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Illustrated Tale of the Heiji Civil War : Scroll of the Imperial Visit to Rokuhara
National treasure
1 scroll
Color on paper
Kamakura period/13th century
Donated by Matsudaira Naoaki
Tokyo National Museum
This illustrated handscroll of the Tale of the Heiji Civil War (J. Heiji monogatari) depicts the Hôgen Insurrection (1156), a power struggle between the warriors Minamoto Yoshitomo (1123-1160) and Taira Kiyomori (1118-1181), as well as the rivalry into which Fujiwara Nobuyori (1133-1159) and Fujiwara Michinori (Shinzei, n.d.) became entangled known as the Heiji Insurrection (1159). The scroll of the "Imperial Visit to Rokuhara" illustrates scenes of the escape of Emperor Nijô (1143-1165, r. 1158-1165) from the Imperial Palace, where he was placed under house arrest, and his move to the Rokuhara mansion to evade his enemy Kiyomori. In the first scene, the emperor and empress sit in an ox-drawn palanquin as soldiers crowd over to inspect it. The second scene shows the procession of the empress Bifukumon-in (1117-1160). In the third, the emperor's entourage rides on horseback. Finally, in the fourth scene, Nobuyori, learning of their escape, falls dumbfounded. The various figures, large and small, rough and refined, are expressed with a great sense of movement. The nimble line of the brush and the beautiful colors masterfully depict the tense atmosphere of upheaval.

Around the mid-fifteenth century, a fifteen-scroll version of the Illustrated Tale of the Hôgen Insurrection (J. Hôgen-e) and Illustrated Tale of the Heiji Civil War (J. Heiji-e) were stored in the western sector of Enryaku-ji Temple on Mount Hie. Although these scrolls are no longer extant, they are thought to have influenced later illustrated editions of these war tales both in style and format. In the Edo period (1615-1868), the scroll containing the "Imperial Visit to Rokuhara" was in the possession of the famous tea master Matsudaira Fumai (1751-1818), the governor of Matsue (present-day Shimane Prefecture).