Jōkyū War

Jōkyū War (承久の乱 jōkyū no ran), also known as the Jōkyū Disturbance or the Jōkyū Rebellion,[1] was fought in Japan between the forces of Retired Emperor Go-Toba and those of the Hōjō clan, regents of the Kamakura shogunate, whom the retired emperor was trying to overthrow.

The main battle was at Uji, just outside Kyōto; this was the third battle to be fought there in less than half a century. It took place in 1221, that is, the third year of the Jōkyū era.

Jōkyū War
Kyoto and surrounding areas
Result Shogunate victorious; Retired emperors exiled.
Kamakura shogunate and allies warrior families loyal to Go-Toba
Commanders and leaders
190,000 ?


In the beginning of the 13th century, Emperor Go-Toba found his attempts at political maneuvers blocked by the Kamakura shogunate. Seeking independence, and the power he considered rightfully his as the ruler of Japan, Go-Toba gathered allies in 1221, and planned to effect an overthrow of the shogunate. These allies consisted primarily of members of the Taira clan, and other enemies of the Minamoto, the victors in the Genpei War, and clan of the shōguns.[2]

Accounts of the first Imperial banner appears in this period; and the very first is said to have been one that Go-Toba gave to a general during this war. Sun and moon images were embroidered or painted with gold or silver on a red brocade.[3]

Provocation and attack

In the fifth lunar month of 1221, the Retired Emperor Go-Toba decided on lines of succession, without consulting the shogunate. He then invited a great number of potential allies from amongst the eastern warriors of Kyoto to a great festival, thus revealing the loyalties of those who rejected the invitation. One important officer revealed his loyalty to the shogunate by doing so, and was killed. Several days later, the Imperial Court declared Hōjō Yoshitoki, the regent and representative of the shogunate, to be an outlaw, and three days later the entirety of eastern Japan had officially risen in rebellion.[2]

Hōjō Yoshitoki decided to launch an offensive against Go-Toba's forces in Kyoto, using much the same three-pronged strategy as was employed a few decades earlier. One came from the mountains, one from the north, and the third, commanded by Yoshitoki's son Yasutoki, approached via the Tōkaidō road.[2]

These forces faced meager opposition on their way to the capital; the Imperial commanders were simply outfought. When Go-Toba heard of this string of defeats, he left the city for Mount Hiei, where he asked for aid from the sōhei, the warrior monks of Mount Hiei. They declined, citing weakness, and Go-Toba returned to Kyoto. The remnants of the Imperial army fought their final stand at the bridge over the river Uji, where the opening battle of the Genpei War was fought, 41 years earlier. Yasutoki's cavalry pushed through, scattering the Imperial forces, and pressed on to Kyoto.[2]

The capital was taken by the Shogun's forces, and Go-Toba's rebellion was put to an end. Go-Toba was banished to the Oki Islands, from where he never returned. His sons were also banished, including Retired Emperor Tsuchimikado (to Tosa) and Retired Emperor Juntoku (to Sado), and the recently enthroned Emperor Chūkyō, the first son of Juntoku, was replaced with Emperor Go-Horikawa, a nephew of Go-Toba.


  1. ^ http://eos.kokugakuin.ac.jp/modules/xwords/entry.php?entryID=724 http://www.kyohaku.go.jp/eng/dictio/data/kaiga/43kegon.htm
  2. ^ a b c d Sansom, George (1958). A History of Japan to 1334. Stanford University Press. pp. 378–382. ISBN 0804705232.
  3. ^ National Archives of Japan: Boshinshoyo Kinki oyobi Gunki Shinzu, Imperial Standard during Boshin War (1868) Archived April 3, 2008, at the Wayback Machine -- commentary mentions 1st Imperial banner appears in Jōkyū War.

Further reading

See also

Adachi Kagemori

Adachi Kagemori (安達 景盛) (died June 11, 1248) was a Japanese warrior of the Adachi family and was a son of Morinaga. He served with Minamoto no Yoriie but became a monk when Minamoto no Sanetomo died. This did not stop him from joining the cause of the Hōjō family for the Jōkyū War of 1221, however.

