View Full Version : February Entry: the Gempei War

02-04-2009, 12:40 AM
As I mentioned in the main Challenge thread, I don't know if I'll have time to complete this, but I am going to try. No WIP yet, though I'm posting a general map of Japan to show the specific area I plan to work with in my entry. Since I've been working on my feudal Japanese map object set in my Ukiyo-e thread, I decided to utilize those, as well as compell me to create specific objects I will require with this challenge, then adding those to the object collection as well.

As an aside, even though I know RPMiller would love to see something in the Sengoku or Warring States Period - 1478 - 1608, I decided to work with events that occurred 300 years earlier. The reason is I have favorite Japanese ghost story called Mini-nashi Hoichi or Hoichi the Earless (I will definitely tell you the story later in the thread...) that has lots to do with ghosts from the Battle of Dan no ura, the final battle in the Gempei War.

The Gempei War (1180 to 1185), basically the emperor retires and has several sons vying for the imperial throne, each supported by different families and living in different locations in Japan. One clan the Taira or Heike basically take over government and support one of the younger sons for the throne. The oldest son is killed, but before he dies he asks his friend Yorimasa Minomotto to defend his right for the throne, raise an army and remove the Taira from controlling the Court. This is the start of the Gempei War.

Yoritomo Minomotto is both an historical figure (eldest surviving son of Yorimasa) and folk here - he was listed as a hero in the original Deities and Demigods by Gary Gygax - so that makes it true! :P

He will become the first Shogun of Japan, establishing the Kamakura Bakufu, important enough that all later Shoguns, including the Tokugawa Shogunate (who controlled Japan until Commodore Perry's arrival in the late 19th century, bringing Japan into the modern world) claimed descent from Yoritomo. Also the rise of the Samurai class occurs during the years of the Kamakura Shogunate.

The map below (not mine, but something I Googled) is the familiar island nation of Japan. The "Red Rectangular" selected area is the region I plan to map. Some of the socio-political data that I plan to convey with boundries and Japanese crests and battle banners, as well as symbols of the court and major samurai houses are from reseach of the historical record.

I point out Kyoto in the map, as its significant to the war and story of the map.

However, I'm going to have to fake much of it, as there few historical accounts taken from this period. I know major battle sites, major cities and which families controlled them, some reference of other major figures and there hometowns, but the rest will be "created".

One challenge is between the main island of Honshu and that cut-in-half island in the southern portion of my selected area, Shikoku, are supposed to be 10,000 islands. I'll see what I can do, but... only Shikoku is important in that part of the Region in the Gempei War.

Although the Gempei War, was much wider spread, especially in the early period of the war, the last and most lengendary/historical battles occurred between February 13, 1184 and March 13 1185. All events in this final year occur in my selected region of Japan.

If anyone's interested in learning more about the Gempei War, here's something from a site called SamuraiWiki... The Gempei War (http://wiki.samurai-archives.com/index.php?title=Genpei_War)

That's it for now! Here's the map showing my selected region.


02-04-2009, 02:45 AM
Very awesome, I will be keeping tabs on this. On a side note, isn't it supposed to be "February Entry" not "February Challenge"? :P

02-04-2009, 07:19 AM
What Nomadic said. Can't wait.

02-04-2009, 10:32 AM
Very awesome, I will be keeping tabs on this. On a side note, isn't it supposed to be "February Entry" not "February Challenge"? :P

Thanks. Yeah, I realized that right after I posted. I just got done reading Hoel's post, he did the same and it was in my head as I created this thread - ahem!


02-04-2009, 10:40 AM
Fixed the title for you. :)

joćo paulo
02-04-2009, 02:09 PM
I need to see the Nobunaga Oda:)

02-04-2009, 03:37 PM
Oda Nobunage (or as the Japanese Last names come first) Nobunago Oda, is one of my favorite historical figures of old Japan, however he was general during the early years of the Sengoku period in the late 1400's. So for my Gempei War map, Oda won't be born for another 250 years, so you won't see him unfortunately.

I'm thinking of placing Ukiyo-e styled samura, shogun, and various leaders as decoration in the ocean part of the map, rather than ocean itself - something I'm thinking about anyway.

I've been researching "Kamon" which is the Japanese family crest or trademark here in the last few hours, as these will represent the political markings throughout the map. For example attached is the Kamon for the Shimizu family - which is my mother's maiden name...

I will also being using war banners, which are Kamon placed on verticle rectangles or squares in different colors, especially in war hot areas of the map. Of course I'll also rely on the colored lines for the provincial borders of the region. Another issue is that there are 26 provinces within that rectangular selection of the map area I plan to incorporate in my final map. So lots of defined territories to include!


02-04-2009, 11:40 PM
I made time to get this started in WIP form. I referenced several maps and a satellite image to get the best views of what I needed.

I've created the coastlines and placed as many islands as I could find at this dimension in the Inland Sea.

Next I'll cut the rivers. Don't worry - mountains, borders and scale will be coming down the road. I wanted to get all the top down features before I start placing Ukiyo-e mountains.

