for Yoritomo. It was in 1247 and the Hokkedo was situated near the site where Yoritomo's cenotaph stands today.

Morinaga, Prince, also called Moriyoshi (1308-1335)
Son of Emperor Godaigo. He helped his father overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate and restore the imperial supremacy. For a brief period, Emperor Godaigo succeeded in gaining the imperial rule, but was soon defeated by the Ashikaga troops. As one of POWs, Prince Morinaga was brought to Kamakura and put under house-arrest by the Ashikaga, where he was beheaded eventually. Sometime after the imperial power was finally restored more than five centuries later in 1868, Emperor Meiji succeeding to the throne in 1867, instructed to erect a shrine in homage to the Prince, which is today's Kamakuragu Shrine. His tomb stands near the Shrine under the supervision of the Imperial Household Agency. Morinaga is also called Moriyoshi. Since he was once the Chief of Enryakuji in Shiga Prefecture, he is also called with his Buddhist name "Otonomiya" or "Daitonomiya". His portrait at MFA.

Mugaku-Sogen (Wuxue Zuyuan) (1220-1286)
A Chinese Zen priest and the founder of Engakuji. Came to Japan in 1279 at the request of Tokimune Hojo, the Eighth Hojo Regent. In China, he was threatened by soldiers of Mongolian forces then invading southern China. When the soldiers were about to behead him with swords, he was devoting himself to meditation. Not disturbed at all, he recited a verse of his own composition. According to Daisetz T. Suzuki's Zen and Japanese Culture, the verse reads:

Quote: There is not a room in the whole universe where one can insert even a single stick; I see the emptiness of all things---no objects, no persons. I admire the sword of the Great Yuan three feet in length: [When it cuts at all] it is like cutting the spring breeze with a flash of lightning: Unquote

Overwhelmed by his immobility, the Mongolian soldiers gave up striking him. Unlike other Chinese Zen Buddhists like Priest Doryu Rankei, who was the founding priest of Kenchoji and mastered the Japanese language very well, Mugaku did not speak Japanese at all. Good interpreters must have been available. Otherwise, his disciples would not have been able to understand him. His Buddhist title is Bukko Kokushi. See Engakuji.

Muso-Soseki (1275-1351)
A famous Zen priest who took an active role for promoting Zen not only in Kamakura but also in Kyoto. In Kamakura, he was the founding priest of Zuisenji. Obai-in in Engakuji is a sub-temple specifically built for him. In Kyoto, he erected Nanzenji, Tenryuji and other distinguished Zen temples. He won the confidence of the Hojo family, the Ashikaga Shogunate, Emperors et al. and was a spiritual mentor to them. Notable among his achievements may be his technique in gardening. He laid out many famous gardens including that of Saihoji in Kyoto. Related temples in Kamakura: Zuisenji and Engakuji.

Mutsu, Iso (1867-1930)
An English woman born in Oxford, England. Her maiden name is Gertrude Ethel Passington. Got married to Hirokichi Mutsu (son of famed Japanese diplomat Munemitsu Mutsu) in 1905 while they were working at the Japanese embassy in London. In 1910, he returned to Japan with his wife, and the couple lived in Kamakura the rest of their lives. After exploring Kamakura, she wrote and published Kamakura: Fact and Legend in 1918, a classical guidebook for Kamakura written in English and still sold at bookstores today. Her ashes are buried at Jufukuji together with her family members.

Myo-an Eisai (1141-1215)
Introduced Rinzai-sect Zen Buddhism to Japan. Founding priest of Jufukuji. Born at Okayama Prefecture, he took Buddhist vows at the age of 14 and learned Tendai sect Buddhism at Enryakuji near Kyoto. For further study, he visited China in 1168 and again in 1187. While in China, he studied Zen, known as Lin-chi in China, and tried to propagate it in Japan after returning in 1191. His propagation in Kyoto failed because of the fierce opposition from the Tendai sect, Enryakuji to be specific. Seeing unhappy Eisai, the Kamakura Shogunate invited him to Kamakura in 1199. He was well accepted and patronized by the Shogunate. Backed by Yoriie Minamoto, the Second Shogun, he built Ken'ninji in Kyoto 1202. Later, a number of his disciples grew up to be capable Zen priests and he is said to be the father of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. He also introduced green-tea into Japan, saying it is good for health. Scientifically, it really is. A recent medical research suggests one of polyphenols contained in green tea called epigallocatedchin gallate (EGCG) can significantly inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
(Note: A booklet sold at Engakuji calls the priest "Myo-an-Yosai", whereas Kamakura Encyclopedia reads "Myo-an-Eisai". Ken'ninji also call him "Yosai".)



