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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Was joined by Tokimasa and others


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.


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