A turning point in Japanese medieval history

Genpei War

Genpei War

The Genpei war was one of the many significant changes that took place in Japan in the twelfth century. This century was marked by military and political disturbances, shrinkage in landholdings, and the reduction of the economic base of the ruling elites. There was also the emergence of new genres in literature and art. These changes acted as a turning point of the Japanese way of living. The events during this war provided rich resources for medieval literature and history through accounts of warriors, priests, and nobles involved in the Genpei war. One such literal work is the Kabuki plays.

Taira no Kiyomori

Taira no Kiyomori

The Genpei war was fought circa (1180-1185). This war pitted two warrior clans; the Minamoto and the Taira. The Taira clan was vanquished, and its political influence curtailed. The wining clan Minamoto clan established itself as the de facto political authority and consolidated civil power and landholding rights.

Battles fought during the Genpei war.

Name of the battle Location
Awazu Otsu
Dan-noura Shimonoseki
Fujigawa Mount Fuji
Ichi-no-tani Settsu Province
Ishibashiyama Hakone
Kojima Inland Sea
Kurikara Etchu Province
Mizushima Kurashiki, Bitchu Province
Muroyama Harima Province
Shinohara Kaga Province
Sunomata Nagara River
Uji Uji
Yahagigawa Owari Province
Yashima Takamatsu
Fukuryuji Okayama Prefecture
Hiuchi Echizen Province
Hojujidono Hōjūjidono
Siege of Nara Nara

Chandragupta Maurya EmpireThe battle of Uji marked the start of the Genpei war, whereas, the battle of Dan-no-ura marked the end of the war as the Taira forces were handed a devastating blow in a naval battle.

 The Genpei war was a watershed moment in the Japanese history. Some of the consequences of this war were;

  • Destruction of the Taira clan influence.

The sea battle of Dannoura was the final nail on the coffin with regard to Taira influence over Japan.  Their defeat and destruction is told in the tale of Heike an important authority of medieval history.

  • Installation of a new imperial court.

The fight for control over the imperial courts is one of the causes of the Gempei war. The Victors established the court wielding the highest authority in Japan.

  • Establishment of the Kamakura shogunate.

Genpei kassen

Scene of the Genpei war (from Wiki)

The Kamakura shogunate formed a military government that lasted for a period of 700 years, until it was toppled by the mejji restoration of 1868 that restored imperial rule over Japan.

Although, the Genpei war was fought centuries ago, its legacy is being felt in the modern Japanese way of life.