Minamoto no Yoshichika (源義親)

MINAMOTO no Yoshichika was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the late Heian period. He was the second son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. He was the father of MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi.

Although he was the legitimate son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, the third heir of Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan), he committed looting and killing of a government official in Kyushu when he was assigned zuryo (custodial governor) in Tsushima, then he was exiled to Oki Province. However, later he went to Izumo Province and killed a government official again and stole kanmotsu (tribute goods paid as taxes or tithes), so he was hunted down and killed by TAIRA no Masamori. Because Yoshichika, known as a strong man was killed easily, people doubted the death and a person who called himself Yoshichika appeared one after another.


He was a strong man like his father, Yoshiie who was called "The best heroic samurai in the world," having contributed at the Zen Kunen no Eki (the Early Nine Years' War) and the Go Sannen no Eki (the Later Three Years' War). He was called Aku-Tsushima no kami Yoshichika; in this case, "Aku" means strongness like MINAMOTO no Yoshihira's name, "Akugenta." Because his older brother, MINAMOTO no Yoshimune died when he was young, Yoshichika became a legitimate son of Yoshiie.

He was awarded Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) and assigned Sahyoe no jo (third-ranked officer of Sahyoe-fu, the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards) and later Governor of Tsushima Province but he conducted looting and killing a citizen around the Kyushu region. In 1101, OE no Masafusa, Dazai no daini (Senior Assistant Governor General of the Dazai-fu) sued Yoshichika and tracking down and killing of Yoshichika was discussed at the Imperial Court. Yoshiie, the father sent a retainer FUJIWARA no Sukemichi to call back Yoshichika, but Sukemichi followed Yoshichika and killed a government official.

The next year (1102), Imperial Court decided to exile Yoshichika to Oki Province. However, Yoshichika did not go to the place to stay, then he went to Izumo Province, killed a mokudai (deputy) and took kanmotsu by force. Therefore, Yoshiie had to go to hunt down and kill Yoshichika, but Yoshiie passed away in 1106.

In January 1108, Imperial Court ordered TAIRA no Masamori to hunt down and kill Yoshichika. In February 1108, Masamori reported that he killed Yoshichika already. Masamori went back to Kyoto and was awarded Onsho (reward grants) and Yoshichika's severed head was exposed in public.
(The War of MINAMOTO no Yoshichika)

Fall of Kawachi-Genji

Yoshichika developed a reputation as Kawachi-Genji but there were series of internal conflicts among Kawachi-Genji; in the next year of the War of MINAMOTO no Yoshichika, 1109, MINAMOTO no Yoshitada, the heir of Kawachi-Genji was assassinated. MINAMOTO no Yoshitsuna (a younger brother of Yoshiie) was accused of assassination and hunted by Tameyoshi (Yoshichika's son); Yoshitsuna's family was destroyed and Yoshitsuna was exiled to Sado Province. Tameyoshi succeeded to the family headship but the Minamoto clan lost traction and Ise-Heishi (Taira clan) gained power.

Yoshichika who appeared after his death

People did not believe Yoshichika's death because he was known as a strong man and did not seem to be killed by Masamori, who had no significant military exploits. There was a rumor that Yoshichika was still alive and there were many people who called themselves Yoshichika even after 20 years from his death; according to diaries of Kuge (court nobles), they were arrested or killed.

The story about Yoshichika was referred to as an example of the saying "Pride goes before a fall" (傲れる者も久しからず) at the beginning of the Tale of the Heike.

The background of tracking down and killing order of Yoshichika

According to Takayuki OKUTOMI, specialized in study of Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan), at the time of Yoshichika, it was already the insei period (during the period of the government by the Retired Emperor) led by the Emperor Shirakawa, and Kawachi-Genji, which was a branch line of Seiwa-Genji and served as military power of Sekkan-ke (line of regents and advisers to the Emperor) who were against the Emperor Shirakawa lost their power because of hidden strategy by the Cloistered Emperor Shirakawa ('Black Hand of the Shirakawa Insei' "All Family Lines of Seiwa-Genji" the second band, Shin-Jinbutsuoraisha Co., Ltd.).

About MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, Yoshichika's father, the Go Sannen no Eki was considered a strife resulting from a personal grudge and Yoshiie was not awarded, furthermore, Yoshiie's private estates was confiscated and new donation of land to Yoshiie was banned.

(The above explanation by Motohisa YASUDA is called in question recent years. Please refer to the article of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie.)

Therefore, the reason for Yoshichika's assignment as Governor of Tsushima Province was to push Kawachi-Genji whose home ground was in Kawachi Province and who had power in Togoku (eastern part of Japan, particularly Kanto region) into Saigoku (western part of Japan [esp. Kyushu, but ranging as far east as Kinki]) as Kokushi (provincial governor) and to expect their failure because they were not familiar with the Saigoku region. Because OE no Masafusa, who sued Yoshichika was a trusted vassal of the Retired Emperor Shirakawa, this seems to have been a deceptive ploy by the Retired Emperor Shirakawa.


The first son MINAMOTO no Yoshinobu, Tsushima no Taro. Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade), Sahyoe no suke (Assistant Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards).

The second son MINAMOTO no Yoshitoshi, Tsushima no Jiro. Uma no jo (Secretary of the Right Division of Bureau of Horses).

The third son MINAMOTO no Yoshiyasu, Tsushima no Saburo. Minbu no jo (Secretary of Ministry of Popular Affairs), Iyo no suke (Assistant Governor of Iyo Province).

The fourth son MINAMOTO no Yoshiyuki, Tsushima no Shiro. Hyogo no jo (officer of the Bureau of Military Storehouses), Iyo no suke.

The fifth son MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi, Rokujo no Hangan. Saemon no daijo (Senior Lieutenant at the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards), Kebiishi (officials with judicial and police powers).

The sixth son MINAMOTO no Munekiyo, Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), Governor of Ise Province, Hyogo no jo.

Tameyoshi succeeded to the Minamoto clan but he did not get along with his other brothers. The brothers did not join the Hogen War, the Heiji War and raising an army by the Minamoto clan, and they lived in Kyoto and spent their lives as bureaucrats. After they were assigned as governor of a province, they did not cooperate with Tameyoshi. During the period, in that Tameyoshi could not even be a provincial governor, his brothers were awarded higher position and the first son, MINAMOTO no Yoshinobu got the rank of Jushiinoge (Junior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade).

[Original Japanese]