Ito Sukechika (伊東祐親)

Sukechika ITO (year of birth unknown - March 21, 1182) was a busho (a Japanese military commander) at the end of the Heian period. His father was Sukeie ITO who was a member of gozoku (local ruling family) in Izu Province descended from the Southern House of the Fujiwara clan. Children of Sukechika ITO were Sukeyasu KAWAZU, Sukekiyo ITO, a girl (the wife of Yoshizumi MIURA), Yaehime, and some others.

Sukechika ITO was put in charge of watching MINAMOTO no Yoritomo who was defeated in the Heiji War in 1159 and was exiled to Izu Province, because he was trusted by TAIRA no Kiyomori as a member of gozoku in Togoku (the eastern part of Japan, particularly Kanto region) who was pro-Ise-Heishi (a branch of the Taira clan). However, Yaehime, the daughter of Sukechika, became intimate with Yoritomo and even had a child of him, Sentsurumaru. In 1175, Sukechika, who found that out, drowned Sentsurumaru in the Matsu-kawa River for fear of invoking the wrath of Heike (the Taira family), and furthermore, he plotted to kill Yoritomo himself. Yoritomo was informed of the plot by Sukekiyo who had been married to the third daughter of Hikinoama, Yoritomo's wet nurse, and then, he escaped on a horse at night to Soto-gongen shrine in Atami and was hidden in the residence of Tokimasa HOJO safely.

In 1180, when Yoritomo raised his army, Sukechika ITO destroyed the army in the Battle of Ishibashiyama, in cooperation with Kagechika OBA. However, subsequently, he became chased by Yoritomo who had re-established his influence, and then, after the Battle of Fujigawa, he was captured and sent to his adopted son-in-law, Yoshizumi MIURA. Sukechika was once saved because Yoshizumi made a plea for his life, but he felt deeply humiliated by that and committed suicide.

Although Sukechika has a strong image as a villain because of the episode of Yaehime and Sentsurumaru, he seems to be popular as a local hero in his hometown, Ito City, where 'ITO Sukechika Matsuri' (Sukechika ITO festival) has been held every year. Incidentally, Sukechika ITO is also known as the grandfather of the Soga brothers (they avenged their father) and Yoshimura MIURA.