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Taiheiki

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  • Japanese: 太平記 (Taiheiki)

The Taiheiki, also known as the "Chronicle of Great Peace," is among the most famous of Japanese war tales, or gunkimono. It relates events of the 1330s, from the battles which led to the fall of the Kamakura shogunate in 1333, to the early years of the Northern and Southern Courts period, following the establishment of the Ashikaga shogunate in 1336. While the text never explicitly states which Court its anonymous author considers legitimate, the lionizing manner in which the text portrays the "heroes" of the Southern Court's side had a profound impact upon popular and official conceptions of the rightfulness (or righteousness) of that side, down into the Meiji period, if not through to today.[1]

The Taiheiki is the chief source of the romantic legends of figures such as Kusunoki Masashige, Nitta Yoshisada, and Ashikaga Takauji, and like the Tale of the Heike was originally circulated primarily by storytellers, in the case of the Taiheiki by monks known as katarisô. Numerous plays, books, films, and TV programs (including two NHK Taiga Drama) have been based upon its narrative.

The Taiheiki has drawn its share of criticism, however, including from Imagawa Ryôshun, in his 1402 Nan-taiheiki, and from Kume Kunitake in 1891.

References

  • William Theodore de Bary, Sources of Japanese Tradition, vol 1, Second Edition, Columbia University Press (2001), 284.
  1. de Bary, 284.
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