Taira no Yorimori (平頼盛)

TAIRA no Yorimori was a military commander in the late Heian period. He was a member of Kugyo (the top court officials). He was the fifth son of TAIRA no Tadamori. His mother was Muneko (Ikenozenni), a daughter of FUJIWARA no Munekane, Shuri no daibu (Master of the Office of Palace Repairs). His was usually called Ikedono, or Ike no Dainagon (chief councilor of state). He was a younger brother, born to a different mother, of TAIRA no Kiyomori.


He was born in 1133. His mother, FUJIWARA no Muneko, came from a family of personal attendants to FUJIWARA no Shoshi (Tamako), and she was also connected to FUJIWARA no Nariko through one of her cousins, FUJIWARA no Ienari, who was the favorite retainer of the Cloistered Emperor Toba. Because of her large network of contacts, she was called as "a person who supports her husband, Tadamori" (quoted from the "Gukansho (History Book)" (Jottings of a Fool) and she was highly respected among the wives of Tadamori.

Kiyomori was the first child of Tadamori; however, because his biological mother had already died, there was a possibility that Tadamori's second son, Iemori, who was born to Muneko, might become the heir with the support of his mother. In 1147, because Kiyomori was being punished for causing a disturbance in Gion, Iemori suddenly rose in prominence. In January 1148, he was appointed to the post of Hitachi no suke (Assistant Governor of Hitachi Province) and was granted the court rank of Jushiinoge (Junior Forth Rank, Lower Grade), and elevated to the status of Uma no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Bureau of Horses), which demonstrated his rise in status approaching that of Kiyomori; however, he died of illness in 1149.

Tadamori was deeply aggrieved at the loss of his son; Kiyomori, however, was reassured of his position as the successor due to death of the only rival candidate. Even though Yorimori was a younger brother of Iemori born to the same mother, given the difference in age of 15 years between Yorimori and Kiyomori, it was impossible for Yorimori to push Kiyomori aside. However, Yorimori did receive preferential treatment as the only child of the legal wife of Tadamori, and was appointed to the post of Hitachi no suke at the age of 17, inheriting the position of Iemori. At this time, Tsunemori and Norimori, his elder brothers by a different mother, were not Zuryo (the head of the provincial governors), leaving Yorimori next in status to Kiyomori within the family.

Hogen War

In 1150, Muneko became menoto (a woman providing breast-feed to a highborn baby) and Tadamori menoto (a foster father) of Prince Shigehito, the first prince of the retired Emperor Sutoku. Shigehito was the most likely candidate to become the next Emperor, and if he were to accede to the throne, Tadamori would gain great power and influence. In 1153, however, Tadamori died of illness, just before he was to be promoted into Kugyo.

In 1155, Emperor Konoe passed away. A plot hatched by FUJIWARA no Shinzei resulted in the appointment as Crown Prince going not to Prince Shigehito, the first candidate, but to Prince Masahito, (who later became Emperor Goshirakawa), radically changing the political situation. In 1156, with the outbreak of the Hogen War at the occasion of the death of the Cloistered Emperor Toba, the Taira clan found itself in a difficult position due to the fact that Tadamori and Muneko had become guardians of Prince Shigehito. Muneko foresaw the defeat of the Sutoku side and said "In this matter, the Shinin (newer ex-emperor) will not compromise. There is no way we can win." and ordered Yorimori to cooperate with his elder brother, Kiyomori, telling him to, "Follow your elder brother, Kiyomori, without fail" (quoted from the "Gukansho"). Thanks to this decision, Taira clan was able to avoid fracturing, and successfully retained the status they had achieved through their efforts over the years.

After the Hogen War, Yorimori became qualified, along with his elder brother, Norimori, for shoden (to be admitted to the court). As Kiyomori was appointed to the post of Harima no kuni no kami (the governor of Harima Province), in recognition of his meritorious deeds during the Hogen War, and Yorimori became Zuryo for Aki no kuni (Aki Province), which was Kiyomori's chigyo koku (provincial fiefdom). In Hitachi no kuni (Hitachi Province), Yorimori's chigyo koku, Tsunemori, Yorimori's elder brother, became Zuryo. As Norimori was the Awaji no kuni no kami (the governor of Awaji Province), theTaira brothers had secured four chigyo koku.

In 1157, Shinzei successfully refurbished Daidairi (the Greater Imperial Palace), and Yorimori was promoted to the court rank of Jushiinoge for his overseeing of the constructing of the Joganden (building of the palace). In September 1158, Yorimori was appointed to the post of Hitachi no suke for the second time and, in October, he became Mikawa no kuni no kami (Governor of Mikawa Province) by exchanging chigyo koku with FUJIWARA no Akinaga. Also in 1158, TAIRA no Shigemori, the first child of Kiyomori, was appointed to the post of Totomi no kuni no kami (Governor of Totomi Province). Although Yorimori and Shigemori were uncle and nephew, there was only five years separated them in age, and for all practical purposes it can be said that they belonged to the same age group. The organization of the Taira clan took a shape in which Kiyomori acted as the head of the entire clan, with Yorimori and Shigemori as the supports of its foundation.

Heiji War

This organizational dynamic was clearly demonstrated by the events of the Heiji War of 1159. At that time, Yorimori was 27 and Shigemori 22 years old when the went to the battlefield taking command of an army, "On the side of the Taira clan, two commanding generals, Saemon no suke (assistant captain of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) Shigemori and Mikawa no kuni no kami Yorimori, fought a fierce battle" as described in the "Gukansho". While "The Tale of Heiji" describes activities of Shigemori brilliantly, it can be discerned that Yorimori also played an important role in the battle, fighting with a noted sword, "Nukemaru", acquired from his father.

