The Heiji Rebellion, 1159

Japanese History and Culture


Heiji Monogatari Emaki
(Tale of the Heiji Rebellion)
Night Attack on the Sanjo Palace from the Illustrated Scrolls of the Events of the Heiji Era.

Japanese, Kamakura period, second half of the 13th century


The Heiji disturbance, which occurred late in 1159, represents a brief armed skirmish in the capital of Kyoto. One faction, led by Fujiwara Nobuyori, in alliance with the warrior Minamoto Yoshitomo who staged a coup. In the scene depicted here, they surrounded the palace, captured the sovereign, placed him in a cart and then consigned the structure to the flames. Even though Nobuyori and Yoshitomo were triumphant here, they later suffered defeat and death at the hands of their rival Taira Kiyomori.

After the Heiji disturbance, Taira Kiyomori gained influence as a trusted advisor to the retired emperor, Go-Shirakawa. He launched his own coup some twenty years later, which…

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