The Minamoto Clan  源氏

This page is not intended to be a complete history of the Minamoto Clan, but merely a listing of those clan members who are mentioned on individual shrine pages.


Minamoto (源) means "origin" or "source" and the clan was one of four that dominated Japan during the Heian Period (794-1185), the others were the Fujiwara, the Tachibana, and the Taira. The clan is also known as the Genji, the Sino-Japanese reading for 源氏. The name derived from the practice of the emperors demoting people, including some of their own sons and daughers, from the imperial familyto to the nobility, usually to thin out their own families. The first emperor to do this was the Emperor Saga, who, having reportedly fathered 49 children, was finding the imperial purse strings exceedingly tight. In 814 he bestowed the name Minamoto on his seventh son, Makoto.

Minamoto Mitsunaka 源 満仲 (912–997)

Son of Tsunemoto, from whom he inherited the Chinjufu-shogun title. Instituted  the  politics by which the Minamoto served the Fujiwara regents and essentially became their military arm for the next two centuries. Was the governor of Settsu Province, which he built into his main power base, as well as nine other provinces. 

Minamoto Tameyoshi 源 為義 (1096–1156)

​Minamoto Tsunemoto 源 經基 (894–961)

Founder of the Seiwa Genji branch of the Minamoto clan. Grandson of Emperor Seiwa and the clan name of Minamoto was bestowed on him by the Emperor in 961. Attained the position of Chinjufu-shogun,.


Minamoto Yoriie ​源 頼家 (1182-1204)

Yoritomo's first son by Hōjō Masako, and became head of the clan when his father died in 1199. Was appointed Shōgun in 1202.

Associated with this/these shrine(s):  Egara Ten Jinja  

Minamoto Yorimitsu 源 頼光 (948 – 1021)

Also known as Minamoto Raikō. Son of Mitsunaka. Along with his brother, Yorinobu, served as a ruthless enforcer of for the regents of the Fujiwara clan. Served as the governor of Izu, Kosuke and other provinces and inherited Settsu Province from his father on the occasion of the latter's death.


​​​Minamoto Yorinobu 源 頼信 (968 – 1048)

Second son of Mitsunaka. Inherited the title of Chinjufu-shogun, from his father. Served as a ruthless enforcer of for the regents of the Fujiwara clan. . He served as Governor of the Japanese Ise and Kai Provinces, and was the progenitor of the Kawachi Genji family line and his son, Minamoto no Yorisue, was ancestor of the Takanashi clan of Shinano Province.

Associated with this/these shrine(s): Nakano Hikawa Jinja

Minamoto Yoritomo 源 頼朝 (1147-1199)

Third son of Yoshitomo. After the first of two civil wars, the Hōgen Rebellion of 1156, which from a Minamoto perspective pit  Tameyoshi, the ruler of the clan, against his son, Yoshitomo, Yoritomo became heir to the clan leadership following the execution of Tameyoshi and the emergence of Yoshitomo as clan leader. The second civil war, the Heiji Rebellion of 1159, resulted in Yoshitomo being killed in his bath following a betrayal, and the exile of his three sons. Yoritomo married into the Hōjō, a powerful clan in the Izu/Sagami region. Following further unrest in 1190, He abrogated to himself the position of clan leader and set about  building a power base in Kamakura. In due course he became strong enough to defeat all his rivals, including his own cousins, and in December 1185 was granted control over the national rice levy (i.e. taxation policy) by the then Emperor. In December 1190 he took up residence in Kyōto, and in early 1192 was formally appointed as Sei-i Tai Shōgun (夷大将軍) by the Emperor Go-Toba, thus becoming Japan's first  Shōgun and the founder of the Bakufu system of military government which lasted until the Meiji Resoration in 1868.

Associated with this/these shrine(s):  Egara Ten Jinja  Shiba Daijingū 

Minamoto Yoriyoshi 源 頼義  (968 – 1075)

Son of Minamoto Yorinobu, and, like his father before him, Inherited the title of Chinjufu-shogun, Commander-in-chief of the Defense of the North, from his father.

Associated with this/these shrine(s): Imado Jinja

Minamoto Yoshiie   源 義家 (1041-1108)

Popularly known as Hachimantarō. First son of Minamoto Yoriyoshi. Mutsu Province in the far north of Tōhoku was home to a military governor charged with controlling the Emishi natives  who had been brought under Yamato control in the ninth century and the post was traditionally held by a member of the Abe family.  By the early eleventh century the Abe's had as good as declared their independence of the imperial government in Kyōto and in 1051 Minamoto Yoriyoshi was sent north to bring the Abe to heel and assume both the civilian and military governorships. He took Yoshiie with him. Yoshiie took an active part in the fighting, which was not brought to a successful halt until 1063. Such were the lessons learned by Yoshiie in this fighting that he was able to greatly strengthen the military capabilities of the Minamoto clan.  

Associated with this/these shrine(s): Imado Jinja

Minamoto Yoshikata 源 義賢 (1126-1155)

Minamoto Yoshinaka 源 義仲 (1154 – 1184)

Also known as Kizo no Yoshinaka. Father was Yoshikata. Yortitomo was his cousin.

Associated with this/these shrine(s): Tokō Jinja.

Minamoto Yoshitomo 源 義朝 (1123 – 1160)

Had a total of nine sons, the third of  whom, Yoritomomo, went on to become Japan's first Shōgun. In the Hōgen Rebellion of 1156 Yoshitomo sided with the leader of the Taira clan, Taira Kiyomori, against his own Minamoto family led by his father, Tameyoshi. After Kiyomori emerged victorious Yoshitomo was ordered to execute Tameyoshi, but refused. In 1159 Yoshitomo turned against Kiyomori and attempted to seize power in an episode called the  Heiji Rebellion. He was soundly defeated, however, and escaped but was later killed while attempting to regroup in Kantō.


© Rod Lucas 2016-2020

All text and photos by Lucas unless otherwise stated