Hojo Tokimune (Part 1)

In 1185, the Genpei war between the two Taira and Minamoto clans ended. Minamoto clans won, and in 1192, Minamoto Yoritomo was ordained by the emperor, Shogun, to establish the Shogunate in Kamakura. That was the beginning of the “Kamakura era,” the first period in which military generals ruled Japan for almost seven centuries (1192-1868).
However, after Yoritomo’s sudden death in 1199, his father-in-law Hojo Tokimasa took power. The Hojo House did not steal the Shogun, but they put themselves in the position of “Shiken,” in fact, the ruler of Japan. From 1203 until 1333, the Hojo Enforcement was the real power holder, not the Emperor or General. Tokimune was the son of Tokiyori (1227-1263) and the 5th Hojo Tokimasa. He was born in 1251 when his father had succeeded his brother for five years. Even though he was the second son, he was also the son of the Tokimune, so Tokimune was designated Tokuso (“Tokuso”). However, he was not succeeded shortly after his father’s death.
In 1263, Tokiyori died. Because Tokimune was too young so his uncle Nagatoki succeeded him but only for  a year until he died. Tokimune’s grandfather’s grandfather Masamura replaces him in the meantime. In 1268, Tokimune was 17 years old and officially inherited the title. Masamura returned to enjoy old age and died after 5 years.
In his life, Tokimune was devoted to Zen Buddhism. In 1275, he invited Zen Master Mugaku Sogen to spread Zen Buddhism. At Kamakura, Zen master Sogen made a great impact on the Japanese martial arts, giving them a fighting spirit of aggression. Since then, the Japanese have said the following sentence: “Royal Tiantai, aristocrats according to True Religion, martial artists practice meditation was common, the Pure Land Buddhism.”
Tokimune was still busy trying to learn how to meditate. Legend has it, when Tokimune, worried about the strength of the enemy, went to see Master Sogen and asked him. The Zen master has written the words “defile mats”, the will to say all the afflictions are out of himself. Tokimune understood and felt smoothly, ready to face all difficulties, thus fulfilling his great career.

After the Mongol victory, Tokimune ordered the construction of the Engaku-ji Temple to worship the warriors of both sides who died in battle. When digging the soil, the workers saw the environs of the Enlightenment buried deep underground, so Tokimune decided to name the temple so. At present, Engaku-ji Temple was located in Kamakura city, about 50 km southwest of Tokyo and was an important historical landmark of Japanese Buddhism.

The two wars of the Mongol empire destroyed Tokimune’s health. He became seriously ill and died in 1184, when he was only 33 years old.

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