The 12th-century clashes of the Taira and Minamoto clans served as a favorite inspiration for later writers and artists. In 1183, the Minamoto drove the Taira, who had ruled Japan for twenty years, out of the capital. Two years later, the Minamoto forced the Taira to retreat by boat from their temporary base in Kyushu. Kiyotsune, a sensitive young member of the Taira clan, decided the situation was hopeless. He calmed his mind, playing his flute under the moon, and then threw himself into the sea. Yoshitoshi sets Kiyotsune high in the composition, absorbed in his final song. Butterflies, the symbol of the Taira clan, adorn the purple fabric at the front of the ship. In the bottom right corner, the torches of the enemy ships approach, their devastation imminent.