Ano Zenjo (or Zensei) (阿野全成)

Zenjo ANO (1153 - August 8, 1203) was a priest from late Heian period to early Kamakura period and the seventh son of MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo. He was also known as Hokkyo (the third highest rank for Buddhist priests) Zenjo (or Zensei) ANO.

His mother was Tokiwa Gozen. His childhood name was Imawakamaru. Gien and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune were his younger brothers by the same mother, and MINAMOTO no Yoritomo was his elder brother by a different mother. His wife was Awa no Tsubone (Tokimasa HOJO's daughter). His children included: Harimanokimi (the lord of Harima Province) Yorimasa, and Tokimoto ANO, a wife of FUJIWARA no Kimisuke (藤原公佐室).


Since Imawaka's father Yoshitomo was defeated and died in the Heiji War when he was at an early age of 7 in 1159, he was forced to enter the priesthood at Daigo-ji Temple and named himself Ryucho (隆超) (or Ryuki (隆起)), then Zenjo after a short while. He was commonly known as Daigo Zenji (Master of Zen Buddhism), or Aku (evil) Zenji from his crudeness ("Heiji Monogatari" (The Tale of Heiji).

On September 15, 1180, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, his elder brother by a different mother, raised an army in Izu Province. Upon knowing this fact, Zenjo slipped out of the temple and happened to meet Sadatsuna SASAKI and Sadatsuna's brothers shortly after Yoritomo was defeated in the Battle of Ishibashiyama on September 24, and was given refuge by them in Shibuya no sho Manor in Sagami Province. On October 28, he managed to meet Yoritomo at a lodging in Saginuma, Shimousa Province. This was the first reunion of members of the Minamoto clan. Zenjo told Yoritomo that he had secretly slipped out of the temple in Kyoto upon knowing about ryoji (orders issued by princes, empresses, and so on) and then went down to the place having disguised himself as a trainee priest, and Yoritomo appreciated Zenjo's resolution by weeping with joy.

Winning Yoritomo's confidence, Zenjo was rewarded with Nagao-ji Temple in Musashi Province (the present Myoraku-ji Temple in Tama-ku Ward, Kawasaki City) and married Awa no Tsubone (a daughter of Tokimasa HOJO) who was a younger sister of Masako HOJO, Yoritomo's wife. Awa no Tsubone became a wet nurse for the second son of Yoritomo, Senmanmaru (later MINAMOTO no Sanetomo), and thereafter established an unspectacular but solid position in the Yoritomo administration.

However, Yoritomo's death and the succession to the office of a shogun by MINAMOTO no Yoriie (Zenjo's nephew) in 1199 resulted in Zenjo being allied with Tokimasa HOJO (Zenjo's father-in-law) and Yoshitoki HOJO (Zenjo's brother-in-law) who supported MINAMOTO no Sanetomo and came to be opposed to Yoriie's followers. Yoriie moved one step ahead of Zenjo and dispatched Nobumitsu TAKEDA around midnight on July 6, 1203, to have him arrest Zenjo as a rebel and shut Zenjo up in Kamakura Gosho (the residence of a shogun of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun)). Zenjo was exiled to Hitachi Province on July 12 and killed on August 8 by Tomoie HATTA under orders of Yoritomo. He was fifty-one years old. On August 31, Harimanokimi Yorimasa, Zenjo's son, was killed at Higashiyama Ennen-ji Temple in Kyoto by an immediate vassal of the shogun residing in Kyoto.

The tomb of Zenjo exists in Daisen-ji Temple in Numazu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, adjoining the tomb of Tokimoto ANO, Zenjo's legitimate son, and is designated as a historic relic of the city.


The Ano clan as a samurai family was taken over by the lineage of Tokimoto. According to records, the lineage surely existed until the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, however, the lineage was much less influential, compared with the Ashikaga clan, a branch family of the Minamoto clan, which lineage was the same Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) as that of the Ano clan. This was considerably attributable to the fact that Zenjo and Tokimoto were killed as rebels, and another fact that the Hojo clan was extraordinarily wary of the Ano clan because the Ano clan was the lineage of MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo which was closer to MINAMOTO no Yoritomo than that of the Ashikaga clan, which branched from several generations before Yoshitomo.

On the other hand, Zenjo's daughter married FUJIWARA no Kimisuke, a lineage of FUJIWARA no Uona of the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan, and her son Sanenao ANO founded the Ano family as a court noble from his maternal surname. Renshi ANO (阿野廉子), who was in Emperor Godaigo's favor and gave birth to Emperor Gomurakami, was a descendant of the Ano clan. Misao TAMAMATSU, who played an active role in the end of Edo period, was also a descendant of the Ano family.

[Original Japanese]