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One of the four great families, including also the Minamoto family, Fujiwara family, and the Tachibana family, that dominated court politics during the Heian period (794-1185). The Taira family, like the Minamoto and Tachibana, was an offshoot of the imperial family. The high point of Taira influence came in the late Heian period under Taira no Kiyomori, who rose to the position of grand minister of state. In 1180 Minamoto no Yoritomo rebelled against and crushed the Taira and established warrior government in Japan. Kiyomori and all the major Taira leaders died or were killed during the Taira-Minamoto War (1180-1185), and the house never again achieved prominence. The story of the Taira is recounted in the Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari). (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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