The war ended in victory for the Taira clan, and Yorimori was appointed to the post of Owari no kuni no kami (Governor of Owari Province). In March 1160, TAIRA no Munekiyo, roto (retainer) of Yorimori's, caught MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, who had been on the run. As the Owari no kuni (Owari Province) occupies an important place along the route connecting Kyoto and Togoku (the eastern part of Japan, particularly Kanto region), it can also be inferred that Yorimori was appointed as Owari no kami as a means of facilitating the apprehension of remnants of the Minamoto clan who might try to escape to Togoku. In "The Tale of Heiji," Muneko is depicted as having made every effort to spare Yoritomo's life, because Yoritomo was the very image of Iemori; however, in reality, it can be surmised that Muneko was acting in response to appeals made by Princess Muneko (a daughter of Taikenmonin, and an elder sister of Goshirakawa's born to the same mother) to whom Yoritomo had been in the service of, and the family of Atsuta Guji (chief of those who serves shrine, controls festivals and general affairs of the Atsuta Shinto Shrine) which was the In no Kinshin (vassal attending on a retired emperor) family of Taikenmonin (a family to which Yoritomo was related on his mother side).

Differences with Shigemori

After the Heiji War, Kiyomori became the first member of the Taira clan to be raised to Kugyo.. The influence of the Taira clan came to stand out conspicuously above others; however, for Yorimori and Shigemori, who had taken active parts in the War, the treatment they received was vastly different with respect to official rank. In 1160, while Shigemori was promoted to the court rank of Jushiinojo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade) and appointed to the post of Kura no kami (Chief of Kuraryo, Bureau of Palace Storehouses), the official rank of Yorimori remained the same. In 1161, Yorimori was promoted to the court rank of Shoshiinoge (Senior Fourth Rank, Lower Grade), surpassing Shigemori with respect to rank; however, Shigemori was promoted to the court rank of Shosiinoge in 1162, Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank) in 1163 and to Shosanmi (Senior Third Rank) in 1164, rapidly pulling away from Munemori and, in 1165, he was appointed to the post of Sangi (councilor), at the age of 28 years old.

As Yorimori, at the age of 33, only held the rank of Shoshiinoge, Shuri no daibu, it was apparent that his position within the clan had become lower. We cannot know how Yorimori viewed the quick promotion of his nephew; however, in 1164, when Kiyomori dedicated 33 scrolls of the soshokukyo ("Heike Nokyo" (sutras dedicated by the Taira family) to Itsukushima-jinja Shrine, Yorimori, Shigemori, Tsunemori, and Norimori all took part in copying the sutra. It is said that the scroll entitled, 'Daibadattahon', included in the "Heike Nokyo", is in Yorimori's original handwriting.

Promotion to Kugyo and assuming his post in Dazaifu (local government office in Kyushu region)

As Emperor Nijo died in 1165 and Motozane KONOE, Sessho (regent), in 1166, the group directly responsible for the administration of the government under Emperor Nijo collapsed, and political faction supporting Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa was revived. In September, Yorimori was appointed to the post of dazai daini (senior assistant governor-general of Government Headquarters in Kyushu), and on September 30, he was awarded the court rank of Jusanmi, thereby becoming the third member of the Taira clan to join the ranks of Kugyo. On the same day, FUJIWARA no Narichika became Sangi, and FUJIWARA no Shigenori was awarded the court rank of Jusanmi, showing that In no Kinshin were being rapidly promoted. It is supposed that the conferment of court rank onto Yorimori was in recognition for services rendered as a trusted vassal of Goshirakawa.

Aiming to enhancing his own political power, with support of Kiyomori, Goshirakawa was able to have Prince Norihito (who later became Emperor Takakura) formally installed as Crown Prince (rittaishi). On November 11, a ceremony to mark Prince Norihito's elevation to Crown Prince was conducted with members of Kugyou and of the Taira clan in attendance, and Kiyomori was appointed to the post of Togu no daibu (Master of the Crown Prince's Quarters). Yorimori did not attend the ceremony, as he had moved to Dazaifu to assume his duties as the dazai daini. As it had been standard practice at that time that the chief of Dazaifu remained in the capital rather than relocating to the Province, Yorimori's action was incomprehensible, even taking into consideration the fact that he aimed to directly assume control of trade between Japan and Sung China. On November 29, immediately following the elevation of Prince Norihito to Crown Prince, Yorimori was appointed to the post of Kotaigogu gon no daibu (Provisional Master of the Empress Dowager's Household), while the Kotaigo (Empress Dowager) was FUJIWARA no Teishi. It seems that Yorimori felt a close affinity with Teishi, as she was an adopted daughter of Bifukumonin. On the other hand, Yorimori had almost no contact with TAIRA no Shigeko, the mother of Norihito, having become estranged from her.

Yorimori's actions are considered to have caused disarray in the clan that became a problem for Kiyomori; however, as it is was not disadvantageous to increase the presence of the Taira clan in Kyushu, it is assumed that Kiyomori remained silent, implicitly consenting to Yorimori's undertakings to a certain extent. When the Emperor visited In no gosho (the retired Emperor's court) in January 1167, Yorimori was awarded the court rank of Shosanmi, though he was in Kyushu at the time.

Appointment as Sangi and removal from office

On June 13, 1167, Kiyomori resigned as Daijo daijin (Grand minister of state). On June 6, before Kiyomori's resignation, an informal Imperial Order to search and destroy pirates and bandits along the Tosando, Tokaido, Sanyodo and Nankaido thoroughfares was issued to Shigemori (a similar entry for the same day is found in the "Heihanki" (diary of TAIRA no Nobunori). With this order, Shigemori was officially invested with authority over the national military and police forces, and he also succeeded Kiyomori as head of the Taira clan. In September, TAIRA no Munemori, a younger brother of Shigemori, was promoted to Sangi, becoming the forth member of the Taira clan to join the ranks of Kugyo.

In April 1168, as an Imperial letter permitting Teishi to use the word "In" in her title was issued, and she became Kujoin, whereupon Yorimori resigned as Kotaigogu gon no daibu. This Imperial letter was issued as a measure to force Teishi out as Empress Dowager, thereby creating a vacancy in the Empress position, with Shigeko assume the position of Kotaigo. Munemori, who had been adopted by Shigeko as a child, became Kotaigogu gon no daibu. In September, Norimori, an elder brother of Yorimori's who held a lower rank than him was appointed as Sangi, becoming the fifth member of Kugyo from the Taira clan. Although Yorimori held the rank of Shosanmi, he was not a Sangi, and becoming a Sangi was an objective he had long hoped to achieve. On November 26, Yorimori at long last was appointed as Sangi; however, only a month later, on January 4, 1169, Yorimori and his son, Yasumori, were dismissed from all official positions.

