The GENPEI WAR (源平合戦, Genpei kassen, Genpei gassen)
(1180–1185) was a conflict between the
during the late-
Heian period of Japan. It resulted in the fall of the
Taira clan and the establishment of the
Kamakura shogunate under
Minamoto no Yoritomo in 1192.
The name "Genpei" (sometimes romanised as Gempei) comes from
alternate readings of the kanji "Minamoto" (源) and "Taira" (平).
The conflict is also known in Japanese as the JISHō-JUEI WAR
Juei no ran), after the two eras
between which it took place.
It followed a coup d\'état by the
Taira in 1179 and call to arms
against them led by the
Minamoto in 1180. The ensuing Battle of Uji
took place just outside
Kyoto , starting a five-year-long war,
concluding with a decisive
Minamoto victory in the naval Battle of
* 1 Background
* 2 Beginnings of the war
* 3 Turning of the tide
* 4 Final stages of the conflict
* 5 Consequences of the Genpei
* 6 Aftermath
* 7 Battles
* 8 Major figures in the Genpei
Minamoto Clan (also known as "Genji")
Taira Clan (also known as "Heike")
* 9 Genpei
War in literature
* 10 Genpei
War in popular culture
* 11 See also
* 12 References
* 13 External links
War was the culmination of a decades-long conflict between
the two aforementioned clans over dominance of the Imperial court, and
by extension, control of Japan. In the
Hōgen Rebellion and in the
Heiji Rebellion of earlier decades, the
Minamoto attempted to regain
control from the
Taira and failed. :255–259
Taira no Kiyomori put his grandson Antoku (then only 2 years
of age) on the throne after the abdication of
Emperor Takakura .
Prince Mochihito felt that he was being denied his
rightful place on the throne and, with the help of
Yorimasa , sent out a call to arms to the
Minamoto clan and Buddhist
monasteries in May. However, this plot ended with the deaths of
Yorimasa and Mochihito.
In June 1180, Kiyomori moved the seat of imperial power to
Fukuhara-kyō , "his immediate objective seems to have been to get the
royal family under his close charge." :284
BEGINNINGS OF THE WAR
The Phoenix Hall of the
Byōdō-in , where Yorimasa committed
The actions of
Taira no Kiyomori having deepened
Minamoto hatred for
Taira clan, a call for arms was sent up by
Minamoto no Yorimasa
and Prince Mochihito. Not knowing who was behind this rally, Kiyomori
called for the arrest of Mochihito, who sought protection at the
Mii-dera . The
Mii-dera monks were unable to ensure him
sufficient protection, so he was forced to move along. He was then
Taira forces to the
Byōdō-in , just outside Kyoto. The war
began thus, with a dramatic encounter on and around the bridge over
the River Uji . This battle ended in Yorimasa's ritual suicide inside
Byōdō-in and Mochihito's capture and execution shortly
It was at this point that
Minamoto no Yoritomo took over leadership
Minamoto clan and began traveling the country seeking to
rendezvous with allies. Leaving
Izu Province and heading for the
Hakone Pass, he was defeated by the
Taira in the battle of
Ishibashiyama . :289 However he successfully made it to the provinces
of Kai and Kōzuke , where the Takeda and other friendly families
helped repel the
Taira army. Meanwhile,
Taira no Kiyomori, seeking
vengeance against the
Mii-dera monks and others, besieged Nara and
burnt much of the city to the ground.
Fighting continued the following year, 1181.
Minamoto no Yukiie was
defeated by a force led by
Taira no Shigehira at the Battle of
Sunomatagawa . However, the "
Taira could not follow up their victory."
