Minamoto no Tametomo

Minamoto no Tametomo drawn by Kikuchi Yōsai

Minamoto no Tametomo (源 為朝, 1139 – April 23, 1170) (also known as Chinzei Hachirō Tametomo (鎮西 八郎 為朝)) was a samurai who fought in the Hōgen Rebellion of 1156. He was the son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi, and brother to Yukiie and Yoshitomo.

Tametomo is known in the epic chronicles as a powerful archer and it is said that he once sunk an entire Taira ship with a single arrow by puncturing its hull below the waterline. It is also added in many legends that his left arm was about 4 in. longer than his right, enabling a longer draw of the arrow, and more powerful shots.[1] He fought to defend Shirakawa-den, alongside his father, against the forces of Taira no Kiyomori and Minamoto no Yoshitomo, his brother. The palace was set aflame,[2] and Tametomo was forced to flee.

Minamoto no Tametomo chasing away demons, in an 1890 print by Yoshitoshi.

After the Hōgen Rebellion, the Taira cut the sinews of Tametomo's left arm, limiting the use of his bow, and then he was banished to the island of Ōshima in the Izu Islands. Tametomo eventually killed himself by slicing his abdomen, or committing seppuku. He is quite possibly the first warrior to commit seppuku in the chronicles.[1]

Chūzan SeikanEdit

In the Chūzan Seikan (1650) by Shō Shōken, the first history of Ryūkyū, it is mentioned that he made his way down to Okinawa during his exile, and sired the first known chief of Chūzan - Shunten.[3]

Written after the Invasion of Ryukyu (1609), this narrative was probably constructed to connect and legitimize the relation of Japan's imperial family with the Ryukyu Islands.[3] During the Meiji period the myth was considered as an official and historical fact for the Japanese "legitimacy" and "sovereign right" of the annexation of the Ryukyu Kingdom in 1879.[4]


  1. ^ a b Turnbull, Stephen (1977). The Samurai, A Military History. MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 35,37. ISBN 0026205408.
  2. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co. p. 199. ISBN 1854095234.
  3. ^ a b Kerr, George. (2000). Okinawa: The History of an Island People, p. 52 , p. 52, at Google Books
  4. ^ Loo, Tze May (2014), Heritage Politics: Shuri Castle and Okinawa’s Incorporation into Modern Japan, 1879–2000, Lexington Books, ISBN 978-0-7391-8249-9