Hōjō Tsunetoki and Hōjō Tokiyori were his grandsons.

This article incorporates text from OpenHistory.

Battle of Uji (1221)

The third battle at the Uji River was the primary battle of the Jōkyū War in Japan. Bakufu forces led by Imperial regent Hōjō Yoshitoki sought to enter Kyoto and overthrow Emperor Go-Toba, using Uji and Seta as their gateways.

The Emperor's forces, alongside warrior monks from Mount Hiei, attempted to make a final stand at the bridge into Kyoto, defending it from the Shōgun's armies.

The bakufu forces attacked the entire river line from Uji to Seta, and the Imperial forces stood firm for many hours. However, eventually they broke through and scattered the remaining defenders, and opening the way into the city for the rest of their rebel forces.As had happened twice before (see Battle of Uji), the bridge over the Uji-gawa proved to be a tactically crucial entryway into Kyoto, and highly defensible; but, as before, it was ultimately not defensible enough and the attackers crossed the river and entered Kyoto.

Cloistered rule

The cloistered rule system, or Insei (院政) (meaning "monastery administration"), was a specific form of government in Japan during the Heian period. In this bifurcated system, an emperor abdicated, but retained power and influence. Those retired emperors who withdrew to live in monasteries (in) continued to act in ways intended to counterbalance the influence of Fujiwara regents and the warrior class. Simultaneously, the titular emperor, the former emperor's chosen successor, fulfilled all the ceremonial roles and formal duties of the monarchy.

Retired emperors were called Daijō Tennō or Jōkō. A retired emperor who entered a Buddhist monastic community became a Cloistered Emperor (Japanese 太上法皇 Daijō Hōō).

There were retired emperors, including cloistered emperors, both before and after the Heian period, but the notion of cloistered rule as a system usually refers to the practice put in place by Emperor Shirakawa in 1086 and followed by his successors until the rise of the Kamakura shogunate in 1192.

Department of Divinities

The Department of Divinities (神祇官, Jingi-kan), also known as the Department of Shinto Affairs, was a Japanese Imperial bureaucracy established in the 8th century, as part of the ritsuryō reforms.

Emperor Go-Toba

Emperor Go-Toba (後鳥羽天皇, Go-Toba-tennō) (August 6, 1180 – March 28, 1239) was the 82nd emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession. His reign spanned the years from 1183 through 1198.This 12th-century sovereign was named after Emperor Toba, and go- (後), translates literally as "later"; and thus, he is sometimes called the "Later Emperor Toba". The Japanese word go has also been translated to mean the "second one"; and in some older sources, this emperor may be identified as "Toba the Second" or as "Toba II".

Fujiwara no Tadataka

Fujiwara no Tadataka (藤原 隆忠, 1163 - 1245), first son of regent Matsudono Motofusa, was a Kugyō (high-ranking Japanese official) of the late Heian and Kamakura periods.

Despite being first-born, he was treated as if he were not, while his stepbrother Moroie inherited the male-line. Hence, he called himself Daikakuji Sadaijin (大覚寺左大臣), avoiding the use of the name Matsudono. In 1220, just before the Jōkyū War, he retired from politics, becoming a Buddhist monk.

In recent years scholars have suspected that he is actually the author of Rokudai Shōjiki (六代勝事記).

Fujiwara no Tameie

Fujiwara no Tameie (藤原 為家, 1198-1275) was a Japanese poet and compiler of Imperial anthologies of poems.Tameie was the second son of poet Teika and married Abutsu-ni. He was the central figure in a circle of Japanese poets after the Jōkyū War in 1221. His three sons were Nijō Tameuji, Kyōgoku Tamenori and Reizei Tamesuke. They each established rival families of poets—the Nijō, the Koyōgoku and the Reizei.Starting in 1250, Tameie was among those who held the ritsuryō office of chief administrator of the Ministry of Taxation (民部卿, Minbu-kyō). In 1256, he abandoned public life to become a Buddhist monk, taking the name Minbukyō-nyūdō.

