Minamoto no Yukiie (源行家)

MINAMOTO no Yukiie was a military commander (busho) during the later part of the Heian Period. He was the tenth son of MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi of the Kawachi-Genji branch of the Minamoto clan. At first he went by the name Yoshimori. He was also called Juro and Yukiie SHINGU. He took part in the uprising led by Prince Mochihito, and travelled to strongholds of the Minamoto Clan in different provinces, conveying communiques and orders from Prince Mochihito, and rallied for the subjugation of the Taira Clan.


He was born the younger half-brother (to a different mother) of Torii Zenni (also known as Tatsutanoharano Nyobo before becoming a Buddhist nun), who was the wife of Yukinori of the branch of the Shingu betto family who had held important positions as the main administrators of the three major shrines of Kumano (the Kumano Sanzan, including the Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Hayatama Taisha, and Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrines) and later became the 19th Chief Officer (betto) serving the main branch of the Shingu family; because he lived in Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine, he was called Juro SHINGU. He was the ally of his older brother MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo during the Heiji Rebellion in 1159. Although they were defeated in battle, he managed to escape from the front lines to Kumano, where he laid low for the following twenty years. In 1180, he was summoned by MINAMOTO no Yorimasa of the Settsu-Genji branch of the Minamoto Clan to act as a messenger conveying to the Minamoto Clan in each Province the orders of Prince Mochihito to subjugate Taira Clan. He was assigned to be the Chamberlain (Kurodo) of the Hachijo-in, and it was at this time that he changed his name to Yukiie.

Although it was Yukiie who rallied his nephew, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, to the cause, Yukiie did not place himself under the command of Yoritomo, leading to discord in relation to his aiming to adopt an independent stance. He engaged in battle twice against theTaira Clan in 1181, at the Battle of Sunomata River, in Owari Province, and the Battle of Yahagi River, in Miwa Province. The forces he was fighting for were obliterated, and he escaped to the Yoritomo's stronghold. He had sought to stay at the estate of Yoritomo, but was denied, so he took refuge at the camp of his nephew, MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka.

He entered Kyoto with Yoshinaka in 1183, where they quarreled regarding the positions they would assume in light of their respective ranks before Emperor Goshirakawa; in the end, they decided to stand side-by-side, instead of one in front of the other. He was awarded the court rank of Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade and appointed as Governor of Bingo Province (Bingo no kuni no kami), but was reassigned as Governor of Bizen Province after he complained that there was a discrepancy between his appointment and Yoshinaka's. While Yoshinaka, who had grown up in a mountain village and had uncouth mannerisms and language, fell out of favor with the cloistered emperor and aristocrats, Yukiie, who had been brought up in the Kinki Region (the area around Osaka), was cultured and had eloquent mannerism and speech, became a constant visitor of the Imperial Court, often playing Japanese backgammon (sugoroku) with the retired emperor. However, his relation with Yoshinaka worsened, and sensing that he was in danger, he fled from the capital (Kyoto) on the pretext of his need to rally the troops to subjugate the Taira Clan. He was defeated again in Suma Province during the Battle of Muroyama against an army led by Tomomori TAIRA and Shigehira TAIRA, and lost against Kanemitsu HIGUCHI, who had been dispatched by Yoshinaka; thereafter, his whereabouts became unknown. Though he was a capable agent provocateur, and deft at Machiavellian intrigue, he seems to have lacked the ability to develop military strategies.

After Yoshinaka was defeated by the army led by MINAMOTO no Noriyori and Yoshitsune that was dispatched by Yoritomo, Yukiie returned to Kyoto after being invited by the emperor, in March 1184. He did not take part in the campaigns by the army of Kamakura-Genji branch of the Minamoto clan to pursue and subjugate the Taira Clan, and did not visit Kamakura, despite being close to his nephew Yoshitsune, but adopted an independent stance, ruling Izumi and Kawachi Provinces (the headquarter of Kawachi-Genji branch of the Minamoto clan). When Yoritomo moved to subjugate Yukiie in August, he formed an alliance with Yoshitsune, who had been in a dispute with Yoritomo since the Battle of Dan no Ura, and after rallying the anti-Yoritomo forces in October, he was ordered by Retired Emperor Goshirakawa to pursue and subjugate Yoritomo. However, not many members of the warrior class were approve of the faction led by Yukiie, and when Yoritomo made a show of force by paying a visit to Kyoto as the head of a tremendous number of troops from Kamakura, the Yukiie and Yoshitsune faction fled from the capital on November 3. After he encountered a rainstorm at Daimotsu no Ura and were unable to make the voyage by ship across the inland sea to the westernmost provinces (Saigoku), he was pursued inland, and eventually hid himself in the Palace of Kamusaki no Kiyomi (subsequently Hatakenaka Castle) in Kogigo Village, Izumi Province. He was discovered in May of the following year, when a local resident divulged his whereabouts, and caught by soldiers of Tokisada HOJO, after which he was beheaded along with MINAMOTO no Iemitsu and MINAMOTO no Yukiyori, his second and third sons, respectively.


According to the account in the "Sonpi Bunmyaku" (a text compiled in the fourteenth century that records the genealogy of the aristocracy), the descendants of his second son, Iemitsu, were government officials (primarily of low to medium rank) in the capital down to the fifth generation, and a child named Tamesada born to his fourth son, who had become the monk Bo Saijo, came to hold the title of Chunagon (Middle Counselor) and lived in Nakano, Owari Province, assuming the name Genzo NAKANO. Kazuyasu NAKANO, who was a vassal of Nobunaga ODA during the Period of Warring States is said to have been a descendant of Tamesada, and it is said that Yukitomo SHINGU, who was a military commander (busho) also in the Period of Warring States, was a descendant of Yukiie, but the genealogy of Yukitomo is not clear.


Goi Castle in Gamagori City, Aichi Prefecture is supposed to have been built by Yukiie. It was abandoned after the Matsudaira Clan, which had used that castle as its residence, moved to the Kanto region (the area around present Tokyo). There are accounts maintaining that the main gates of Chosen-ji and Shinsen-ji Temples are gates of this castle that were removed and rebuilt; and that the pond in front of Hachiman Shrine was the moat of the castle.

[Original Japanese]