They were dismissed from office because Yasumori had failed each time to carry out Goshirakawa's instructions in performing his duties in relation to the maihimesannyu (entrance of the dancers) and goran (watching the dance) ceremonies that were part of the gosetsu no sechie, and that Yorimori failed to be in attendance at Shigeko's first entry at Court as an Imperial Consort (daihajime) on May 12, without having submitted an application for leave, even though he had visited Itsukushima-jinja Shrine on a pilgrimage, and also because he had failed to perform allocated works related to the Daijoe, though he was obliged to do so in his capacity as Controller of Chinzei (Kyushu). Because these were matters related to enthronement of Takakura and his wife, Shigeko, Goshirakawa's anger was enormous (see the entry from November 28, 1168 in the "Heihanki").

The punishment did not stop there, and in January, six vassals of Yorimori were dismissed (see the entry for December 13, 1168 in the "Heihanki"). Since they were military aristocrats holding military offices, Yorimori's military foundation was completely decimated. At this time, Shigemori was not in good health, and resigned as Gon Dainagon (provisional major counselor). There is a possibility that Kiyomori was behind these dismissals, intending them as a means of protecting Shigemori's position by placing Yorimori, who sometimes showed a tendency to act independently, under complete control.

Yorimori's loss of status stretched out over a year, until he allowed to reenter service in November 1169.

Return to politics and approach to Hachijoin

After returning to service in the political sphere, Yorimori seemed to have fully realized the extent of Kiyomori's power, and took on a more obedient demeanor. It also seems that Kiyomori judged it to be an imprudent policy to completely exclude Yorimori, and thereafter he looked for ways to have Yorimori act as his right hand man. In December 1169, when a group of priests from Enryaku-ji Temple tried to submit a petition requiring the exiling of FUJIWARA no Narichika, Yorimori, together with Shigemori and Munemori, were on placed on standby, taking command of the Imperial troops. With Goshirakawa's proclamation of his aim to protect Narichika, the situation was threatening to degenerate into open conflict, and Kiyomori called Yorimori and Shigemori to Fukuhara and asked them to report situations. This demonstrates that Yorimori and Shigemori had been placed in charge of the defense of Kyoto.

One possible reason that Kiyomori entrusted Yorimori with important tasks is the existence of Princess Akiko. Hachijoin was a daughter of Bifukumonin to whom her father and mother had assigned most of their private estates, bestowing upon her great wealth and military power, which she later used to back Emperor Nijo as his junbo (a woman who was given the status equivalent to the emperor's birth mother). Even after the faction responsible for direct administration of the government under Emperor Nijo collapsed, her influence was not decreased, and she was a person with whom Goshirakawa and the Taira clan did not want to become enemies.

Yorimori was somewhat estranged from Kenshunmonin, but he had connection with Hachijoin through Bifukumonin, and their residences were adjacent to each other. Menoto of Hachijoin was, Saisho no tsubone, a daughter of MINAMOTO no Kunifusa, and Yorimori had married Saisho no tsubone's daughter, Dainagon no tsubone, who was nyobo (a court lady in the service of Hachijoin); a child named Mitsumori was born to Yorimori and Dainagon no tsubone. As Mitsumori was born in 1172, it is inferred that they were married in 1171 or earlier. It is supposed that he had sought the protection of Hachijoin, most probably because he lost his patron when the Kotaigogu gon no daibu resigned. Subsequently, Yoritomo returned 33 private estates (shoen, manor in medieval Japan) to Yorimori, and in consideration of the fact that 14 out of 33 were estates that belonged to Hachijoin, we can judge the closeness of their relationship (see the entry for May 24, 1184, in the "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East).

However, his progress up the ranks during this period was wanting, and he remained at Shosanmi, Sangi for a long time. Even so, Yorimori maintained his outward comportment, as can be seen from the fact that, in accordance with Kiyomori's instruction, Yorimori accompanied the ceremony marking the promotion of Motomichi KONOE to the court rank of Jusanmi in September 1174, and attended the ceremony to celebrate Goshirakawa's age of 50 years old held in Hojuji-dono Palace together with other members of the clan in April 1176.

Shishigatani Incident

Upon the death of Kenshunmonin in August 1176, tensions between Goshirakawa and Taira clan which had been kept below the surface broke out into open contention. Yorimori was promoted to Gon Chunagon (Provisional Middle Counselor) on January 13, 1177. On the same day, FUJIWARA no Narinori was also promoted to Gon Chunagon, and FUJIWARA no Sadayoshi and Mitsuyoshi were selected as Kurodo no to (Head Chamberlain), over a number of other strong candidates. As everyone that was promoted was In no Kinshin, the influence of Goshirakawa can readily be seen. Yorimori's promotion under circumstances in which there was contention between the Goshirakawa and Taira clans is said to reflect the fact that Yorimori's position as a trusted vassal of Goshirakwa was more significant than his status as a member of Taira clan.

In 1177, the appointments of Shigemori and Munemori to the posts of Sadaisho (Major Captain the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) and Udaisho (Major Captain of the Right Division of Inner Palace Guards), respectively, and Goshirakawa's paying a visit to Fukuhara seemed to indicate that tensions had eased; however, the fissure was deepened when, in May 1177, Enryaku-ji Temple launched a strong campaign directly petitioning for the banishment of FUJIWARA no Morotaka, Kaga no kami (the governor of Kaga Province). Adopting propositions put forth by Saiko, Morotaka's father, Goshirakawa took stern measures against Enryaku-ji Temple, dismissing Myoun of Tendai-zasu (head priest of the Tendai sect), and banishing him to Izu no kuni (Izu Province). A group of priests from Enryaku-ji Temple then freed Myoun, as a result of which Goshirakawa summoned Kiyomori from Fukuhara, and ordered him to attack Enryaku-ji Temple. Having no choice but to comply, Kiyomori dispatched troops; however, he held a deep seated resentment against Goshirakawa and Saiko for causing the situation to deteriorate.