Goseibai Shikimoku

The Goseibai Shikimoku (御成敗式目) or the Formulary of Adjudications was the legal code of the Kamakura shogunate in Japan, promulgated by third shikken Hōjō Yasutoki in 1232. It is also called Jōei Shikimoku (貞永式目) after the era name.

Before enacting the Goseibai Shikimoku, the Kamakura shogunate conducted trials without formal laws. After the Jōkyū War, an increasing number of land disputes between its vassals, aristocrats and peasants made fair trials indispensable. Thereafter Hōjō Yasutoki compiled the outline with 51 article headings and 13 Hyojoshu (councilors) completed it.

Supplementary articles to the Goseibai Shikimoku, called Tsuika (追加), were issued afterward. The Muromachi shogunate also adopted the Goseibai Shikimoku as the basic law. The Goseibai Shikimoku was largely repealed during the Edo period, though parts of it stayed in used until 1868, but was widely used as a textbook for writing in temple schools.

Hōjō Tokifusa

Hōjō Tokifusa (北条 時房, 1175 – February 18, 1240) was a member of Japan's Hōjō clan of nobles and courtiers; the brother of Hōjō Yoshitoki, shogunal regent, Tokifusa was appointed to the Kyoto-based government post of Rokuhara Tandai upon its creation in 1221, following the Jōkyū War. He served alongside Hōjō Yasutoki.

He later became a Buddhist monk, and lived out the rest of his life at Tō-ji in Nara, where he acquired the nickname "Daibutsu" (Great Buddha).

Hōjō Yasutoki

Hōjō Yasutoki (北条 泰時; 1183 – July 14, 1242) was the third shikken (regent) of the Kamakura shogunate in Japan. He strengthened the political system of the Hōjō regency.

He was the eldest son of second shikken Yoshitoki. According to Azuma Kagami, he was liked by the first shōgun, Minamoto no Yoritomo. In 1218 he became the chief (bettō) of the military office (samurai-dokoro).

In the Jōkyū War of 1221, he led shogunate forces against the imperial court in Kyoto. After his victory, he remained in Kyoto and set up the Rokuhara Tandai. Yasutoki and his uncle Tokifusa became the first tandai.

When his father Yoshitoki and aunt Hōjō Masako died, he succeeded to become shikken in 1224. He installed Hōjō Tokifusa as the first rensho. In 1225 he created the Hyōjō (評定), the council system of the shogunate. In 1232 he promulgated the Goseibai Shikimoku, the legal code of the shogunate. He has highly praised for his impartial justice.

He died in 1242. His grandson Tsunetoki succeeded him to the post of shikken.

Index of Japan-related articles (J)

This page lists Japan-related articles with romanized titles beginning with the letter J. For names of people, please list by surname (i.e., "Tarō Yamada" should be listed under "Y", not "T"). Please also ignore particles (e.g. "a", "an", "the") when listing articles (i.e., "A City with No People" should be listed under "City").


Jitō (地頭) were medieval land stewards in Japan, especially in the Kamakura and Muromachi shogunates. Appointed by the shōgun, jitō managed manors including national holdings governed by the provincial governor (kokushi).

The term jitō (literally meaning "land head") began to be used in the late Heian period as an adjectival word like "local". For example, a jitō person (地頭人) meant an influential local. Later, the term was sometimes used for persons who managed each local manor. Modern historians cannot clarify the character of the early jitō appointed by Yoritomo, as the conditions of these precursors are not well known.

Jitō were officially established when Minamoto no Yoritomo was appointed to the office of Head of jitō by the Imperial court with the right to their appointment. Yoritomo appointed many jitō nationwide, however mainly in Kantō. During the Kamakura period, the jitō were chosen amongst the gokenin (the shogun's vassals) who handled military affairs. Jitō handled the taxation and administration of the manor to which they were appointed, and directly administrated the lands and the farmers of the manor.

