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Old 08-13-2005, 02:14 AM
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Default Essay on differences of daimyo/shogun and background for Feudal State.

Originally posted in the the "Greatest Swordsman" thread, this goes over some of the reasons for the Feudal State of Japan, and some of the intricacies of the political system of the time.

"Basic difference between Shogun and Emperor is shogun held military power, and Emperor held political power, until the Onin War: The Hojo clan held power by changing the Emperor every 10 years, by doing this no one ever really established power. Go-Dagio came to power and that changed:

When Go-Daigo(1288-1339) ascended the throne, real power was with Hojo clan, who alternated the throne between a senior and a junior line of the Imperial family, for better control. Go-daigo, of the junior line, was intended only to hold the place until a member of the senior line could grow into it. But he refused to step down, and plotted to overthrow the Hojo. Betrayed, he fled Kyoto in 1331, taking refuge in the mountaintop monastery at Kasagi. The shogunate sent a huge army against him, and, despite the valour of the defenders, managed to overthrow the castle. Go-Daigo, who as Emperor was unused to walking more than a couple of steps at a time, was forced to flee during a thunderstorm in bare feet, disguised in a peasant's rain gear. The storm scattered his supporters, so that only the brothers Fujifusa and Suefusa were left to assist him in this new and unpleasant exercise.

Despite the assistance of the brothers, Go-Daigo was captured, deposed, and exiled to Oki Island. In 1333, his partisans overthrew the shogunate, and he returned to implement his reforms, establishing Imperial power in both civilian and military government. However, some of his supporters found that, without the bakufu, there weren't the perks they expected. Ashikaga Takauji expected to be appointed Shogun, and was refused. In 1336, he rebelled, establishing his own Emperor. Go-Daigo set up a rival Southern Court in Nan-cho that lasted until 1392."(http://www.sinister-designs.com/gra...ts/history.html)

Go-Daigo plans to overthrow the Hojo clan:

"In 1318, upon the abdication of the Jimyōin-tō Emperor Hanazono (his second cousin), Go-Daigo became Emperor at the age of 29, in the prime of his life. In 1324, with the discovery of Go-Daigo's plans to overthrow the Kamakura Shogunate, the Rokuhara Tandai disposed of Go-Daigo's close associate Hino Suketomo in the Shōchū Incident.

In the Genkō Incident of 1331, Go-Daigo's plans were again discovered, this time by a betrayal by his close associate Yoshida Sadafusa. He quickly hid the Sacred Treasures in a secluded castle in Kasagiyama (the modern town of Kasagi, Sōraku district, Kyōto Prefecture) and raised an army, but the castle fell to the Bakufu's army the following year, and they enthroned Kōgon, exiling Go-Daigo to Oki Province (the Oki Islands in modern-day Shimane Prefecture), the same place that Emperor Go-Toba was exiled in 1198.

In 1333, Go-Daigo escaped from Oki with the help of Nawa Nagatoshi and his family, raising an army at Funagami Mountain in Hōki Province (the modern town of Kotoura in Tōhaku District, Tottori Prefecture). Ashikaga Takauji, who had been sent by the Bakufu to find and destroy this army, sided with the Emperor and captured the Rokuhara Tandai. Immediately following this, Nitta Yoshisada, who had raised an army in the East, destroyed the Hojo clan and captured the Bakufu." (http://www.answers.com/topic/emperor-go-daigo-of-japan)

The Court to the South and North clashed:

"The Nanboku-cho (南北朝, lit. "South and North courts"), spanning from 1336 to 1392, was a period that occurred during the early years of the Muromachi period of Japan's history. During this period, there existed a North Imperial Court, established by Ashikaga Takauji in Kyoto, and the South Imperial Court, established by Emperor Go-Daigo in Yoshino.

The two courts fought for 50 years, with the South giving up to the North in 1392. Still, it is the South Imperial Court which is today considered legitimate, since it controlled the Japanese imperial regalia."(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanboku-cho)

After which time, several different factions emerged, and the power shifted from the political power of the Emperor and to the the military power of the different clans - hence "feud" in Feudal Japan.

