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Do Japanese People Like the Underdog? Meet Japan’s Most Beloved Loser

Do Japanese People Like the Underdog? Meet Japan’s Most Beloved Loser

Generally speaking, Japanese people tend to prefer tales about underdogs.
Stories that reward good people and punish evildoers are loved by many people, and are a favorite in Hollywood movies, but the Japanese sometimes feel sorry for the evil side.

Why do they feel sympathy for losers? Here is some historical background.

One of the most famous samurai fighters in the history of Japan is Yoshitsune Minamoto.

Young Yoshitsune and his best man, Benkei. (Artist) Utagawa Hiroshige 

His life was very dramatic. In the 12th century, there were two major powers in Japan: the Taira clan and the Minamoto clan.
Yoshitsune was born in 1159 as one of the sons of a military commander for the Minamoto clan. When he was 10 years old, his father was killed by their rivals, the Taira clan. The leader of the Taira clan didn’t kill the sons, because they were very young.
The power of the Taira clan was immense. No one could have foreseen that this pair of young brothers would go on to grow up and defeat it.

Yoshitsune was sent to a temple to train as a monk. His elder brother, Yoritomo Minamoto was banished to an isolated district in Japan.

For more than 20 years, the remaining samurai of the Minamoto Clan planned to bring Yoritomo back to power and fight the Taira clan.

Finally, In 1180, Yoritomo raised an army. When the war started, Yoshitune joined his brother’s army.

Yoshitsune had an extraordinary military talent. He led a miraculous battle that is still talked about today.
He became a commander in the Minamoto clan.
Finally, the Taira clan was defeated by Yoshitsune.

The Battle of Dannoura in 1185 was the final confrontation between the forces of the Taira and Minamoto families. (Artist) Utagawa Yoshikazu 

His elder brother, Yoritomo, became the first shōgun of the Kamakura shogunate of Japan. After Yoritomo, the military government continued for more than 770 years.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, in Kamakura Japan, founded by Yoriyoshi and Yoritomo Minamoto.

Yoshitsune became a hero because of his military talent.
But after a peaceful period, he became involved in political conflict.
His elder brother Yoritomo instructed his men to kill Yoshitsune.

The tragedy killed both of them, despite being brothers and comrades, and this moved many Japanese people.

Yoshitsune has long been a popular figure in Japanese literature and culture because many people felt sorry about his death.

See Also

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Japanese people like losers because of this cultural background.

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There are many sightseeing spots in Japan with anecdotes about Yoshitsune.

In Kurama, Kyoto, there is a temple where the young Yoshitsune lived.
Manpukuji- temple in Kamakura, there is also a temple where Yoshitsune was stranded when he came to see his brother.
Chuson-ji Temple in  Iwate, there is the site of the capital of the Fujiwara family, who raised Yoshitsune to be a soldier.


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