Back in spring 2010, I was treated to a nice tour of Ueno Park and the nearby Shinobazu Pond by reader “Johnl”, including a visit to the Benzaiten Shrine there. While at the shrine, I noticed this stone lantern, and the all-too-familiar crest on it:
It might look a little familiar to anyone who played Nintendo at all. It looks almost identical to the “Triforce” in the Legend of Zelda series:
The screenshot above, taken years ago before I even moved to Ireland, shows the character’s inventory and a partial reconstruction of the Triforce. But the historical origins lie in the ancient Hōjō Clan in Japan who used it as their family crest. The Kamakura Period of Japan began when the Genji Clan (Minamoto) won the Genpei War at last and became the de facto power of the land who kept the peace, even though the Heian Court and the Emperor were still technically the highest law in the land . In a bit of irony, the Genji Clan was dominated within generations by an off-shoot of their arch-enemy, the Heike Clan (Taira), called the Hojo Clan through a clever set of intermarriages and bad luck. Thus, the Hojo Clan became the ultimate rulers during the Kamakura Period through their secret police, military forces, and power wrested from the Emperor.
Quite a far-cry from the Legend of Zelda games, really.
Having played the original game as a kid, followed by the sequel and later “A Link to the Past”, the symbol of the Triforce/Hojo Clan is simply too ingrained to ignore after so many years. As with the Super Mario connection, I found, it’s amazing how I grew up recognizing the “Triforce” all these years, but being an American kid, totally unaware of the deeper meaning in Japanese culture and history. It’s fun to rediscover these things as an adult.