Point of interest: Shuzenji - A Tragic History (Part 2)

Shuzenji - A Tragic History (Part 2)
477 words
This article is part of a series about locations in your Mastery Map, a visual representation of your Japanese Mastery Level.

The Tragic History of Shuzenji

Along the determined path of learning Japanese grammar and kanji, we here at Kanshudo would like to remind you that you must go at your own pace. Take your time with all the tools and quizzes Kanshudo puts at your disposal. As we continue our discussion of our Japanese Mastery Level 2 destination, the City of Shuzenji, its long history can serve as a reminder that perseverance is the key to mastering any skill or set of problems.
A profound problem came to Shuzenji during the twelfth century. The tragic history of the Shuzenji Temple is associated with a power struggle that existed during the formation of the Kamakura Shogunate.
The Kamakura Shogunate, a Japanese feudal military government of imperial-aristocratic rule, controlled Japan from 1185 to 1333. Before the formation of the Kamakura Shogunate, power in Japan was primarily held by ruling emperors and military affairs were handled by the civil government. However, all of this changed during the Genpei War. In this war, the Taira clan was defeated by Minamoto no Yoritomo. Following their success, Yoritomo and the Minamoto clan established a military government in Japan.
Conquest does not come without cost. Yoritomo committed many violent acts to obtain power, even against his own family. In 1194, Yoritomo Minamoto imprisoned his brother, Noriyori. This imprisonment occurred in the once peaceful, Shuzenji Temple. Noriyori died in the confines of the temple. It is not known whether his death was by assassination or by suicide. However, this would not be the last tragedy in Shuzenji.
Minamoto no Yoritomo's son, Yoriie, also died in Shuzenji. However, this assassination was against the wishes of Yoritomo. Yoriie was assassinated in Shuzenji in 1204, while taking a bath. It is believed that his assassination was on the orders of both his mother and maternal grandfather, Hojo Tokimasa. With the assassination of the second in command of the Minamoto family, the Minamoto rule soon came to an end. However, the legend of the tragedy lives on through the Shuzenji Temple.

The Shuzenji Temple

The Shuzenji Temple harbors a tragic history, a place with peace and violence unfortunately intertwined. Shuzenji is small, but contains a rich history. The Shuzenji Temple's museum houses a wooden mask of a red contorted face. It is believed that this artifact is Yoriie's carved death mask.
There are many interesting artifacts to view in the Shuzenji Temple's museum and many of them happen to be associated with the tragic history that transpired there centuries ago. There are a large number of artifacts constructed in Yoriie's image. His mother commissioned various sutras, statues, and shrines to be constructed in Yoriie's image to help his spirit find peace. While Yoriie's mother had helped plan his assassination, it is said that, following his death, her focus was on keeping his angry spirit at bay.
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