1152-1184. Kanehira was a samurai and the retainer and foster brother of Yoshinaka Minamoto (Kiso). In 1180, he followed Yoshinaka’s army as one of Kiso’s four heavenly kings and fought throughout the country. In 1183 he distinguished himself by defeating Moritoshi Taira, and after the event he continued to lead the campaign against the Taira clan.
However, he later became rivals with Yorimoto Minamoto, who was the ally of Master Yoshinaka and was defeated in the battle of Ujigawa in 1184. At the place where they retreated, Kanehira advised Yoshinaka to commit a ritual suicide, and he himself was killed in battle.
- Association with Minato City
The origin of Azabu Imai-cho is the epic of Kanehira Imai
Legend tells us that the whole area where Kanehira’s castle was situated during Edo was called Imai Village, which before Edo was expansive and included Akasaka Tameike, Torano-mon, Shiba Nishikubo, Roppongi, and Aoyama. In 1654, however, the agricultural fields of Imai Village were claimed by the shogunate government, and Mure (now Mitaka) was bestowed as a replacement. Since the replacement land was so far away, the villagers refused to relocate and gathered around Imai-cho. That is the origin of Imai-cho, Imaitera-cho, and Imaisanya-cho. There are no remains of the castle in Akasaka Hikawa Jinja Shrine, and it is believed that the story of Imai Castle has little credibility.
Concise Nihon Jinmei Jiten (Concise Japanese Biographical Dictionary) (Sanseido)
Tokyo no Chimei Yurai Jiten (Dictionary of the Origins of Tokyo Place Names) (Edited by Makoto Takeuchi/Tokyodo Shuppan)