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Swords, Oaths, and Prophetic Visions

Authoring Warrior Rule in Medieval Japan

Elizabeth Oyler

Publication Year: 2006

Swords, Oaths, and Prophetic Visions investigates some of the most historically important political and social issues raised by the Genpei War (1180-1185). This epic civil conflict, which ushered in Japan’s age of the warriors, is most famously articulated in the monumental narrative Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike). Elizabeth Oyler’s ambitious work lays out the complex interconnections between the numerous variant texts of the Heike and the historical events they describe. But Oyler’s innovative methodology also brings other texts and genres—the Gikeiki, the Soga monogatari, the Azuma kagami, and pieces from the kōwakamai (ballad-dramas) repertoire—into her analysis. Rather than concentrating on individual texts, Oyler focuses on the inter-textual relationships within this larger body of narrative and drama and the collective role of these works in creating and disseminating stories about some of the Genpei War’s most contentious events. In so doing, she works toward a new understanding of the underlying cultural problems of which these tales are symptomatic and which they attempt to address.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Contents

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p. -

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book grew out of a fascination with the complexity and richness of medieval Japan instilled in me during my graduate studies and fostered by wonderful teachers. To Jeffrey Mass, I owe my interest in Minamoto Yoritomo, so important a historical figure and yet so elusive in the narratives that...

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Note on Conventions and Sources

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pp. xi-

This book presents a study of narratives that have enjoyed several incarnations across a number of works and genres. Variant texts of the Heike monogatari that include “Heike monogatari” in their titles—the Enkyôbon, Kakuichibon, Hyakunijukkubon, Nagatobon, and so forth—are not italicized here...

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Chapter One The Heike monogatari and Narrating the Genpei War

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pp. 1-28

This book presents a study of narratives that have enjoyed several incarnations across a number of works and genres. Variant texts of the Heike monogatari that include “Heike monogatari” in their titles—the Enkyôbon, Kakuichibon, Hyakunijukkubon, Nagatobon, and so forth—are not italicized here...

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Chapter Two Minamoto Yoritomo: Dreams from Exile

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pp. 29-59

The idea of sh

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Chapter Three Kiso Yoshinaka: Petitioning Hachiman

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pp. 60-85

Although Yoritomo became the de facto hegemon of warrior affairs as a result of the Genpei War, the position was very much in contention during the conflict itself. His most serious rivals were members of his kin group, and two of them posed critical challenges to his claim to both clan and warrior headship...

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Chapter Four Yoshitsune at Koshigoe: Fealty Oaths, Fall from Grace

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pp. 86-114

Minamoto Yoshitsune is indisputably Japan’s favorite cultural hero. The lead general in the Genpei War, he played a decisive role in the destruction of Yoritomo’s enemies and enjoyed renown among warriors and capital-dwellers alike. He was a fearless leader, guiding his men into battle against...

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Chapter Five The Soga Brothers: Swords and Lineage

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pp. 115-137

On the twenty-eighth day of the

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Conclusion Warrior Rule in Medieval Japan

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pp. 138-150

The Genpei War was clearly a monumental event in the shared memory of medieval Japan. Although later conflicts like the Mongol invasions and the

Appendix A The Hōgen and Heiji Uprisings

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pp. 151-152

Appendix B Genealogical Charts of the Seiwa Genji and the Itō

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pp. 153-155

Appendix C Texts and Genres

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pp. 156-158

Notes

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pp. 159-200

Glossary

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pp. 201-204

Bibliography

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pp. 205-212

Index

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pp. 213-218


E-ISBN-13: 9780824864538
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824829223

Publication Year: 2006

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Japan -- History -- Gempei Wars, 1180-1185 -- Literature and the war.
  • Japanese literature -- 1185-1600 -- History and criticism.
  • Historical fiction, Japanese -- History and criticism.
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