Minamoto no Yoritomo

Minamoto no Yoritomo (源 頼朝, May 9, 1147 – February 9, 1199) was the founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199.[1] His Buddhist name was Bukōshōgendaizenmon (武皇嘯原大禅門).

Minamoto no Yoritomo
Minamoto no Yoritomo
Portrait of Yoritomo, copy of the 1179 original hanging scroll, attributed to Fujiwara Takanobu. Color on silk. In 1995 Michio Yonekura argued that this portrait is not of Yoritomo but of Ashikaga Tadayoshi.
In office
Preceded byHeian period
Succeeded byMinamoto no Yoriie
Personal details
BornMay 9, 1147
Atsuta, Owari Province
DiedFebruary 9, 1199 (aged 52)
Spouse(s)Hōjō Masako
FatherMinamoto no Yoshitomo

Early life

Seigan-ji (his birthplace)

Yoritomo was the third son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, heir of the Minamoto (Seiwa Genji) clan, and his official wife, Urahime, was a daughter of Fujiwara no Suenori, who was a member of the illustrious Fujiwara clan. Yoritomo was born in Atsuta in Owari Province[2][3][4] (present-day Atsuta-ku, Nagoya). At that time Yoritomo's grandfather Minamoto no Tameyoshi was the head of the Minamoto. Like Benkei, his childhood name was Oniwakamaru (鬼武丸).

In 1156, factional divisions in the court erupted into open warfare within the capital. The cloistered Emperor Toba and his son Emperor Go-Shirakawa sided with the son of Fujiwara regent Fujiwara no Tadazane, Fujiwara no Tadamichi as well as Taira no Kiyomori (a member of the Taira clan), while Cloistered Emperor Sutoku sided with Tadazane's younger son, Fujiwara no Yorinaga. This is known as the Hōgen Rebellion.[5]:210–211, 255

The Seiwa Genji were split. The head of the clan, Tameyoshi, sided with Sutoku; his son, Yoshitomo, sided with Toba and Go-Shirakawa, as well as Kiyomori. In the end, the supporters of Go-Shirakawa won the civil war, thus ensuring victory for Yoshitomo and Kiyomori. Sutoku was placed under house arrest, and Yorinaga was fatally wounded in battle. Tameyoshi was executed, even after numerous pleas from Yoshitomo. Nonetheless, Go-Shirakawa and Kiyomori were ruthless, and Yoshitomo found himself as the head of the Minamoto clan, while Yoritomo became the heir.[5]

Yoritomo and the Minamoto clan descended from the imperial family on his father's side. Nonetheless, in Kyoto, the Taira clan, now under the leadership of Kiyomori, and the Minamoto clan, under the leadership of Yoshitomo, began to factionalize again.[5]:239–241, 256–257

Kiyomori was supported by Fujiwara no Michinori (also known as Shinzei), while Yoshitomo was supported by Fujiwara no Nobuyori. This was known as the Heiji Rebellion (January–February 1160). The ex-Emperor's and Shinzei's mansions were burned, while Shinzei was captured and decapitated. Nonetheless, the Minamoto were not well prepared, and the Taira took control of Kyoto. Yoshitomo fled the capital but was later betrayed and executed by a retainer.[5]

In the aftermath, harsh terms were imposed on the Minamoto and their allies. Only Yoshitomo's three young boys remained alive, so that Kiyomori and the Taira clan were now the undisputed leaders of Japan.[5]:258–260 Yoritomo, the new head of the Minamoto, was exiled. Yoritomo was not executed by Kiyomori because of pleas from Kiyomori's stepmother. Yoritomo's brothers, Minamoto no Noriyori and Minamoto no Yoshitsune were also allowed to live.[6]

Yoritomo grew up in exile. He married into the Hōjō clan, led by Hōjō Tokimasa, marrying Tokimasa's daughter, Hōjō Masako.[6]:147[5]:371 Meanwhile, he was notified of events in Kyoto thanks to helpful friends. Soon enough, Yoritomo's passive exile was to be over.[7]


