Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan) (清和源氏)

Seiwa-Genji was a shisei kozoku (member of the Imperial Family conferred a family name) whose ancestor was the prince of the fifty-sixth Emperor, Seiwa.

Seiwa-Genji was:
Seiwa-Genji was a family of Imperial descendants of Emperor Seiwa, who were given the family name, Minamoto. Since MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, Seiwa-Genji flourished as the blood relatives of the organizers of the samurai government.

Since MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, Seiwa-Genji flourished as the blood relatives of the organizers of the samurai government. MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka (TADA no Manju), the son of Tsunemoto who was a middle-ranking noble, cooperated with the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan for the establishment of Sekkanseiji (regency), thereby gaining the status as the central samurai family and forming a samurai group in Tada, Kawabe District, Settsu Province.

His sons, MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu, MINAMOTO no Yorichika, MINAMOTO no Yorinobu, etc., like his father, also served the sekkan-ke (the families which produced the Regent and the Chief Adviser to the Emperor) and expanded their power as samurai family. The direct descendants of Yorinobu, who later became the mainstream, solidified their position as the head of the samurai family with the eastern samurai groups under their control, and in the era of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, they founded the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and established the samurai government.

Most daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) in early-modern times who called themselves Seiwa-Genji are not historically proven to be so. According to one theory, only Seiwa-Genji could become seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), the head of the samurai family. However, there were seii taishogun such as SAKANOUE no Tamuramaro, OTOMO no Otomaro, and FUJIWARA no Yoritsune in the past. Furthermore, Nobunaga ODA could have been appointed as seii taishogun (Sanshoku suinin mondai (historical event regarding the Oda government)). Therefore, this theory is now regarded as a myth.

Origin and transition of Seiwa-Genji

The origin of Seiwa-Genji is that MINAMOTO no Tsunemoto, the son of the sixth Prince Sadazumi of Emperor Seiwa, was given the family name of Minamoto in demotion from nobility to subject. MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka, who succeeded the family name after MINAMOTO no Tsunemoto, formed the Genji samurai group based in Tada, Kawabe District, Settsu Province (present-day Tada, Kawanishi City, Hyogo Prefecture). MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu, the eldest son of Mitsunaka, famous for the extermination of Shuten Doji (the leader of a group of bandits that roamed the region around Kyoto), was also called Settsu-Genji (Minamoto clan) as he was based in Settsu Province. Among the Settsu-Genji, the family line native to Tada was called Tada-Genji (Minamoto clan), and from the branch line native to Mino, sprung Mino-Genji (Minamoto clan). The family lineage of MINAMOTO no Yorichika, the second son of Mitsunaka, was called Yamato-Genji as it was based in Uno, Yamato Province (present-day Nara Prefecture). Additionally, the family lineage of MINAMOTO no Yorinobu, the third son of Mitsunaka, (more precisely, the line of MINAMOTO no Yoshitada and MINAMOTO no Yoshitoki) was called Kawachi-Genji as it was based in Tsuboi, Kawachi Province (present-day Tsuboi, Habikino City, Osaka Prefecture).

MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi, the child of Yorinobu, defeated Abe clan (Oshu), the head of barbarians who thrived in Okuroku District, Mutsu Province in Zen Kunen no Eki (the Early Nine Years' War), and his child, MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, suppressed the internal discord of Kiyohara clan, the head of barbarians who thrived in Dewa (Gosannen no Eki (the Later Three Years' War)), thereby increasing his reputation. At this time, Kawachi-Genji began to establish a toehold in the east. Thus, Kawachi-Genji won their samurai name, and practically established their position as the direct descendant of Seiwa-Genji.

Such prosperity of Kawachi-Genji alarmed the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa, who was in power at the time. MINAMOTO no Yoshichika, the eldest son of Yoshiie, was appointed as Tsushima-kokushu (the Lord of Tsushima Province), but later expelled after being accused of anticourt behaviors. After Yoshiie's death, MINAMOTO no Yoshitada, who succeeded the reign of the family, was assassinated by machinations of MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu, which led to the weakening of the power of Kawachi-Genji. While MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi, who succeeded MINAMOTO no Yoshitada, was unable to implement effective measures, TAIRA no Masamori, a branch of Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) who won the favor of Retired Emperor Shirakawa, solidified his position. Accordingly, the relative power of Kawachi-Genji in the samurai family declined.

MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, who lived in the east and was the son of MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi, who lived in unfortunate circumstances, gathered samurai from the Kanto region who received Kawachi-Genji's special favors, and supported the Emperor in the Hogen Disturbance. He won a victory, turning against his father Tameyoshi and younger brother MINAMOTO no Tametomo who supported the Retired Emperor. However, MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, who lost many of his family, could not expand his power compared to TAIRA no Kiyomori, who also supported the Emperor. Accordingly, Yoshitomo, in an attempt to recover the power of Kawachi-Genji, formed an alliance with FUJIWARA no Nobuyori to confine Emperor Goshirakawa and began the Heiji War. Although Yoshitomo once took the reins of government, the tide turned when TAIRA no Kiyomori secretly rescued the Retired Emperor, etc. Yoshitomoto was defeated and exiled to the east from Heian-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Kyoto). However, he was killed along the way by Tadamune OSADA from Owari Province, who was the father-in-law of his trustworthy assistant, Masakiyo KAMATA.

