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Shishigatani Incident

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Monument on or near the site of the mountain villa in Shishigatani where the conspirators met.
  • Date: 1177
  • Japanese: 鹿ヶ谷事件 (Shishigatani jiken); 鹿ヶ谷の陰謀 (Shishigatani no inbou)


The Shishigatani Incident of summer 1177 was a failed uprising against the rule of Taira no Kiyomori. The conspiracy was discovered, and its perpetrators arrested and punished before any part of their plan was put into action.

The incident is also known in Japanese as Shishigatani no Inbô (鹿ケ谷の陰謀), the Shishigatani Conspiracy or Plot. The name comes from the location where the conspirators met, a mountain villa belonging to Jôken Hôin, in the Shishi Valley (Shishigatani) in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto.

This is but the most famous of a number of conspiracies and uprisings against Kiyomori. He rose quickly to power in the 1160s and dominated rather than guided the Imperial Court, taking advantage of his position to install members of his own family into high court positions, and marrying them into the Imperial family. In a number of ways, and on a number of occasions, he offended and opposed the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa and the Fujiwara family of court nobles and regents.

Thus, Fujiwara no Narichika, his son Fujiwara no Naritsune, Fujiwara no Saikô, Taira no Yasuyori, Tada Yukitsuna, and the monk Shunkan gathered, along with others, in a small country villa in Shishigatani, to conspire against Kiyomori and the Taira clan as a whole.

Tada Yukitsuna, however, was in fact a spy for Kiyomori, and reported the conspiracy to his lord. Saikô, a monk, was tortured and then executed, angering monastic groups already opposed to his considerable secular authority. Shunkan, Yasuyori, and Naritsune were exiled to a remote island south of Kyushu called Kikai-ga-shima; this may or may not be the same island currently officially designated by that name. Kiyomori then rebuked Emperor Go-Shirakawa, who had been aware of the plot, seized a number of mansions belonging to the Fujiwara, and dismissed a number of officials from office, including Regent Fujiwara no Motofusa. He then filled the vacated Court positions with members of his own family.

The events, and their consequences, are related in the classical epic Heike Monogatari, and in a number of derivative works such as the Noh play Shunkan and the jôruri (puppet theater) production Heike Nyogo-ga-Shima which concern themselves with the exiles on Kikai-ga-shima.

References

  • This article was written by User:LordAmeth and contributed to both S-A and Wikipedia; the author gives permission for his work to be used in this way.
  • "Mystery of a Grave in Iojima." Global Citizens News Vol 78. 1 March 2005. Accessed 21 May 2007.
  • Sansom, George (1958). 'A History of Japan to 1334'. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. pp267-9.
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