“Sengoku” Historical Japan

Uesugi Kenshin
Uesugi Kenshin

In a nutshell, the warring states period actually began eleven years before with the Onin War, 1467 to 1477, and lasted to the beginning of the 17th century. The conflict began in Kyoto, the capital city of Japan from 794 until 1868, and was between two powerful families, the Hosokawa family in the “west “and the Yamana clan in the “east” over shogunal succession. The “Kyoto” war spilled over into the outlying provinces and led to the bloody civil war, labeled” Sengoku”, by historians when the social and political upheaval evolved into a constant military clash between the lesser warlords that pitted samurai against samurai. The conflict ended after the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, when Tokukawa Ieyasu defeated the followers of Toyotomi Hideyori. The unification of Japan finally came about when Emperor Go-Yozei appointed Ieyasu as military leader with the title of Shogun, or bakufu (tent officer) in 1603.


File:Sengoku period battle.jpg

Battle of Kawanakajima in 1561

File:Azuchimomoyama-japan.pngJapan in the Late 16th Century

File:Takeda Shingen versus Uesugi Kenshin statue.jpgBronze statue representing Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin. Nagano, Japan.

File:Takeda Shingen.jpg

Takeda Shingen by artist, Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Sengoku Period http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sengoku_period

Sengoku Daimyo/The Website of Anthony J. Bryant http://www.sengokudaimyo.com/

Kyoto http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyoto

Takeda Shingen http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takeda_Shingen

Uesugi Kenshin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uesugi_Kenshin

Shogun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shogun

The Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1858) http://saznj.tripod.com/

Toyotomi Hideyoshi http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyotomi_Hideyoshi

The Nightingale Floor (Kyoto, Japan)

Main gate to Ninomaru palace
Image by thaths via Flickr

Are you secretly a ninja? Here is a test. It is the dead of night when you enter Nijo Castle. Everyone is asleep except for the two guards that were served a special tea flavored secretly by you. They now snore unaware at their posts. Tomorrow, they may lose their heads because of you.

You are dressed as a lowly peasant though your warlord master pays you sweetly for your work as a spy. In fact you are actually a samurai in disguise. Your katana is tucked inside your robe tie. You never know when you may need it. You have all the right equipment, but the true test comes when you step onto the nightingale floor. If it “sings” you are dead…

Built 400 years ago by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo shogunate, Nijo Castle is situated so that it guarded the once Imperial city. It actually resembles the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. When all the floors were laid throughout the castle, they were suspended in a special way above the frame using a particular type of iron clamp so that the floor moves up and down when walked upon. The nails rub against the wood creating a sound like the cheeping of nightingales. Only a trained ninja can walk across the floor without making it “sing”.

Other places to find nightingale floors are:

Daikaku-ji temple in Kyoto

Chio-in temple in Kyoto

Toji-in temple in Kyoto


YouTube demonstration of a “Nightingale Floor” http://is.gd/jEBhr

Common Misconception Concerning Ninja http://www.chinatownconnection.com/misconception-ninja.htm

Zen-garden.org “Nightingale floor, Uguisubari”  http://www.zen-garden.org/html/page_nightingalefloor.htm