Stomachs full following our soba noodles at Zcobo, the next stop on our day out with Yuko and the Brown family was a leisurely (more or less, thanks to some wrong turns and narrow town streets) drive through to the town of Miyanokoshi, where Yuko was very keen for us to visit the Yoshinaka Yakata Museum – important because of her ancestral link to the Minamoto clan.
(Ryan and I were just excited that at last we were going to encounter some samurai exhibits!)
The first thing that greets you as you enter the grounds of the museum is a striking bronze statue of the great Kiso Yoshinaka with the legendary Tomoe Gozen standing guard next to him.
Popularised in the epic Tale of the Heike, Minamoto no Yoshinaka (better known as Kiso Yoshinaka) was a famous shogun and war hero that fought during the Genpei War (1180-1185) which was the culmination of the struggle between the Taira (aka Heike) and Minamoto (aka Genji) clans for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century.
His army defeated the Taira army on numerous occasions and eventually drove them out of Kyoto, only to finally perish at the hands of his own clan in battle, after his plotting to setup a separate government came to light.
(Tomoe Gozen also features heavily in the displays, she being Japan’s most famous female samurai, with many legends proclaiming her brilliance in battle.)
The small museum does a great job at telling Kiso Yoshinaka’s tale through murals, reliefs, costumes and dolls – though luckily for us we had Yuko on hand for translation because this certainly isn’t intended as a museum for tourists!
Very much an interesting look into the samurai history of the area, and if you have a Japanese-speaking guide, then worth a recommendation.