Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Kumagai Naozane

(1141-1208). Military commander who joined the Minamoto faction during the Taira-Minamoto War (1180-85). He took a leading part in the Minamoto victory at Ichinotane (near modern Kobe) in 1184. In an incident recounted in the Heike monogatari, Kumagai, tempted to spare Taira no Atsumori, is forced by the arrival of other Minamoto warriors to kill the youth. Kumagai's remorse leads him to the priesthood. This moving story, which is probably fictional, became the basis of such classic dramas as the play Atsumori (ca 15th century; tr Atsumori, 1920) and the bunraku and kabuki play Ichinotani futaba gunki (1751; tr Chronicle of the Battle of Ichinotani, 1975). (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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