The color is just a placeholder now, this will change greatly as the map developes. I just wanted some color so I can get the feel of the place.

WIP so far...


### Latest WIP ###

joćo paulo
02-05-2009, 01:17 PM
I love these Japanese islands.
I am eager to see the states warriors.

02-05-2009, 03:23 PM
Bring on Bongo and Bungo!

Weren't they provinces in that part of Japan? My dim recollection from playing 'Shogun total war' what a beautiful game that was, more of a work of art.

02-05-2009, 06:20 PM
Bring on Bongo and Bungo!

Weren't they provinces in that part of Japan? My dim recollection from playing 'Shogun total war' what a beautiful game that was, more of a work of art.

If you mean the Risk like board game, Shogun - I've played! This is one of my favorite board games!

Actually, though the stoners might like "Bongo", that was not a province of Japan, you probably mean - Bingo and Bungo, both in fact will be provinces on this map.

Actually Bungo has some significance in the Gempei War. Yoritomo's younger brother served as his chief general and after assaulting the main Heike forces on Honshu, he tried to get to Shikoku to crush the Heike homeland in Yashima, but didn't have any ships to get there. Sea Samurai from Bungo came to join the Minamoto cause with 60 ships, which were used to get to Shikoku.

Yoritomo's brother was Yoshi-tsune (I placed a dash in the middle of his name, so the profanity filter didn't "bleep" out his name!) Yoshi-tsune was considered the greatest samurai warrior of all time.

Yoritomo's youngest brother also fought for him as a general, his name was "Noriyori", but that name sounds like his companions should be... Biffer, Boffer, Bombor and Thorin Oakenshield! :P

OK, I added all the rivers into the map with this WIP, looks like I can start placing Ukiyo-e mountains next, followed by provincial borders, then city and castle symbols. The socio-political symbols beyond borders will come after that.

Gempei Region and its rivers!


### Latest WIP ###

02-05-2009, 06:56 PM
Some of your river branches aren't connected to the trunk, if you already know this then nevermind :)

02-05-2009, 07:01 PM
As I mentioned in the first post, I chose to do the Gempei war, as its partially related to my favorite Japanese ghost story (more of a weird tale, though).

Prologue, Japanese ghost and folklore stories were not considered worthy of literature by the upper classes of Japan and were never collected by them. An Irish American, named Lafcadio Hearn was appointed the American ambassador to Japan in the 1890's. He fell in love with the culture and the immaterialistic philosophy of the Japanese, both of which were fading with the modernization efforts in the country at the time - to his dismay.

Hearn began to travel round the country searching for the folk tales and ghost stories that he was convinced would be lost in the transition. So he started collecting them. He was so successful, after his ambassadorship, he remained in Japan, was adopted into a Samurai family, was renamed Koizumi Yagumo and became the Grimm of Japan, known by all, especially the children of Japan to this day...

Mini Nashi Hoichi (Hoichi the Earless)

There was a blind Buddhist monk, named Hoichi who was famous for his skill at playing the Samisen (kind of a Japanese banjo) and would travel from temple to temple entertaining the priests and local lords where ever he traveled.

He was visiting the temple of one of his friends, which was located in the Shimonoseki region - the straits between Honshu the great island and Kyushu in the south. (On the map, this is the narrow straits on the far west side.) When he arrived at the temple, he found his friend on the way out, attending to his local lord over some legal matters. His friend asked Hoichi, to make himself at home, he would return later that night.

Bored, Hoichi decided to walk along the beach and enjoy the fine weather. After a few miles walk he heard some noises, like a celebration of sorts just off the beach. He could tell there were samurai and lords and ladys about.

A samurai asked who he was and he told them. "My lord will be pleased for some entertainment." and he led Hoichi to his honorable lord.

Because, Hoichi was in Shimonoseki, which was the site of the Battle of Dan no ura, he thought he would play the Song of the Heike, which is a long classical poem about the ending days of that great clan. He played for hours and the lord and his lady cried at story and the wonderful music played by Hoichi. They thanked him, but demanded he return on the following night to play again.

When he returned to the temple, long after nightfall, his priest friend asked where he'd been. Hoichi told him. His friend stated, there are no lords here along the beach, where was this party at. So the next day, Hoichi took his friend to where he had been. Hoichi, being blind, did not realize that he gave his concert at a local cemetary, where the last of the Heike, killed at Dan no ura laid.

Hoichi's friend, in shock, said, if the ghosts want you to return he must not be found, as tradition stated the ghosts would kill and consume him if he returned. So he began to write holy scriptures all over Hoichi's body, which would make him invisible to the undead. Before he could finish the task, however, a messenger from his local lord demanded his attendance. So Hoichi's friend had his lesser acolytes finish the script writing.

Unfortunately, the acolytes forgot to do Hoichi's ears.

Late that night, a samurai ghost appeared at the temple in search of Hoichi. Only a pair of visible ears could be seen by the ghost, who knew he must do his appointed task and bring Hoichi with him. So, the ghost grabbed Hoichi's ears and pulled them from his head. Despite the pain, Hoichi kept silent...

