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In all Yoritomo's career there is not one instance
of a sacrifice of expediency or ambition on the altar of sentiment or
affection. He was a cold, calculating man. No cruelty shocked him nor
did he shrink from any severity dictated by policy. It is in the last
degree improbable that he risked his political hopes for the sake of
a trivial amour. At any rate the event suggests crafty deliberation
rather than a passing passion. For though Tokimasa simulated
ignorance of the liaison and publicly proceeded with his previous
engagement to wed Masa to Taira Kanetaka, lieutenant-governor of Izu,
he privately connived at her flight and subsequent concealment.

This incident is said to have determined Yoritomo. He disclosed all
his ambitions to Hojo Tokimasa, and found in him an able coadjutor.
Yoritomo now began to open secret communications with several of the
military families in Izu and the neighbouring provinces. In making
these selections and approaches, the Minamoto exile was guided and
assisted by Tokimasa. Confidences were not by any means confined to
men of Minamoto lineage. The kith and kin of the Fujiwara, and even
of the Taira themselves, were drawn into the conspiracy, and although
the struggle finally resolved itself into a duel l'outrance between
the Taira and the Minamoto, it had no such exclusive character at the
outset.

In May, or June, 1180, the mandate of Prince Mochihito reached
Yoritomo, carried by his uncle, Minamoto Yukiiye, whose figure
thenceforth appears frequently upon the scene. Yoritomo showed the
mandate to Tokimasa, and the two men were taking measures to obey
when they received intelligence of the deaths of Mochihito and
Yorimasa and of the fatal battle on the banks of the Uji.

Yoritomo would probably have deferred conclusive action in such
circumstances had there not reached him from Miyoshi Yasunobu in
Kyoto a warning that the Taira were planning to exterminate the
remnant of the Minamoto and that Yoritomo's name stood first on the
black-list. Moreover, the advisability of taking the field at once
was strongly and incessantly urged by a priest, Mongaku, who, after a
brief acquaintance, had impressed Yoritomo favourably. This bonze had
been the leading figure in an extraordinary romance of real life.
Originally Endo Morito, an officer of the guards in Kyoto, he fell in
love with his cousin, Kesa,* the wife of a comrade called Minamoto
Wataru. His addresses being resolutely rejected, he swore that if
Kesa remained obdurate, he would kill her mother. From this dilemma
the brave woman determined that self-sacrifice offered the only
effective exit. She promised to marry Morito after he had killed her
husband, Wataru; to which end she engaged to ply Wataru with wine
until he fell asleep. She would then wet his head, so that Morito,
entering by an unfastened door and feeling for the damp hair, might
consummate his purpose surely. Morito readily agreed, but Kesa,
having dressed her own hair in male fashion and wet her head, lay
down in her husband's place.

*Generally spoken of as "Kesa Gozen," but the latter word signifies
"lady."

When Morito found that he had killed the object of his passionate
affection, he hastened to confess his crime and invited Wataru to
slay him. But Wataru, sympathizing with his remorse, proposed that
they should both enter religion and pray for the rest of Kesa's
spirit. It is related that one of the acts of penance performed by
Mongaku--the monastic name taken by Morito--was to stand for
twenty-one days under a waterfall in the depth of winter.
Subsequently he devoted himself to collecting funds for
reconstructing the temple of Takao, but his zeal having betrayed him
into a breach of etiquette at the palace of Go-Shirakawa, he was
banished to Izu, where he obtained access to Yoritomo and counselled
him to put his fortune to the test.*

*Tradition says that among the means employed by Mongaku to move
Yoritomo was the exhibition of Yoshitomo's bones.

THE FIRST STAGE OF THE STRUGGLE

The campaign was opened by Hojo Tokimasa on the 8th of September,
1180. He attacked the residence of the lieutenant-governor of Izu,
Taira Kanetaka, burned the mansion, and killed Kanetaka, whose
abortive nuptials with the lady Masa had been celebrated a few months
previously. Yoritomo himself at the head of a force of three hundred
men, crossed the Hakone Pass three days later en route for Sagami,
and encamped at Ishibashi-yama. This first essay of the Minamoto
showed no military caution whatever. It was a march into space.
Yoritomo left in his rear Ito Sukechika, who had slain his infant son
and sworn his own destruction, and he had in his front a Taira force
of three thousand under Oba Kagechika. It is true that many Taira
magnates of the Kwanto were pledged to draw the sword in the Minamoto
cause. They had found the selfish tyranny of Kiyomori not at all to
their taste or their profit. It is also true that the Oba brothers
had fought staunchly on the side of Yoritomo's father, Yoshitomo, in
the Heiji war. Yoritomo may possibly have entertained some hope that
the Oba army would not prove a serious menace.

