Minamoto Yorimasa (源頼政) (role 1106 – 1180)



The historical Yorimasa

"Son of Nakamasa and a descendant of Yorimitsu, became famous, both as a poet and a warrior. In 1153, he killed with an arrow the nue (a monster having the head of a monkey, the body of a tiger, and the tail of a serpent) which was seen flying over the imperial palace and shrieking horribly. A little later, he was name Hyōgō no kami. During the civil wars of Hōgen (1156) and Heiji (1159), he sided with the ex-emperor Go-Shirakawa, his protector. In 1178, he was raised to the 3rd rank in the Court (san-i), and as he shaved his head at that time, he was called Gen san-i nyūdō: he is best known under this name. His connections however with the Taira were becoming more and more strained; Kiyomori's tyranny brought about the climax. In 1180, Kiyomori wished to place his grandson Antoku on the throne, who was then only two years old, thus forcing his son-in-law Takakura to abdicate at the age of 20. Yorimasa then resolved to dethrone the Taira and to replace Antoku by the prince Mochihito, son of Go-Shirakawa. He secured the help of the bonzes of Nara and despatched Minamoto Yukiie into the provinces to recruit adherents to his cause. The plot was discovered to Kiyomori, who opposed the conspirators with an army commanded by his son Tomomori. Yorimasa sent the prince Mochihito to Nara, whilst he, with 300 resolute men, intrenched himself near the river Uji-gawa, and prepared to receive the enemy. He gave orders to destroy the bridge (Uji-bashi), but the assailants forded the river and began a bloody fight. Kanetsuna and Nakatsuna, sons of Yorimasa were killed; Yorimasa himself, wounded by an arrow and forseeing certain defeat, went to the temple Byōdō-in and there, sitting on his fan, committed harakiri."

Quoted from: Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan by E. Papinot, pp. 379-380.