MINAMOTO Minamoto clan crest CLANSMEN

Here are some of the historical persons whose last name was Minamoto: Makoto (810-869), Akira (814-843), Tsune (812-854), Sadamu (815-863), Toru (822-895), Hikaru (845-913), Kintada (889-948), Tsunemoto (894-961), Shitagau (911-983), Mitsunaka (912-997), Takaakira (914-982), Hiromasa (918-980), Masanobu (920-993), Hideakira (died in 940), Yorimitsu (944-1021), Yorinobu (968-1048), Toshikata (959-1027), Yoriyoshi (995-1082), Morofusa (1003-1077), Takakuni (1004-1077), Toshiaki (1044-1114), Moroyori (1070-1139), Nakatsuna (died in 1180), Tameyoshi (1096-1156), Toshifusa (1035-1131), Yoshiie (1041-1108), Yoshimitsu (1056-1127), Masazane (1059-1127), Ienaga (1110-1234), Yorimasa (1106-1180), Yoshitomo (1123-1160), Yoshitsuna (died in 1134), Tametomo (1139-1170), Tomonaga (1144-1160), Yoshihira (1140-1160), Yoritomo (1147-1199), Yoshikata and Yoshikuni (both died in 1155), Yoshinaka (1154-1184), Noriyori (1156-1193), Yoshitsune (1159-1189), Ariko (1171-1257), Yoriie (1182-1204), Yukiie (died in 1186), Sanetomo (1192-1219), Ichiman (1200-1203), Senjumaru (1201-1214), Michimoto (1240-1308), Sadazane (1241-1306), Mitsuyuki (c. 1204), Tomomori (1249-1316), Tomonji (1223-1275), Arifusa (1251-1319), Masafusa (1261-1302).

The clan started from within the Imperial House, in this case via the ascent of Emperor Seiwa, followed by Prince Sadazumi, after which the offsprings were too numerous to stay under the Imperial roof, and so they moved out and settled down around Osaka, and adopted the clansname 'Minamoto'. The first chief of the clan was Minamoto Tsunemoto.

He was succeeded by Minamoto Mitsunaka, whose line became the source of the famous Minamoto clansmen most-often mentioned in all samurai texts since. It began with his trio of warlike sons: Minamoto Yorinobu, Yorichika and Yoshimitsu -- this generation of the Minamotos were such that people of their times couldn't even imagined that they practically just came out of the Palace; they cared for nothing but martial arts, and this was to be the characteristics of the samurai for good even though at the time there was no one calling anybody 'samurai' yet (see previous page about the origins of the term 'samurai').

Of the three, it was Minamoto Yoriyoshi who was responsible for the turning-up of the next well-known clansmen, via his sons Minamoto Yoshimitsu, Yoshitsuna, and Yoshiiye. Now the clan was largely seen by their neighbors as a dangerous crowd prone to get really ruthless, fortunately (as far as the neighbors were concerned) they seemed to have started to kill each other instead. This lamentable characteristic would be the Minamotos' darkside forever. Minamoto Yoshitsuna's death in an internal quarrel within his own family marked the public launch of this, and got the entire clan branded for being fratricidal, hence too scary to deal with.

All three sons of Minamoto Yoshitsuna's were killed in the same family feud: Minamoto Yoshiaki, Yoshitoshi, and Yoshishige; plus Minamoto Yoshiie's son Tameyoshi. Luckily, the latter left enough offsprings to populate the spot with, even though Minamoto Yukiie, Tamemune, Yoritaka, Yoshihiro, and Yoshitaka were dead in the hands of their own relatives, just like their dad. The remaining clansmen from this fertile branch were Minamoto Tametomo, who was gotten rid of by exiling him; then Minamoto Tamenaka, Tamenari, Yorinaka, and the most famous of all within this generation, Minamoto Yoshitomo (click here for story and pictures).


Minamoto Yoritomo
Minamoto Yoritomo


Minamoto Yoshitaka, who died too early to see his son grew up to be a legend, left just that son to history: Minamoto Yoshinaka (click here for story and pictures). The young man was a bit of a loner; people said not the tragedies in his family whipped him up to be little more than a true-blue manowar, i.e. he had no place for any value outside martial arts within his mind. The reportedly roughest clansman is also remembered as the one who wasn't proud of the clan's name he was born with. When coming of age, Minamoto Yoshinaka got rid of the name 'Minamoto' and used the name of the place where his troops were staying at: Kiso. This is the famous Kiso Yoshinaka that you must have been hearing so often of.

Kiso Yoshinaka died not in any combat against outsiders but in a battle versus his cousin Minamoto Yoshitsune, the -- of course -- best-known Minamoto in the entire solar system. Yoshitsune did so because his older brother Minamoto Yoritomo ordered him to. Both of them were sons of Minamoto Yoshitomo, so were the monkish Minamoto Gien and Minamoto Zensei -- the latter died in the family feud, too, like another brother of Yoritomo's, Minamoto Noriyori. After their dad's unsuccessful attempt at a coup, earlier, Minamoto Mareyoshi, Asanaga and Yoshihira were already been killed by the Tairas.

