Minamoto no Tomonaga (源朝長)

MINAMOTO no Tomonaga (1143 – 1160) was a Busho (military general) during the latter stages of the Heian period. Younger son of MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo. His mother was Yoshimichi HATANO's younger sister. His elder brother was MINAMOTO no Yoshihira, and his younger brothers were: MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, MINAMOTO no Noriyori, and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune. His domain was Matsuda County in Sagami Province, and he also went by the name of Kanja MATSUDA.

With his father and brothers he fought TAIRA no Kiyomori in the Heiji no Ran (Heiji Rebellion) but they were defeated and, while on the way to the Eastern provinces with his father and brothers he was wounded in encounters with fleeing troops, the wounds deteriorated, and he died.

Tomonaga's life prior to the Heiji no Ran (Heiji Rebellion) has been validated by records of his official roles. In February 1159, when Emperor Toba's Imperial Princess Shuko (subsequently Takamatsuin) was invested as Emperor Nijo's Empress, he served in the role of Chugu shojo (Junior Secretary in the Office of the Consort's Household). Also, around that time he secured the court rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) ('Sankaiki' diaries). Around the same time his younger half-brother Yoritomo served as Kurodo (palace officer) to an individual going by the royal title of Imperial Princess Toko.

In December 1160, his father, Yoshitomo, banded together with FUJIWARA no Nobuyori and brought about a coup d'état in Kyoto and seized political power by killing his political foe FUJIWARA no Shinzei, then secured Retired Emperor Goshirakawa and Emperor Nijo in the Dairi (Inner Palace). However, TAIRA no Kiyomori, who was visiting shrines in Kumano, formed an alliance by gaining the trust of Emperor Nijo's clique after political power was snatched away, and the Retired Emperor and Emperor escaped to his own camp.

On December 26, a proclamation of trust/overthrow of Yoshitomo was pronounced and the Taira forces advanced on the Dairi (Inner Palace). Tomonaga, together with his elder brother Yoshihira and younger brother Yoritomo, attended to the defense of the Dairi (Inner Palace). At the time Tomonaga was 16 years old. In russet colored court robes and wearing Omodaka (feudal era armor), a family treasure belonging to the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan), he bore the Usumidori (lit. light green) long sword and shouldered a quiver of arrows with white swan feathers. The battle started at the Taikenmon gate (one of 12 gates of the palace), where a timid Nobuyori came under attack from TAIRA no Shigemori (progeny of Kiyomori) and crumbled at once, but Yoshihira rushed to the scene, whereupon the Minamoto and Taira combatant heirs engaged in fierce fighting time and time again. Yoshitomo, who was defending the Ikuhomon gate, closed in on Kiyomori's younger brother TAIRA no Yorimori and engaged in fierce fighting, and Tomonaga and Yoritomo fought hard like their father. In due course, Shigemori and Yorimori retreated and the Minamoto clan departed from the gates in pursuit; however, this was actually a ruse and the traitor seized the opportunity to allow the Taira's army to enter inside the Dairi (Inner Palace). Having lost the path of retreat, the Minamoto army made an all-out attack on Kiyomori's headquarters in Rokuhara with Yoshihira as vanguard; however, being exhausted, try as he may, he ultimately had to flee.

Yoshitomo, with children, family, and retainers on more than 30 horses, had to make another attempt to slip out of Kyoto aiming for the Eastern provinces; however, at Ryugegoe in Ohara (present day Ohara in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto City), a battle ensued upon his encounter with fleeing troops (soldier-monks of Mount Hiei) who were blocking the way. Yoshitomo's granduncle MINAMOTO no Yoshitaka was shot in the neck by an arrow and fell from his steed, and Yoshitomo was hit by an arrow in the left thigh, leaving him unable to step into stirrups.
As encouragement, Yoshitomo said: 'Have you been shot? Stay in your stirrups as if normal. Don't turn your back to the enemy,' to which Tomonaga replied: 'I'm alright.'
I'm more concerned whether Rokuro (Yoshitaka) MUTSU has been seriously wounded,' he confidently replied.

