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  • Although the Kamakura Shogunate lasted a century and a half,

  • creating a medieval system of government that lasted until the 19th century,

  • the downfall of Kamakura as the capital has its roots in the aftermath of the death

  • of the very first ruling Shogun.

  • As he approached adulthood, a time when he would

  • assume power for himself, the second shogun, Yoriie, was sidelined,

  • and eventually exiled, by the Hojo family.

  • And he was found, murdered in the bath, in his place of exile, in the Izu peninsula.

  • Yoriie had a son, Kazuhata. But he never became shogun,

  • because the Hojo family killed him,

  • his mother, and his mother's family, the Hiki family.

  • And the only survivor of this slaughter of the Hiki family, and the rightful shogun

  • was Yoshimoto Hiki. And he came here, and built this temple, and this tomb,

  • as a memorial, to his murdered family.

  • Although the Hojo installed Yoriie's younger brother,

  • he would prove to be the last Minamoto ruler...

  • On a bleak and snowy midwinter night in 1219, the third Minamoto shogun, Sanetomo

  • was leaving a Shinto ceremony, at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine,

  • when a figure, brandishing a sword leapt out at him, from behind one of the ancient gingko trees,

  • and decapitated the last Minamoto shogun.

  • The assassin was Kugyo, son of the second shogun,

  • who shouted 'I am Kugyo, avenging the death of my father!'.

  • The deaths of the second and third shoguns left power in the hands

  • of the Hojo clan, who ruled with the backing of the samurai, whose support

  • the Hojo had carefully solicited, nurtured, and gained.

  • Yet after these early power struggles, the Hojo, with the backing of the samurai brought

  • peace, justice, and security to Japan. And the Kamakura Shogunate saw off

  • all opposition, at home and abroad.

  • From the time of the zenith of Hojo power,

  • just after the Mongol wars, the Shogunate began to neglect the samurai though.

  • And this would prove to be a disastrous mistake. For when it became clear that

  • the Mongols were never returning, the samurai turned their attention and their resentment

  • towards Kamakura...

  • Episode 4: Sunset of the Shoguns - Kamakura's decline.

  • The Hojo lords of Kamakura, like their Minamoto predecessors were

  • patrons of Buddhism. But in the Hojo era, many new forms of Buddhism arose,

  • the most famous of which was Zen.

  • This Zen temple, Dentsu-ji, like many temples, carries the insignia of the Hojo family.

  • These Daruma dolls are named after Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism.

  • He was an Indian monk who traveled in China. And he preached that meditation

  • was the best way to reach enlightenment. And he believed it to such an extent that

  • it was said he sat facing a wall, meditating for 10 years, and lost the use

  • of his legs, his arms, and his eyes - that's why the dolls look like this.

  • So people buy these dolls and paint the eyes back in, hoping to get good luck

  • or have a dream come true. But don't paint both eyes in, mind - paint the last one in,

  • when your dream comes true.

  • This is the Daruma doll scrapheap. I guess most people's dreams came true,

  • who threw these dolls away...

  • Zen Buddhism appealed to the samurai, in ways that

  • earlier forms of Buddhism didn't,

  • with its emphasis on single-minded action, rather than esoteric abstraction.

  • Unlike earlier esoteric forms of Buddhism,

  • focused on our place in a cosmological structure, with exoteric planes,

  • Buddhas of this,

  • Buddhas of that,

  • Zen emphasized the necessity to take responsibility

  • for one's own enlightenment, and making sense of the material universe through one's own efforts.

  • To the samurai - these medieval men of action - Zen caught on like wildfire.

  • No town in the world - even Kyoto, even in China - is more synonymous now with Zen, than Kamakura.

  • Hojo Tokimune, the leader of the Shogunate during the Mongol wars

  • had gained courage and sustenance, from Zen, during the Mongol invasions and had

  • built a grand temple - Engaku-ji - to celebrate the final defeat of the Mongols.

  • But it was this insistence on the part of the Shogunate,

  • to reward temples and shrines, monks and priests, over samurai, that caused such a ruinous rift...

  • Suenaga Takezaki - a samurai - who had, by his own account, defended against,

  • repelled, and slaughtered Mongols, and manned the defenses for 20 more years,

  • in case they ever returned, went to Kamakura, taking with him a pictorial scroll,

  • depicting his valiant deeds...

  • Suenaga Takezaki asked the Shogunate to reward him - a loyal samurai - for his

  • decades of faithful service to the Shogunate and Japan.

  • But no reward was forthcoming, to Takezaki, or to any samurai.

  • The Shogunate, in placing credit for victory against the Mongols

  • squarely with the Kamikaze wind and the gods

  • only rewarded the temples and shrines whose monks and priests

  • had prayed for victory...

  • But this neglect of the samurai would prove to be disastrous, for the Kamakura Shogunate.

  • The Kamikaze wind may have caused havoc among the Mongol fleets,

  • but it was the samurai, who delivered the knockout blows.

  • What did they benefit?

