01 Japanese History

#19 The Sengoku Period

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This Episode 19 is about the Sengoku Period. For about 100 years, Warlords fought each other all over the country.


In the 15th century, the people repeatedly revolted, and there was a widespread movement to force the shogunate and local feudal lords to recognize their demands.


The power of the Muromachi Shogunate in Kyoto weakened, and a trend of “Gekokujo,” in which a lower-ranking person overcame a higher-ranking person by force and took his position, spread throughout society.


In Kyoto, the Onin War broke out in 1467 over the succession of the shogun. The war lasted more than 10 years and Kyoto was burnt to the ground. The shogun’s authority fell to the ground.


Local rulers organized themselves into military units and actively engaged in agriculture and mining development. They continued to fight to expand their territories. This period is called the Sengoku period.


Let me introduce two representative warring feudal lords. The first is Takeda Shingen of Kai (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture). Shingen was regarded as the strongest military commander of the Sengoku Period. He enriched the country with excellent laws and flood control works and even ruled Shinano (present-day Nagano Prefecture).


The second was Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo (present-day Niigata Prefecture). Kenshin was not only a great warrior but also a great politician. Takeda Shingen regarded Kenshin as a peerless general. Although they were rivals, they respected each other.


Shingen and Kenshin fought five battles at Kawanakajima over a period of twelve years. The most intense battle was the fourth, in which Shingen and Kenshin fought a one-to-one fight that has become legendary. The battle between the two was never settled.


The Sengoku Period lasted about 100 years. I recommend you watch some of Kurosawa Akira’s movies to learn more about this period. “The Seven Samurai” is a story about a group of samurais hired to protect a village. “The Three Villains of the Hidden Fortress” is also famous for being the basis for “Star Wars.”


Thank you for reading.

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