Minamoto no Yorimitsu

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Minamoto no Yorimitsu (源 頼光, 948 – August 29, 1021), also known as Minamoto no Raikō, served the regents of the Fujiwara clan along with his brother Yorinobu, taking the violent measures the Fujiwara were themselves unable to take. He is one of the earliest Minamoto of historical note for his military exploits, and is known for quelling the bandits of Ōeyama.

His loyal service earned him the governorships of Izu Province, Kozuke and a number of others in turn, as well as a number of other high government positions. Yorimitsu served as commander of a regiment of the Imperial Guard, and as a secretary in the Ministry of War. When his father Minamoto no Mitsunaka died, he inherited Settsu Province.[1]

Yorimitsu featured in a number of legends and tales, including the legend of Kintarō (Golden Boy a.k.a. Sakata no Kintoki), the legend of Shuten Dōji, and the legend of Tsuchigumo.

Raiko is usually accompanied by his four legendary retainers, known as the Shiten'ō (The Four Guardian Kings). They were Watanabe no Tsuna, Sakata no Kintoki, Urabe no Suetake, and Usui Sadamitsu.[2]

The Karatsu Kunchi festival in Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture, features a large float inspired by the helmet of Minamoto, being partially devoured by the oni Shuten Douji. [1]


Raiko wrote a renga with his wife, which appears in the Kin'yō Wakashū (nos.703-704):
tade karu fune no suguru narikeri
asa madaki kararo no oto no kikoyuru wa
This translates as:
a boat harvesting smartweed is passing by
I thought I heard someone rowing smartly before dawn[2]

Popular Games and other works[edit]

A female version of Yorimitsu appears in the mobile game Fate/Grand Order under the name Minamoto no Raikō. In Grand Order, Raikō and Ushi Gozen are both the same person, which is the explanation to why Raikō's gender is female.

The main character; Raikoh Minamoto in the 2003 Xbox game Otogi: Myth of Demons, and its sequel Otogi 2: Immortal Warriors were loosely based on Minamoto no Yorimitsu (Otogi, Otogi 2) and The Four Guardian Kings (Otogi 2).

The 2005 anime: Otogi Zoshi was also based loosely on Minamoto no Yorimitsu and his retainers.

Raikou's fictional descendant, the also named Raikou Minamoto, is the main antagonist in both the manga and anime versions of Tactics. The original Raikou himself later appears in the form of flashbacks.

A female version of Raiko appears in the 2004 New Getter Robo OVA series, fighting Oni with swords made of Getter Alloy.

Minamoto also appears on the game Onmyoji, as an ambitious onmyoji, who hated ayakashi unlike the main character, Seimei. A version of the character appears in the 2011 Legend of the Millennium Dragon animated movie as a bodyguard to the time travelling student, Jun Tendo.

Aside from these, Minamoto also appears in the manga series, Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, acting as the ancestor of the fictional exorcist character, Kou Minamoto, who was said to have been from the clan of the one who defeated Shuten Douji, one of the 3 Great Evil Youkai of Japan.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sansom, George (1958). A history of Japan to 1334. Stanford University Press. pp. 241–242. ISBN 978-0804705233.
  2. ^ a b Sato, Hiroaki (1995). Legends of the Samurai. Overlook Duckworth. pp. 61–64, 66. ISBN 9781590207307.
  • Sansom, George (1958). 'A History of Japan to 1334'. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.