Mirror of Wise and Benevolent Heroes of Japan

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

Mirror of Wise and Benevolent Heroes of Japan: Minamoto no Tametomo
(Honcho chijin eiyu kagami: Minamoto no Tametomo)

signed Taiso Yoshitoshi ga, with artists seal Taiso, and publisher's date and address seal Meiji juichinen, -gatsu, -ka; Asakusa Kawaramachi 2-banchi, shuppanjin Morimoto Junzaburo (Meiji 11 [1878]) of Morimoto Junzaburo of Entaido

oban tate-e 14 3/4 by 9 7/8 in., 37.5 by 25.2

The famed archer Minamoto no Tametomo (1139-1170) was a samurai who lost the 1156 Hogen Rebellion to the infamous Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181). Following the battle, Kiyomori had Tametomo exiled to the island of Oshima, hoping he had heard the end of his rival. After Tametomo began conquering surrounding islands, however, Kiyomori sent an imperial expedition to defeat the archer once and for all. While legend tells of Tametomo felling an entire Taira ship with a single arrow, he soon realized that victory was not likely and committed what may have been the first recorded seppuku.

Tametomo's life has been highly romanticized in a number of legends, novels, and kabuki plays. According to one such legend, Kiyomori had Tametomo's tendons servered while in exile in an attmept to permanently incapacitate the warrior. This proved unsuccessful, as Tametomo regained his full strength in just fifty days. Other tales disregard his death and imagine adventures for Tametomo after his exile. By one account, he shipwrecks on the Ryukyu islands and becomes the progenitor of their monarchy after marrying their princess. Yoshitoshi depicts an episode from Ryukyu in 1867 in the series Eight View of Tales of Fine Warriors (Bidan musha hakkei).

Ota Memorial Museum of Art, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: 120th Memorial Retrospective, 2012, p. 94, cat. no. 139



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site last updated
September 22, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475