The next morning, Hoichi's friend returned to find Hoichi bleeding profusely and near death. Though he survived this encounter, he was forever known as Hoichi the Earless.

That, my friends, is the strange tale of Hoichi! I hope you enjoyed it!


02-05-2009, 07:12 PM
Some of your river branches aren't connected to the trunk, if you already know this then nevermind :)

I do, doing the rivers on this complex coastline object was actually pretty tough, though I got it to work. I will be hiding those mis-branched rivers with the mountains and forest objects, or I might try to fix them - which might be harder than I want it to be.

Thanks for noticing - I noticed too, right away.


02-05-2009, 11:29 PM
@Ascension - I fixed the rivers, easier than I thought! :D

I started to play around with colors. I'm kind of liking the sea, something like parchment, but more painterly. Still more to do when I composite this with the final background paper glued to a reed mat I think.

I started placing mountain objects. I'm going to need more smaller ones and perhaps I'll start creating hill objects too. Lots to go yet.

I'll do higher resolution, later in the thread, once its more complete.

WIP so far!


### Latest WIP ###

02-05-2009, 11:34 PM
I like the water too. Hope this doesn't get overcrowded

02-05-2009, 11:40 PM
I like the water too. Hope this doesn't get overcrowded

Maybe I should back off on some of these mountains and/or shrink them a bit. You're right its going to get crowded otherwise, when I get borders, labels, socio-political symbols it might be a tight fit.

I'll see as I start to populate it with that kind of stuff.


02-06-2009, 06:27 AM
You're going for the japanophile vote there i see.
I like your mountains, but as you've realised, they're too big.
Cool idea with the water!

Steel General
02-06-2009, 07:41 AM
Yup I'm liking the water too...and I agree the mountains are just a bit big.

I think this is going to be really cool once it's finished.

02-06-2009, 12:19 PM
You're going for the japanophile vote there i see.
I like your mountains, but as you've realised, they're too big.
Cool idea with the water!

You started it, Hoel, with your historical Karlborg fortress last month. I decided I wanted to try something historic. If I were working on Varangian Guard Quarters at Constantinople, I'd be a Swedophile!

Since, I am half Japanese as already mentioned and working on my Ukiyo-e set of symbols, I thought it fitting to try a map of ancient Japan. Besides I promised to do a map with my objects so here it will be.

Actually, though I knew some of the history to the Gempei War. In trying for more accuracy I'm actually learning lots. The next problem I'm running into history-wise anyway, is that many of the familiar cities of this part of Japan either didn't exist yet, or were called something else. For instance, I don't see a reference for Osaka or Hiroshima at this time, yet both major cities are in this map area. Kyoto (which is important to the story) is called Heian-kyo at this time. A Taira city south of Kyoto, in what is now Kobe, was called Fukuhara-kyo (also part of this storyline.)

So I'll be populated the rest of the region, with cities that I am not sure existed in 1184 - 1185 the date for this mapped area.

So nobody enjoyed my little story above (Mini Nashi Hoichi)? I plan to relate a few more Gempei War specific stories as the thread moves along. Some interesting stuff!

I am reworking the mountains now, as well as placing the provincial borders just to see how crowded the islands are going to get.


Steel General
02-06-2009, 12:37 PM
GP - Haven't had a chance to read the story until now - very enjoyable. Japan's answer to the Brother's Grimm? Never even considered that there might be someone like that.

Looking forward to the others you mentioned you were going to post.

02-06-2009, 01:44 PM
I enjoyed your story greatly. Enough that I shall now chain you to the wall and tickle your nose with this feather until you tell me another.

02-06-2009, 03:31 PM
Very pretty. Love the style.

02-06-2009, 08:32 PM
Next up... I started to place provincial borders, after removing the first set of mountains, then the provincial names. I placed castles at the most important locations - Heian-kyo, Fukuwara-kyo, and Akishima. I place temples in Hiroshima and Nara.

Of the kamon or family crests - the major ones of course are Clan Taira (swallow tail butterfly icon, with colors black on red), Clan Minamoto (Woodland Sorrel, with colors black on white) and the Clan Fujiwara who controlled the emperor with a Swamp Sorrel. I also placed a few more kamon for families in differing provincial areas, only creating the Shimizu clan in Izumo, and the Matsu clan in Hoki.

As I discover which clans were in which province, I will start to populate with other Kamon for those houses.

Whereever you see a pair of war banners, there was a battle at the location of the Gempei War. One battle site, I'm not sure of, and will move to correct location when I find it. The battle banners at Bingo is just a guess right now.

I am thinking of placing a large square grid, though I'm not sure what scale and whether I should do miles or not. Still deciding. I placed much smaller version of the previos mountains back in, with more space between. I still think I need 20% more mountains.

Remember, Japan is a chain of volcanic mountains. 80% of the land surface is mountainous. Sure some villages, and towns now exist, but most of millions of Japanese dwell in the remaining 20% arable lands. Japan is noticeably mountainous - so the map needs to show this better.

