Taira no Kiyomori (平清盛)

TAIRA no Kiyomori was a warlord who lived in the Late Heian Period. He was also a Court noble.

He was born the first son of TAIRA no Tadamori, who was the head of the Ise branch of the Taira clan, and he later became the head of the Taira clan. He gained the trust of Emperor Goshirakawa during the Hogen Disturbance and then prevailed in the Heiji Disturbance, and as a result, he became the first warlord to be appointed Dajo-daijin (Chancellor of the Realm). He then married off his daughter TAIRA no Tokuko to Emperor Takakura and established the era in which 'only the members of the Taira clan should be considered legitimate human beings ("Heike Monogatari" ("the Tale of the House of Taira"))'. He opposed Emperor Goshirakawa, who was resisting the power of the Taira clan, and therefore started Jisho-sannen no seihen (The Coup in 1179: the third year of the Jisho era) to confine the cloistered Emperor, seized Emperor Antoku to whom Tokuko had given birth, and seized political power; however, the Taira clan's dictatorship faced strong resistance from aristocrats, temples, shrines, and warriors, resulting in the gathering of warriors by Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) to defeat the Taira clan. Then, around the same time, Kiyomori died of a fever.

Head of the Taira Clan

In 1118, he was born in Ubushina, Ise no kuni (Ubushina, Ise Province, which is currently Ubushina, Tsu City, Mie Prefecture) as the first son of TAIRA no Tadamori, who was the head of the Ise branch of the Taira clan. Although the identity of his mother is unknown, there is a widely-accepted theory that she was a younger sister of a Gion no nyogo (Gion consort). It is believed that he became a son of the Gion no nyogo while maintaining his original identity after his mother's death.
He was appointed Sa-hyo no suke (Undersecretary of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards) of the rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) in January, 1129, at the age of 12, and this surprised FUJIWARA no Munetada, who commented, 'I do not need to even tell how surprising that was for everyone ("Chu-yu-ki" (A Diary of FUJIWARA no Munetada)).'
This was because a warrior usually started as a jo (a lieutenant, a third-class officer), and it was extremely unusual that he was appointed a suke (a captain, which was a second-class officer). Kiyomori was selected to be one of the dancers at the Iwashimizu-rinji-matsuri festival in March, and the reins of his horse were attached by an attendant of Nai-daijin (Minister of the Center), MINAMOTO no Arihito, who was said to be an adopted child of the Gion no nyogo; therefore, it is believed that the Gion no nyogo served as a guardian of young Kiyomori while he was growing up.

It has been said that, when he was young, he often visited the residence of FUJIWARA no Ienari, who was the most favored retainer of Cloistered Emperor Toba. FUJIWARA no Ienari was a cousin of Ike no zenni, who was the step-mother of Kiyomori. TAIRA no Shigemori and TAIRA no Motomori were born to Kiyomori and a daughter of Takashina Motoaki, but it is believed that they soon lost her through death. In 1137, as a reward for establishment of the Kumano-hongu Shrine by Tadamori, Kiyomori was appointed Higo-kokushu (Governor of Higo Province). In 1147, TAIRA no Munemori was born of Kiyomori and TAIRA no Tokiko. Tokiko's father, Tokinobu, was a Hogan-dai (an administrative official of the Retired-Emperor's Office) of Cloistered Emperor Toba, and together with FUJIWARA no Akiyori and TAKASHINA no Michinori (FUJIWARA no Shinzei), he was in charge of business affairs at the government affairs office. On July 21, Kiyomori went to Gion-sha shrine, and there, his vassal and a lower-ranked Shinto priest who disapproved of the vassal's weapon had a fight, and an arrow shot by the vassal accidentally hit the holy shrine (Gion-toran-jiken (the Gion Brawling Incident)). Although the Enryaku-ji Temple, whose branch temple was Gion-sha Shrine, strongly demanded deportation of Tadamori and Kiyomori, Cloistered Emperor Toba protected them from the wrath of the temple and reduced Kiyomori's penalty to Shokudo 30 kins (a fine of copper equivalent to 30 kins, or about 18,000g). Afterwards, instead of Kiyomori, Iemori, who was a younger half-brother of Kiyomori, was appointed Hitachi no kuni no suke (Lord of Hitachi Province) and Uma no kami (a chief official of the Right Agency of Horse) and distinguished himself. Iemori, however, died suddenly in 1149, and Kiyomori's position as a person of the direct clan lineage therefore became firmly established. He created huge profits by being appointed Aki-kokushu (Governor of Aki Province) and obtaining naval dominance over the Seto Inland Sea, and he and his father together expanded their power to Sai-goku (Western Japan). Around that time he started to worship at Itsukushima-jinja Shrine in Miyajima, and in 1153, after the death of Tadamori, he became the head of the Ise branch of the Taira clan in Kyoto.