After over 20 years, with exhortations by Settsu-Genji MINAMOTO no Yorimasa, who obeyed Prince Mochihito's order and MINAMOTO no Yukiie, a Kawachi-Genji branch who had been hiding in Kumano, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, MINAMOTO no Mareyoshi, MINAMOTO no Noriyori, MINAMOTO no Gien, and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune (the sons of Kawachi-Genji MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo); MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka (Jiro Yoshinaka KISO), the son of MINAMOTO no Yoshikata (a brother of MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo) and a cousin of Yoritomo; Nobuyoshi TAKEDA from Kai-Genji (Minamoto clan) Takeda clan, a descendant of MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu (Shinra-Saburo Yoshimitsu) (a brother of Yoshiie HACHIMAN TARO); and so on raised armies across the country to begin the Jisho-Juei War, the so-called Genpei War. Initially, the Taira clan overwhelmed the Minamoto clan, but the tide gradually turned, and Yoritomo's forces of the Minamoto family defeat the Taira family in the Battle of Dannoura and won the war.

Yoritomo, who succeeded in defeating the Taira family, attacked Oshu-Fujiwara clan to solidify his power base. After the demise of Emperor Goshirakawa who had disliked the rise of the samurai government and suppressed its power, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo was appointed as seii taishogun in 1192 and established what is now called the Kamakura bakufu. As a result, Seiwa-Genji was recognized as the head of the samurai family in both name and reality. With respect to the line of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, however, MINAMOTO no Sanetomo, the son of Yoritomo, was killed by Kugyo, the son of MINAMOTO no Yoriie (a brother of Yoritomo). Kyugyo was then captured and put to death, which led to the extinction of the male line in the Minamoto family, while the female line also became completely extinct by the death of Take no Gosho, the daughter of Yoriie, whose child was stillborn.

Minamoto family in Kamakura and Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun)

In Kamakura bakufu, the Minamoto family was divided into two types: gomonyo (a family with honorary status) who were allowed to use the family name Minamoto depending on their blood line or achievements; and families who were not permitted to call themselves Minamoto and used myoji (family name).

Takauji ASHIKAGA, the head of the distinguished Ashikaga clan from Seiwa-Genji who stood above others during the confusion at the end of Kamakura bakufu, defeated the counterforce, and was appointed seii taishogun as the head of the samurai family in 1338 and established the Muromachi bakufu. It is said that a custom was established then to have the head of the samurai family from Seiwa-Genji. Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA was the first Genji choja (the top of the Minamoto clan) who was from Seiwa-Genji, thus paving the way for prospective shogun to be the Genji choja. In the Sengoku period (period of warring states), some began to call themselves the descendants of Seiwa-Genji to exaggerate their kakaku (family status).

Yozei-Genji (Minamoto clan) Theory

The Yozei-Genji Theory by historian Hisashi HOSHINO in the Meiji period claimed, "The ancestor of Seiwa-Genji was actually Emperor Yozei, not Emperor Seiwa; but as Emperor Yozei was a tyrant, the name Seiwa-Genji was used instead Yozei-tei."
This is supported by the family document of Tanaka, who was a Shinto priest of Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine, describing that the Imperial instruction of 1046, which was dedicated to Homutarama no misasagi (Mausoleum of Emperor Ojin) by MINAMOTO no Yorinobu, explicitly described that 'the ancestors are Shinbochi, Tsunemoto, Imperial Prince Motohira, Emperor Yozei, and Emperor Seiwa, from newest to oldest.'
However, this is uncertain because the document is a manuscript with a proviso on the back stating that the contents were corrected.

Although some scholars agree with this theory, it is yet to be widely accepted in the academic circles.

Various interpretations

(Tsuneaki AKASAKA) It assumed that MINAMOTO no Tsunetada, whose name appeared in Oujinojaku fusei jiken (the case of unauthorized use of the family name 'O') of 953 cited in "Gonki" (FUJIWARA no Yukinari's diary) and was charged in representing himself as the descendant of Emperor Yozei (he was actually the descendant of Emperor Seiwa), was Tsunemoto or his brother, and interpreted that Yorinobu attempted to retrieve his honor by insisting in a petition that he was in fact the descendant of Emperor Yozei.

Illusion of Yozei-Genji' "Seishi to Kamon" (family name and family crest), 1989, (Toshio HOGA) Claimed that the conventional family tree was authentic.

