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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Yoshinaka would find safety and a dominion


had approached by way of Uji. He was not at all deterred by the fact that the enemy had destroyed the bridge. His mounted bowmen dashed into the river* and crossed it with little loss. A few hours brought them to Kyoto, where they made small account of the feeble resistance that Yoshinaka was able to offer. Wounded and with little more than half a score of followers, Yoshinaka rode off, and reaching the plain Of Awazu, met Imai Kanehira with the remnant of his five hundred men who had gallantly resisted Noriyori's army of thirty thousand. Imai counselled instant flight eastward. In Shinano, Yoshinaka would find safety and a dominion, while to cover his retreat, Imai would sacrifice his own life. Such noble deeds were the normal duty of every true bushi. Yoshinaka galloped away, but, riding into a marsh, disabled his horse and was shot down. Meanwhile Imai, in whose quiver there remained only eight arrows, had killed as many of the pursuing horsemen, and then placing the point of his sword in his mouth, had thrown himself headlong from his horse. One incident, shocking but not inconsistent with the canons of the time, remains to be included in this chapter of Japanese history. It has been related that Yoshinaka's son, Yoshitaka, was sent by his father to Kamakura as a hostage, and was married to Yoritomo's daughter. After the events above related Yoshitaka was put to death at Kamakura, apparently without Yoritomo's orders, and his widow, when pressed by her brother to marry again,
committed suicide.

*Japanese tradition loves to tell of a contest between Sasaki Takatsuna and Kajiwara Kagesue as to which should cross the river first. Kagesue was the son of that Kajiwara who had saved. Yoritomo's life in the episode of the hollow tree.


The victory of the armies led by Noriyori and Yoshitsune brought Kamakura and Fukuhara into direct conflict, and it was speedily decided that these armies should at once move westward to attack the Taira. A notable feature of the military operations of that era was celerity. Less than a month sufficed to mobilize an army of fifty thousand men and to march it from Kamakura to Kyoto, a distance of three hundred miles, and within ten days of the death of Yoshinaka this same army, augmented to seventy-six thousand, began to move westward from Kyoto (March 19, 1184). The explanation of this rapidity is furnished, in part, by simplicity of commisariat, and by the fact that neither artillery nor heavy munitions of war had to be transported. Every man carried with him a supply of cooked rice, specially prepared so as to occupy little space while sufficing for several days' food, and this supply was constantly replenished by requisitions levied upon the districts traversed. Moreover, every man carried his own implements of war--bow and arrows, sword, spear, or halberd--and the footgear consisted of straw sandals which never hurt the feet, and in which a man could easily march twenty miles a day continuously.

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