Minamoto no Yoshiie (源義家)

MINAMOTO no Yoshiie was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the Heian period and the grandson of MINAMOTO no Yorinobu of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan). He was also known by his alias, Hachimantaro Yoshiie. As the ancestor of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, who established the Kamakura bakufu (military government) and Takauji ASHIKAGA who founded the Muromachi bakufu, he was often portrayed as a hero by later generations and there are many anecdotes about him.

He served as a guard for the Emperor Shirakawa during his imperial visits and suppressed rebelling Mount Hiei monks, but after becoming Mutsu no kuni no kami (the governor of Mutsu Province), he interfered in the internal conflict of the Kiyohara clan, triggering the Later Three Years' War which, although he sought official post-war consent, was declared 'a private feud' by the court.

For the next ten years he was under house arrest, but he was allowed to visit the imperial palace with Emperor Shirakawa's consent, although Udaijin (Minister of the Right) Nakamikado, also as known as FUJIWARA no Munetada, wrote in his diary, "Chuyu-ki" (dated October 23, 1099), 'Minamoto no Asomi (second highest of the eight hereditary titles) is the Emperor's best and bravest bushi.
However, there are indications that the public does not approve of his visit to the Imperial Palace.'

He was active at a time when the political system was shifting from a regency government (Sekkan seiji) to government by a retired emperor (In-sei), resulting in huge political, economic and social changes.
As a result, historians believe that, since Yoshiie represented the new rising bushi class, his treatment by the imperial court over the Later Three Years' War was a 'conspiracy of Shirakawain (Retired Emperor Shirakawa)' or a 'conspiracy of the Sekkan-ke (the five houses of the Fujiwara clan that usually held the regency).'
His highest official rank before his death was Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade).


Dates of Birth and Death

There are various theories about the dates of his birth and death and they remain uncertain, but many references point out that he died at the age of 68, and by calculating back from the most reliable "Chuyu-ki" entry, dated July 15, 1106, it is mostly likely that he was born in 1039.

There are theories that he was the eldest son of MINAMOTO no Yoriyoshi, born in Koroho residence in Kamakura (present day Tsuboi, Habikino City, Osaka Prefecture), but they remain within the realm of conjecture. His childhood name was Fudomaru or Gentamaru. He went through the genpuku (Coming of Age) ceremony at Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine, outside Kyoto, during the spring of his seventh year and took the name Hachimantaro.

From the Earlier Nine Years' War to Shimotsuke no kami (the governer of Shimotsuke Province)

His father Yoriyoshi, who held the titles Chinjufu Shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of North) and Mutsu no kami (the governer of Mutsu Province), suffered a great defeat at the Battle of Kiumi resulting in several hundred casualties in November 1057 during the Earlier Nine Years' War against the Abe clan. Yoriyoshi finally defeated the Abe clan with the assistance of the Kiyohara clan of Dewa no kuni (Dewa Province).

However, as recorded in the "Zoku-Gunsho-Ruiju," the "Oshu-gosannen-ki" (A Chronicle of The Later Three Years' War in Oshu) mentioned that Sento, the nurse of Iehara KIYOHARA, taunted Yoshiie saying 'Thy father Yoriyoshi could not defeat Sadato ABE and Muneto ABE, so he had to pledge allegiance and subservience (myobu) to the late Shogun Sei (the Chinjufu Shogun, or "Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North" KIYOHARA no Takenori) in order to make an alliance.
Only in this way could he defeat them.'
The book mentioned that Yoshiie became furious upon hearing this, but whether his father pledged allegiance or not, it was obvious that he had been close to begging down on his knees in order to gain an ally in the war. Yoshiie was awarded for his valor by being assigned to the Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) of Dewa no kuni no kami (Governor of Dewa Province) on February 25, 1063.

However, Dewa no kuni was the headquarters of the Kiyohara clan. It was recorded that, the following year, KIYOHARA no Takenori expressed a wish to the Imperial Court to be reassigned to the Ecchu no kuni no kami (Governor of Ecchu Province), possibly due to his experiences in the Earlier Nine Years' War and his apparent mismanagement of his assigned province. However, it is unclear if this request was granted. During that year, Yoshiie was in Kyoto and battled with MINAMOTO no Kunifusa, the ancestor of the Mino-Genji (Minamoto clan) at Mino.

