Azuma Kagami (吾妻鏡)

"Azuma Kagami" is a history book completed in the Japanese medieval times, or the Kamakura period. Hojobon, a version of the text in wide circulation today, consists of 52 volumes in total. But the 45th volume is missing, and there are some blank years without any articles. It is the primary historical material used in Kamakura period research, although some of the dates were compiled inaccurately, and there are also misrepresentations in its writing done to justify the Hojo-Tokuso family, the main line of the Hojo family. It is unknown what the book was called when it was originally completed, but there is a conjecture that the title was 'Kamakura Jiki,' which can be seen in a letter preserved in the Kanazawa Library. The work was known as "Azuma Kagami," at least in the manuscripts transcribed in the Muromachi period. It is also called "Azuma Kagami" (東鑑, the Mirror of the East), which came from the cover of the book printed with engraved wooden blocks in the Edo period.


The book starts where Prince Mochihito's order issued on April 9, 1180 is sent to the Hojo manor house in Izu where MINAMOTO no Yoritomo stays. The work was written in a mixed writing style of Japanese and Chinese loanwords or passages just like diaries written by court nobles, and it takes the form of a chronicle of the Kamakura shogun, containing records of 87 years, which begin with the Jisho-Juei War through the establishment of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and the Jokyu Disturbance, until the middle of the 13th century of Imperial Prince Munetaka's arrival at Kyoto on July 20, 1266, who was a retired shogun expelled from Kamakura.

According to the Hojobon, which is to be mentioned later, out of a total of 52 volumes, Yoritomo takes the part of the main character in the first 15, and the reign of the Minamoto clan which spanned three generations is dealt with in subsequent volumes up to the 24th. In the remaining half of the book, the main characters are the Hojo-Tokuso family. The book shows respect to Yoritomo to some extent, but sometimes severe comments are made about the Minamoto clan's reign. Of all the Kamakura shogun covered in the book, MINAMOTO no Yoriie came in for the most criticism. And the latter part of the book lays great emphasis on the wise administration under the Hojo-Tokuso family. In particular, Yasutoki HOJO was treated with remarkable respect. As far as the scope of the book is concerned, it seems as though the plan was to deal with Imperial Prince Munetaka from the beginning. However the compiling work of Azuma Kagami itself seems not to have been completed.

A history of studies on Azuma Kagami

Hisashi HOSHINO, who published "A Review of Azuma Kagami" in 1889, was the first historian who regarded "Azuma Kagami" as an important historical material. However, it was said that he had a strong tendency to accept the book uncritically. Nine years later in 1898, Katsuro HARA published "The Nature of Azuma Kagami and Its Worth as a Historical Material," emphasizing the importance of 'criticism of the historical materials' and warning people not to believe them easily and blindly.

From the late Meiji to Taisho periods, Hidematsu WADA and Kuniji YASHIRO, scholars in The Historiographical Institute of Tokyo University (old Historiographical Office of Tokyo Imperial University), introduced the Yoshikawabon and other variant texts which had been unknown until then. Referring to records of Mandokoro, the Office of Administration, and Monchujo, the Office of Inquiry, in the Kamakura bakufu and even diaries of the Kamakura bakufu in Kyo, they thought seriously about the question raised by Katsuro HARA and the criticism of the historical materials, revealing that Azuma Kagami wasn't a chronological record as had been originally thought, and was instead compiled in later ages, which means that it contains many errors and misrepresentations in writing. After that, "A Study of Azuma Kagami" written by Kuniji YASHIRO in 1913 had been the primary study of "Azuma Kagami" for a long time.

In recent years, a study was conducted by Fumihiko GOMI from 1990 to 2000, which deepened the analysis by Kuniji YASHIRO, considering when and by whom those diaries and the written records which became a foundation of "Azuma Kagami" were written. This is how the whole picture of "Azuma Kagami" has begun to be revealed.

The original source material for Azuma Kagami.

It was Kuniji YASHIRO and Fumihiko GOMI who conducted an excellent study on the original source material for Azuma Kagami. According to Fumihiko GOMI, there are three historical sources for "Azuma Kagami," but the fourth one will also be added here for convenience.

Diaries and written records of the government officials as primary historical materials. Accounts that were handed as evidence or histories of lawsuits by Military Land Stewards, shogun's vassals, temples and shrines, or ones that were offered in accordance with requests. These are considered to be the accounts specially preserved in Mandokoro and Monchujo, or official documents passed down in the officials' houses.

They are records belonging to Kyo and are largely accused of plagiarism.

The book is basically based on No. 1 to No. 3 mentioned above, but it partly referred to No. 4, diaries of court nobles in Kyo represented by FUJIWARA no Teika's "Meigetsuki," and accounts of incidents occurred in Kyo were sometimes copied word for word into the book.

Diaries and written records of the government officials

The most important source material will be dealt with in the following order: records of battles, and then each record of shogun, with their distinctions and authors being examined, too.

Records of battles

The parts mentioned most frequently in "Azuma Kagami" would be the ones overlapping with the "Tale of the Heike," and the scenes of the battle of Oshu, the Wada battle, the Jokyu Disturbance, and the Hoji battle. These descriptions of battles are very vivid and realistic. Although the processes of the battles remain unknown, the descriptions of the battles themselves seem to have been based on the records written by military commissioners to report the grant of honors or distribution of rewards according to the merits, and also on the records of the letters on details of exploits of wars (or distinguished services). Among these records, it is almost possible to identify the military commissioners in the battle of Oshu, the Wada battle, and the Jokyu Disturbance. A military commissioner in the battle of Oshu seems to have been Yukimasa NIKAIDO, in the Wada battle, Yukimasa NIKAIDO's son Yukimura NIKAIDO, and in the Jokyu Disturbance, Mototsuna GOTO. As to the Hoji battle, it remains unknown.

A record of Shogun Yoritomo

The most difficult time to make an assumption about the kind of source material and its author is between 1180 and 1184, around the time of the Genpei War. The writing of this time is narratively powerful and interesting to read. In other words, it is hard to recognize the source material. It can be said that even though the book takes the style of diary, it is not a diary at all. Although it would be the second classification, several writings and family traditions which were handed down in the families of shogun's vassals seem to have been used for the whole record of Shogun Yoritomo.

FUJIWARA no Kunimichi was a senior officer of writing when the army was raised, but after around 1184, the middle and lower class officials serving the Imperial court such as FUJIWARA no Toshikane, Yukimasa NIKAIDO, OE no Hiromoto, and Yasunobu MIYOSHI went down to Kamakura to be in charge of Monchujo and Kumonjo, the Office of Administration which later became Mandokoro. As to the reign of Shogun Yoritomo since then, Yukimasa NIKAIDO's written records are considered to be the most likely source material for the foundation of "Azuma Kagami" at this time, although FUJIWARA no Toshikane also appears a lot as a senior officer of writing in the book.

Records of Shogun Yoriie and Sanetomo

It seems to have been based on the written records by Yukimitsu NIKAIDO, who was a son of Yukimasa NIKAIDO and the first to be an under secretary of Mandokoro from a commissioner of Mandokoro, and also supplemented by records written by Yasunobu MIYOSHI and Yukimura NIKAIDO, who was a military commissioner of the Wada battle as mentioned above. However these records of Shogun Yoriie and MINAMOTO no Sanetomo contain a lot of misrepresentations in writing to justify the Hojo clan. Therefore it is considered that even though the book was generally based on the written records by Yukimitsu NIKAIDO, it contains considerable additions and revisions in its descriptions of Yoriie, Sanetomo, and the Hojo clan.