Hogen Disturbance and Heiji Disturbance

In the Hogen Disturbance in 1156, although Kiyomori was in a difficult position because Ike no zenni was a nanny of Imperial Prince Shigehito, a child of the retired Emperor Sutoku, he attempted to bring unity to the clan, took Emperor Goshirakawa's side, brought him victory, and was appointed Harima-kokushu (Governor of Harima Province) and Dazai no Daini (an official of the Dazaifu, which handled both internal politics and foreign relations in Kyushu). Although Kiyomori took a neutral position when FUJIWARA no Shinzei (Michinori) fell into conflict with FUJIWARA no Nobuyori and the sect supporting direct Imperial rule by Emperor Nijo, in the Heiji Disturbance in 1159, he purged the anti-Shinzei sect, including FUJIWARA no Nobuyori, FUJIWARA no Tsunemune, and FUJIWARA no Korekata, that had seized political control, and this allowed him to dramatically raise his political position. Meanwhile, powerful warriors such as MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, MINAMOTO no Shigenari, MINAMOTO no Suezane, and MINAMOTO no Mitsuyasu died, allowing Kiyomori to become the first warrior to gain control over the Imperial army and police. This led Kiyomori to establish the foundation of a samurai government.

The Golden Age

While Kiyomori became a male nanny and his wife, Tokiko, became a female nanny of Emperor Nijo, and while Kiyomori therefore became a guardian of the Emperor and was then appointed Kebiishi-betto (A chief police and judicial official) and Chu-nagon (Middle Counselor), he was also appointed to betto (a chief official of the retired emperor's office) of Goshirakawa-incho (the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa's Office), and this created a situation where Kiyomori worked for both the Emperor and the retired Emperor, allowing him to establish a strong political system. In October, 1161, when the seventh son (Norihito, later to become Emperor Takakura) was born to Goshirakawa and TAIRA no Shigeko, TAIRA no Tokitada and Norimori planned to make him Crown Prince. Nijo became furious about this plan and he therefore fired Tokitada, Norimori, FUJIWARA no Narichika, and FUJIWARA no Nobutaka, and then terminated the Goshirakawa Cloister Government. By making warriors stay and keep night watch at the Imperial Palace, Kiyomori showed his clear support for Nijo. In April of the following year, MINAMOTO no Sukekata, a member of the sect supporting direct Imperial rule by Emperor Nijo who had been deported as a result of the Heiji Disturbance, was allowed to return to the capital, and in July, Tokitada and MINAMOTO no Sukekata were deported for cursing Nijo at Kamo-sha Shrine. Being strongly trusted by Nijo, Kiyomori put direct Imperial rule on track. Furthermore, he married his daughter, Moriko, off to a kanpaku, FUJIWARA no Motozane, to establish a firm and close relationship with a sekkan family. Meanwhile, he never forgot to show consideration for Goshirakawa, whose cloister government was terminated, and he built Rengeo-in Temple for him in 1164. A manor and land were donated to Rengeo-in Temple to strengthen Goshirakawa's economic foundation. Being cautious about Goshirakawa's move, Nijo appointed Shigemori Sangi (Director of palace affairs) in 1165 and strengthened his reliance on the Taira clan, but he died on September 12.