The "Fuso-Ryakki" entry for August 1 shows that by 1070, Yoshiie had become the Shimotsuke no kami and had arrested FUJIWARA no Motomichi (no official title) for stealing the stamp and key to the national vault in Mutsu no kuni (Mutsu Province). The governer of Mutsu Province at that time was Yoshiie's father, MINAMOTO no Yoritoshi of the Yamato-Genji (Minamoto clan), and the newly enthroned Emperor Gosanjo ordered him to conquer North Mutsu but even though he succeeded, he received no reward, possibly due to the FUJIWARA no Motomichi incident, and there is no record that he received any land or new postions later. Minoru NOGUCHI has put forward the Yoshiie Conspiracy Theory about this incident.

Souga (Claws and Fangs) of Emperor Shirakawa

In August 1079, he was ordered by the Imperial Court to hunt down and kill Uhyoe no jo (officer of the Right Division of Middle Palace Guards), MINAMOTO no Shigemune (the fourth generation of the Mansei line of the Seiwa branch of the Minamoto clan) for causing the feud with MINAMOTO no Kunifusa in Mino Province.

According to the "Fuso-Ryakki," on September 14, 1081, with the kebiishi (police and judicial chief), he chased and captured a warrior monk from Onjo-ji Temple. On October 14 the same year, he accompanied Emperor Shirakawa during his imperial visit to Iwashimizu Hachiman-gu Shrine, and in order to prevent attacks by the warrior monks of Onjo-ji Temple, formed an escort with his younger brother, MINAMOTO no Yoshitsuna, and their retainers but, since they held no official position, they guarded the Emperor using the excuse of being outriders for Kanpaku (chancellor) FUJIWARA no Morozane. In addition, since the return trip was at night, Yoshiie changed from soukutai (traditional formal court dress) to hoi (everyday clothes), which were easier to fight in case of emergency and, armed with bows and arrows, formed an escort on either side of the Emperor's palanquin, leading FUJIWARA no Tamefusa to comment in "Tamefusa-kyo-ki" (A Diary of FUJIWARA no Tamefusa), 'Plain-clothed warriors attending the imperial carriage.
It has never been heard of.'

On December 4 of the same year, Yoshiie led 100 men wearing armor and helmets and armed with bows and arrows as a bodyguard during Emperor Shirakawa's visit to Kasuga-sha Shrine. By this time, it was beginning to be considered the norm to guard the emperor without regard to governmental position, as can be seen in entries such as 'an example of nowadays' in the "Suisa-ki" diary of the kugyo (aristocrats). This event became the basis for the formation of the 'Hokumen no bushi' (the Imperial Palace Guards for the north side). From this time, the brothers, Yoshiie and Yoshitsuna, closely attended the Emperor.

The Later Three Years' War

In 1083, Yoshiie became the Mutsu no kuni no kami and got involved in the Kiyohara clan's internal conflict in Dewa, triggering the Later Three Years' War. However, this battle was not the official one of subjugation declared by the Imperial Court.
The Imperial Court dispatched the 'Termination of the Battle of Oshu' declaration on July 9, 1087, and is described as a private war in "Gonijo Moromichi Ki" (A Diary of Gonijo Moromichi), which also refers to it as 'Yoshiie's Battle.'

According to historian Susumu ISHII, the armies at the Later Three Years' War were the Kokushu (Daimyo's) Army, known as the 'Yakata no monodomo' (people of the manor), a private army of bushi (most of whom were borderline military aristocrats from who may have had close connections to Kyoto) from Mino and Sagami Provinces, mobilized as private retainers of the daimyo, and the 'Kuni-no-heidomo' (Soldiers of the Province) of southern Mutsu, which was outside the Kiyohara clan's control. There were also KIYOHARA no Kiyohira's 'Powerful Local Clan Army' based in the three southern districts of Okuroku-gun, Mutsu Province and the army of KIMIKO no Hidetake from Dewa Province, who had been involved in the incident from the beginning and participated in the latter half of the Later Three Years' War.

Considering the fact that the main action near the end of the war came from KIMIKO no Hidetake, and taking into consideration examples from the Earlier Nine Years' War, the biggest military force was KIMIKO no Hidetake's army from Dewa Province, where the battle took place, followed by KIYOHARA no Kiyohira's army, while the government army, even if the 'Kuni no heidomo' from southern Mutsu was added, could not have been so big.