On July 5, just before attack was to be launched, a conspiracy to topple the Taira clan was revealed through a betrayal by Yukitsuna TADA (the Shishigatani Incident). Kiyomori, beside himself with anger, had Saiko executed and ordered the a wholesale arrest of all persons involved in the plot. According to the account in the "Gukansho," when FUJIWARA no Narichika was summoned and arrested, Yorimori, along with Shigemori, were present. It came as a great shock to Shigemori that his brother in law, Narichika, was the leader of the plot to topple the Taira clan, and it seems that Yorimori also was subjected to close scrutiny due to the fact that Shunkan, Hossho-ji Temple executive, who was a brother of his wife, Dainagon no tsubone, was a party to the plot. It is not clear whether Yorimori himself was involved in the conspiracy; however, he was under suspicion due to his being closely aligned politically with Goshirakawa. It is presumed that the reason Shunkan was the only one not to receive a pardon when FUJIWARA no Naritsune and TAIRA no Yasuyori were pardoned was to coerce and contain Yorimori.

Suspension of Insei (cloister government)

TAIRA no Tokuko, Chugu (Empress), became pregnant in 1178. From the accounts in the "Sankaiki" (Tadachika NAKAYAMA's diary) and "Gyokuyo" (Diary of FUJIWARA no Kanezane), it can be confirmed that Shigemori, Yorimori, TAIRA no Tokitada and TAIRA no Koremori frequently attended events and ceremonies related to Tokuko's pregnancy and delivery. This is not unusual with respect to Shigemori, who was Tokuko's foster father, Tokitada, who was Chugu Gon no daibu (provisional master of the Consort's Household), and Koremori, who was Chugu Gon no suke (Provisional Assistant Master of the Consort's Household). Yorimori, on the other hand, did not have a relation with Tokuko that would call for such attendance, and it is hard to understand why he was so actively involved in matters surrounding Tokuko's pregnancy and delivery. Since doubts surrounding the Shishigatani incident had not yet disappeared, it can be imagined that Yorimori was doing everything possible to eliminate any question regarding his loyalty that might still be harbored by Kiyomori. After Tokuko gave birth to Prince Tokihito (who later became Emperor Antoku), Kiyomori urged Goshirakawa to install prince Tokihiko as Crown Prince. Because members of the Taira clan were assigned to Togubo (Crown Prince's Quarters), and Tokihito had been placed under the control of Taira clan, Goshirakawa became increasingly displeased with Taira clan.

When Shigemori and Moriko died in 1179, Goshirakawa seized their chigyo koku and private estates. Because Moriko in particular had been in possession of substantial estates of Sekkan-ke (the families which produced the Regent and the Chief Adviser to the Emperor), which she had inherited as the widow of Motozane, the former Sessho, the financial damages to Taira clan was tremendous. Furthermore, the fact that Moroie MATSUDONO, a son of Motofusa MATSUDONO, Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor), was promoted to the court rank of Gon Chunagon instead of Motomichi, whom Kiyomori had supported, triggered a coup-d'etat by Kiyomori on December 21 (Coup of the Third Year of Jisho). As a result, Motofusa was dismissed as Kanpaku and banished, 39 anti-Taira Kugyo and trusted vassals of Goshirakawa were dismissed and, Goshirakawa himself was confined to Toba-dono Palace, and Goshirakawa-insei (The government by the retired Emepror Goshirakawa) suspended.

At this time, Yorimori was also dismissed from his additional public post of Uemon no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Outer Palace Guards). On December 27, a rumor spread that Kiyomori was planning to attack Yorimori, who was at Rokuhara, and talk that the battle had already begun was rife (see the entry for the same day in the "Gyokuyo"). On December 29, a rumor that all of Yorimori's shoryo (territory) had been seized circulated (see the entry for the same day in the" Gyokuyo"). Such rumors were mere hearsay, and it became clear that information about a fight between Kiyomori and Yorimori was false. Judging from developments thereafter, the information about the seizure of shoryo is also doubtful. However, there is a possibility that Yorimori protested about the confinement of Goshirakawa, and it seems certain that the potential for Yorimori to take up arms in opposition had been foreseen.

However, Yorimori had no intention of opposing Kiyomori, and took an oath of wholehearted allegiance to Kiyomori declaring, "I have long ago put down my arms." ("Gukansho")
It can also be presumed that because the action that Kiyomori took against Yorimori was limited to the removal of Yorimori from his post in the military officialdom (Uemon no kami), that it was merely a preventive measure on the outside chance that Yorimori attempted to interfere with Kiyomori's plans. And Yorimori was permitted to reenter the service very soon thereafter the following year, in February 1180. Solidarity of the family was sought toward realizing the enthronement of the Prince Tokihito, and Yorimori was also welcomed into the administration, receiving a key position in the government. Accompanying the enthronement of Antoku as Emperor in May, Yorimori was awarded the court rank of Junii (Junior Second Rank). As Yorimori was the only member of the Taira family to have court rank conferred on him on this occasion, it can be presumed that this shows his increasing importance in the government.

Outbreak of domestic warfare and Kiyomori's death

In June 1180, Mochihitoo (Prince Mochihito) raised an army. Mochihitoo had been adopted by Hachijoin, and had married Sanmi no tsubone, nyobo in the service of Hachijoin who was called the, "matchless favorite retainer" (see the entry for September 19, 1185 in the "Gyokuyo"). It was apparent that Mochihitoo was receiving some support from Hachijoin; however, Kiyomori had wanted to avoid an all-out conflict with Hachijoin, as this incident happened at the same time that Kiyomori was making efforts to launch the government by Cloistered Emperor Takakura. However, he could not simply ignore the fact that a child of Mochihitoo was being raised by Hachijoin, so he issued an order to Yorimori to conduct a search. The reason that Yorimori was chosen might be because his wife was nyobo in the service of Hachijoin, and he was therefore judged to be the best choice to negotiate with Hachijoin.

