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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Found asylum in the domain of Fujiwara Hidehira


After

this event there could be no concealments between the two brothers. With difficulty and not without some menaces, Yoshitsune obtained from Go-Shirakawa a formal commission to proceed against Yoritomo by force of arms. Matters now moved with great rapidity. Yoritomo, always prescient, had fully foreseen the course of events. Shoshun's abortive attack on the Horikawa mansion took place on November 10, 1185, and before the close of the month three strong columns of Kamakura troops were converging on Kyoto. In that interval, Yoshitsune, failing to muster any considerable force in the capital or its environs, had decided to turn his back on Kyoto and proceed westward; he himself to Kyushu, and Yukiiye to Shikoku. They embarked on November 29th, but scarcely had they put to sea when they encountered a gale which shattered their squadron. Yoshitsune and Yukiiye both landed on the Izumi coast, each ignorant of the other's fate. The latter was captured and beheaded a few months later, but the former made his way to Yamato and found hiding-places among the valleys and mountains of Yoshino. The hero of Ichi-no-tani and Yashima was now a proscribed fugitive. Go-Shirakawa, whose fate was always to obey circumstances rather than to control them, had issued a new mandate on the arrival of Yoritomo's forces at Kyoto, and Kamakura was now authorized to exterminate Yoshitsune with all his partisans, wherever they could be found.

Almost simultaneously with the

capture of Yukiiye, whose fate excites no pity, the fair girl, Shizuka, was apprehended and brought before Hojo Tokimasa, who governed Kyoto as Yoritomo's lieutenant. Little more than a year had elapsed since she first met Yoshitsune after his return from Dan-no-ura, and her separation from him now had been insisted on by him as the only means of saving her life. Indifferent to her own fate, she quickly fell into the hands of Tokimasa's emissaries and was by them subjected to a fruitless examination, repeated with equally abortive results on her arrival at Kamakura. There, in spite of her vehement resistance, she was constrained to dance before Yoritomo and his wife, Masa, but instead of confining herself to stereotyped formulae, she utilized the occasion to chant to the accompaniment of her dance a stanza of sorrow for separation from her lover. It is related that Yoritomo's wrath would have involved serious consequences for Shizuka had not the lady Masa intervened. The beautiful danseuse, being enceinte at the time, was kept in prison until her confinement. She had the misfortune to give birth to a son, and the child was killed by Yoritomo's order, the mother being released. The slaughter of an innocent baby sounds very shocking in modern ears, but it is just to remember that the Kamakura chief and his three younger brothers would all have been executed by Kiyomori had not their escape been contrived by special agencies. The Confucian doctrine, which had passed into the bushi's code, forbade a man to live under the same sky with his father's slayer. Deeds like the killing of Yoshitsune's son were the natural consequence of that doctrine.

Meanwhile, Yoshitsune had been passing from one place of concealment to another in the three contiguous provinces of Izumi, Yamato, and Kii. He escaped deadly peril in the Yoshino region through the devotion of Sato Tadanobu, whose brother, Tsuginobu, had died to save Yoshitsune's life in the battle of Yashima. Attacked by the monks of Zo-o-do in overwhelming force, Yoshitsune had prepared to meet death when Tadanobu offered to personify him and hold the position while Yoshitsune escaped. With much difficulty Yoshitsune was induced to consent. Tadanobu not only succeeded in covering the retreat of his chief, but also managed himself to escape to Kyoto where, being discovered, he died by his own hand. Finally, in the spring of 1187, Yoshitsune and his followers, disguised as mendicant friars, made their way up the west coast, and, after hairbreadth escapes, found asylum in the domain of Fujiwara Hidehira, who had protected Yoshitsune in his youth. Hidehira owned and administered the whole of the two provinces of Mutsu and Dewa, which in those days covered some thirty thousand square miles and could easily furnish an army of a hundred thousand men.


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