In November 1087, Yoshiie defeated KIYOHARA no Takehira and KIYOHARA no Iehara at Kanazawa fortress in Dewa Province, and he reported in 'Kokuge' (an official report to the government), 'Using my own power, I was lucky enough to defeat them. Please give me kanpu (official written command from the Imperial Court) fast,' and sought official post-war consent for defeating the enemy but was rejected by the Court which, because it considered it a 'private war,' made no reward and in January the following year, he was removed as the governer of Mutsu Province.

Yoshiie, who had led the Mutsu soldiers into battle, reported in the Kokuge, 'stop the politics and organize the soldiers,' and refrained from paying Mutsu Province's tax to the Court, which repeatedly pressed him for several years ("Chuyu-ki," dated December 15, 1096 and February 25, 1097). The law at that time required the submission of a designated amount of tax to pass the Zuryo-koka-sadame (criteria to determine if one is eligible for employment) to be assigned to an official government post, and Yoshiie's rank remained unchanged.

Younger Brother Yoshitsuna

In June 1091, Kyoto was shocked when Yoshiie's retainer, FUJIWARA no Sanekiyo and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsuna's retainer, FUJIWARA no Norikiyo fought over the rights to the estate in Kawachi Province and shook Kyoto by mobilizing Yoshiie and Yoshitsuna armies.

It was written in the kugyo diary that Yoshitsuna was the outrider for FUJIWARA no Morozane's procession visit to the Imperial Palace to participate at a banquet in January 1091; in February 1092 he guarded FUJIWARA no Tadazane on the way to Nara as the Kasugasai-shi (Kasugasai festival ambassador) and led the procession of MINAMOTO no Toshifusa during his imperial visit in December 1093, but no such activities were recorded for Yoshiie until 1104.

Yoshitsuna was made Mutsu no kami at the Jimoku biannual inauguration ceremony of the government officials in October 1093. In 1094, his retainers chased and captured TAIRA no Morotae, who had attacked the governer of Dewa Province, and he became the same governmental rank as his older brother when he was awarded the Jushiijo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade), and at the Jimoku in January of the following year, he was made the governer of Mino, a province of higher status than Mutsu.

Following the deaths of some monks in the battle with the Enryaku-ji Temple over its territory in Mino, the side of Mount Hiei petitioned for Yoshitsuna's exile, but Kanpaku FUJIWARA no Moromichi ordered MINAMOTO no Yoriharu and Yoshitsuna to deal with them with force. Due to the casualties among both monks and lay people at Enryaku-ji Temple and Hiyoshi-jinja Shrine on Mount Hiei, the people of Mount Hiei cursed the Imperial Court.

As the headquarters of the esoteric Tendai sect, Mount Hiei had the most authority for curses and may have posed the greatest psychological threat to the Imperial Court. The Imperial Court was further filled with fear of the curse made by Mount Hiei four years later when Kanpaku FUJIWARA no Moromichi died at the age of 38 in June 1099. Perhaps influenced by this event, Yoshitsuna was not awarded with new estates afterwards.

From the Visit to the Emperor's Imperial Residence to Death. Ten years after the Later Three Years' War, in 1098, he passed the Zuryo-kokka-sadame with the support of Emperor Shirakawa ("Chuyu-ki," dated January 23) and promoted to Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade) in a Kojimoku (extraordinary inauguration ceremony done outside of the biannual jimoku) in April, and was granted permission to visit the imperial residence in October. However, the kugyo (aristocracy), who were concerned with family status that was already in place, were opposed to the aggressive promotion made by Emperor Shirakawa, and Udaijin Nakamikado, FUJIWARA no Minetada wrote in his diary, "Chuyu-ki" (dated October 23, 1099), 'Minamoto Asomi is the Emperor's best and bravest bushi.
However, there are indications that the public does not approve of his visit to the Imperial Court,
but I should not utter it.'

The second son of Yoshiie, MINAMOTO no Yoshichika, the government of Tsushima Province was indicted by Dazai daini OE no Masafusa, at Chinzei (in Kyushu), and Yoshiie was ordered to bring Yoshichika to the Imperial Court ("Den-reki"). However, the retainer dispatched by Yoshiie, Sukemichi SUDO (an ancestor of the Yamauchi-Sudo clan), assassinated the imperial ambassador with Yoshichika on February 20, 1102. Finally, the Imperial Court gave the decision to exile MINAMOTO no Yoshichika to Oki Province on December 28.