I plan to place all the major characters involved in the battle across the top of the map, even beyond the current borders - retired Emperor Go-Shirakawa, Yoritomo Minamoto, Yoshi-tsune Minamoto, Kiyomori Taira, and Prince Antoku.

WIP so far... getting there, about 3/4 done I'd say.


### Latest WIP ###

02-06-2009, 08:52 PM
I chose to tell this next story, as its one of the two I am aware of that has something to do with art, not maps unfortunately, but should still be interesting.

The Boy who Drew Cats
by Koizumi Yagumo, as retold by GP...

There once was a farmer who lived in the highlands south of Osaka, who had three sons. The eldest son was hired by the local daimyo to serve as an ashigaru or foot soldier under the command of his samurai. The second son was to inherit the family farm. To the third son, no inheritance would come, as the farmer was quite poor.

The worst problem, the boy, name Hiroshi, spent much of his days drawing cats. There was some hope that if the boy learned portraiture, who could serve the local lord as a fine artist. Unfortunately, the boy only desired to draw cats.

Finally, with no other opportunities available, the farmer contacted the priests of Nara, and asked if his youngest son could join the priesthood and have some future. They agreed.

Much to the dismay of the high priest, Hiroshi spent the time he should have been studying, drawing dozens of cat images with the tsukue brush, everyday. Though he finally "graduated" from the seminary. Unsure how best the use the useless boy. The priests sent Hiroshi to Osaka to restore an old Buddhist temple that had been abandoned twenty years ago.

Hiroshi arrived at the temple site, in old Osaka late on a rainy night. He tried to busy himself cleaning the temple as many years of neglect made it in poor condition. The roof leaked in many places and the rain poured in. After some cleaning, Hiroshi was bored and began to draw cats on the sliding Shogi screens around the temple.

It got very late and the rains would not stop. Hiroshi found a cabinet off the main temple room that looked water tight enough to keep him dry. He crawled within and tried to get comfortable for a nights rest.

Only after an hour, as he was beginning to sleep, a loud noise came from the front of the temple and several voices began to argue in a hissing way. By the smell and coarse noises, peeking out the crack in the door of cabinet, Hiroshi discovered that a gang of Hengeyokai - goblin rats the size of men used the abandoned temple as their secret nest. They would waylay travelers on the street late at night, kill them, eat them and take their valuables for their own.

Hiroshi began to pray silently, hoping he wouldn't be discovered.

Suddenly, Hiroshi heard a hiss and yowl, as if from an angry cat. The single cat turned into a dozen and the screeching of goblin rats mixed in the fray. Hiroshi shook with fear, but remained hidden in his cabinet. The ensuing fight continued for some time, but all was quiet by morning.

When Hiroshi crawled from the cabinet in the morning light. He saw the grisly sight of a dozen goblin rats dead throughout the temple, their throats ripped open. Throughout the temple on the shoji screens were the cats he drew the night before.

All the drawn cats had blood dripping from their mouths.

The End...


02-07-2009, 03:33 AM
OK, I'd say I'm 95% done with the map. A few more kamon crests, a scale label saying "each square is 50 miles", a compass rose, and a "by line". Then the basic map will be done. I want to place ukiyo-e illustrations of the major players above the map, a legend below it, and a reed mat as the frame. Almost complete!

For the historical sticklers, the kamon placement except for very few is completely random, I have no real idea which families control which province. I just wanted it to look authentic and complete. :?


PS: more stories tomorrow, now I'm off to bed!

### Latest WIP ###

joćo paulo
02-07-2009, 07:00 AM
Definitely, your map is already my favorite.

02-07-2009, 10:01 AM
I'd have to say that is one of the prettiest maps I have ever seen on this site. If this does not get one of those "map-of-the-month" awards, I will write a stern letter to the admin.

Steel General
02-07-2009, 12:06 PM
This is a stunning piece of work GP - and may be one of my absolute favorites of yours.

One thing I noticed - on the red 'battle banners' the symbol is very blurred (or at least appears to be), not sure if you can/want to do anything about it, but I thought I'd point it out anyway.

02-07-2009, 01:10 PM
Add me in as well, very nice. I like this new font better too.

02-07-2009, 01:29 PM
It's a nice map. One bit of feedback: The coastline seems very slightly too blurry for me. The text and logos are very crisp, and so are the mountains etc, and then the coast just doesn't contrast with the sea all that much. Anyway I am hardly suitable as an art critic, ymmv, but there you go anyway. :)

02-07-2009, 02:12 PM
Thank you for the praise, it is always a great motivating factor in my work!

@ SG - you'll notice on the Taira kamon, which is a swallow tailed butterfly, the lines within the graphic are very fine, and the battle banners they are placed on are very tiny, as well as having a red background (Taira colors were black on red). All those factors work against it for keeping it clean and crisp. The final map may be 200 ppi, to better show these fine details.

@ Bartmoss - I really want to keep the coastal areas as subtle as possible, though I might try a light colored outline just to enhance a bit, we'll have to see.