Call to arms and the Gempei War (1180–1185)

Minamoto no Yoritomo kaou
Yoritomo's kaō (stylized signature)

In 1180, Prince Mochihito, a son of Cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa, humiliated by the Taira because of the Taira-backed accession to the throne by his nephew, Emperor Antoku (who was half-Taira) made a national call to arms of the Minamoto clan all over Japan to rebel against the Taira. Yoritomo took part in this, especially after things escalated between the Taira and Minamoto after the death of Minamoto no Yorimasa and Prince Mochihito himself.[5]:278–281, 291

Yoritomo set himself up as the rightful heir of the Minamoto clan, and he set up a capital in Kamakura to the east. Not all Minamoto thought of Yoritomo as rightful heir. His uncle Minamoto no Yukiie and his cousin Minamoto no Yoshinaka conspired against him.[5]:296

In September 1180, Yoritomo was defeated at the Battle of Ishibashiyama, his first major battle, when Ōba Kagechika led a rapid night attack.[8] After losing a battle with the Heike clan at Mt. Ishibashiyama in 1180, Minamoto no Yoritomo fled into the Hakone mountains, stayed in Yugawara, then escaped From Manazuru-Iwa to Awa (south of present-day Chiba). Yoritomo spent the next six months raising a new army.[5]:289–291

In 1181, Taira no Kiyomori died, and the Taira clan was now led by Taira no Munemori.[5]:287 Munemori took a much more aggressive policy against the Minamoto, and attacked Minamoto bases from Kyoto in the Genpei War. Nonetheless, Yoritomo was well protected in Kamakura. His brothers Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Minamoto no Noriyori defeated the Taira in several key battles, but they could not stop Minamoto no Yoshinaka, Yoritomo's rival, from entering Kyoto in 1183 and chasing the Taira south. The Taira took Emperor Antoku with them.[5]:289–305 In 1184, Antoku was displaced by the Minamoto with Emperor Go-Toba as the new emperor.[5]:319

From 1181 to 1184, a de facto truce with the Taira dominated court allowed Yoritomo the time to build an administration of his own, centered on his military headquarters in Kamakura. In the end he triumphed over his rival cousins, who sought to steal from him control of the clan, and over the Taira, who suffered a terrible defeat at the Battle of Dan-no-ura in 1185. Yoritomo thus established the supremacy of the warrior samurai caste and the first bakufu (shogunate) at Kamakura, beginning the feudal age in Japan which lasted until the mid-19th century. Yoritomo practiced shudō with Yoshinao, a member of the Imperial Guard.[9]


In December 1185, Go-Shirakawa granted Yoritomo the authority to collect the commissariat tax (the hyoro-mai or levy contribution of rice) and to appoint stewards (jito) and constables (shugo). Thus the Throne "handed to the leader of the military class effective jurisdiction in matters of land tenure and the income derived from agriculture". In the summer of 1189, Yoritomo invaded and subjugated Mutsu Province and Dewa Province. In December 1190 Yoritomo took up residence in his Rokuhara mansion at the capital, the former headquarters of the Taira clan. Upon the death of Go-Shirakawa in the spring of 1192, Go-Toba commissioned Yoritomo Sei-i Tai Shōgun (Generalissimo). Thus a feudal state was now organized in Kamakura while Kyoto was relegated to the role of "national ceremony and ritual".[5]:317–318, 327, 329, 331

In the words of George Bailey Sansom, "Yoritomo was a truly great man … his foresight was remarkable, but so was his practical good sense in setting up machinery to match his own expanding power."[5]:334–335

Yoritomo's wife's family, the Hōjō, took control after his death at Kamakura, maintaining power over the shogunate until 1333, under the title of shikken (regent to the shōgun). One of his brothers-in-law was Ashikaga Yoshikane.[10]

The gorintō (stone pagoda) traditionally believed to be his grave (see article Tomb of Minamoto no Yoritomo) is still maintained today, adjacent to Shirahata Shrine, a short distance from the spot believed to be the site of the so-called Ōkura Bakufu, his shogunate's administrative-governmental offices.

