Yuki Tomomitsu (結城朝光)

Tomomitsu YUKI was a Japanese samurai commander who had flourished from the late Heian period to the early Kamakura period; he was an influential vassal of Kamakura bakufu (Japanese military government headed by a shogun based in Kamakura). His name is also written as Tomomitsu OYAMA in some books, but Tomomitsu YUKI which he later called himself is more popular among people because he was an originator of the Yuki clan.

His surname of historical origin was Fujiwara. His family line could be traced back to the Oyama clan that was founded by FUJIWARA no Hidesato who was a Chinju-fu shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North); Tomomitsu's father, Masamitsu OYAMA, was the head of local ruling family in Oyama, Shimotuke Province (present day Oyama City, Tochigi Prefecture). His mother was Samukawa no Ama, who was also famous as the menoto (wet nurse) of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo (the founder of Kamakura bakufu).

Biography

On October 29, 1180, Tomomitsu's mother, Samukawa no Ama, introduced him to Yoritomo who had raised army to defeat the Taira clan; he became Yoritomo's vassal and Yoritomo took the roll of his eboshioya (a person who puts an eboshi [formal headwear for court nobles] on a young man's head on his genpuku ceremony) when he celebrated his genpuku (to become an adult man). Together with his father Masamitsu OYAMA, his older brother Asamasa OYAMA, his younger brother Munamasa NAGANUMA and Tomoie HATTA, on March 25, 1183, he defeated the allied forces of MINAMOTO no Yoshihiro (Senjo Saburo SHIDA) and Tadatsuna ASHIKAGA - who tried to attack and invade into Kamakura - at the Battle of Nogimiya. By the ronkokosho (weighing of result and granting of reward) over this performance, he was appointed as Jitoshiki (manager and lord of manor) of Yuki County.

He joined the campaign of MINAMOTO no Noriyori and MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune to search out and destroy MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka, perishing the army of Kiso clan at the Battle of Uji-gawa River in 1184; then he participated in the exterminating war against the Taira clan and continued fighting until the decisive Battle of Dannoura on April, 1185. After coming back to Kamakura, he paid a visit to Yoshitsune at his lodging in Sakawa (present day in Kanagawa Prefecture) on June of the same year - Yoshitune came all the way heading to Kamakura to report the victory over the Taira clan - and Yuki orally ordered him 'not to enter Kamakura' as the emissary from Yoritomo (Yositune's older brother; the first shogun of Kamakura bakufu).

In 1187, when Shigetada HATAKEYAMA received a reprimand and was about to be punished due to the violence of his daikan (local governor) at Yamada-mikuriya (mikuriya was manors of Imperial family and powerful shrines) in Ise Province, Tomomitsu bravely expressed to Yoritomo his opinion against punishing him and saved him from his peril. He took part in the Oshu War in 1189 and fought at the Battle of Atsukashiyama, where he performed well and killed enemy commander Kongo betto. Because of this contribution, he was given three counties in Oshu Shirakawa. In the next year, 1190, he joined a campaign to crash the Rebellion of OKAWA Kaneto which happened in Oshu; after this incident Yuki was deemed as Yoritomo's close adviser equivalent to Kagetoki KAJIWARA.

Soon after the death of Yoritomo on October, 1199, when Tomomitsu was put into a difficult position by the so called 'Kagetoki KAJIWARA's False Claim Incident' (the Incident of Kagetoki KAJIWARA), he gathered 66 influential vassals including Yoshimura MIURA, writing down the 'Accusation Note against Kagetoki' with their joint signatures and submitted it to the second shogun MINAMOTO no Yoriie. Tomomitsu played a great roll in the downfall of Kagetoki KAJIWARA and his subsequent death in defeat.

In 1221, he also took part in the Jokyu War (a war between the Retired Emperor Gotoba and Kamakura bakufu in Jokyu era) as one of the commanders of Tosando Army (Tosando [literally; eastward mountainous roads] was one of the seven main highways of this age). During the ear of 'double regents system' by Yasutoki HOJO and Tokifusa HOJO after the war, in 1229 he was appointed the rank of Kozuke no suke (Assistant Governor of Kozuke Province). Tomomitsu became a member of the Hyojoshu (Councils of Shogunate) in 1235, and had a great influence over the bakufu politics.

