Wada Yoshimori (和田義盛)

Yoshimori WADA was a busho (Japanese military commander) from the end of Heian period to the beginning of Kamakura period. He was a Gokenin (a Shogunal retainer) of the Kamakura Bakufu (Shogunate) and the first Samurai-dokoro betto (the superior of the Board of Retainers). Yoshimura MIURA was one of his cousins. His children were Yoshihide ASAHINA, etc.

He was a member of the Miura clan and joined MINAMOTO no Yoritomo's army. When Yoritomo's early samurai government was established in Kamakura, he was appointed as the first Samurai-dokoro betto. In the Jisho-Juei War, he was the military commissioner of the army of MINAMOTO no Noriyori and took an expedition through Sanyo-do Road to Kyushu to block the retreat of the Taira family. After the downfall of the Taira family, he fought well in the Battle of Oshu.

After Yoritomo's death, he played a central role in the impeachment and banishment of Kagetoki at the Incident of Kagetoki KAJIWARA, and in the rebellions by Gokenin such as the Conspiracy of Yoshikazu HIKI and Shigetada HATAKEYAMA Rebellion, he fought for the Hojo clan side. However, responding to the challenge from the second regent Yoshitoki HOJO, he raised an army and fought against the army of the Shogunate in the inner-city, but Yoshimori lost and was killed, which resulted in the fall of Wada clan..

Samurai-dokoro Betto (the superior of the Board of Retainers)

The Wada clan was a branch family of the Miura clan, one of the Banto Hachi Heishi (the Eight Taira clans of the East), and because of their territory in either Wadanosato, Miura District, Sagami Province (current Wada, Hatsuse Town, Miura City, Kanagawa Prefecture) or Wadamikuriya, Awa Province, they chose the family name of Wada.

On September 20, 1180, the Miura clan decided to join MINAMOTO no Yoritomo who raised an army to destroy the Taira clan in Izu Province, and Yoshizumi MIURA and more than 500 horse soldiers left their headquarter in the Miura Peninsula to join Yoritomo. Yoshimori and his younger brother Kojiro-Yoshimochi WADA were there, too. When the Miura clan group reached Maruko-gawa River (Sakawa-gawa River), however, they could not move across the river because of the rise of water after a heavy rain. In the meanwhile, on the night of the 21st, Kagechika OBA of the Taira family side destroyed Yoritomo's army at the Battle of Ishibashiyama.

They could not find Yoritomo, so they decided to return to the Miura Peninsula but on the way on the 22th, they met the troops of the Taira family side Shigetada HATAKEYAMA and began fighting at Yuigahama, Kamakura. According to "Genpei Seisui ki" (Rise and Fall of the Minamoto and the Taira clans), fight-hungry Yoshimori offered a challenge in front of the Hatakeyama's troops by telling them his name and almost started to fight but considering that both sides have many relatives, they made a peace. However, not knowing what had happened, Yoshishige burst into the Hatakeyama's troops and started the battle. After many deaths on both sides, they withdrew their troops (The Battle of Ishibashiyama & The Battle of Yuigahama).

On the 24th, Shigetada HATAKEYAMA attacked the headquarters of the Miura clan, Kinugasa-jo Castle, together with other Taira family armies of a few thousand horse soldiers. Yoshimori was guarding the west entrance but all Miura clan were too tired from the Battles before that, so they decided to give up the castle and escape to the sea. 89-year-old Yoshiaki MIURA (Yoshimori's grandfather) said 'By giving my life to buei (Yoritomo), I wish for the prosperity of my descendants' and stayed in the castle; he fought on his own but was killed (The Battle of the Kinugasa-jo Castle).

The Miura clan of Yoshimori and others joined Tokimasa HOJO (Yoritomo's father-in-law) on the sea. On the 27th, they met Yoritomo on Ryojima Island, Hirakita District, Awa Province. According to "Heike Monogatari" (The tale of the Taira clan), Yoshimori said 'Even if my father dies and my descendants die, nothing makes me happier than seeing Lord Yoritomo. Please pursue your original dream and take the country. When it happens, please appoint me as the Samurai-dokoro betto. After FUJIWARA no Tadakiyo who used to be the Kazusa no suke (Assistant Governor of Kazusa Province) was appointed to the Samurai-dokoro betto for eight provinces by the Taira family, I envied his power and I have always prayed to the Hachiman Daibosatsu (Great Bodhisattava Hachiman) that one day I would like to become one'.

