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Temple visits that give us a taste of the Middle Ages: Ryukoji Temple (Kazo City), Kantoin Temple (Kuki City), and Kitain Temple (Kawagoe City)

During the Kamakura period, successive heads of the Ashikaga clan usually married off to Hojo clan members and made their children the legitimate heirs. Takauji, the second son, became head of the clan by chance, as his eldest brother Takayoshi died at the early age of 21. His wife was Akahashi Nariko (the younger sister of the last regent Hojo Moritoki), who came from the Hojo clan, and his mother was a member of the Uesugi clan (Kanshuji line of the Northern Fujiwara clan). Tadayoshi, who supported Takauji's military aspirations and later parted ways with him during the Kan'o Disturbance, was his younger brother. Takauji had two sons with Nariko, and his eldest son Yoshiakira became the second Shogun, while his second son Motouji was the first Kamakura Kubo, who divided and ruled the Kanto region, and placed the Uesugi clan as Kanto Kanrei as his guardians. The Hojo clan was almost wiped out at the Kamakura Tokeiji temple(1333), but the Hojo bloodline continues to run in the Ashikaga clan.

The dual governance system between Kyoto and Kamakura, and between Ashikaga and Uesugi, was based on delicate checks and balances, so the relationships between the Shogun and the Kamakura Kubo, and between the Kamakura Kubo and the Kanto Kanrei, became more delicate as generations passed. With the emergence of the strong third Shogun, Yoshimitsu, it seemed as if the country would achieve peace by unifying the Northern and Southern Courts, but after Yoshimitsu's death in 1408 (Oei 15), the Kanto region was quickly plunged into the Warring States period with the Uesugi Zenshū Rebellion (Kamakura Kubo vs Kanto Kanrei, 1417), the Eikyō Rebellion (Shogun vs Kamakura Kubo, 1438), and the Battle of Yuki (1440).

During the Eikyō Rebellion, Kamakura kubo Mochiuji and his eldest son Yoshihisa committed suicide, and his escaped sons (Haruo and Yasuo) were later supported by the Yuki clan and fought, but were captured and executed at Fuwa in Mino Province. Ryukoji Temple was restored by Mochiuji's uncle, and there is a memorial tower for Mochiuji, Haruo, and Yasuo.



Later, Shogun Yoshinori, who had severely punished the Mochiuji clan, was killed by Akamatsu Mitsusuke in the Kakitsu Rebellion (1441), and Mochiuji's son Shigeuji gave up Kamakura and established the Shogun's residence in Koga. For a time, until the appearance of Hojo Soun, Kanto was dominated by a tripartite structure consisting of the Koga Shogunate, the Yamanouchi Uesugi clan in the north, and the Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan in the south. Shigeuji's son Masauji became at odds with his two sons (Takamoto and Yoshiaki) while negotiating with the two Uesugi clans, and he retired to Kuki and established Kantoin Temple (1519).


The Later Hojo clan expanded their territory from Odawara, encroaching on the Ogigayatsu territory, and Hojo Ujiyasu finally destroyed the Ogigayatsu Uesugi clan in the Battle of Kawagoe (1546). In the midst of this, Kita-in Temple burned down and fell into a period of decline. This temple was once called Muryoju-ji Temple, and at the end of the Kamakura period, Emperor Fushimi granted it the status of "head temple of the Kanto Tendai sect."

The person who restored it was the famous Sojo Tenkai, a mysterious figure with various theories including that he was a member of the Ashina clan (Miura clan) or that he was in fact Akechi Mitsuhide, but what is surprising is that he died at the age of 108, which was rare for that time. He must have been the only person who lived in the same era as Hojo Ujiyasu and Tokugawa Iemitsu.

What was strange was that the temple's crest was the same as the Ashikaga family's, the double-drawn ryo, but it seems to be the family crest of the Sojo Tenkai, so perhaps there is a clue to its origins there. After the temple was burned down in the Kawagoe Fire (1638), Shogun Iemitsu ordered its restoration, but instead part of the Momijiyama Palace in Edo Castle was moved there instead. Thanks to this, you can see Kasuga no Tsubone and the room where Iemitsu was born.

The last Koga kubō was Yoshiuji, the grandson of Ashikaga Takamoto, who had driven out his father, but he only had a daughter (Ujihime), and the family line became extinct. Toyotomi Hideyoshi married Ujihime to Kunitomo, the grandson of Yoshiaki (Takamoto's younger brother), and gave him the Kitsuregawa domain in Shimotsuke, which the Tokugawa family agreed to and welcomed the Meiji Restoration. As I wrote in a separate article, the Ashikaga shogun family disappeared, but the Kamakura kubō (Koga kubō) family managed to survive the Edo period in a small way. This may seem a bit sudden, but Lady Akahashi Nariko (played by Sawaguchi Yasuko) in Taiheiki was truly beautiful.



Thank you for coming!

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