What was the Heian period like?
The Taira family, which had grasped political power toward the end of the Heian period, was overthrown by the Minamoto family in 1185.
After Minamoto no Yoritomo defeated the Taira family, he set up his base in Kamakura (Kanagawa Prefecture), and by assigning constables and stewards throughout the country he was able to solidify his power.
In 1192, Minamoto no Yoritomo was given the title seii tai shogun (barbarian-subduing generalissimo) and established a bakufiu (shogunate) government at Kamakura.
This was the beginning of warrior clan politics.
Bakufu was the name for a military regime in which the head of the warriors, the shogun, controlled political affairs.
The emperor was simply a figurehead.
After Masako Hojo was left a widow at Yoritomo's death, her family, the Hojo clan, took over and remained in power until Emperor Go-Daigo defeated the Kamakura bakufu government in 1333 and effected a restoration of imperial rule.
In the cultural sphere, the period gave birth to a number of famous realistic Buddhist sculptures noted for being powerful, bold, and warrior-like.
As Buddhism assimilated the faith of the commoners, Honen established Jodoshu and Nichiren established Nichirenshu.
Zenshu also prospered during this period.
One of the more unforgettable narratives of the Kamakura period was of the Mongolian invasions.
In the years 1274 and 1284, the forces of Kublai Khan attempted to invade Kyushu at Hakata, but both times the Mongolian troops were defeated with the help of large storms at sea.