Grave of Minamoto no Yoritomo
Grave of Yoritomo in Kamakura

Cultural references

He appears as a hero unit in the scenario editor for Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings, and as a hero unit in Total War: Shogun 2

A character named "Yoritomo" appears in Book 6: "The Lords of the Rising Sun" in the Fabled Lands adventure gamebook series, where Yoritomo is the self-proclaimed shōgun and on the verge of war with "Lord Kiyomori".

Eras of Yoritomo's bakufu

The years in which Yoritomo was shōgun are more specifically identified by more than one era name or nengō.

See also


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Minamoto no Yoritomo" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 635, p. 635, at Google Books.
  2. ^ "系図纂要(Keizusanyo)"
  3. ^ "尾張名所図会(Owarimeishozue)"
  4. ^ "尾張志(owarishi)"
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Sansom, George (1958). A History of Japan to 1334. Stanford University Press. pp. 210–211, 255–258. ISBN 0804705232.
  6. ^ a b Sato, Hiroaki (1995). Legends of the Samurai. Overlook Duckworth. p. 30. ISBN 9781590207307.
  7. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1977). The Samurai, A Military History. MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 40, 50–51. ISBN 0026205408.
  8. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co. p. 200. ISBN 1854095234.
  9. ^ Homosexuality & Civilization by Louis Crompton. Published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University in 2003. Page 420.
  10. ^ Nussbaum, "Ashikaga Yoshikane" at p. 56., p. 56, at Google Books


  • Mass, Jeffrey P. (1999). Yoritomo and the Founding of the First Bakufu: the Origins of Dual Government in Japan. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804735919; OCLC 41712279
  • Nagahara Keiji 永原慶二. Minamoto no Yoritomo 源頼朝. Tokyo: Iwanami-shoten, 1995.
  • Naramoto Tatsuya 奈良本辰也, et al. Minamoto no Yoritomo 源頼朝. Tokyo: Shisakusha, 1972.
  • Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric and Käthe Roth. (2005). Japan Encyclopedia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5; OCLC 58053128
  • Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Ōdai Ichiran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691.
  • Yamaji Aizan 山路愛山. Minamoto no Yoritomo: jidai daihyō Nihon eiyūden 源頼朝: 時代代表日本英雄伝. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1987.
  • Yoshikawa, Eiji. (1989) Yoshikawa Eiji Rekishi Jidai Bunko (Eiji Yoshikawa's Historical Fiction), Vols. 41–42: Minamoto Yoritomo (源頼朝). Tokyo: Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-196577-5

External links

  • Ōmachi, by the Kamakura Citizen's Net, accessed on September 30, 2008
  • Atsuta History Course, (include "Seigan-ji Temple" Birthplace of Minamoto-no Yoritomo)
Military offices
Shogunate established Shōgun:
Minamoto no Yoritomo

Succeeded by
Minamoto no Yoriie
Ashikaga Yoshikane

Ashikaga Yoshikane (足利義兼, c. 1154 – April 5, 1199) was a Japanese samurai military commander, feudal lord in the late Heian and early Kamakura period of Japan's history. He played an active part in the Jishō-Juei War and the later military campaign as a closely related person of the first Kamakura shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo, and made Ashikaga clan influential position in gokenin vassal of the Kamakura shogunate.

Battle of Fujigawa

The Battle of Fujigawa (富士川の戦い, Fujigawa no tatakai) was a battle of the Genpei War of the Heian period of Japanese history. It took place in 1180, in what is now Shizuoka Prefecture.

