Taira no Morikuni (平盛国)

TAIRA no Morikuni (1113-August 11, 1186) was a son of TAIRA no Morito (or according to a different opinion, TAIRA no Suehira). His son was TAIRA no Moritoshi who died in the Battle of Ichinotani. He was a member of the Taira clan; however, since he was a military officer of a collateral line, his official rank and social standing were rather low.

He served as a close adviser of TAIRA no Kiyomori; during the Hogen War in 1156 and the Heiji War in 1159, he made many achievements as the core of Ichimonshu (clansman). After that he became Saemon no jo (third-ranked officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace). Later he was given the rank of Goi (Fifth Rank) which doubled as Shume no kami (chief of the Stables Office) and Kebiishi (officials with judicial and police powers); however, he became a priest in 1172. Even after having become a priest, he played a role similar to a butler in the Soke (the head family) of the Taira clan. In 1181, Kiyomori died in Morikuni's residence.

When the Taira family was fading and was forced to leave the capital after Kiyomori's death, Morikuni followed suit. Morikuni's success after Kiyomori's death was not recorded in detail, perhaps partly due to his old age. However, during the Battle of Dannoura in 1185, he was caught as a captive and sent to Kamakura along with TAIRA no Munemori. At the time, it seems that MINAMOTO no Yoritomo could not bring himself to kill aging Morikuni; instead of killing Morikuni, Yoritomo entrusted Yoshizane OKAZAKI with Morikuni.

Later, Morikuni faced Hokke-kyo Sutra (the Lotus Sutra) day and night without uttering a word, refused food and drink and starved himself to death on July 25, 1186. His age at death was seventy-four. It is said that Yoritomo applauded Morikuni's act.