Taira no Kiyomori died from illness in the spring of 1181, and around
the same time Japan began to suffer from a famine which was to last
through the following year. The
Taira moved to attack
Yoshinaka , a cousin of Yoritomo, who had raised forces in the north
but were unsuccessful. For nearly two years, the war ceased, only to
resume in the spring of 1183. :287, 293
TURNING OF THE TIDE
In 1183, the
Taira loss at the
Battle of Kurikara was so severe that
they found themselves, several months later, under siege in Kyoto,
with Yoshinaka approaching the city from the north and Yukiie from the
Minamoto leaders had seen little or no opposition in
marching to the capital and now forced the
Taira to flee the city, who
first set fire to their Rokuhara.
Taira no Munemori , head of the clan
since his father Kiyomori's death, led his army, along with the young
Emperor Antoku and the Imperial regalia , to the west. The cloistered
emperor Go-Shirakawa defected to Yoshinaka. Go-Shirakawa then issued a
mandate for Yoshinaka to "join with Yukiiye in destroying Munemori and
his army". :293–294
In 1183, Yoshinaka once again sought to gain control of the Minamoto
clan by planning an attack on Yoritomo, while simultaneously pursuing
Taira westward. The
Taira set up a temporary Court at Daaifu in
Kyūshū , the southernmost of Japan's main islands. They were forced
out soon afterwards by local revolts instigated by Go-Shirakawa, and
moved their Court to Yashima . The
Taira were successful in beating
off an attack by Yoshinaka's pursuing forces at the Battle of
Mizushima . :295–296
Yoshinaka conspired with Yukiie to seize the capital and the Emperor,
possibly even establishing a new Court in the north. However, Yukiie
revealed these plans to the Emperor, who communicated them to
Yoritomo. Betrayed by Yukiie, Yoshinaka took command of
Kyoto and, at
the beginning of 1184, set fire to the
Hōjūjidono , taking the
Emperor into custody.
Minamoto no Yoshitsune arrived soon afterwards
with his brother Noriyori and a considerable force, driving Yoshinaka
from the city. After fighting his cousins at the bridge over the Uji ,
Yoshinaka made his final stand at Awazu , in
Ōmi Province . He was
defeated by Yoshitsune, and killed while attempting to flee.
FINAL STAGES OF THE CONFLICT
As the united
Minamoto forces left Kyoto, the
consolidating their position at a number of sites in and around the
Inland Sea, which was their ancestral home territory. They received a
number of missives from the Emperor offering that if they surrendered
by the seventh day of the second month, the
Minamoto could be
persuaded to agree to a truce. This was a farce, as neither the
Minamoto nor the Emperor had any intentions of waiting until the
eighth day to attack. Nevertheless, this tactic offered the Emperor a
chance to regain the Regalia and to distract the
Minamoto army, led by Yoshitsune and Noriyori, made their first
major assault at Ichi-no-Tani , one of the primary
Taira camps on
Honshū. The camp was attacked from two directions by Yoshitsune and
Noriyori, and the
Taira not killed or captured retreated to Yashima.
Minamoto were not prepared to assault Shikoku; a
six-month pause thus ensued during which the
Minamoto took the proper
steps. Though on the retreat, the
Taira enjoyed the distinct
advantages of being in friendly, home territories, and of being far
more adept at naval combat than their rivals. :297–299
It was not until nearly a year after Ichi-no-Tani that the main Taira
force at Yashima came under assault. Seeing Yoshitsune's bonfires in
their rear, the
Taira had not expected a land-based attack and took to
their ships. This was a deceptive play on the part of the Minamoto,
Taira improvised imperial palace fell, and many escaped
along with the Imperial regalia and the Emperor Antoku. :301–302
War came to an end one month later, following the battle
of Dan-no-ura , one of the most famous and important battles in
Japanese history. The
Minamoto engaged the
Taira fleet in the Straits
of Shimonoseki , a tiny body of water separating the islands of
Honshū and Kyūshū. The tides played a powerful role in the
development of the battle, granting the advantage first to the Taira,
who were more experienced and abler sailors, and later to the
Minamoto advantage was considerably enhanced by the
defection of Taguchi, a
Shikoku warrior who went over to the Minamoto
side in the middle of the action. Many of the
Taira nobles perished,
Emperor Antoku and the widow of Kiyomori. :302–303
CONSEQUENCES OF THE GENPEI WAR
The defeat of the
Taira armies mean the end of
Taira "dominance at
the capital". In December 1185, Go-Shirakawa granted to Yoritomo the
power to collect taxes, and "appoint stewards and constables in all
provinces". Finally, in 1192, after Go-Shirakawa's death, Yoritomo was
granted the imperial commission Sei-i Tai Shogun. This was the
beginning of a feudal state in Japan, with real power now in Kamakura.