"The Ashikaga Shogunate(1338-1567) was never an extremely powerful shogunate as the Kamakura Shogunate(11-1336) had been. Neither the shogun nore the emperor had enough power to restrict or control the feudal houses (daimyo), which by 1467 had grown to almost 260 in number. So, for all practical purposes, Japan by 1467 was in fact 260 separate countries, for each daimyo was independent and maintained separate armies. The political and territorial picture in Japan, then, was highly volatile. With no powerful central administration to adjudicate disputes, individual daimyo were frequently in armed conflict with other daimyo all through the Ashikaga period.

With the Onin War (1467-1477), this volatile situation exploded, and within a few years after the start of this war, practically every province in Japan was wracked by warfare, thus beginning what the Japanese call "sengoku jidai," meaning "the age of the country at war," or Warring States Japan. This period was a long protracted struggle for domination by individual daimyo and would result in a powerful struggle between various houses to dominate the whole of Japan. What would emerge from this struggle are three individuals who would become the three great heroes of Japan—Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu—who in the latter part of the sixteenth century devoted their martial energies to the unification of Japan under a single powerful house." (Complete story of Onin War what lead to Feudal Japan here.)

If you get nothing else from this, it's that there was a shift from political to military power during this timeframe in Japan.
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Old 08-13-2005, 02:20 AM
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Default Essay on Kamon/Mon and their importance during Feudal Japan.

This post is just to touch upon the importance that clan insignia had during Feudal Japan, the history of mon or kamon, how they were attained, where exactly they were positioned on armor and banners, some more famous ones, their meanings, and some other interesting aspects about them. Kind of an answer to the thread about clan emblems, just some research on the topic.

First, I'll address what exactly is a kamon or mon, and where they originated and a brief history. It should be noted that "The kamon (family crest) is a monshou (crest or informally called a mon) used to identify an individual clan or family." (1) A direct translation of kamon; "name (ka "house", mon "design")"(6) These came in all types of styles and with different motifs: "The most popular kamons portray plants, animals, insects, geographic features, and abstract designs. Japanese also used other natural themes such as waves, sandbars, lightning, mountains, snake eyes, fish scales, and snow. In addition, they used weapons, coins, tools, Chinese characters, heavenly bodies (sun, moon, stars) and religious symbols as topics." (1)

Now, I'll address the history of the kamon. I guess it should be noted that "there are about 12,000 different kamon in use in Japan today, most of which are based on the earliest 350 patterns used during the Heian Period" (1) The practice started with "The tradition of choosing or bestowing family kamon in Japan developed among the nobility around the imperial court during the Heian Period (794-1192). (1)

The earliest origins of kamon begin with "the Asuka-era (A.D. 603). According to one of the oldest Japanese histories "Nihon-Shoki", it said that Emperor Suiko used the pictures on his flags and it marked as the beginning of family crest. In this case, it seemed that the family crest was the Ka-mon rather than one of the designs."(2) In this particular instance, there was no actual design but the flag itself was the kamon, archaic, but the start of the kamon.

Another documented instance of early kamon use; "literature stated that Saneyoshi Tokudaiji (who used Mokko-mon as his family crest) and Sanesue Saienji (who used Tomoe-mon) were the first using their own Ka-mon on their vehicle in the Heian-era (794-1192).(2) To research either of the mon, type in the family name, and then look for their mon.

In the beginning, only a chosen few could use kamon, and "Kamon began to advance with the development of the feudal age and the warrior class during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). During these feudal times only the imperial family, lords and samurai could use kamon."(1) As you can see, wearing a mon was an exclusive right of the upper castes.