Emperor Rokujo, the successor to Emperor Nijo, was still young, and Motozane therefore took political leadership as regent, and Kiyomori was promoted to Dai-nagon (Chief of the Councilor of State) and assisted Motozane. Tokitada was permitted to return to the capital in October, and when it was announced that Norihito became Imperial Prince on February 4, 1166, Kiyomori was appointed Betto under Imperial control. Although the sect supporting Goshirakawa's cloister government was regaining power, feeling uneasy about Goshirakawa's behavior and personality, Kiyomori did not wish for restoration of the cloister government. When the regent and the representative of the Fujiwara clan, Motozane, died suddenly in August 30, 1166 and Goshirakawa's cloister government restored itself, the younger brother of Motozane, Motofusa MATSUDONO, served as a regent, since Motozane's son FUJIWARA no Motomichi was still young. Motofusa was a very much trusted vassal of Goshirakwa, and it would cause serious damage to the Taira clan if the sekkan family territories owned by Motozane were transferred to Motofusa. Following the advice of FUJIWARA no Kunitsuna, Kiyomori arranged for Motozane's widow, Moriko, to inherit the shiteki-keryo (the land for official hereditary Court nobles) excluding Denka-watari-ryo (the land which the Fujiwara family hereditarily succeeded), Kangaku-in-ryo (the land for educational institutions), and Midoryu-jiin-ryo (the land of Buddhist temples which belonged to the family of FUJIWARA no Michinaga), and successfully controlled the sekkan family territories. When Imperial Prince Norihito became Crown Prince on November 11, Kiyomori was appointed Togu no daibu (an official of the Imperial Prince Palace) and then became Nai-daijin (Minister of the Center) in November. Kiyomori became Dajo-daijin (Chancellor of the Realm) in March, 1167, but since the time when FUJIWARA no Nobunaga was appointed to Dajo-daijin after losing to FUJIWARA no Morozane in the competition for the sekkan post during the reign of Emperor Shirakawa, the Dajo-daijin post was only an honorary post with no actual power, and Kiyomori therefore resigned from this post only 3 months after his appointment. Kiyomori then resigned from politics, and his legitimate child, Shigemori, received in May, 1167, an Imperial order to serve as a protector of Tokai, Higashiyama, Sanyo, and Nankaido, and this event led him to announce both officially and privately that he was the successor to Kiyomori.

In 1168, Kiyomori fell ill and entered the priesthood. It is believed that the cause of his illness was 'tapeworm' (parasite infection). Goshirakawa, worried that Kiyomori's medical condition would cause political instability, made Emperor Rokujo abdicate the throne to Imperial Prince Norihito ahead of schedule in order to maintain political stability. After recovering from the illness, Kiyomori built a cottage in Fukuharakyo and immersed himself in development of Itsukushima-jinja Shrine and expansion of trade with the Sung Dynasty of China as he had always wanted to. In 1169, Goshirakawa entered the priesthood and became a cloistered emperor, and Kiyomori actively aligned himself with Goshirakawa by vowing to follow the precepts with him at Todai-ji Temple. He did so to follow the example of Cloistered Emperor Toba and FUJIWARA no Tadazane, who vowed to follow the precepts on the same day. Around this time, Goshirakawa visited Fukuhara to meet people from the Sung Dynasty, Kiyomori's daughter Tokuko was married off to Takakura, and Goshirakawa and Kiyomori performed senso-kuyo (a memorial service conducted by one thousand priests) in Fukuhara; therefore, they had a good relationship.
This was the most prosperous time for the Taira clan, as they dominated all important official posts, owned over 500 manors across the country, and gained huge profits from promoting Japan-Sung trade, and this led TAIRA no Tokitada to comment 'only members of the Taira clan should be considered legitimate human beings.'

Complaints about the Taira Clan

Some in the cloister government, such as Goshirakawa, started to feel displeased about the expanding power of Kiyomori, and after the death of Kenshunmon-in, Kiyomori expanded his power, and conflict with Kiyomori gradually escalated.

