Gikeiki (義経記)

The "Gikeiki" is a war chronicle focused mainly on MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune and his retainers, and is believed to have been created either during the Nanbokucho period (Japan's period of Northern and Southern Courts) or at the beginning of the Muromachi period. It has wielded considerable influence on many later literary works of Noh, Kabuki, and Ningyo Joruri among other genres, and many of the depictions of Yoshitsune and those connected to him that exist today are based on the "Gikeiki."


The figures in it, including Yoshitsune, his retainers, and other characters, often reveal their emotions, and are described in a very vivid manner. However, since it was written more than 200 years after all its main characters' deaths, it is impossible to believe that the creator of the "Gikeiki" actually had any sort of knowledge, either direct or indirect, of these historical figures' personalities. Nor is the author thought to have used Gunchuki, which can be and were often used as the basis for war chronicles. Moreover, a great many contradictions surface during the action of the story, and hence it is believed to have been based on both then-contemporary legends and on fabrications by the author. As a result, its value as a "historical record" is considered low, and today it is treated as nothing more than a "story."

Although classified as a war chronicle, the Gikeiki, unlike the "Heike monogatari," is not actually focused on the period of Yoshitsune's magnificent battles, but rather on his childhood, his early successes, and his ruin.
(In fact, once battle is joined, the description continues only a few pages before the Taira clan is annihilated.)
In other words, the Gikeiki is centered on MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune's personality, not on the actual battles or on a description of the large-scale pattern of human involvement in them. It truly is a record of Yoshitsune's life and character, just as the title suggests ("Gikeiki" means "Chronicle of Yoshitsune," "Gikei" being the Chinese reading of the characters for "Yoshitsune"). Overall, it differs greatly from other early medieval war chronicles; one might call it less a war chronicle and more a fictional romance.

[Original Japanese]