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Kitabatake Chikafusa

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  • Born: 1293
  • Died: 1354
  • Japanese: 北畠親房 (Kitabatake Chikafusa)

Kitabatake Chikafusa was an early nationalist/nativist Japanese scholar, known especially for the Jinnô Shôtôki, which he wrote between 1339-1343.

He was descended from the Murakami clan, and distantly from the Imperial line.[1] He disliked and opposed Ashikaga Takauji and the Ashikaga Bakufu, reportedly feeling that Takauji was a "greedy soldier of no great merit and not of a really good family." Chikafusa supported the Southern Court in Yoshino, and over the span of his career served five emperors – Go-Fushimi, Go-Nijô, Hanazono, Go-Daigo, and Go-Murakami. He was sent by Go-Daigo to Mutsu Province as governor and worked to drum up support there for the Southern cause. He was hard-pressed by Ishidô Yoshifusa, whom Takauji had dispatched in 1335 as a counter to Chikafusa and captured Taga, which was the loyalists' seat in Mutsu. In addition, Chikafusa was unable to convince the powerful Hitachi landholder Yûki Chikatomo to throw in with the loyalists, and when the latter sided with the Ashikaga, Chikafusa was forced to flee to Yoshino. He died in 1354. Chikafusa was the father of Kitabatake Akiyoshi and Akiie. Akiie was killed in battle in the summer of 1338. Chikafusa was assisted in his endeavors by a younger brother, Akinobu.

In his writings, among many other topics and themes, Chikafusa challenged the notion, then common, that Japan was quite peripheral in the world, a number of scattered tiny islands on the edge of the world, like scattered grains of millet (zokusan henkoku); instead, he asserted that Japan was a grand continent unto itself, in a vast ocean to the northeast of Jambudvipa (a Sanskrit term for a southern region of India).

Sources

  • Marius Jansen. Warrior Rule in Japan. Cambridge University Press, 1995
  • Fabio Rambelli, "The Idea of India (Tenjiku) in Pre-Modern Japan: Issues of Signification and Representation in the Buddhist Translation of Cultures," (source unknown), 244.
  1. Evelyn Rawski, Early Modern China and Northeast Asia: Cross-Border Perspectives, Cambridge University Press (2015), 211.
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