Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Gi" was this local king's driving force

Kenshin Uesugi is a legendary local lord in my parent's home town, Niigata Prefecture. Niigata is located in back side of main island of Japan. It is snowy country whereas they have 6-12 feet of snow accumulation in every winter. Among any local lord in 16th century in Japan, Kenshin Uesugi was a little bit unique. Unique in the way that the most important thing for his life was protecting and act in accordance with "Gi" -Ultimate Righteousness-.

When he was born in 1530, his mother dreamt about "Buddhism Protecting General -Bi-Sha-Mon-Ten (Image Left)" jumped into her mouth. He believed himself to be reborn of this "Buddhism General". He was strong. His army was well trained and they were happy to give their lives for this "Live Buddhism General". In his life of more than 100 fights, he had never lost a single war. His army never betrayed his order and expectation.
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He was inspirational and religious. Almost as if he believed he must be religious, otherwise he will lose all his strength. All the local lord needed their righteousness to fight each other. Some believed to build peaceful country unifying all Japan in a mess that time. Others wanted to prove themselves to be stronger than others. They all were ambitious. So was Kenshin Uesugi. But, still he was different from others. The power which drove him to fight was "Protecting -Gi-". By "Gi" he means Ultimate Righteousness and Justice. Kenshin fought to prevail "Gi" in the dark age, power and greed were almost everything to drive any other local kings.

-Below- Uesugi Kenshin Portrait
Once Kenshin explained what is "Gi" for him. According to later historical record, he said "-Gi- for me is the very reason human being is like human being and is beautiful being." There are many episode how he practiced "Gi". There was a local lord who repeatedly fought against Kenshin over the country lies between their territories. Shingen Takeda is this rival king's name. When Shingen was attacked and fighting against other local king, Shingen's enemy surrounded Shingen's Castle and cut off Shingen's supply of Salt. People cannot live without taking Salt for long time. Kenshin, who heard Shingen's supply of salt was cut off, sent his own troop to send Shingen salts which was sufficient to support Shingen's army for a year or so.

I can spend all night listing this kind of episode of Kenshin's. What I wanted to post is motive to drive people for making continuous effort and keeping to take actions. Protecting and prevailing "Gi" -Ultimate Righteousness- was his motive to govern and fight. It was his vision. It was strong vision so that he could believe that he would never lose. 2 year before he died, he fought against Nobunaga Oda, who was very close to unify all Japan. Oda Army consisted of 30,000 soldiers with 3,000 guns. Kenshin brought his Army with less than 10,000 soldiers with 500 guns. Kenshin badly defeated Oda Army.

Kenshin could attack Oda's castle and chased him out from crown. Kenshin did not do that. Later he said "I showed Oda it is not just the power, greed, or ambition which decide win or lose, It is enough for now." He might have had his own strategy to get rid of Oda and unify Japan, but unfortunately he died in 1578 after this battle. Despite of his unfinished dream of unified Japan, people in my parent's hometown admire Kenshin, loves him, and respect him. He is still protective God for them, even now. "Oda" could unify Japan but one way or the other his reputation is always controversial even in Japanese people. Some like him some other hate him. He sometimes called merciless damon king. Who did you think was successful in life?

I have another question for you. How do you think Kenshin defeated Oda Army which was 3 times larger than his own army and better equipped? I will write another article to tell you how.

Write about "University Entrance Exam, English, How I learned English" Newspaper article translations.

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Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shaw ... I like the idea of Ultimate Righteousness .. and your reference to continuously striving to succeed and move on through actions.

Kenshin won as he had vision & belief and thought of different ways to attack or look after his army & thus defeat Nobunaga ..

We get people in history in each civilisation .. some of whom are philanthropic and care .. they are leaders, but they lead with resolve and without revenge ..

Thanks for sharing .. Hilary: Be Positive Be Happy

PS .. look at my blog post 26 Feb - "Full Marks .. " .. towards the end .. on Japan!!

Shaw said...

Thank you Hilary for your comment. Yes, every culture has our own heros and leaders. They lead with visions not with violence.

I also enjoyed your post! Thank you!

Shaw Funami