Shoni Yorinao (少弐頼尚)

Yorinao (also Yorihisa) SHONI (1293 - 1371) was a Kyushu military commander who lived during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan) and into the Muromachi period. He was the head of the Shoni clan. His father was Sadatsune SHONI. His sons included Naosuke SHONI, Fuyusuke SHONI, and Yorizumi SHONI. Yorinao's homyo (posthumous Buddhist name) was Baikei Hontsu.

When the Genko War, a war whose object was to overthrow the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), broke out in 1333, Yorinao joined his father Sadatsune--both of whom were in support of the war--in a campaign to destroy Hidetoki HOJO, the chinzei tandai (military governor) of Hakata and the force of the Hojo clan in Kyushu. After the Kamakura bakufu was destroyed, the Emperor Godaigo's Kemmu Restoration began, but when Takauji ASHIKAGA, who had become disillusioned with Godaigo's direct imperial rule, tried to take refuge in Kyushu, Yorinao marched out to Akamaseki barrier to meet him; while en route, however, Dazaifu (the modern-day Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture) was attacked by Taketoshi KIKUCHI and Korenao ASO, both supporters of the Emperor, and his father Sadatsune was killed in the ensuing battle. In 1336, Yorinao was part of the Ashikaga force that crushed the army of the Kikuchi clan in the battle of Tatarahama in Chikuzen Province (modern-day Higashi Ward, Fukuoka City), and accompanied Takauji--who had once again set his sights on recapturing the capital of Kyoto--on his campaign into the Kinai (the region around Kyoto).

Yorinao was rewarded for his service by being appointed the governor of several provinces, including Chikuzen, Buzen, Higo, and Tsushima. After internecine strife within the Ashikaga family blossomed into outright opposition between Takauji and his younger brother Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA in what became known as the Kanno Disturbance, Tadayoshi's adopted son Tadafuyu ASHIKAGA sought refuge in Kyushu in 1349, and Yorinao chose to back Tadafuyu, giving him his own daughter in marriage and falling into armed conflict with Noriuji ISSHIKI, the Kyushu tandai (military commissioner) and the force of Ashikaga in Kyushu, but Tadafuyu was destroyed, and consequently the greater part of Yorinao's territory was confiscated. Moreover, when the Imperial Prince Kaneyoshi (also pronounced "Kanenaga"), the Emperor Godaigo's own son, was sent by the Yoshino Court (that is, the Southern Court) as seisei shogun (general who pacifies the west) on a military expedition to Kyushu, he entered the southern Kyushu and went to join forces with the Kikuchi clan. In 1359, the Shoni clan was defeated by Takemitsu KIKUCHI and the rest of the seisei shogun's army in the Battle of Chikugo-gawa River, and in 1361 Yorinao was driven back from Uchiyama-jo Castle in Dazaifu. He died in 1371 at the age of 77.