Kyoto remained the "seat of national ceremony and ritual."
:304, 318, 331
The end of the Genpei
War and beginning of the Kamakura shogunate
marked the rise of military (samurai) power and the suppression of the
power of the emperor, who was compelled to preside without effective
political or military power, until the
Meiji Restoration over 650
In addition, this war and its aftermath established red and white,
the colors of the
Minamoto standards, respectively, as
Japan's national colors. Today, these colors can be seen on the flag
of Japan , and also in banners and flags in sumo and other traditional
Map of the battles of the Genpei
* 1180 First Battle of Uji – regarded as the first battle in the
Genpei Wars, the monks of the
Byodoin fight alongside
Siege of Nara – the
Taira set fire to temples and
monasteries, to cut supplies to their rivals.
Battle of Ishibashiyama –
Minamoto no Yoritomo 's first
battle against the Taira.
Minamoto Yoritomo loses the battle.
Battle of Fujikawa – the
Taira mistake a flock of waterfowl
for a sneak attack by the
Minamoto in the night, and retreat before
any fighting occurs.
Battle of Sunomatagawa – the
Taira thwart a sneak attack in
the night but retreat.
Battle of Yahagigawa – the Minamoto, retreating from
Sunomata , attempt to make a stand.
Siege of Hiuchi – the
Taira attack a
Battle of Kurikara – the tide of the war turns, in the
Battle of Shinohara – Yoshinaka pursues the
Battle of Mizushima – the
Taira intercept a
heading for Yashima .
Siege of Fukuryūji – the
Minamoto attack a
Battle of Muroyama –
Minamoto no Yukiie tries and fails to
recoup the loss of the battle of Mizushima.
Siege of Hōjūjidono – Yoshinaka sets fire to the
Hojuji-dono and kidnaps Emperor Go-Shirakawa.
* 1184 Second Battle of Uji – Yoshinaka is pursued out of the
capital by Yoshitsune and Noriyori.
Battle of Awazu –
Minamoto no Yoshinaka is defeated and
killed by Yoshitsune and Noriyori .
Battle of Ichi-no-Tani –
Minamoto no Yoshitsune attacks and
Taira from one of their primary fortresses.
Battle of Kojima –
Taira fleeing Ichi-no-Tani are attacked
Minamoto no Noriyori.
Battle of Yashima – the
Minamoto assault their enemies'
fortress, just off
Battle of Dan-no-ura –
Minamoto no Yoshitsune decisively
Taira forces in naval battle ending the war.
MAJOR FIGURES IN THE GENPEI WAR
MINAMOTO CLAN (ALSO KNOWN AS "GENJI")
Minamoto no Yoritomo, from an 1179 hanging scroll by Fujiwara no
Minamoto were one of the four great clans that dominated Japanese
politics during the
Heian period (794-1185). They were, however,
decimated by the
Taira in the
Heiji Rebellion of 1160.
Yoshitomo had been the head of the clan at this time; upon his defeat
at the hands of
Taira no Kiyomori, two of his sons were killed and the
Minamoto no Yoritomo, was banished. Following the call to arms
Prince Mochihito and
Minamoto no Yorimasa in 1180, the clan would
gather together and rise to power again. The Genpei war would see the
Minamoto clan defeat the
Taira and take command of the entire country.
