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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

With Tokimasa he found security


It

was much to the credit of Kiyomori's heart but little to that of his head that he listened to such a plea, and historians have further censured his want of sagacity in choosing Izu for Yoritomo's place of exile, seeing that the eastern regions were infested by Minamoto kinsmen and partisans. But Kiyomori did not act blindly. He placed Yoritomo in the keeping of two trusted wardens whose manors were practically conterminous in the valley of the Kano stream on the immediate west of Hakone Pass. These wardens were a Fujiwara, Ito Sukechika, and a Taira, who, taking the name Hojo from the locality of his manor, called himself Hojo Tokimasa. The dispositions of these two men did not agree with the suggestions of their lineage. Sukechika might have been expected to sympathize with his ward in consideration of the sufferings of the Fujiwara at Kiyomori's hands. Tokimasa, as a Taira, should have been wholly antipathetic. Yet had Tokimasa shared Sukechika's mood, the Minamoto's sun would never have risen over the Kwanto.

The explanation is that Tokimasa belonged to a large group of provincial Taira who were at once discontented because their claims to promotion had been ignored, and deeply resentful of indignities and ridicule to which their rustic manners and customs had exposed them at the hands of their upstart kinsmen in Kyoto. Moreover, it is not extravagant to suppose, in view of the extraordinary abilities subsequently shown by Tokimasa, that he

presaged the instability of the Taira edifice long before any ominous symptoms became outwardly visible. At any rate, while remaining Yoritomo's ostensible warden, he became his confidant and abettor.

This did not happen immediately, however. Yoritomo was placed originally under Sukechika's care, and during the latter's absence in Kyoto a liaison was established between his daughter and the Minamoto captive, with the result that a son was born. Sukechika, on his return, caused the child to be thrown into a cataract, married its mother to Ema Kotaro, and swore to have the life of his ward. But Yoritomo, warned of what was pending, effected his escape to Tokimasa's manor. It is recorded that on the way thither he prayed at the shrine of Hachiman, the tutelary deity of his family: "Grant me to become sei-i-shogun and to guard the Imperial Court. Or, if I may not achieve so much, grant me to become governor of Izu, so that I may be revenged on Sukechika. Or, if that may not be, grant me death." With Tokimasa he found security. But here again, though now a man over thirty, he established relations with Masa, his warden's eldest daughter. 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 a l'outrance between the Taira and the Minamoto, it had no such exclusive character at the outset.


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