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Minamoto no Sanetomo, the younger sibling of the 2nd Kamakura Shogun, Yoriie, who had been dethroned by their maternal grandfather and later assassinated, consequently leading to Sanetomo's appointment as Shogun.

Born on September 17, 1192, Sanetomo found himself manipulated by his mother and lived in constant fear of his grandfather, who made multiple attempts to eliminate him. Despite these challenges, Sanetomo devoted his time to composing poetry, creating over 700 high-quality Waka poems. The powerlessness he experienced, along with persistent threats to his life, drove him to develop a chronic dependency on alcohol.

At the age of 27, Sanetomo met his demise through assassination orchestrated by his nephew and adopted son, Minamoto no Yoshinari, on the Grand Stairway of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura in 1219.

On the snowy 13th day of the second month, coinciding with the Buddhist New Year, Sanetomo had just concluded a ceremony regarding his recent appointment as Udaijin, or Minister. Exiting the shrine via the grand stairway, Yoshinari ambushed him, beheading the shogun and killing the sword-bearer. The intended target should have been the future regent, Hojo Yoshitoki; however, feeling unwell, he had left earlier, and his substitute was mistakenly slain. Fleeing with Sanetomo’s head, Yoshinari wrote a letter proclaiming himself the new shogun. Nevertheless, his "reign" was brief, as Yoshinari was apprehended and executed within hours.

 


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