In August 1180, using Kamakura as his headquarters, Minamoto no Yoritomo sent his counselor, Hōjō Tokimasa to convince the warlords Takeda of Kai and Nitta of Kotsuke to follow Yoritomo's command as he marched against the Taira. As Yoritomo continued through the region below Mount Fuji and into Suruga Province, he planned a rendezvous with the Takeda clan and other families of the provinces of Kai and Kōzuke to the north. These allies arrived at the rear of the Taira army in time to ensure a Minamoto victory.During the night, Yoritomo launched an attack against the large Taira army camp. The Taira became alarmed when a flock of waterfowl flew over their camp, and the "small surprise became a rout".

Battle of Ishibashiyama

The Battle of Ishibashiyama (石橋山の戦い, Ishibashiyama no tatakai) was the first in which Minamoto no Yoritomo, who became shōgun less than a decade later, was commander of the Minamoto forces. The battle was fought on September 14, 1180, in the southwest of present-day Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, near Yoritomo's headquarters at Kamakura.

Genpei War

The Genpei War (源平合戦, Genpei kassen, Genpei gassen) (1180–1185) was a national civil war between the Taira and Minamoto clans during the late-Heian period of Japan. It resulted in the downfall of the Taira and the establishment of the Kamakura shogunate under Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1192.

The name "Genpei" (sometimes romanized as Gempei) comes from alternate readings of the kanji "Minamoto" (源 Gen) and "Taira" (平 Hei). The conflict is also known in Japanese as the Jishō-Juei War (治承寿永の乱, Jishō-Juei no ran), after the two Imperial eras between which it took place.

It followed a coup d'état by the Taira in 1179 with the removal of rivals from all government posts, and subsequently banishing them, and a call to arms against them, led by the Minamoto in 1180. The ensuing battle of Uji took place just outside Kyoto, starting a five-year-long war, concluding with a decisive Minamoto victory in the naval battle of Dan-no-ura.

Hōjō Masako

Hōjō Masako (北条 政子, 1156 – August 16, 1225) was a political leader, and the eldest daughter of Hōjō Tokimasa (the first shikken, or regent, of the Kamakura shogunate) by his wife Hōjō no Maki. She was the sister of Hōjō Yoshitoki, and was married to Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shōgun of the Kamakura period. She was also the mother of O-Hime, Minamoto no Yoriie and Minamoto no Sanetomo, the second and third shōguns.

Imperial Court in Kyoto

The Imperial Court in Kyoto was the nominal ruling government of Japan from 794 AD until the Meiji period (1868–1912), after which the court was moved from Kyoto (formerly Heian-kyō) to Tokyo (formerly Edo) and integrated into the Meiji government. The shogunate system came after the Imperial Court, with Minamoto no Yoritomo being the first to establish the post of the shōgun as hereditary, in 1192.

Since Minamoto no Yoritomo launched the shogunate, true power was in the hand of the shōguns, who were mistaken several times for the Emperors of Japan by western countries.

Kajiwara Kagetoki

Kajiwara Kagetoki (梶原 景時, c. 1162 – February 6, 1200) was a spy for Minamoto no Yoritomo in the Genpei War, and a warrior against the Taira clan. He came to be known for his greed and treachery.

"A prominent eastern warrior", he supplied Yoshitsune with a number of ships after the Battle of Yashima.Originally from Suruga Province, Kajiwara entered the Genpei War fighting under Ōba Kagechika, against the Minamoto.

After the Taira victory at Ishibashiyama in 1181, he was sent to pursue the fleeing Minamoto no Yoritomo. Having discovered him, Kajiwara switched sides, leading his forces in another direction, and turning to Yoritomo's cause.Three years later, Kajiwara would lead the forces of Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Yoritomo into battle against their cousin Yoshinaka, and against the Taira.

