Final for Premodern Japanese History

Godaigo - In 1290 the imperial succession began alternating between two branches of the imperial family, rather than directly passing through one line as it always had. In 1331, Godaigo, wanting to stop the alternation and keep the succession in his bra nch, as well as to take power back from the military class, began a revolt. Although Godaigo was initially successful due to the aid of several powerful military figures, once they realized his goals included removing from thm the power they were fightin g for, the military turned against him, and he was forced to flee to a mountain hideout. From there he and his successors claimed to be the real emperors of Japan.

Ashikaga Takauji - One of the two most important military leaders to help Godaigo in his revolt. His family in control of territory on both sides of Kamakura, Takauji was in good position to help Godaigo, and took Kamakura for him in 1332. Once he real ized Godaigo's intentions, Takauji captured Kyoto in 1336, placed a youth from Godaigo's opposing imperial branch in power, and went on to establish the Ashikaga shogunate.

Gohojo - During the Sengoku period this family ruled Kanto, totally independent of the court at Kyoto and the bakufu, from its base in Odawara. As the shogunate's control broke down in the Kanto and internal conflict turned to outright warfare, Hojo Soun began to take territory in western Kanto, and under his successors all of Kanto was added on. They also underwent thorough civil reforms, conducting the first land surveys since the Nara period, revitalizing the road system, simplifying and reducing taxation, and establishing a monetary-base tax system, among other things. The final obstacle in Hideyoshi's rise to power over all of Japan, the Hojos were defeated by him in 1590 after almost 100 years of rule.

Kamakura kaido - System of roads developed at the start of the Kamakura era to link the new capital with the rest of the nation. Often based on roadways used for connection with provincial capitals during the Heian period, the kaido served the same purp oses: communication, delivery of taxes, and deployment of military strength. In order to facilitate the first two, a system of post stations was developed with rest stops and spare horses. Military deployment became especially important after the 1280' s, when men from the Kanto plain were sent to Kyushu to defend against possible Mongol attack.

Kamakura kubo - When Ashikaga Takauji set up his shogunate in Kyoto, it left a vacuum of power in the Kanto. To deal with this, the branch government of Kamakura-fu was set up in Kamakura, over which the kubo presided. This title, like that of shogun, was hereditary, and passed along a branch of the Ashikaga family. Rivalry between the shogun, the kubo, and also the Kanto kanrei, a position developed to watch over the kubo, began escalating into armed conflict in the fifteenth century. Taking advanta ge of the conflict, Hojo Soun attacked the kubo at Izu in 1490 and killed him, putting an end to the title.

Khubilai Khan - grandson of Ghengis Khan, Khubilai continued the work of his predecessors by conquering China and Korea and establishing a new Chinese dynasty. After sending numerous envoys to Japan in the 1260s, who were at best rejected and at worst b eheaded, Khubilai sailed armies to Japan in 1274 and 1281. At first forced to retreat due to a lack of provisions, they were hit by a typhoon while in their ships in 1274, and again hit by a typhoon while attempting to land in 1281. The weak, hastily-bu ilt ships, as well as the mainly Korean troops, were completely devastated by the typhoons. The attacks had severe consequences on Japan: economic problems were intensified, manpower was wasted on western defense for decades, and the shogunate's power wa s contested and weakened by its inability to compensate warriors who fought against the Mongols.

Kitayama culture - The culture sponsored by the Ashikaga shogun Yoshimitsu. Although Kitayama culture includes aspects of Chinese culture which resulted from increased ties with China, such as tea ceremonies, calligraphy, ikebana, painting, architecture , gardens, Yoshimitsu also promote home-made culture. Noh drama, kabuki, and puppet theater are examples of peasant artforms which were promoted by Yoshimitsu. The term kitayama derives from the location of the Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion), from which Yoshimitsu extended his benevolence.

Onin War - Succession in historic Japan was carried out by the majority of the family's holdings being passed on to one person, often the eldest son. In the 1450's disputes arose within several important families, including that of the shogun, over the rights to succession. In 1467 a dispute over succession between two court families led to conflict between the two in the streets of Kyoto. The shogun called for support from his followers, but due to alliances and obligations, not all forces that joine d the war were on his side. The war continued for ten years, devastated much of Kyoto, and left no winners. This was a final blow to the power of the shogunate, and the signal of the beginning of the Warring States Period.