After the Jōkyū War, the shogunate appointed many jitō in Western Japan to the land that the people of the losing side had possessed. At that time, many prominent gokenin, including the Mori clan (1221) and the Ōtomo clan, moved from the east to the west.

The jitō system was officially abolished in the late of 16th century by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.


Jōkyū (承久), also called Shōkyū, was a Japanese era name (年号, nengō, lit. year name) after Kempō and before Jōō. This period spanned the years from April 1219 through April 1222. The reigning emperor was Juntoku-tennō (順徳天皇).

Konoe Iezane

Konoe Iezane (近衛 家実, 1179 – January 19, 1243), son of Motomichi, was a court noble (Kugyō) of the early Kamakura period. His sons include: Takatsukasa Kanehira, Konoe Iemichi (近衛家通, 1204-1224) and Konoe Kanetsune.

In 1206 when Kujō Yoshitune died, he became the head of the Fujiwara family and Sesshō. The same year he was appointed Kampaku. In the Jōkyū War (1221) he opposed to Emperor Go-Toba, costing him the post. After the war he was reappointed Sesshō.

1206 (Ken'ei 1, 3rd month): Iezane becomes regent for the emperor.

1206 (Ken'ei 1, 12th month): Iezane ceases to function as sesshō; and instead, he becomes kampaku (chancellor).

1221 (Jōkyū 3, 4th month): Iezane loses his position as kampaku; and Kujō Michiie takes on the role of regent.

1221 (Jōkyū 3, 7th month): The sesshō Michiie is replaced by Iezane.

1221 (Jōkyū 3): In the winter of this year, Iezane is named Daijō Daijin.

1223 (Jōō 2, 10th month): Iezane ceases to be sesshō; and his title is changed to kampaku.

1227 (Antei 1, 2nd month): Emperor Go-Horikawa raised Fujiwara no Nagako, the daughter of Konoe Iezane, to the rank of Chūgū (empress consort). She was somewhat older than the emperor, but he loved her madly.In 1241 he retired and became a priest. He died the following year.

Miura clan

The Miura family (三浦氏, Miura-shi) was one of the branch families descended from the Taira clan. They held large fiefs, and retained great political influence. They were one of the primary opponents of the Hōjō family of regents in the mid-13th century, and again at the beginning of the 16th. Miura remains a common family name in Japan today.

The Miura clan supported Minamoto no Yoritomo in the foundation of the Kamakura shogunate, but were later annihilated by Hōjō Tokiyori in 1247. However, the family name was reassigned to a supporter of the Hōjō clan, and the Miura continued to rule Miura Peninsula through the Muromachi period until their defeat at Arai Castle in a 1516 attack by Hōjō Sōun.

Mōri Suemitsu

Mōri Suemitsu (毛利 季光, 1202 – July 8, 1247) was a samurai during the Kamakura period and a gokenin of the Kamakura shogunate. He was the fourth son of Ōe no Hiromoto. He was the founder of the Mōri clan.

He served three generations of the army of Minamoto no Sanetomo at Tsurugaoka Hachimangū. He took the name Mōri after the name of his estate in Sagami Province. He fought in the Jōkyū War in 1221. His wife was a daughter of Miura Yasumura and he fought with the Miura clan against the Hōjō clan.In 1223 he became an official surveyor for the Kamakura shogunate. He was defeated by Hōjō Tokiyori in 1247 and committed suicide (seppuku) at Minamoto no Yoritomo's shrine (hokkedō) along with his Miura allies.

His grave (yagura) is in Kamakura, only a few hundred yards from the grave of Minamoto no Yoritomo along with his father and Shimazu Tadahisa who founded the Shimazu clan. The Miura clan's family tomb is also nearby.

