Minamoto no Tametomo

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Minamoto no Tametomo drawn by Kikuchi Yōsai
In this Japanese name, the family name is "Minamoto".

Minamoto no Tametomo (源 為朝?, 1139 – April 23, 1170) (also known as Chinzei Hachirō Tametomo (鎮西 八郎 為朝?)) was a samurai who fought in the Hōgen Rebellion of 1156. He was the son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi, and brother to Yukiie and Yoshitomo.

In the Hōgen Rebellion, he fought to defend the Shirakawa-den, alongside his father, against the forces of Taira no Kiyomori and Minamoto no Yoshitomo, his brother. The palace was set aflame, and Tametomo was forced to flee and was banished to the island of Ōshima in the Izu Islands. In Ryūkyū, it has long been believed that he made his way down to Okinawa during his exile, and founded their kingdom by siring the first king of Chūzan, Shunten. This tale was included in Chūzan Seikan by Shō Shōken, the first history of Ryūkyū.

Minamoto no Tametomo chasing away demons, in an 1890 print by Yoshitoshi.

Tametomo is known in the epic chronicles as a powerful archer and it is said that he once sunk an entire Taira ship with a single arrow by puncturing its hull below the waterline. It is also added in many legends that his left arm was about 6 in. longer than his right, enabling a longer draw of the arrow, and more powerful shots.

In 1170, as the conflict between the Minamoto and Taira continued, Tametomo became surrounded by enemy Taira warriors on a small island. In some legends, it is said that Taira cut the tendons of Tametomo's left arm. Thinking that he wouldn't be able to fight anymore, he killed himself by slicing his abdomen, or committing seppuku. He is quite possibly the first warrior to commit seppuku in the chronicles.

References[edit]

  • Kerr, George H. (2000). Okinawa: the History of an Island People. (revised ed.) Boston: Tuttle Publishing.
  • Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co.