At first the kamon of a family was just a symbol of their unity, however that changed with the increase of warfare in Japan, "during the Muromachi Period (1333 -1568), the shape of the kamon became more abstracted and refined than before, at the same time the purpose changed. It took a significant roll in the warrior society at that time. Kamon were used as a battle insignia as a means of rapid identification during battle. The wearing of a kamon and two swords became a privilege officially restricted to the samurai class and many rules and formal ceremonies were involved."(1)

The next point to make concerning kamon would be how someone actually recieved a kamon. For a samurai to attain a kamon was very important and was done in several different manners. Tradition was one way; "Often they had been passed down in their families for generations".(1) But a more interesting way was that "sometimes they were a reward from a lord to his retainer for praiseworthy service."(1) It was a great honor for the imperial court to award a new kamon, "The imperial court or shogun could make such an award. Then the family would then stop using its original kamon and adopt the newly awarded one."(1) Also it should be noted that "Important families had two kamon, one for important occasions and one for everyday use." (1)

Another element of kamon to take into consideration pertaining to kamon is: "Almost everything in nature had a symbolic, natural or superstitious meaning. There were many things, therefore, which might affect how a family chose the design or subject matter for its family kamon. Sometimes the subject was related to an occupation or possession and started out as an identifying mark, which later was adopted by the family as its kamon. Sometimes an element of nature or a particular animal was chosen to commemorate a particular special event, which brought honor to a family. Sometimes a kamon was chosen to preserve the memory of a special or famous ancestor and became a symbol of loving respect for the dead ancestor."(1)

The kamon were actually displayed upon different areas of personal clothing and belongings as well as military gear. Some details of this are; "Clothing marked with the family crest is called montsuki, wich literally meeans "an object with a crest". A crested haori and hakama was pur over a crested kimono as a formal dress." "Kamon were placed on armor, flags and weapons.(1) As well, "wealthy merchant Kinokuniya-Fumizaemon used his family crest on "Kimono". With these, the designs became more artistic, elegant and also more varied."(2) Another instance of printed kamon is; "SHOGUN Yoshimitsu Ashikaga in Muromachi-era was the first person who printed Ka-mon on his clothes." (2) Not only on clothes but sometimes on "battle flags with family emblems waving over the battle field, or of a group of soldiers sitting on benches surrounded by encampment curtains with a family emblem." (3) Not only military inventory, but personal "furnishing and household belongings."(4)
As well, "the mon could be found on the kimono on both sides of the chest, on both sleeves, and in the middle of the back. On the armour, it could be found on the kabuto (helmet), on the do (cuirass), flags, and various other places. Mon could also be found on coffers, tents, fans, and many items of importance.(5)

Lower castes of society mimicked the the higher castes' kamon in a plan to stick out in society: "Among the lower classes, it became popular to wear emblems showing a family mark similar to those used by upper-class families. Lower-class families devised many kinds of emblems resembling those used by the upper classes. They even developed a new style of their own. These emblems seem to have served as a sort of business card."(3)

On a related note, after searching countless sites, I did not find any evidence that warriors wore cloaks of any sort. Aristocacy, the Emperor, and monks wore cloaks of differing styles and constructions. Fur-lined to being made of straw. I found no evidence in research to support the idea of military use of shields either, which is odd considering the amount of archers during the time.

Great site for banners.
Site for crests.

1: Site - http://www.geocities.com/SiliconVal...464/Kamon1.html
2: Site - http://www.netpersons.co.jp/kamon/origin.html
3: Site - http://www.asgy.co.jp/anglais/whatskamon/history.html
4: Site - http://andrejkoymasky.com/liv/kam/kam00.html
5: Site - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamon
6: Site - http://www.s-gabriel.org/heraldry/solveig/kamon/
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Old 01-28-2006, 10:14 AM
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

Military organisation and tactics
by Gryph with quotes from an outside source

Fighting men in 16th century Japan came primarily from the warrior class--the houses of the Samurai. These would be a mix of two types of soldiers: proffessional soldiers who manned garrissons and provided escorts in times of peace, and temporary soldiers, who wore the long and short swords but only served in times of war.

In either case, when war came, it was the duty of each Samurai to come up with a list of able-bodied men in his household, equip them with arms and equipment at his own expense, and send them to war for the Daimyo.