Records of Shogun FUJIWARA no Yoritsune and Yoritsugu

Compared with the record of shogun Genji, which readers can enjoy as a story, the fluency of the writing is quite different. And it also contains many articles about ceremonies, extraordinary natural phenomena, festivals and prayers.
Kuniji YASHIRO commented, 'the description is mediocre, and the writing lacks fluency, so it is as monotonous as reading a mere diary.'

Katsuro HARA argued that it seemed to be compiled by one person referring to written records by various families from Kenryaku to Eno eras (1210 - around 1240), or the reign of priestess shogun as they were called, to those of Shogun FUJIWARA no Yoritsune and regent Yasutoki HOJO. He also claimed that it was more reliable, compared with the record of the shogun Genji. Moreover, he considered that the records were almost as true to the written records as to the years of 1240 to 1266, or the reigns of FUJIWARA no Yoritsune to Shogun Prince Munetaka around the Eno era to the late Eno era. Studies conducted thus far have denied his opinion, as far as compiling the work itself for posterity is concerned, but it is accepted in that the virtually intact source material has survived.

As to the authorship of the written records, Fumihiko GOMI considers that it is mainly attributed to two commissioner of the grant of honors, Morokazu NAKAHARA, and Mototsuna GOTO, who was also a military commissioner in the previously mentioned Jokyu Disturbance. He also considers that records written by FUJIWARA no Sadakazu and TAIRA no Moritsuna (Saburo-hyoenojo), retainers of the Tokuso family, might have supplemented the work.

A record of Shogun Prince Munetaka

The 'tediousness' of the writing and contents pointed out by both Kuniji YASHIRO and Katsuro HARA, was taken to extremes during this time. Even so, the records are highly reliable. However although it means that the contents written in the record are reliable, it doesn't necessarily mean that everything of the political situation in those days was written honestly. Fumihiko GOMI conjectures that this part is mainly based on the written records of the commissioner of Shogunate affairs, and the records dated until July 5, 1263 were written by Yukikata NIKAIDO, and the records after that were written by Morotsura NAKAHARA, who succeeded to the commissioner of Shogunate affairs.

Documents submitted later

The second ones are documents which seem to have been submitted from military land stewards, shogun's vassals, temples, and shrines as evidence and a history of the lawsuit. These documents are interweaved into the body of the text, preceded by lines like 'today such a document as follows has been issued by a superior,' and the original documents are sometimes cited or reproduced in the records. Although not all of them were forged documents, some were. Because of this, it is assumed that almost no documents were actually preserved in the government and they were selected and recorded from the documents handed later as evidence for the 'Soron' lawsuit.

In trials conducted in those days, a plaintiff had to prepare all the documents and evidence such as kudashibumi (document issued by a superior or office), gosho (writings or letters of superior), and even the related laws in order to take somebody to court. A judge distinguished the true from the false by the form of those submitted documents and so on, then decided the case based on the information in them. Even though the dates public notices were sent is written in "Azuma Kagami," most of the documents seem not to have been preserved in the government office since that day. In fact, such documents were often not written on the date they were supposed to, which means they were forged documents. But in truth, analyzing such forged documents reveals when "Azuma Kagami" was compiled.

There are many Kudashibumi issued by Yoritomo which were related to Yukihira SHIMOKOBE and Masayoshi SHIMOKOBE, and public commendations of Yukihira SHIMOKOBE, the Chiba clan, and Yoshitsura SAHARA of the Miura clan often appear, saying something like how he was admired or praised by Yoritomo. The descendants of the family would probably have presented those documents as materials. "Sonpi Bunmyaku" (Biographies of Nobles and the Humble) has an entry dated October 10, 1193, which says that a biological son of Yukihira SHIMOKOBE, Tokikazu SAITO's coming of age ceremony was held, so there is a possibility that the descendant of Tokikazu SAITO (Tokikazu NOMOTO) handed the family tradition or history to the compiler of "Azuma Kagami."

Official documents remaining in Mandokoro, Monchujo, and residences of the government officials

The third ones are official documents, and they are sometimes interweaved in the descriptive part of the text with 'documents submitted from shogun's vassals and others' as above. Some were preserved in the office like Mandokoro and used as source materials for "Azuma Kagami," while some drafts, made by government officials or documents to inform under secretary of Mandokoro and Monchujo of the decisions made at the meeting held by Tokuso family, were handed down in the families of under secretary of Mandokoro and Monchujo, and then used for "Azuma Kagami."

For example, according to the entry from "Azuma Kagami" dated May 1, 1254, 'There is an announcement about taking hostages. … Taking hostages must be prohibited. This announcement has been sent from Soshu to Monchujo. 勧湛・實綱・寂阿奉行たり'
The text of this additional law No. 299 can be read in "A Collection of the Historical Material on the History of Law System in Medieval Ages," and the addressee is OTA Minbu-daifu, (meaning the under secretary of Monchujo, MIYOSHI no Yasutsura) so it would have been handed to the Miyoshi clan (the Ota clan).

Records of Kyo line

As to the descriptions about Jisho-Juei War, preciseness of information in the fourth record depends on whether they are directly related to Kamakura or not. In particular, information on the activities of MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka in the Hokuriku district were not fully and quickly provided to Kamakura in those days, and most of the information seems to have been supplemented with the material from the vicinity of Kyoto written in much later.

For example, the entry in "Azuma Kagami" dated August 13, 1181, says that an Imperial order to send a punitive force against Yoshinaka KISO was issued.
"Hyakuren-sho," which was also compiled later as well as "Azuma Kagami," contains an account saying that 'an Imperial order to send a punitive force against Yoshinaka was issued.'
However, the diaries of court nobles, for example, the entry "Gyokuyo," dated August 6, 1181, doesn't have the name of Yoshinaka KISO. The entry "Kikki" dated August 15 and 16 doesn't contain it, either. In fact, the Heike side didn't intend to hunt down and kill Yoshinaka at this stage, and it was the Kai-Genji (Minamoto clan) who tried to do so. There is a possibility that even they didn't know the name of Yoshinaka KISO. It was two years later in the entry "Gyokuyo" dated May 16, 1183, that the name of Yoshinaka first appeared in the diary of court noble in Kyo.

Kazuhiko UESUGI pointed out that "Hyakuren-sho" and "Azuma Kagami" were compiled years later, and the compilers would have had preconceived notions that the battle at Hokuriku was fought to prevent Yoshinaka KISO invading Kyo because he fought up to Kyo through Hokurikudo. Looking back on it now, we have the strong notion that it was MINAMOTO no Yoritomo and Yoshinaka KISO who stood against the Taira family, but in fact all areas in the country rose in rebellion against the rule of the Taira family. People rebelled in Kyushu, lying to the west, Kumano, and even the vicinity of Kyoto like Omi. The rebellion was also supported by the Enryaku-ji Temple in Mt. Hiei, Mii-dera Temple, Onjo-ji Temple, and Kofuku-ji Temple.
It wasn't 'the Minamoto family versus the Taira family.'

