It stems from unwritten traditional tales and variant texts composed between and , which were gathered together c. Its poetic prose was intended to be chanted to the accompaniment of a biwa four-stringed lute. Several translations into English have been published. Based on the actual historical struggle between the Taira Heike and Minamoto Genji families, which convulsed Japan in civil war for some years, the Heike monogatari features the exploits of Minamoto Yoshitsune , the most popular hero of Japanese legend , and recounts many episodes of the heroism of aristocratic samurai warriors. Its overall theme is the tragic downfall of the Taira family. It opens with the tolling of a temple bell that, proclaiming the impermanence of all things, reveals the truth that the mighty—even the tyrannical Taira Kiyomori , whose powers seem unlimited—will be brought low like dust before the wind.

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Ogoreru hito mo hisashikarazu, tada haru no yoru no yume no gotoshi. Takeki mono mo tsui ni horobinu, hitoe ni kaze no mae no akuta ni onaji. The proud do not endure; the mighty fall at last, to be no more than dust before the wind.

In general, however, the Tale relates a dramatized, fictionalized, account of the fall of the Taira clan in the late 12th century, with much of the text describing the events of the Genpei War. Whatever its origin, all extant versions of the tale seem to be related to, or derived from, one another; multiple versions are known to have been in circulation by the end of the 13th century, but if any dramatically differing versions existed, they are not extant today. This version of the tale, known as the Kakuichi-bon "Kakuichi Book" or "Kakuichi Text" has also been used as the basis for many modern translations.

Representative of a read lineage, passed down as texts to be read, it contains more episodes on the founding of temples and shrines, more anecdotes from Chinese history, and more thorough battle descriptions than the oral performance tradition. In contrast, the performed tradition, represented by the Kakuichibon, and more dominant today, contains fewer digressions from the main thread of the narrative. The Kakuichibon, interestingly, ends twice.

It contains twelve chapters, each consisting of numerous episodes, with the last chapter ending with the death of Taira no Takakiyo , also known as Rokudai. He specifies that it is to be seen, and copied, only by his direct disciples, and their disciples, and that anyone who shares it, and anyone outside of his lineage who reads it, should suffer divine punishment.

At 48 chapters, it is also the longest version of the Heike, including many episodes absent from other versions. This was often done by a single performer, or by two, who alternated episodes. The latter was known as zure Heike. The episodes within these books are arranged not in chronological narrative order, but rather in the order of popularity, and of training in the repertoire; thus, one could practice and learn to perform only the first book, and thus become proficient in all the most popular episodes.

This article is a placeholder or stub. You can help SamuraiWiki by expanding it. References Helen McCullough trans.

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Heike Monogatari

Search Heike monogatari tr The Tale of the Heike, The most important of the Kamakura and Muromachi period prose tales known as Gunki monogatari, or "war tales. The war began with the Minamoto family rising against the Taira family in and ended with the crushing defeat of the Taira in The tale divides into roughly three parts. The central figure in the first part is Taira no Kiyomori. Arrogant, evil, and ruthless, he is above all so consumed by the fires of hatred for the Minamoto that he dies in agony, his feverish body beyond all cooling, even when he is immersed in water. The main figures of the second and third parts are generals on the Minamoto side.


Heike monogatari

The chapter describes the rise of the Taira clan and early conflicts at the court. The first Taira who gets access to the Imperial court is Taira no Tadamori Kiyomori and the Taira even dare to conflict with the powerful Regent, Fujiwara no Motofusa. Hearing a rumor about a possible attack on Enryaku-ji, one of the Shishi-no-tani conspirators informs Taira no Kiyomori of the plot. Kiyomori is angered by the participation of the Retired Emperor in the plot and prepares to arrest him.



Monogatari developed from the storytelling of women at court. During the Heian period — men wrote in Chinese, and it was women who developed this form of Japanese prose. Records describe 11th-century literary competitions where women prepared short monogatari for an audience. The form has many subgenres.

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