The Battle of Uji-gawa River (宇治川の戦い)

The Battle of Uji-gawa River was a battle that took place in January 1184, at the end of Heian period, between MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka, and MINAMOTO no Noriyori and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune who were dispatched by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo in Kamakura. It's one of the battles in the Jisho Juei Rebellion.


In July 1183, MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka, who raised an army in Shinano Province to overturn the Taira family, led several tens of thousands of samurai into Kyoto. Yoshinaka's troops brought violence and riots to Kyoto, and with time, he was in conflict with Emperor Goshirakawa over succession to the imperial throne. In September, Yoshinaka's troops were severely defeated by the troops of the Taira family in the Battle of Mizushima in Bizen Province, and Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa forsook him. In October, Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa sent an imperial letter to MINAMOTO no Yoritomo in Kamakura authorizing control over Tokaido and Tosando, and approaches Yoritomo (imperial letter of October, Juei 2).
In November, Yoshinaka makes another attack on the Hoju-ji Temple Palace, the residence of the retired Emperor, and confines the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa to gain power (the Battle of Hoju-ji Temple)
Yoshinaka, who became increasingly isolated, attempted to make peace with the Taira family, but was rejected. In December, Yoshinaka forced the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa to issue a command from a retired Emperor to track down and kill Yoritomo. In January 1184, Yoshinaka was appointed Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") (or Seito Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the eastern barbarians")). On January 20, Yoritomo ordered Noriyori and Yoshitsune, whom he had moved to Omi, to track down and kill Yoshinaka.

Yoshinaka's troops, that numbered several tens of thousands of samurai warriors when they went into Kyoto, had decreased dramatically down to about one thousand, because of the stream of dropouts due to the defeat at the Battle of Mizushima and the deteriorated situation. Yoshinaka gave Kanehira IMAI, one of the big four of Yoshinaka, about 500 samurai to guard Seta (Shiga Prefecture), about 300 samurai to Yukichika NENOI and Chikatada TATE to guard Uji City, and Yoshinaka himself guarded the imperial palace with about 100 samurai. On January 20, Noriyori attacked Seta with 30,000 samurai head-on and Yoshitsune attacked Uji from the rear with another 25,000.

Yoshitsune's troops entered the Uji-gawa River under a shower of arrows. This is where the 'Fight for the vanguard in Uji-gawa River' between Takatsuna SASAKI and Kagesue KAJIWARA occurred. Yukichika NENOI and Chikatada TATE desperately fought a defensive battle, but Yoshitsune's troops managed to cross the Uji-gawa River. Yoshitsune's troops surged into Kyoto. Yoshinaka fought a fierce battle with Yoshitsune's troops. Yoshinaka fought bravely, but was finally defeated, and headed to the imperial palace to escape to Kyushu with the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa. Yoshitsune personally led several samurai warriors to chase and drive away Yoshinaka from the front gate of the imperial palace, and succeeded in securing the safety of the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa. After giving up on taking the Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa, Yoshinaka headed to Seta to join Kanehira IMAI.

Kanehira IMAI, who had been fighting Noriyori's troops at Seta, retreated, having heard about the defeat at Uji, and successfully joined Yoshinaka in Awazu. Yoshinaka attempted to escape to Hokuriku-do (northern prefectures), but was attacked by Noriyori's enormous army. Yoshinaka's troops fought bravely, but were killed one after another, and when down to the last few, Yoshinaka was killed by an arrow striking deep into his face. Following Yoshinaka, Kanehira IMAI took his own life.

[Original Japanese]