SATHER Jeremy A.
- International Research Center for Japanese Studies
- Japan review : Journal of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (ISSN:09150986)
- vol.29, pp.39-68, 2017-03-17
This translation and analysis of Imagawa Ryōshun’s Nan Taiheiki examines the events that led him to write the work, namely his dismissal from the office of Kyūshū tandai and his subsequent participation in the Ōei Disturbance. After the rebellion ended in failure, he spent the rest of his life writing and critiquing literature. Nan Taiheiki, written around 1402, was a product of this period and of his rancor toward the Ashikaga chieftain Yoshimitsu. While the original Nan Taiheiki has no chapters or section headings, a close examination reveals three fundamental concerns. First, a focus on the Ashikaga’s status as a collateral family of the Minamoto, which gave them a near divine right to lordship. In order to protect his family from “becoming lowly people without name or rank,” Ryōshun asserts his family’s loyalty to the Ashikaga, in the process laying the groundwork for his criticism of Yoshimitsu later in the work. Second, a repudiation of Taiheiki, not for its overall storyline, but for its omission of the deeds of families that had participated in the Ashikaga’s rise to power, most notably his own. And last, a criticism of Yoshimitsu, whose maladministration led to Ryōshun’s dismissal from the office of tandai. Importantly, his criticism is of Yoshimitsu the individual, not of the Ashikaga family; a large part of Nan Taiheiki is meant to demonstrate Yoshimitsu’s unworthiness as a ruler and to cast Ryōshun’s participation in the Ōei Disturbance as the act of a loyal follower of the Ashikaga. Accordingly, I show that Nan Taiheiki, which Ryōshun did not even title, has been misinterpreted: its criticism of Taiheiki is but one of several aspects of the text, all of which are tied together by Ryōshun’s need to protect his family’s legacy and criticize Yoshimitsu, who he considered the architect of his downfall.