In October, the remnants of Yoritomo's army decided to form an army again and asked samurai in various places to join them. Among those samurai, Morinaga ADACHI was chosen as the envoy for Tsunetane CHIBA and Yoshimori for Hirotsune KAZUSA. Tsunetane raised his army straight away and met Yoritomo, but Hirotsune did not respond well. When Yoritomo left Awa, moved up the Boso Peninsula, and reached Sumidagawa River with the Chiba clan, Hirotsune met them with a large army of 20,000 horse soldiers. Depending on Yoritomo's caliber, Hirotsune was ready to kill him, but Hirotsune changed his mind when he was touched Yoritomo's air of dignity.

In November, Togoku (eastern part of Japan) samurai including Shigetada HATAKEYAMA, who Yoshimori fought against at Yuigahama, joined them and with a large army of a few thousand horse soldiers, Yoshitsune entered Kamakura, the headquarters of the Kawachi-Genji (Minamoto clan). On November 16, they destroyed the Taira family army led by TAIRA no Koremori at the Battle of Fujigawa, Suruga Province.

Yoritomo decided to pave his way in the Kanto region and destroyed the Satake clan in the Hitachi Province in December, and Yoshimori and Hirotsune captured Hideyoshi SATAKE alive. On December 12, they returned to Kamakura with glory and set up various organizations to rule the Kanto region. Yoshimori was appointed to Samurai-dokoro betto as he had wished in Awa. In January, 1181, Yoritomo's Gosho (Imperial Palace) was established in Okura, Kamakura and at the opening ceremony, Yoshimori was standing in front of other Gokenin (retainers).

Jisho-Juei War & The Battle of Oshu

According to "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East), Yoshimori dealt with criminals and was sent to Totoumi Province, the battlefront with the Taira family. His name is not seen in the description of the battle against MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka and the Battle of Ichinotani.

In September 1184, Yoritomo's brother MINAMOTO no Noriyori left Kamakura to destroy the Taira family with about 1000 horse soldiers. Samurai-dokoro betto Yoshimori joined these troops as a military commissioner. Noriyori's army was going to move through the Sanyodo Road to Kyushu and surround the Taira family so that they would have no road to escape. Careful Noriyori would often discuss all the details, great and small, of the battles with Yoshimori. However, his expedition troops struggled with obtaining army provisions due to famine, the Seto Inland Sea was surrounded by the Taira family, and without a ship, they could not move to Kyushu, so their battle was prolonged. In the article of January 12, 1185 of "Azuma Kagami," there was a story about Noriyori telling about the hard battle, and in there, he said 'Togoku people are getting tired (of the prolonged battle) and thinking about their province. Even Kotaro-Yoshimori WADA tried to secretly return to Kamakura. Others are the same'.

On March 6, the expedition army succeeded in obtaining a ship, and Yoshimori went to Bungo Province with Yoshitoki HOJO and Yoshikane ASHIKAGA. They destroyed the Taira family's force at the Battle of Ashiyaura in Bungo Province and succeeded in blocking the Taira family's way. At the same time, MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune won the Battle of Yashima and the Taira family was isolated on the Hikojima Island, Nagato Province. On May 3, the Battle of Dannoura occurred and Noriyori's army stayed on land to support Yoshitsune's army who were fighting the naval battle. According to "Heike Monogatari", Yoshimori threw long-distance arrows 200 - 300 meters from the horseback on the foreshore to surprise the Taira clan and challenged them by writing his name on the arrows and saying 'See if you can throw them back to me'. TAIRA no Tomonori looked for a strong archer on the Taira family side and an Iyo Province resident Chikakiyo NII spectacularly threw them back and laughed at Yoshimori's boastfulness. Angry Yoshimori got on the ship and fought madly. The Battle ended with a win for the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan was totally destroyed.

After the Taira family's fall, Yoshitsune and Yoritomo, both achieved great war records, confronted each other. Yoshitsune's military commander Kagetoki KAJIWARA's false claim (the report of Yoshitsune being arrogant and acting arbitrarily on his own authority) was another reason. Yoshimori was Samurai-dokoro betto and Kagetoki was vice minister Shoshi (Deputy Chief of the Board of Retainers); they were both supporting Noriyori and Yoshitsune who were the commanders of the army that killed the Taira clan.

Yoshitsune apologized to Yoritomo but his apology was not accepted, so he tried to raise an army in Kyoto but failed. Yoshitsune ran to the Oshu-Fujiwara clan. In 1189, FUJIWARA no Yasuhira, who took over from FUJIWARA no Hidehira, killed Yoshitsune, and his head was sent to Kamakura in July for Yoshimori and Kagetoki to examine it.

