The Better Part of Valor: Documents (komonjo) of the Kumagai

The Kumagai house documents constitute one of the most remarkable and complete sets of warrior documents. The records preserved here date from the twelfth month of 1332 through the twelfth month of 1333, and recount in particular the actions of Kumagai Naotsune, although some were also addressed to Kumagai Naouji. The Kumagai did not fight simultaneously for both sides, as did the Migita, but they too managed to weather the collapse of Kamakura. These two collections represent the most comprehensive records of those gokenin who fought for Kamakura during its final year. The Kamakura edict is almost identical in style to the Migita record, revealing the great consistency of Kamakura scribes. Also Naotsune and Naouji had their wounded compatriots inspected by the same battle administrators who inspected the Migita wounded.

An edict from Go-Daigo is unusual, because such documents were usually written on grey recycled paper (shukushi) but Go-Daigo’s chamberlains apparently ran out of such paper late in 1333, and this document appears on regular brown paper. They also received documents from Prince Moriyoshi, as well as a confirmation from Ashikaga Takauji, who would later rebel against Go-Daigo late in 1335.

Permission to view the images granted by the Kumagai family.