Graves of three generations of Kawachi-Genji

Habikino City, Osaka Prefecture was home to the heads of the samurai family of Kawachi-Genji, MINAMOTO no Yorinobu, Yoriyoshi, and Yoshiie, and is the home to the graves of Kawachi-Genji, including HACHIMAN TARO Yoshiie, and the ujigami (a guardian god or spirit of a particular place in the Shinto religion), Hachiman-gu Shrine and Tsuboi-gongen Shrine.

Seiwa-Genji Dozokukai (cognatic society) and TADA no Manju Dosokukai

In May 1939, Tada-jinja Shrine, located in Tadain, Kawanishi City, Hyogo Prefecture and enshrining MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka, established 'Seiwa-Genji Dozokukai' (Seiwa-Genji family council) to worship the deity and ancestors as the family of Seiwa-Genji, and for the development of industries and cultures in Japan, and mutual friendship among the family.

Another Tada-jinja Shrine, located in Nakano Ward, Tokyo Metropolis and enshrining Manju, also established 'TADA no Manju Dozokukai' (TADA no Manju family council) in 1962 to worship the deity and ancestors.

Anecdote about Seiwa-Genji

Kawanishi City, Hyogo Prefecture, home to the founder of Seiwa-Genji, TADA no Manju, is promoting regional development as the 'hometown of Minamoto clan,' based on its history. Kawanishi City commissions famous people or a person from Kawanishi City as an 'ambassador of hometown of Minamoto clan,' in an effort to promote sightseeing.

Incidentally, Seiwadai (Seiwadai branch of Hankyu Bus Co., Ltd. etc.), a new town in Kawanishi City, Hyogo Prefecture, is presumably named after Seiwa-Genji.

Seiwa-Genji except for the Tsunemoto line

It is said that many of the princes and imperial descendants of Emperor Seiwa descended to subject status, given the family name of Minamoto. In the Heian period, a person other than Tsunemoto also appears in historical sources.

MINAMOTO no Nagafuchi (the eleventh prince of Emperor Seiwa)
MINAMOTO no Nagakazu (the twelfth prince of Emperor Seiwa)
MINAMOTO no Kanetada (the son of Imperial Prince Sadamoto, the third prince of Emperor Seiwa)

MINAMOTO no Shigeyuki (the nephew of the above Kanetada)

MINAMOTO no Takamichi (the grandson of Imperial Prince Sadazane, the ninth prince of Emperor Seiwa)

Rurinyogo (the grandson of the above Takamichi)

Shijonomiya no shimotsuke (the grandson of the above Takamichi)

Shigeno clan (their family name is not Minamoto, but they are called descendants of Imperial Prince Sadayasu, the fifth prince of Emperor Seiwa.)

Family called the descendant of Seiwa-Genji

The Matsudaira clan, the local ruling family in Mikawa Province, called themselves the Kamo clan during the generation of Nobumitsu MATSUDAIRA. When Ieyasu TOKUGAWA adopted Tokugawa as his family name, he represented himself as part of the Fujiwara clan. It is often viewed that, as seii taishogun was appointed from the Minamoto clan by convention, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA borrowed a spot in the family tree so as to be a descendant of the Nitta clan, thereby calling himself 'Minamoto no Ason' so that he could become seii taishogun. According to the study by Kazuhiko KASAYA et al., however, Ieyasu already called himself Minamoto no Ason in the Emperor Goyozei's Imperial visit to Jurakudai (Hideyoshi's residence and office in Kyoto) of 1588. Another theory claims that by the era Kiyoyasu MATSUDAIRA, the grandfather of Ieyasu, Ieyasu had already referred to himself as a descendant of the Serada clan. In either case, the Tokugawa clan is believed to have deceptively used the name, Seiwa-Genji. Later, in 1603, Ieyasu was appointed as seii taishogun and Genji choja, and established the bakufu.

The Shimazu clan, a daimyo (feudal lord) (which were called Shugo (provincial constable) in the Kamakura period, Shugo daimyo (Shugo that became daimyo) in the Muromachi period, Sengoku daimyo (daimyo in the Sengoku period) in the Sengoku period, and the lord of Satsuma domain in the Edo period) in Satsuma Province, was also originally from Koremune clan, and Tadahisa SHIMAZU, the founder of Shimazu family, was referred to as KOREMUNE no Hirokoto (the recent widely-accepted theory is that Tadahisa SHIMAZU was a child of KOREMUNE no Tadayasu). However, Tadahisa was selected and received cordial treatment by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo.
It is believed that Tadahisa referred to himself as 'Minamoto no Ason' by borrowing a spot in the family tree showing that 'Tadahisa was Yoritomo's child born out of wedlock.'
Accordingly, like the Tokugawa clan, the Shimazu clan also deceptively used the name, Seiwa-Genji.

Shimazu clan (claimed that their ancestor was an illegitimate child of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo)
Tokugawa clan (called themselves a member of Nitta clan)
Royal line of Shinten (There is a legend that Shuten, the forefather of the dynasty, was MINAMOTO no Tametomo.)

[Original Japanese]