Nichiren, Priest (1222-1282)
Founder of the Nichiren sect Buddhism. Born in a fishing village at the Pacific coast of present Chiba Prefecture, he joined a nearby temple called Seichoji at age 12 to study Buddhism. Five years later, he left the temple for Kamakura, where Zen Buddhism was flourishing patronized by the Shogunate. After staying in Kamakura for four years, he entered Enryakuji near Kyoto in 1242, the stronghold of Tendai Sect Buddhism. Through the study in Enryakuji, he concluded that the ultimate Buddhist scripture is in the Lotus Sutra. He came back home to Seichoji in 1253, and began to devote himself as a missionary for the Lotus Sutra. However, the locals were indifferent to his preaching, as they were devoted followers of the Jodo sect. Shortly afterward, he came to Kamakura again to make street preachings in the nation's capital. He secluded himself in a little hut at the site called Matsubagayatsu {mah-tsu-bah-gah-yah-tsu}, where Myohoji and Ankokuronji stand today, and started preaching his doctrine at the busiest crossroads of Kamakura. (A monument for his street preaching stands at the Komachi-dori street near Kamakura Station.) In Kamakura, Zen, Jodo and Shingon sects were popular and dominant. Nichiren was so enthusiastic in propagating the Lotus Sutra that he seemed hostile to all other sects. In 1260, he presented his treatise titled 'The Establishment of Righteousness and the Pacification of the Country' to Tokiyori Hojo, the Sixth Regent, and criticized other sects as heathenish. The Righteousness implied the Lotus Sutra, and he strongly requested to Tokiyori that the government should follow his suggestions immediately. Tokiyori ignored his treatise. Outraged at the bitter criticism made by the Priest, Jodo adherents assaulted his hermitage one summer night in an attempt to kill him. The priest narrowly escaped the attack, and fled to Chiba. Less than one year later in 1261, he returned to Kamakura. The government office, however, arrested him for fear of the possible commotion by Jodo sect locals, and exiled him to the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture. He was under house-arrest there, but was released back to Kamakura in 1263. He never stopped criticizing the government and the other sects Buddhists. Being a prophet, he predicted that unless the government employed his doctrines, there would be catastrophes. Like a bolt from the blue, Mongol forces invaded northern part of Kyushu island twice. His prediction turned out correct. Getting momentum, he intensified his attack against the government, which not only did ignore him, but arrested him in 1271 on charge of a commotion and sentenced to death. When he was about to be executed at the Tatsunokuchi execution site near Ryukoji, the executioner's sword was snapped by a bolt of lightning, a miracle he brought. (Like the Christian saints in the West, there are many stories of his supernatural achievements.) Rather than executing him, the government chose to exile him to an island called Sado {sah-doh} , off the Sea of Japan coast. (Japanese counterpart of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay.) Pardoned in 1274, he came back to Kamakura for a brief stay and then went to Minobu, Yamanashi Prefecture, where he erected Kuonji, the headquarters of the entire Nichiren sect. Today, the sect is one of the most popular religion groups in Japan in terms of number of followers, though there are many sub-sects. For further details on Priest Nichiren, refer to Ryukoji.

Nitta, Yoshisada (1302-1338)
A warlord in Gun'ma Prefecture, roughly 100-kilometer north of Tokyo, whose family lineage can be traced back to the 12th century, and shares the same ancestor with the Minamoto Clan. For the reason that his ancestors did not cooperate well with Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, when Yoritomo was fighting against the Taira Clan, Yoritomo did not give favor to the Nittas. Even 100 hundred years later, Yoshisada had hostility toward the Kamakura Shogunate. Hearing the news that Rokuhara, or the Kamakura Shogunate's military station in Kyoto, surrendered in 1333, Nitta and his troops rose in revolt against the Kamakura, then under the Hojo regime. A number of other warlords who were no longer satisfied with Kamakura also were up in revolt and joined Nitta. Tens of thousands of warriors rushed to Kamakura to make an assault upon the troops of Kamakura Shogunate. A bitter fighting erupted particularly at Inamuragasaki, southwest part of Kamakura. Strategically fortified Kamakura was not easy to break in and the fight continued for several days. Yoshisada finally succeeded in destroying the fortress, and put an end to the Hojo Regime and the Kamakura Period, which lasted nearly 150 years. Nitta, who himself later had to commit suicide after the defeat in 1337, grieved that so many warriors, both friend and foe, were killed during the battle. In memory of those warriors, he built Kuhonji at the site where he placed his camp. Legend says that he threw his golden sword into the sea near Inamuragasaki to make the tide on the ebb and his troops could go forward. A woodblock pint of Nitta at MFA.



