Adachi Yasumori (安達泰盛)

Yasumori ADACHI was a senior vassal of the Kamakura bakufu (feudal government headed by a shogun) in the mid Kamakura period. He was the third son of Yoshikage ADACHI.

He was the head of the Adachi family.

He was born as the third son of Yoshikage ADACHI in 1231. His mother was the daughter of Tokinaga TOMONO of the Kai-Genji clan. Although his father Yoshikage was, at the time of his birth, 22 years old and had two elder sons, Yasumori was known as the heir of the Adachi family as he had since his childhood called himself 'Kuro,' the name only allowed for the heir. At the time the bakufu was headed by Yasutoki HOJO, the third regent. Yasumori was more or less of the same generation, with a 4-year difference in their age, as the fifth regent Tokiyori HOJO, who was Yasutoki's grandson and Yasumori's cousin.

"Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East) first refers to Yasumori aged 15 in the entry of July 30, 1244. It gives an account of how he went to Kyoto substituting for his father Yoshikage as the head of shogunal retainers of Kozuke Province who served as obanyaku (guardian of Kyoto). As a skilled archer and horseman he is frequently mentioned with reference to "tokasagake" (horseback archery competitions) and "inuoumono" (dog-hunting events) hosted by the shogun. In 1247 when he was 17 years old, the Battle of Hoji broke out between the senior retainer clan of Miura and Regent Tokiyori HOJO. Encouraged by his grandfather Kagemori ADACHI, Yasumori fought in the vanguard at the battle which would decide the fate of the Adachi family. The decline of the Miura clan led to the establishment of the Adachi clan's status as both supporter of the Tokiyori administration and maternal relatives of the regent Hojo clan.

When Yoshikage died in July 1253, Yasumori succeeded him to the family headship at the age of 23 and was appointed as Akitajo no suke (governor of the Akita-jo Castle). Succeeding his father, he became ichiban hikitsukeshu (junior coadjuster of the High Court) and was promoted in 1256 to goban hikitsuke tonin (chairman of the Court of Justice) as well as hyojoshu (a member of the Council of State), assisting Regent Tokiyori. On the occasion of the genpuku (celebration of the coming of age) of Tokimune HOJO who was Tokiyori's eldest son, born in the Adachi residence in Amanawa, he was honoured to bring "eboshi" (a formal headwear of court nobles). Raising his younger paternal half-sister (Kakusan-ni), who was born a year before his father died, as his adopted daughter, he gave her in marriage to Tokimune in 1261, whereby reinforcing his relationship with the Tokuso family of the Hojo clan. After Tokiyori died in 1263, he assisted Tokimune, who was tokuso (the head of the main branch of the Hojo clan), together with Masamura HOJO and Sanetoki HOJO who became regents before Tokimune came to the age of manhood. He thus became one of the core members of the bakufu government. From 1264 to 1266 he served as ossotonin (the head of the legal institutions of the Kamakura bakufu) together with Sanetoki.

Mongol Invasions of Japan

In July to August 1266, Regent Masamura, Sanetoki and Yasumori held 'shinpi no sata' (a secret meeting) at the house of Tokimune, who was rensho (assistant to the regent), to decide to return Shogun Imperial Prince Munetaka to Kyoto for conspiracy of rebellion. They instead invited Imperial Prince Koreyasu aged three to Kamakura as the new shogun. They intended to reinforce the power of Tokimune by making the young prince the shogun. While approaching the shogun, Yasumori seems to have supported Tokimune at the same time. In 1268 Tokimune became regent at the age of 18 when the bakufu faced the crisis of Mongol invasions.

In 1274 Yasumori became goon bugyo (the Chief of Rewards Office) after the Bunei War, performing the practical work of ando (recognizing and guaranteeing the ownership of the samurai who pledged allegiance to the bakufu) in place of Shogun Imperial Prince Koreyasu. While maintaining the friendly relationship with the Tokuso family, he was also closely related with Shogun Imperial Prince Munetaka as well as Imperial Prince Koreyasu. He is always mentioned in the lists of shogunate protection cadres and of close associates. In 1272, Nishihachijo zenni, the widow of the Third Shogun MINAMOTO no Sanetomo, wrote in a letter addressed to Shoshin-in Temple, the family temple of Sanetomo, that it should count on Yasumori, the grandson of Kagemori ADACHI, who had been faithful to Sanetomo, for any problem concerning the temple. This suggests that Yasumori acted as an intermediary between the nobles in Kyoto and the Kamakura shogunate.

