Taira no Masakado

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  • Born: ??
  • Died: 940
  • Titles:
  • Childhood Name:
  • Japanese: 平将門 (Taira no Masakado)

The Life of Taira no Masakado

Taira no Masakado was a provincial official and early samurai in the Kanto region of Japan. He briefly served in the capital under the regent Fujiwara no Tadahira, and later became an important figure in his home province. In 935 he began a campaign against rivals in and around Hitachi that would become known as the "Taira no Masakado Incident" ([i]Taira no Masakado no Ran[/i]). Over the next five years, he would wage both a physical and legal battle with his rivals, alternating between the status of outlaw and deputized official of the court in Heian-kyo. Finally, in the 10th month of 939, he attacked the Hitachi Provincial Headquarters, an act that placed him in official rebellion against the court. He then went on to attack other capitals, eventually consolidating eight of the eastern provinces under his direct control. He was finally killed on the 14th day of the 2nd month of 940. After his death, his head was taken back to the capital and put on display. In later eras there were many rumors, myths, and legends regarding Taira no Masakado's severed head, including attributions of wrathful vengeance in the mid-20th century.


  • 2008, Friday, Karl. "The first samurai: the life and legend of the warrior rebel Taira Masakado", John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, ISBN 978-0-471-76082-5.
  • 2006, [u]A User-Friendly Timeline of Ancient Japanese History (with furigana): From the earliest times to 1155[/u], Yoshikawa Kobunkan, ISBN 4-642-01436-5.

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