Although the point mentioned above is based on indirect evidence, Kuniji YASHIRO, at the beginning of the Taisho period, collated "Azuma Kagami" with various historical materials to analyze the source materials more closely, finding out that it was based on the diaries of court nobles and many Kyo line materials. And he presented the 29 parts of the text in question with records which seemed to be the source materials. Among them, 14 parts, almost half of them, used "Meigetsuki" by FUJIWARA no Teika as materials. Because of these things, YASHIRO concluded that although "Azuma Kagami" takes a form of diary, it was definitely compiled in later ages.

The relationship these materials have with the literature as pointed out by Kuniji YASHIRO have been considered in later years, and Fumihiko GOMI concluded that there was no indication that "Gyokuyo," a court noble's diary during the period of Genpei War, and "Kikki" were used as source materials. Commissioners in those days couldn't have seen them. There is also no sign that "Heike Monogatari," "Jokyu-ki," and "Rokudai Shojiki" (A Story of Events of Six Emperors) were used, so it is believed that each historical material (records of battles) which came to be a foundation of the work was each used in its own respective way. Although there were some modifications, some quotations from "Meigetsuki," "Kinkai Wakashu" (The Golden Pagoda-Tree Collection of Japanese Poetry), and others were identified, and as YASHIRO pointed out, "Jikkinsho" (A Miscellany of Ten Maxims) was also probably used for the public commendation of achievements.

Eulogy and misrepresentations in Azuma Kagami

Excluding mistakes made carelessly by the compilers and errors in the source materials used, there were other misrepresentations in the text that were made intentionally, and those, along with the eulogy, are going to be discussed here. Needless to say, we have to pay careful attention to them in order to use "Azuma Kagami" as a historical material.

MINAMOTO to Yoriie (justification for Tokimasa HOJO)

The records of Shogun Yoriie were misrepresented most in "Azuma Kagami," and everyone considers that the end of the rule by the Minamoto clan, which had lasted for three generations, was brought by the son who was unworthy of his father. However, there is no evidence to prove that it was a portrayal based on reality, on the contrary there are uncountable doubts that it might be a misrepresentation. As to the end of Yoriie, it is certain that it was depicted in an untruthful way. According to "Azuma Kagami," Yoriie decided to retire into priesthood on September 7, 1203, and left the post of shogun, which was right after Yoshikazu HIKI's Incident on September 2, 1203, and the account dated September 10 says that MINAMOTO no Sanetomo decided to succeed to shogun. And the death of Yoriie was recorded in the entry dated July 19, in the following year, 1204.

However, the messenger from Kamakura who brought the news that Yoriie had died of disease on September 1 arrived at the Imperial court in Kyo in the early morning of September 7, 1203, and the emperor demanded to appoint Sanetomo as Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), which was recorded in Iezane KONOE's diary, "Inokuma Kanpaku-ki," "Meigetsuki" by FUJIWARA no Teika, and "Prince Narisuke's Diary" by Prince Narisuke SHIRAKAWAHAKUOKE. Although it was when Yoriie was still alive and hadn't actually retired into priesthood.

Differences among the shogun's vassals in the early period.

"Azuma Kagami" says that it was the notorious second wife of Tokimasa HOJO, Maki no Kata (Lady Maki) who tried to depose Shigetada HATAKEYAMA, who was popular with people, and Yoshitoki HOJO opposed murdering Shigetada HATAKEYAMA, speaking with fervor against his father, Tokimasa.
He said to his father, 'Why do we have to plan to kill him now? If we discard our exploits of war achieved frequently and hastily punish him with death, we are to regret it.'
The readers who take "Azuma Kagami" as a historical novel might believe it, but nobody who reads this as historical material accepts it as true without question.

It is difficult to determine if Kagetoki KAJIWARA was made to chase him down by the Hojo clan's stratagem, and if Yoshimori WADA and Yoshikazu HIKI were defeated mainly due to the Hojo clan, but it is widely known that such truth can't be found in "Azuma Kagami." Also, right after Yoritomo took up arms and before entering Kamakura, there were some vassals like Hirokazu KAZUSANOSUKE and Tsunetane CHIBA who led a large brigade of bushi from Boso and were to have very different fates later.


Yoritomo forced Kagetoki KAJIWARA to murder Hirokazu KAZUSANOSUKE, but the reason why he did it is not written even in "Azuma Kagami." Presumably the compiler didn't know either. However, Hirokazu KAZUSANOSUKE was depicted as a person who is destined to be murdered later in "Azuma Kagami." It says that Hirokazu KAZUSANOSUKE was a rough man who was not loyal to the Minamoto family like Tsunetane CHIBANOSUKE.

The most conspicuous example is an anecdote about Hirokazu KAZUSANOSUKE's first meeting Yoritomo on September 19, 1180. Citing "Shomonki," he had two different thinking in his mind of plotting to kill Yoritomo if he had a chance, but he threw his malicious intent away to see Yoritomo's dauntless attitude, and averted a conflict following him. Such examples are usually dressed up by the compilers; first of all, it is impossible for the compilers in later ages to know what Hirokazu himself was thinking. Besides, according to "Azuma Kagami," the forces Hirokazu KAZUSANOSUKE led then consisted of 20,000 warriors on horseback, but "Enkeibon Heike Monogatari" says 10,000 warriors, and "Genpei Tojo-roku" (A Record of Genpei Battles) says 1,000, meaning "Azuma Kagami" exaggerated the number most. It is conjectured that the closest number to reality would be 1,000 warriors on horseback (about 3,000 people) as depicted in "Genpei Tojo-roku," roughly estimated from the crop of rice yielded in the Kazusa Province from the early Edo period to the early Kamakura period. And Hirokazu KAZUSANOSUKE was killed by Yoritomo on December 22, 1183, and most of his lands were owned by Tsunetane CHIBA, Yoshimori WADA, and the Miura clan.

Tsunetane CHIBA

How was Tsunetane CHIBA depicted?
The entry dated September 9, 1180 is very famous, and Tsunetane CHIBA said, 'I was moved to tears and could say nothing to hear that Yoritomo is trying to restore the Minamoto family after its fall,' and the advice Tsunetane CHIBA gave then is always quoted to consider why Yoritomo chose Kamakura. It is because Kamakura is an area of 'Gonoseki' (ancient site) or 'Yogai no chi' (an impregnable fortress), or in other words a natural castle.

However, for Tsunetane CHIBA, Yoritomo's father MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo was not a man to whom he felt indebted, which is clear to see if one looks at what happened at Soma-mikuriya, the private estate of Soma ranch. Koichiro KURODA said that there is indication that MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo was not the head at that stage, and tried to deprive those at the same level as himself of land. The Chiba clan is not the retainer of the generations of the Minamoto family.

Tsunetane CHIBA's family and Hirokazu KAZUSANOSUKE supported Yoritomo not because both of them were followers of the Minamoto clan as "Azuma Kagami" says, but because they wanted to resist the oppression by the Fujiwara clan of Shimousa and the Satake clan of Hitachi which were related to the Taira family by making Yoritomo their leader, and it was their last-ditch plan to retrieve their own domains which had been deprived. The other leading local lords who joined Yoritomo's army in Kanto also supported him for similar reasons.