According to the "Chuyu-ki," Yoshiie and Yoshitsuna chased and captured warrior monks from Mount Hiei on October 30, 1104, but this was Yoshiie's last official activity.

His other son, MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni (the ancestor of the Ashikaga clan) battled with his uncle Shinrasaburo MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu in 1106, and the imperial court ordered MINAMOTO no Yoshiie to follow his son Yoshikuni and join the battle. There was an arrest warrant issued for MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu, TAIRA no Shigemoto and others who were fighting Yoshikuni. In midst of this, Yoshiie died at the age of 68 on July 15, 1106.
FUJIWARA no Minetada lamented on the following day in the "Chuyu-ki," 'he was the greatest soldier in the country and truly deserved to be called a great shogun.'

On December 19, 1107, the following year, MINAMOTO no Yoshichika, who was in exile in Oki Province, assassinated the Mokudai (deputy provincial governor) of Izumo Province, and with surrounding provinces showing sympathy to Yoshichika, Emperor Shirakawa ordered TAIRA no Masamori, the governer of province and In no Kinshin (the Retired Emperor's courtier) of the next province, Inaba Province, to execute Yoshichika.

TAIRA no Masamori returned in triumph to Kyoto on January 29, 1108, carrying the head of MINAMOTO no Yoshichika, a victory parade was performed in his honor, and Masamori rose to prominence as the 'claws and teeth' of Emperor Shirakawa. Concerning this parade, FUJIWARA no Minetada wrote in the "Chuyu-ki," 'the late Yoshiie Asomi killed many innocent people in his time as a warrior.
The sins he built up have finally proclaimed his descendant.'

The Conspiracy of Emperor Shirakawa' Theory and Later Study
The view of Yoshiie in the early post-World War II period
The accepted theory and views among historians in early post-World War II period were based on "Chuseiteki sekai no keise" (The formation of the medieval world) by Tadashi ISHIMODA, which stated that "bushi" were the rising armed land lord class (the head of feudal peasant class), who eliminated the ruling class consisting of old aristocrats and religious forces, and this new power (bushi class) founded and controlled the Kamakura bakufu controlled in medieval era.

The academic theory at that time stated that 'bushi' based themselves in their estates and did not consider TAIRA no Masakado and FUJIWARA no Hidesato as 'bushi (warrior)' but as 'tsuwamono (soldier).'
Rizo TAKEUCHI explained in the following way in 1965 about the differences between the two:

To state the difference between tsuwamono and bushi once more, a tsuwamono has attendants below him, but no tsuwamono has another tsuwamono above him. In another words, there was no multiple layered class system. They were attended by servants with independent control of power and lacked the system to rule over them.
However with bushi, they had retainers below them, who were served by retainers below them, and had a multilayered ruling relationship
("Bushi no Tojo" (The Rise of Warriors), "Nihon no Rekishi, Vol. 6" (A History of Japan, Vol. 6) (Chuo Koron sha (currently Chuo Koron Shinsha)).'

This 'multilayered class system' began to appear during Yoshiie's time, and is believed that there was a huge economic shift in local society, and power in residential land shifted from the 'Tato' and 'Fumyo' (farm managers who leased public fields from provincial lords and produced agricultural products) to the residential land lords (estate managers).

Many people were inclined to see in MINAMOTO no Yoshiie the first clash (oppression) between the new rising warrior class and old aristocratic ruling classes in the context of such huge historical transformation. "Minamoto no Yoshiie" (Yoshikawa Kobukan, 1966) by Motohisa YASUDA was written from such perspective.

The first example of such a clash (suppression) was the fact that Yoshiie did not receive rewards despite his victory in the Later Three Years' War and was treated coldly in addition to being banned from receiving new estates. In addition, Yoshiie's grandson, MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi, was intentionally promoted during the internal conflict of the Kawachi-Genji clan after the death of Yoshiie, further disturbing the unity within the Kawachi-Genji clan. Tameyoshi himself was also treated coldly and was not rewarded with an estate during his lifetime.

