Battle of Uji (1180)
In early 1180, Prince Mochihito, the Minamoto Clan's favored claimant to the Imperial Throne, was chased by Taira forces to the Mii-dera, a temple just outside Kyoto. Due to the interference of a Mii-dera monk with Taira sympathies, the Minamoto army arrived too late to help defend the temple.
Minamoto no Yorimasa led Prince Mochihito, along with the Minamoto army and a number of warrior monks from Mii-dera, south towards Nara. They crossed the Uji River, just outside the Byōdō-in, and tore up the planks of the bridge behind them to prevent the Taira following them.
Three warrior monks in particular are named in the Heike Monogatari: Gochi-in no Tajima, Tsutsui Jōmyō Meishū, and Ichirai Hōshi. These three, along with the other monks of Mii-dera, fought with bow and arrow, a variety of swords and daggers, and naginata.
However, the Taira forces began to ford the river, and caught up with the Minamoto. Yorimasa tried to help the Prince get away, but was struck with an arrow. He committed seppuku, setting a ritual precedent of committing suicide rather than surrendering, which would be honored up into World War II. This is the first known historical incident of this form of seppuku. The Prince was captured and killed shortly afterwards by the Taira warriors.
- Sansom, George (1958). A History of Japan to 1334. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
- Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co.
- Turnbull, Stephen (2003). Japanese Warrior Monks AD 949-1603. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.