There were times when non-Samurai were conscripted into the fighting ranks, though these were rare. The reason for the rarity is simple: farming in feudal Japan is very labour-intensive and takes a lot of work to generate a very small result. This made sending your peasants into battle a matter of last resort, since losing any significant percentage of them would involve a comparable loss of production for your province. There will not be widespread military service except in times of greatest need beyond a hereditatry warrior class until interaction with the West brought improved food cultivation methods to Japan in the 19th and 20th century.

In the 16th century, the greatest number of military men were proffessional soldiers, though there were a few--the old in particular, who still stayed as 'national guard'. This came about in conjunction with a shift of warfare from being between rival city-states to being struggles for power, over all Japan. In short, the Japanese military finally got around to doing what the European one did in the early second millenium.

Nina Wilhelmina of http://www.geocities.com/nobukaze23/army.htm says

"The medieval Japanese warlord's army is organised this way.

Their smallest unit of soldiers was called 'go', consisting of just 5 men.

This file would be combined with another file to become a squad ('kua' in Japanese).

If there were up to 50 people, a company was made (a 'tai' in Japanese).

Two of such companies, so 100 people, made a battalion ('rio').

Ten battalions, i.e. 1,000 soldiers, made a regiment ('dan').

Before 1185, a man who commanded 3 regiments (so 3,000 soldiers, more or less) was already called a 'Shogun', or a 'Tai Shogun'. The Captains under him were also called 'Shoguns', although they got no more than one regiment each.

The number of regular soldiers had swollen so much in 16th century that a Captain had more than a regiment behind him, and in big warrior clans (Oda was, once) he would have been in charge of 3,000 soldiers and still not a General."

Though I suspect that these numbers are not fixed, but general estimates.

She goes on to talk about tactics:

"The war tactics in Japan during feudalism (Nara to Edo Periods, 600-1868) was the same as in China, but the Japanese warlords modified what anciently copied from China, as the nature of the country required.

The warlords who left the legacy of war tactics and strategies are Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578, click here for his war) and Takeda Shingen (1521-1573, click here for his war).

Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) was a great leader in battle, but he was not fond of writing and lecturing, therefore he didn't leave manuals for wars. Nonetheless Oda Nobunaga left his tactics in the Nagashino war to subsequent generations through his retainers.

Tokugawa Ieyasu was likewise a good general, and could have written books about the subject, however his nature was such that he kept his tactics to himself, and only a passing mention was left even to his own dynasty (c. 1616).

Uesugi Kenshin decided against extensive use of cavalry. The reason was Japan's surface: largely mountainous, uneven, and covered with wet rice fields. Infantry was the best suited, therefore in Uesugi army it was the section relied to in wars.

Takeda Shingen on the contrary relied on cavalry. The reason was the element of surprise: Takeda army's victories were gained by swift movements and by being faster than the enemies.

The Japanese Sengoku is made of wars that were not like in videogames or the movies.

The nature of war was 'piecemeal' attacks, and never a frontal open engagement between two whole armies. It was rather many squads, even platoons, which attacked and defended their positions in turns, at different points of the battlefield or even far from the center of war.

Therefore we have the accounts of wars in which individuals are praised, because they were distinguishable and observable through small bands especially when they were on the offensive movements.

A war opened in two ways.

First, with a volley of arrows. Therefore archers were important elements of the army, and they were put at front.

It was followed by a general engagement along the whole line in the fashion I mentioned in the above.

Second, with a 'duel' between lancers or spearmen, also followed by a general engagement along the whole line.

A lancer from one army might come forward, declared his name and his clan's, and challenged anybody from the other (enemy) army. A soldier of the same rank would come to receive the challenge.

Duels to open a war always happened between men of the same rank, and not to cross ranks (for example, a Captain would not respond to the challenge of a spearman/lancer).

Single combats between Generals of hostile armies were frequent occurences, thus a General and Captain must be ready to engange personally in battle, which in Europe was not necessary.