In March 1272 Nigatsu Sodo (the February Rebellion) broke out and Tokimune removed the rival influence from his clan to strengthen the Tokuso dictatorship. In 1273, old and experienced Masamura died. By this time Sanetoki was already retired and died. The Hojo clan who used to be among yoriaishu (members of a top decision-making organization) up until the Bunei era (1264 - 1274) were replaced by miuchibito, private vassals of the Tokuso family. The members of yoriaishu during the Kenji era (1275 - 1278) included TAIRA no Yoritsuna and Shinsho SUWA, who were miuchibito, civil officer Yasuari MIYOSHI, and Yasumori, who was the only shogunal retainer among them. Two pillars of the Tokimune administration consisted of the Tokuso vassals headed by Yoritsuna on the one hand, and Yasumori representing the Adachi clan, who were maternal relatives of the Tokuso family and shogunal retainers, on the other. It was inevitable that miuchibito and the maternal relatives of the Tokuso family opposed each other due to their contrasting relationships with Tokimune. In January 1278, Yasumori acted as the bringer of eboshi at the coming-of-age celebration of Sadatoki HOJO, Tokimune's heir, and became his guardian. After the Koan War in 1281, he ceded his position of Akitajo no suke to his heir Munekage ADACHI at the age of 52, and was instead appointed as Mutsu no kami (Governor of Mutsu) in 1282. The governmental office of Mutsu no kami had been monopolized by the Hojo clan with the exception of OE no Hiromoto at the beginning of the Kamakura bakufu and Yoshiuji ASHIKAGA. As Yasumori was promoted, members of the Adachi clan were appointed to the offices of hikitsukeshu and hyojoshu, forming a group as powerful as the Hojo clan.

Reform in the Koan Era

In April 1284, Tokimune died in a situation plagued by various issues such as a pile of applications for reward grants and lawsuits after the Mongol invasion as well as the possible return of the Mongolians. In August 1284, Sadatoki HOJO, the 14-year-old heir of the family, became the 9th regent while the Hojo clan was making a threatening move in association with TAIRA no Yoritsuna. Entering the priesthood after Tokimune's death, Yasumori called himself Kakushin, which was his Buddhist name, and became a leading figure in the bakufu government. He made reform, which was later called Koan tokusei (political reform in the Koan era), and issued new laws named 'Shin Goshikimoku' one after another. Enhancing the authority of the shogun, he required the government officials like hikitsukeshu to perform their duties with fairness and integrity. He likewise demanded of the tokuso to comply with practical work ethics, prevented the miuchibito from intervening the governmental affairs, encouraged major Shinto shrines including Ise-jingu Shrine and Usa-jingu Shrine to restore their territories, and assisted the Imperial Court in advancing its benevolent rule. While seeking to quell social unrest by restoring traditional order, he attempted to expand and stabilize the bakufu's basis through the appointment of inhabitants within the territory of the Imperial Court as shogunal retainers. It seems that in reforming national politics he wanted to reinforce the bakufu's controlling power in politics by extending its influence over the religious institutions as well as the court. As scholars have pointed out, his initiatives were linked to those of the retired emperor since, almost at the same time, the Emperor Kameyama (then the retired emperor) made internal reform and implemented the benevolent rule at the court in Kyoto. However, he was opposed by TAIRA no Yoritsuna, who held the position of uchikanrei, the head of miuchibito whose power he restricted. His urgent policy of protecting the territory of the religious institutions triggered ill feelings from some retainers and court nobles who were ordered to return their territories. Yasumori was gradually isolated in politics.