In August of the year, Yoritomo raised an army to kill the Oshu-Fujiwara clan (The Battle of Oshu). Yoshimori joined this and when Yasuhira and the FUJIWARA no Kunihira brothers ran away after their huge defeat at the Battle of Atsukashiyama, Yoshimori chased them at the vanguard and fought an arrow battle against Kunihira. After the war, Yoshimori had an argument with Shigetada HATAKEYAMA over who should be awarded for the killing of Kunihira. In October, Yasuhira was betrayed and killed by a Kenin (retainer) and his head was sent to the camp of Kamakura army, and Yoshimori and Shigetada examined it.

Disturbance by Gokenin (Senior Retainers)

In October 1190, when Yoritomo visited Kyoto, Yoshimori was appointed to take the lead. In January 1191, with Yoritomo's recommendation, Yoshimori was appointed to Saemon no jo (third-ranked officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) as a reward for his efforts.

In 1192, he handed over his Samurai-dokoro betto position to Kagetoki KAJIWARA. In "Azuma Kagami", it says that Kagetoki begged to be Betto for only a day and Yoshimori allowed this because he was planning to visit his territory but Kagetoki took over the position with a conspiracy plan.

In February 1199, when Yoritomo died and MINAMOTO no Yoriie became the second Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), Yoshimori became a member of the 13-person parliamentary system as Shukuro (chief vassal).

In November, there was an incident where Kagetoki KAJIWARA falsely accused Tomomitsu YUKI. When the Gokenin found about it, they were all enraged and 66 samurai including Yoshimori and Yoshimura MIURA created an impeachment paper with their signatures to expel Kagetoki KAJIWARA and handed it to OE no Hiromoto. Being afraid of a dispute among the Gokenin, Hiromoto kept the paper to himself.
In December, when Yoshimori found out about this, he met Hiromoto at the Imperial Palace and accused him by saying, 'You have been working to support us in Kanto for a long time. Being scared of Kagetoki's authority and hiding our anger seems to be against the rule.'
Hiromoto had no choice but to show it to Yoritomo. Kagetoki lost his position and left Kamakura; in February next year, Kagetoki was killed and his story was ended (The Incident of Kagetoki KAJIWARA).

In March, because of Kagetoki's death, Yoshimori returned to the position of Samurai-dokoro betto.

In 1203, a dispute occurred between the Hojo clan and the Hiki clan. The head of the Hiki clan Yoshikazu HIKI was a father of Wakasa no tsubone, who was Yoriie's favorite concubine and gave birth to his legitimate son MINAMOTO no Ichiman, and he was holding power and a bitter rival for the authority of the Shogunate Hojo clan. On October 15, when Yoriie was sick and was in critical condition, Tokimasa HOJO deliberately killed Yoshikazu. The Hiki clan took Ichiman and Wakasa no tsubone as hostage and secluded themselves in Kogosho (a building within the Imperial Palace). The Hojo clan ordered the killing of the Hiki clan under the name of Ama Midai Masako HOJO, in which Samurai-dokoro betto Yoshimori was involved too, and the Hiki clan was attacked and destroyed.

On October 18, when Yoriie recovered from his critical condition and found out about the deaths of his son Ichiman and his father-in-law's family the Hiki clan, he was furious and wrote a migyosho (document of shogunate order) for the subjugation of the Hojo clan addressed to Yoshimori and Tadatsune NITTA, and asked Chikaie HORI to deliver it. After careful consideration, Yoshimori sent the migyosho to Tokimasa. Chikaie HORI was captured and killed. Tadatsune NITTA was killed by the Hojo clan.

On October 20, Yoriie lost his Shogunship and was sent to Shuzen-ji Temple of Izu Province to be a priest. It was his younger brother MINAMOTO no Sanetomo, who became the Shogun instead. Tokimasa HOJO became the first regent.

In July 1205, because of the plot by Tokimasa HOJO, Shigetada HATAKEYAMA was suspected of planning a rebellion, an army to kill him was formed with Tokimasa's legitimate son Yoshitoki as the supreme commander; and Yoshimori was there as the sole Taishogun (commander in chief), and before the large Shogunal army, Shigetada and his family were destroyed (Shigetada HATAKEYAMA Rebellion). At that time, Tokimasa suggested the enthronement and dethronement of Sanetomo but Masako and Yoshitoki did not agree and the plan failed; Tokimasa lost his position (Makishi Incident). Instead, Yoshitoki was appointed as the second regent.

