Kamakura period


Kamakura period

(1192–1333) Period of Japanese history marked by the country's first era of military government. The Kamakura shogunate was established by Minamoto Yoritomo after his 1185 defeat of a rival warrior family, the Taira (see Taira Kiyomori); its headquarters was in Kamakura. To assert his authority, Yoritomo had jito (stewards) assigned to all the estates (shoen) in the land to collect taxes, and shugo (protectors) assigned to one or more provinces to lead them in times of war. This system was improved by the Hojo family, which took control of the shogunate on Yoritomo's death. The creation of the Kamakura shogunate marks the start of Japan's medieval or feudal period, characterized by a warrior ethic of duty, loyalty, and stoicism. Many elements of Japanese culture that Westerners now associate with the country—including Zen Buddhism, samurai (warriors), seppuku (ritual disembowelment), and the tea ceremony—date from this period. The True Pure Land and Nichiren sects of Buddhism, which emphasized salvation through faith alone, provided solace to the masses, while tales of warrior exploits provided them with entertainment. See also bushido.

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