Minamoto no Yoshitomo

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Minamoto no Yoshitomo
Head of Kawachi Genji
Preceded byMinamoto no Tameyoshi
Succeeded byMinamoto no Yoritomo
Personal details
DiedFebruary 11, 1160
Spouse(s)Yura Gozen
RelationsTokiwa Gozen (concubine)
Military service
AllegianceMinamoto clan
Branch/serviceMinamoto clan
Former Hiraji battle warfare Yoshimasa Shirakawa night view. It features Minamoto no Yoshitomo.

Minamoto no Yoshitomo (源 義朝) (1123 – 11 February 1160) was the head of the Minamoto clan and a general of the late Heian period of Japanese history. His son Minamoto no Yoritomo became shōgun and founded the Kamakura shogunate, the first shogunate in the history of Japan.

His Dharma name was Shōjō Juin (勝定寿院).

Hōgen Rebellion[edit]

With the outbreak of the Hōgen Rebellion in 1156, the members of the Minamoto and Taira samurai clans were beckoned into the conflict. Yoshitomo sided along with Taira no Kiyomori in support of the Emperor Go-Shirakawa and Fujiwara no Tadamichi, while his father Minamoto no Tameyoshi sided with the retired Emperor Sutoku and Fujiwara no Yorinaga. Yoshitomo, defeating his father and the forces of Sutoku and Yorinaga, became head of the Minamoto and established himself as a political power in the capital of Kyoto. However, despite his attempts to have his father pardoned, Tameyoshi was executed. Also, the outcome of the Hōgen rebellion established the Minamoto and Taira as the two strongest political rivals in the country.[1]

Heiji Rebellion[edit]

Three years later in 1159, Yoshitomo and Fujiwara no Nobuyori placed Go-Shirakawa under house arrest and killed his retainer, the scholar Fujiwara no Michinori, in what is called the Heiji Rebellion. Eventually, Taira no Kiyomori, in support of Go-Shirakawa, defeated Yoshitomo.[1]: 255–258 

While escaping from Kyoto, Yoshitomo was forced to kill his son Tomonaga. Later, Yoshitomo was betrayed and killed in his bath. Three of his sons, Minamoto no Yoritomo, Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Minamoto no Noriyori, were later spared and exiled by Kiyomori. However, Yoshihira and Nobuyori were executed.[2]

His grave in Aichi Prefecture is surrounded on all sides by wooden swords (bokuto), as by legend his last words were "If only I had even a bokuto..."


Yoshitomo fathered five sons in total. His two sons, Yoshihira and Tomonaga, lost their lives following the Minamoto Clan's defeat in the Heiji Rebellion in 1160. At the time of the outbreak of the Genpei War in 1180, Minamoto no Yoritomo was his eldest surviving son. His other two surviving sons were Minamoto no Noriyori and Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Sansom, George (1958). A history of Japan to 1334. Stanford University Press. pp. 210–211, 255–256. ISBN 0804705232.
  2. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1977). The Samurai, A Military History. MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 40. ISBN 0026205408.


  • Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co. page 60.