Siege of Nara

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Siege of Nara
Part of the Genpei War
Todaiji Nara models (4).JPG
Miniature model of the Tōdai-ji before its destruction in 1180
Date 1180
Location Nara, Japan
Result Taira victory; much of city destroyed
Taira clan warrior monks of various Nara temples
Commanders and leaders
Taira no Shigehira
Taira no Tomomori
500 samurai[1] 7,000 monks[1]
Casualties and losses
Unknown 3,500[1]

Following the 1180 Battle of Uji, in which Minamoto no Yorimasa fought a small Taira army with the help of monks from the Mii-dera and other temples, the victorious Taira sought revenge. They burned the Miidera temple, before moving on to Nara, where they "set fire to the monastic complexes of Kōfuku-ji and Tōdai-ji."[2][3]

The Taira were opposed by warrior monks from nearly every major monastery and temple in Nara. Taira no Shigehira and Tomomori, both sons of Kiyomori, head of the clan, commanded the siege.

The monks dug ditches in the roads, and build many forms of improvised defenses. They fought primarily with bow & arrow, and naginata, while the Taira were on horseback, giving them a great advantage. Despite the monks' superior numbers, and their strategic defenses, their enemy succeeded in destroying nearly every temple in the city, including the Kōfuku-ji and Tōdai-ji. Only the Shōsōin survived.[1]

The 'Heike Monogatari' laments the destruction the Tōdai-ji's Daibutsu (Great Buddha statue):[1]

In all, 3,500 people died in the burning of Nara.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Turnbull, Stephen (1977). The Samurai, A Military History. MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 47–50. ISBN 0026205408. 
  2. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co. p. 200. ISBN 1854095234. 
  3. ^ Sansom, George (1958). A History of Japan to 1334. Stanford University Press. p. 315. ISBN 0804705232. 
  • Turnbull, Stephen (2003). 'Japanese Warrior Monks AD 949-1603'. Oxford: Osprey Publishing.

Coordinates: 34°41′00″N 135°48′00″E / 34.683333°N 135.8°E / 34.683333; 135.8