Minamoto no Nakatsuna (源仲綱)

MINAMOTO no Nakatsuna (1126? - June 27, 1180) was a military commander of the Settsu-Genji (Minamoto clan) who lived in the late Heian period. He was a legitimate son of MINAMOTO no Yorimasa. His mother was a daughter of MINAMOTO no Masayori. His rank was Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade). He was the Zuryo (the highest rank provincial governor) of Oki Province. He was also the director of Izu Province.

Nakatsuna was a Settsu-Genji member in the family line of MINAMOTO no Yorimitsu, and for generations the family members were appointed to Ouchi shugo (guards of the Imperial Palace).

When Imperial Prince Morihito (later to become Emperor Nijo) became Crown Prince in 1155, Nakatsuna was appointed to Kurodo (sovereign's secretary) and served Togu (the Prince).

His father, Yorimasa, supported TAIRA no Kiyomori in the Heiji Rebellion, and as a result, the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) led by MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo (in the family line of MINAMOTO no Yorinobu) was destroyed while the Settsu Genji remained an important family under the Taira administration.

When Yoshitomo's third son, Yoritomo, was on Hiruga-kojima Island in Izu Province because of deportation, Nakatsuna was the director of that province. There was a theory that the deported Yoritomo was transported to Izu by the Watanabe clan of Settsu Province which was at that time was controlled by Yorimasa.

There have only been a few historical materials introducing Yorimasa and Nakatsuna's behavior under the Taira administration, and one of them was a report written by Nakatsuna in 1168 saying that he could not afford to hire dancers for Gosechi-mai (dance performance as part of a harvest festival) to be held at the Imperial Court due to the poor rice harvest in Izu Province. Ouchi shugo Nakatsuna, together with Yorimasa, served the Emperor and the Cloistered Emperor, and participated in various types of events.

Nakatsuna's father, Yorimasa, kept his hope to be promoted to Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) (Court noble) as an honor to his family, and therefore did not let Nakatsuna succeed the headship of the family even after he was well past 70 years of age. In December, 1178, owing to Kiyomori's recommendation, Yorimasa's wish came true and he was appointed to Jusanmi, and so in November of the following year, he transferred the family headship to Nakatsuna and entered priesthood.

Raising of an Army by Prince Mochihito
In May 1180, Yorimasa and his son Nakatsune made a plan with Prince Mochihito who was the third son of Cloistered Emperor Goshirakwa to destroy the Taira clan.
According to "Tale of the Heike," the plan was created because TAIRA no Munemori, who was the third son of Kiyomori, seized Nakatsuna's fine horse called 'Kinoshita (or Kokonoe)' using his political power, and then insulted Nakatsuna by naming the horse 'Nakatsuna.'
This episode gave the audience an impression that Munemori was a benighted military commander, but it is not certain if this was based on the truth.

The plan to raise an army was communicated in the form of Prince Mochihito's Imperial order to the priests of the large-scale temples and shrines and the Minamoto clan who had yielded to power in various provinces across Japan to destroy the Taira clan, and 'MINAMOTO no Nakatsuna, the former Director of Izu Province' was listed as the leader of the plan.

In June, however, the plan was discovered before it was ready to be executed. On the night of June 22, Nakatsuna, together with his father Yorimasa and his younger brother Kanetsuna, set fire to his own residence and left the capital, met with Prince Mochihito at Onjo-ji Temple where he had escaped, and made clear his intention to raise an army.

However, the Taira family had prevented the priests of Enryaku-ji Temple from following Nakatsuna, and also they were no longer safe at Onjo-ji Temple; therefore, they left for Kofuku-ji Temple in Nara. On the 27th, they were caught by a subjugation force led by TAIRA no Tomomori, and finally entered into battle with the large Taira army with the Uji-gawa River as the frontline. Although Yorimasa and Nakatsuna served as taisho to defend their army, the Taira army crossed the river to destroy the defending force. Nakatsuna fought hard inside Byodo-in Temple to let Prince Mochihito escape, and after fighting and being wounded, he killed himself in the Tsuridono fishing pavilion of Byodo-in Temple.

The old Yorimasa committed seppuku (suicide by disembowelment), and MINAMOTO no Kanetsuna who was an adopted son of Yorimasa, MINAMOTO no Nakaie (older brother of MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka), and MINAMOTO no Munetsuna all died together.

MINAMOTO no Aritsuna, the second son of Nakatsuna, who had survived because he was in his chigyokoku (province that he was in charge of) Izu Province, joined MINAMOTO no Yoritomo when he raised an army in Izu Province, and later married a daughter of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune.