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Minamoto no Noriyori

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Title: Minamoto no Noriyori  
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Subject: Genpei War, Battle of Ichi-no-Tani, Battle of Kojima, Battle of Awazu, Hōjō Masako
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Minamoto no Noriyori

Grave of Minamoto no Noriyori, Shuzenji (present-day Izu), Shizuoka Prefecture

Minamoto no Noriyori (源 範頼, 1156 – September 14, 1193) was a late Heian period general, who fought alongside his brothers Minamoto no Yoritomo and Minamoto no Yoshitsune at a number of battles of the Genpei War. The sixth son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo, he was spared along with his brothers in 1160 by Taira no Kiyomori following Yoshitomo's death.

He seemingly disappears from any record until 1180, when he served his brother Yoritomo in Kamakura. Beginning in 1184, four years into the war, he was sent out from Kamakura by Yoritomo, and made his way to the Taira strongholds of Shikoku. Noriyori helped defeat the wayward Minamoto no Yoshinaka at the Second Battle of the Uji and the Awazu, before moving on to play a central role in the Battle of Ichi-no-Tani. The Taira were pushed back, and the war fell into a lull for about six months, during which Noriyori returned to Kyoto.

Noriyori was sent out once more in October 1184, to secure the provinces of the Chūgoku region, and then to move on into Kyūshū. He played a major role in the Battle of Kojima. However, attempting to push further, he ran into difficulties of a lack of supplies, and the fact that the Inland Sea was controlled by his enemies. He wrote to his brother in Kamakura, and was told that supplies were on the way, but that the Taira were watching, so any shipments had to be done very carefully. Noriyori finally managed to get rice, other supplies, and a handful of war junks from a magnate in Suo Province. He moved on into Kyūshū, as planned, and remained there, playing no role in the decisive Battle of Dan-no-ura.

After the Genpei War was over, Noriyori returned to Kamakura, where he was rewarded by Yoritomo for his services. However, there was now a feud for dominance of the clan between Yoritomo and Yoshitsune. Yoritomo ordered Noriyori to arrest their brother; after trying to talk Yoritomo out of it, Noriyori simply disobeyed outright.

In May 1193, when Yoritomo held a grand hunt on Mt. Fuji, an incident occurred in which two brothers of the Soga clan killed Kudo Suketsune, an enemy of their father.

A rumor spread that Yoritomo was killed. Yoritomo's wife Hōjō Masako worried about it, but Noriyori assured her that even in Yoritomo's absence, he would be there for her and for the clan. These words caused a doubt of Yoritomo, and Noriyori was confined to Izu Province. Soon Noriyori was attacked by warriors of Yoritomo's, and killed.


  • Sansom, George (1958). 'A History of Japan to 1334'. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Turnbull, Stephen (1998). 'The Samurai Sourcebook'. London: Cassell & Co.
  • West, C.E. & F.W. Seal (2003). Chronology: Minamoto Noriyori. Accessed 8 Dec 2004.
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