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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Masashige belonged to the Tachibana family


council was now held in Kamakura. Nagasaki Takasuke, the corrupt kwanryo, advised that Go-Daigo should be dethroned and sent into exile, together with Oto no Miya, and that all implicated in the plot should be severely punished. This violent course was opposed by Nikaido Sadafusa, who pleaded eloquently for the respect due to the Throne, and contended that without the sovereign's favour the Bakufu could not exist. But Takasuke's advice prevailed, re-enforced as it was by reference to the Shokyu disturbance when vigorous daring had won the day. With all possible expedition an army under the command of Sadafusa marched from Kamakura for Kyoto. Advised of these doings, Prince Morinaga persuaded the Emperor to change costumes with Fujiwara Morokata; whereafter the latter, riding in the Imperial palanquin, took ostensible refuge at Hiei-zan, and the sovereign, travelling in a Court lady's ox-car, made his way, first, to Nara and thence to Kasagi in Yamato, guarded by the troops of Fujiwara Fujifusa. Rokuhara was then under the command of Hojo Nakatoki, and upon him devolved the duty of seizing the Emperor's person. He directed an army against Hiei-zan, where Go-Daigo was believed to have found asylum. But Fujiwara Morokata, who personified the sovereign, managed to escape, as did also Prince Morinaga (Oto no Miya). Go-Daigo then sent to Kusunoki Masashige a mandate to raise troops and move against the "rebels," for to that category the Hojo now belonged in the absence of an Imperial

This Kusunoki Masashige (called Nanko) is one of Japan's ideal types of loyalty and courage. He and Nitta Yoshisada are the central figures in the long campaign upon which Japan now entered. Masashige belonged to the Tachibana family, which stood second among the four great septs of Japan--the Fujiwara, the Tachibana, the Minamoto, and the Taira--and Yoshisada claimed kinship with the Minamoto. Receiving Go-Daigo's order, Kusunoki Masashige quickly collected a troop of local bushi and constructed entrenchments at Akasaka, a naturally strong position in his native province of Kawachi. Takatoki now caused Prince Kazuhito to be proclaimed sovereign under the name of Kogon. But this monarch was not destined to find a place among the recognized occupants of the throne. For a time, indeed, fortune smiled on the Hojo. Within a few days after Kogon's assumption of the sceptre, Go-Daigo's retreat at Kasagi became untenable, and he fled, still escorted by the faithful Fujiwara Fujifusa. It must be recognized that, whatever the Fujiwara family's usurpations in the past, their loyalty to the Throne throughout this era of cruel vicissitudes redeems a multitude of sins.

During his flight from Kasagi, the Emperor was without food for three days, and had to sleep with a rock for pillow. Overtaken by the Rokuhara troops, his Majesty was placed in a bamboo palanquin and carried to the temple Byodoin, where, after the battle of the Uji Bridge, the aged statesman and general, Yorimasa, had fallen by his own hand, a century and a half previously. Here Go-Daigo received a peremptory order to surrender the Imperial insignia to the Hojo nominee, Kogon. He refused. The mirror and gem, he alleged, had been lost, and there remained only the sacred sword, which he kept to defend himself against the traitors when they fell upon him. The high courage of this answer would have been finer had Go-Daigo's statement been true; but in reality the three insignia were intact. It was then announced to his Majesty that he should be removed to Rokuhara where he would be entirely in the power of the Hojo. Nevertheless, he maintained his lofty bearing, and refused to make the journey unless all appropriate forms of etiquette were observed. At Rokuhara the demand for the insignia was repeated and the Emperor handed over duplicates, secretly retaining the genuine articles himself. Takatoki now issued orders for Go-Daigo to be removed to the island of Oki, sent all the members of his family into exile elsewhere, and banished or killed his principal supporters.

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