Minamoto no Noriyori (源範頼), general, younger brother of
Minamoto no Yorimasa (源頼政), head of the clan at the
beginning of the war.
Minamoto no Yoritomo (源頼朝), head of the clan upon Yorimasa's
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源義経), younger brother of Yoritomo,
chief general of the clan.
Minamoto no Yukiie (源行家), general, uncle to Yoritomo.
* Allies and vassals:
Emperor Go-Shirakawa (後白河), cloistered (retired) emperor .
Prince Mochihito (以仁王), Imperial Prince.
* Benkei (弁慶), sōhei (warrior monk), ally of Yoshitsune.
Hōjō Tokimasa (北条 時政), head of the
Hōjō clan (北条),
father-in-law of Yoritomo.
Kajiwara Kagetoki (梶原 景時), officially an ally of
Yoshitsune, in fact a spy for Yoritomo.
Kumagai Naozane (熊谷 直実), samurai vassal of Yoritomo.
* Sasaki Moritsuna (佐々木 盛綱), vassal of Noriyori who
commanded the assault at the battle of Kojima.
* Taguchi Shigeyoshi (田口 重能),
Taira general who turned to
Minamoto camp upon seeing the tide turn at the battle of Dan no
Ura, thus ensuring
Nasu no Yoichi (那須与一), celebrated archer and Minamoto
* Yada Yoshiyasu (矢田 義康), vassal of Yoshinaka and commander
Minamoto forces at the battle of Mizushima.
* The sōhei (warrior-monks) of
Mii-dera and other temples. Three in
particular are mentioned in the Heike Monogatari for their part in the
first battle of Uji:
Ichirai Hoshi (一来 法師), who is famous for having jumped
ahead of Jomyo Meishu and led the
Mii-dera monks to battle.
Gochi-in no Tajima (五智院 但馬), called Tajima the
arrow-cutter, and famous for deflecting the arrows of the
his naginata , upon the bridge over the Uji.
Tsutsui Jōmyō Meishū (筒井 浄妙 明秀), who fought to his
last on the bridge over the Uji, taking over sixty arrows and still
* Partisans of
Minamoto no Yoshinaka (源義仲), cousin of Yoritomo,
who supported his rebellion:
Imai Kanehira (今井 兼平), who joined Yoshinaka in his escape
TAIRA CLAN (ALSO KNOWN AS "HEIKE")
Taira no Kiyomori, by
Taira clan was one of the four great clans which dominated
Japanese politics during the
Heian period (794–1185). As a result of
the near-total destruction of their rival clan, the Minamoto, in the
Heiji Rebellion of 1160,
Taira no Kiyomori, head of the clan,
initiated the Genpei
War at the height of his power. The end of the
war, however, brought destruction to the
Taira no Atsumori (平敦盛), young samurai killed by Kumagai
Naozane who, because of his youth and innocence, became quite famous
Taira no Kiyomori (平清盛), head of the clan at the beginning
of the war.
Taira no Koremori (平維盛), grandson of Kiyomori.
Taira no Munemori (平宗盛), son and heir of Kiyomori; head of
the clan for much of the war.
Taira no Noritsune (平教経), a
Taira clan samurai
Taira no Shigehira (平重衡), general, son of Kiyomori.
Taira no Tadanori (平忠度), general, brother of Kiyomori.
Taira no Tokiko (平時子), wife of Kiyomori who committed
suicide at the battle of Dan-no-ura.
Taira no Tomomori (平知盛), general, son of Kiyomori.
Taira no Yukimori (平行盛), general, commander of the Taira
forces at the battle of Kojima.
Taira no Kagekiyo (平景清), a
Taira clan samurai, adopted from
the Fujiwara family.
* Allies and vassals:
Emperor Antoku (安徳), Emperor of Japan and grandson of
* Ōba Kagechika (大庭景親), vassal of the Taira.