Attached to Yoshitsune's force, Kajiwara reported back to Yoritomo on Yoshitsune's actions, in order to satisfy Yoritomo's suspicion and distrust of his brother. In one particular episode related in The Tale of the Heike, Kajiwara suggests, during the Battle of Yashima, that Yoshitsune equip the Minamoto ships with "reverse oars" should they need to retreat quickly. Yoshitsune responds with distaste to Kajiwara's advice, humiliating him by saying such an act would be cowardice. From that point until Yoritomo's death, the resentful Kajiwara did as much as he could to raise tensions between the brothers. His slander led Yoritomo, already suspicious of his younger brother, to eventually accuse Yoshitsune of plotting against the bakufu, which then led to his exile and eventual death.Even after this, when the shogunate was successfully and firmly established, Kajiwara still caused tensions at court. He accused Yuki Tomomitsu of plotting against the Shōgun Minamoto no Yoriie; a number of members of the court tried to get rid of him, who eventually left for Suruga. The following year (1200), he was defeated and killed in battle along with his son Kagesue.

Kajiwara Heima, a senior retainer of the Aizu domain in the 19th century, claimed descent from Kagetoki. His formal name, Kagetake (景武) shares a character with Kagetoki's name.

Kamakura shogunate

The Kamakura shogunate (Japanese: 鎌倉幕府, Kamakura bakufu) was a Japanese feudal military government of imperial-aristocratic rule that ruled from 1185 to 1333. The heads of the government were the shōguns. The first three were members of the Minamoto clan. The next two were members of the Fujiwara clan. The last six were minor Imperial princes.These years are known as the Kamakura period. The period takes its name from the city where the Minamoto shōguns lived.After 1203, the Hōjō clan held the office of shikken. In effect, the shikken governed in the name of the shōguns.

Kujō Yoritsune

Kujō Yoritsune (九条 頼経, February 12, 1218 – September 1, 1256, r. 1226–1244), also known as Fujiwara no Yoritsune, was the fourth shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan. His father was kanpaku Kujō Michiie and his grandmother was a niece of Minamoto no Yoritomo. His wife was a granddaughter of Minamoto no Yoritomo and daughter of Minamoto no Yoriie. He was born in the year (according to Chinese astrology) of the Tiger, in the month, on the day, and so his given name at birth was Mitora (三寅, "Triple Tiger").

Yoritsune was a member of the great Fujiwara clan. The Kujō family was one of the five branches of the historically powerful Fujiwara clan of courtiers.

Minamoto no Yoshinaka

Minamoto no Yoshinaka (源 義仲, 1154 – February 21, 1184), Kiso no Yoshinaka (木曾 義仲), or Lord Kiso was a general of the late Heian period of Japanese history. A member of the Minamoto samurai clan, Minamoto no Yoritomo was his cousin and rival during the Genpei War between the Minamoto and the Taira clans. He was born in Musashi province.

Yoshinaka's father, Minamoto no Yoshikata, was killed by Minamoto no Yoshihira in 1155. Yoshihira sought to kill Yoshinaka also, but the latter escaped to Shinano Province.He was raised with Nakahara Shiro who was his milkbrother (Shiro's mother Chizuru nursed Yoshinaka and Shiro). This Shiro would later become Imai Kanehira, Yoshinaka's best friend and most loyal retainer.

Yoshinaka later changed his name from Minamoto to Kiso (木曾), to reflect the Kiso Mountains where he was raised.In 1181, Yoshinaka received Prince Mochihito's call to the members of the Minamoto clan to rise against the Taira. Yoshinaka entered the Genpei War raising an army and invading Echigo Province. He then defeated a Taira force sent to pacify the area.In 1183 a Taira army captured Hiuchi.In 1183, Yoshinaka was confronted by Minamoto no Yoritomo, whose army had entered Shinano. The two reconciled and resolved to unite against the Taira. Yoshinaka then sent his son to Kamakura as a hostage.However, having been shamed, Yoshinaka was now determined to beat Yoritomo to Kyoto, defeat the Taira on his own, and take control of the Minamoto for himself.

