The Hunting at Mount Fuji

But the two brothers had other plans than singing holy mantras. Throughout their short lives the brothers trained and planned to take revenge on Suketsune, who had meanwhile achieved a high place in the entourage of Yoritomo. S23.4







They had to wait until 1193 when they saw their opportunity in a great hunting party held by the Shogun Yoritomo on Suso moore at the base of Mount Fuji. T71






When Juro Sukenari got aware that their chance for revenge had come, he grabbed a horse and rode like mad to Oiso, the place where his younger brother Goro was kept as a monk. The story now gets a little bit twisted with a marriage arranged by the mother of the two boys. Anyway, while the preparations for the marriage were still going on, the two brothers managed to sneak out of the mansion during the night, while a heavy storm was raging the region.
T125

T125

T132

T132

T304

T304

Historical Background

Japan had been ruled by an emperor, a member of the Fujiwara family, since the 7th century. During the 12th century two other strong family clans came into the game - the Minamato and the Taira. The Minamato are also called Genji and the Taira clan is also known as the Heike or Heishi.
First the Minamato and the Taira kicked the Fujiwara emperor out of power. When he was neutralized to a purely representational figure, the Minamato and the Heike families could finally concentrate on fighting against each other. First the Minamato had the upper hand. But in 1159 the Heike under their leader Kiyomori defeated them and chased them out of the capital Kyoto.
After the death of Kiyomori in 1181 the tide turned again. The Minamato got the final upper hand in the decisive naval battle of Dannoura of 1185. Their leader Yoritomo established himself as the uncontested military ruler of Japan - the Shogun. In the following years, the reckless Yoritomo unified and pacified the land - basically by having everyone executed who looked like having one ounce of Taira blood in his veins or whom he considered to be a potential danger for his power like his own brothers Yoshitsune and Noriyori.

The Soga brothers’ revenge

The Ito clan with Ito Jiro Sukechika as head of the family was allied with the Heike. Ito had a son, Kawazu Saburo Sukeyasu, an active and famous Sumo wrestler. One day in 1177, Kawazu Sukeyasu was murdered by his cousin Kudo Suketsune in the mountains of Hakone.
The murdered Kawazu Sukeyasu left two young sons, at that time three and five years old. From now on the story has a few different versions about an intrigue to behead the two young children at a beach. The murderer feared the possibility of a later revenge - not without reasons. But somehow the lives of the two young lads were spared.
The widow of the murdered Kawazu Sukeyasu later married again - a man named Soga Sukenobu who’s family name was transferred to the boys. Soga adopted the elder son Juro Sukenari. The younger brother, Goro Tokimune was sent to a Buddhist temple to become a monk.
T71

T71

In the pouring rain they found Kudo Suketsune in a tent  S8.7, S74.61, S45.3.
S23.4

S23.4

Juro and Goro made it to the hunting camp at the slopes of Mount Fuji, with the help of two girls, Tora Gozen and Tegoshi no Shosho, T125, T328 (unavailable).
S8.7

S8.7

S74.61

S74.61

S45.3

S45.3

There are again different versions about the circumstances. In one version Kudo Suketsune was drunk, in another in the company of a prostitute. Maybe both versions are correct however the end result was they killed him satisfying their revenge T132, T304.
Two Dead Heroes
The whole camp was in uproar and a fight broke out between the retainers of the slain Suketsune and the two brothers T35, T103, T104, T159, T269, T349.

The elder Juro was killed in this fight and the younger Goro was tripped by a sumo wrestler named Goromaru, Yoritomo’s bodyguard. Shogun Yoritomo had to make a decision and as a result Goro was sentenced to be beheaded with a blunt sword.
Note: In the Kabuki play version, the death of the Soga brothers is seen under a positive light. Shogun Yoritomo condemned Goro, but at the same time he honoured the brother's deed by reinstalling their mother as the legitimate owner of her late husband's estate.
Goro was 20 and Juro 22 years old when they died. Fortunately the two Soga brothers had no children. Thus the story has no continuation with a new vendetta.
T35

T35

T103

T103

T104

T104

T159

T159

T269

T269

T349

T349

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