The medieval Japanese prose narrative Heike monogatari The Tale of the Heike follows now the victors, now the vanquished, in an account of a one of the great turning points in Japanese history. In my research my main interest is literary: in the narrative style of the Heike and its influence on later Japanese art and drama example. On this page you'll find a short explanation of the rivalry between the Taira and Minamoto clans. There are also links to pages here with more detailed information about the Heike intended for those reading it in the original or in translation , followed by notes on related material elsewhere , both in Japan and abroad. Heike monogatari The Tale of the Heike. A litttle history: the Genpei War of The twelfth-century struggles between the Taira and Minamoto clans mark a violent end to the long and largely peaceful Heian period
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Heike monogatari , English The Tale of the Heike , medieval Japanese epic , which is to the Japanese what the Iliad is to the Western world—a prolific source of later dramas, ballads, and tales. It stems from unwritten traditional tales and variant texts composed between and , which were gathered together c. Its poetic prose was intended to be chanted to the accompaniment of a biwa four-stringed lute. Several translations into English have been published.
Based on the actual historical struggle between the Taira Heike and Minamoto Genji families, which convulsed Japan in civil war for some years, the Heike monogatari features the exploits of Minamoto Yoshitsune , the most popular hero of Japanese legend , and recounts many episodes of the heroism of aristocratic samurai warriors.
Its overall theme is the tragic downfall of the Taira family. It opens with the tolling of a temple bell that, proclaiming the impermanence of all things, reveals the truth that the mighty—even the tyrannical Taira Kiyomori , whose powers seem unlimited—will be brought low like dust before the wind.
The Taira suffer a series of defeats, culminating in a sea battle off Dannoura in which the seven-year-old emperor and many nobles are drowned. The work concludes with an account of the subsequent life of the empress mother, born a Taira.
She dies in a remote convent to the tolling of a bell. Heike monogatari. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. See Article History. Britannica Quiz. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Japan: Kamakura culture: the new Buddhism and its influence. After the middle Kamakura period, as Buddhist pessimism grew fainter, various kinds of instruction manuals and family injunctions were composed, while collections of essays such as….
The most famous, Heike monogatari The Tale of the Heike , was apparently first written at the court about , probably by a nobleman who drew his materials from the accounts recited by priests of the warfare between the Taira Heike and the Minamoto Genji families in the preceding…. The sudden decline and ultimate extinction of the proud Heike, whose members had held the highest offices of the imperial court, illustrates the Buddhist philosophy of the transitory nature of all things; it invites the readers to….
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The Tale of the Heike is often likened to a Japanese Iliad. It has been translated into English at least five times, the first by Arthur Lindsay Sadler in — Tsuchida was published in Also translated by Helen McCullough in An abridged translation by Burton Watson was published in In , Royall Tyler completed his translation, which seeks to be mindful of the performance style for which the work was originally intended.
Heike Monogatari - The Tales of the Heike
Some wars spawn myths. Some spawn epics. Some spawn both; others, neither. The Genpei War was a sordid little affair — a power struggle between two rival martial clans, glorious only if death is as it was certainly thought to be.