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9. The Dark Age

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Namboku-cho (1332-1392) and Muromachi (1392-1603)

 

The Kamakura period ended with the Hojo regents in political control. They were to the Shoguns what the Shoguns had been to the Mikados. In general there was much discontent in the land. Finally an opportunity for a Mikado to take the throne presented itself and the military caste and its domination was dismissed.

 

There were two Mikados. One was in Kyoto and the other held court in Yoshino. This was known in Japanese history as the Nam-boku-cho (Southern and Northern Courts). This system ended when the two lines were reunited in the person of Go Komatsu (1392). Also a new dynasty of Shoguns came to being at Muromachi, in Kyoto, and remained in power until 1603.

 

These 200 years of Japanese history were exceptionally barren of literature other than a few hundred dramatic sketches (the No) and a volume of essays.

 

Jinkoshotoki (History of the True Succession of the Divine Monarchs) by Kitabatake Chikafusa was written to demonstrate the Mikados as the rightful sovereigns of Japan. It was written during the reign of Go Murakami (1339-1345).

 

In its first six volumes it is purely mythical beginning with the egg-shaped chaotic mass of heaven and earth, followed by the creation of Japan courtesy of the male and female deities Izanagi and Izanami.

 

The next four volues involved a brief history of Japan from Jimmu Tenno (660 B.C.) to Fushimi in 1288 A.D.

 

Finally Chikafusa finishes with a description of his own times and the dissertations of government philosophy.

 

Though simple, this work left its mark on later times for its patriotic sentimentalism - it influenced public feeling and opinion and led to the restoration of the Mikados power in later days.