Incidentally, according to the entry dated on August 29, 1180, 'Buei (MINAMOTO no Yoritomo) went to Ryoshima, Heihoku District, Awa Province by ship taking Sanehira with him.'
It is unknown what source materials were referred to after the date to October 6, when Yoritomo entered Kamakura. Yoritomo's senior officer FUJIWARA no Kunimichi didn't cross over Awa. Tokimasa HOJO also once crossed over Awa, but he soon headed for Kai and didn't accompany Yoritomo. After this, nothing about Yoshitoki HOJO was mentioned in the writings on Yoritomo until he entered Kamakura. The family line of Yoshitsura SAHARA of the Miura clan, as well as the Chiba clan, can tell the details of this time period, and if we assume that such family traditions were captured in "Azuma Kagami," everything can be consistent.

Yasunobu MIYOSHI

Yasunobu (Zenshin) MIYOSHI was the father of Yasutsura MIYOSHI of Monchujo mentioned above, and his record would have been used as one of the bases for compiling the book. However, we have to be careful because there are many intended or sometimes blatant eulogies of Yasunobu MIYOSHI in the accounts concerning him. Kuniji YASHIRO examined "Meigetsuki" intensely to find that the entry dated November 4, 1211 in "Azuma Kagami," was an abbreviated version of the entry dated October 23, 1211 in "Meigetsuki."
Besides, there is an entire copy in the entry dated the following year, 1212, from "Meigetsuki," the entry dated July 27, 1212 which reads '適有造営事,須上臈上卿宰相弁奉之歟.'
The names of Daibuzoku-nyudo and Zenshin seen in the record refer to Yasunobu MIYOSHI.

Kuniji YASHIRO says that both of them were written as a comment or suggestion by Yasunobu MIYOSHI, which is evidence that "Azuma Kagami" was compiled in later ages, and he conjectured that the leading compilers of "Azuma Kagami" were the descendants of the Miyoshi clan, Machino and the Ota clan.

In recent years, Fumihiko GOMI pointed out that as to Yasunobu MIYOSHI's arrival at Kamakura in April 1184, there seems to be intentional praise for him in the entries dated April 14 and 15, 1184, saying that 'he was determined to head for Kanto region from the beginning' and 'he should support the political affairs' respectively, and how he was 'quite dubious' about the entries. Zenshin (Yasunobu MIYOSHI) often appears in the episodes as a whole, for example, in the entry dated June 9, 1191, at the marriage between Yoshiyasu ICHIJO and Yoshitsune KUJO, Sadaisho (Minister of the Left), the wedding clothes were late to arrive, and Masako HOJO, Midaidokoro (Shogun's wife) or Yoritomo, who arranged them, was in a 'bad temper,' but Zenshin's 'excellent turn of phrase' made Masako or Yoritomo 'amused' and saved the people from the trouble.

OE no Hiromoto

The entry concerning OE no Hiromoto which has received the most attention so far is the one dated November 12, 1185, about his advice to establish the positions of 'Shugo and Jito' (provincial military governor and estate steward).
Once it was seen as the beginning of 'Shugo and Jito.'
However, the article which received the most attention was also because of the eulogy.

According to the entry dated November 28 of the same year, Tokimasa HOJO demanded the Imperial court to establish 'Shugo and Jito.'
Although "Gyokuyo" by Kanezane KUJO has a record concerning the same matter, it doesn't contain the words 'Shugo and Jito.'
Tadashi/Sho ISHIMODA got to the heart of a problem in 1960, pointing out that the words 'set the Shugo and Jito at each province' can be seen in the other historical materials in the late Kamakura period, therefore it was not based on the governments original record but on the common view widely accepted at the time. The analysis by Tadashi ISHIMODA encouraged a lively argument about the appearance and status of Shugo and Jito, and now this stage of Shugo and Jito is considered to be Kunijito-sei, a provincial Jito system, which is the previous stage of the Shugo system.

Aside from 'Shugo and Jito,' it would be OE no Hiromoto who suggested 'providing food (5-sho per tan) regardless of private estate or public estate,' which was written in "Gyokuyo" in 1185, the diary of a court noble who was on the side of the Imperial court. However the words 'the Second Rank (MINAMOTO no Yoritomo) was particularly satisfied and decided as he was told,' seem to have been added to the book together with the words 'Shugo and Jito' when it was compiled later. That is why it turned out to be the article in intentional praise of Hiromoto.

Yukimitsu NIKAIDO

Records of Shogun Yoriie and Sanetomo seem to have been based mostly on the written record by Yukimitsu NIKAIDO, but his records also seem to contain intentional compliments. Entry dated September 15, 1204. On that day, MINAMOTO no Sanetomo visited Yoshitoki HOJO's residence (Soshu gyotei), but he was obliged to stay there because of the lunar eclipse. Then Yukimitsu NIKAIDO told the old story of Emperor Shirakawa, impressing Yoshitoki HOJO. However, this anecdote is the same as the 24th story of the first chapter of "Jikkinsho."

Kuniji YASHIRO also pointed out that there is a part which the compiler must have transcribed from "Kinkai Wakashu." The entry is dated December 19 and 20, 1213, but in "Kinkai Wakashu" it is dated December, 1212. The contents are neither a falsehood nor gilding, but it would be certain that the compiler had an intention of praising Yukimitsu.

Yasutoki HOJO

Speaking of eulogies, the most conspicuous examples are the entries concerning Yasutoki HOJO. It is the famous entry dated April 8, 1200 that says people tend to relax their wariness when they are not involved in a political dispute directly, but they should be more careful.

One of the powerful nobles, Wakasa-zenji Yasusue, former Governor of Wakasa Province, assaulted a wife of a vassal's follower (bushi) at Rokujo Street Madenokoji Avenue in broad daylight. The follower got angry and chased the man taking his sword, and he killed the noble at Rokujo-south, Madenokoji-west, within Taira Gate facing Kujo. The follower was captured, and a post-horse was sent from Rokuhara in Kyo in order to judge the man.
OE no Hiromoto asked Yasutoki HOJO's opinion about it, and he replied, 'it is a sin against Bushi's duty for a follower to kill those who are eligible to enter the In and other palaces, to say nothing of the fact that it happened on the street in a broad daylight. He should be punished at once.'

This crime itself was written in the entry dated March 29, 1200 in "Meigetsuki," FUJIWARA no Teika's diary, and the words which appeared to be said by Yasutoki were copied from the comment made by FUJIWARA no Teika. There are innumerable articles praising Yasutoki HOJO.

Tokiyori HOJO

As for Tokiyori HOJO, Kuniji YASHIRO pointed out the account of his death in the entry dated November 22, 1263. Although it sounds very impressive, the words '業鏡高懸,三十七年,一槌撃砕,大道坦然' in '頌云' were entirely copied from "増集続伝燈録妙堪," though only the year appearing in the poem composed on his deathbed was changed. It is impossible for Tokiyori, who had become a believer in Zen Buddhism, to have had anything to do with this poem that quoted from another persons. Kuniji YASHIRO concluded that it is due to the compiler playing with words and embellishing the record.

Also, the following is written in the entries dated November 29 and 30 in 1241. A conflict between the leading vassals of the Miura and Oyama clans arose because of a trivial problem, taking them right to the brink of war. At this incident, Tokiyori's older brother, Tsunetoki HOJO, armed his followers and sent them to support the Miura clan, who he thought had a good reason to fight. Meanwhile, his brother Tokiyori watched calmly without getting involved because he thought it was just a drunken quarrel.