Yoshinaka defeated the army of Taira no Koremori at the Battle of Kurikara Pass and marched to Kyoto. The Taira retreated out of the capital, taking the child Emperor Antoku with them. Yoshinaka's army entered the capital with the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa. Go-Shirakawa then issued a mandate for Yoshinaka to join with Yukiiye in "destroying Munemori and his army".The emperor bestowed upon Yoshinaka the title of Asahi Shōgun (旭将軍).

Yoshinaka plotted with Yukiie in "setting up a government in their own northern province". Learning Go-Shirakawa had sought help from his cousin Yoritomo, Yoshinaka seized the cloistered emperor and burned his palace. Yoritomo ordered his brothers Yoshitsune and Noriyori to destroy Yoshinaka.Yoshinaka was driven out of Kyoto and killed by his cousins at the Battle of Awazu in Ōmi Province (present-day Shiga Prefecture) along with his milk brother Kanehira. With night coming and with many enemy soldiers chasing him, he attempted to find an isolated spot to kill himself. However, the story says that his horse became trapped in a field of partly frozen mud and his enemies were able to approach him and kill him.He was buried in Ōtsu, in Ōmi; a temple was built in his honor during the later Muromachi period. Its name, Gichū-ji, has the same two kanji as his given name. Kanehira's grave is also in Otsu, but it is not close to Yoshinaka's. The Edo period poet Matsuo Bashō, pursuant to his last wishes, was buried next to Minamoto no Yoshinaka in Gichū-ji.

Minamoto no Yoshinaka is one of many main characters in the Kamakura period epic, the Tale of Heike. The story of Yoshinaka and Kanehira is fairly well known in Japan; it is also the subject of the Noh play Kanehira, in which Kanehira's tormented ghost describes his and Yoshinaka's death, and his wish to go to the other side.

Minamoto no Yoshitomo

Minamoto no Yoshitomo (源 義朝) (1123 – 11 February 1160) was the head of the Minamoto clan and a general of the late Heian period of Japanese history. His son Minamoto no Yoritomo became shōgun and founded the Kamakura shogunate, the first shogunate in the history of Japan.

Miura clan

The Miura family (三浦氏, Miura-shi) was one of the branch families descended from the Taira clan. They held large fiefs, and retained great political influence. They were one of the primary opponents of the Hōjō family of regents in the mid-13th century, and again at the beginning of the 16th. Miura remains a common family name in Japan today.

The Miura clan supported Minamoto no Yoritomo in the foundation of the Kamakura shogunate, but were later annihilated by Hōjō Tokiyori in 1247. However, the family name was reassigned to a supporter of the Hōjō clan, and the Miura continued to rule Miura Peninsula through the Muromachi period until their defeat at Arai Castle in a 1516 attack by Hōjō Sōun.

Northern Fujiwara

The Northern Fujiwara (奥州藤原氏 Ōshū Fujiwara-shi) were a Japanese noble family that ruled the Tōhoku region (the northeast of Honshū) of Japan during the 12th century as their own realm. They succeeded the semi-independent Emishi families of the 11th century who were gradually brought down by the Minamoto clan loyal to the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Ultimately they were conquered by the Kantō samurai clans led by Minamoto no Yoritomo.

During the 12th century, at the zenith of their rule, they attracted a number of artisans from Kyoto and created a capital city, Hiraizumi, in what is now Iwate Prefecture. They ruled over an independent region that derived its wealth from gold mining, horse trading and as middlemen in the trade in luxury items from continental Asian states and from the far northern Emishi and Ainu people. They were able to keep their independence vis-a-vis Kyoto by the strength of their warrior bands until they were overwhelmed by Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1189.

Below is a family tree of the Fujiwaras who show up most frequently in historical accounts.

*a.k.a. Izumi (no) Saburo

(Adopted kin are not shown.)

