The Battle of Ichinotani in 1184 (1847-1852)
This triptych depicts the Battle of Ichinotani, which was a major clash in the Genpei War (1180-1185). The war was a struggle between the Taira and Minamoto, two clans that had long feuded over which would control Japan. On March 20, 1184, the Minamoto attacked the Taira, who were positioned on a narrow shoreline. The Minamoto gained the upper hand over the Taira, forcing them to retreat.
Victory at Ichinotani contributed to the Minamoto's eventual triumph in the war, resulting in the creation of the Kamakura Shogunate, the first of a series of dynasties of military leaders that ruled Japan. The last of these was the Tokugawa Shogunate, which controlled Japan from 1600 to 1868. During this time, the Tokugawa shifted their seat of power from the traditional Imperial capital of Kyoto to Edo (now Tokyo).
Tokugawa rule was marked by a period of isolationism, known as sakoku. During this time, foreign relations were severely limited, and trade was conducted primarily between the Chinese and Dutch via the single port of Nagasaki. By the time these prints were created between 1847 and 1852, sakoku had persisted for more than two centuries and was seeing a greater number of foreign challenges. These would place greater internal pressure upon the Tokugawa's control of the country.