Oe, Hiromoto (1148-1225)
A capable aristocrat in Kyoto. Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate, invited him to Kamakura in 1184 to have him take care of political affairs of the Shogunate. After the demise of Yoritomo, he helped the Third Shogun Sanetomo and took part in defeating Kagetoki Kajiwara and Yoshikazu Hiki. He continued to be faithful to the Hojos even after the assassination of Sanetomo, and helped them win a series of battles occurred afterward with rival factions. Success in the battle against Emperor Godaigo, who tried to topple the Kamakura Shogunate in 1221, was also attributable to his strategy. He died at 78 and his cenotaph is located near the Yoritomo's.


Okazaki, Masamune (date of birth and death unknown)
Commonly known as Masamune, he was the most famous swordsmith in the Kamakura Period. Though his date of birth and death is unknown, it is certain that he lived in Kamakura from 1222 to 1224. Fine swords usually has its swordsmith's name inscribed on them and the name Masamune meant the most excellent blade. For the Japanese, the cult of the sword has outlasted the weapon's usefulness. Swords have assumed a sacerdotal significance. Among the three divine regalia of the Japanese Imperial throne is this sword. To make a sword, the steel is densely forged, folded and cross-welded many times with a number of layers of steel of higher and lower carbon content, and hammered to an extra toughness. Daggers (MMA) related to Masamune. His cenotaph (Gorinto) stands at Hongakuji.



Rankei-Doryu (Lanxi Daolong) (1213-1278)
A Zen Buddhist born in Zhejiang, China. At the invitation of Fifth Hojo Regent Tokiyori, he assumed the post of the founding priest of Kenchoji. One of the most influential and a pioneer Zen master in Japan. At one time, he had as many as 1,000 disciples. Spoke Japanese fluently and was later naturalized. Died in 1286 at Kenchoji without ever returning to China. His Buddhist title Daikaku Zenji was the first honorable title ever conferred by the Emperor. See Kenchoji.



Saicho a.k.a. Dengyo-Taishi, Priest(767-822)
The founder of Enryakuji in Shiga Prefecture. He visited China and brought the Tendai sect into Japan.

Sansom, George Baily (1883-1965)
Sir George was born in London. He came to Japan in 1906 as a secretary of British Embassy in Japan and had stayed there until World War II broke out in 1941. He lived near Jochiji and studied Japanese literature and East Asian culture. After the war, he revisited Japan in 1946 as a British member of the U.N. Far Eastern Commission. Later, he taught at Columbia and Stanford University. His monument stands on a hill behind Jochiji.

Suzuki, Daisetz Teitaro (1870-1966)
Introduced Rinzai Zen Buddhism to the West. Born in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, he began to study Zen at age 22 under the leadership of Priest Kosen Imakita (1816-1892) and Priest Soen Shaku (1860-1919) at Engakuji. In 1897, he went to America where he lived for 14 years introducing Zen Buddhism overseas. When Priest Shaku visited America, he acted as an interpreter. Married Beatrice Lane, an American woman, in 1911. Without his effort, Zen would not have been so much known to the Western people. He was buried at Tokeiji.
In October 2011, D.T. Suzuki Museum was opened in Kanazawa city.



Taikyu, Shonen (1215-1289)
A Zen Buddhist. Born in China, he came to Japan in 1269 invited by Tokimune Hojo, the Eighth Hojo Regent. Succeeded to the chief priest position at Kenchoji, Jufukuji and Engakuji, exerting a great influence upon the Japanese Zen Buddhism. Zoroku-an sub-temple at Engakuji was built to commemorate his achievements.