Their grandfather, Yasutoki HOJO got angry and said, 'each of them is to be a regent in the future. There is no need to get involved in the vassals' argument. Tsunetoki's behavior was quite thoughtless, and he should be confined to his residence for a while.'
While he praised Tokiyori saying, 'His consideration is equivalent to a big achievement, so a reward has to be given for his behavior,' and he made Tokiyori a fief days later. It was an incident which happened when Tokiyori was 15 years old. The older brother Tsunetoki HOJO succeeded to his grandfather Yasutoki to be the fourth regent when he was 19, but 4 years later he abdicated in favor of his younger brother Tokiyori HOJO to become a priest, but passed away immediately after. Tsunetoki's two young children became priests in accordance with Tokiyori's wish. This process is also uncertain. According to "Azuma Kagami," 'Tokiyori was superior, and so found favor with Yasutoki.

The period and background of its compilation

The period of compilation

Hisashi HOSHINO and Katsuro HARA, historians in the Meiji period, thought that at least the latter half of "Azuma Kagami" was a diary, although the way the two defined the term was very different. At any rate, the former half of the work is supposed to have been completed around the time of the rule of Imperial Prince Munetaka. On the other hand, Hidematsu WADA claimed in his essay, "A Study on Old Manuscripts of Azuma Kagami" in 1912 that all of the work was compiled in later ages, when Tokimune and Masamura HOJO were shikken, shogunal regent, and Rensho, associate of shikken.

WADA's colleague, Kuniji YASHIRO claimed in "A Study of Azuma Kagami" in 1913 that there was a big difference between the shogunal record of the three generations of the Minamoto clan and that of the subsequent three generations of shogun, advocating the hypothesis of two-step compilation. Just like Hidematsu WADA, he conjectured that the first half of the record of Minamoto clan shogunate indicates that the book was compiled in the reign of Tokimune and Masamura, after July of 1242, and around 1270, while the latter half was compiled after February of 1290, because the side notes in the 42nd volume of the record of shogun Prince Munetaka says Emperor Gofukakusa became a priest then. And it is also conjectured that the compilation was done in the Emperor's lifetime, between 1290 and July 16, 1304, because his name was written as 'In' only and his posthumous name 'Gofukakusa-in' was not used in the writing.

However, Takashi MASUDA and Hiroshi KASAMATSU opposed the hypothesis of two-step compilation after WWII, and Fumihiko GOMI also claimed that there was little positive evidence to prove the hypothesis and concluded the whole work was compiled for several years until 1304, or the latter compilation period, according to Kuniji YASHIRO. The three reasons why Fumihiko GOMI denied Kuniji YASHIRO's first period of compilation are as follows.

"Azuma Kagami" referred to the records in FUJIWARA no Teika's "Meigetsuki," although it is confined only to the record of Shogun Yoriie and Sanetomo since March 27, 1200, and if the compiler of "Azuma Kagami" borrowed and copied the diary, it would have been around 1290. Tamesuke REIZEI, who inherited his grandfather FUJIWARA no Teika's "Meigetsuki," moved to Kamakura around this time to file suit for land, living in Fujigaya and undertaking the teaching of poet circles in Kamakura. Naturally, since then he seems to have become familiar with the high officials of bakufu, especially men of letters like Tokitsura OTA.

A study conducted by Hiroshi KASAMATSU and others revealed that a document with all the names of the 32 individuals were submitted as evidence for the lawsuit around 1299.
According to Kuniji YASHIRO, the document was supposed to have been edited around 1270, when the first part of the compilation effort was done, although the date of the entry is July 29, 1205 and the document contained the following account 'Because KONO no Shiro Michinobu performed great exploits, he was to supervise 32 vassals of Iyo Province.'

Including the above, there were lots of other forged documents used as source materials, which were brought out as evidence for the suit after a debt cancellation order of Einin issued by the ninth regent Sadatoki HOJO in 1297.

Considering these points, Fumihiko GOMI concluded that the completion of Azuma Kagami was between 1297 and July of 1304, or around 1300, which is an established theory now. However Fumihiko GOMI considers that history books which deserve to be called "The original Azuma Kagami," like 'A Record of Shogun Yoritomo,' were completed in their original form around 1235, and around the same time, "The Original Tale of the Heike," and in the eastern provinces, "The Original Tale of Soga" could also be said to have been written.

A study on the compilers conducted after WWII

In the study of the compilers conducted after the war, there is the strong opinion that leading officials in bakufu like people around the Kanazawa-Hojo clan compiled it. The original book of "Azuma Kagami" published by Hojobon and Kurokawabon, which will be mentioned later, is regarded as the Kanazawa Library book, and it is easy to regard these people as unifiers of the whole book in relation to the Kanazawa Library. However there is no obvious evidence as to there being a unifier of the whole work.

As mentioned already, Kuniji YASHIRO regarded the compilers of "Azuma Kagami" as the descendants of Hiromoto OE (Mori, Nagai), Yukimasa NIKAIDO, and Yasunobu MIYOSHI (Ota, Machino), who were officials of Mandokoro and Monchujo. In recent years, Fumihiko GOMI has been examining the conjecture of Kuniji YASHIRO in more detail.

Fumihiko GOMI mentioned the names of Yukimasa and Yukimitsu NIKAIDO, Mototsuna GOTO/Morokazu NAKAHARA, Yukikata NIKAIDO/Morotsura NAKAHARA as people who made written records which became a foundation of the work in his essay 'The Structure and Original Historical Materials of Azuma Kagami' in "The Method of Azuma Kagami" before the book was enlarged in 1989. Fumihiko GOMI examined the work in "Enlarged Edition of the Method of Azuma Kagami" in 2000 on the following two points.

One is the part related to the officials who were intendedly praised as mentioned before. The names will be mentioned again here. Yasunobu MIYOSHI, Yukimitsu NIKAIDO, and Hiromoto OE. Other than them, and excluding the Tokuso family, Tokifusa HOJO, Yasutsura MIYOSHI (Yasutura OTA), TAIRA no Moritsuna, and Sanetoki HOJO were also praised.

The other is the articles concerning childbirth. Excluding the Imperial Family and the direct line of the Tokuso family, the people appearing in the articles are of the Hojo family such as Aritoki HOJO, Masamura HOJO, Tokisuke HOJO, Munemasa HOJO, and Tokikane HOJO, and although it is understandable to see these names there is only one person who is not from the family of writers. According to the entry dated September 21, 1222, Yukimori NIKAIDO, a grandchild of Yukimasa NIKAIDO, had a child. The child was Yukitada NIKAIDO, who was to be the grandfather of Yukisada NIKAIDO, who was reappointed to under secretary of Mandokoro in 1302.

Therefore Tokitsura OTA was considered the most likely compiler, as he was an under secretary of Monchujo from 1293 to 1321 when the work seems to have been compiled, and also one of the descendants of Yasunobu MIYOSHI, who was praised most plainly among the families of letters, and there is strong possibility that Yukisada NIKAIDO was a compiler, too. Because Hiromoto OE was also praised, his descendant, Munehide NAGAI, who was on Hyojo-shu (Council of State), and also Yoriai-shu (Tokuso's close group who decided politics) around 1300, is also seen as a possible compiler. And among the Hojo clan, Sadaaki HOJO would probably have been the compiler. It can be only concluded that the entry dated July 6, 1260 in "Azuma Kagami" came from the record of Sanetoki HOJO which was in the Kanazawa residence. It was in 1302 when these people assumed leading posts in the government.

