Doi Sanehira (土肥実平)

Sanehira DOI (DOHI) was a busho (military commander) from the late Heian to the early Kamakura period. He was the second son of Sohei NAKAMURA descended from TAIRA no Yoshifumi of Kanmu-Heishi (the Taira clan). He formed powerful 'bushidan' (warrior bands) in the south-western part of Sagami Province, together with his father and younger brother Muneto TSUCHIYA.


Sanehira was a member of the Nakamura clan (in Sagami Province), a powerful family in Sagami Province. Based in Dohi-go Village, Ashigarashimono County (Yugawara-machi and Manazuru-cho, Ashigarashimo-gun), he served as the azukaridokoro (custodian) of Hayakawasho manor. It is said that his house used to be in the area stretching from the present JR Yugawara Station to Jogan-ji Temple.

In 1180 he led the Nakamura clan's troops including his eldest son and heir Tohira KOBAYAKAWA to join an army raised by MINAMOTO no Yoritomo. Defeated at the Battle of Ishibashiyama, he fled with Yoritomo as well as seven or eight other cavaliers while dispersing the troops. "Genpei Seisui ki" (Rise and Fall of the Minamoto and the Taira clans) refers to this moment in the episode of Kagetoki KAJIWARA, who found Yoritomo and his followers hide themselves in a cave called 'Shitodo no Iwaya' but let them escape. Later Sanehira made preparations for their escaping from Manazuru-cho to Awa Province on the Boso peninsula.

The Chiba and the Kazusa clan joined forces with Yoritomo, who then made a counter-attack. Yoritomo successfully eliminated the Ise-Heishi troops including Kagechika OBA from Kanto region. Subsequently, Sanehira took part in the Battle of Fujigawa and joined the punitive force against MINAMOTO no Yoshihiro (Saburo Senjo SHIDA) in Hitachi Province.

In February 1184 he joined the punitive force against MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka (the Battle of Uji-gawa River). After the battle he was dispatched to Mt. Oe to protect the gate to Heian-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Kyoto). He fought the Battle of Ichinotani that took place in March 1184, joining MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune's troops. Yoshitsune divided his army of 10,000 cavaliers into two after the Battle of Mikusayama. Taking an army of some 7,000 horsemen, Sanehira advanced to the west of Ichinotani. After the battle he was appointed as the Sotsuibushi (government post in charge of police and military affairs) (Shugo or military governor) of the three provinces of Kibi (Provinces of Bizen, Bicchu and Bingo). Guarding Sanyo-do Road, he helped MINAMOTO no Noriyori to lead his troops into the region. It seems that he was greatly trusted by Yoritomo, because he and Kagetoki KAJIWARA were dispatched as bugyo (magistrate) under the commands of Yoritomo's representatives, Noriyori and Yoshitsune, on an expedition.

In 1189 he fought the Battle of Oshu. On August 16, 1191 he was in charge of the topping-out ceremony for a stable. After this account (in "Azuma Kagami" or The Mirror of the East), he is no longer mentioned in any historical source.

There are bronze statues of Sanehira and his wife in the square in front of JR Yugawara Station.

[Original Japanese]