Essay by mike_limaCollege, UndergraduateB, October 2014

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Michael Lima

Essay #2: Kusunoki Masashige

Dr. Cynthia Bisson


Kusunoki Masashige and Loyalty

What are the main defining qualities that stand out in a samurai? Some of which include justice, courage, honesty, honor, and even more. The most important and significant from my perspective is Loyalty. One of the most recognized samurai who was known and idolized for his loyalty was Kusunoki Masashige. In history he is referred to as the epitome of samurai loyalty to an emperor. Kusunoki's tale was taken from the Taiheiki or better known as the Chronicle of Great Peace, and for many more years to come it shall remain one of the most inspiring tales of a samurai's loyalty and honor to an emperor.

These texts give further insight into the beginnings of the war between Go-Daigo and the Hojo clan. In 1331 Emperor Go-Daigo took a military stance against the Hojo which ultimately resulted in defeat; he was exiled, albeit briefly, and his imperial hegemony did not last long.

But during the civil war touched off by his revolt a genius of guerrilla warfare emerged: Kusunoki Masashige (Sato, pg. 157). "What is certain is that in 1331 Kusunoki Masashige was a landowner of some modest standing in Kwatchi province who responded to the Emperor Go-Daigo's plea for military support against the Hojo. There were few other men of standing willing to cast in their lots with the imperial cause, making Kusunoki's pledge of support all the more noble (F.W. Seal). By throwing in his lot with the imperial revolt, Kusunoki instantly became an enemy of the bakufu due to the fact that the Hojo family had taken over the military government as regents (Sato, pg. 157). Here is an early example of Kusunoki's success as a commander and bravery on the battlefield. "His...