Minamoto no Yoshishige (源義重)

MINAMOTO no Yoshishige (also called Yoshishige NITTA) was a busho (Japanese military commander) of Kawachi-Genji (the Minamoto clan) in the end of Heian period through the beginning of Kamakura period. He was the first son of MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni. He was the father of the Nitta clan.

He was a grandson of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie who won fame as a leader of samurai family. He had a half-brother MINAMOTO no Yoshiyasu who was the founder of the Ashikaga clan. He was the first head family (Kozuke Genji [the Minamoto clan]) of the Nitta clan and named himself Yoshishige NITTA as he was based in Nitta no sho (manor) in Kozuke Province.

The foundation of Nitta no sho.

Although his father MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni cultivated Ashikaga so (manor) in Shimotsuke Province, the second son Yoshiyasu succeeded that, and the first son Yoshishige launched the newly reclamation work of Nitta County, Kozuke Province with his father. The relations with the various power such as the Genji clan MINAMOTO no Yoshikata, the Chichibu clan of Musashi Province and the Ashikaga clan (the Fujiwara clan) got into the tensions during the process, while he partnered with MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo, the ruler of Southern Kanto region and his brother Yoshiyasu's brother-in-law, and MINAMOTO no Yoshihira (Yoshitomo's son) to marry his daughter to Yoshihira. Also he married his daughter to his nephew MINAMOTO no Yoshikiyo (Yada no Hangandai [assistant officer who served an administration organization called Innocho]).

He succeeded in the foundation of Nitta no sho to make FUJIWARA no Tadamasa of the Taira family group as the ryoke (virtual proprietor of manor) and called himself Nitta shokan (an officer governing shoen [manor]). The then Kozuke no kokushi (the provincial governor of Kozuke Province) FUJIWARA no Shigeie's (Minister of Justice) father-in-law was FUJIWARA no Ienari who deeply participated in the construction of Kongoshinin Gogan-ji Temple of the Emperor Toba and the Northern House of the Fujiwara clan, the Kazanin Family FUJIWARA no Tadamasa's uncle on his mother's side was also FUJIWARA no Ienari.

At this point, when he had a full-scale armed conflict with the Ashikaga clan of the To family and the Chichibu clan who always antagonized, he defeated by the operation to force crossing the Watarase-gawa River (the Chichibu Ashikaga battle) and then he firmed the foundation of his success in Northern Kanto region. Since he was also on friendly terms with a relative Nobuyoshi TAKEDA of Kai Province, he married his own daughter to Nobuyoshi's heir Nobumitsu TAKEDA. It is said this was the one of the factors in provoking Yoritomo's antagonism.

He served and was appointed as Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade) Oinosuke in the heyday of the Taira family. When MINAMOTO no Yoritomo raised an army in 1180, Yoshishige took an opportunistic attitude for a time while his nephew Yoshikane ASIKAGA, his son Yoshinori YAMANA and his grandson Yoshinari SATOMI returned to a general's command at an early stage. The following factors were against the background of this situation. He took the leadership in Northern Kanto region and looked down on the status of Yoritomo, Nitta no sho was the manor of the Taira family side, and he needed to restrain MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka who was an old enemy through the parent-child generations.

After Yoritomo raised an army.

He rushed to Kamakura as he saw Yoritomo's energetic prosperity with his own eyes, but could not remove easily the thought of distrust from Yoritomo and he could finally return to the service of his master through Morinaga ADACHI's intercession. It is said that he incurred Yoritomo's displeasure even more since he refused a proposal to take his widowed daughter (the lawful wife of MINAMOTO no Yoshihira) as Yoritomo's concubine.

After his nephew Yoshikane ran to Yoritomo soon to play an active part, he could keep up his position at the Government by a storong connection with the Hojo clan related by marriage for generations. On the other hand, Yoshishige was always in a delicate position at the Kamakura Government and it's hard to say that he cooperated positively for the formation of the Kamakura Government. This made a difference in treatment between the Ashikaga and the Nitta clan, which had a lasting effect to future generations. Yoshishige himself, however, was a patriarch of the Minamoto family and received a regular respect as a person who had the closest blood to Taro Yoshiie HACHIMAN at the time of the formation of the Government. He became a priest in those days and called himself Nyudo JOSAI.

He served as a conservator of his young great-grandchild Masayoshi NITTA (for an untimely death of his garndchild Yoshifusa NITTA) who just inherited the headship of the Nitta family with his heir Yoshikane in his later years. He died of old age at Nitta no sho in 1202. "The family tree of the Nitta and the Asikaga family" says his age at death is 89 but "Sonpi Bunmyaku" (a text compiled in the fourteenth century that records the lineages of the aristocracy) says it is 68.

According to "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East), Yoritomo went sightseeing to Shikibu no taifu Nyudo Josei Nitta-yakata manor house on his way back from Nasugari (Nasu Viewing) on April 28, 1193.
There is a description written on January 29, 1202 the year of his death that Yoritomo's widow Masako HOJO admonished the second Shogun MINAMOTO no Yoriie 'the late Nitta Nyudo Josei (Yoshishige) was a grand person of the Minamoto family and it has been only 20 days since his death, so it is improper to play kemari (a sort of football enjoyed by nobles in ancient Japan).'

[Original Japanese]