When a General or Captain was in a combat against his equal in the enemy's rank, the rest of the soldiers must not offer assistance, and encouragement was only allowed in the form of shouts, as in the contemporary football matches.

Triumph or defeat of the General or Captain often decided the outcome of war. But when the army was good, the death of a General or Captain was not the end of the war, and did not mean they lost the war, either.

When a General or Captain lost his 'duel' and died, the army under his command must re-group, and the battle-fan was passed to another General or Captain. The war slacked a little, then to be resumed again in full force.

Vengeance for the death must be sought in another engagement as the war was re-started. You were not allowed to seek vendetta right away when your General was slain.

As a soldier, you would attain glory if you were able to save your superior's lives in battle.

You would also be highly praised if you save your comrades in arms regardless of the risk toward your own life. This was one of the highest attainments of Bushido.

Personal merits decided the reward after the war. Soldiers must cut the heads of their enemies, and claimed reward on the number of the heads. This practice was started in 1200's, and a century later it had become universal.

However, cutting heads of enemies in war was not a 'must-do'. The time to do it might give your enemies an opportunity to take your life. Therefore, it was to be decided depending on circumstances, excepting the heads of Generals that must be taken regardless of situations. Often a few soldiers died in the task before it was completed, and their friends took their place until it was done.

Counting heads marked the aftermath of war, in which everyone must be present. The heads would then be buried in a single place.

If the enemy returns the heads of your comrades, the heads were to be preserved in sake jars if it was a long way from home. They must be buried at home, not at the battlefield like your enemies' heads.

Bestowal of rewards and investiture of new commands after a war was a festive occasion or a big party in the warlord's castle."

I reccomend looking around on this site. It has been very interesting for me so far, and I'll be citing it more in the future.

personal knowledge,
artical on http://www.geocities.com/nobukaze23/army.htm by Nina Wilhelmina.
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Old 07-06-2006, 03:10 PM
Hatori Honzo Hatori Honzo is offline
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

Love Japanese culturer and i admire the work you have put into this.

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Old 09-03-2006, 01:37 PM
TheeFlash TheeFlash is offline
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

A few things about martial arts:

first...shotokan, not shodokan invented 1906

second aikido was invented in 1942 soo...umm...nooo
judo was invented in the 1882 19th century...
even jujutsu was 1600 17th century

combine aikido and judo and change to Aiki-Jujutsu, a 12th century fighting system

if you want a joint lock system, use Aiki-Jujutsu 12th century in place of Aikido and Yawara 805 bc for grappling in place of jujutsu as for shotokan, replace that with Dote, a cross between early okinawan karate "te" and chinese kempo.
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Old 03-18-2007, 03:44 AM
IshidaMitsunari IshidaMitsunari is offline
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Default Re: Feudal Japan, from the top. (work in progress)

Wow, you did a great job on this Gryph. Just a few things about the feudal system/social structure that I can think of off the top of my head.

-It was very strict and hierarchical. The Japanese social structure was probably even more rigid than that of the social structure in many Western European countries in the 1500s.
-Nominally, Japanese 'shugo' were the governors and overlords over a province or a few. After the Onin War, however, the shugo slowly became a dieing race. Shugo families like the Shiba were supplanted by rising houses like the Oda, etc. Although some shugo families held onto power for awhile (Satake being a good example of one of them), by the end of the 16th century, most of them had been toppled.
-The Japanese Sengoku-Jidai period, and the extent of war that happened during it, was largely caused by governmental disorder (which was in turn caused by rebels overthrowing the shugo). The new rebels were called daimyo. Their vassals were the samurai. Often times the rebels would themselves be killed in rebellions (Saito Dosan being a good example of one such rebel).
-Sometimes peasant rebels and monks got together and overthrew samurai rule in a territory. This happened in Kaga for example. These groups of ikki were great threats to conquerors like Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
-Peasants did carry weapons until sword-hunts were conducted by Oda Nobunaga and later Toyotomi Hideyoshi (who made confiscation of peasant weapons an official practice).
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