Minamoto no Toru (源融)

MINAMOTO no Toru (822 – September 25, 895) was the 12th son of Emperor Saga. He was a jiju (chamberlain) and Uemon no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards). He held positions including Dainagon (Chief Councilor of State), reaching the position of Juichii Sadaijin (Junior First Rank - Minister of the Left). He was also known as kawara-no-sadaijin (Minister of the Left for Kawara). He was posthumously awarded the title of Shoichii (Senior First Rank).


He founded the Toru branch of Saga-Genji (Minamoto clan). There is a theory that the handsome Hikaru Genji, the leading character in "Tale of Genji" by Shikibu MURASAKI, was actually modeled on MINAMOTO no Toru. It is said that he created a garden modeled on a view of Shiogama City in Mutsu Province during the building of Kawaranoin Temple (present-day Shoseien gardens) and, was the inspiration for "Toru," a traditional Japanese Noh play written by Zeami. In what were then the surroundings of the "Seikakan" detached residence today can be found the Saga Shakado Seiryo-ji Temple.

It has been said that to replenish the salt cellar at the Rokujo-Kawaranoin Estate, salt water was drawn and carted from north the Sea of Namba (Osaka Bay) at present day Amagasaki City. The story about where MINAMOTO no Toru drew salt water has been handed down, and the deity enshrined at Kotoura-jinja Shrine in Amagasaki is MINAMOTO no Toru.

He was later promoted to the position of Sadaijin (Minister of the Left), but when FUJIWARA no Mototsune came to power as Sessho (Regent) to Emperor Yozei and subsequently Dajo-daijin (Grand minister of State), there were concerns about conflicts in political authority with Mototsune, and he confined himself to his residences from 876 ("Sandai Jitsuroku" (sixth of the six classical Japanese history texts) and "Chuyuki" (Diary of a court official)). Circa 884, after the enthronement of Emperor Koko, division of political authority between Mototsune and Toru was clarified, and so Toru returned to the government. On the abdication of Emperor Yozei, there was a dispute about the succession, and although Toru insisted that he was one of the descendant of an Emperor, he was pushed aside by FUJIWARA no Mototsune. ("Large Mirror" (Okagami)); Following the death of Toru, the Kawaranoin Estate was passed to his son MINAMOTO no Noboru and was then presented to Emperor Uda, and in "Konjaku Monogatari" (The Tale of Times Now Past) and "Godansho" (the Oe Conversations, with anecdotes and gossip) it is said that Toru's ghost appeared during visit by the retired Emperor.

The villa belonging to MINAMOTO no Toru was situated in what are now the grounds of Byodoin Temple.

MINAMOTO no Toru branch of Saga-Genji (Minamoto clan)

Of the descendents of the Saga-Genji (Minamoto clan), the MINAMOTO no Toru branch, which relocated to the countryside and became military family, is the longest.

One clan in the Toru branch was the Watanabe clan of Settsu Province (Osaka) who were descended from WATANABE no Tsuna, the grandchild of MINAMOTO no Tsukau, who was the grandchild of Toru; WATANABE (MINAMOTO) no Tsuna lived in Watanabe-no-tsu in Settsu Province, the territory of his mother's family, and the Watanabe clan became Takiguchi-no-musha who were Ouchi Shugo (safeguard of the Imperial Palace), and a became a leading clan in the Setouchi navy.

WATANABE no Hisashi, who was a WATANABE no Tsuna's son (or grandson), became shokan (administrator) of Uno no mikuriya (a manor of Imperial family and powerful shrines) in Matsuura district in Hizen Province, and took the name of Hisashi MATSUURA; Matsuura clan, who was the jito (manager and lord of manor) in Matsuura district, became a leading clan of the Matsuura naval faction in Hizen Province.

The Kamachi clan of Chikugo Province (Yanagawa City, Fukuoka Prefecture) are also descendents of MINAMOTO no Toru; the MINAMOTO no Toru's grandson, MINAMOTO no Koreshige (MINAMOTO no Tsukau's younger brother) had a grandson named MINAMOTO no Sadakiyo who had a grandson named MINAMOTO no Mitsusue who was shokan (administrator) of Kanzaki manor, the domain of the retired Emperor Toba; also, the second child (or grandchild) MINAMOTO no Hisanao became a jito of Mizuma district in Chikugo Province, living in Kamachi in Chikugo Province and taking the name Hisanao KAMACHI.

Shigeaki KUBOTA, who was a child of the Saigoku gundai (an intendant of Western Province) and Kamachi clan-descendent Shigekatsu KUBOTA (Shigekatsu KAMACHI) and who received a 2,000 koku stipend directly from the shogun, fought and died in battle in the Battle of Toba-Fushimi during the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate and a funeral service was conducted at Taiyu-ji Temple in Osaka. Taiyu-ji Temple also has links to MINAMOTO no Toru.

Also, Norinaga NAKASHIMA (the 13th generation of MINAMOTO no Toru) was the Senior Inspector of Owari Province (Western Aichi Prefecture), and participated in the Jokyu War as a member of the Imperial Court; the negotiations after the war is noted in the "Azuma Kagami" (Mirror of the East) medieval chronicles. Moreover, Norinaga's grandchild and lord of Nakashima-jo Castle, Kurando NAKASHIMA had a child named Messhu who built Myoko-ji Temple and a number of other temples.

[Original Japanese]