The process of forming 'family' in "Azuma Kagami"

Incidentally, the core members of the Sadatoki HOJO administration of Yoriai-shu in 1309 can be seen in the old document in Kanazawa Library, and in addition, the members of Yoriai-shu in 1302 are as follows

Morotoki HOJO
Morotoki became the tenth regent when Sadatoki retired into priesthood in 1301. Morotoki was a son of Munemasa HOJO whose name was put in the birth record as a younger half brother of Tokimune HOJO by a different father, and Morotoki's mother whose birth record is also existent was a daughter of the seventh regent Masamura HOJO.

Nobutoki HOJO and his son Munenobu HOJO
Nobutoki was a grandchild of Tokifusa HOJO, who appears in the article of eulogy, and Nobutoki was a Rensho when Sadatoki was a regent. According to "Azuma Kagami," Tokifusa is said to have supported Yasutoki HOJO as his cosignatory.

Munenobu was a son of Nobutoki, and was the first head of the legal office and Kanto-bugyo, a commissioner of the appointment to an office in 1302, becoming the chief of suit together with Munekata HOJO in the following year. He seems to have been the second in command after Rensho Tokimura HOJO among a collateral line of the Hojo family. When Tokimura was killed in the Kagen Disturbance, he defeated Munekata HOJO and got a position of Rensho immediately after. Moreover, he became the eleventh regent after the death of Morotoki HOJO.

Tokimura and Hirotoki HOJO
Tokimura was the most important man among the collateral line of the Hojo family during this time, and became Rensho after Nobutoki OSARAGI. Tokimura was a son of the seventh regent Masamura HOJO who appears in the birth record.

Hirotoki was a grandchild of Tokimura and the sixth head of the legal office in 1302, but when his grandfather Tokimura was killed right after the Kagen Disturbance, he seems to have taken his grandfather's position and became Yoriai-shu. He became the twelfth regent in 1312 after Munenobu OSARAGI.

Sadaaki's ancestor was Sanetoki HOJO, who appears in the articles of eulogy many times and is the actual first head of the Kanazawa family, being seen as a supporter of Tokiyori HOJO. It should be noted that the names of his ancestors, Saneyasu, Sanetoki, and Akitoki HOJO (Sadaaki's father) were recorded over three generations. He became the fifteenth regent later.

Hisatoki HOJO and Mototoki HOJO of the Gokurakuji line
Hisatoki held positions of the first and the second head of the legal office around this time, and his ancestor was Shigetoki HOJO of the Gokuraku-ji Temple, who was Rensho during the reign of the fifth regent Tokiyori HOJO. Shigetoki's daughter got married with Tokiyori HOJO and bore him Tokimune and Munemasa HOJO. And Shigetoki's son Nagatoki HOJO became the sixth regent after Tokiyori, and Nagatoki's grandchild was Hisatoki.

Mototoki was the commissioner of the northern Rokuhara Tandai in 1302, although his name can't be identified in the members of Yoriai-shu around this time, and his father Tokikane HOJO's name appears in the birth article as a son of Naritoki HOJO, a younger brother of Nagatoki AKAHASHI, Mototoki's grandfather. Later he became the thirteenth regent after Hirotoki HOJO.

Among the Yoriai-shu in 1309, people who were not from the Hojo clan but related by marriage to the family were Tokiaki ADACHI and Munehide NAGAI of the OE clan. And there were also Tokitsura OTA of the Miyoshi clan and as Tokuso's vassals, Takatsuna NAGASAKI and Tokitsuna BITO. Of course, although the names of the Tokuso's vassals can't be seen in the leading members of the government in 1302, they would have supported the Tokuso family from behind the scenes. The ancestors of the Nagasaki and Bito clans also appear in the articles of eulogy, or their names were recorded as the first Tokuso's vassals. In short, the process of forming the important family members who supported the Tokuso family administration around 1302 can be seen in "Azuma Kagami."

Hisatoki AKAHASHI is an exceptional example, but the Akahashi family was a respected family next to the Tokuso family, and Hisatoki was raised to peerage in his teens after his grandfather Nagatoki HOJO, and was suddenly appointed Hyojo-shu in his twenties without a carrier as Hikitsuke-shu. However neither records of birth nor eulogy exist. However, if we take a close look at the records, we can see that Hisatoki AKAHASHI's father Yoshimune HOJO became Hyojo-shu in 1277 and only two months later he died. when he died, his oldest son Hisatoki was only 5, and it was March 6, 1304 when Hisatoki became Yoriai-shu at the age of 33. Therefore around the possible period of Azuma Kagami's compilation, the Akahashi family didn't attend Yoriai-shu, and if that was reflected in "Azuma Kagami," it would not be an exception, but be evidence to prove that it was compiled around 1302, or by 1304.

This raises the question of why Tokikane HOJO of the Fuonji family, a collateral line of the Akahashi family appears in the birth record, although it might be influenced by the fact that his mother was a daughter of Masamura HOJO. So it is conjectured that the records handed down in the family of Masamura HOJO are considerably reflected in "Azuma Kagami."

The background of the time of its compilation

As for the years around 1300, it was the reign of regent Sadatoki HOJO, as previously mentioned. Around this time, contrary to the splendid culture in the Zen sect temples, the old good days of the vassals were brought to an end, and the dictatorship of the Hojo-Tokuso family began, established by the under secretary of Tokuso family, leading to the collapse of the Kamakura bakufu in 1333.

In November, 1285, the November Disturbance between TAIRA no Yoritsuna, under secretary (Inner regent) of the Tokuso family, Yasumori ADACHI, a maternal relative, struggling for power, and the Adachi family was ended.

In April of 1293, regent Sadatoki HOJO himself killed TAIRA no Yoritsuna (known as the Taira no Zenmon Disturbance).

In 1297 the debt cancellation order of Einin (Kanto debt cancellation) was issued. Although it was regarded as a relief for minor vassals suffering from a lot of war expenditure because of the Mongol Invasions, it is now considered to be more like the prohibition of pawning and trading vassalages to maintain the vassal system as a base of the shogunate. Although the shogunate set the eldest son system (for the succession of the head of the family) as a foundation for the ruling vassals, in fact, the minor vassals were declining because of the divided succession of bushi class and the eldest son system, and much of the vassal system began to collapse, being buffeted by the progress of a monetary economy. Shifting to a single succession by the legitimate eldest son was the vassals' only way of protecting themselves, and so it can be said to be the establishment of a 'Family' in a sense.

He retired from the post of regent, having his cousin Morotoki HOJO succeed to the post in 1301, but some people consider that it was for making the prominent figure of Rensho Noritoki HOJO retire with him rather than for his own retirement. The head of Kamakura was the eldest son of the Tokuso family, and compared with the reign of Tokiyori, the regent and the eldest son of the Tokuso family were less representative of the head of Kamakura. Naturally he kept having the actual political power.

On April 23, 1305, Tokuso's vassals 'made a night attack' and killed Tokimura HOJO, who was Rensho at that time. The whole residence was enveloped in flames. Twelve days later, Munenori HOJO, the first head of the legal office representing the collateral line of the HOJO family, searched out and destroyed Munekata HOJO, a cousin of Sadatoki and an under secretary of the Tokuso family, the chief of suit, and Deputy Chief of the Office of Samurai; Board of Retainers of shogunate. Munekata and Tokikiyo SASAKI killed each other simultaneously, and Munekata's residence at Yakushi-do Taniguchi at Nikaido boulevard was set on fire, killing many followers on the side of Munekata. It was the so-called Kagen Disturbance. According to "Horyakukanki," it was due to the ambition of Munekata HOJO, but the truth of what happened behind the scenes of the battle of the HOJO family is unknown. The disturbance gave a glimpse into the dictatorship of the Tokuso Regime that was neither stable nor unstable.

