The Azuchi Momoyama Period (安土桃山時代)

The Azuchi Momoyama period (1568 - 1603) is one of the age classifications in Japan, referring to the period in which Nobunaga ODA and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI held the right to rule Japan (Oda government, Toyotomi government). This period is also referred to as the Shokuho (織豊) period or the Azuchi Osaka period. Also, because the name of the era used for most of the Azuchi Momoyama period was Tensho (天正), it is sometimes referred to as the Tensho period.

Summary

The name given to this period is based on the name of the castle where Nobunaga ODA resided, Azuchi-jo Castle, and the name of the castle where Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI resided, Momoyama-jo Castle (also known as Fushimi-jo Castle). Particularly, the latter half of this period, when the Toyotomi family tried to control the entire country, is referred to as the Momoyama period, and the culture that flourished in this age is called the Momoyama culture. However, the name of Momoyama (meaning peach mountain) was taken from the fact that peach trees were grown on the site of Fushimi-jo Castle, which was destroyed in the Edo Period, which indicates that a castle called Momoyama-jo Castle existed. Therefore, if we are to respect the historical background, the "Fushimi Period" will be a more appropriate name, but in the first place Azuchi-jo Castle existed only for slightly more than three years after its completion, and in the case of Fushimi-jo Castle (Mt. Kohata), Hideyoshi died just two years after its completion; consequently, the time both rulers stayed within the respective castles was short, and thus some assert that the use of the name of the castles to symbolize the period is not appropriate. Because of such reasons, the name of Shokuho Period is also spreading in recent years, and some suggest the names of Azuchi Osaka Period or Tensho Period.

There are several opinions regarding the start and end of the Azuchi Momoyama period. As for the start, a strong view is that the period started in 1568 when Nobunaga ODA obeyed Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA and arrived in Kyoto, but others assert that it was in 1573, when Yoshiaki was banished from Kyoto, or 1576, when the construction of Azuchi-jo Castle started. Regarding the end, there are such views as it was in 1598, when Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI died, or in 1600 when Ieyasu TOKUGAWA won the Battle of Sekigahara, or in 1603 when Ieyasu established the Edo Bakufu, etc. In any case, it is a matter of where to divide 'the period of Oda/Toyotomi,' but the definition of this period has become complicated because it overlaps the Muromachi period and the age of civil war (Japan).

Establishment of government by Nobunaga ODA

Among the daimyos of the age of civil war, Nobunaga ODA's powers gradually became extremely strong, and by obeying Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA and arriving in Kyoto, government by Nobunaga began. When he exiled Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA from Kyoto in 1573, Muromachi Bakufu virtually collapsed, and the Oda government was established in name and reality. Furthermore, the start of construction of Azuchi-jo Castle in 1576 announced to the world that the trend toward Tenka Fubu (天下布武) was gradually becoming a fact. In such an environment, a new culture was starting to bloom; it was centered on Kyoto, which was regaining peace through control by Nobunaga. Subsequently, Nobunaga further expanded his power and eventually controlled central Japan; however, in 1582, when it seemed he was very close to unifying Japan, he was defeated in the Honnoji Incident.

The Unification of Japan by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI

Upon the occurrence of the Honnoji Incident, Hideyoshi HASHIBA arrived in Kyoto before anyone else and defeated the leader, Mitsuhide AKECHI, in the Battle of Yamazaki. Consequently, Hideyoshi seized leadership within the Oda government and strengthened his position as Nobunaga's successor through the Kiyosu Meeting and the Battle of Shizugatake; then, in 1583, he started the construction of Osaka-jo Castle. Hideyoshi was in 1586 appointed as grand minister of state and chief adviser to the Emperor, and was given the surname Toyotomi by the Emperor; in 1590 he unified Japan and endeavored to stabilize his government by conducting land surveys and sword hunts throughout the country. Also, in 1592 he conducted the Bunroku-Keicho War, seeking to conquer Ming, but the situation reached a deadlock in Korea, which was supposed to be the only route through to Ming. On the other hand, peace came to Japan as the result of unification; various daimyos endeavored to manage their countries, and cities in various parts of Japan prospered. Hideyoshi based his activities in Kyoto and directly and aggressively engaged in cultural activities such as tea ceremony, etc. In addition to the above, through contact with different cultures via trade with Spain and Portugal, the spread of manufacturing techniques of Korean pottery, etc., culture entered a new era and came to be referred to as the "Momoyama culture."

