Minamoto no Yoshikata (源義賢)

MINAMOTO no Yoshikata was a busho (Japanese military commander) of Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan) at the end of the Heian period. Yoshikata was the second son of MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi. Yoshikata was a half brother of MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo. Yoshikata was the father of MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka.


In 1139, Yoshikata became the head of the Imperial Palace Guard assigned to guard the Crown Prince Narihito, who later became Emperor Konoe, being referred to as Togu tachihaki no senjo (Head of the Imperial Guard for the Crown Prince). After his eldest brother Yoshitomo went to Togoku (the Kanto region) with no government post, Yoshikata was assigned to an important government job and it is considered that Yoshikata was in the position to succeed the main line of the Kawachi-genji family.

In the following year, Yoshikata captured the culprit of the Takiguchi Genbi homicide but was dismissed from the post of the Head of the Imperial Guard based on the allegation that he was involved with the said culprit. Afterwards, Yoshikata worked for FUJIWARA no Yorinaga. In 1143, Yoshikata became the acting local governor of Noto Province which was the property of Yorinaga but, in 1147, due to the unpaid tax, was dismissed and once again returned to Yorinaga becoming his sodomy partner (as recorded in the "Journal" on February 3, 1148).

Yoshikata was staying at the residence of the Minamoto clan in Horikawa in Heian-kyo (the ancient capital of Japan in current Kyoto) but, in 1153, when MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, who had gone to the Kanto region after becoming at odds with their father Tameyoshi, assumed a post in Shimotsuke Province and extended his power over the Southern Kanto region Yoshikata, at the father's command, went to the Northern Kanto region to retaliate against Yoshitomo. Yoshikata owned Taga County, Kozuke Province and married the daughter of Shigetaka CHICHIBU (who was the great-uncle of Shigetada HATAKEYAMA and the grandfather of Shigeyori KAWAGOE) of the Chichibu region in Musashi Province. Before long, Yoshikata set up a residence in Okura, Hiki County, Musashi Province (the present Ranzan-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama Prefecture) extending his power over the neighboring provinces.

In August 1155, Yoshikata's nephew MINAMOTO no Yoshihira, who had come down to the Kanto region replacing Yoshitomo, attacked the Okura-yakata and, along with his father-in-law Shigetaka, Yoshikata was killed in the battle of Okura. His age at death is considered to be approximately 30. Yoshikata's son Komaomaru who was 2 years of age at that time escaped to Kiso with help of various people including Shigeyoshi HATAKEYAMA and Sanemori SAITO and later became MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka. Yoshinaka's older brother MINAMOTO no Nakaie also fled becoming the adoptive son of MINAMOTO no Yorimasa.

Historic Sites

There are remains of Okura-yakata (the Okura residence) in Okura, Ranzan-machi, Hiki-gun, Saitama Prefecture. There is the oldest gorinto (a gravestone composed of five pieces piled up one upon another) in the prefecture that is said to be the grave of MINAMOTO no Yoshikata nearby. Additionally, some say that the Okura residence was located in Okura, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo City where a stone monument referred to as 'Shogun-zuka' (a mound of Shogun) that is said to be the grave of Yoshikata. Also, some say that Okura, Setagaya Ward was Yoshihira's place of residence.

[Original Japanese]