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a powerful feudal family in Japan, prominent from the tenth through the 12th century, with landholdings primarily in the southwestern part of the island of Honshu. The Taira carried on an internecine struggle with a group of eastern feudal lords, headed by the Minamoto family, that had close ties with the imperial court. By the mid-12th century, these aristocratic clans, especially the Fujiwara, had lost much of their power and influence. Taking advantage of this development, Taira Kiyomori, the head of the family, in 1156 occupied the capital of Japan, Kyoto, thus becoming the de facto ruler of most of the country. In 1180, however, the Minamoto, supported by the Hojo family, entered the last stage of the struggle and in 1185 decisively defeated the Taira in a sea battle at Dannoura. Authority over the country thereupon passed to Minamoto Yoritomo, who in 1192 founded a shogunate.