The end of the Toyotomi period

When Hideyoshi died in 1598, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who was the leader of the Council of Five Elders (五大老), started to distinguish himself and took the lead in negotiations for peace through the withdrawal of the army, which had advanced into Korea; subsequently, he became the person who virtually controlled the government. Anti-Ieyasu powers led by Mitsunari ISHIDA opposed such moves by Ieyasu, resulting in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, which divided the entire country into two parties. Ieyasu, who won the war, strengthened the base of his government and was appointed by the Emperor as Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") in 1603. With this the Azuchi Momoyama period ended completely, and an unprecedented age of peace--the Edo period--was born.

Chronology

Nobunaga ODA obeyed Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA and arrived in Kyoto (in 1568).
The Fall of Muromachi Bakufu (1573)
The Battle of Nagashino (1575)
Nobunaga ODA constructed Azuchi-jo Castle (1576). Nobunaga ODA forced Kennyo (顕如) to surrender and concluded the war with Ishiyama Honganji Temple (石山本願寺) (Ishiyama War (1570 –1580)). The Honnoji Incident (1582)=>the Battle of Yamazaki: treason by Mitsuhide AKECHI ended in a relatively short-lived rule.

The Kiyosu Meeting (1582)=>the Battle of Shizugatake (1583): in the fight for the position as Nobunaga ODA's successor, Katsuie SHIBATA, who was the top senior retainer, was at enmity with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. Hideyoshi HASHIBA won, and the defeated Katsuie SHIBATA committed suicide.

Hideyoshi HASHIBA constructed Osaka-jo Castle on the site of Ishiyama Honganji Temple (1583).
The Battle of Komaki Nagakute (小牧・長久手の戦い) (1584): a war between Hideyoshi HASHIBA and Nobukatsu ODA, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA=>made peace
Hideyoshi HASHIBA assumed the name of the Fujiwara clan and became chief adviser to the Emperor. In the same year (1585), Shikoku was suppressed.

Hideyoshi HASHIBA was granted the surname Toyotomi by the Emperor, and became the grand minister of state (1586). Kyushu was suppressed (1587)=>after conquering Kyushu, he issued the Order to Expel Christian Priests (伴天連追放令) from Hakata. After the siege of Odawara, the Go-Hojo clan surrendered to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and Japan was unified (1590).
Bunroku-Keicho War (1592 – 1598)
Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI died (in 1598).
The Battle of Sekigahara (1600)
Ieyasu TOKUGAWA assumed the position of Seii Taishogun (in 1603).

The Momoyama culture

In the Azuchi Momoyama period, newly emerging merchants who were considered wealthy merchants rose in power, and a tendency toward a luxurious and large-scale culture emerged, supported by their wealth. Also, as a result of Nobunaga's policies, the power exercised by the Buddhists weakened at the center of the country. Fewer works based on Buddhist themes were produced, with newer works focusing more on human beings and prepared in a more modern style.

The tea ceremony became popular, and accordingly fine utensils imported from Tang were prized; on the other hand, Wabi-cha (わび茶) also developed as a resistance to such a tendency. Sometimes, utensils for the tea ceremony were given by a daimyo to his vassal as a prize, or the tea ceremony affected political events by serving to strengthen the ties between the samurai and the merchants.

One should remember the impact of European culture, which had occurred through trade with Spain and Portugal since the arrival in Japan of Francisco Xavier in 1549. It is significant that Japan had the first contact with Western culture (formally, without China, etc., acting as an intermediary), although it was still small in scale.

Paintings

Painters of the Kano school were directly connected with Nobunaga ODA, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and other powers of the time. They represented the central power in artistic circles.

