In Japanese history, Hojo was the family name of two powerful warrior clans.
The first Hojo clan was a distant branch line of the Taira, and thus descended from the Imperial house. Lords of backwater Izu domain, the Hojo seemed destined for obscurity until a young Minamoto Yoritomo was exiled to their domain by Taira Kiyomori following the Heiji Incident in 1159. Yoritomo found favor with the Hojo lord, Tokimasa, and married his daughter Masako. Tokimasa and the Hojo then wisely sided with Yoritomo and the Minamoto during the Gempei War, initiating their rise to national prominence. Following Yoritomo's death in 1199, Masako and Tokimasa engineered a system whereby the Minamoto shoguns remained figureheads while the Hojo actually ruled Japan via a perpetual regency. The hegemony of the Hojo bakufu lasted from Tokimasa's appointment as regent in 1203 until its overthrow by Imperial loyalists in 1336.
The second Hojo clan was founded by Hojo Soun (1432-1519) during the Sengoku Era. Although of no relation to the original Hojo, Soun took on the name in honor of the original clan, because his original name of Ise Shinkuro did not sound as grand. Soun rose from obscure origins to become master of Izu at age 60 by taking advantage of internal disorder. Allying himself with the Imagawa and Takeda clans, he extended his power across the Kanto, battling the Uesugi and capturing Sagami and Musashi provinces, establishing his headquarters at Odawara Castle. Upon Soun's death in 1519, his heirs remained a force to be reckoned with until the clan's elimination in the Seige of Odawara Castle in 1590. Because of his independence from the shogunal power structure, Soun is considered by historians to be the first true daimyo.