* Saitō Sanemori (斎藤実盛), former vassal of
Yoshitomo, switched sides and became a vassal of
Taira no Munenori.
* Senoo Kaneyasu (妹尾兼康), vassal of the
Taira who commanded
at the Fukuryūji fortress.
* Taguchi Shigeyoshi (田口重能),
Taira general who turned to the
Minamoto camp upon seeing the tide turn at the battle of Dan no Ura,
* The sōhei (warrior-monks) of
Enryaku-ji (延暦寺), at least in
theory, on account of their rivalry with the Mii-dera, which was
allied with the Minamoto.
GENPEI WAR IN LITERATURE
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Many stories and works of art depict this conflict. The Tale of the
Heike (Heike Monogatari, 平家物語) is one of the most famous,
Kabuki and bunraku plays reproduce events of the war as
well. Ichinotani futaba gunki (Chronicle of the battle of
Namiki Sōsuke may be one of the more famous of
"Shike " by
Robert Shea features a somewhat fictionalised account of
the wars, as seen from the perspectives of his two main characters,
the Zinja Monk Jebu, and the Noblewoman Lady Shima Taniko. The names
of the two rival clans have been changed, "Minamoto" to "Muratomo" and
"Taira" to "Takashi".
Another fictionalized account of the conflict forms the central plot
War (also known as Turbulent Times), the ninth volume of
Osamu Tezuka 's celebrated Phoenix series .
War is the backdrop for much of
Katherine Patterson 's
young adult novel,
Of Nightingales That Weep .
GENPEI WAR IN POPULAR CULTURE
On September 27, 2011,
The Creative Assembly released a DLC pack for
Total War: Shogun 2 entitled "Rise of the Samurai", which allows
players to play as members of the Taira, the Minamoto, or the Fujiwara
families . Through a complex system of province building, diplomacy,
research, and combat, players can decide the outcome of the Genpei War
Cinemaware's Amiga title Lords of the rising sun features Genpei war.
It was made in the beginning of nineties.
The conflict between the Genji and Heike gangs in 2007 Japanese
Sukiyaki Western Django mirror's that of the actual
Genpei war, albeit "a few hundred years after."
Kuroshima and Taijima , a set of islands off the coast of Wakayama
used as a naval base during the war
Military history of Japan
Outline of war
Sukiyaki Western Django , a film inspired by the events
* ^ In the name "
Juei War", the noun "Jishō" refers to the
Japanese era name ) after "
Angen " and before "
Yōwa ." In
other words, the Jishō-
War occurred during Jishō, which was a
time period spanning the years from 1177 through 1181.
* ^ In the name "
Juei War", the noun "Juei" refers to the
Japanese era name ) after "
Yōwa " and before "
Genryaku ." In
other words, the Jishō-
War occurred during Juei, which was a
time period spanning the years from 1182 through 1184.
* ^ In the name "Hōgen Rebellion", the noun "Hōgen" refers to the
Japanese era name ) after "
Kyūju " and before "
Heiji ." In
other words, the
Hōgen Rebellion occurred during Hōgen, which was a
time period spanning the years from 1156 through 1159.
* ^ In the name "
Heiji Rebellion", the noun "Heiji" refers to the
Japanese era name ) after "Hōgen " and before "
Eiryaku ." In
other words, the
Heiji Rebellion occurred during Heiji, which was a
time period spanning the years from 1159 through 1160.
* ^ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O Sansom, George (1958). A History
of Japan to 1334. Stanford University Press. pp. 275, 278–281. ISBN
* ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co.
p. 200. ISBN 1854095234 .
* ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1977). The Samurai, A Military History.
MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 48–50. ISBN 0026205408 .
* ^ The Tales of the Heike. Translated by Burton Watson. Columbia
University Press. 2006. p. 122,142–143. ISBN 9780231138031 .
War at Ancient History Encyclopedia
War Map at Samurai Archives
* Shogun 2 by Sega
* NDL : 001098703