In July, 1177, the Shishigatani Incident occurred. The occurrence of incident was revealed by the betrayal of Yukitsuna TADA, and this made Kiyomori plan to remove vassals of the Cloistered Emperor in the cloister government. As a result, FUJIWARA no Moromitsu (Saiko) was executed, FUJIWARA no Narichika was deported to Bizen no kuni (Bizen Province) (where he did not received any food and was killed on July 9), and Shunkan and others were deported to Kikaiga-shima Island. Kiyomori, however, did not charge Goshirakawa.

In 1179, Kiyomori experienced a series of unfortunate events. In July, his daughter, Moriko, died. After the death of Moriko, the Cloistered Emperor immediately seized Moriko's manors without consulting Kiyomori. In August, Shigemori died at the age of 42. While Kiyomori was openly disappointed, as soon as Shigemori died, Goshirakawa again seized Echizen no kuni (Echizen Province) that Shigemori had been in charge of, without consulting Kiyomori. Furthermore, the Cloistered Emperor appointed 8-year-old Moroie MATSUDONO Gon-chunagon (Deputy Middle Counselor) instead of 20-year-old Motomichi (whose wife was Kiyomori's daughter, Hiroko). As a result of this appointment, it became clear that the Matsudono family would succeed the sekkan family post. This was unacceptable to Kiyomori, who had supported the Konoe family.

Kiyomori, finally becoming furious about Goshirakawa's moves that had ignored him, led an army from Fukuharakyo (currently Kobe City) to the capital on December 21, and started a coup on the next day. This was the so-called Jisho-sannen no seihen (the Coup in 1179: the third year of the Jisho era); Kiyomori fired all 39 court nobles and Imperial vassals who were considered to be anti-Taira clan, including kanpaku Motofusa, Gon-chunagon Moroie, and FUJIWARA no Moronaga (8 aristocrats and a total of 31 tenjo-bito (high-ranking courtiers allowed into the Imperial Palace), zuryu (a provincial governor), and kebiishi (police and judicial chiefs) and replaced them with court nobles who were pro-Taira clan. Goshirakawa was afraid of Kiyomori's move and therefore asked to be forgiven, but Kiyomori never forgave him and confined him in the Toba-dono palace on December 27. The Goshirakawa cloister government came to a complete end there. Kiyomori ordered Munemori to take care of the rest and returned to Fukuhara. This coup was triggered by Goshirakawa's challenging behavior, and therefore, there was no firm vision for the new administration after the termination of the cloister government. Emperor Takakura, Motomichi KONOE, and TAIRA no Munemori were all inexperienced in politics; therefore, Kiyomori had to play the central role in the political scene. Kiyomori attempted to unite the clan by releasing TAIRA no Yorimori and Masakane KAZANIN from dismissal and also tried to conciliate with Sa-daijin (Minister of the Left) Tsunemune and U-daijin (Minister of the Right) Kanesada KUJO, who were powerful members of the Fujiwara clan, in order to assist Motomichi. As for the actual political affairs, nori (capable officials) such as TAIRA no Tokitada, FUJIWARA no Michisue, and Michichika TSUCHIMIKADO served as Kiyomori's spokespersons. In March, 1180, Emperor Takakura abdicated the throne to Imperial Prince Tokihito (Emperor Antoku). The mother of Emperor Antoku was, needless to say, Kiyomori's daughter, Tokuko. Although the administration officially was the cloister government led by the retired Emperor Takakura, it was clear to everyone that it really was a puppet government run by the Taira clan. Furthermore, the Taira clan's confinement of the Cloistered Emperor and seizure of political power resulted in generation of strong anti-Taira clan power.

