Tada Yukitsuna (多田行綱)

Yukitsuna TADA was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the end of Heian period. His original surname was Genji. He was the first son of MINAMOTO no Yorimori of Tada-Genji (Minamoto clan) deriving from Settsu-Genji (Minamoto clan), a family line of Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan). His official court rank was Jugoi (Junior Fifth Rank), Hoki no kami (Governor of Hoki). His official Nanori (the name one refers to himself as when reaching adulthood) was MINAMOTO no Yukitsuna.

He was a direct descendant of Tada-Genji and the eighth generation from MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka (also known as TADA no Mitsunaka) who formed an armed groups in Tada, Settsu Province.


He initially served Sekkan-ke (the families which produced regents) as Koto (a secretary) of Samurai-dokoro (the Board of Retainers) under FUJIWARA no Tadamichi and was later allowed to join Hokumen no bushi (the Imperial Palace Guards for the north side) for Emperor Goshirakawa. In the Shishigatani plot in 1177, he was requested to become the Daisho (Major Captain) of anti-Heishi (anti-Taira clan) by rebels including FUJIWARA no Narichika, In no Kinshin (the retired Emperor's courtier). However, learning of the great power of the Taira clan and disgraceful behaviors of In no Kinshin (the retired Emperor's courtier), he realized the plot as reckless and informed TAIRA no Kiyomori of the plot. As the result many of those involved in the plot received punishments. "Sonpi Bunmyaku" (a text compiled in the 14th century that records the lineages of the aristocracy) says that after the incidence, Yukitsuna himself was condemned to exile to Aki Province on suspicion of getting involved in the plot. It is not known whether this is true or not. However, some suggest that whether he was the informer or not is also open to question.

It is said that he belonged to the Taira clan after the Shishigatani plot and in Jisho-Juei War. However, he raised an army of revolt in both Settsu and Kawachi Provinces on August 18, 1183 in concert with a rapid advance of Yoshinaka. And then Yukitsuna's army was successful in blocking the distribution of goods to the capital by attacking vessels of the Taira clan at Kawajiri of Settsu Province, which acted as a part of a network surrounding Kyoto along with Yoshinaka, Yoshisada YASUDA, MINAMOTO no Yoshikiyo (also known as Yada no Hangandai), and MINAMOTO no Yukiie, and others who were about to enter Kyoto, and contributed to the Taira clan's exile from the capital Kyoto. "Gyokuyo" (The Diary of Kanezane KUJO) describes that people of the common classes (the local power) in both Settsu and Kawachi Provinces gave their full cooperation.

On 20, the following day, OTA Yorisuke, a local samurai in Settsu Province by order of Yukitsuna stole romai (rice for food) transported to the capital as well as destroyed houses by fire in Kawajiri. These acts inflicted a heavy blow to the Taira clan, acting as a decisive factor for the exile from the capital. And then on 21, the next day, the Taira clan left the capital for Saigoku (western part of Japan [especially Kyushu, but ranging as far east as Kinki]). On 22, the Imperial Court sent TAIRA no Chikamune to Yukitsuna to give him a migyosho (a document for informing people of the decision of Third Rank or upper people) ordering him not to search out and destroy the Taira clan for the safety of Emperor Antoku and the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family.

It is not known what he did upon the entry of Yoshinaka in the capital because no record is available. However, when the relation between Yoshinaka and Goshirakawa-in (Retired Emperor Goshirakawa) soon got worse, he took the side of In and, in December of the same year, he played a central role in defending In no gosho (the retired Emperor's court) with his son. When the Imperial army was defeated in a heavy attack of Yoshinaka's army, he fled to Tada-no-sho estate and continued to rebel against Yoshinaka's army 'within castle' of his estate ("Gyokuyo"). After the defeat and death of Yoshinaka, he took the side of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo and played an important role as the head of Tada-Genji, an important part of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune's army in the Battle of Ichinotani in March, 1184.

