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Visiting the birthplace of the Southern Court - Yoshino, MAY, 2024

Emperor Go-Daigo was a man of honor and praise, and there are various opinions, but I believe that he at least had a strong sense of mission and belief in overthrowing the Shogunate and directing the Emperor. The throne came to him by chance after his older brother, Emperor Go-Nijo, passed away at an early age, and his father, Gouda-in, appointed him as the successor until Emperor Go-Nijo's son (Prince Kuniyoshi) came of age. At that time, the Daikakuji line, to which Emperor Go-Daigo belonged, and the Jimyoin line were in parallel status, so in order for the imperial throne to pass to the line of Emperor Go-Nijo, which Gouda-in wished to do, the Jimyoin line (Emperor Kogon ), and there is no other choice but to move the imperial throne and appoint Prince Kuniyoshi as the next crown prince. The first attempt to overthrow the shogunate (Genchu Incident) failed as the functionality of the Kamakura shogunate continued to deteriorate, and Gouda-in and Imperial Prince Kuniyoshi died one after another, and Emperor Go-Daigo looked for his next opportunity while protecting the imperial throne. He was defeated in the second overthrow of the shogunate (Genko Incident) and exiled to Oki, where the crown prince, Emperor Kogon (Jimyoin line), ascended the throne, but with an indomitable fighting spirit, he escaped from Oki and raised an army, gaining famous generals on his side. As you know, he returned to Kyoto in triumph and began the Kenmu government. 

Kasuga Taisha Kinryusha is said to have been enshrined with the sacred mirror "Kinju Budokyo" and prayed for during the Genko Incident, when the plan to overthrow the shogunate was exposed and the shrine fled to Mt. Kasagi.


In contrast to the upper half of Nara Prefecture, which is a vast basin, the lower half is the Yoshino area, which can be described as a deep mountain valley, and the Yoshino Mountain area, centered on Kinpusen-ji Temple, was the base of the indomitable Southern Dynasty. Unfortunately, the National Treasure, Niomon Gate, cannot be seen due to repair work, and its next public release will be in 2028. However, I was able to worship Zaodo-do Hall, another National Treasure, along with the Daitonomiya's camp (Prince Morinaga's camp).

Furthermore, adjacent to it is the place where Yoshimitsu Murakami, who took the place of Imperial Prince Morinaga, committed suicide. In the Taiheiki, Imperial Prince Morinaga held his last banquet at the Kinpusenji camp surrounded by the Shogunate's army, but Yoshimitsu put on the Imperial Prince's armor and attached his son Yoshitaka to escape the Imperial Prince and was surrounded by enemies. The shogunate army did not know the face of the Imperial Prince, and this fact was apparently discovered during the postmortem examination, but thanks to Imperial Prince Morinaga's successful escape and active role, the Kamakura shogunate was brought to an end.

The graves of Murakami and his son are located on the side of the road in Mt. Yoshino, and his family temple, Dainichi-ji, is located at the edge of the shopping street in front of Kinpusen-ji. In later generations, Yoshikiyo Murakami of the Hokushin(northern part of Shinano), who fiercely resisted the invasion of Takeda Shingen, was a descendant.

Imperial Prince Morinaga was a first-class honoree in overthrowing the shogunate, but he did not get along well with his father, the Emperor, and was exiled to Kamakura where he was killed by Takauji Ashikaga's younger brother, Tadayoshi. The story seems to be similar to the relationship between Yoritomo and Yoshitsune, but the two men were not on par with each other, and Emperor Go-Daigo dismissed his son as Seii Taishogun(Shogun) and abandoned him, who opposed Takauji Ashikaga, and as a result, he lost popularity and lost momentum. Although the Kenmu government came up with many fresh and interesting policies, there were many people who viewed these policies with skepticism, and the Kenmu government was in an extremely vulnerable position, leading to a long civil war after Takauji betrayed the government by supporting the Northern Court. I can imagine that if Imperial Prince Morinaga and Akiie Kitabatake had been together, Yoshisada Nitta and Masashige Kusunoki would not have lost their momentum, and Takauji Ashikaga and Tadayoshi would have acted differently. Retired Emperor Gotoba started the Jokyu War, and Emperor Go-Daigo overthrew the shogunate over 100 years later. After that, the imperial court was divided into the Northern and Southern Courts, and 60 years later, it was unified and ushered in the era of Yoshimitsu Ashikaga. 

After walking for a few minutes along the approach to Kinpusenji Temple, you will see Yoshimizu Shrine on your left. It became a shrine after Abandoning Buddhism policy, but it was originally a temple called Kissuiin, where Emperor Godaigo lived for a time, and Hideyoshi Toyotomi made it a base for cherry blossom viewing. What is interesting is that there is also a room where Yoshitsune Minamoto was hidden along with Shizuka Gozen and Benkei (legend). It is said to be the oldest shoin in Japan, as even Yoshitsune stayed here. Shoin, which has stood in the mountains of Yoshino for more than 800 years, attracted the heroes of the 12th, 14th, and 16th centuries, and still exudes a spirit. It would be impossible to take a leisurely tour like this during the cherry blossom season.

Nyoirinji Temple is home to the Emperor Godaigo's pagoda mausoleum, which is under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Household Agency, and was placed facing north, which is considered an unlucky direction. The haiku of the times give us a sense of the emperor's tenacity. "Even though my body is buried in the moss of the southern mountains, my soul always longs for the heavens of the north."

Takauji Ashikaga later built Tenryuji Temple to pray for Emperor Go-Daigo's body. 

Although Mt. Yoshino is a deep mountain, if you drive for 30 minutes you will enter the Nara Basin. There is Shorinji Temple at the entrance, and the view from the hill is wonderful. Here you can see the national treasure statue of Eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva that astounded Fenollosa. The idea of abolishing Buddhism was a foolish move by the nation, but the secret Buddha, which had been enshrined in the shrine temple of Omiwa Shrine since the Nara period, was moved to Shorinji Temple as a result of Abandoning Buddhism policy, and when it was discovered by Fenollosa, it became visible to everyone. 




Thank you for coming!

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