Ouchi Koreyoshi (大内惟義)

Koreyoshi OUCHI was a busho (Japanese military commander), who lived from the late Heian period to the early Kamakura period. He was a gokenin (immediate vassal of the shogunate) of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).
He was the first son of Yoshinobu HIRAGA, an important figure of the Minamoto clan
He was the great-grandson of MINAMOTO no Yoshimitsu.

When Koreyoshi was assigned to Iga Province, he called himself as 'Ouchi' for the family name, however, he was nothing to do with the Ouchi clan in Suo Province, which later grew up to be a daimyo (feudal lord) at the Sengoku Period (the Period of Warring State).

Outstanding achievements during the Jisho-Juei Civil War

When MINAMOTO no Yoritomo took up arms in August 1180, he fallowed MINAMOTO no Yoritomo's forces and went into battle as a member of the Minamoto clan. During the Battle of Ichinotani in March 1184, he also went to the front with MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune's army and participated in the battle. For his outstanding achievement at this time, he was appointed as Shugo (provincial military governor) of Iga Province) (Sotsuibushi [government post in charge of police and military roles]). This assignment was probably made with the expectation that he would be able to control the Iga clan, which was an element of power basis of the Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) including TAIRA no Kiyomori. He was also said to be in charge of Jito (manager and state steward) at Ouchi no sho manor (medieval manor belonging to the Kujo family) in Iga Province, and around since then, he had been described as 'Ouchi Kaja' (literally, Young man of Ouchi).

In the same year, when Yoshihiro SHIDA who was hiding in the Ise Province, the neighboring province, was captured, Koreyoshi's family cooperated as support forces. During the period of July and August, the Mikka Heishi War (literally, Three days rebellion of the Taira clan) (Heian Period) broke out in Ise Province, and he was attacked by the remnants of the defeated Taira clan led by TAIRA no Nobukane. He lost many of his family members, and he had to seek refuge out of the province for a while. The Kamakura bakufu issued the order to subjugate the remnants of the Taira clan, to him as well as Tsuneyoshi YAMAUCHISUDO (a double-cross from the Taira clan), Kagekazu KATO (of Ise Province), and Mitsukazu KATO, and others. However, before the order reached him, he had already suppressed the enemy, killed than 90 remnants. Koreyoshi requested Yoritomo a reward for this meritorious suppression, however, Yoritomo rejected request by saying that suppressing the violence was a Shugo's duty, and Koreyoshi's family members were killed due to his own fault, therefore, it was irrational that Koreyoshi would ask for a reward.

As Yoritomo's close adviser

He and his father Yoshinobu HIRAGA gained Yoritomo's confidence as close advisers, who came from the same Minamoto clan's blood line. In October 1185, when the memorial service of Yoritomo's father, MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, was held at Shochoju-in Temple, only three persons, Yoshinobu, Koreyoshi and MINAMOTO no Yoritaka, were allowed to come closer to Yoshitomo's remains. In July 1185, he was ordered to manage the Tada no sho manor in Settsu Province, which was expropriated from Yukitsuna TADA, and control a unit of local samurai warriors called Tadanoin gokenin (vassals of Tadano-in Shrine). In addition, he was appointed Sagami no kuni no Kami (Governor of Sagami Province) at the Jimoku (ceremony to appoint officials) of the same year, while other fellows of the Minamoto clan, who were also in Yoritomo's service, were appointed Zuryo (the head of the provincial governors). Two years later, he was reappointed to Mino no kuni no Kami (Governor of Mino Province) and in 1189 he went with the army to the front during the Battle of Oshu. The next year, in 1190, he traveled in attendance on Yoritomo who went to Kyoto, and in 1195, he accompanied Yoritomo to Kyoto again. In 1195, he was appointed Musashi no Kami (Governor of Musashi Province), after his father Yoshinobu.

Dual belongingness to Kamakura and Kyoto

After Yoritomo's death, he went up to Heian-kyo (ancient capital in current Kyoto) and served Emperor Gotoba. It is presumed that he worked as a liaison between Kamakura and Kyoto playing a role of the agent in Kyoto for Kamakura bakufu, however, his contact with the Imperial Court as a close retainer of Retired Emperor Gotoba was gradually getting more intimate. His status of dual belongingness can be guess from the fact that while he was holding the position of Shugo appointed by the bakufu in six provinces in Kinki Region, such as Ise, Iga, Echizen, Mino, Tanba, and Settsu, he was also appointed Suruga no kuni no Kami (Governor of Suruga Province) by the Imperial Court. During this period, the Hojo clan began to enjoy an autocratic rule, and the growing conflict with the Imperial Court led by Retired Emperor Gotoba was becoming more and more visible. Judging from the behaviors that his son Korenobu OUCHI took later, it is highly probable that by that time, Koreyoshi had already made up a mind to join the Imperial Court side.

In "Azuma Kagami "(The Mirror of the East), there is an article touching on February 20, 1219, when the third Seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") MINAMOTO no Sanetomo visited Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine in order to congratulate the assumption of Udaijin (the Minister of the Right) (on this day, Sanetomo was assassinated), and in this article Koreyoshi's name appeared as 'Shuri gon no daibu Tadayoshi no Asomi' (Tadayoshi of Asomi [second highest of the eight hereditary titles], Provisional master in the Office of Palace Repairs). However, since then, no descriptions referring to him can be found in any historical materials.
It is probable that he died this year or the next year

In 1221, the Jokyu War broke out. Against the Retired Emperor Gotoba and kyogata (the supporters of the Imperial Court) that raised an army, Koreyoshi's son Korenobu, who succeeded to the positions of Shugo in six provinces after his father's death, hastened to Retired Emperor Gotoba and joined the army of kyogata to fight against the forces of Kamakura bakufu. However, he easily lost the battle and since then, his fate remained unknown, and hereto, the Hiraga and Ouchi clans of the Genji (Minamoto clan) blood line definitively perished.

One of the reason why Retired Emperor Gotoba gave Koreyoshi a preferential treatment might have been that the retired emperor wanted to win the experienced busho (Japanese military commander) Koreyoshi over to his side, thinking of the day in which he would overthrow the Shogunate. If it had not been young Korenobu but Koreyoshi who led the Imperial forces in the Jokyu War, the war situation could have been different.