Abe no Muneto (安倍宗任)

ABE no Muneto was a Busho (Japanese military commander) in the mid Heian period. He was a child of ABE no Yoritoki of the Abe clan (Oshu (Mutsu province)), a Gozoku (local ruling family) which was regarded as the head of barbarians in Mutsu Province. He protected his clan with the Tonomi no saku Fortress (also pronounced as Torinomi no Ki); accordingly, he was called as TORINOMI no Saburo.

Zen kunen no eki (the Early Nine Years' War)

Based on Okuroku-gun County, Mutsu Province (Inland area of Iwate Prefecture), he fought together with his father Yoritoki and his elder brother Sadato against MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi (Zen kunen no eki). The family fought desperately, and while Sadato and others were killed at the northernmost fortress, Kuriyagawa no ki (also called Kuriyagawa no Saku, Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture), Muneto and others surrendered and were saved from death, and taken to Kyoto by MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. At that time, nobles thought with contempt that Ezo (northerners) in Oshu never knew any name of flowers,showed him an ume (Japanese plum) flower and asked insultingly what it is.
However, he surprised the nobles by his poem saying, 'We call it ume flower in our country, what Omiyabito (Heian era court nobles) call it?'
("Heike Monogatari" [The tale of the Heike], Tsurugi no maki)


He was banished to Iyo Province in Shikoku, lived in Tomita region in Imabari City as it is known today and afterward gradually increased his power. For that reason, he was banished again in 1067 to Chikuzen Oshima in Munakata, Chikuzen Province in Kyushu. After that, he is thought to have played an important part in the aspects of the Japan-Korea and the Japan-Sung trades conducted under the Munakata clan, Daimyo of Munakata. Furthermore, he built Anshoin Temple at a scenic spot in Oshima to place Yakushi Ruriko Nyorai he carried as a guardian deity for himself. And then, he died on March 25, 1108 at the age of 77.

Movements of his children and descendants
The eldest son, ABE no Muneyoshi
Muneyoshi inherited the position of the leader of Oshima from his father as Taro Oshima Abe Gon no Kami (provincial vice-governor). ABE no Yorito, a descendant of Muneyoshi, was known as a Kengo (a great swordsman) in Kyushu; he served Akizuki clan and founded a school of swordplay Abe ryu.

The second son, ABE no Nakato
Nakato is regarded to have gone to Satsuma Province.

The third son, ABE no Sueto
Sueto went to Matsuura in Hizen Province, where he became an adopted son-in-law of the Matsura clan and took the name of Matsura Saburo Tayu Saneto. Sueto's descendants are said to have found a family which became a member of Suigun (warriors in the sea)Matsura Party in the northern part of Kyushu.

The Takatoshi MATSURA, a descendant of Saneto MATSURA (ABE no Sueto), was a close adviser of TAIRA no Kiyomori and he made a significant contribution to the Taira family side as a member of the navy; for this reason, he was banished to present Yuya, Nagato City, Yamaguchi Prefecture after the Jisho-Juei War. Afterward, a daughter of Takatoshi married TAIRA no Tomosada and Takatoshi took the family name of Abe to escape from persecution by the Minamoto clan. There are distinguished people considered to be his descendants including the parent-and-child statesmen, Shintaro ABE and Shinzo ABE. Shinzo ABE went up as high as to the Prime Minister.

Historical events
Hiroshi Abe, who came from Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture and was a member of Kizokuin (the House of Peers) and the 18th and 22nd Governor of Tokyo Prefecture, constructed his second residence in Abetate-cho, Morioka City which is associated with the Abe clan; the residence was built after the 'historical event of ABE no Muneto and the plum blossom' described in the Heike Monogatari (The Tale of Heike); accordingly, he named the residence as Akyobaiso (also pronounced as Agobaiso [present Ichinokura Garden).
That means 'Plum residence in my hometown.'
The calligraphy on the tablet was written by Hirobumi ITO, which is in the possession of HARA-KEI Memorial Museum in Morioka City at present. Remembering the Abe clan which collapsed at Kuriyagawa no saku (Kuriyagawa no ki) and associating the school with the same historical event, the Morioka Municipal Kuriyagawa Junior High School uses the 'plum blossom' for the school's emblem.

We call it the plum blossom in our country, what do the court nobles call it?' ABE no Muneto

[Original Japanese]