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Violence in Japan: Introduction

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Violence in Japan: Introduction. The basic structure of the state of Japan Imperial court: emperors and courtiers Powerful clans: warriors ( samurai ) Religious institutions: Buddhist monks and Shinto priests Peasants

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violence in japan introduction
Violence in Japan: Introduction
  • The basic structure of the state of Japan
    • Imperial court: emperors and courtiers
    • Powerful clans: warriors (samurai)
    • Religious institutions: Buddhist monks and Shinto priests
    • Peasants
  • The warrior class dominated the political landscape of Japan longer than in any culture
  • Buddhist monks were politically active and powerful for nearly a millennium (from the 6th century to the 16th century).
types of warriors
Types of Warriors
  • At least three types of warriors existed in early Japan
    • Imperial court warriors
    • Samurai working for powerful families/clans (kenmon)
    • Monk-warriors (warrior monks, sohei)
      • Most famous were the warrior monks of Enryakuji
      • The Retired Emperor Shirakawa (1053-1129):
        • “The flow of the Kamo river, the roll of the dice, and the mountain monks [of Enryakuji] are things I cannot control”
  • Samurai and warrior monks
    • the dominant armed forces
    • major sources of violence
religious institutions in japan
Religious Institutions in Japan
  • Powerful religious institutions as important players of Japanese politics is a neglected issue
    • Little awareness of religious institutions as important co-rulers of the early and medieval Japanese state.
    • little attention paid to the study of powerful Buddhist temples such as Enryakuji and Kofukuji, which were sources of religious riots and disturbances
buddhist institutions under scrutiny
Buddhist Institutions under Scrutiny
  • Beginning from the10th century, Buddhist institutions in Nara and Mt. Hiei had private armies that terrified the courtiers and citizens of the capital
    • Monks armed with glaives, bows, and swords were involved in numerous conflicts, fights, and wars
    • monk warfare plagued Japanese society until the 16th century
the first warrior monks
The First Warrior Monks
  • Warrior Monks
    • Sohei, lit. monk-warriors, priest-soldiers
    • Often called akuso, evil monks
    • Few of them were ordained, but all subject to monastic rule
    • Inhabited in a number of large monasteries to which thousands of monks were attached
      • In Nara, the southern capital, before 794
        • Todaiji, Kofukuji
      • In Heian (Kyoto), between 794 and 1185
        • Mt. Hiei (Enryakuji), Onjoji
enryakuji as a powerful monasteries
Enryakuji as a Powerful Monasteries
  • Enryakuji
    • A large Buddhist temple built in 788 AD
    • Located on Mt. Hiei northeast of Kyoto, which became Japan’s capital in 794
    • Headquarter of the Tendai Buddhism, surrounded by 3000 buildings that constituted the monastery complex of Mt. Hiei
    • Owned much property in places near the mountain; wealthy and had private armed forces
    • Enjoyed imperial favor and served as the protector of the state
formation of warrior monks
Formation of Warrior Monks
  • Reasons:
    • Protected the temple from being intruded and its land encroached
    • Protested against emperor’s appointment of new temple’s Zasu, the head abbot, whom the temple disapproved
    • Stopped other religious institutions from sharing their privileges
    • Forced or coerced those who benefited from the temple’s loans but did not pay their debts back
    • Harassed and terrified people to assure their military might
early temple feuds
Early Temple Feuds
  • Primarily because of political struggle between rival temples
  • First violent incident: 969 AD
    • Kofukuji’s and Todaiji’s dispute over the jurisdiction of temple lands resulted in the death of several Kofukuji monks
  • Succeeding violent incident: 970
    • Enryakuji used force to settle a dispute with the Gion shrine in Kyoto
enryakuji s warrior monks
Enryakuji’s Warrior Monks
  • Ryogen, the 18th abbot of Enryakuji, decided to maintain a permanent fighting force at Mt. Hiei, which was arguably the first of warrior monk armies
  • Warrior monks in two rival factions in Mt. Hiei
    • Ryogen-Ennin faction
    • Gishin-Enchi faction
  • Conflicts between the two factions resulted in Mt. Hiei’s Tendai Buddhism split
    • Sanmonha (Mountain branch)
    • Jimonha (Temple branch)
violence from within
Violence from Within
  • The Ennin faction monks drove out of the Enchin faction monks
    • In 981, imperial court named Yokei as abbot of the temple of Hoosshoji, which angered Ennin faction monks
    • 200 warrior monks from Ennin faction carried out a violent protest to force the change of decree, finally resulting in the removal of Yokei as the abbot of Hooshoji
    • In 989, emperor appointed Yokei abbot of Enryakuji, causing uproar of the Ennnin faction monks. They forced Yokei to resign after confronting warriors sent from imperial court
    • In 993, Enchin faction monks took revenge on Ennin faction, marched on Mt. Hiei, and burnt Ennin’s temple. Ennin faction’s retaliation caused 1000 Enchin faction monks to flee to Miidera (Onjoji)
enryakuji miidera and the samurai
Enryakuji, Miidera, and the Samurai
  • 1039, bloody fight took place between warrior monks from Enryakuji and samurai summoned by officials
    • Cause:
      • incumbent abbot of Miidera was names zasu of Enryakuji
      • 3,000 enraged monks from Mt. Hiei descended on the residence of Fujiwara Yorimich to demand change of appointment
    • Result:
      • Violent fight between warrior monks and the summoned samurai took place
      • Fujiwara gave me and renamed the Mt. Hiei candidate as zasu
warrior monks vs the samurai
Warrior monks vs. the Samurai
  • In 1095, thousand of armed warrior monks of Enryakuji fought with samurai who served of the Fujiwara clan and the imperial family
    • Reason:
      • Enryakuji wanted to further punish an official of Fujiwara clan who had interceded monks’ brautal act
    • Result:
      • Warrior monks were driven from palace because they lacked the military discipline and training of the sumurai
      • Warrior monks attacked the capital again and brought their displaced abbot back to Enryakuji
enryakuji vs miidera
Enryakuji vs. Miidera
  • Confrontation/fight between the two was due to Miidera’s ordination right
    • Enryakuji denied Miidera’s ordination right
    • Temples of Nara supported Miidera
  • 1074, warrior monks from Mt. Hiei attacked Miidera
  • 1081, 1121, 1141 Enryakuji monks attacked Miidera and burnt its buildings
  • In 1141, Miidera was burnt to the ground
enryakuji and miidera joined forces
Enryakuji and Miidera Joined Forces
  • 1081, Enryakuji and Miidera joined forces to attacked Kofukuji
    • Cause: unclear
    • Results: Kofukuji burnt Miidera
  • 1113, Enryakuji attacked Kiyomizudera, Kofukuji’s branch temple, in Kyodo
    • Cause: rival appointment of an abbot
    • Result: warrior monks burnt Kiyomizudera
  • 1117, Enryakuji and Miidera joined forces to attacked Kofukuji again
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