According to "Gyokuyo," a record of kyogata (the Kyoto side or supporters of the Imperial Court in Kyoto), Yukitsuna was the first to conquer a group of the mountain side in attacks from the mountain in the Battle of Ichinotani. However, there is no description on Yukitsuna's remarkable service in "Azuma Kagami" (the Mirror of the East), an official record of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). Some suggest that this is related to his banishment by Yoritomo in later years. According to the recent review of ancient documents, a study shows that, before the Battle of Ichinotani, Yukitsuna had been appointed as the first Sotsuibushi (government post in charge of police and military roles) of Settsu Province, a position of power for mobilizing samurai warriors within Settsu Province in time of emergency.

In July, 1185, after the fall of the Taira clan, Tada no sho estate was forfeited by Yoritomo and Yukitsuna himself was banished. This is considered because Yoshitsuna may have been in intimate terms with Yoshitsune after the Battle of Ichinotani and because Yoritomo, recognizing himself as a direct descendant of Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan), wanted to own Tada no sho as the family base since MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka, the ancestor.

In December, 1185, five months after his banishment, when a party of Yoshitsune in rivalry with Yoritomo fled from the capital, he fought with the party with Teshima kaja in Kawajiri, Settsu Province (Battle of Kawajiri). This is considered because he wanted to recover Tada no sho lost by the banishment, which had not been resolved ever after.

His whereabouts in later years are unknown.

About 'Hiyodorigoe no Sakaotoshi' (a surprise attack by MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune in the Battle of Ichinotani)

There have been many theories over where is the exact place or whether the presence of 'Hiyodorigoe no sakaotoshi,' a famous military exploit of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune. Hiyodorigoe is located about eight kilometers east of Ichinotani region and, in addition, "Gyokuyo" and "Gukansho" (Jottings of a Fool) describe that Yoshitsune attacked Ichinotani region. These are because some suggest that the attacking detached force from Hiyodorigoe was, in realty, Yoshitsuna's army, which is said to have advanced from the mountain, and this story was later replaced with Yoshitsune's military exploit.

The reasons why the story was handed down as the Yoshitsune's exploit include that a historical material was found in Kyoto in which Yoshitsune himself described the progress of the Battle of Ichinotani as a supreme commander of backdoor troops after the battle, and that Yukitsuna was later banished and ruined. Many question the story of Sakaotoshi (sudden attack by running down a hill) because no acute slope is found in Ichinotani and Hiyodorigoe regions.

Tada no sho estate in later years

Having been out of hands of Yukitsuna, Tada no sho estate was put under control of Koreyoshi OUCHI who was appointed as Sotsuibushi (government post in charge of police and military roles) (governor) of the Settsu Province. Samurai warriors within the estate, who had served Tada-Genji for generations, were reorganized as Tadain gokenin (vassals of Tada-in Temple) except for those who followed Yukitsuna.


After forfeited Tada no sho by Yoritomo, whereabouts of Yukitsuna are unknown, however, a folklore has been handed down that he escaped with his roto (retainers) to Amakusa region in Kyushu. A legend on Yukitsuna and his grave (a historic site designated by Amakusa City) have been handed down there.

A lore is handed down at a mountain path called 'Tadagoe-toge Pass' in present-day Konda-cho, Sasayama City, Hyogo Prefecture, a boundary region between former Tanba Province and Harima Province, that all the armies of Minamoto no Yoshitsune, that advanced to Tanbaji (Tanba road) as karamete (backdoor) on the Battle of Ichinotani, could get over the pass safely, thanks to Yukitsuna, who was familiar with the area and met the armies at this place to lead them.

Nakayama-dera Temple associated with Tada-Genji in Takarazuka City, Hyogo Prefecture is famous for praying for a safe delivery, and its Haraobi (an obstetrical sash) called 'Kane no o' (a sash for the bell) is based on a legend that a principal image of the temple admonished infidelity of Yukitsuna's wife with the sash.

[Original Japanese]