  • Little, if anything.

  • Hojo Masako had rallied the samurai, in the early days of the Kamakura Shogunate.

  • But her later kinsmen would neglect them.

  • Samurai discontent was given shape by the rebellion of Go-Daigo, the emperor.

  • A coalition arose, between Go-Daigo and a warlord, Nitta Yoshisada -

  • a distant relation of the Minamoto - who both felt that the Hojo had no legitimacy,

  • and were usurpers of the Shogunate.

  • Ever since the Emperor Go-Toba's unsuccessful uprising against the Shogunate, in 1221,

  • the Hojo had kept a close eye on the imperial house - often deciding who succeeded who as emperor.

  • But in 1331, the first serious imperial uprising in over a century took place,

  • when the emperor Go-Daigo refused to step down, and rose in open revolt.

  • Like his predecessor Go-Toba, Go-Daigo's first rebellion failed, because as we've seen,

  • imperial forces were no match for samurai.

  • But this was a different age.

  • Go-Toba could never find enough disgruntled samurai - the warriors stayed loyal,

  • to Hojo Masako, and Kamakura.

  • But in Go-Daigo's time, there were plenty of disgruntled samurai...

  • Samurai resentment, on being neglected by the Hojo

  • was compounded, by the degenerate behavior of the Hojo leaders...

  • This schoolyard stands on the site,

  • where one of the most debauched acts of the decadent Hojo Takatoki,

  • the last ruler of Kamakura used to enact - for it was here

  • he would stage dog fights...

  • Disaster struck for the Shogunate, when its greatest general, Ashikaga Takauji,

  • switched sides, and placed his allegiance to the emperor.

  • And this rebellion against the Shogunate would gather pace,

  • for when Ashikaga Takauji liberated the Emperor Go-Daigo from his exile,

  • and marched together with him, on the imperial capital of Kyoto,

  • Nitta Yoshisada, a man who claimed kinship with the earlier Minamoto shoguns,

  • raised a force of over 40,000 samurai,

  • and headed for Kamakura...

  • And it was to this headland that Nitta Yoshisada came,

  • at the behest of Emperor Go-Daigo, and stood on the cape,

  • and looked out towards the shogun's capital, of Kamakura...

  • Yoshisada was within sight of the shogun's capital,

  • but as he was to find out, getting into the city itself was another proposition entirely...

  • These narrow passes, cut in the rocks, had served the Shogunate well,

  • for a century and a half and now

  • would thwart Nitta Yoshisada, as he tried to enter the city...

  • Despite vastly superior numbers, Nitta Yoshisada could not get into

  • Kamakura.

  • Time and time again, wave after wave of samurai, under Nitta Yoshisada attacked

  • the defenses - the narrow mountain passes - to the west, north, and east of Kamakura,

  • but time and time again, the Hojo defenders held firm...

  • Perhaps, as a kinsman of the Minamoto, Nitta Yoshisada was familiar

  • with the legend of Ichi no Tani, where the dashing general, Yoshitsune

  • had attacked the Taira stronghold, from the mountains, by drawing their attention

  • with a fake feint along the coast...

  • If Nitta Yoshisada did know this story,

  • he turned it on its head, because as he left the majority of his army,

  • to continue attacking the mountain passes into Kamakura, Yoshisada led a smaller force,

  • down from the hills, towards the coast,

  • at Inamuragasaki...

  • So Yoshisada came down from the well-defended western passes, here,

  • to Cape Inamuragasaki.

  • But of course he wouldn't be able to get around here, because

  • it's the Western Wall of Kamakura - it juts right out into the sea.

  • So to get around here, with 15,000 men would be impossible.

  • Or would it..?

  • Praying to the sun goddess, and offering up his sword,

  • and throwing it into the sea,

  • Yoshisada waited, to see what would happen next...

  • And what happened next was the tide started to go out, to a low level,

  • like nobody had ever seen before.

  • Yoshisada and his men seized the moment,

  • and waded around the cape...

  • As Yoshisada and his men came around the cape, there were Hojo warships,

  • stationed in the bay.

  • But Yoshisada's men stayed close to the shoreline,

  • and attacked Kamakura from the south...

  • This street was actually where the Kamakura Shogunate was located.

  • And this temple - Hokai-ji - was the headquarters of the Hojo family.

  • After running up Wakamiya Oji Dori, Yoshisada's army arrived here,

  • at the Hojo stronghold.

  • Takatoki and his men had already retreated,

  • so Yoshisada ordered that the Hojo stronghold be burned to the ground.

  • Takatoki, and the warriors who'd stayed faithful to him ran to the back of Tosho-ji temple,

  • to here - these caves, but realizing they were vastly outnumbered, maybe twenty-to-one,

  • and that there was no escape,

  • they took out their hara-kiri knives...

  • Yoshisada, and his invading army left the Hojo stronghold in flames, and ran up here,

  • past Tosho-ji temple, towards the caves...

  • When Yoshisada and his men arrived at the caves, they found...