Uesugi Family

Uesugi, Shigefusa (date of birth and death unknown)
Founder of the Uesugi family in Kamakura. He was a member the Fujiwara family, the most prominent aristocrat in Kyoto, and came down to Kamakura in 1252 accompanying Prince Munetaka, who was on his way to Kamakura to take office as the Sixth Shogun. Prince Munetaka was the first Shogun from the Imperial Family and was only 10 years old. After coming to Kamakura, Uesugi settled there and changed its family name to Uesugi to be enrolled in the samurai class. His descendants later took active parts in political stages in Kamakura. His sedentary statue fashioned during the Kamakura Period is kept at Meigetsu-in. Entering Muromachi Period, Takauji Ashikaga, the new ruler of Japan, relocated Japan's capital from Kamakura back to Kyoto. Kamakura being so important, Takauji sent his second son to Kamakura to oversee the eastern Japan as a governor. Uesugi family assumed vice-governorship and its position was succeeded by the Uesugis hereditarily as follows:

Vice-governors
Noriaki Uesugi (1306-1368)---Noriharu (? -1379)---Norikata (1335-1394)---Norisada (1375-1412)---Ujinori (? -1417)---Norimoto (1392-1418)


Unkei (?-1223)
One of the most influential sculptors of Buddha statues during the Kamakura Period. Often dabbed as Japanese Michelangelo. Mostly active in Nara Prefecture. His works are realistic, dynamic and masculine, appealing to the warrior class and created the Kei-school sculptures. Explored a new method to employ crystal as statue's eyes, which made them more realistic. But he was not well accepted in Kyoto, the capital of Japan at the time and the center of Buddhism. It was the Kamakura Shogunate that found his ability and had him fashion Buddha-related statues. Unfortunately, most of them are not extant in Kamakura. Some temples claim that their statues are attributable to Unkei but with no clear evidences. There are about 30 statues curved by himself. Most famous among his works is the Deva King statues of Todaiji in Nara. He produced a number of excellent disciples, and later they grew up to be the major sculptors in the Kamakura Period as members of the Kei school. A Unkei's Dainichi Nyorai statue is on display at TNM.

The Dainichi Nyorai statue appearing in this TNM website was bought back by Japan's Shinnyoen in March 2008 at the Christie's auction for as much as US$12.8 million. The statue was originally enshrined in a temple in Tochigi Prefecture (no longer exists). Probably after the Meiji Imperial Restoration when the government made Shinto the state religion and ordered temples to dispose of all structures and statues that were associated with the Buddhism elements, the temple was abandoned and the statue was sold overseas cheap. Later, the investigation into the statue using x-ray proved that it was really curved by Unkei. In a moment of the revelation, the value jumped and the highest bid price at the Christie's reached $12.8 million for this 66.1 cm tall sedentary statue. Shinnoen, the successful bidder, is a rich and powerful Shingon sect institution of Daigoji-school, and the statue is kept in trust at TNM.



Wada family
Yoshimori (1147-1213)---Tsunemori (1172-1213)---Tomomori (Unknown)

A branch family of the Miuras. Yoshimori fought with Yoritomo Minamoto against the Taira clan from the very beginning. His son Tsunemori and grandson Tomomori were also favored by the Second Shogun Yoriie and the Third Shogun Sanetomo. Nevertheless, Yoshimori had some conflicts with Yoshitoki Hojo, the Second Regent, which developed into a battle between the Hojos and the Wadas taking a heavy toll. The Wada faction was almost annihilated. Today, the Wada Mound stands near the Wada Station of the Enoden Line, where a sizeable number of Wada warriors were buried.


Warner, Langdon (1881-1955)
An American art critic and expert on Oriental arts. After graduating from Harvard in 1906, he joined Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where Tenshin Kakuzo Okakura, a Japanese art critic and the founder of Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, was curator of the Department of Asiatic Art. Warner learnt the Japanese art from Okakura. When the Pacific War broke out and the Japanese land was under bombing raid by the U.S. Air Forces, he persuaded the U.S. authorities, as a member of the Roberts Commission, not to bomb such old towns with cultural assets as Kyoto, Nara and Kamakura. Those three cities thus spared the bombs of World War II. His monument stands near the west exit of Kamakura Station. But, few people recognize the monument, let alone what he did.

Updated November 2012

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