Pictures on partitions (fusuma-e): were painted on the partitions and folding screens in castles. Dami-e paintings were done in blue and green against a background of gold foil. They were characterized by rich colors and strong lines, and grand composition.

Ink and wash
Paintings depicting customs

Major painters and their masterpieces
Dami-e paintings
Eitoku KANO (狩野永徳): The huge folding screens of "The Lions" (Karajishi-zu byobu)
Sanraku KANO (狩野山楽): Botan-zu (牡丹図), Shouou-zu (松鷹図)
Ink and wash
Tohaku HASEGAWA (長谷川等伯): Chishakuin Temple, Fusuma-e: Maple Tree, Chishakuin Temple; Fusuma-e: Cherry Blossom, Shorinzu Byobu (松林図屏風)
Yusho KAIHO: Sansuizu Byobu (山水図屏風)
Paintings depicting customs
Eitoku KANO: Rakuchu Rakugai screens
Nanban Byobu (南蛮屏風)

Lacquer ware

Kodai-ji Makie (高台寺蒔絵)

Pottery

Raku ware
Oribe ware
The manufacturing techniques of Korean pottery originated when many daimyos from western Japan, who had participated in the Bunroku-Keicho War together with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, brought Korean potters with them to their own land and had the potters make the pottery.
These mainly include the following:

Arita ware was made around Arita-cho, in Saga Prefecture. It originated with the potters brought back by Naoshige NABESHIMA.

Hagi ware was made around Hagi City, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. It originated with the potters who had been brought back to Japan by Terumoto MORI.

Satsuma ware was made around Kagoshima Prefecture. It originated with the potters brought back by Yoshihiro SHIMAZU.

Agano (上野) ware was made in Fukuchi-machi, Tagawa-gun, in Fukuoka Prefecture. It originated with the pottery made by Korean potters who became vassals of Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, when the latter became the daimyo of the Kokura clan.

Takatori ware was made in Nogata City, Fukuoka Prefecture and in Fukuoka City.

Type printing

There are the type printing by wood block, which was prepared by transferring the know-how of Korean technicians upon the dispatch of troops to Korea, and the Western type printing, which was introduced by Valignano, from the Society of Jesus.

Keicho Chokuhan (慶長勅版): Printed upon the order of Emperor Goyosei
Christian-ban (Amakusa-ban): 'Amakusa-ban Heike Monogatari (天草版平家物語),' 'Amakusa-ban Isoho Monogatari (天草版伊曽保物語),' 'Guia do Pecador,' 'Vocabulario da Lingoa de Iapam (日葡辞書)'

Tea ceremony

Wabi-cha
SEN no Rikyu (千利休)
Daimyo-cha (大名茶)

Dance

Kowaka-mai (幸若舞)
Okuni Kabuki (Kabuki Dance): performed by Izumo no Okuni (出雲阿国)
The origin of kabuki

A narrative

Joruri
Ryutatsu-bushi (隆達節)

Castles

They were referred to as Shokuho-type castles, stone walls made from piled-up field stones (野面積み石垣) were starting to be used, and generally castles with castle towers were constructed.

Inuyama-jo Castle: Existing (national treasure)
Azuchi-jo Castle: burned down after the Honnoji Incident.
Matsumoto-jo Castle: Existing (a national treasure)
Osaka-jo Castle: Burned in the Siege of Osaka; the existing ruins date to the Edo period
Maruoka-jo Castle: Existing (important cultural property of Japan)
Fushimi-jo Castle: Destroyed after the Battle of Sekigahara
Jurakudai (聚楽第): Destroyed upon the downfall of Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI. Daitoku-ji Karamon Gate (大徳寺唐門) and Hiunkaku at Nishi-Honganji Temple remain as ruins.

Sawayama-jo Castle
Takeda-jo Castle
Nagoya-jo Castle

Wa-jo Castle (倭城)
Urusan-jo Castle
Sosenpo-jo Castle (西生浦城)
Junten-jo Castle (順天城)

Others

Tea room
Myokian Taian (妙喜庵待庵)

Shoin (書院) and Garden
Daigoji Temple Sampoin Omote-shoin (醍醐寺三宝院表書院) and Garden