Seated Portrait of Minamoto no Yoritomo

Seated Portrait of Minamoto no Yoritomo (伝源頼朝坐像) is an anonymous wooden sculpture from the 13th or 14th centuries presumably depicting Minamoto no Yoritomo, now part of the collection of the Tokyo National Museum.Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147–1199) was the founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura Shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199. It is generally agreed that the sculpture might be an image of him, but this attribution is not completely certain.Dated from the Kamakura period (1185-1333), it is believed that this sculpture was enshrined in the Tsurugaoka Hachimangū Shinto shrine in Kamakura, a place of worship strongly linked to the Minamoto family. It is also said that when Toyotomi Hideyoshi visited the shrine, he talked to the sculpture of Yoritomo while patting it on its shoulder.Two other very similar sculptures are preserved in Kamakura, an image of Hōjō Tokiyori at Kenchō-ji, and an image of Uesugi Shigefusa at Meigetsu-in. The style of these sculptures probably followed the popular portraits of court nobles in their "starched stiff clothing" and cross-legged position. The portrait of Yoritomo seems to have been created some time after the other two, probably close to a century after Yoritomo's death.A smaller-than-life portrait, with a height of about 70 cm from the bottom to the top of the eboshi, the typical headgear used by court nobles, it has been praised for its "solemnity" and for "showing the noble dignity of the head of a warrior family". It is designated an Important Cultural Property.It is now part of the collection of the Tokyo National Museum in Tokyo, where it is kept and exhibited occasionally. The last time it was on display was from July 25 to October 22, 2017, in Room 11 of the Honkan (Japanese Gallery).

Shimazu Tadahisa

Shimazu Tadahisa (島津 忠久, died August 1, 1227) was the founder of the Shimazu samurai clan.

According to a record of his life, he was reportedly born in Sumiyoshi Taisha in Osaka. He was initially Koremune no Tadahisa (惟宗忠久) but after being given the territory of Shimazu, Hyūga Province to rule from by Minamoto no Yoritomo, he took the name of Shimazu.

Tadahisa was a son of the Shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147–1199) by the sister of Hiki Yoshikazu.

He married a daughter of Koremune Hironobu, descendant of the Hata clan, whose name Tadahisa at first took.

He received the domain of Shioda (Shinano province) in 1186 and was then named Shugo of Satsuma province. He sent Honda Sadachika to take possession of the province in his name and accompanied Yoritomo in his expedition to Mutsu in 1189. He went to Satsuma in 1196, subdued Hyūga and Ōsumi provinces, and built a castle in the domain of Shimazu (Hyūga) which name he also adopted. He is buried in Kamakura, near his father's tomb.


Shugo (守護) was a title, commonly translated as "(military) governor", "protector" or "constable", given to certain officials in feudal Japan. They were each appointed by the shōgun to oversee one or more of the provinces of Japan. The position gave way to the emergence of the daimyōs (feudal lords) in the late 15th century, as shugo began to claim power over lands themselves, rather than serving simply as governors on behalf of the shogunate.

The post is said to have been created in 1185 by Minamoto no Yoritomo to aid the capture of Yoshitsune, with the additional motivation of extending the rule of the shogunate government throughout Japan. The shugo (military governors) progressively supplanted the existing kokushi (civil governors), who were appointed by the Imperial Court in Kyoto. Officially, the gokenin in each province were supposed to serve the shugo, but in practice, the relationship between them was fragile, as the gokenin were vassals of the shōgun as well.

Shugo often stayed for long periods in the capital, far from their province, and were sometimes appointed shugo for several provinces at the same time. In such cases, a deputy shugo, or shugodai (守護代), was appointed.

Over time, the powers of some shugo grew considerably. Around the time of the Ōnin War (1467–1477), conflicts between shugo became common. Some shugo lost their powers to subordinates such as the shugodai, while others strengthened their grip on their territories. As a result, at the end of the 15th century, the beginning of the Sengoku period, the power in the country was divided amongst lords of various kinds (shugo, shugodai, and others), who came to be called daimyōs.

