Photo of the Day: A Bit of History

DSC_0574Dust to dust, ashes to ashes—a brief seven years after becoming shogun (military ruler of Japan), Yoritomo Minamoto’s reign ended.

Yoritomo, first shogun of the Minamoto clan, router of myriad armies, the man who brought in a dual system of government (all-powerful shogun and symbol-only emperor) that lasted until the Meiji Restoration in 1868—700 years later, died in 1199. His two sons succeeded him, though both lasted but a few years before being killed.

The graves of both Yoritomo and his wife, Masako, are still in Kamakura, though they’re not together. Masako, who outlived her husband by 26 years, is buried in the cemetery of Jufuku-ji. Not far from her grave is that of her second son, Sanetomo (third and final Minamoto shogun), who was assassinated on the steps of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu.

Yoritomo, though, doesn’t lie in a cemetery. He sits in a clearing atop a hill not far from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. Beyond the clearing on three sides is forest, while below is a small park full of ginko trees. In the fall, the yellow leaves are quite a sight.

**all historical information is from Kamakura: Fact and Legend, by Iso Mutsu.

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