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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Masako of Kamakura

I have read that Masako, the wife of Minamoto Yoritomo, was the most powerful woman in Japan. As she is portrayed in the NHK Taiga Dramas, she is fearless, shrewd, strong, and amazing. I doubt if Yoritomo would have encountered the success he attained without Masako's support, nor the Hojo clan.

Exploring Kamakura, A Guide for the Curious Traveler

When we visited Kamakura recently, we were eager to see signs of Masako's influence. We had a very helpful book, "Exploring Kamakura, A Guide for the Curious Traveler," by Michael Cooper. The book is full of historical information and interesting anecdotes which make one more fully appreciate the city's attractions. In addition, we had a map provided by the local tourist information center.

Yoritomo's tomb, Kamakura

We climbed the stairs to Yoritomo's tomb and contemplated the man's life (although I imagined him looking like Nakai Kiichi). A local resident mentioned that the local Yoritomo fan club had put up the historical information and tended to the grave site. Next we were ready to visit Masako's tomb, yet there was no indication on the tourist map that such a thing existed. We decided to ask the local resident, who very kindly provided detailed instructions to the burial place, located on the other side of the train station.

Masako's tomb, Kamakura

We found what is believed to be Masako's tomb at the top and furthermost point of a large cemetery. We did not understand why the Kamakura Tourist Association would make no mention of Masako or mark her tomb on the tourist map. It did not make sense to us that a woman of Masako's stature and place in history would be forgotten in the city she helped build.

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Minamoto Yoritomo
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