TOYO Illustrated Editions

Famous Samurai: The Two Courts Period

By William de Lange

The Two Courts Period (1333–92) was a turning point in Japan's medieval era—a time when an unbridgeable rift appeared in the fragile fabric of Japanese feudal society. On each side stood a separate imperial court, each with its own army and its own agenda. As the schism deepened and the positions hardened, one by one clans and domains were rent asunder until each and every man faced the terrible choice between loyalty and friendship.

Two such men were Nennami Okuyama Jion and Chūjō Hyōgo no Kami Nagahide, who faced each other from across the dazzling divide. Jion, an impoverished warrior monk who had lost his father through the treachery of a Bakufu official, joined the side of the loyalists, the forces fighting on behalf of the Southern Court. Nagahide, whose ancestors stood at the cradle of feudal society and had risen to high rank within the Bakufu, was bound by duty to the Northern Court.

Their stories, set against the greater historical backdrop of ruthless political intrigue and vast military campaigns, describe the tragedy of civil war experienced at the personal level; they tell of loyalty, of betrayal, and of seemingly insurmountable setbacks.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things

that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

 — Mark Twain

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