Important Cultural Property
Kamakura period/13-14th century
Tokyo National Museum
This seems to be an image of Minamoto Yoritomo, which was possessed by Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura. It wears an eboshi (a type of headgear worn by court nobles) and hunting clothes and sits cross-legged. This is a smaller-than-life image as the height from the bottom to the top of the eboshi is about 70cm and 50cm to the top of the head. There remain two images in Kamakura that are similar to this one in appearance and size: the image of Hojo Tokiyori at Kenchoji Temple and the image of Uesugi Shigefusa at Meigetsuin Temple. The starched stiff clothing and the cross-legged sitting posture may have been modeled after the portraits of court nobles that were popular at the time. This image seems to have been created during the period from the late thirteenth century (after the creation of Shigefusa and Tokiyori images) to the early fourteenth century (100 years after the death of Yoritomo).
Although it is not true-to-life, it still shows the noble dignity of the head of a warrior family. This image of Minamoto Yoritomo had been enshrined at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, a symbol of a warrior town of Kamakura and worshiped by many samurai. It is said that when Toyotomi Hideyoshi visited Tsurugaoka Hachimangu, he talked to the image of Yoritomo while patting it on its shoulder.