Rise of Revolt

The first wave of resistance against the Taira clan's tyranny was the rise of an army led by Prince Mochihito, who was the second son of Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa. Although Prince Mochihito was a capable individual, he could not be raised to Imperial Prince because of the pressure imposed by Kenshunmon-in; therefore, he became a child of Hachijo-in and was watching for an opportunity to ascend the throne. However, due to the coup, it was virtually impossible to make that hope come true. The forces directly under Hachijo-in's control, including MINAMOTO no Yorimasa, Yukiyoshi SIMOKOBE, MINAMOTO no Yoshikiyo (Yata Hogan-dai), and MINAMOTO no Nakaie, supported Prince Mochihito, and the anti-Taira clan temples such as Kofuku-ji Temple and Onjo-ji Temple (Mitsui-dera Temple) aligned themselves with them. However, their rebellion plan was discovered before being executed, and Kiyomori quickly ordered two Kebiishi, FUJIWARA no Kagetaka and FUJIWARA no Tadatsuna, to lead over 300 soldiers to chase and kill Prince Mochihito and MINAMOTO no Yorimasa. However, temples also started to show an anti-Taira clan trend even at Enryaku-ji Temple, which was in the same Tendai sect as Onjo-ji Temple and was a pro-Taira clan, and this created a situation where Kiyomori was surrounded by powerful temples, and he therefore abandoned Kyoto, which was geographically disadvantageous to the Taira clan. In July, 1180, overriding resistance from the clan, Kiyomori visited Fukuhara in Fukuharakyo in an attempt to relocate the capital to a place where the base of the Taira clan, which was an international trading port, Owada no tomari, (Owada port, currently in Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture), could be overlooked. Meanwhile, however, a written order issued by Prince Mochihito was communicated across the country, and in August, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, who had been deported to Izu, and Kai-Genji (Minamoto clan) raised an army around the same time.

Then in September, MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka raised an army in Shinano no kuni (Shinano Province). In response to this, Kiyomori dispatched a large army to Kanto with his legitimate grandchild TAIRA no Koremori as the commander-in-chief to stop expansion of Yoritomo's power, but the army retreated without fighting in the Battle of Fuji-gawa River. Triggered by this lost battle, temples, in particular those that had supported the rebellion by Prince Mochihito, such as Onjo-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple, started to show disquieting moves.

Furthermore, Omi Genji (Minamoto clan) allied with those from Onjo-ji and Enryaku-ji Temples who were anti-Taira clan to occupy Biwa-ko Lake which was the logistics hub, and the resistance finally grew to the point where they took control of the old capital. In addition, a rebellion broke out in Kyushu-Tsukushi, and demands for not relocating the capital increased from the Takakura family, Court nobles, the Taira clan, and the Enryaku-ji Temple, and as a result, on November 23, Kiyomori returned to Kyoto. In December, Kiyomori dispatched an army with Tomomori as the commander-in-chief to burn down Onjo-ji Temple, defeated Yoshitsune YAMAMOTO and Yoshikane KASHIWAGI, and successfully stabilized the Omi region. Kiyomori's next target was Kofuku-ji Temple, which was the largest anti-Taira clan force in Kinai (the five provinces adjacent to Kyoto). He determined to purge all the underlying threats prior to suppressing the rebellion, and therefore dispatched a large army with Shigehira as the commander-in-chief to Nara. On January 22, 1181, temples in the southern capital, including Kofuku-ji and Todai-ji Temples, were destroyed by fire. This certainly suppressed the anti-Taira clan force around the capital, but Kiyomori was disgraced as being Buddha's enemy.

End of His Life

In Sai-goku, which was the base of the Taira clan force, Michikiyo and Michinobu KONO, a father and a son in Iyo no kuni (Iyo Province), raised an army by 1180, and in Bungo no kuni (Bungo Province), powerful families such as Koreyoshi OGATA, Koretaka USUKI, and Korenori SAGA raised an army in 1181, and furthermore, there was a rebellion in Iseshima. In To-goku (Eastern Japan), too, the Satake clan, which was on the said of the Taira clan, was subjugated by Yoritomo, and the rebellion was growing serious.

