Yamada Shigetada (山田重忠)

Shigetada YAMADA was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the late Heian and early Kamakura periods. He was a son of Shigemitsu YAMADA. His alias (common name) was Jiro. Depending on the historical materials, his name 重忠 was recorded as 重広, 重定 or 重貞 in Chinese characters, or called Shigetada IZUMI. He was active in the Jokyu War as a busho on the court's side.


During the Jisho-Juei War, Shigetada's father Shigemitsu joined the army of MINAMOTO no Yukiie in the Battle of Sunomatagawa and died on the battle field. Shigetada went to Kyoto afterward following MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka, and assumed positions of Shugo (military governor) in the capital along with his relatives such as Shigeie TAKADA and Shigetaka AJIKI. After the death of Yoshinaka, when MINAMOTO no Yoritomo founded the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), Shigetada was appointed as the jito (manager and lord of manor) of Yamada no sho Manor, Owari Province (northwestern area of Nagoya City, Seto City and Nagakute Town region) and became a member of gokenin (an immediate vassal of the shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods). However, he had a close connection with the Imperial Court and served the Retired Emperor Gotoba in Kyoto, and in 1213, he attended the Hossho-ji kuyo (memorial service for Hossho-ji Temple) for the Retired Emperor.

In May 1221, when the Retired Emperor Gotoba raised an army to attack the shogunate, Shigetada joined it along with his relatives including Sakon MIZUNO (the founder of the Mizuno clan). In June same year, kyogata (the Kyoto side or supporters of the Imperial Court in Kyoto) waited for the army of bakufu at the Owari-gawa River, which was the border or Mino and Owari, and Shigetada had his army ready in Sunomata Town. Daisho (Major Captain) of kyogata, Kawachi no jo (judge, magistrate) FUJIWARA no Hidezumi (younger brother of FUJIWARA no Hideyasu, the ringleader of kyogata) had a stupid stunt of dispersing their army with a small number of soldiers, and Shigetada advised an aggressive strategy to gather the force, control the situation, attack the provincial capital of Owari Province, defeat the army of bakufu and go to Kamakura, but coward Hidezumi did not adopt that strategy.

Kyogata's defense line in Mino was defeated by the army of bakufu quickly and soon they began to withdraw. Shigetada, on the other hand, thought that it would be a shame as a samurai to withdraw, and had his army of 300 horsemen ready at the Kuise-gawa River and waited for his enemy. 3000 horsemen of the Kodama Party of the Musashi Province attacked and Shigetada fought back hard, and beat 100 horsemen of the Kodama Party. Although Shigetada fought well in the battle, kyogata lost control and he went back to Kyoto.

Kyogata tried to protect Kyoto by utilizing the Yodo-gawa River. Shigetada had the armed priests of Mt. Hiei ready in Seta, dropped the bridge beam, lined up shields and waited for the army of bakufu. Shigetada and Yamahoshi (armed priests) fought well and killed Naokuni KUMAGAI (grandson of Naozane KUMAGAI); however, couldn't beat the huge army of bakufu and the defense of the kyogata was defeated.

When the army of bakufu invaded in Kyoto, Shigetada hurried to the Imperial Palace along with FUJIWARA no Hideyasu and Taneyoshi MIURA and others for the last battle, but the gate of the Imperial Palace was firmly closed and the Retired Emperor Gotoba literally turned them away at the door.
Shigetada cried with anger and sadness and beat the door saying 'I was deceived by a coward Emperor and would die for nothing.'

Shigetada, along with other remaining samurai of kyogata, including FUJIWARA no Hideyasu and Taneyoshi MIURA, barricaded himself in the To-ji Temple, where the army of bakufu attacked. Shigetada killed 15 horsemen of the enemy but most of the samurai on his side were killed. He escaped to Mt. Sagahannyaji (Ukyo Ward, Kyoto City) and killed himself there.

His son Shigetsugu was captured and killed by the army of bakufu.

"Shasekishu" (collection of Buddhist stories) praises Shigetada as 'a man who was good at Kyusen (Bow and arrow), brave, and good-looking; he was also sweet and understood the problems of the people, and was a very good man.'