In 1209, Yoshimori secretly wanted the position of Kokushi (officer of local government) in Kazusa Province. Shogun Sanetomo wanted to grant his wish and asked Masako but this was rejected because it had not been allowed for Gokenin to become Zuryo (provincial governor) since the time of Yoritomo. Yet Yoshimori formally handed in a petition through OE no Hiromoto stating his war records since the Jisho and Juei eras, and wanted the position of the Kokushi in Kazusa Province as 'an obsession I cannot forget about for the rest of my life'. However, his wish was not answered and in January 1212, the petition was returned to Yoshimori.

The Battle of Wada and Fall of Yoshimori

In March 1213, while Yoshimori was in Isuminosho, Kazusa Province, a conspiracy by Chikahira IZUMI to kill the Hojo clan and back up Yoriie's bereaved son was revealed (The Incident of Chikahira IZUMI). From the confession of people involved in the incident, the involvement of Yoshimori's sons Yoshinao WADA, Yoshishige WADA and his nephew Tanenaga WADA was revealed.

In April, Yoshimori returned to Kamakura and asked Sanetomo for pardon for his sons and nephew, and although his sons were pardoned, his nephew Tanenaga was not because they maintained that he was the main culprit. In the southern garden of the Shogunal Palace where 90 members of the Wada clan, who visited for plea for sparing his life, were staying, Tanenaga was tied with rope and pulled up; this created a great feeling of embarrassment for the Wada family.

Tanenaga was sent to Mutsu Province and his residence in Kamakura was confiscated. Yoshimori asked Sanetomo to give Tanenaga's residence to him because criminals' residences were traditionally to be handed down to a family member. Sanetomo agreed but soon after that, Yoshitoki gave Tanenaga's old residence to another Gokenin who did great service to settle the incident.

Fighting Yoshitoki's challenges one after another, Yoshimori decided to raise an army together with the Yokoyama Party (a samurai group) and anti-Hojo group. Some baseless, irresponsible rumors were flying around and this brought chaos to Kamakura. On May 26, worried Sanetomo sent an envoy to Yoshimori's residence. To the envoy, Yoshimori answered 'I have no grudge against my lord. Because Soshu (Yoshitoki) were behaving outrageously so I am sending a message to find out the reason'.

In raising his army, the person who he relied on most was the head of his original Miura clan, Yoshimura MIURA. Yoshimura promised Yoshimori to work together and he even wrote a Kishomon (sworn oath). However, after consulting with his brother Taneyoshi MIURA, Yoshimura changed his mind and reported Yoshimori's rebellion to Yoshitoki.

On May 30, Yoshimori raised an army with his family. A fierce fight was seen in the streets of Kamakura. The Wada family, famous for their war records, fought well but mostly the third son Yoshihide ASAHINA fought amazingly. However, Yoshitoki's side had fresh soldiers one after another and by night, the Wada family were exhausted and moved back to Yuigahama and waited for reinforcement to come. The next morning, on the 31st, the Yokoyama Party and their friends arrived and they regained power. Worried that the Wada side might grow into a bigger army than they had expected, Yoshitoki and OE no Hiromoto issued a Migyosho (a document for informing people of the decision of Third Rank or upper people) under the name of Shogun Sanetomo. Many Gokenin responded to this and with Sanetomo's order, the Shogunate army pushed the Wada side back, using a large number of troops. By the evening, the Wada family were killed one after another and when his son Yoshinao was killed, aged Yoshimori cried loudly. Then a retainer of Yoshinori EDO attacked him and Yoshimori was killed. He was 67.

His sons Yoshishige and Yoshinobu WADA and Hidemori WADA were all died in battle but Yoshihide ASAHINA ran away from the battlefield and survived.

In Kamakura, his residence was on the side of Komachi-dori avenue near the third gate of the Hachimangu, near current Kamakura-bori (Kamakura style carving) Tsubakido shop. In Yuigahama where Yoshimori WADA was killed in action, there remains a place called 'Wada-zuka' (Wada Hill).

Yoshihide ASAHINA and Tomoe Gozen

According to "Genpei Seisui ki" (Rise and Fall of the Minamoto and the Taira clans), Yoshinaka Minamoto's favorite concubines and female warrior Tomoegozen visited Kamakura after Yoshinaka7s death, Yoshimori told Yoritomo that he wanted to have a child with someone as strong as her, and Yoshihide ASAHINA was born after Yoshimori married Tomoe. However, according to the records of "Azuma Kagami," when Yoshinaka died, Yoshihide was already nine years old and it is impossible for Tomoe to be Yoshihide's mother considering their ages; so it is thought to be a fiction in the book. Also, the story of Yoshimori marrying Tomoe only appears in the Seisui ki, but it does not appear in "Azuma Kagami" or "Heike Monogatari".