Yamato-Genji (Minamoto clan) (大和源氏)

Yamato-Genji, a branch of the Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan), was started by MINAMOTO no Yorichika, the second son of MINAMOTO no Mitsunaka. Yorichika became the kokushi (provincial governor) of the Province of Yamato, and extended his power across the Province; during this process he fought against the forces of Nanto (southern capital [Nara]), such as Kofuku-ji Temple, and was exiled.

However, his descendants were scattered throughout Yamato Province; they were continuously in conflict with the forces of Nanto but were undergoing increased indigenization. Among them, those who fought on the side of the same family (Yamato-Genji) appeared in the historical record, such as the monk Shinjitsu, a fifth-generation descendant of Yorichika, who took the seat of honor in Kofuku-ji Temple--their old enemy--and joined the Nanto forces.

During the Hogen War in 1156, MINAMOTO no Chikaharu (Chikaharu UNO), who was also a fifth-generation descendant of Yorichika and a worthy opponent of Shinjitsu, supported the retired Emperor Sutoku; for this reason he became a prisoner of war, but due to the farsightedness of the retired Emperor Goshirakawa, who wanted to discourage the expansion of the Nanto forces, he was pardoned and returned home. In 1180, MINAMOTO no Yorimasa and Prince Mochihito joined forces and raised an army; the names of Chikaharu and his sons appeared among the group of the Minamoto clan that encouraged insurrection in many districts, and this shows that Yamato-Genji still maintained their power within the province.

However, Yamato-Genji didn't demonstrate much military prowess in the Jisho-Juei War, and subsequently they just continued as a powerful regional clan; throughout the middle ages they gradually lost their unity and spread out to other districts. The following clans claimed to be the descendants of Yamato-Genji: the Uno clan from Yamato Province, starting from the above-mentioned Chikaharu; the Hijikata clan of Katsuhisa HIJIKATA, who served Nobukatsu ODA; the Kumabe clan of Higo Province; the Ishikawa clan of Mutsu Province; the Takagi clan of Mikawa Province; and Hikoshichi OMORI of Iyo Province, who is believed to have slain Masashige KUSUNOKI.