Fujiwara no Sumitomo

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In this Japanese name, the family name is Fujiwara.
Fujiwara no Sumitomo

Fujiwara no Sumitomo (藤原 純友?, died 941) was a Japanese Heian era provincial official and pirate, most famous for his efforts to establish a sort of pirate kingdom for himself in the Inland Sea region between 936 and 941.

Pirate activities in and around the Inland Sea had been a steadily growing nuisance since the middle of the ninth century. By the second quarter of the tenth, they had become a problem of serious proportions. Sumitomo seems to have exploited a combination of local connections and illustrious pedigree to make an already difficult situation far worse. Government efforts to control him met with mixed success at best until the summer of 941, when forces under Ono Yoshifuru and Okura Harusane caught the pirate leader and most of his fleet in Hakata Bay, on the northwest coast of Kyushu, fresh from an unusually destructive raid on Dazaifu. In the ensuing battle, several hundred pirates were killed, and over 800 of their boats captured. Sumitomo himself was able to escape, only to be apprehended in his native Iyo province by Tachibana Tōyasu. Sources disagree on whether he was killed during this capture or died later in prison.[1]

According to legend, Sumitomo supposedly conspired with an eastern warrior leader, Taira Masakado, to divide the country between them. Historians today, however, agree that there is no basis for this claim.


  1. ^ Friday, The First Samurai, 110-114, 143-146.


Cobbing, Andrew (2009). Kyushu: Gateway to Japan. Global Oriental Ltd. ISBN 978-1-905246-18-2.