Taira no Koremochi (平維茂) (role )



The Historical Koremochi

"Educated by his uncle Sadamori, settled in Mutsu, had some dispute with Fujiwara Morotane, whom he defeated and killed. This made him famous throughout all Kwantō. He was Dewa no Suke and Chinjufu-shōgun. He died at the age of 80."

Quoted from: Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan by E. Papinot, p. 619.

The almost historical Koremochi

The struggle between Koremochi and Morotō was fictionally recorded in the Konjaku, a late 11th to early 12th century tale. Unlike, what we think of as an honorable warriors' code, their battle was treacherous and ruthless. "The Koremochi-Morotō story is one of violence and brutality, deceitful strategies, and dog-eat-dog warfare. The leading figures are descendants of the warriors who hunted down and killed Taira no Masakado. Koremochi is the oldest son of a nephew of Taira no Sadamori, and Morotō is a grandson of Fujiwara no Hidesato. The fighting in the Koremochi-Morotō story is reminiscent of Shōmonki [Chronicle of Masakado]: fighting in which warriors give no quarter and ask none.

The animosity between Koremochi and Morotō arises from a dispute over land, a dispute that neither the principals themselves nor the local officials can settle amicably. In frustration and anger, Koremochi and Morotō challenge each other to a test of arms. Following the order of battle described above, they exchange messages to settle on a time and place to fight. But when Morotō learns that his army is outnumbered three thousand to one thousand, he declines the opportunity for combat and moves to another province."

This is where the treachery really begins. Koremochi thinking he had won the day sent most of his forces home. However, Morotō had not really returned to his home province. Instead he lay in wait for the right time to strike. Under cover of darkness, in the early hours of the morning, he attacked Koremochi's residence which was only able to put up a feeble defense. Morotō and his men set fire to Koremochi's home and as people tried to flee they were struck down or else they were burned alive. Thinking that Koremochi's body was somewhere among the burned out ruins Morotō left feeling victorious. But, as it turned out, Koremochi had escaped dressed as a woman, and hid in a nearby river under overhanging trees.

Koremochi's surviving men were distraught until he revealed to them that he was still alive. They counseled him to gather his armies and then go and attack Morotō, but Koremochi felt so ashamed by the way he had escaped death while so many of his closest servants and friends had perished, that he decided he could not wait to seek revenge. After Morotō and his men, feeling secure in their victory, had eaten their fill and let down their guard, Koremochi sprung his sudden attack with a small force of only 100 men. However, that was enough to win the day and Morotō and most of his men were scattered or slaughtered. "Koremochi then rides with his forces to Moroto's residence and sets it on fire."

Source and quotes from: Warriors of Japan as Portrayed in the War Tales by Paul Valery, pp. 28-29.