Yorimori must have felt he was being forced to play a role that was difficult to become motivated about; however, he could not disobey the order, so he arrested Mochihitoo's child and forced him to enter the priesthood (Article for May 16 in "Sankaiki" and "Gyokuyo"). On June 22, a decision was made to attack Onjo-ji Temple, where Mochihitoo was being harbored, and Yorimori was chosen as one of the generals to command the army that was to carry out the attack. (see the entry for the same day in the "Gyokuyo"). Although Mochihitoo's armed uprising was successfully suppressed, the fact that Onjo-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Temple had acted in concert with him was a serious threat to the fledgling government by Cloistered Emperor Takakura.

In July, Kiyomori suddenly forced an Imperial visit to Fukuhara. At Fukuhara, Yorimori's residence was first used as the Dairi (Imperial Palace) and, then, as the Gosho (residence) for Retired Emperor Takakura. Yorimori was awarded the court rank of Shonii (Senior Second Rank) in recognition of his providing his residence (see the entry for June 6 in the "Gyokuyo"). The plan to relocate the capital did not progress as expected due to a lack of preparation, and rebellions occurred in many place throughout the country. In December, a report of a serious defeat of the punitive force in the Battle of Fujigawa reached Fukuhara, and Yorimori and Norimori were reappointed as Togoku-tsuitoshi (a general appointed to liquidate rebels in Togoku) (see the entry for November 16 in the "Sankaiki"). At this point, Kiyomori, too, realized that there was no alternative but to give up the relocation of the capital. On December 21, Retired Emperor Takakura, who had returned to Kyoto, entered into Yorimori's Rokuhara Ikedono and fell ill. From the following month, gathering all their strength, the Taira clan launched a counterattack. Chigyo koku under the control of family members were required to provide provisions for the troops; however, whereas Noto Province (Norimori's domain) and Tajima Province (Tsunemori's domain) agreed, the Provinces of Kii and Sado (both Yorimori's domains) replied "it is impossible to meet requirements" (see the entry for December 10 in the "Sankaiki").

The following year, on February 6, 1181, Takakura died at Ikedono. As Antoku, who was still in his infancy, was not capable of adminstering to affairs of state, there was no way to avoid reinstating Goshirakawa-insei. Kiyomori had rapidly implemented a series of measures, such as establishing the post of Kinai Sokanshiki (officer to keep peace in and around the capital), to which he then appointed Munemori, transferring Antoku on March 11 to Yorimori's residence newly built in Hachijo, claiming that the move was "for the sake of safety" (see the entry for April 10 in the fifth year of the Jisho era in the "Kikki" (a diary of Tunefusa YOSHIDA)); however, he died on March 27 in 1181. The deaths of Takakura and Kiyomori in succession meant the sudden loss of the sovereign and the leader of the administration, and represented a serious blow to the Taira clan.

Cooperation with Munemori

After the death of Kiyomori, Munemori made clear his position that it was necessary to follow Goshirakawa, declaring, "Now we should do everything based on Inzen (a decree from the retired Emperor)(ex-emperor Goshirakawa's commands) (see the entry for February 6 (leap day) in the "Gyokuyo"). Upon hearing Munemori stance, Goshirakawa held a Kugegijo (a council of the nobility), in which it was decided to suspend the policy to destroy the rebels. When Seiken informed Munemori of the decision of the gijo, Munemori requested the issuance of innocho kudashibumi (a letter issued by innocho, the Retired Emperor's Office) to destroy the rebels so that he could dispatch TAIRA no Shigehira as tsuitoshi (envoy to search and kill). Seiken protested, responding, "That is not our understanding", Munemori replied as "You should hold another meeting, inviting nobles such as Yorimori and Norimori to discuss this matter, and then report back to me" (see the entry for March 30 in the "Gyokuyo"). Soon after the new regime was launched, discord erupted between Goshirakawa and Munemori; however, because Munemori sought the counsel of Yorimori in regard to this matter, it can be presumed that Yorimori was playing an important role in the new government.

On the other hand, there were also occasions when a very tense atmosphere existed between Yorimori and Munemori, as seen in the case where rakusho (anonymous letter) disclosing that "Yorimori and Sogo (monk of a managerial post) of Mount Hiei were in league and planned to attack Munemori", was delivered to Munemori (see the entry for April 1 in "Gyokuyo"). On May 31, Antoku made a visit to Kanin from Yorimori's residence in Hachijo, and Yorimori's son received a promotion in recognition of providing his residence. Yorimori made Yasumori forge the promotion and pass it to Mitsumori, instead, maintaining that because Yasumori's court rank was already Shoshiinoge, if he were to be promoted, he would be seen to have surpassed TAIRA no Michimori (Norimori's son) and TAIRA no Tsunemasa (Tsunemori's son) (see the entry for the same day in the "Kikki"). From this, it is apparent the that Yorimori made efforts to avoid generating friction among family members.

In October, a revolt occurred in Kumano and Yorimori, who was chigyo kokushu (provincial proprietor) of Kii Province, was chosen to serve as tsuitoshi to lead the expeditionary force charged with putting down the revolt (see the entry for September 28 in the "Gyokuyo"),
In the following month, however, a reorganization of the expeditionary force resulted in the following changes: TAIRA no Tomonori, TAIRA no Kiyofusa (Munemori's younger brother by a different mother), Shigehira, and TAIRA no Sukemori were placed in charge of Hokurikudo; Koremori, TAIRA no Kiyotsune (Shigemori's son) were placed in charge of Tokaido and Tosando; Yorimori's two sons of Kumano; and Munemori, Norimori, Tsunemori, Yorimori, and TAIRA no Tomomori were placed in charge of the most important task, that of Rakuchu shugo (safeguarding Kyoto) (see the entry for October 10 in the "Gyokuyo"). Those persons who remained in Kyoto together with Munemori are considered to have been key persons in the political power structure at that time. In establishing Munemori as the head of Taira clan, the biggest obstacle that had to be overcome was Shigemori's Komatsu Family. In order to control the Komatsu family, it was necessary to closely cooperate with uncles who were chigyo kokushu and had a semi-independent status.

