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General Minamoto no Yoshitomo served as the head of the Minamoto clan during the Heian Period and was the father of Minamoto no Yoritomo, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate.

Situated in the tranquil Mihama Cho region on the Chita Peninsula, approximately 35 kilometers south of Nagoya City, stands the Omido-ji Temple, a mid-seventh-century temple of the Shingon Buddhist sect. Also known as Noma Daibo, this ancient temple gained notoriety as the location where the renowned warrior Minamoto no Yoshitomo, father of the first Kamakura Shogun, Yoritomo, and Yoshitsune, met his demise.

In 1159, the once-close Minamoto and Taira clans had become bitter enemies following Yoshitomo's defeat in the Heiji Rebellion. Fleeing the capital, Kyoto, Yoshitomo sought refuge in modern-day Aichi Prefecture and stayed in the village of Noma at the residence of Osada Tadamune. Unfortunately, one of his retainers' fathers-in-law betrayed Yoshitomo for a reward, leading to a fatal attack on him during a bath.

Caught defenseless and unarmed, Yoshitomo's last words, uttered while surrounded by enemies, were "If I had even a wooden sword,..." before he was slain. His head was taken and washed in a nearby pond known as Chi No Ike, or Pond of Blood. The remnants of the bathhouse still exist, and the gravesite, enclosed by a low stone wall, is situated alongside the temple's main hall.

Visitors leave offerings of wooden swords at the noble warriors' grave, believing that dedicating a sword will lead to answered prayers. Consequently, the grave is adorned with various wooden swords. 

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The main worship hall, Kyakuden, at Noma Daibo is designated an Important Cultural Property, while the Bonsho Prayer Hall is a Prefectural Cultural asset. Of particular note is the entranceway to the Prayer Hall, which was once part of the reception hall at Momoyama Castle.

Between the Kyakuden and Bonsho halls stand a gate erected in 1190 by Yoritomo in memory of his slain father and a drum tower built by the Fifth Kamakura Shogun, Fujiwara Yoritsugu, in honor of his ancestor.

Noma Daibo maintains a somewhat eerie ambiance as the site where historical events unfolded. Not much appears to have changed in the approximately 860 years since Minamoto No Yoshitomo sought sanctuary here, only to tragically lose his life.

 


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