Yoritomo (Yoritomo Minamoto)yōrēˈtōmō mēnäˈmōtō, 1148–99, Japanese warrior and dictator, founder of the Kamakura shogunate. After a prolonged struggle he led his clan, the Minamoto, to victory over the Taira in 1185. He became (1192) the first shogun, established his bakufu (headquarters) at Kamakura, and rewarded his retainers with estates strategically located throughout the country. These fiefs later became the basis of the power of the daimyo. Aided by scholars drawn from the imperial court, which Yoritomo controlled, he set up an administrative network that soon became the only effective central government. His shogunate marked the beginning of a vigorous period in Japanese history. Zen Buddhism was officially sponsored, and the military virtues of bushido were cultivated. Yoritomo's system of centralized feudalism set the pattern of military rule in Japan until the mid-19th cent.

See J. P. Mass, Court and Bakufu in Japan: Essays in Kamakura History (1982).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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