Gunki-mono (Military Tales) (軍記物)

Gunki-mono refers to the writings which were composed from the end of mediaeval times to the beginning of pre-modern times and which describe the heroic exploits of military commanders or the families of feudal lords. This is explained in this section.

Gunki-mono also refers to literature derived from historical battles and composed from the Kamakura to the Muromachi period. See the section on Gunki Monogatari.

Gunki-mono may also refer to popular novel derived from history and performed by gunki-yomi storytellers, a subgenre of kodan-storytelling, in the Edo period. See the section on Gunki-yomi.

The gunki-mono refers to the writings that describe in narrative form heroic exploits and achievements of military commanders or feudal lords from late mediaeval times (from the Sengoku period (Japan) to the Azuchi-Momoyama period) to early pre-modern times.


Many gunki-mono texts are included in the war records section of Gunsho ruiju (The Collection of Historical Sources) and of Zoku-Gunsho ruiju (The Collection of Historical Sources, Continued). It is no exaggeration to say that a gunki-mono writings for almost every feudal lord family are found. It has the strong connotation of kaden-sho (a book handed down from father to son).

Formative Background

The gunki-mono were composed against the backdrop of the Edo bakufu's political stabilization after Genna-Enbu (the peaceful state after the Genna era). It was the order of the day that each family of a feudal lord tampered with its genealogical chart in order to claim its authenticity and nobility.
In so doing it intended to claim that 'today we are well treated thanks to our ancestor's courageous military exploits, and we are therefore fairy rewarded.'

It also attempted to let their descendants know their ancestor's great achievements.

[Original Japanese]