According to arguments made by Rizo TAKEUCHI and Motohisa YASUDA, the rulers at that time, including Emperor Shirakawa and the Sekkan-ke, viewed Yoshiie as a dangerous individual based on the fact that most of the country was divided into shoen (manors). In the middle of such a situation, Yoshiie managed to squeeze himself into the highest rank of shoen's land owners and threatened the financial platform of royal families and high class aristocrats.
For example, as Rizo TAKEUCHI explained in "Bushi no Tojo" (1965), 'aristocrats, including the retired emperor, could not stand those who, by receiving farms from peasants of many districts, became shoen landlords on a par with aristocrats.'

Later Developments in the Historical Study of Shoen
However, from the 1970's, developments in the study of shoen history led to this theory being revised in three ways.

Firstly, following detailed research that appeared in Yoshihiko AMINO's "Wakasa no kuni ni okeru shoensei no keisei" (The formation of the manor system in Wakasa Province) (1969), Susumu ISHII's "Insei jidai" (The Age of Cloistered Emperors) (1970) and "Oota Fumi" (The letters of Oota) in "Sobu no bushidan" (Bushi groups of the Sobu region), which appears in "Kamakura bushi no jitsuzo" (The Real Face of Kamakura Warriors) (1978), it became clear that most manors were established after the mid-12th century, during the reigns of the Cloistered Emperors Toba and Gotoba, and that by the time this large-scale expansion stopped in the 13th century, the ratio of shoen to national land was on average of six to four, or about even.

In April 1986, the historian Susumu ISHII wrote in "Chusei no mura o aruku - Jiin no shoen" (A walk in medieval villages - Temples and Manors) (Currently the "Chusei no mura o aruku" compilation), 'I cannot believe the theory that the entire country became shoen at the same time as the establishment of the Sekkan (regency) period."

Secondly, Susumu ISHII in "Kizoku to Onaji Shoen-ryoke ka" (The formation of Shoen-ryoke (A lord who is donated with "Shoen" estates) same as the aristocrats) and Motohisa YASUDA in "Jokyu Kizoku-tachi to onajiyouni Shoen-ryoshu (Shoen-ryoke)" (Shoen-ryoshu same as high aristocrats) claimed Yoshiie was in the top rank of manor owners.

The shoen ranks included "honjo (head of shoen lords) and ryoke," their deputy, "azukaridokoro," and three classes of "Shoshi or Geshi," the actual local ruler and in many cases, donor, but the top most rank was the "Kenmon" which included "aristocrats including the retired emperor" and those of temples and shrines.

It was believed in the 1960s that Yoshiie shoved aside the old Kenmon or forced his way into the position, but this was hard to accept when Yoshiie was a fourth rank Shodaifu and a receiver of estates.

In his paper "Ochokokka o megutte" (About the Monarchic State) (collected in "Togoku no heiran to mononofutachi" (Wars And Warriors in Eastern Japan)) written in 1974, Toyohiko FUKUDA stated, 'I believe there is a need to think not from the perspective of the honke (the highest shoen class) or ryoke (who was given shoen by the Imperial Court) but aristocrats (such as the Azukaridokoro) who acted as the mediators of donation of estates.'

In addition, Fumihide TANAKA in his 1997 paper, "Kawachi Genji to sono jidai" (The Kawachi branch of the Minamoto clan and their era) (in "In-sei to sono jidai" (The government by a retired emperor and the era)) introduced the idea that Ishikawa Manor, founded by Yoshiie, donated to the Sekkan-ke and believed to have been inherited by his son, Saemonnojo Yoshitoki, after Yoshiie became Azukaridokoro, consisted of several towns and farmlands as big as several to several dozen koku (5.12 U.S. bushels) spread over a wide area.

It was believed that the fight between the retainers of Yoshiie and Yoshitsuna over Kawachi Province in June 1091 was over the right to small farm lands like these. This characteristic was commonly observed in Kinki region, and it cannot be considered to be the same as greatly expanding Shoen seen in Eastern Japan after the mid-12th century.