@ Ascension - yeah, that first font I chose for an oriental brush look, just looked cheap and tacky. So I replaced them with more easier to read fonts, that still had a classy, calligraphic like quality. I agree the news ones are much better. I also prefer the larger type used for my main island names in a semi-transparent white - much better than the previous map.

OK, next story - this one is not a Koizumi Yagumo story, rather its one of the historical accounts taken from the poem of Heike (another name for Taira).

The Challenge at Yashima...

By the start of 1185, the Taira were on the run, the great battle of Ichi no tane the year before, when Yoshi-tsune Minamoto made his hair raising charge from the top of a mountain down a steep incline onto the fortress at Ichi no tane with 50,000 troops caused a complete rout of the Taira forces there. The Taira greatly feared the warrior chief, Yoshi-tsune.

Yashima was a secondary castle for the Taira forces on the Island of Shikoku. The lack of ships for the Minamoto forces gave some relief to the Taira, though they knew that peace would not last long. On March 22nd 1185, the men on the walls saw smoke in the harbor and raised the alarm, Yoshi-tsune is attack us!

With fears of another 50,000 man army coming to their weakened defenses, Lord Kiyomori no Taira declared an evacuation was required. So the forces pulled themselves from their stronghold and headed for the west bay, where their ships could bear them away, along with the infant emperor, Prince Antoku. As they boarded the ships, Kiyomori realized that indeed it was Yoshi-tsune making the attack, but this time, he only had 5000 men doing so. Kiyomori considered returning to the castle and successfully holding off this smaller force - yet at that very moment the castle on the mountain began to burn. No choice, they must leave the island for their own safety then.

As the boats began to pull from shore the Minamoto army reached the harbor and began filling the sky with daikyu arrows felling the men and sailors aboard the 50 or so Taira ships.

Both as a means of redirecting the enemy arrows along with a challenge of honor, Kiyomori opened a fan, tied it to a rope and hoisted it up the mainsail of the Taira flagship.

In training and tournaments Japanese archers traditionally use a folding fan as a target tied to a rope or tree. Being about the size of a man's face, it was deemed a suitable target for practice.

Kiyomori sought to direct the Minamoto arrows at the fan, instead of his escaping people. Already far from shore, they were almost beyond the distance of arrow fire.

One young Minamoto samurai, determined to hit the fan or kill himself trying, rode is horse into the surf, pulled an arrow placed in his daikyu bow, aimed and loosed the arrow in a high arc. All were silent on the shore and sea. Finally the arrow struck and shattered the fan.

All historical accounts agree that both the Minamoto and the Taira cheered in awestruck pride at the miraculous shot.

Then the fleet headed west, aiming to place a new stronghold in Kyushu with plans to meet their Honshu forces at the Straits of Shimonoseki - the place known as Dan no ura, a place that would be remembered for all time...


02-08-2009, 02:27 AM
Lovely work, GP and it looks like a departure from your usual style. Lots of character to the map - wonderful work!

02-08-2009, 02:00 PM
Lovely work, GP and it looks like a departure from your usual style. Lots of character to the map - wonderful work!

Yeah, I generally don't create object oriented maps. This is something in the style of CC3, though of course I used my stand-by Xara Xtreme for creating it. You do notice the Ukiyo-e map objects in this don't you, Ravs.

I plan to add the Kamon crests, and war banners for each house to my Ukiyo-e symbol set, from this challenge.

Besides have you read in of my included stories in this thread? I am trying to increase the Japanophile in all of us! :D


02-08-2009, 02:06 PM
Haven't had time to read the whole story yet, but I will! Lol...now I see how you intended the map objects to be used (I still prefer using them to make pieces of art though :)

02-09-2009, 02:27 AM
The Map and Legend portion of the entry is complete. I plan to create a plate of Ukiyo-e illustrations of the major players. Goal is to end up with a hanging wall screen on a reed mat, with the three pieces, top to bottom: illustrations, map and legend. I have yet to create the illustrations, but have found reference art for all concerned.

I rearranged some of the mountains, placement incorrect in a couple places. I added three more kamon. I discovered Fukuhara-kyo, the Taira headquarters is located where Kobe, Japan is today, which is near Ichi no tane in the province of Settsu, not Kii as on previous map. I added a compass rose, scale description line, and my "by-line" at the bottom.

The legend shows map region vs. the rest of Japan, an explanation of battle site symbols and the primary kamon crests of the map, the major map symbols used for sites and terrain.

Almost complete! Enjoy!


### Latest WIP ###

02-09-2009, 12:34 PM
Minor nitpick: The mountain right east of hiroshima goes over the land-line and into the ocean. I don't know if that's on purpose thou

02-09-2009, 12:39 PM
Love the map Gameprinter!

02-09-2009, 01:50 PM
Minor nitpick: The mountain right east of hiroshima goes over the land-line and into the ocean. I don't know if that's on purpose thou

Fixed it, thanks! How is your map coming, I've seen no updates from you lately?