Tomb of Minamoto no Yoritomo

The tomb of Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝の墓) (see photo below) is a monument in Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan, located some hundred meters north of the site where the palace called Ōkura Bakufu, seat of Minamoto no Yoritomo's government, once stood. Although there is no evidence his remains are actually there, it is commonly assumed to be the resting place of Minamoto no Yoritomo, founder and first shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate. The cenotaph consists of a 186 cm gorintō (a Buddhist stone stupa) surrounded by a stone tamagaki (a fence usually delimiting the sacred soil of a Shinto shrine), and was built during the Edo period (1603–1868), far after the shōgun's death in 1199. In the course of history, the site's prestige has attracted other structures, so that now it is occupied by the Site of the Hokke-dō, (the spot where Yoritomo's Hokke-dō, or funeral temple, used to stand during the Edo period), Shirahata Shrine (白幡神社, Shirahata Jinja) (not to be confused with the homonymous shrine part of Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū), and the black stone stele commemorating the Hokke-dō and the mass suicide of the Miura clan. A couple of hundred meters further to the east lie the yagura (an artificial cave used during the Kamakura period as a grave or as a cenotaph) of the Miura clan, the twin tombs of Oe no Hiromoto and of his son Mōri Suemitsu, and the grave of Yoritomo's illegitimate son Shimazu Tadahisa. The grave of Yoritomo and the ruins of the Hokke-dō are national Historic Sites.


Yabusame (流鏑馬) is a type of mounted archery in traditional Japanese archery. An archer on a running horse shoots three special "turnip-headed" arrows successively at three wooden targets.

This style of archery has its origins at the beginning of the Kamakura period. Minamoto no Yoritomo became alarmed at the lack of archery skills his samurai possessed. He organized yabusame as a form of practice.

Nowadays, the best places to see yabusame performed are at the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū in Kamakura and Shimogamo Shrine in Kyoto (during Aoi Matsuri in early May). It is also performed in Samukawa and on the beach at Zushi, as well as other locations.

Ōkura Bakufu

Ōkura Bakufu (大蔵幕府 or 大倉幕府) (also called Ōkura Gosho (大蔵御所) is the name given in Japan to the first government of the shōgun Minamoto no Yoritomo. The name is that of the location in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, where Yoritomo's palace used to stand. Ōkura is defined as the area between the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū, Asaina Pass, the Namerigawa (Nameri River) and the Zen temple of Zuisen-ji. Yoritomo's palace complex extended approximately from the Mutsuura Kaidō to the site of his tomb, and from the Nishi Mikado River (or Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū) to the Higashi Mikado River (about 800 meters by 600 meters). A black stone stele marks the center of the area where Yoritomo's government offices used to stand and carries the following words:

820 years ago, in 1180, Minamoto no Yoritomo built his mansion here. Having consolidated his power, he ruled from this mansion, and his government was therefore called the Ōkura Bakufu. He was succeeded by his sons Yoriie and Sanetomo, and this place remained the seat of the government for 46 years until 1225, when his wife Hōjō Masako died. It was then transferred to Utsunomiya Tsuji (宇津宮辻).

Erected in March 1917 by the Kamakura-machi Seinendan [Young People's Association]

In 1213, when Wada Yoshimori rebelled against the Hōjō regents in the so-called Wada Kassen, his son Asahina Yoshihide stormed into the Ōkura Bakufu and burned it to the ground. It was later rebuilt.

Many powerful Gokenin had their mansions in Ōkura, which was therefore one of the most important parts of medieval Kamakura. The palace gave rise to the names of at least two other Kamakura neighborhoods, Nishi Mikado and Higashi Mikado,which mean respectively "Western Gate" and "East Gate". The area now called Nikaidō (二階堂) used to be called Higashi Mikado, and the name is still sometimes used. Kita Mikado still exists as well, but does not constitute a chō.


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