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CHAPTER 8 Historical Principles in Gukamho (1219) The Circumstancesof Jien Gukansho (Miscellany of Ignorant Views) makes a great leap in Japanese thought. It is filled with anxiety for the political future of Japan, which seemed disastrous at the time of composition in 1219. In order to explain the impending disasters and perhaps to prevent them, the author introduced an original analysis of the past. The anxiety for the future in Gukansho arose from the circumstances of the author, who is generally recognized as the high priest Jien (1155-1225). Jien was the son of Fujiwara Tadamichi (1097-1164), who was Regent for a long period of 37 years (1121-58). Tadamichi was continuously engaged in struggles against his brother Yorinaga (1120-56), and their discord eventually became caught up in the larger problems of the imperial succession which finally resulted in the Hogen War of 1156. The succession dispute and the ensuing war engulfed the bitter struggle between the father and the uncle of Jien, and eventually led to the collapse of the Heian political system and the rise of the military clans. Out of the turmoil of the wars of Hogen and Heiji there arose the hated Heike domination of the capital, and then the national travail of the Genpei War from 1180 to 1185. The times remained unsettled because of the hostility of Retired Emperor Go Toba towards the Kamakura Bakufu. Jien's consciousness of this turmoil was acute: ' 'From the timeI wasborn, the world continued incomplete disorderfor seventeen years. When I was two years old, civil war [the Hogen War] broke out in the seventh month; politics in China were also disordered; Notes to Chapter 8 are found on page 146. 92 HISTORICAL PRINCIPLES IN GUKANSHO (1219) 93 and ruler and subject alike were haunted by vengeful spirits." "My entire life has been spent thoughout in a world of disorder."1 In fact the disorder does not seem to have affected him personally, for he was well connected and had a brilliant ecclesiastical career. Upon the death of his father, Jien entered religion and rose rapidly to high rank, and eventually became Chief Abbot of the Tendai sect, the top position in the hierarchy of the Enryakuji Temple on Mount Hiei. Family and position brought him into the highest social circles, and he became especially intimate withRetired Emperor GoToba when the latter was at the height of his powers. Jien's poetic abilities made him particularly attractive to the Retired Emperor. Thus he knew the mind of Go Toba well, and as he wrote Gukansho in 1219 he had certain knowledge of the Retired Emperor's hope of destroying the Kamakura Bakufu. On the other side, Jien also came to know the military leaders of the eastern provinces. As Japan's highest cleric, he had the duty ofwelcoming Minamoto Yoritomo when he came to Kyoto in 1195, and it appears that a genuine friendship developed between them. This close connection withthe military leaders was to continue for the rest ofJien's life. As late as 1223he received a gift of land in return for prayers he offered for the Shogun. This intimate association with both sides in the courtBakufu dispute must have been a source of severe strain for Jien. A high priest of his stature would have been asked to offer prayers for both sides; but Jien, already an old man, luckily was sick for most of the period from 1213to 1219. As he noted himself, "Fortunately I was illat the time of the war, and escaped misfortune... ."2 In addition to these public considerations, Jien had hopes for the success of his own Kujo branch of the Fujiwara family. His brother Kanezane found himself in a pleasing situation in 1219, when one great-grandson became Crown Prince, and another became the Kamakura Shogun Yoritsune (1218-56). It seemed then that court and military could be brought together, through the mediation of the Kujo family. Most scholars think that Jien's efforts to interpret history were influenced by a desire to show that historical forces were combining to produce this outcome of Kujo usefulness. Purposes Gukansho was written, first, for the most simple and orthodox reason for writinghistory, to inform people about the past. Jien chose to write in the Japanese language rather than the abstruse Classical Chinese favoured for conveying difficult concepts, in order to make his work intelligible to allreaders. He criticized the decline of scholarly standards in his own age, but regarding it...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780889208742
Related ISBN
9780889209978
MARC Record
OCLC
243566096
Pages
174
Launched on MUSE
2012-06-26
Language
English
Open Access
No
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