In August of 1308, the retainer TAIRA no Masatsura handed 'Remonstration by TAIRA no Masatsura' as a warning in protest against him, and we can see that Masatsura abandoned government affairs and become addicted to sake (rice wine) from the expressions in the document such as 'he knows little of political affairs now' and 'he should stop having drinking parties every day.'

The actual originator of the Kamakura bakufu in the early 14th century was Yoriai-shu which consisted of the Hojo Tokuso family, and although it reached the height of a dictatorship, it finally came to an impasse.

Fumihiko GOMI suggested that the concept of 'Family,' which was gradually being formed in the late Heian, the period of the rule of a cloistered emperor, began to spread among the court nobles' society in Kyoto, forming house status and fixing family business and trade.
He also suggested that it was during this period that the concept of "family" was actually fixed and newly turned into 'Family' from its previous stage of 'family.'

And it spread into the Kamakura administration too, establishing the Tokuso family and forming the collateral line of the Hojo family that surrounded the Tokuso family as the common interest group, and at the same time among the families of writers, and something similar to this or a more sophisticated style of Family was formed, fixing the family business. In its process, a conflict between the same tribes concerning the family business or position heated up and they were more aware of becoming independent as compared with those who had been in the mild eldest son system that had continued until then.

After Sadatoki defeated TAIRA no Yoritsuna in the TAIRA no Zenmon Disturbance, he denied the policies and personnel affairs that were set while TAIRA no Yoritsuna had power, returning them to what they had been in the reign of his father Tokimune HOJO. Although it was not a mere recurrence of the period ruled by Tokimune HOJO, he abolished the head of the legal office in October, 1293, which had lasted until then, and established Shisso instead. Moreover, in the following year, he came to exercise dictatorship over the people, not approving a direct appeal (to a senior official without going through the normal formalities) for the lawsuit for which Sadatoki himself had already given a decision, which was not seen in the Tokuso administration.

As to personnel affairs, they were often changed. So did the Tokuso family, who had even been called Inner regent. A conflict with the collateral line of the Hojo family, who had supported the system of regent and the Tokuso administration since the reign of Yasutoki HOJO, heated up, and it caused the Kagen Disturbance to occur in the next year of 1304, which was considered the possible last year of Azuma Kagami's compilation.

"Azuma Kagami" was compiled in such times, looking back on the history of the Kamakura bakufu, on which the pillar (Yoriaishu) of the Sadatoki HOJO administration, especially the writers' family members depended, and also looking back on the establishment of the Hojo Tokuso family administration, especially the reign of Minamoto clan which lasted over three generations, those of Yasutoki and Tokiyori HOJO, and on the appearance and formation of the 'Family' system.

It's value as historical material


As various studies say, "A Study of Azuma Kagami" (1889) written by Hisashi HOSHINO ranks "Azuma Kagami" as the essential historical material to understand the samurai system, laws, politics and economies, and it was seen as the beginning of the record of shogunate. It is certain that his study became the starting point of discussion in regards to taking up "Azuma Kagami" for the study of historical material.

Katsuro HARA

However, Hoshino had little doubt about the work except the parts which were obviously wrong such as the period of Rise and Fall of the Minamoto and the Taira families, or the period until the fall of the Taira family in 1185, and MINAMOTO no Yoriie's abdicating the post of shogun. It would have been as a warning against this that Katsuro HARA came out with "The Nature of Azuma Kagami and Its Worth as a Historical Material."

Katsuro HARA recognized the value of Azuma Kagami as a historical material 'mainly in the facts related to the legal system of Shugo, Jito and others.'
He says that most of them were written records of the various families related to Mandokoro and Monchujo, so it is unlikely to be politically misrepresented. However, he considered that it was difficult to take it as reliable immediate historical material from the viewpoint of politics.


Kuniji YASHIRO seems to have had a grudge against "Azuma Kagami," because he criticized it severely as if he was possessed by a vengeful ghost of MINAMOTO no Yoriie, continuing the warnings of Katsuro HARA. Even 15 years after Katsuro HARA came out with "The Nature of Azuma Kagami and Its Value as a Historical Material" in 1898, there seemed to be a great tendency to regard Azuma Kagami as absolute truth. Like Hara, Kuniji YASHIRO also considered that as a first-class historical material concerning the history of a struggle for political power, it is hard to believe "Azuma Kagami."

On the other hand, most of the work consists of diaries, records and documents of Shogunal Mandokoro, Monchujo, and people related to these offices, and also of diaries of court nobles in Kyoto, and the compilation work was clumsy and barely revised. Therefore it would probably be a great original historical document, if misrepresentations in writing, forged documents, and intended praises were carefully eliminated.

Shinichi SATO

Kuniji YASHIRO's study was being conducted from Meiji to the early Taisho periods, and "A Collection of Historical Materials on the Medieval Legal System" edited by Shinichi SATO and Yoshisuke IKEUCHI after WWII in 1955 describes 'how difficult it was to criticize the errors mentioned above and eliminate inadvertence,' according to Kuniji YASHIRO.
He also claimed that 'when we can't identify the corresponding material, we don't transcribe from Azuma Kagami at all, instead we wait for a future study.'
It is agreeable that Shinichi SATO and others were so careful, considering the dispute that arose after the compilation of "A Collection of Historical Materials on the Medieval Legal System" in the conference concerning the establishment of 'Shugo and Jito,' which was introduced in the article on 'intended praises' above.

Fumihiko GOMI

It was Fumihiko GOMI who accomplished a great achievement in his recent study of "Azuma Kagami," introducing his stance on "A Collection of Historical Materials on the Medieval Legal System," he claimed that "Azuma Kagami" still contains an abundance of laws. A study of Azuma Kagami conducted by Fumihiko GOMI in recent years concerns this.

According to Fumihiko GOMI, when they succeed in making an estimate of the source material, the ways the compilation was done and the errors were made will be revealed naturally. And then, as Kuniji YASHIRO stated in the end of his book, we should be able to extract useful information from it as source material of the Kamakura period.

Although some points like Yashiro's conjectures about chronology will certainly be revised by Fumihiko GOMI, he examined and illustrated in greater detail the compilers of "Azuma Kagami," who were, according to Kuniji YASHIRO, descendants (Mori and Nagai) of Hiromoto OE, an official of Mandokoro and Monchujo, a descendant of Yukimasa NIKAIDO, descendants (Ota and Machino) of Yasunobu MIYOSHI. And then he figured out the author of the written record in his own way which became the foundation for the work.

Fumihiko GOMI's study could be said to have been developed from Yashiro's conclusion in his book: 'not only does it not lose its value as source material for the Kamakura period, but there is also no comparative work,' changing his study and conjecture more concretely.


It is often considered that the original manuscript of Azuma Kagami in the Kanazawa Library was passed to the Gohojo clan in Odawara, and then to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, but it is now thought that Azuma Kagami was quickly scattered and lost and was an incomplete work in the Muromachi period, so most of them were probably passed down in the form of abridged or incomplete books consisting of volumes of several years worth of volumes. They were collected, revised and enlarged to 42 or 43 volumes, and among them the Hojobon line was handed to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, the Yoshikawabon line to Hiroaki MIGITA (Sueaki SUE), and more missing volumes were added, restoring it to a set of 51 or 48 volumes.

