Continued from Tuesdays With Norwood: In Japan – Part 3

Having long since eclipsed the emperor, the shoguns of this so-called Muromachi period (1338-1568) were drawn, one and all, from the Ashikaga clan. Under their stewardship, things went from bad to worse, but in reading the melancholy annals of the Ashikaga-one long catalog of individual debauchery and tragedy and of ruinous wars between the great feudal houses-we must not forget that this was also the golden age of Japanese painting, a time when some of the best literature was produced and the Noh drama invented. A better scholar than I will someday explain how this happened. Assuredly, it was a great time to be rich and powerful. How folks felt about the regime can be guessed from the fact that well into the nineteenth century citizens of Kyoto would, in exchange for a few yen cheerfully paid, obtain permission to enter the family’s shrine and beat the statues of the departed Ashikaga with a stick.

An excerpt from New Tea Lover’s Treasury, by James Norwood Pratt

To be continued in Tuesdays With Norwood: In Japan – Part 5