Under these circumstances, Kiyomori attempted to establish a new political system with its administrative center in Kyoto, created the sokan-shoku (controller) post to control Kinai and Kingoku (provinces surrounding the Kinai provinces), and appointed Munemori to be a shokan. This appointment was to follow the example of Imperial Prince Niitabe, who in 731 had been given Heiba no ken (the right of supreme military power) over Kyoto and Kinai, and Kiyomori prepared for war by imposing forced military service and provisions in the Kinai and Kingoku provinces. He also created the post of shoshoen-sogeshi-shiki (a local official to operate Shoen private estates) and appointed TAIRA no Moritoshi Shoshoen-sogeshi. Furthermore, he issued a written order to Sukenaga JO, who was in Echigo no kuni (Echigo Province), and FUJIWARA no Hidehira, who was a chinju-fu shogun (a general at a naval station), to hunt down and kill MINAMOTO no Yoritomo and MINAMOTO no Nobuyoshi. Decisions were made on April 11 that Shigehira's departure from the capital to control the west would be cancelled and that the clan warriors led by Munemori would go to hunt down and kill the enemies, but Kiyomori came down with a febrile disease on the 12th. Knowing that the end of his life was approaching, Kiyomori reported to the Cloistered Emperor that Munemori would take over whatever was left after his death and therefore requested him to cooperate with Munemori to carry out political affairs, but since there was no reply from the Cloistered Emperor, Kiyomori held a grudge and left word to 'leave all the state affairs to Munemori and never disagree with him,' and finally died in the residence of TAIRA no Morikuni in Kujo-kawaraguchi on February 4 (leap day). He was died at the age of 64.

According to the record of his medical condition, it seems that he developed malaria, which was an endemic disease that was spreading after coming to Japan, probably from China. Note that the climate in Japan at that time was milder than the present climate. Due to Kiyomori's death, the plan of the Taira clan to establish a new political system was never executed.
According to "Heike Monogatari," as he was dying, Kiyomori left a will saying that, 'I do not need a funeral. Instead, place the head of Yoritomo on my tomb.'
This kind of will would make no sense in terms of the mentality of warriors of the late Heian period, and it is therefore considered that it may have been created in later years. According to "Gyokuyo" (A diary of Kanemasa KUJO), when Yoritomo secretly proposed to the government he would reconcile with the Taira clan on September 10 of the year that Kiyomori died, Munemori rejected that proposal citing Kiyomori's will that 'even the very last surviving child or grandchild should not die before Yoritomo,' suggesting that it was true that Kiyomori had strong hatred against Yoritomo.

Events after his Death and his Reputation

Since Kiyomori's legitimate first son, Shigemori, had already died of illness and his second son, Motomori, had also died young, after Kiyomori's death, Kiyomori's third son, Munemori, became the head of the Taira clan; however, he was an ordinary person and was not as capable as Kiyomori, and he therefore could not control rebellions that occurred across the country and was always swayed by eccentric ideas of Goshirakawa, allowing the cloister government to regain power, and as a result, the Taira clan was gradually driven into a corner. Furthermore, there were multiple adverse conditions concurrently in effect, including the Yowa Famine, and when the Taira clan army was completely defeated in the Battle of Kurikaratoge in 1183, the clan was exiled from the capital without being able to do anything about the attack by MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka. Then in 1185, the Taira clan lost the Battle of Dannoura and was destroyed.

Although TAIRA no Kiyomori was widely understood to be an upstart tyrant because he was portrayed as being atrocious, inhuman, and cold-hearted in "Heike Monogatari," some claim that Kiyomori actually was a gentle and compassionate person.
In "Jukkinsho" Section 7-27, the young Kiyomori was described as a person who 'thought it was a joke if someone did something quite unreasonable,' 'gently smiled to be kind to someone who did something that was not funny at all, and also never raised his voice to scorn someone as being useless even when that person had made a terrible mistake', 'let young attendants who served him during a cold winter sleep at the bottom of his clothes and let them sleep well if they overslept, by quietly getting out of the bed,' and 'respected a servant of the lowest rank as a person in front of the servant's family or acquaintances, and that servant was truly pleased as it was a great honor.'

The Tenga no noriai incident (the incident of Motofusa in the Palace) was a famous episode that supposedly showed Kiyomori's cruel personality, but Kiyomori's retaliation against Motofusa MATSUDONO was a fictional episode in "Heike Monogatari," it was Shigemori who actually took cruel revenge, and according to 'Gyokuyo" and "Hyakurensho," Kiyomori in fact exhibited apologetic behavior toward Motofusa. It is believed that there was strong antagonism between the Taira clan and the sekkan family behind the incident.