The lines, divided into two groups (Hojobon and Kurokawabon), inherited the manuscript copied from Kanazawa Library during the period of Oei (1394 to 1427), while Yoshikawabon belonged to a quite different line.
The most likely compiler Tokitsura OTA (MIYOSHI in Monchujo) also served the Ashikaga clan's Muromachi bakufu as 'a senior vassal with full knowledge of precedent.'
His diary "A Record of Einin Three Years" was handed down in the Ota family, and then inherited by Kaga no zenji, former Governor of Kaga Province, Junko MACHINO in the Muromachi period. That is why "Azuma Kagami" is divided into two groups of text, the one owned by the Kanazawa Library and the one Tokitsura OTA kept at hand, and it is conjectured that the latter was brought to Kyo with Tokitsura OTA, moved to the other house just like the diary written in Muromachi period, and then might have become the foundation of Yoshikawabon.


The original text of "Enlarged New Edition of Summa Japanese History" published in 1933 is called Hojobon, which is the most widely circulated version of the text now, being regarded as the manuscript owned by Gohojo clan. It is said that the manuscript was given to Josui KURODA by Ujinao HOJO in the negotiations for the surrender of Odawara-jo Castle at the besiegement of Odawara by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in 1590, and later in 1604 Josui's son Nagamasa KURODA presented it to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA.

However, a doubt about this view arose because Ieyasu had already begun to prepare to publish old typographic books in 1603, and it is conjectured that in 1603 he had already got 32 bundles of kozo (paper mulberry), 10 bundles of kozo to which Shuzenji paper was added, and a bundle of Shuzenji paper only, which came to 43 bundles all together. As well as Kurokawabon (Wagaku Kodan-shobon), those original 32 volumes seem to have been copied from the ones owned by the Kanazawa Library in 1404, and then recopied during the Bunki era (1501 to 1504).

When he was preparing to publish old typographic books, it is assumed that he ordered copies of the missing eight volumes (which were almost all blank) including the ones presented by Nagamasa KURODA in the same format as the manuscript which he had already had until then, making 51 volumes and using it as an original text to publish in 1605. There are 3 kinds of old printed books, and the most famous one, called the Fushimi book, was printed and published in 1605, and the title on the front and center fold of paper says '東鑑' (Azuma Kagami) and the title inside the book says 'New Azuma Kagami,' containing postscript written by Seisho Jotai, who is regarded as the father of restoration of Sokoku-ji Temple. Others were published during the eras of Keicho and Genna, and in the late Genna era.

After Ieyasu died, the original text was held in the Momijiyama Library in the Edo-jo Castle, and is now owned by the National Archives of Japan, being designated as an Important Cultural Properties. Although "Enlarged new edition of Summa Japanese History" used the Hojobon as an original text, Yoshikawabon was also used for collation purposes.


It has the stamp of Wagaku-kodansho Onko-do which was owned by Hokinoichi HANAWA, who compiled "Classified Documents" (a collection of basic historical texts). In the end of the table of contents, it says, 'Copied from the manuscript owned by the Kanazawa Library on August 25, 1404,' so it seems to have been recopied from the one owned by the Kanazawa Library. However there are slight differences from the Hojobon, so it is assumed that both of them were not copied from the Hojobon, but from the old manuscript made in 1404. 25 volumes consisting of 52 Book was existent, but they were burnt in the Great Kanto Earthquake.


It was designated as a national treasure as a part of the archives of the Shimazu family. It is estimated to be a work made during the Tenbun era (1532 to 1555) from a genealogy in the opening page, and it contains the entries of three years which were not included in the contents table (or Hojobon) either, therefore as well as Yoshikawabon, the manuscripts seem to have been collected, revised, and enlarged more after the Tenbun era in the Shimazu family too.

The original book was presented to the bakufu in 1650. The one still remaining in the Shimazu family was identified as the copied book from the one that was presented to the bakufu then. The Shimazubon presented to the bakufu is missing now, but it contained many accounts which were not included in the so-called Hojobon owned by the Tokugawa family, therefore the differences were published in the wood block printing book of "The Omitted Portion of Azuma Kagami" or "The Omitted Edition of Azuma Kagami" in 1668. It is said that the differences deal with the accounts of prayers and ceremonies.

Among the likely compilers, we can see the name of Yukisada NIKAIDO, but the documents of Nikaido has a record that "Azuma Kagami," which was handed down in the family, was transferred to the Shimazu family.


The Moribon is among the texts which belong to the same line as the Shimazubon. The Moribon has a hand written colophon dated March 11, 1596 by Hoshuku Sochin of the Daitoku-ji Temple, and it was handed down in the Mori clan. Although it belongs to the same line as the Shimazubon, it was copied before the Shimazubon and is not a transcription from it. It is now owned by the Meiji University Library.


Important Cultural Property. It is now taken as the best text of Azuma Kagami. It was collected by Hiroaki MIGITA (Sueaki SUE), a member of the Sue clan, main vassal of the Ouchi clan. Hiroaki MIGITA could get 42 volumes of the copied manuscript around 1501, and hired a few amanuenses to make copies which he treasured. However it was missing twenty years or more worth of parts. Hiroaki finally managed to collate 5 volumes out of the missing parts later. He ordered copies of them to be made in the same format as the first copied book and made 47 volumes in total, and then wrote a volume of chronology and a contents table, creating 48 volumes in total. It was completed on September 5, 1523. As to the fall of the Ouchi clan whom Hiroaki MIGITA served later, it was transferred to Motoharu KIKKAWA, a son of Motonari MORI, and it has since been handed down in the Kikkawa family.

Although it has three years of missing accounts, it contains the whole "The Omitted Portion of Azuma Kagami," and other than this there are hundreds of daily entries which exist only in the Yoshikawabon. As already mentioned, the differences between Hojobon and Shimazubon in "The Omitted Portion of Azuma Kagami," mainly deal with accounts of prayers and ceremonies, and can also be applied to the differences between Hojobon and Yoshikawabon. The first half of the work is almost entirely consistent, while the latter half contains irregularities.

Taking these things into consideration, Hidematsu WADA claimed in 'A Study on Old Manuscripts of Azuma Kagami' that a manuscript in the Kanazawa Library, the source of Hojobon and Kurokawabon, is a simplified book, and Yoshikawabon would have been based on the version which was being edited before it. And Kuniji YASHIRO considered Yoshikawabon to be superior in its value as historical material compared with the Hojobon because it makes people think of the previous phase of the work before it was simplified an enlarged.

Popular myth

Basically Azuma Kagami is a historical material of great value, but it has some parts missing over a three year period around the time of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo's death.

As to the missing parts, a plausible rumor circulated during the Edo period that Ieyasu TOKUGAWA hid the part in question because the last days of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo were miserable so he thought 'we shouldn't put dishonor to a famous general.'
Of course there is no evidence to support this view. It is mere conjecture. As mentioned before, such conjecture started from the supposition that the complete original text of Azuma Kagami in the Kanazawa Library was transferred to the Gohojo clan in Odawara, therefore Ieyasu TOKUGAWA should have had the whole text. However, this wasn't the case as stated before.

[Original Japanese]