Episode 5 – Dream on a Spring Night

This week we’re going to cover the Genpei War between the Minamoto and Taira families and the collapse of the Heian system. We’ll also be covering the formation of the first samurai-dominated government in history, the Kamakura Bakufu.

Listen to the podcast here.

The translation of the first line of the Tale of the Heike is from Helen Craig McCullough’s translation, with a few alterations made by me for reasons of stylistic preference.

Sources

McCullough, Helen Craig. The Tale of the Heike. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1990.

Totman, A History of Japan. 

Images (Courtesy of the Wikimedia Foundation)

This is a depiction from the mid-Meiji Period (1880s) of Taira-no-Kiyomori being consumed in hellfire upon his death.
This is a depiction from the mid-Meiji Period (1880s) of Taira-no-Kiyomori being consumed in hellfire upon his death.
This is Minamoto-no-Yoritomo; this particular image is unusual in that it's actually from the period. It was painted in 1179, during his exile to the East.
This is Minamoto-no-Yoritomo; this particular image is unusual in that it’s actually from the period. It was painted in 1179, during his exile to the East.
This is an image of the way a samurai would have been armored in the late Heian/early Kamakura period. Note the prominence of the daikyu (bow) and the armor, which is lamelar.
This is an image of the way a samurai would have been armored in the late Heian/early Kamakura period. Note the prominence of the daikyu (bow) and the armor, which is lamelar.
This is a suit of samurai armor noted from the Kamakura Period, slightly after the end of the Heian Period.
This is a suit of samurai armor noted from the Kamakura Period, slightly after the end of the Heian Period.
The Agehacho, the kamon (family crest) of the Taira family. The image is of a stylized butterfly.
The Agehacho, the kamon (family crest) of the Taira family. The image is of a stylized butterfly.
The Sasarindo, the kamon (family crest) of the Minamoto family (a stylized bamboo flower and leaves).
The Sasarindo, the kamon (family crest) of the Minamoto family (a stylized bamboo flower and leaves).
This is the Battle of Dan-no-ura, the climactic naval confrontation of the Genpei War (1185).
This is the Battle of Dan-no-ura, the climactic naval confrontation of the Genpei War (1185).
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