Minamoto no Yoritomo's paternal grandfather, Minamoto no Tameyoshi, led the esteemed Minamoto clan, while his maternal grandfather, a member of the renowned Fujiwara clan, served as the chief priest at Atsuta Shrine, the second most revered Shinto Shrine in Japan after the Great Shrine of Ise. Yoritomo's mother had returned to her hometown, now Nagoya, and Yoritomo was born in Atsuta (Nagoya) on May 9, 1147, at the location where the Seigan-ji Temple stands today.

In 1156, the Hogen Disturbance, a brief civil war, erupted over a dispute within the Imperial Court, divided between two branches led by the former Emperor Toba, supported by influential Fujiwara clan members and Taira no Kiyomori, and Toba's eldest son, the former Emperor Sutoku, backed by other Fujiwara clan members and hereditary Imperial regents.

After the conflict, Yoritomo's father assumed leadership of the Minamoto clan, and due to Yoritomo's mixed Minamoto and Fujiwara lineage, he became the heir, receiving his initial court title. The two rival families clashed again in the Heiji Disturbance, resulting in the Minamoto's defeat. With the Taira now dominant in Japan, the Minamoto faced execution or exile. Yoritomo, however, was spared. In 1179, he married into the Hojo clan, which supported his petition to reclaim leadership of the Minamoto clan, challenging the Taira's authority. Over the subsequent years, he gradually built a power base and witnessed the Taira's decisive defeat at the naval Battle of Dan-no-Ura in 1185. This victory granted him the freedom to establish a government in Kamakura in 1192, where he ruled until his accidental death at the age of 51 on February 9, 1199, following a fall from his horse the previous day.


See also 

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  • Yamanami Keisuke


    Yamanami Keisuke, the second in command of the Shinsengumi, a special police force during the late Edo period, shocked many when he performed seppuku on March 20, 1865, at the age of 32.

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  • Yamamoto Kansuke


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  • Yamaga Soko


    Yamaga Soko was a multifaceted figure in Japanese history, renowned as a strategist, philosopher, and scholar. Later in life, he became a ronin, leaving a significant mark on the understanding of the Tokugawa period samurai.

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  • William Adams - Miura Anjin


    William Adams, also known as Miura Anjin, holds the distinction of being one of the few non-Japanese individuals granted samurai status. Born in Gillingham, Kent, England in 1564, Adams embarked on a remarkable journey that led him to become an influential figure in Japanese history.

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  • Wakisaka Yasuharu


    Wakisaka Yasuharu held the position of daimyo over Awaji Island before ruling over Ozu in Iyo Province. His significance in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 cannot be overstated.

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  • Ukita Hideie


    Ukita Hideie was born as the second son of Ukita Naoie, the ruler of Okayama Castle. Tragically, Hideie's father passed away when he was just nine years old, thrusting him into the responsibilities of leading the castle, clan, and domain. Prior to his father's demise, the Ukita clan had aligned with Oda Nobunaga. After Nobunaga's assassination during the Honno-ji Incident, Hideie remained loyal to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, whose ties were further solidified through marriage.

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  • Uesugi Kenshin


    Uesugi Kenshin stands out as one of the most formidable daimyo of the Sengoku period, presenting the sole substantial challenge to Oda Nobunaga's quest for dominance.

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