Among these uncles, Munemori was most attentive to Yorimori. In March 1183, Kiyomune, Munemori's heir, and Yorimori's daughter were married, and it is presumed that this marriage was arranged as a measure to win Yorimori over to Munemori's side (see the entry for February 21 in the "Kikki"). In the same month, on the occasion of Munemori's resignation as Naidaijin (the Minister of the Interior), Tomomori, Shigehira, Yorimori, Tokitada and Chikamune were in attendance at Munemori's residence (see the entry for February 27 in "Kikki"). Among the uncles, only Yorimori was present, which is taken to be indicative of the importance that Munemori attached to Yorimori. In May, Yorimori was promoted to Gon Dainagon, but collapse of the regime was close at hand.

Remaining in Kyoto

In May 1183, Hokuriku tsuitogun (punitive force to liquidate rebels in Hokurikudo) of the Taira clan was defeated by Yoshinaka KISO (the battle of the Kurikara Pass), and the military balance that had been maintained until that point completely collapsed. On August 20, Munemori requested that Yorimori send troops to Yamashina in order to defend against Yoshinaka's force, which was approaching Kyoto. Yorimori refused the request, declaring that he had "laid down his arms", but nonetheless, with persuading by Munemori, he was obliged to advance toward Yamashina.

Before dawn on August 21, Goshirakawa escaped to Mount Hiei. Munemori, who had been aware of this development, spent the hours "between 8am and noon" setting fire to Rokuhara, before withdrawing from Kyoto. However, Munemori did not inform Yorimori, who had been dispatched to Yamashina for defense, of Miyakoochi (the exile from the capital). When Yorimori heard about the loss of the capital, he sent his son, Tamemori, to Munemori to inquire about the situation; however, Munemori was to unsettled to provide a coherent response. It may be that Munemori was simply at a total loss for words due to Goshirakawa's flight from the capital, and that is why he neglected to notify Yorimori of the developing circumstances; however, for Yorimori it was as if he and his troops had been abandoned at the front lines.

Yorimori returned to the capital; however, as Ikedono had already been completely consumed by the fire, Yorimori sought the protection for Goshirakawa. At that time, Sukemori was also dependent on Goshirakawa. Goshirakawa instructed Yorimori to hide himself at the residence of Hachijoin, declaring, "It is a pity. I heard what happened from Hibi. Hide yourself at Hachijoin's place" (from the "Gukansho"). Sukemori was not permitted an audience with Goshirakawa, and took his leave of the capital on August 22, early in the morning (see the entry for July 25 in the "Kikki"). On August 24, Goshirakawa convened Kugyo gijo in order to devise measures for pursuing and destroying the Taira clan, securing the return of Antoku to Kyoto, and the recovery of the three sacred treasures. During the deliberations, the treatment of Yorimori was also discussed. Tsunefusa YOSHIDA stated,"There is no precedent for punishing a person who has surrendered, Yorimori did not abscond from the capital, and he only temporarily joined the action because he was compelled to due to his family ties." with all in attendance declaring their agreement, stating, "we are all of the same opinion." Under the circumstances in which Yoshinaka's army was in occupation of the capital, however, Yorimori could not be exempted from punishment, and on September 1, he was dismissed from his posts along with other members of Taira clan.

It is thought that after being removed from office, Yorimori was protected by Hachijoin, and held secret communications with Yoritomo, who was in Kamakura. It is possible that this state of affairs was being fostered by Goshirakawa. With respect to the task of suppressing the Taira clan, Goshirakawa viewed Yoritomo was the primary agent, and Yoshinaka as secondary; Goshirakawa did have a very high opinion of Yoshinaka (see the entry for July 30 in the "Gyokuyo"), and had placed his hopes on Yoritomo coming to Kyoto. On September 9, Yoshinaka insisted that Hokuriku no miya, whom Yoshinaka had supported, be installed as Emperor, bringing on the wrath of Goshirakawa (see the entry for the same day in the "Gyokuyo"). The contention between Goshirakawa and Yoshinaka was escalated to open confrontation when Goshirakawa issued senji (the imperial decree) to Yoritomo directly in October 1183, bypassing Yoshinaka. The capital became unsettled, and on November 13, a rumor of Yorimori's flight spread, causing a disturbance (see the entry for the same day in the "Gyokuyo" and the "Hyakuren sho" (History book from the Kamakura period)). As November began, Yoshiyasu ICHIJO (Yoritomo's brother-in-law) and Yasuie JIMYOIN (Yorimori's son-in-law), who were in the pro-Kamakura faction, perceived that they were in danger, and fled to Kamakura.

Warm reception by Yoritomo

The entry for November 6 in the "Gyokuyo," contains information indicating that Yorimori had already arrived in Kamakura. Yorimori was attired in a traditional type of court garb, including hitatare (a kind of court dress in old days) made of Chinese brocade and tateeboshi (formal headwear with a peak for court nobles), was accompanied by his sons and two retainers, and was not wearing a sword. Yoritomo was attired in Suikan (everyday garment worn by commoners in ancient Japan) made of shiraitokuzu (white gross cloth) and a tateeboshi, and was followed by an entourage of 50 retainers. Yoritomo used the provincial office of the Sagami Province, one day's journey from Yoritomo's residence, as his accommodations, and appointed the mokudai (deputy provincial governor) of the Sagami Province as his steward. According to the account found in the "Gukansho," Yoritomo "entertained Yorimori as if he were entertaining his own father". It was not only because of his former kindness, but also because Yoritomo felt reassured by the participation of Yorimori, who had close ties to Goshirakawa and Hachijoin. Yoritomo had been eager to have someone from Kyoto who would be capable of acting as an intermediary in negotiations with the Imperial Court, and of acting as an advisor in regard to the organizational structure of the shogunate. Upon hearing from Yorimori that there was a serious shortage of food staples in Kyoto, Yoritomo suspended his planned visit to Kyoto, and sent his brother, MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, and NAKAHARA no Chikayoshi to the capital as his representatives instead (see the entry forNovember 2 in the "Gyokuyo").