The Shimotsuki Incident

In 1285 Munekage ADACHI, Yasumori's son, adopted the surname of the Genji clan, which Yoritsuna willfully misinterpreted as Munekage's ambition to become seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") and so told Regent Sadatoki. Yoritsuna was ordered to assassinate Yasumori. On December 21, 1285, Yasumori, who was in his second house in Matsugayatsu, in the morning became aware of restlessness around him and went to yakata (a manor) in Tonotsuji for governmental work around noon. Just when he arrived at Sadatoki's residence, he was attacked and killed by miuchibito lying in ambush there. He died at the age of 55. Thirty people died and ten were wounded. This triggered a violent clash, and the shogun's palace was burned down. First struck by the Tokuso's troop, the Adachi's were defeated around four in the afternoon. Yasumori's family were all murdered and some 500 people of his clan killed themselves. Yoritsuna further attacked the provinces of Kozuke and Musashi where the Adachi clan was based and beyond, affecting the entire country where many retainers who took sides with Yasumori's faction were murdered.

This disturbance called the Shimotsuki Incident resulted in TAIRA no Yoritsuna's assumption of control. Many of those who had been senior retainers since the bakufu's establishment were brought to ruin as they supported Yasumori. The clans of Nagasaki and Nikaido who were Tokuso vassals played a central role in politics.

Seven years after the Shimotsuki Incident Yoritsuna was killed by Sadatoki at the Heizeimon Incident. The retainers who fell from power at the Shimotsuki Incident were gradually brought back. So did the Adachi clan, and Tokiaki ADACHI, who was the grandson of Akimori ADACHI, Yasumori's younger brother, succeeded to the family headship. A year after Yoritsuna's death the victims of the Shimotsuki Incident started to be reinstated. The account of the 33rd memorial service for Yasumori, who perished in the Shimotsuki Incident, held in 1317 by his son Tokiaki mentions that it had been a taboo to hold a memorial service for Yasumori till then.

Personal Profile

"Ippen-hijiri-e" (Illustrated Record of the Holy Man Ippen) says, 'on the day of Yasumori's death the Holy Man (Ippen) who was in Inba Province looked up to the sky and said, "A great man perished in Kamakura."'
The word, 'a great man' speaks for the character of Yasumori. In Aobayama in Sendai-jo Castle (in Sendai City) there is a huge monumental stone tablet in almost two-meter height, which was built in March 1287, two years after the Shimotuski Incident. The prayers are engraved on it, for the happiness of the soul of the Priest and Governor of Mutsu Province whose calm presence vanished in smoke in past December to descend into the land of the dead. This appears to have been made for Yasumori who was Governor of Mutsu.

"Moko Shurai Ekotoba" (Illustrated Account of the Mongol Invasion) depicts how Suenaga TAKEZAKI, retainer of Higo Province, directly appealed to Yasumori who was the Chief of the Rewards Office in his residence in Amanawa. The colophon of the text is dated 1293 when Yasumori's faction was reinstated after TAIRA no Yoritsuna, who had assassinated Yasumori, was defeated. Suenaga did not fight for Yasumori at the Shimotsuki Incident although he was indebted to him. The depiction is therefore taken as both his wish for appeasing Yasumori's soul and his expression of gratitude.

Culturally, Yasumori was friendly with the Retired Emperor Gosaga who gave him Chinese classic books. In 1273, a year after the retired emperor's death, he built a stone monument in his remembrance in Koyasan Okuno-in Temple. He was also a practical bureaucrat with Kyoto education. He was initiated into the secret teachings of the Sesonji School of aristocratic calligraphy. He served as amanuensis for the shogun at the age of 18. He was also a skilful player of kemari (literally, "kick-ball," a traditional game popular among nobles). A stupa-shaped milestone, erected by Yasumori, still remains in Koyasan Choishi-michi (pilgrimage trails to Mt. Koya). He also published Buddhist texts in woodprint, which are called Koya-ban (Koya edition). Religiously, he attended the initiation in the Kanto region with Supreme Priest Jissho of Hechiin, Daigo-ji Temple.

"Tsurezuregusa" (Essays in Idleness) of Kenko YOSHIDA recounts an episode suggesting that Yasumori was an excellent horseman.