Minamoto no Yoritomo
Historical Figure
Nationality: Japan
Date of Birth: 1147
Date of Death: 1199
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Religion: Buddhism
Occupation: Soldier, Monk
Parents: Minamoto no Yoshitomo
Spouse: Hōjō Masako
Children: Four
Relatives: Minamoto no Noriyori (brother);
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (half-brother)
House: Minamoto Clan
Political Office(s): Shogun (1192-1199)
Fictional Appearances:
Metafictional Fantasy
Type of Appearance: Contemporary references
Minamoto no Yoritomo (源 頼朝, May 9, 1147 – February 9, 1199) was the founder and the first shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan. He ruled from 1192 until 1199.

Yoritomo's father, Minamoto no Yoshitomo, participated in the Heiji rebellion (1156) against the Taira clan, which was closely aligned with the inner circle of the emperor. Despite early successes, the Minamoto were unprepared for a long military conflict, and the Taira quickly defeated the Minamoto. Yoshitomo was executed, but Yoritomo was spared, as were Yoritomo's brothers, Minamoto no Yoshitsune and Minamoto no Noriyori.

The exiled Yoritomo built his power within the Minamoto clan, eventually becoming the designated heir. In 1180, he led the Minamoto clan to join another rebellion against the Taira. Over the next five years, Yoritomo triumphed over his enemies with the Minamoto clan, insuring his power. In 1185, the Minamoto clan completely defeated the Taira, and Yoritomo began accumulating power, creating a feudal state. He became suspicious of rising popularity and success of his brother Yoshitsune, who'd been a loyal ally in the war against the Taira. Yoshitsune began to oppose Yoritomo, but soon fled Kyoto ahead of Yoritomo's wrath.

In 1192, the Emperor Go-Toba commissioned Yoritomo Sei-i Tai Shōgun. Yoritomo shaped the position of shōgun into hereditary head of the military government and the de facto ruler of Japan, with the emperor reduced to a figurehead.

Minamoto no Yoritomo ruled until 1199, when he became a Buddhist monk and left his home. However, he died two days later.

Minamoto no Yoritomo in "Character"[]

Steve, a fictional character who understood he was fictional, was sent back in time to medieval Japan by his author. His mind inhabited the body of the legendary Benkei concurrently with Minamoto Yoritomo's[1] becoming shogun. Steve/Benkei became the servant of Minamoto Yoshitsune, Yoritomo's half-brother. The two lived as ronin after Yoritomo became suspicious of Yoshitsune, and decided to have him killed.

Ultimately, Yoritomo's soldiers caught up to Steve/Benkei and Yoshitsune. During the subsequent fight, Benkei held off the attackers, killing and maiming several, before an arrow hit him between the eyes. Steve left Benkei's body and became an omniscient observer. He realized Yoshitsune's body was not where it was supposed to be, but the story ended before he could find out Yoshitsune's final fate.[2]


  1. Turtledove does not use "no" as part of Yoritomo's name.
  2. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March/April 2021
Military offices
Shogunate established Shōgun
Succeeded by
Minamoto no Yoriie