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Yoshitsune@‹`Œo
KEY WORD :@art history / paintings
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The tragic warrior Minamoto no Yoshitsune Œ¹‹`Œo (1159-89), whose many exploits both real and legendary are recounted in numerous stories, theater, and pictorial depictions. Many episodes are recorded in HEIKE MONOGATARI •½‰Æ•¨Œê (The Tale of The Heike) and GENPEI SEISUIKI Œ¹•½·Š‹L (The Rise and Fall of The Genji and The Heike), but it is GIKEIKI ‹`Œo‹L (Annals of Yoshitsune) that is most responsible for disseminating Yoshitsune legends that later were developed into *nou ”\, kouwakamai KŽá•‘, joururi ò—Ú—ž, and *kabuki ‰Ì•‘Šê plays. The great popularity of the Yoshitsune legends particularly in theater, and their variety, made them a favorite subject for *ukiyo-e •‚¢ŠG painting and prints in the Edo period. The prints by Utagawa Kuniyoshi ‰Ìì‘–F (1797-1861) are particularly well known. Yoshitsune usually is cast as a hero, but he is also seen as a beautiful, effeminate courtier-warrior whose tragic fate warrants a sympathetic response. A popular sobriquet for Yoshitsune was hougan ”»Š¯ (also read hangan), his title as "Chief Constable," and the phrase hougan biiki ”»Š¯æۛž (sympathy for hougan, then became sympathy for the underdog) came to epitomize the popular response to Yoshitsune and accounts for much of his popularity.
The major events in the Yoshitsune legend (retold in the chronicles noted above) are: (1) Born the son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo Œ¹‹`’© (1123-60) and Tokiwa Gozen í”ÕŒä‘O, after his father's death and mother's remarriage, the boy Ushiwakamaru ‹ŽáŠÛ was placed in the temple, Kuramadera ˆÆ”nŽ›, north of Kyoto, where he learned shugendou CŒ±“¹ magic and military skills from the *tengu “V‹ç goblin. (2) At age 16, Ushiwakamaru together with the gold-seller Kaneuri Kichiji ‹à”„‹gŽŸ journeyed to Oushuu ‰œB (present-day Touhoku “Œ–k). On the way they were attacked by the bandit Kumasaka Chouhan ŒFâ’·”Í but Ushiwakamaru killed him. To celebrate his coming of age, Ushiwakamaru took the name Kurou Yoshitsune ‹ã˜Y‹`Œo. (3) At an inn in Yahagi – (present-day Okazaki ‰ªè, Aichi prefecture), Yoshitsune had a romance with Joururihime ò—Ú—ž•P, the daughter of the wealthy innkeeper. (JUUNIDAN ZOUSHI \“ñ’d‘Ž†) (4) He finally reaches Oushuu where he meets Fujiwara Hidehira “¡Œ´Gt (d.1189). Returning to Kyoto, Yoshitsune takes advantage of the love of Kiichi Hougen's ‹Sˆê–@Šá daughter Minatsuruhime ŠF’ß•P to steal the "Tiger chapter" of the secret Chinese book Liutao Sanlue ˜ZèéŽO—ª (Jp:Rikutou Sanryaku) from which he learned the principles of war. Kiichi discovered the theft and tried to murder Yoshitsune, but himself was killed in the attempt. (5) The fight between Yoshitsune and the warrior-priest *Benkei •ÙŒc known as "Benkei at the Bridge." (6) In the tenth month of 1180, when Minamoto no Yoritomo Œ¹—Š’© (1147-1199) revolted against Taira no Kiyomori •½´· (1118-1181), Yoshitsune left Oushuu and met his older half-brother at the Kise ‰©£ river. (7) Yoshitsune's military heroics against the Taira earned him both eternal fame and the animosity of suspicious Yoritomo. Yoshitsune's most daring and brilliant exploits include routing the forces of Kiso Yoshinaka –Ø‘]‹`’‡ (1154-84) at the Uji River (see *Ujigawa no kassen ‰FŽ¡ì‚̍‡í), leading his troops down the precipitous Hiyodorigoe êJ‰z Pass (see *Ichinotani kassen ˆê‚Ì’J‚̍‡í), and the surprise attack on the Taira camped at Yashima (see *Yashima kassen ‰®“‡‡í). Yoshitsune's individual heroics include rescuing his bow at Yashima (see *Yuminagashi ‹|—¬‚µ) and jumping between boats at the battle of Dannoura ’d‚̉Y (see *Hassoutobi ”ªäz”ò). (9) After Yoshitsune's success in the Genpei Œ¹•½ war, Yoritomo advised his officers to disobey Yoshitsune, and eventually dispatched soldiers to kill him at his Horikawa mansion in Kyoto (see *Horikawa youchi –xì–é“¢). (10) After escaping Yoshitsune and a number of loyal followers fled first by boat from Daimotsu no ura ‘啨‰Y only to be caught in a storm (11) Yoshitsune then disappeared in the Kansai area, reportedly hiding at Mt Hiei ”ä‰b, Mt Yoshino ‹g–ì (see *Senbonzakura ç–{÷), and even back in the capital, where he was shielded from Yoritomo's agents by sympathetic courtiers, warriors, and clergy. (12) Eventually Yoshitsune left the capital area and headed north along the Japan Sea coast to Hidehira's domain in Oushuu. The highlight of the flight north occured at the Ataka ˆÀ‘î Barrier when Benkei's resourcefulness saved his small band of fugitives disguised as priests (see *Kanjinchou Š©i’ ). After reaching Oushuu, Yoshitsune was protected by Hidehira, but after the old man's death, his son Yasuhira ‘׍t yielded to pressure from Yoritomo and turned on Yoshitsune. On the 30th day of the Fourth month, 1189, Yoshitsune killed himself.
Related to the Yoshitsune legends are stories concerning his retainers Benkei and Satou Tadanobu ²“¡’‰M, as well as his mother Tokiwa and his lover Shizuka Ã.
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