As Tomomitsu had been passionately committed to the Buddhist invocation from his early days, he first became a believer of Honen (a priest; founder of the Jodo sect [the Pure Land sect]), then deeply embraced Shinran (a priest; founder of the Jodo Shinshu sect [the True Pure Land sect of Buddhism]), who happened to be at Shimotsuma in Hitachi Province - Shimotsuma was one of his lands - he finally became a priest, in his last day, as he had long cherished to be, calling himself as Yuki Kozuke Nyudo (priest) Nichia and built Yuki Shomyo-ji Temple. He lived his days in faith and never took part in the family dispute in the Kamakura bakufu, which had been continuing from Tokiuji HOJO to Tokiyori HOJO; but when Yasumura MIURA, who was a son of Yoshimura MIURA the old friend of Tomomitsu, and all his clans were ruined at the Battle of Hoji in 1247, Tomomitsu came up all the way to Kamakura despite his old age from Shimofusa (his land), met Regent Tokiyori and spoke out his mind in tears as, 'If I had been in Kamakura as a council, I would never have let Yasumura meet the shame of a punitive death,' and for the sobbing old man Tokiyori was said to have showed deep sympathy.

In 1254, at the age of eighty seven, his life was peacefully ended.

Personal Profile

Tomomitsu and Kagetoki KAJIWARA participated in the politics of bakufu as close adviser of Yoritomo, he was also the master of archery and excel in waka (Japanese poetry), actually he was a person known for both the literary and military arts; but it was said that after experiencing the death of Shigetada HATAKEYAMA whom he respected, he came to lead more humble life, never taking initiatives in politics again. It was believed that these attitudes had attained the positive reaction of vassals at the 'Kagetoki KAJIWARA's False Claim Incident' as well as the favorable treatment from the Hojo clan in the last years of his life.

However he was a man of great pride, Tomomitsu once had friction with the Ashikaga clan who were a gomonyo (a family with a honorary status) of the shogun family as well as a relative of Hojo clan; indeed he was a busho (samurai commander) of backbone.
Yoshiuji ASHIKAGA who was a family head of the Ashikaga clan sent a rude letter to Tomomitsu who was the head of the Yuki clan - at the end of the letter was written as 'To Yuki Kozuke Nyudo (priest) from Ashikaga Mandokoro (a minister of shogun).'
According to the protocol of the days, if their rank were equal, it should have been written as 'To Yuki Mandokoro from Ashikaga Sama no kami Nyudo' (Samano no kami literally means Head of the Left Stable, a rank from before the Nara period); but the Ashikaga clan were allowed to write under such a format as they were a Monyo (blood line) of the shogun family and permitted to use the family name of Minamoto clan.
However, this letter, which suggested the Yuki clan were inferior to the Asikaga clan, exasperated Tomomitsu into volcanic rage and he wrote back as 'From Yuki Mandokoro to Asikaga Sama no kami Nyudo.'

For this return mail, the Ashikaga clan initiated a legal action, asserting that such a way of writing was only allowed to the Ashikaga clan as a Monyo of the Minamoto clan, and that the Yuki clan who were a mere vassal must refrain from using it. Against this accusation, Tomomitsu defended himself saying that he had received words '(Yuki clan) Should be equal to the Ashikaga clan' from Yoritomo when he was still alive; by the judgment of the Regent at the time, Tokiyori HOJO, he won the suit.

Theory of Rakuin (nobleman's illegitimate child; literally Fallen Seed)

Meanwhile, the rumor had it that Tomomitsu was an illegitimate child of Yoritomo. According to the legend written in "Tomomitsu Ko Ki" (biography of Tomomitsu Ko [Ko means His Serene Highness]), he was born, during Yoritomo's exile in Izu Province, to Yoritomo and the daughter of Samukawa no Ama who had been performing his mother's roll; after birth he was sent to the Hatta family, Samukawa no Ama's parents home, to be taken care of, then raised as the third son (some say the fourth son) of Masamitsu OYAMA and Samukawa no Ama; but there can be found utterly no mentioning to this story in the first rated history books of that time - such as the "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East) which was the official record of bakufu - therefore it is widely believed that this story is nothing but a mere supposition. However it was doubtless that Yoritomo favored Tomomitsu.