Because of Minamoto Yoritomo's penchant for killing his own siblings, only he left -- in collaboration with the most infamous Buddhist nun on this planet, Hojo Masako, i.e. his wife -- some offsprings to continue the clan's existence. But not for long. Minamoto Yoriiye, the second Shogun, was killed by the Hojos; Minamoto Sanetomo, the third Shogun, his brother, was also killed -- by his own family. The Hojos also disposed of the sons of Yoriiye's, Minamoto Kugyo and Ichiman. From this point on, the Hojos ruled.



TAIRA Taira clan crest CLANSMEN

The Taira clan started from the family of Emperor Kuammu who moved the capital city of Japan from Nara to Kyoto or Heian. To be exact, they stemmed from the line of the prince known mostly by his public appelation, Kazurahara Shinno. He was succeeded by Prince Takami, after whom the family adopted the name 'Taira' as they settled down outside Kyoto. The first chief was Taira Takamochi.

Taira Takamochi's sons provided the next generation of clansmen: Taira Yoshishige, Yoshibumi, Yoshimochi, Yoshikane, and Kunika. In the more or less 'anything goes' era they lived in, while the Minamotos were busy whacking each other's head off, the Tairas were incredibly united -- no recordable family quarrel there.

Yoshishige's son Taira Yoshimasa followed, then his son Kimiyoshi. Yoshibumi had his son Taira Tadayori, from whom came out Taira Masatsune and Tadatsune. They were all more or less decent warriors with no bad rumors tailing them everywhere; but Taira Yoshimochi got a son whom the Japanese would never forget until today: Taira Masakado (see previous page for what he did).


Minamoto Yoritomo
Taira Kiyomori


It was Taira Kunika whose family gave the world the famous and tragic clansmen recalled until the 21st century through endless citations of the Tale of the Heike. He had two sons, Taira Shigemori and Sadamori. The latter was the dad of Taira Koremasa and grandpa to Taira Koretoki. Shigemori's line was perpetuated by Taira Korehiro, Masanori, Masahira, Masamori, and the poetic archer Taira Tadamori, who started the line of Taira Tadanori, Yonimori, Norimori, Tsunemori, and the greatest of all the Taira clansmen at this point in time: Taira Kiyomori, who would die craving Minamoto Yoritomo's heads which he would never got, but he was very lucky not to see his offsprings to get all wiped out of the face of this planet by the Minamotos right after his death.

Other Taira clansmen who were found lounging about the history of Japan include Taira Nobutoki (1238-1323), Koretsugu (1283-1343).



The Minamoto and Taira clans are not renown solely for the kick-and-slash biz; there had been clan members whose pursuit of happiness went to some other directions. Minamoto Muneyuki (died in 939), for example, was a poet; so was Minamoto Shigeyuki, who was a Governor (of Sagami) when not writing. He died in exactly the year 1000. Minamoto Toshiyori (1057-1129) was a Minister, yet he also compiled the Imperial Anthology titled Kinyoshu (1124-27). Minamoto Kanemasa (12th-century) was a government official working at the court of the Empress, and he wrote, too. Minamoto Sanetomo (1192-1219) was the busiest of all the clan's literatis -- he was the third Shogun at Kamakura; but somehow he found time to scribble and collect his poems in a book called Kinkaishu. Here are specimens for your perusal:

Minamoto clan crest


" In my mountain hamlet
Winter is even more lonely
And forlorn, for man
And grass both wither.

(Minamoto no Muneyuki)


" Making no sound
Yet smouldering with passion
The firefly is still sadder
Than the moaning insect.

(Minamoto no Shigeyuki)


The Tairas were not lacking in counterparts. Taira Kanemori (mid-10th century) was the Governor of Echigo who composed verses in-between official duties. The most powerful Taira Shogun's (Kiyomori's) own brother, Taira Tadanori (1144-1184) was not just a very famous swordsman, but also got a fandom for his poetry. His works were collected in Imperial Anthologies and a book called Senzaishu.


Taira clan crest


" I would conceal it, yet
In my looks it is shown --
My love, so plain
That men ask of me
"Do you not brood on things?"

(Taira no Kanemori)


" Overtaken by the dark,
The shade beneath a tree
I make my inn;
And tonight my host
Shall be a flower.

(Taira no Tadanori)




Here he is in full armor at your right. He's more furiously plucky than bravely burly; only a little more than 5'4", he's the example of best Japanese cavalier, and as an archer he's nearly inimitable. The Japanese tradition has it that actually Yoshitsune was kind of short-tempered and very quick to take offense -- the usual traits infecting a great chunk of warriors no matter when they be. But he was loyal and true, and kept on loving and respecting his treacherously jealous brother Yoritomo until the end.