Once I create all the illustrations, I will upload the completed project with your suggested fix!


02-10-2009, 01:14 PM
I try to check into the forums every day, but I can't seem to free up my time to get any work done. I'll get on it thou.

02-10-2009, 06:55 PM
Genpei War Map - hanging scroll is complete!

GENPEI WAR 1180 - 1185

The Genpei War really began in 1161 when the Emperor Go-Shirakawa retired from office, a situation that began to occur more and more at the end of the Heian Period (792 - 1185) when emperors found themselves more as ceremonial figureheads and not ruling members of the government, which was maintained by the various Ministers of the court. By retiring, a former emperor is still considered a god with much power, passing on ceremonial duties to his chosen heir, while working politics in the background of the Imperial throne.

His choice for replacement was met with mixed emotions by various members of the court. Minamoto Yorimasa (the father of Yoritomo and Yoshi-tsune) backed a different heir, but their plot was discovered and emperor want-to-be was slain in his escape attempt. In dishonor Minamoto Yorimasa committed seppuka (ritual suicide), having done so, this incident of seppuka set the precedant for what it means to be samurai, and death if one fails his master. Ritual suicide was not intrinsicly tied to the samurai until after Yorimasa did so.

His senior sons were executed and his three youngest sons sent away in exile.

Twenty years later, the exiled sons returned, and the current emperor forgave their father's crimes, and they were granted their familial lands and properties. In return they served the emperor as military generals to quell rebellions or the borders from barbarians. Thus the Minamoto name was restored to honor.

The emperor died. Kiyomori no Taira, the head of the Taira family took control of the court, essentially kidnapped the emperor's youngest son, under his care named the infant the next emperor of Japan, Prince Antoku as he was called. Kiyomori named himself Minister, but acted as Regent and Shogun.

The former emperor's father, the retired Go-Shirakawa was still alive and asked Yoritomo, the eldest Minamoto, to remove the Taira from power and retore the throne to his choice, Go-Toba, his elder son.

The call to restore the Imperial line went out to all the provinces. Thus the war began, not yet a war between two families, but each province was to decide which faction they would support, the retired emperor backed Minamoto or the residing Imperial court backed by Taira. The first year and a half of war, was internal to each province as cousins and brothers fought to decide where each family stood in supporting which imperial heir.

In 1181, Go-Shirakawa died of old age, his son and chosen heir took charge.

Late during 1182 a drought and plague struck everywhere throughout Japan and the war simmered down, while each took care of their own lands and people. All except Yoritomo's cousin, Yorinaka who put his own army in charge of Heian-Kyo (Kyoto) the Imperial Capital, while the emperor escaped west to Edo, under Minamoto protection, and forced the Taira into their homelands outside the capital. It was said, Yorinaka was a brute and pleasured himself at the expense of the court and people.

In 1184, Go-Toba asked Yoritomo to remove his cousin from Heian-kyo and restrain the armies of the Taira, then end this disruptive war. Yoritomo being the consumate bureaucrat sent his two warlike younger brothers to serve as the field generals, while he negotiated for a permanent position of power at court with Go-Toba.

Yoshi-tsune, the elder of the two brothers sent to fight became a hero of history and legend with his great battle at Ichi no tane. A fort in the mountains west of Fukuhara-kyo, the Taira homeland city, Ichi no tane sat at the feet of a small mountain with a steep incline behind it, allowing the fort to command the box canyon before it to the sea. Yoshi-tsune sent his younger brother, Noriyori with 3000 men to attack the outer gate forts to attract the Taira at the main fort. This occurred March 18, 1184.

Meanwhile, Yoshi-tsune led a force of 50,000 to the top of that mountain behind the main fort. In a hair-raising charge down a mountainside, the army of Yoshi-tsune moved straight to the main fort, behind the Taira army who saw this act, which they considered an impossibility, and routed.

A year of skirmishes to settle the formerly Taira strong provinces of Honshu, while the Taira escaped to their secondary fortress of Yashima on the Island of Shikoku, across the Inland Sea from Honshu and the war.

On March 22, 1185 the Battle of Yashima let a confused Taira host lose their superior defensive position with an inferior force, though the bulk of the army escaped on ships west heading to Shimonoseki - the Straits between Honshu and Kyushu in the south. They were meeting up with their surviving armies on Honshu to build a stronghold in their Kyushu properties. The small village of Dan no ura sits near that place.

The Minamoto led a superior force of 500 ships to the Taira waiting fleet of 300 ships, on April 14, 1185. Some of the Minamoto ships landed ashore to sent forces against the Taira on shore. In the early hours, the tide which is very forceful in the narrows straits between the main islands were favoring the forces of Taira, they held their line against the superior numbers of the Minamoto ships. But then the tide turned and the Minamoto ships had the advantage.

A Taira spy gave away the identify to the specific Taira ship that held the Taira family and Prince Antoku. A force of 10 ships concentrated archer fire onto that ship, felling all on the decks. The Taira in desperation leaped from the ships with the infant emperor and died in the rough seas there.

