|Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) reading the request letter from Mochihito, ep 45|
Taira no Kiyomori ep 45 started in spring 1180 where Kiyomori’s power grew significantly in Kyoto. His wise son Shigemori had died (ep 44), thus the power that kept the delicate balance between the Court and the Heike has diminished to almost nothing. Go-Shirakawa was put into house-arrest during last week’s episode, so we don’t have any Matsuda Shota scene for you Shota fans :-(
Kiyomori launches a coup d'etat by placing the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa under confinement, and finally becomes the first samurai to seize control over the entire country. While Kiyomori manipulates the Imperial Court freely from Fukuhara, Prince Mochihito (Go-Shirakawa's son), who has been put in a miserable situation by Kiyomori, devises a plot to take up arms against the Taira family. Yoshitsune, the son of Yoshitomo and Tokiwa, is also gaining strength with Benkei, formerly named Oniwaka. On February 21, 1180, Prince Tokihito (Tokuko's son) ascends the throne from Emperor Takakura and becomes Emperor Antoku as Kiyomori hoped.
Meanwhile in Izu, some samurai came to Hōjō Tokimasa’s house. I could be wrong, but it seems one of them was Yamaki Hangan, the lord who almost married Hōjō Masako (ep 42). He seemed to bear no grudge with Tokimasa, though, but he did convey something important about the Genji (which of course I couldn’t get). Whatever it was, Tokimasa (Endo Kenichi) then discussed it with Masako (Watanabe Anne) and Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) at Yoritomo’s house in Hiruga Kojima. Yoritomo listened to the father-daughter discussion and chipped in 1-2 sentences as he fiddled with his bow and arrows. Again, have no idea what they were discussing, but as Yoritomo fired towards the bull’s eye, his arrow missed the mark and hit the nearby tree instead! Yoritomo smiled sheepishly while Masako grinned in encouragement.
|Yoshitsune (Kamiki Ryunosuke) practicing archery, ep 45|
Meanwhile, Yoritomo’s half-sibling Yoshitsune had been progressing with his training in Oshu (Yoshitsune went to Oshu with Benkei in ep 43). In Hiraizumi, in the residence of Fujiwara no Hidehira of Oshu, Yoshitsune easily hit the marks with his arrow, and also beat Musashibo Benkei with his famous naginata. It was a cool one minute scene with Benkei, since we have very little action in this Taiga as of late. Kamiki Ryunosuke was really good with his sword! I think he'll be the next Sato Takeru (haven't got to watching 'Rurouni Kenshin' in full!). So anyway, Yoshitsune seemed to be attracting the Oshu-Fujiwara lord where he was staying in. Fujiwara no Hidehira seemed to give Yoshitsune boxes of golden coins and a beautiful golden bird statue in return of something (overthrowing the Heike, perhaps?).
Back in Izu, despite his failure in archery earlier, Yoritomo wasn’t giving up. He was still practicing with his father’s sword Higekiri in the middle of the night (while the movie also showed Kiyomori indulging himself with pretty girls of his daughter’s age! Yuck!). Yoritomo conversed with his wife Masako (aahhh... his wife) about how to build up the samurai spirit (bushido).
In May 1180, Yoritomo unexpectedly received a letter from a totally unexpected person. Prince Mochihito (Go-Shirakawa’s son who had been living under duress lately) decided to ask for Yoritomo’s help to overthrow the Heike. I’m not sure if Minamoto no Yorimasa (who once sided with the Heike during the Heiji Rebellion) sent the letter on behalf of Mochihito, or Mochihito himself wrote it, but we know what would happen later. Yoritomo said yes, and thus began the Genpei War (1180 – 1185) that eventually turned the tide towards the Minamoto.
|Yoritomo getting better at archery in ep 46|
|Determined Yoritomo, ep 46|
Ep 46 next week is aptly titled ‘Yoritomo Raising an Army’ (源頼朝挙兵). This is when Yoritomo really started to rise, when he would campaign throughout Japan to overthrow the Heike. Very interesting!!! Have a look at how serious and confident Yoritomo had become in ep 46 here and also the images above.
|NHK magazine November 2012 with Okada Masaki cover and interview|
Also, here is Cinema Today’s interview with Okada Masaki on - among others - the importance of Hōjō Masako in the life of Minamoto no Yoritomo. It’s in Japanese, but I think I can spend a few hours translating it. Hopefully I can get the English version (or its summary in English) online within the week... fingers crossed [Edit 20 Nov12: Click here for my version of the translated interview]. This one is Masaki’s other interview (on NHK magazine) on the upcoming ep 46 of ‘Taira no Kiyomori’. Not online, so I cannot have it translated. Sigh...