Kono Michinobu (河野通信)

Michinobu KONO (1156 - July 6, 1222 was a Japanese military commander in Iyo Province who lived from the end of the Heian period to the beginning of the Kamakura period. He was the son of Michikiyo KONO. He was commonly called Shiro. He was a commander of the Iyo navy. His children were Michimasa and Michihisa KONO. When entering into priesthood, he was given the name Kanko as his go (byname). His grandson was Ippen.


When MINAMOTO no Yoritomo rose an anti-Heishi (anti-Taira clan) army in September 1180, he and his father, Michikiyo, locked themselves in the headquarter castle, Takanawayama-jo Castle in Kazahaya County, Iyo Province (located in present-day Hojo City, Ehime Prefecture), in concert with such rising and expelled mokudai (deputy kokushi, or a deputy provincial governor) of TAIRA no Koremori in 1181. However, they suffered all-out assaults from Taira clan armies within and without Iyo Province, and his father, Michikiyo, died in battle at such Castle. After that, Michinobu waged guerrilla warfare in the Takanawa Peninsula, and after defeating Seijaku of Bingo Province who was intruding into the area, he defeated Masanao TAGUCHI of Awa Province at the Hishi-jo Castle in Kita County, Iyo Province (located in present-day Ozu City), and gained the initiative. In March 1185, when MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune came down to the Shikoku region to search and kill Heishi (the Taira clan), Michinobu proceeded to the Yashima Peninsula with leading a warship and presented the ship to Yoshitsune in the Battle of Shido. He also took part in the Battle of Dannoura, and the warship lead by Michinobu rendered distinguished service as a main force. In the postwar period, he became gokenin (an immediate vassal of the shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods)of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and although he was not assigned to shugoshiki (post of provincial constable), he was granted a strong authority to supervise some gokenin (immediate vassals of the shogunate) in Iyo Province. In 1189, he campaigned in the Battle of Oshu.

His son, Michimasa, served in In no cho (Retired Emperor's Office) as Saimen no bushi (the Imperial Palace Guards for the west side). Although he took the Retired Emperor Gotoba's side in the Jokyu War in 1221, Michinobu returned to his territory with Michimasa when the Retired Emperor side was defeated, and they continued resistance by confining themselves in Takanawayama-jo Castle. However, they surrendered due to an attack on his residential castle by the Shogunate side in the following year. After they captured, Michinobu was exiled to Esashi County, Mutsu Province, and Michimasa was slashed to death, and then, many of the territories were forfeited. Michinobu died in 1222 at Gokuraku-ji Temple of Mt. Kunimi located in Inase, Esashi County (present-day Inase-cho, Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture). He died at the age of 68. In 1916, he was posthumously awarded the rank of Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank).

His graveyard still remains as Hijiri-zuka (mound) in the area of Mizukoshi in Inase-cho (Kitakami City, Iwate Prefecture). This graveyard was found out from an illustration showing that Michinobu's grandson, Ippen, held the memorial service at his grandfather's grave in 1280 which was contained in 'Ippen shonin eden' (Illustrated Biography of the Monk Ippen), a picture scroll showing Ippen's travel all over Japan.

Although the head family of the Kono clan barely survived due to succession by his son, Michihisa KONO, who solely took the side of Kamakura bakufu, its influence in Iyo Province weakened afterwards.

[Original Japanese]