Yura gozen (由良御前)

Yura gozen (year of birth unknown - March 22, 1159) was a woman who lived at the end of the Heian Period. Her real name is unclear, but one theory suggests she was called Yura gozen. She was the lawful wife of MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo and the mother of MINAMOTO no Yoritomo.


She was born in Owari Province as a daughter of FUJIWARA no Suenori, who was in charge of Atsuta Daiguji (the highest priest serving at Atsuta-jingu Shrine in Owari Province). Genealogical sources suggest that she was his third daughter, but the exact order of birth is unclear. From the Atsuta-Daiguji family in those days, many men became Hokumen no Bushi (the Imperial Palace Guards) of Emperor Goshirakawa and some women became court ladies who served FUJIWARA no Shoshi, the mother of the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa, and the Imperial Princess Muneko, his sister, so that it seems that the Atsuta-Daiguji family was near to Taikenmonin (FUJIWARA no Shoshi), the Retired Emperor Goshirakawa and Josaimonin (Imperial Princess Muneko). It is suggested that Yura gozen herself could have been a court lady of Josaimonin.

It is guessed that she got married to MINAMOTO no Yoshitomo around the time of the Kyuan era and gave birth to Yoshitomo's three children, Yoritomo, MINAMOTO no Mareyoshi and Bomon hime (the lawful wife of Yoshiyasu ICHIJO) (however, according to another theory she also gave birth to MINAMOTO no Yoshikado).

In the Hogen War of 1156, the Atsuta-Daiguji family, and the family home of Yura gozen, sent troops to Yoshitomo and helped him, according to 'Hogen Monogatari' (The Tale of the Hogen War). In addition, MINAMOTO no Yoritomo, one of Yura gozen's sons, became 'Kogogushojo,' who served the empress, when Imperial Princess Muneko, who had deep relations with the Atsuta-Daiguji family, became empress in 1158. When Imperial Princess Muneko was given the title of nyoingo (a title of respect given to close female relatives of the emperor or a woman of comparable standing) in February or March of the following year, 1159, Yoritomo was assigned to her as Kurodo (Chamberlain).

Yura gozen died on March 29, 1159, according to the section on MINAMOTO no Yoritomo in 'kugyo bunin' (directory of successive Imperial officials)). It was nine months before the Heiji War.

On July 30, 1189, Yoritomo had a tower built in the Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine in Kamakura for the repose of the soul of his mother, held a large memorial service by the doshi (officiating monk) whom he summoned from Kyoto, and received horses and Nishiki (brocade) from the Emperor Goshirakawa.