Somehow or other one group managed to make progress by forcing their way through the Yamahoshi (armed priests); however, Yoshitaka was buried at Katata-no-ura in Omi Province, and because many could not escape the Bando samurai, they obeyed an order to disband. Aiming for the Eastern provinces, Yoshitomo, Yoshihira, Tomonaga, Yoritomo, their wives and children, and retainer Masakiyo KAMATA now had fewer than 8 horses; however, dense clouds closed in when they entered the mountain road at Mount Ibuki. Progress could not be made while wearing armor, so the treasured Minamoto clan armor and weapons were abandoned as they pressed on. However, the youthful Yoritomo became exhausted and fell behind.

One column arrived at the post town of Aobaka in Mino Province (Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture). A wealthy local leader named Oii had a daughter Enju, who became one of Yoshitomo's concubines and had a daughter named Yasha Gozen. The group was made welcome and stayed to rest.

It was here that Yoshitomo and Yoshihira proceeded by the Tosan-do Road while Tomonaga proceeded to Kai Province and Shinano Province under orders to recruit troops: the siblings agreed and left the lodgings at once. Tomonga was nursing a wounded left leg and helplessly asked his elder brother, 'Which way is Shinao?', staring at the clouds, Yoshihira replied, 'That way,' whereupon he presently galloped off towards Hida Province. Tomonaga headed off alone towards Shinano; however, the condition of his wound deteriorated, and try as he may he could not progress and was forced to return to the lodgings at Aobaka.
Yoshitomo got angry and said, 'You are disgraceful.'
If it was Yoritomo, he'd not be like this, even when young.'

Yoshitomo said, 'Stay here until that wound heals,' to which Tomonaga pleaded, 'If I stay here the enemy will capture me.'
'I would rather meet my end at my own father's hand than be the cause of concern later on, so please proceed.'
'Son, I had taken you to be a loser, but you are obviously my child,' he said as he drew his long sword.
The host, Oii, was taken aback and hastily intervened to prevent a tragedy. Yoshitomo sheathed his sword, saying, 'I was just testing this lad's mettle.'

That evening, Yoshitomo called on Tomonaga's sleeping quarters; 'How goes it Tayu (Commissioner) Tomonga?'
Tomonaga replied, 'I have been waiting for you' and continued intoning Buddhist chants. Yoshitomo drew his sword, drove the blade into his own child's chest in three places, severed the head from the body, and covered the corpse in clothing. Yoshitomo shed tears of grief. Yoshitomo left word for Oii to 'Please look after Tomonaga' then departed.
Because Tomonaga did not appear the next morning, a concerned Oii went to see check things when it became apparent what Tomonaga had meant when he had said 'Hold a memorial service.'

Subsequently, Yoshitomo was betrayed in Owari Province by Tadamune OSADA and killed.

Oii carefully buried Tomonaga's remains; however, after a time, it came to the notice of the Taira family, who opened the gravesite, removed Tomonaga's head to the Rokujo-gawara execution grounds in Kyoto, and put it on public display with Yoshitomo. Chuta OTANI struggled for the return of Tomonaga's head (which served as a talisman) to be buried at Fukuroi-Mikawa in Suruga Province (present day Fukuroi City, Shizuoka Prefecture). For that reason, Tomonaga's torso is buried in Ogaki City, Gifu Prefecture and his head is buried in Fukuroi City, Shizuoka Prefecture: 2 places.

During the Edo period the haiku poet Matsuo BASHO visited the Aobaka grave of Tomonaga and composed the poem: 'Cloaked entirely in lichen and ivy, is this Buddha?'

Also, the subject of Tomonaga's death is portrayed in a shura (fighting) style traditional Japanese Noh play.