The Taira forces on the shore were forced off the land and were destroyed in the surf between their dying fleet and the Minamoto army on shore.

Thus ended the Taira, and the Genpei War in 1185.

Historical background aside. Here is my final entry for the February Challenge.


### Latest WIP ###

joćo paulo
02-10-2009, 07:48 PM

You are superhuman GP:)

02-10-2009, 07:58 PM
Yeah. That's gonna be tough to beat.

Steel General
02-10-2009, 09:15 PM
You may have outdone yourself GP-san!

02-10-2009, 10:59 PM
Flippen beautiful. Great job!

02-11-2009, 02:10 AM
This is an awesome map! Great! And being ducated while reading this thread makes it even better! I'm very interested in japanese history and folk tales, so this thread raised my attention on the spot. It's amazing to see this come together! The legend and the upper plate with the historical figures is the icing on the cake. Okay, I'm still a newbie on here, but if this work of art doesn't win an award, I can't imagine what would! Keep up the great work! It's very inspiring and I'll definitly look at it again, when our current campaign turns eastwards and I'll have to create some maps with an Oriental Adventures-like / japanese style.

02-11-2009, 02:28 AM
Now looking at the attachment, I see some anamolies I need to fix. For some reason the glow around the landmasses turned red?! I've still got the original map, so I'll just have to replace it - not sure what happened.

The wood texture at the top of the scroll is way too low of resolution, and the bevel is too strong. I'll fix that too. And the scroll is just a bit too square, and I need to break up the repeating pattern a bit.

Just a couple tweaks. I'll do that tomorrow.

One more fact about the Genpei War I thought I'd throw at you.

The word "Genpei" what does that mean? Kanji, which is the formal/complex writing style using ideograms originally from China each have two pronounciations of the words they depict. The Kanji symbol for Minamoto is pronounced Genji in Chinese, while the Taira Kanji symbol is pronounced Heike - which when used in the second half of a word can also be "pei" instead of "hei".

So Genpei is literally "Genji - (Pei) or Heike" War - the war of two families.


PS: thanks, Absinth (and everyone) if you want to create oriental styled maps, the map objects used in this map, is another project I am currently working on. Eventually there should be a couple hundred map objects specifically for Japanese styled maps and artwork using them.

Thread is here... http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?t=3912

02-11-2009, 05:33 AM
You've still got some mountains that lies over the coastline and rivers.
I can't get over the silly names of some of those japanese provinces...
I think you've got the japanophile vote on this thou, will be hard to beat.

02-11-2009, 05:11 PM
I've tweaked the map for the issues mentioned in my last post.

Hoel, technical correctness is important so I searched, moved and resized any and all mountains I could find crossing the coastline or across a river. In some cases the rivers move behind a mountain, and as the mountains are somewhat isometric, I didn't see a real problem with those. I think I got them all this time.

This map isn't just supposed to impress Japanophiles. Its just I've seen few maps catering to oriental settings that look very oriental in my opinion. That's why I chose to try this - including the Ukiyo-e Symbol project.

I added a woven border to the reed mat and I think it looks better. Plus I replaced the wood texture on the top of the mat, with a smaller bevel and drop shadow. I also replaced the wood texture on the wall where the scroll hangs.

Now I'm going to call this entry complete! Though I might bump it with another story, later in the month, before its time to vote! ;)


### Latest WIP ###

02-11-2009, 06:45 PM
It is a good map. Even if I don't know much japanese history and arn't into japanese pop culture, I will still vote for it.
The concept and quality is great and the details like the background and portraits are just icing.

02-13-2009, 11:19 AM
Wow, That is so awesome. I just picked up CC3 and am just starting to learn how to use it. How did you get the land so accurate? Is there a way to import some kinda image to do it like that or are you just that good? Well you are that good but thats beside the point. :P

02-13-2009, 11:27 AM
I'd love to be able to help you out, only I didn't use CC3 to create this map. I use a vector drawing application called Xara Xtreme.

You might want to search for CC3 tuts in this forum, I do believe there is a tutorial for importing outside scanned or digital image files into CC3 to do your tracings and what not.

Basically what I did, I found an accurate coastline map of Japan (found online) imported it and carefully traced it to achieve the detailed realistic land shape. Then started coloring and placing objects. Somewhat similar to how this would be done in CC3 I am sure.

I hope you find what you need and I hope CC3 does for you what my chosen app does for me - good luck!


02-13-2009, 05:08 PM

Yah, I found the thread that talks about importing a scan and tracing in CC3. Thanks for the heads up.


02-16-2009, 03:24 AM
Threadjack: my gaming group is playing a high level D&D 3.5 adventure series homebrew, where I'm playing a high level fallen paladin/black guard. I had a ring that I thought was regeneration, but it turned out when I died, I was transformed into a death knight - weee!

So inspired by my own map, I decided to give my Black Guard/Death Knight a new personae (I hadn't even named the character before he died.) So now he is the Death Shogun, Taira no Kiyomori.