  • 870 dead samurai.

  • The Kamakura Shogunate was at an end.

  • Good to see that it's not just mock Beverly Hills mansions

  • that dot the streets of Kamakura.

  • You do get lovely streets like this,

  • that evoke a bygone time...

  • Having found streets and districts where Kamakura samurai used to live,

  • I developed something of a bee in my bonnet, and I thought "Ooh, I really must find

  • some actual samurai houses from the Kamakura period!" Well I'm glad I checked this book,

  • 'An Introduction to Japanese Architecture' by David and Michiko Young, before I embarked

  • on what would have been a wild goose chase, because it informs me that

  • there are no samurai houses from the Kamakura period - not just in Kamakura, and its environs - not anywhere!

  • The fact that no Kamakura era samurai houses survive is an

  • indication of the conflicts and conflagrations that marked the end of the period.

  • But luckily, for posterity,

  • many Kamakura period temples can still be visited.

  • The samurai would build zen temples all over Kamakura

  • - fine, aesthetically pleasing gardens, and places where they could

  • perform the tea ceremony, to soothe their warrior spirits.

  • This temple, Hokoku-ji - the bamboo temple - was founded by two

  • powerful Kamakura warrior families: the Ashikaga; and the Uesugi family.

  • And both these families would have a continued and lasting impact on Kamakura,

  • and Japanese history - the first by bringing the period of Hojo rule to a close,

  • and founding a new dynasty of shoguns; and the second by bringing the

  • period of Kamakura's political importance to a close...

  • I'm wearing my Japan shirt, today - I'm in a stronghold of imperialist sympathy and sentiment.

  • This place is very 'deer' to me...

  • Although the Hojo stronghold was destroyed in 1333,

  • and with it, in Go-Daigo's hands, imperial power was restored,

  • for the first time in centuries, Takauji Ashikaga,

  • whose defection had brought about Go-Daigo's restoration and the downfall of the Shogunate

  • himself decided to make a play for power - capturing Prince Morinaga,

  • the son of Go-Daigo, and bringing him here, to the Ashikaga stronghold in East Kamakura,

  • passing him on to his kinsmen - who then held the prince hostage -

  • Ashikaga Takauji made a bid to be Shogun.

  • But it wasn't just the Ashikaga,

  • and loyalists of Go-Daigo who were in this fight. The son of the last Hojo regent

  • also tried to retake Kamakura. And when he invaded in July of 1335,

  • Prince Morinaga was killed, in the ensuing melee.

  • Go-Daigo's reign as ruling emperor didn't last long.

  • He was overthrown and sent into exile, by Ashikaga Takauji,

  • who began his own dynasty of shoguns.

  • Imperial forces and samurai, loyal to Go-Daigo carried on the fight bravely,

  • and cleverly, for the next 60 years - but by that time, the Emperor Go-Daigo,

  • and Takauji Ashikaga were long dead.

  • And Takauji didn't stay in Kamakura long - he moved the Shogunate

  • to Kyoto, to better control the puppet emperors that he installed there.

  • But Takauji did leave behind power in Kamakura, to his own son who became governor...

  • During the period of the governors, the five greatest Zen temples

  • of Kamakura were officially ranked: here in the north of the city,

  • (1) Kencho-ji,

  • (2) Engaku-ji,

  • and across the mountain behind me,

  • (3) Jufuku-ji

  • - the place where Yoritomo's father resided - and where the temple Jufuku-ji was built,

  • by Masako, in memory of her husband, the first shogun,

  • and (4) Jochi-ji,

  • and in the east of Kamakura, the stronghold of the Ashikaga clan,

  • the fifth of Kamakura's five great Zen temples,

  • (5) Jomyo-ji.

  • The Ashikaga governors of Kamakura formally ranked the five greatest temples in the city

  • as the 'Kamakura Go-zan'.

  • And when the Ashikaga governors' kinsmen, the Ashikaga shoguns,

  • moved to Kyoto, they took Zen with them, to spectacular effect...

  • And so, the Ashikaga dynasty moved the Shogunate

  • from Kamakura, to the Muromachi district of north-west Kyoto. And it was here,

  • they oversaw and enabled a cultural and artistic zenith in Japanese history -

  • an architectural golden age - literally.

  • Kinkaku-ji.

  • But while the Ashikaga shoguns were turning Kyoto into the artistic capital of Japan, elsewhere,

  • they were losing their grip. War broke out in all parts of Japan even spilling onto

  • the streets of Kyoto. And while the Ashikaga kept control of Kyoto, just,

  • huge swathes of Japan, including Kamakura, were up for grabs...

  • And here, at Zuisen-ji temple, can be told the story of the second downfall,

  • of Kamakura...

  • Even the governors of Kamakura themselves - kinsmen of the shoguns -

  • made their own play for power, defying the authority of the Shogunate, and trying to

  • reinstate Kamakura, not only as capital of the East, but as capital of the Shogunate once again.

  • But the plans and dreams of the governors were thwarted,