Sengoku daimyo - During the Sengoku, or Warring States Period which extended the entire sixteenth century, daimyo became rulers of miniature states. After the loss of power by the Ashikaga family, central authority was replaced by local authority, sometimes popular, sometimes religious, but most often through the control of a local daimyo. These daimyo built castles, improved roads, established markets, passed legal codes, and established contact with foreign merchants. Daimyo slowly conquered their neighbors, until finally the successive trio of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu unified the entire archipelago.

za - Trade guilds which developed in the Kamakura period. First established in the capitol at Kamakura, and later spreading to regional cities as the shugo gained power and affluence. The za would have monopoly control over the product it produced, and the unity it provided would ensure protection for its members. As za trade developed, they were granted use of horses at post stations to transport material. Za growth can be seen as the growth of mercantilism, and a beginning of a break from the old a grarian systems.

Although the establishment of the Edo bakufu could be called the most important event in the premodern history of the Kanto area, it was by no means the only important even to occur after the eleventh century.

Following a number of revolts in eastern Honshu, Minamoto Yoritomo received an imperial edict to restore peace. After triumphantly controlling the Kanto plain, Yoritomo established his headquarters at Kamakura, and sent military governors to work along side the civil administrators of each province. Though they did serve their purpose of ensuring regional peace, they also served to put Yoritomo equal, or perhaps superior, in power to the imperial structure. Under the Kamakura bakufu, the Kanto plain began to see the afluence and importance which had previous existed only in Kansai. New, powerful Buddhist sects rose in Kamakura, and for the first time the religion was spread out from the elite and into the common people, as monks began traveling amongst the peasantry. Trade unions, first developing at Kamakura and then spreading to regional power centers in Kanto and throughout the country, began to sow the seeds of a mercantile economy.

The end of the Kamakura period saw the shogunate located in Kyoto, and a weakening grip on the Kanto plain. Power struggles lead to fighting amongst the aristocracy, first in Kyoto and later in Kanto as well. Taking advantage of the chaos, Hojo Soun and his successors progressively united all of Kanto under their control from their base in Odawara. Continuing the development of roads and post stations that began in the Kamakura period, reforming the tax system by changing the base (for the first time in Japanese history) from rice to money and by reducing taxes overall, and providing some amount of stability during the Warring States period, the Hojo family allowed the Kanto plain to grow and prosper much more significantly than most other regions.

The Hojo family was finally defeated in 1590 by Hideyoshi, and the Kanto area was given to Hideyoshi's vassal, Tokugawa Ieyasu. As under Kamakura and Hojo rule before, Tokugawa rule would see a steady rise in importance and development for Kanto. Roads and post stations were further expanded, and by this time old post stations were becoming towns and cities. Merchants were important enough in daily life to be recognized as one of the newly created four classes of citizens. Unity and peace allowed farmers to work their lands with assurance that they would only need to fight mother nature to survive. These may have all been factors which were evident in previous times, but the stimulous of Edo times encouraged growth to the point that population in Kanto, even more so than the rest of Japan, reached saturation. A number of negative side effects of the growth can be seen. Food supplies were insufficient, and persistent natural disasters were more than the population could deal with, causing widespread famine. Fires would rage through Edo periodically, as a result of the tight quarters. Bushi became impoverished due to a shift in the financial system towards an emphasis on money, away from the rice which they were paid in.

The over-population and civil problems resulting from over-development and insufficient resources in themselves were negative, and thousands of people died as a result. However, the fact that the urban centers had blossomed to such a degee that these problems occured can be seen as a sign of the fast, widespread growth which were brought about at the beginning of the Edo period, after the founding of the Edo bakufu. Although this period is probably the most important period of Kanto history, other periods were important as well. In fact, within the Kamakura and Warring States periods can be found significant developments which would be later used as the foundation for the boom of the Edo period.