前回記事: The Exhibition “Namban Art and Old Maps" in Kobe City Museum (1) 神戸市立博物館『南蛮美術・古地図企画展』(1)

Ashikaga Yoshiaki had been a puppet in the hands of Nobunaga since he had assumed the position of Shogun, and had been dissatisfied with the situation. He repeatedly tried to remove Nobunaga’s force. In 1573, Nobunaga understood that Ashikaga Yoshiaki became not only useless but harmful for him and chased Yoshiaki out of Kyoto. The Ashikaga Shogunate was extinguished, and Nobunaga became the first among samurai in both name and reality. In 1581, Nobunaga extinguished Takeda family to annex Kai and Shinano Provinces by force and got the most part of Japan under control. But in 1582, Akechi Mitsuhide suddenly rebelled against Nobunaga and attacked the temple Honnouji, where Nobunaga stayed. Nobunaga suisided himself at an inner room in the burning temple.


Oda Nobunaga was a special hero who had a peculiar talent, ingenious ideas, a bold vision and strong leadership, but he was not able to tolerate dissent and make a compromise with his opponents. He also disrespected conventional values and traditional authority. Some historians believe that he also intended to threaten the position of Mikado. In Japanese society where people emphasized cooperativeness and valued ambiguous consensus building, he was a very extraordinary leader. Some people offered much praise for him, others absolutely detested him. In terms of results, he died of a traitorous betrayal by his leading retainer just before unifying the country. His successor Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi inherited his vision but did not inherit his approaches. Hideyoshi made win-win deals with his rivals and opponents to let them to accept his governance, and at last, in 1590, he unified the country.The image below is a portrait of Hashiba ( Toyotomi ) Hideyoshi, which is painted by unknown painter after his death.


Hashiba Hideyoshi ( 1537 - 98 ) was born into a poor peasant family. In 1558, he was hired as a lowly servant of Oda Nobunaga. After that, he became a foot-soldier and gained fame at some battles. He built up his career so rapidly because of his versatile ability, dedicated efforts and excellent tact in dealing with people, and became one of top generals. As soon as Oda Nobunaga died of a traitorous betrayal by his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide in 1581, Hideyoshi defeated Akechi Mitsuhide to avenge his master. He displaced Nobunaga’s sons who are less politically able than he to became a successor of Nobunaga. In 1590, Hideyoshi subjected all of lords to unify the country. In contrast to Nobunaga, Hideyoshi was not tolerant for Christian missionaries and he banished them from Japan. But he didn’t stop trade with Christian countries that yielded a great profit, so art and culture kept being influenced by Europe.


The above images are pictures of ‘Namban Byobu’( folding screen with the painting of Iberian traders), which is painted by Kano Naizen ( 1570 - 1616 ) in 1590’s. This piece consists of a pair of the left-hand and the right-hand screen. On the left-hand screen, the scene is painted that Iberian ships sail out of a port in their motherland, and the right-hand screen shows the scene that the ships sail into a port in Japan and Iberian traders get on shore. Clothes of Iberian traders, various treasurable products and exotic animals are painted so minutely on the gilded screen. This screen is one of masterpieces representing ‘Namban Art’.


In 1598, Toyotomi Hideyoshi died and his son Hideyori succeeded to him, but Hideyori was too young, so major lords took counsel together to govern the country on behalf of him. Tokugawa Ieyasu was most powerful among them and he gradually got to seem like the top leader of the country. Ishida Mitsunari, who was a retainer of Hideyoshi, and his fellows intended to defeat Ieyasu, but in 1600, Ieyasu defeated Mitsunari at the battle of Sekigahara to extinguish the group opposed him. In 1603, Ieyasu was appointed to Shogun and founded the new Shogunate. But the Toyotomi family thought that Ieyasu originally had been a subordinate and kept refusing to serve him. In 1614 - 1615, Ieyasu attacked the Toyotomi family to destroy them, and established complete control over the whole country. Tokugawa Ieyasu was so thoughtful and patient, so he learnt much from success and failure of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi and established a system that enable his descendants to rule the country longer and more stably. For more than two hundred years after that, Japan had experienced few wars and kept peace.


In 1639, Tokugawa Shogunate completely prohibited Iberian ships from visiting Japan and limited its trading with foreign countries to the Netherlands and China. Today, this policy is called ‘seclusionism’. The seclusion policy brought an end to the age of ‘Namban Art’. The image below is a picture of ‘Painting of Trading with Foreign Merchants’, which was painted by unknown painter in the latter half of 17th century. In the painting, we can see a port town bustling with Dutch and Chinese merchants, but cannot see missionaries and Iberian merchants. The scene is also painted that merchants bend the knees to goverment officials. This painting does not show gorgeous and exotic atomosphere like ‘Namban Byobu’, but shows the stable and peaceful society controlled by Tokugawa Shogunate.



The Exhibition “Namban Art and Old Maps" in Kobe City Museum (3) 神戸市立博物館『南蛮美術・古地図企画展』(3)