Gosannen War

Gosannen War
Part of Clan disputes of the Heian period
Date1083-1089 (disputed)
LocationMutsu province, Tohoku region, JapanJapan
Result Disputes settled; restored order
forces of various branches of Kiyohara clan forces of Minamoto no Yoshiie, Governor of Mutsu province
Commanders and leaders
Kiyohara no Iehira, Kiyohara no Takahira, others Minamoto no Yoshiie, Fujiwara no Kiyohira

The Gosannen War (後三年合戦, gosannen kassen), also known as the Later Three-Year War, was fought in the late 1080s in Japan's Mutsu Province on the island of Honshū.[1]


The Gosannen War was part of a long struggle for power within the warrior clans of the time.

The Gosannen kassen arose because of a series of quarrels within the Kiyohara clan (sometimes referred to as "Kiyowara"). The long-standing disturbances were intractable. When Minamoto no Yoshiie, who became Governor of Mutsu province in 1083, tried to calm the fighting which continued between Kiyohara no Masahira, Iehira, and Narihira.[2]

Negotiations were not successful; and so Yoshiie used his own forces to stop the fighting. He was helped by Fujiwara no Kiyohira. In the end, Iehira and Narihira were killed.[2]

During the Siege of Kanezawa, 1086-1089, Yoshiie avoided an ambush by noticing a flock of birds take flight from a forest.[3][4]

Legacy in Art

Much of the war is depicted in an e-maki narrative handscroll, the Gosannen Kassen E-maki, which was created in 1171.[5] The artwork is owned today by the Watanabe Museum in Tottori city, Japan.

See also


  1. Varley, H. Paul. (1994). Warriors of Japan as Portrayed in the War Tales, pp. 40-45.
  2. 1 2 Sansom, George (1958). A history of Japan to 1334. Stanford University Press. p. 249-252. ISBN 0804705232.
  3. Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co. p. 199. ISBN 1854095234.
  4. Turnbull, Stephen (1977). The Samurai, A Military History. MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 22-25. ISBN 0026205408.
  5. Varley, p. 41.

Further reading

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