With the defeat of Yoshinaka in 1184, and the defeat of the Taira clan at the Battle of Ichinotani and their subsequent retreat to Yashima, Kyoto now fell under Yoritomo's sphere of influence. In regard to Yorimori's subsequent actions, according to the account in the "Gyokuyo," "A communication from Yorimori was conveyed to Kanezane in the form of a letter passed along by Hachijoin (see the entry for March 7), and Kiyonari, Yorimori's guardian, reported the matter with respect to Kanezane to Goshirakawa (see the entry for April 1); Kiyonari then told MINAMOTO no Masayori that, "Yoritomo intends to recommend Kanezane for the post of Sessho" (see the entry for April 7). Judging from those articles, it would appear that Yorimori was working toward having Kanezane appointed as Sessho using the good offices of Hachijoin and Goshirakawa, at the behest of Yoritomo. In May, Yoritomo returned 33 private estates to Yorimori (see the entry for April 6 in the "Azuma Kagami"), which represented an implicit honryo-ando (acknowledgment for inherited estate) by Yoritomo; some historians view Yoritomo's return of Yorimori's holdings was a performative act whereby Yorimori was inducted into the Kamakura shogunate as a vassal.

It seems that Yorimori subsequently returned once to Kyoto, and on June 19, departed the capital for Kanto, not in flight, but in an official capacity (see the entry for the same day in the "Hyakuren sho"). On this occasion, Yorimori ordered Munekiyo to accompany him, but Munekiyo flatly refused. On July 7, Yoritomo sent a letter to TAKASHINA no Yasutsune requesting the reappointment of Yorimori and his sons to their former posts, as well as the appointment of MINAMOTO no Noriyori, MINAMOTO no Hirotsuna, and Yoshinobu HIRAGA as provincial governors (see the entry for the same day in the "Azuma Kagami"). On July 17, Yoritomo held a grand farewell party for Yorimori. For this party, Yorimori gathered together "persons accustomed to Kyoto," and bestowed upon Yorimori a golden sword, a sack of placer gold and ten horses with saddle as gifts. Yoritomo had also prepared gifts for Munekiyo, and regretted that Munekiyo did not appear. Yorimori had informed Yoritomo that Munekiyo's arrival would be delayed because of illness. On July 21, Yorimori arrived back in Kyoto, and was reappointed to the post of Gon Dainagon. His son, Mitsumori was appointed to the post of jiju (chamberlain), and Yasunari to the post of Kawachi no kami (the governor of Kawachi Province) (see the entry for August 5 in the "Azuma Kagami").

Final days

After returning to Kyoto, Yorimori resumed his attendance at court (see the entries for August 18 and September 17 in the first year of the Genryaku era in the "Sankaiki"). On January 26, 1185, Goshirakawa visited Yorimori's residence in Hachijo-muromachi, and watched the entourage of Motomichi, Sessho, embark on a pilgrimage to Kasuga-jinja Shrine (see the entry for the same day in the "Gyokuyo"). Although it would appear that Yorimori's position had become stable, it is presumed that he had become isolated in the Imperial Court in view of the fact that he abandoned the capital prior to the outbreak of the Battle of Hoju-ji Temple, and accepted hospitable treatment in Kamakura, provoking the antipathy of Goshirakawa in no kinshin. On January 30, 1185 Yorimori resigned as Gon Dainagon, and petitioned the Emperor for the appointment of Mitumori to the post of Konoe no shosho (Minor Captain of the Palace Guards) (see the entry for the same day in the "Gyokuyo").

In April 1185, Taira clan was defeated in the Battle of Dannoura, and fell into ruin. It is not known how Yorimori felt about the fall of the clan; however, soon thereafter, he conveyed a long-held desire to become a Buddhist priest to Yoritomo, and after obtaining his approval, Yorimori took the tonsure and became a priest on July 5 at Todai-ji Temple, assuming the buddhist name Choren (see the entry for June 18 in the "Azuma Kagami"). The following month, Goshirakawa put the provinces of Harima and Bizen inbunkoku (Provinces under control by In-no-cho), and bestowed the right to manage the fiefs to Yorimori (see the entry for June 30 in the "Gyokuyo"). These measures were taken in accordance with a request made by Yoritomo, and Yorimori recommended that FUJIWARA no Saneaki be appointed to the post of Harima no kami (the governor of Harima Province) and Mitumori to the post of Bizen no kami (the governor of Bizen Province).

From that point on, Yorimori confined himself in this residence in Hachijo-muromachi, and hardly ever made appeared at center stage of public life. In January 1186, on the occasion of Emperor Gotoba's Imperial visit for a Katatagae gyoko (to stay the night in a place situated at another point of the compass when one's destination from home lies in an ill-starred direction), as Hachijoin's residence had been seriously damaged by an earthquake and the repairs had not been completed, Yorimori's residence adjacent to it was chosen; however, Yorimori flatly declined to allow the use of his residence, stating that there were impurities there (see the entries for January 5, 6 and 7 in the "Gyokuyo"). An alternative explanation is that Yorimori's health may have already begun to deteriorate.

On June 27, Yorimori died at the age of 54 (see the entry for June 18 in the "Azuma Kagami"). During this period, Yoshiyasu ICHIJO, Kyoto-shugo (military governor of Kyoto) dispatched from the shogunate, was deeply involved in the search for Yoshitsune. Even Kanezane did not record Yorimori's death in his diary, so it may be that Yorimori died in solitude, a man who had been largely forgotten by those around him.


From narrative accounts of "Heike Monogatari" (Tale of the Heike) and the "Genpei Seisui ki" (Rise and Fall of the Minamoto and the Taira clans), the impression given of Yorimori is clearly that of a man who once joined the withdrawal of his clan from the capital, but then gave up on his clan, withdrawing from the strife of public life and relying on Yoritomo's mercy. According to the account found in the 'Engyo-bon' which is deemed to be an early form of "Heike Monogatari," Yorimori "delayed joining the train of the entourage of the departing Emperor," and acted independently from the group of Munemori from the start. In the account recorded in the "Gukansho," "Yorimori had not been informed of the imminent withdrawal from the capital".

