Minamoto no Yoshikane (源義兼)

MINAMOTO no Yoshikane (year of birth and death unknown) was a late-Heian period military commander of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan). A great-grandchild of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie (who was also known as Hachiman Taro), Yoshikane was the oldest son of MINAMOTO no Yoshimoto, the head of the Ishikawa-Genji (Minamoto clan) in Kawachi Province. He was the hogandai (administrative official) of Ishikawa. He was also known as Yoshikane ISHIKAWA.

In the winter of 1180, when Yoshimoto and the greater part of the Ishikawa-Genji (Minamoto clan) strength were destroyed by TAIRA no Kiyomori's assault at Toba (today's Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City), Yoshikane was at their clan stronghold of Ishikawa-jo Castle (present-day Kanan-cho, Minamikawachi-gun, Osaka Prefecture).

Kiyomori, believing it was best to annihilate the entire Ishikawa-Genji (Minamoto clan) in Kawachi, all those who were descended from MINAMOTO no Yoshiie, sent MINAMOTO no Suesada, TAIRA no Morizumi and others to attack Ishikawa-jo Castle. Yoshikane, as the new head of the Kawachi Ishikawa-Genji (Minamoto clan), led his uncles Yoshihira KONDO and Yoshisuke NIJO and threw himself wholeheartedly into a do-or-die defensive action, causing the attacking Taira army tremendous trouble.

Despite his efforts, the defenders' strength eventually was exhausted and the castle fell. Yoshikane had resolved to die, but just as he was preparing to stab himself, enemy soldiers dove on top of him one after another, and he was captured alive.

Thereafter, he was compelled for a time to live as a prisoner of war, but in the confusion of Yoshinaka KISO's invasion of the capital and the Taira's consequent flight from the capital, he seized the moment and successfully escaped. He returned to Kawachi and set about rearming the Kawachi Ishikawa-Genji (Minamoto clan), coming under the protection of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, who--himself a descendant of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan)--later said of Yoshikane that "He is the greatest Genji (Minamoto clan) in Kawachi."

Yoshikane's descendants became gokenin (shogunal vassals) in the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), surviving as the Ishikawa-Genji (Minamoto clan) into the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), and thereafter continued his line under the name of the Ishikawa clan.

[Original Japanese]