("Gonijo Moromichi Ki" and the "Hyakuren-sho" (an historical document based on the diaries of aristocrats, written during the Kamakura period)). Finally, there were the 'Ban on Yoshiie bringing his army into Kyoto' and the 'Ban on Yoshiie accepting land donations,' knowledge of which comes from entries in "Gonijo Moromichi Ki," the diaries of Naidaijin (the Minister of the Center, ranked below Udaijin) FUJIWARA no Moromichi, and the edited collection of diaries, "Hyakuren-sho," written in the late Kamakura era, concerning events in June 1091, when Kyoto was in uproar over the mobilization of Yoshiie and Yoshitsune's troops following the territorial dispute between their retainers, FUJIWARA no Sanekiyo and FUJIWARA no Norikiyo.

One of these documents is a primary historical source but the other is a secondary historical source, written two centuries after the event described.
The 'Ban on Yoshiie bringing his army into Kyoto' is from the "Hyakuren-sho" entry 'The entrance of the former Mutsu no kami, Yoshiie, into Kyoto, accompanied by his army… stopped,' but "Gonijo Moromichi Ki" refers to the same event as 'the Kanpu is strong enough to stop the accompanying soldiers of Kokuji (provincial government official) of each province.'

Strong enough to stop the accompanying soldiers of Kokuji of each province' is entirely different from the 'prohibition for Yoshiie to enter his army into Kyoto.'

The 'Ban on Yoshiie accepting land donations' was mentioned in the "Hyakuren-sho" entry for June 12, 1091, but "Gonijo Moromichi Ki" contains no such description. Instead, on May 12, 1092, it mentions the suspension of the Shoen established by Yoshiie.

Motohisa YASUDA could not erase the doubt over the "Hyakuren-sho" and noted in "Nihon no Rekishi, Vol. 7, Insei to Taira " (A history of Japan, Vol. 7, The Cloistered Government and the Taira family), 'if the measures mentioned in "Hyakuren-sho" were carried out, it must have been by nobles below Sadaijin (the senior chief of an Imperial Japanese Council of State, ranked above Udaijin) Toshifusa, in collusion with Kanpaku Morozane and did not reflect the will of the emperor.'
He wrote subtly.

Kanpaku FUJIWARA no Morozane was the father of "Gonijo Moromichi Ki" author FUJIWARA no Moromichi, who attended jin-no-sadame (government councils during Heian period) as Nai-daijin and, as the Kugyo nobles usually did, probably wrote the entry dated June 12, 1091 the following morning and, as such, it can be considered accurate. If the measures mentioned in the "Hyakuren-sho" were carried out, the Kanpaku must have acted after Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa had heard the Sadaijin's report and his wishes told to the Kugyo, but this would have been against the protocol of the time.
If this event was true, then why was it that FUJIWARA no Moromichi, the son of that Kanpaku, did not mention such an irregular procedure in his diary?
Motohisa YASUDA's doubts probably stem from this issue.

Yasuo MOTOKI, in "Bushi no Seiritsu" (The establishment of Warriors) (1994), argued that there is a likeliness that the "Hyakuren-sho" was edited to condense two events that occurred within the span of a year. Mr. MOTOKI doesn't mention it, but this was not the only misconception the editor of the "Hyakuren-sho" had. The "Hyakuren-sho" also differed from the primary historical source of many kugyo diaries.

The Onsho (rewards) of the Later Three Years' War
Regarding Yoshiie's failure to be rewarded despite victory in the Later Three Years' War, engaging in battle without imperial consent was illegal at that time and an ambassador carrying the "Termination of the Battle at Oshu" order had been dispatched midway through the conflict. Therefore, it is not surprising that Yoshiie's post-conflict request for approval was rejected.

In addition, there was the issue of "bu-kokin" (lack of gold supply), with gold dust,which was more an important material for decorations used in imperial court ceremonies rather than a 'commodity,' coming mostly only from Mutsu. This issue was greater than the unpaid tax problem for it hindered imperial court rituals and came up in political debate in the imperial court.

The fact that Yoshiie did not pass the zuryo-kokka-sadame, which was required to receive estates from the Imperial Court, for ten years was a norm and in accordance with policy back then, and Yoshiie was not the only one faced with this problem. It reached the point where FUJIWARA no Moromichi fiercely opposed and finally halted Emperor Shirakawa's attempts to reappoint Yoshiie to the head of provincial governor, a position close to the emperor, of the same province (of more benefit than reassigning him to a different province) without having passed the zuryo-kokka-sadame.

