Kugyo (公暁)

Kugyo (1200 - February 13, 1219) was the second son of MINAMOTO no Yoriie, the second seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). His mother was a daughter of Shigenaga ASUKE (a granddaughter of MINAMOTO no Tametomo). His childhood name was Zenzai. He assassinated the third Shogun MINAMOTO no Sanetomo; however, he was caught and killed right after.


In 1206, he was adopted by his uncle, Shogun MINAMOTO no Sanetomo (MINAMOTO no Sanetomo). He became a priest under Jogyo, the head priest of Tsuruoka Hachimangu-ji Temple, and received the Buddhist name "Kugyo" on September 15, 1211 (old calendar). On the following day, he went up to Kyoto to receive the religious precepts. After studying as a pupil of Koin in Enjo-ji Temple, he returned to Kamakura and became the head priest of Tsuruoka Hachimangu-ji Temple by courtesy of Masako HOJO on June 20, 1217 (old calendar). From October 11 (old calendar) in the same year, he practiced Sennichi sanro (to seclude oneself for 1,000 days) on Sanetomo's instruction on a hill at the back.

Kugyo believed that the death of his father, Yoriie, was caused by Yoshitoki HOJO and Sanetomo's conspiracy and sought vengeance. On January 27, 1219 (old calendar), he assassinated MINAMOTO no Nakaakira and Sanetomo, who had visited Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine to celebrate his assumption to udaijin (minister of the right), when they were leaving the shrine; it was snowing and the snow was about 60 centimeters deep. It is said that he killed Nakaakira in mistake for Yoshitoki because Nakaakira carried the sword and it was too dark to distinguish.

He took Sanetomo's head and dined at the residence of Bitchu Ajari (a master in esoteric Buddhism; a high priest) of the Hachimangu-ura. He sent a messenger with a letter to his nursing father, Yoshimura MIURA, seeking the position of the shogun. However, since there was no response, he climbed the hill at the back to visit the residence of Miura and encountered the pursuer of Miura. Although he tried to escape, he was killed in the front of the gate of the Miura's residence. Yoshitoki HOJO identified the head of Kugyo. Sanetomo's head has not been located.

The scholars of the later times surmised that behind Kugyo's crime, the Hojo family plotted to extinguish the Minamoto family or the Miura clan schemed to overthrow the Hojos; however, there is no definite evidence. Moreover, according to another view, the major factor of the incident was that Kugyo himself was so ambitious that he drove at the position of the shogun as Sanetomo's successor, rather than those backgrounds.

Furthermore, the grave of Kugyo does not exist, and any historical documents on his cemetery do not exist, either.

The rumor of outlive

Around 1221, rumor had it that Kugyo was alive and fled. Moreover, in 1228, it was reported to Kamakura that Tomohiro YUKI and Taro ASARI had beheaded a Wakamiya Zen priest in Shirakawasekifukurotsuji in the mistaken belief that he was Kugyo, who was planning a rebellion.