|A View of Civil War
You will remember from Book 1 that in Japan, the emperor, who was supposed to be ruling the country, was only a puppet. He was often forced to enter a monastery, leaving the country in the hands of powerful nobles who were appointed “shogun” (or sometimes shikken).
In the 1330, one emperor, Go Daigo, refused the shogun’s command to retire and tried to restore the old power of the emperors. The feudal nobles took sided, but unfortunately the emperor joined the one which lost the war. The victor, Takauji, made himself shogun, and the office remained in his family until 1573.
But it was not a time of space: the feudal lords with their private armies of peasant food soldiers and their highly trained knights (samurai) ruled their own districts like princes. They fought one another for more land. The nobles, now called daimios, forced their peasants to work harder and harder in order to produce more food. It was actually a time of considerable prosperity as more land was cultivated and was more efficiently managed. Trade flourished and towns grew up. All of this meant more money and power for the daimios who owned them. It was time of great culture, too, under the influence of Zen Buddhism: painting, gardening, the tea ceremony, flower arrangement and the theatre flourished.