Rokudai Shōjiki

Rokudai Shōjiki (六代勝事記) was a Japanese history book written in the early Kamakura period, narrating events at that time in the order they occurred. The Rokudai, which literally means six generations, refers to Emperors Takakura, Antoku, Go-Toba, Tsuchimikado, Juntoku and Go-Horikawa. The fact that Go-Horikawa is referred to as The Reigning Emperor (今上天皇) suggests that the book was written shortly after the Jōkyū War (1221). For a long time, Minamoto no Mitsuyuki had been considered as the author of the book. Recently, however, historians have argued that Fujiwara no Tadataka, who was retired at the time the book was written, is more likely the actual author.

The book contends that Emperor Go-Toba lost the Jōkyū War because of his immorality, that he was basically a villain of the whole story, and that the event therefore does not necessarily challenge the authority of the emperor and his court. This viewpoint, which was convenient for both the imperial court and the newly formed Kamakura shogunate, had profound influence in later relations between the people of kuge and that of samurai.

Shunzei's daughter

Fujiwara no Shunzei no Musume (藤原俊成女, "Fujiwara no Shunzei's daughter"; also occasionally called 藤原俊成卿女, 皇(太)后宮大夫俊成(卿)女 or 越部禅尼), 1171? – 1252?, was a Japanese poet; she was probably the greatest female poet of her day, ranked with Princess Shikishi. Although she was called Shunzei's Daughter, Shunzei was in fact her grandfather, and her birth father's name was Fujiwara no Moriyori. Her grandfather was the noted poet Fujiwara no Shunzei, and her half-uncle was Fujiwara no Teika, who thought enough of her talents to seek her out for advice and criticism after Shunzei died, although she did not hesitate to castigate him when he completed the Shinchokusen Wakashū, for Teika had turned against his former ideal poetic style of yoen (ethereal beauty) while Shunzei's Daughter had not- thus she found Teika's previous efforts to be markedly inferior, and even according to Donald Keene, "declared that if it had not been compiled by Teika she would have refused even to take it into her hands." (in a letter sent to Fujiwara no Tameie, Teika's son). She and others also criticized it for apparently deliberately excluding any of the objectively excellent poems produced by the three Retired Emperors exiled in the aftermath of the Jōkyū War. Personal pique may also have played a role, since she saw 29 of her poems selected for the Shinkokinshū while only nine were chosen for the Shin Chokusenshū.

Ōe no Hiromoto

Ōe no Hiromoto (大江 広元, 1148–1225) was a kuge (court noble) and vassal of Japan's Kamakura shogunate, and contributed to establishing the shogunate's governmental structure.

A great-grandson of the famous scholar Ōe no Masafusa, he was born to Ōe no Koremitsu and adopted by Nakahara Hirosue but later returned to the Ōe family in 1216. There is another theory that Hiromoto was born to Fujiwara no Mitsuyoshi. As a minor noble, he originally served at the Imperial Court in Kyoto.

In 1184 he was invited to Kamakura by Minamoto no Yoritomo, who later founded the Kamakura shogunate. He became the first head (bettō) of the new Kumonjo (Board of Public Documents) in the same year and then of the Mandokoro (Administrative Board) in 1191. On Hiromoto's advice, Yoritomo appointed jitō and shugo in 1185, which helped to strengthen shogunal control over the provinces. In 1190 Ōe followed Yoritomo to Kyoto and remained there to negotiate with the imperial court until 1192.

After Yoritomo's death, Ōe won the trust of his widow, Hōjō Masako, and assisted in the Hōjō clan's seizure of power. He was involved in several important events in the shogunate. In 1199 real power was moved from second shōgun Minamoto no Yoriie to the council of influential gokenin. In 1203 the shōgun was arrested along with his supporter Hiki Yoshikazu. Hiromoto also helped the Hōjō clan crush enemies as Hatakeyama Shigetada, Hiraga Asamasa and Wada Yoshimori.

In the Jōkyū War he insisted on making a sudden attack to Kyoto and contributed to the shogunate's overwhelming victory. He died after backing up Hōjō Yasutoki's succession. His fourth son founded the Mōri clan.

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