Also, Kiyomori around the time of the Heiji Disturbance was described in "Gukansho" as a person who 'was very modest, appropriately managed things, and was considerate to everyone,' and therefore, being smart and kind to everyone, he had the worldly wisdom to survive the politics of the complicated cloister government. However, his reputation declined as his power grew, and he tried to maintain it by implementing aggressive measures while his conflicts with the cloister government, sekkan families, temples, and shrines grew. There are also episodes in "Genpei-seisui-ki" showing how Kiyomori was intellectual and civilized without being fettered by superstitions; in these episodes, he said it was a mere coincidence that it rained after monks prayed, and he abolished the human sacrifice system of Kyoga-shima Island. In terms of politics, he was an excellent politician who achieved a breakthrough for the aristocracy that was gradually being left behind by changes of the times, by developing a financial infrastructure as seen in the Japan-Sung trade and promoting public projects such as construction of Kyoga-shima Island.

He should also be valued for being the first Japanese to conceive the idea of separation of politics and religion. Although he received a bad reputation for his full-force attack of Kofuku-ji and Onjo-ji Temples that interfered with the Imperial succession issue, it should also be noted that he stopped the involvement of temples and shrines with extremely strong armed forces with religious powers in important political issues such as the Imperial succession. It is ironic that Kiyomori's policy was adopted by his enemy, the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), in a milder form, such as protection of the Zen and Nenbutsu sects that did not hold any priest soldiers.


The following places are said to be sites of Kiyomori's grave.

Hoshakuzan-Nofuku-ji Temple in Kita-sakasegawa, Hyogo Ward, Kobe City
Kiyomori's grave mound (memorial tower for Kiyomori's soul) in Kireto-cho, Hyogo Ward, Kobe City
Hodarakusan-Rokuharamitsu-ji Temple at Rokuro-cho, 2-chome, Yamato-oji-higashi-iru, Matsubara-dori, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City
The memorial tower at Gio-ji temple, which is a sub-temple of Sagasan-Daikaku-ji Temple (remains of the Daikaku-ji Temple Gate at the former Saga Imperial Palace) in Sagatoriimotokozaka-cho, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City
The Kiyomorizuka mound in Hikoshima, Shimonoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture


It is widely believed that TAIRA no Kiyomori was born in Ubushina in Ise. He was a descendant of TAIRA no Takamochi, who was a child of Takami-o, who was Imperial Prince Kazurawara, and he was a member of the Ise branch of the Taira clan that was descended from the Kanmu branch of the Taira clan in Banto.

He was the firstborn child of TAIRA no Tadamori. His birth year was 1118, when the article in "Kugyo-bunin" (A personnel directory of the Court nobles) is used to calculate back his birth year. According to "Heike Monogatari," Gion no nyogo, who was in Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa's favor and was impregnated by him, was granted to Tadamori, and Kiyomori was born; however, this story has low credibility, since "Heike Monogatari" was completed after the Kamakura Era and it was estimated that Gion no nyogo at that time was over 40 years old.

According to a "Chu-yu-ki" entry on July 12, 1120, 'the wife of Hoki no kami (Lord of Hoki), Tadamori, died suddenly. She was around Sen-in,' and this shows that the wife of Tadamori was serving Sen-in (Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa). Neither her name nor origin was recorded, and she was therefore considered to have low status, but she may be the mother of Kiyomori.

Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa's Unacknowledged Child Theory
In 1893, "Busshari-sojo-keizu" (The genealogy of Buddha's ashes) written in 1235 was found at Konomiya-jinja Shrine in Shiga Prefecture, and it suggested a persuasive theory that the sister of Gion no nyogo, who was in Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa's favor and was impregnated by him, was granted to Tadamori, and Kiyomori was born, and after Kiyomori's mother died, her older sister Gion no nyogo raised him as her own son.

[Original Japanese]