Minamoto Yoshitsune

Minamoto Yoshitsune at war, the daredevil of the clan (the one wearing the horned helmet). There's nobody to stop him in combat.


The greatest war in Japanese history is this one: Minamoto (Genji) clan against the Taira (Heike) clan in 1185 at Dan no Ura.

Minamoto Yoshitsune

Minamoto Yoshitsune in his flight, portrayed by an actor in 2000's. He fled from his brother's Army only accompanied by his faithful vassal Benkei.

Minamoto Yoshitsune

A dollmaker's vista of Minamoto Yoshitsune in 1990's (the first 3 pictures), and Yoshitsune according to the portrait-painter of 16th-century (the fourth picture).



Fujiwara Teika (1162-1224), Sakesue (1207-1289), Fuyukata (c. 1329); Takechika (1203-1279), Saneyasu (1269-1327), Kinto (966-1041), Morosuke (908-960), Koremichi (1093-1163), Yoshifusa (804-872), Sanesada (1139-1191), Kintaka (1253-1305), Michinaga (c. 966), Yukinari (972-1027), Yukifusa (d. 1337), Sari (944-998), Kimmori (1249-1317), Kenjo (1295-1330), Takasuke (1293-1352), Michinori (1106-1159), Moroie (c. 1275), Tameuji (1222-1286), Choku (c. 1270), Tameiyo (1250-1338), Motofuji (1276-1316), Motouji (1211-1282), Moronobu (1274-1321), Sanetomo (1202-1265), Kinyo (d. 1301), Mitsuchika (1176-1221), Kinsada (1049-1099), Iehira (1282-1324), Sanekata (d. 994), Kanesue (1284-1339), Yorinaga (1120-1156), Tsunetada (1247-1320).

And, since the Fujiwara clan (like the Hojo later) constantly spread their net around the Imperial House via political marriages, the Fujiwara ladies, too, were remembered by history:


Fujiwara Kenshi (994-1027, daughter of Fujiwara Michinaga), concubine of Emperor Sanjo; Fujiwara Menoto (c. 1000's, daughter of Fujiwara Masatoki), court lady; Fujiwara Akitsuna (1029-1103, daughter of Fujiwara Fuyukata), court lady; Fujiwara Yushi (1207-1286); Fujiwara Inshi (1246-1317), concubine of Emperor Fukakusa II ('Go-Fukakusa'), mother of Emperor Fushimi.



Saionji Kinsuke (1223-1267), Sanekune (1249-1322), Kishi (female, d. 1333, concubine of Emperor Daigo II), Saneuji (1194-1269), Kinhira (1264-1315), Kinakira (1282-1336), Sanehira (1290-1332)

Koga Mototomo (1232-1297), Mototoshi (1261-1319), Michimitsu (1187-1248), Mitsutaka (1284-1331)

Sugawara Michizane (845-903), Fumitoki (899-981), Arikane (1241-1321).

Watanabe, e.g. Watanabe Tsuna (10th century).

Adachi Yoshikage (1218), Yasumori (1231-1285)

Hino, e.g. Hino Suketomo (1290-1332)

Kyogoku, e.g. Kyogoku Tamekane (1254-1322)

Abe Yoshihira (c. 1074), Seimei (d. 1005)

Oe, e.g. Oe Masahira (952-1012)

Toyohara, e.g. Toyohara Tatsuaki (1291-1363)

Oga, e.g. Oga Kagemochi (1292-1376)


and a pine tree that got a monument for its own just because he was there once.


Minamoto best descendant: Tokugawa Shogun   Taira best descendant: Oda Nobunaga


Movie Around the Minamoto Clan | Real-life in the 'Onmyoji' Heian Era | Tomoe, Warrior-Concubine of Minamoto Yoshinaka | Celebrated Losers: the Taira Clan's Slain Heroes | Minamoto Yorimasa | Minamoto Yoshitomo | Minamoto Yoritomo | Story & Pictures of Minamoto Yoshitsune | Taira Kiyomori & His Malicious Nun | The Beauty of Taira Atsumori | Taira Munemori's War-Cry | Taira Tomoakira's Last Dance | The Naval Battle of Dan no Ura




.HELP ME ....Answering people's questions about
Japan, samurai & warlords.







Best Asian Movies All Movie Pages Johnny Depp Hideaki Ito Takeshi Kaneshiro Takashi Sorimachi Daisuke Ryu John Corbett Ueto Aya Odagiri Joe Kitano 'Beat' Takashi Nakai Kiichi Sanada Hiroyuki Fujiwara Tatsuya, Kimura Takuya, Sato Koichi, Miyazawa Rie, Kubozuka Yosuke, Watanabe Ken Nakamura Toru Their Fans in Indonesia Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi




Site & Rap © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001,
2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Nina