In addition, another reason given for Yorimori's decision to remain in Kyoto, according to the account recorded in the 'Engyo-bon,' was because of conflict in the clan, such as a dispute with Munemori regarding the inheritance of a noted sword, "Nukemaru", that was in the possession of Yorimori. According to an account in the "Kikki," "especially during the period following Yorimori's taking the tonsure and becoming a Buddhist priest, there were often unpleasant matters" (see the entry for July 28, 1183), and as far as can be seen from records at that time, no one criticized Yorimori for splitting with his clan, to the contrary, it is portrayed as a matter of course.

In "Heike Monogatari," because the fall of the Taira clan is described dramatically, the portrayal of Yorimori, who had survived, emphasizes that he was a defector. In the "Azuma Kagami," eight cases out of nine in which Yorimori is referred to mention his name in respect of his relationship with Yoritomo (the only reference to Yorimori alone, is in an entry for May 16 in the fourth year of the Jisho era recounting his taking the child of Mochihitoo), and it appears as if Yorimori was used as material to depict Yoritomo's benevolence. It is therefore difficult to access what Yorimori really thought, and to grasp what type of Yorimori actual was.

Yorimori had many guises, as member of Taira clan, as In no Kinshin, as member of the pro-Kamakura faction, and he was received warmly by each, to certain extent. However, the treatment he received always contained a component imparting a sense of being distanced, and Yorimori continuously remained somewhat alienated, not being able to find a firm footing in any faction. With respect to Yorimori's descendants, Mitsumori was promoted to the court rank of Junii; however, the line declined, and eventually disappeared.

Record of office and rank
1146 (14 years old)
May 30: Appointed Kogo no miya gon no shoshin (Junior Office Secretary of the Empress's Household).

1147 (15 years old)
September 26: Appointed to the post of Kurodo (Chamberlain). November 15: Awarded the court rank of Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade).

1149 (17 years old)
July 17: Appointed to the post of Hitachi no suke. July 25: Promoted to the court rank of Jugoinojo (Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade).

1153 (21 years old)
February 7: Promoted to the court rank of Shogoinoge (Senior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade).

1156 (24 years old)
November 13: Appointed to the post of Aki no kami (governor of Aki Province).

1157 (25 years old)
March 13: Appointed to the post of Uhyoe no suke (assistant captain of the Right Division of Middle Palace Guards), held concurrently with his other posts. December 2: Promoted to the court rank of Jusiinoge (for his achievements in building inner court and Joganden). December 7: Appointed to the post of Nakatsukasa no Gon no Taifu (provisional senior assistant minister of Nakatsukasa Ministry of Imperial court).

1158 (26 years old)
September 11: Reappointed to the post of Hitachi no suke. November 2: Appointed to the post of Mikawa no kuni no kami. December 25: Promoted to the court rank of Jushiijo (Junior Fourth Rank, Upper Grade).

1159 (27 years old)
February 13, 1160: Appointed to the post of Owari no kami (the governor of Owari Province).

1161 (29 years old)
April 2: Promoted to the court rank of Shoshiinoge. May 10: Appointed to the post of Taikotaigogu no suke (assistant master of the grand empress dowager's household). November 25: Appointed to the post of Uma no kami. Reappointed to the posts of Nakatsukasa no Gon no Taifu, Taikotaigogu no suke and Owari no kami.

1162 (30 years old)
May 29: Appointed to the post of Kura no kami. Reappointed to the posts of Uma no kami, Taikotaigogu no suke and Owari no kami.

September 5: Appointed to the post of Shuri no daibu. Reappointed to the posts of Taikotaigogu no suke and Owari no kami.

the year 1163 (31 years old)
March 7: Resigned as Owari no kami.

the year 1166 (34 years old)
August 19: Appointed to the post of dazai daini. September 30: Promoted to the court rank of Jusanmi. Reappointed to the posts of Shuri no daibu and dazai daini, as they were.

November 22: Appointed to the post of Kotaigogu gon no daibu.

the year 1167 (35 years old)
February 26: Promoted to the court rank of Shosanmi.

the year 1168 (36 years old)
April 27: Resigned as Kotaigogu gon no daibu (because of issuance of an Imperial letter to permit use of "In" title to FUJIWARA no Teishi). August 14: Appointed to the post of Uhyoe no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Middle Palace Guards). November 26: Appointed to the post of Sangi. Reappointed to the posts of Uhyoe no kami and dazai daini.

January 4, 1969: dismissed.

the year 1169 (37 years old)
January 25, 1170: Reappointed to the post of Sangi.

the year 1170 (38 years old)
February 12: Appointed to the post of Owari gon no kami (provisional governor of Owari Province), held concurrently with his other posts. September 15: Appointed to the post of Uhyoe no kami.

the year 1175 (43 years old)
February 21: Appointed to the post of Totoumi gon no kami, held concurrently with his other posts

the year 1176 (44 years old)
December 5, appointed to the post of Chunagon (middle counselor).

the year 1179 (47 years old)
March 6: He was appointed to the post of Sahyoe no kami (Captain of the Left Division of Middle Palace Guards). November 26: He was appointed to the post of Uemon no kami.
December 24: He removed from the post of Uemon-no-kami

the year 1180 (48 years old)
February 27: He was permitted to attend the Imperial Court. May 24: He was promoted to the court rank of Junii. July 5: He was promoted to Shonii.

the year 1182 (50 years old)
April 19: He was appointed to the post of Mutsu-Dewa Azechi (local inspector of Mutsu and Dewa Provinces). November 7: He was appointed to the post of Chunagon. November 11: He was reappointed to the post the post of Mutsu-Dewa Azechi.

the year 1183 (51 years old)
May 5: He was appointed to the post of Dainagon. May 9: He was reappointed to the posts of Mutsu-Dewa Azechi.
September 1: He was dismissed

the year 1184 (52 years old)
July 21: He was reappointed to the post of Gon Dainagon.
January 30, 1185: He resigned as Gon dainagon

the year 1185 (53 years old)
July 5: He took the tonsure and became a Buddhist priest.