Whatever the explanation may be, the little Minamoto band were
attacked in front and rear simultaneously during a stormy night. They
suffered a crushing defeat. It seemed as though the white flag* was
to be lowered permanently, ere it had been fully shaken out to the
wind. The remnants of the Minamoto sought shelter in a cryptomeria
grove, where Yoritomo proved himself a powerful bowman. But when he
had tune to take stock of his followers, he found them reduced to six
men. These, at the suggestion of Doi Sanehira, he ordered to scatter
and seek safety in flight, while he himself with Sanehira hid in a
hollow tree. Their hiding-place was discovered by Kajiwara Kagetoki,
a member of the Oba family, whose sympathies were with the Minamoto.
He placed himself before the tree and signalled that the fugitives
had taken another direction. Presently, Oba Kagechika, riding up,
thrust his bow into the hollow tree, and as two pigeons flew out, he
concluded that there was no human being within.

*The Taira flew a red ensign; the Minamoto, a white.

ENGRAVING: MINAMOTO YORITOMO

From the time of this hairbreadth escape, Yoritomo's fortunes rose
rapidly. After some days of concealment among the Hakone mountains,
he reached the shore of Yedo Bay, and crossing from Izu to Awa, was
joined by Tokimasa and others. Manifestoes were then despatched in
all directions, and sympathizers began to flock in. Entering Kazusa,
the Minamoto leader secured the cooperation of Taira Hirotsune and
Chiba Tsunetane, while Tokimasa went to canvass in Kai. In short,
eight provinces of the Kwanto responded like an echo to Yoritomo's
call, and, by the time he had made his circuit of Yedo Bay, some
twenty-five thousand men were marshalled under his standard.
Kamakura, on the seacoast a few miles south of the present Yokohama,
was chosen for headquarters, and one of the first steps taken was to
establish there, on the hill of Tsurugaoka, a grand shrine to
Hachiman, the god of War and tutelary deity of the Minamoto.

Meanwhile, Tokimasa had secured the allegiance of the Takeda family
of Kai, and was about to send a strong force to join Yoritomo's army.
But by this time the Taira were in motion. Kiyomori had despatched a
body of fifty thousand men under Koremori, and Yoritomo had decided
to meet this army on the banks of the Fuji river. It became
necessary, therefore, to remove all potential foes from the Minamoto
rear, and accordingly Hojo Tokimasa received orders to overrun Suruga
and then to direct his movements with a view to concentration on the
Fuji. Thither Yoritomo marched from Kamakura, and by the beginning of
November, 1180, fifty thousand Taira troops were encamped on the
south bank of the river and twenty-seven thousand Minamoto on the
north. A decisive battle must be fought in the space of a few days.
In fact, the 13th of November had been indicated as the probable
date. But the battle was never fought. The officer in command of the
Taira van, Fujiwara no Tadakiyo, laboured under the disadvantage of
being a coward, and the Taira generals, Koremori and Tadamori,
grandson and youngest brother, respectively, of Kiyomori, seem to
have been thrown into a state of nervous prostration by the
unexpected magnitude of the Minamoto's uprising. They were debating,
and had nearly recognized the propriety of falling back without
challenging a combat or venturing their heads further into the
tiger's mouth, when something--a flight of water-birds, a
reconnaissance in force, a rumour, or what not--produced a panic, and
before a blow had been struck, the Taira army was in full retreat for
Kyoto.

YOSHITSUNE

In the Minamoto camp there was some talk of pursuing the fugitive
Taira, and possibly the most rapid results would thus have been
attained. But it was ultimately decided that the allegiance of the
whole Kwanto must be definitely secured before denuding it of troops
for the purpose of a western campaign. This attitude of caution
pointed specially to the provinces of Hitachi and Shimotsuke, where
the powerful Minamoto families of Satake and Nitta, respectively,
looked coldly upon the cause of their kinsman, Yoritomo. Therefore
the army was withdrawn to a more convenient position on the Kiso
River, and steps, ultimately successful, were taken to win over the
Nitta and the Satake.

It was at this time that there arrived in Yoritomo's camp a youth of
twenty-one with about a score of followers. Of medium stature and of
frame more remarkable for grace than for thews, he attracted
attention chiefly by his piercing eyes and by the dignified
intelligence of his countenance. This was Yoshitsune, the youngest
son of Yoshitomo. His life, as already stated, had been saved in the
Heiji disturbance, first, by the intrepidity of his mother, Tokiwa,
and, afterwards, by the impression her dazzling beauty produced upon
the Taira leader. Placed in the monastery of Kurama, as stipulated by
Kiyomori, Yoshitsune had no sooner learned to think than he became
inspired with an absorbing desire to restore the fortunes of his
family.



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