Minamoto no Tametomo and the Island of Oshimo

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Minamoto no Tametomo was a samurai who fought in the Hogen Rebellion in 1156. He was the son of Minamoto no Tameyoshi, and brother to Yukii and Yoshitomo. The figure on the left is Minamoto no Tametomo. The figure on the right is Minamoto no Yoshimoto. The inscription reads, “bad person / criminal”.

Tametomo is known in the epic chronicles as a powerful archer and it is said that he once sunk an entire Taira ship with a single arrow by puncturing its hull below the water line. It is also added in many legends that his left arm was about 4” longer than his right, enabling a longer draw of the arrow, and more powerful shots. He fought to defend Shirakawa-den, alongside his father, against the forces of Taira no Kiyomoi and Minamoto no Yoshimoto, his brother. The palace was set aflame, and Tametomo was forced to flee.

After the Hogen Rebellion, the Taira cut the sinews of Tametomo’s left arm, limiting the use of his bow, and then he was banished to the island of Oshima in the Azu Islands. Tametomo eventually killed himself by slicing open his abdomen, or committing Seppuku. He is quite possibly the first warrior to commit Seppuku in the chronicles of his life.

The inclusion of these two figures is to illustrate the diversity and wide range of subject matter found represented in Kokeshi dolls.