It took ten years to finalize the unpaid tax issue and although there is no written record of its settlement, Yoshiie's passing of the zuryo-kokka-sadame is mentioned in the January 23, 1098 entry of FUJIWARA no Minetada' diary "Chuyu-ki," 'things went the Emperor's way,' indicating it was the Emperor's will.

The World of Traditions

At the Battle of Kiumi in November 1057 during the Earlier Nine Years' War, in which several hundred men died and only six riders escaped, Yoshiie was described as, 'the eldest son of the shogun, Yoshiie, without equal in strength or bravery, shot arrows from the back of the horse like a god. Wielding his white sword, he burst through the tight encirclement, harried the enemy left and right, and repeatedly shot the enemy's leader with large-headed arrows. He did not waste a single arrow. Those who were shot always fell to the ground.
He ran like the thunder, flew like the wind and showed greatest military virtue of that time, similar to gods,'
as written in "Mutsuwa-ki" (A Chronicle of the Earlier Nine Years' War).

The same "Mutsuwa-ki" mentioned that afterwards, KIYOHARA no Takenori said, 'I would like to see how well you can shoot an arrow.
Could you show me?' to which Yoshiie replied, 'Certainly.'
Takenori piled three Japanese battle helmets on top of a tree branch. Yoshiie pierced through the three helmets with one shot. Takenori was greatly surprised and said, 'this must be a god transformed. No normal person can compare.
It is an honor to surrender to such a bushi.'
Such anecdotes still remain on record.

The armor which 2-year-old Yoshiie wore, 'Genta ga Ubuginu' (the baby clothes of Genta), and the katana (Japanese sword) called 'Hige kiri' (beard cutter) that was named for cutting off the bearded heads of a thousand prisoners, became treasures passed down to the Kawachi-Genji clan heir, and there is an anecdote in the "Heiji Monogatari" (The Tale of Heiji) that Yoritomo MINAMOTO used it during the Heiji no ran (Heiji Rebellion). This story was probably created to give the impression that Yoritomo MINAMOTO was descended from the official line of the Minamoto clan.

The collection of tales, "Kokon chomon shu" (Collected Stories of Ancient and Modern Times), written in the mid-Kamakura period, mentioned several conversations with ABE no Muneto, who was captured after the Earlier Nine Years' War and became a servant (though this was not true), that portrayed Yoshiie as a supernatural warrior who excelled in archery, was kind to not unnecessarily kill animals, and was bold in the way that he turned to his back to his one-time enemy, ABE no Muneto, and let him insert arrows into the arrow holder.

However, there is also the following contrasting legend.

A neighbor of Yoshiie's Kyoto residence dreamed about Yoshiie being dragged out the gate by an oni (Japanese ogre). As a result, the person visited the residence and saw that it was in a tumult over Yoshiie's death. His dream must have been Yoshiie being dragged into hell.

His father Yoriyoshi was also a cruel criminal who, by rights, should have gone to hell. He collected one ear from each of the 18,000 heads he beheaded in the Earlier Nine Years' War, dried them and brought them to Kyoto. However, in his later years, Yoriyoshi entered the priesthood, buried the ears below a platform (known as Mino-do on Rokujo-bomon, the main street in Kyoto during Heian period) and repenting his cruelty, was able to enter Nirvana upon his death. However, Yoshiie killed many innocent people, and did not regret it so he went to the infinite hell. ("Ko-jidan" (Collection of Old Stories)).

Chapter 2 of "Ryojinhi-sho" (Songs to Make the Dust Dance on the Beams) edited by Emperor Goshirakawa, who loved the Imayo style of poems, reflected on such a tale, 'Should all birds live on the deep mountain where the eagle lives? Even if it's the same Minamoto clan, Hachimantaro is somebody to be feared.'

These folktales were made from the end of Heian period to the early Kamakura period and, though FUJIWARA no Minetada's entry in "Chuyu-ki," 'the late Yoshiie Chosin was a wealthy bushi who killed many innocent people. The sins he built up have finally claimed his descendant,' and other tales may not be true individually, they may have captured one aspect of Yoshiie as viewed by Kyoto residents at that time.