Interestingly, the actual Taira no Kiyomori, the loser in the Genpei War, is actually venerated by the Japanese, out of fear of his wrath. In the Shinto faith, it is believed everyone becomes gods or spirits when they die and often become ancestral spirits within a given family or clan. Usually a memorial altar is placed in the home for familial worship of lost loved ones. However, some die to become gods of a higher level. Hachiman the god of war, is actually a former emperor from the 4th century.

The Japanese believe that unless Taira no Kiyomori is venerated, he will return to this world and bring wrath and destruction to the Empire of Japan, because was wronged in life. Though he lost the Genpei War, by supporting a legitimate heir to the throne, his cause was a just one.

In the center of Tokyo, between skyscrapers, a small Shinto Shrine dedicated to Taira no Kiyomori sits. This shrine has daily offerings of money, food and other trinkets placed by Japanese businessmen, in efforts to prevent economic destruction to Japan's commerce.

Being venerated and feared, made him the ideal historical figure to define my new D&D character.

End Threadjack...


PS: its been a while since I created an illustration for one of my characters. I decided that this one deserved an illustration, in the style and inspiration of the Genpei War map. Enjoy!

PPS: you know, I think the CWBP needs a Japan like territory, and this guy should be the head honcho for the place - I need an island guys to develope and map this!

Steel General
02-16-2009, 07:02 AM
Nice GP, I like it.

02-25-2009, 12:21 AM
As a last minute bump :P - and to keep my promise of one more Japanese folklore tale, here is my final post of this challenge thread!

People looking for map updates need to view the second map on page 5 of this thread - that's it!

Yuki Onna by Kiozumi Yagumo

A couple centuries ago, in Musashi province of Japan, two wood-cutters, an old man named Mosaku and his younger associate Minikichi were foraging for wood in the snowy mountains above their village. It was getting dark when a storm approached with fierce winds and heavy snowfall. In a very short time the snow was completely blocking their sight. Minikichi was afright, but Mosaku assured his younger friend, that they were close to a summer shepherd's hut - they would find shelter there.

In less than an hour, they arrived. The shepherd's hut was empty, as it was primarily used during the summer months for the shepherd allowing village sheep to graze the sweet grass of the mountaintops. It was a 2 tatami hut (basically 4' x 8'), with no fireplace and no blankets or supplies of any kind. Not able to keep back the cold, but a surviving chance against the blowing snows outside.

Shaking the snow off their straw snow coats by the door, the two nestled in one corner for some respite for the rest of the night. Minikichi could not fall asleep easily, as the winds buffetted the outside, causing the whole hut to shake with incessant noise. Mosaku curled his legs up into the straw coat and was soon snoring away.

After some time the winds settled down and Minikichi fell asleep. Something aroused him to open his eyes. The storm had abated, the noises were gone, but Minikichi strangely noticed the door to the hut lay open and a cold mist seemed to fill the hut.

He glanced at Mosaku, and noticed a beautiful woman with the palest skin, and bluest lips. She was exhaling a frosty breath onto Mosaku's face. Minikichi noticed Mosaku looked dead, his face and torso thick with frost. The woman turned to Minikichi realizing he was awake.

The snow woman said, "I should kill you too, but I will spare you. You must never tell anyone of what you have seen today, or I shall return and kill you as you deserve!" with that this demon spirit rose and exited the hut with the door seeming to close by itself. Minikichi stood up ran to open the door, but she was gone, and Mosaku lay still, unbreathing behind him.

The next day, he returned to the village and told his family that Mosaku died from the freezing night. They buried him and went on with their lives.

Later that year, during the summer Obon festival, Minikichi was walking the long path to the Temple near his home, where the festival was being held. On the road, he met a beautiful woman. She claimed to be traveling to some relatives in the neighboring province, as her parents perished in a fire and she had nowhere to turn.

It was a long walk, and as one knows, sometimes the eyes can say things of the heart, that is never spoken. Before the end of the path, though they hardly spoke, both were showing great affection with the other.

That evening he walked her from the temple to his family farmhouse. Minikichi introduced Yuki-san to his famiy. She told them her plight and Minikichi's mother insisted she stay with them. They could use help in the harvest, and might do worse in the next province.

After a time, Minikichi's mother suggested the two should marry, as she had grown greatly fond of Yuki-san. They did to the joy and delight of the entire village.

After a few years, Yuki-san had bore Minikichi two sons. They had a happy life during this time. During one particularly cold winter's night, a sudden winter storm whipped outside their home. Minikichi stood looking out the door.

Yuki-san insisted he close the door to keep out the cold. "What are you looking at!" she asked.

Minikichi replied, "The storm. It reminds of something that happened a long time ago." And with that he told Yuki-san of that cold night on the mountain.

At the end of his story, Yuki-san turned stark white and her lips were blue. She screeched, "I told you never to tell of that night, Minikichi. I should kill you where you stand, oh you so deserve it! Because you must raise our boys, however, I shall once again spare your life. Never again speak of this, or I shall come back!"

With that the demon spirit, who was Yuki-san walked out the door and disappeared forever.