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One of the four great families, including the Taira family, Fujiwara family, and Tachibana family, that dominated court politics during the Heian period (794-1185); its descendants remained central to Japanese government until the Meiji Restoration of 1868. Like the Taira, the Minamoto family was an offshoot of the imperial family. The Minamoto family was commonly referred to as the Genji, using alternate pronunciations of the Chinese characters. The story of the Minamoto family is recounted in the Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari). (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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