Because there was no reward for the Later Three Years' War due to it being considered a private war, he is said to have awarded his own property to his men, thereby enhancing his popularity as a warrior
However, the "Oshu-gosannen-ki," written at the end of Heian period, did not record such an event. Later generations claimed that the Way of the Bushi in Eastern Japan was established by Yoshiie, and that the increased reputation from a blood connection to the chief of the bushi was derived from a phrase in the "Geni-shu," written to legitimize the Ashikaga shogunate created by the descendants of Yoshiie during the end of the Nanboku (Northern and Southern Court) period.

The story handed down through the Ashikaga clan is that a letter written by Hachiman-dono (Lord Hachiman - Yoshiie) stated, "the son of the seventh generation after me must conquer the entire nation in my place." The "Nan-taihei-ki" mentioned that Ietoki ASHIKAGA, who was the seventh generation son after Yoshiie, could not achieve it during his lifetime, so, in a letter, he wished the third generation after him would conquer Japan and then committed suicide. The reason why Takauji ASHIKAGA rose up to defeat the Hojo clan was because he had to prove himself as the third generation since Ietoki, and Sadayo IMAGAWA, the author of "Nan-taihei-ki," claimed that he saw it too. However, there was no notion during Yoshiie's time of conquering Japan.

The idea that the decline of the Kawachi-Genji was due to Emperor Shirakawa's fear of Yoshiie's popularity and the conspiracy of the Sekkan-ke formed after the World War II. Present historians are currently making the adjustments mentioned in this article, but such conspiracy theories are still widely discussed across internet.

In addition, there are web sites which mention that, 'the Emperor's best and bravest bushi' was written by Emperor Shirakawa, but it was actually from the diary of FUJIWARA no Minetada, "Chuyu-ki," dated October 23, 1098.

Waka (a 31-syllable Japanese poem)

Fuku kaze wo nakosono seki to omoe domo michimoseni chiru yamazakura kana (Since it is called nakoso no seki ("do not come" checkpoint), I thought it applied to winds as well, but there are many cherry petals scattered across, enough to block the path.)
Included in "Senzai-wakashu" (Collection of a Thousand Years), one of the "Chokusen Wakashu" collection of waka compiled for the emperor, 'mutsu-no-kuni ni makarikeru toki, nakoso no seki nite hana no chiri kereba yomeru' (You can understand when you ride to Nakoso checkpoint in Mutsu Province and kick up scattered flowers).

Calling to the fleeing enemy, "Your clothes are falling apart," to which the enemy turned around and added, "Over the years the threads become entangled and this pains me," which pleased me, and in kindness, I forgave him.

This was an elementary school song from 1912, when militarism was rife, that incorporates one of Yoshiie's tanka.

It was the tale where Minamoto no Yoshiie chased after the "enemy," Sadato ABE, who abandoned and escaped from Koromogawa Seki (castle) and called out the lower line while aiming the arrow, to which, Sadato immediately shot back the top line of the song, so Yoshiie didn't shoot him due to the "sympathy of bushi (warrior)." This was quoted in the collection of tales from the medieval era, "Kokon chomon shu." However, "Dai-Nihon shi" (A History of Great Japan) edited by Mitsukuni MITO in Edo period, comments that "it was probably created by Waka lovers. As a result, I do not accept it."

Yoritomo MINAMOTO, who established the Kamakura bakufu, was the son of Yoshitomo MINAMOTO, who was the great-great-grandson of Yoshiie.

Takuji ASHIKAGA (also known as MINAMOTO no Takuji), who established the Muromachi bakufu was the descendant of the second son of Yoshiie's third son, Yoshiyasu ASHIKAGA (also known as MINAMOTO no Yoshiyasu).

Yoshisada NITTA (also known as MINAMOTO no Yoshisada) of the Southern Court (Nan-cho) was the descendant of the eldest son of the same MINAMOTO no Yoshiyasu, Yoshishige NITTA (also known as MINAMOTO no Yoshishige).

Mr. Takagi, the chief priest of the Shinto Shrine at Tsuboi Hachiman-gu Shrine for the clan deity of Kawachi-Genji, is a descendant of the fifth child of Yoshiie, MINAMOTO no Yoshitoki.

Grave site

His grave, along with his grandfather Yorinobu's and his father Yoriyoshi's, is located near the Tsuho-ji Temple, of which only the gate remains, in Tsuboi, Habikino City, Osaka Prefecture, the headquarters of the Kawachi-Genji.

[Original Japanese]