The Legend of Tametomo Minamoto

Tametomo Minamoto was an uncle of Yoritomo Minamoto who built the Kmamakura Government. In 1156, the Minamoto Clan was defeated by Kiyomori Taira in the civil war of the Hogen era. It was at the end of the Heian period. Tametomo and several of the leaders of the Minamoto Clan were placed in exile on Izu Oshima. It is said that he had a very large right hand and it was longer than his left. He could shoot an arrow with more force than any other man.

At last he gained control of the seven Islands of Izu. But he did not stay there for a long time and ran away from Izu. After he left the island, he was at sea for several days. While he was sailing, a typhoon struck. First he landed at Unten in Nakijin Village (near Yagaji Island) and lived in a cave near the beach for a while. After few days he met a young woman who was walking on the beach. Tametomo asked for a drink of water and food.

The young woman took Tametomo to her house and she gave him water and food. He stayed at her home for few months and taught her a lot of things. She also learned how to make table salt. And then he thank her for kindness and for Urasoe. He eventually met the Lord of Uraoe Castle and then he met the daughter of the Lord of Ozato. They were married and had a son that was was born in 1166. His name was Shunten.

Tametomo's family lived in Ozato. They were very happy. But soon after this, Tametomo dicided to try again to overthrow the Taira. He left with his wife and son, but was forced to return again and again. One day he heard strange things from a Ryukyuan sailor. As he got on a boat with his wife, Umi-no- kami (Goddess of the sea) was not happy with her on board. So after hearing this, he decided to leave his wife and his son behind. He promised to return as soon as he could.

Tametomo's plans were heard by the Taira. On his way to Oshima, Tametomo saw the fleet of the Taira. He shot an arrow with great force at the biggest ship. The arrow punctured the hull and sank the ship. He then went and killed himself(seppuku). His wife and his son were waiting for him at Machinatu (Makiminato). She lived in a cave and often walked up to the cliff near the cave to watch for his return. (Machinatu means "port of waiting"). The local people still worship her spirit as a Kami (Goddess). Her son, Shunten grew up to become Lord of Urasoe and the first "King" of Okinawa.

(There is a monument of Tametomo at Unten in Nakijin Village.)

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