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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

As for the ex Emperors Kogon and Komyo


professions were now appraised at their true value, however. The Court at Yoshino commissioned him to punish his rebellious brother, but took steps, as will presently be seen, to turn the resulting situation to its own advantage. Takauji now placed himself at the head of a strong army, and moving eastward, marched to Kamakura practically unopposed. Tadayoshi escaped to Izu, where he took poison, or was given it. Takauji remained in the Kwanto during the greater part of two years (1352-1353). The task of restoring order and re-establishing the Ashikaga supremacy demanded all his ability and resources. "In the Kwanto alone, during these two years, more battles were fought--some of considerable magnitude--than during the thirty years between 1455 and 1485 in England."*

*Murdoch's History of Japan.


In this state of affairs the Southern Court found its opportunity. In accepting Takauji's overtures, Kitabatake Chikafusa, who directed the politics and strategy of the Southern Court, had designed to dethrone Suko, to adopt the year name, Shohei, solely, and to establish an administrative council in Kyoto under his own presidency. He knew well that Takauji's surrender had not been sincere, but he counted on an access of strength from the partisans of Tadayoshi, and he looked for some occasion capable of being turned to advantage. Yoshiakira, who ruled Kyoto

in the absence of his father, Takauji, made no difficulty about dethroning Suko and requesting the return of the Southern sovereign, Go-Murakami. Neither did he hesitate to hand over the false insignia which had been given by Go-Daigo to the Northern Court. In February, 1352, Go-Murakami paid a visit to Otoko-yama on the southeast of Kyoto, and ordered a number of officials, under Kitabatake Chikafusa and Kusunoki Masanori, to enter the capital and conduct affairs. But his Majesty did not trust his own person into the city. He waited until his plans were mature, and then a strong force of Southern troops was launched against Kyoto, while a powerful army of Kwanto bushi, led by the Nitta brothers, Yoshioki and Yoshimune, as well as by Wakiya Yoshiharu, marched into Musashi and defeated Takauji on the Kotesashi moor.

The invaders actually got possession of Kamakura, but the superior strategy of the Ashikaga chief ultimately reversed the situation. Yoshimune had to fly to Echigo with a petty remnant of followers, and Yoshioki and Yoshiharu, evacuating Kamakura, took refuge in the Kawamura fortress. Meanwhile, in Kyoto, things had fared in a somewhat similar manner. The Southern generals carried everything before them at the outset, and Yoshiakira had to fly to Omi. But, after a brief period of quiet, the Northern troops rallied and expelled the Southern. Yoshiakira found himself again supreme. A strange dilemma presented itself, however. There was no sovereign. The retired sovereigns, Kogon, Komyo, and Suko, had all been carried to a place well within the Southern lines, and even the false regalia were not available. Nevertheless, Yoshiakira, regardless of forms, raised to the throne the younger brother of Suko, who is known in history as Go-Kogon. Thenceforth, on the accession of a Northern sovereign a merely nominal ceremony of transferring the sacred regalia sufficed. As for the ex-Emperors Kogon and Komyo, they turned their backs finally on the world and became priests of the Zen sect of Buddhism.

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