Kakuta Haruo's Workshop ---Decoding Japan---

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Location: Sakai, Osaka, Japan

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Kuki Sea Forces (3)

     The first quotation describes how the naval battle in July, 1576, was fought.  In the battle, the sea forces of the Mori and Kono Clans, whose de facto main force was the Murakami Clan, surrounded Oda sea forces, threw in many earthenware explosives, and burnt down Oda’s ships and boats.  The tactics to cut off each enemy ship from others by surrounding them with small fast boats and to attack with earthenware explosives used to be common in the Seto Inland Sea battles.  An earthenware explosive was a round fire bomb which had black powder and iron pieces or lead balls in it which was covered with earthenware.  The earthenware explosives were popularly used from the Warring States Period till Shoku-Ho Era.  Later, even small rockets with 3 plumes which were fired with guns, cannons, or wooden cylinders came to be employed.  The explosive powder in their tips exploded when they stroke ships.

     Oda sea forces were severely beaten by the sea forces of the Mori and Kono Clans, and could not stop the enemy’s shipping military provisions into Osaka Hongan-ji Temple.


     After the first battle, Nobunaga ordered the Kuki Clan to build armored ships.  The armored ships were to be armored with iron plates to shield the enemy attacks with earthenware explosives and guns.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Kuki Sea Forces (2)

     After Kitabatake’s practical surrender to Oda, Yoshitaka kept fighting against the local samurai families in Shima Province, defeating them one by one, while he also fought for Nobunaga in the Third Siege of Nagashima in 1574, in the First Battle of Kidu River Estuary in 1576, and the Second Battle of Kidu River Estuary in 1578.

     In 1582, Nobunaga had to kill himself in the Honno-ji Incident.  In the confusion after Nobunaga’s death, Yoshitaka was said to be admitted as the ruler of Shima Province sometime between 1582 and 1584.  But by whom?  It is not clear.  Sumitaka, his nephew and the head of the family at the time, is said to have died of an illness sometime between 1582 and 1584, too.

     Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) heavily lost to the sea forces of the Mori and Kono Clans in the First Battle of Kidu River Estuary in July, 1576.  In June and November, 1578, however, he fought against the sea forces of the Mori Clan and the Soga people again, which ended as his overwhelming victory.  Let’s see how the Kuki Sea Forces contributed to Nobunaga’s final victory, comparing two entries about the two naval battles from the Biography of Lord Nobunaga.


     “They stopped our ships, and shot many earthenware explosives to burn the ships down.  We were heavily outnumbered, and lost veteran samurais such as Manabe Sadatomo, Numa Iga, Numa Den’nai.  Western forces won a victory in the battle, shipped military provisions into Osaka Hongan-ji Temple, and sailed their forces back to the western provinces.”

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Kuki Sea Forces (1)

     The Kuki Clan’s origin is not so clear.  Its families used to live in and be based in Kuki Bay in Kii Province.  It means that they used to be one of Kumano Sea Forces.

     Kuki Takayoshi (?-?) was the second son of Takamasa (?-?), and became an adopted son-in-law in the Kawamo Family in Namikiri Village, Shima Province, supposedly in the late 14th century.

     Kuki Yasutaka (?-?) was Takayoshi’s great grandson, and Yasutaka’s eldest son was Sadataka (?-1551).  Kuki Yoshitaka was born as Sadataka’s third son while Yasutaka was still the head of the family.

     Sadataka died in 1551, and his eldest son, Kiyotaka (?-1560), succeeded the family headship.  At the time, 13 local samurai families were fighting one another, and 7 of them allied to fight against the Kuki Family, supported by Kitabatake Tomonori (1528-1576), the ruler of Ise Province.

     As Kiyotaka was based in Tashiro Castle, Yoshitaka defended the castle with him.  The fight dragged on for years, and Kiyotaka died of an illness in 1560.  His son, Sumitaka (?-1584), succeeded the family headship, but was still just 8 years old.  Yoshitaka assisted Sumitaka, but lost to the 7 families, and escaped into Mt. Asakuma, a sacred mountain in the province.  Later, Yoshitaka is said to have crossed Ise Bay to Mikawa Province and contacted Takigawa Kazumasu (1525-1586), one of the vassals of Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), who was gaining momentum after his victory over the Imagawa Clan in the Battle of Okehazama in 1560.

     In 1568, Nobunaga started invading Ise Province, fighting against its ruler, Kitabatake Tomonori.  During the invasion, Yoshitaka headed sea forces, attacked Oyodo Fortress in Taki County along Ise Bay, and occupied it.


     In 1569, the peace talk between Oda and Kitabatake were concluded, and Tomonari adopted Nobunaga’s second son, Nobukatsu (1558-1630), marrying Tomonari’s daughter, Yukihime (?-?), to Nobukatsu.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

What Were Smuggled to Japan (12)

     Let me talk about iron next.

     In 1543, Tanegashima Tokitaka (1528-1579) bought 2 matchlock guns from Portuguese traders.  He had Yaita Kinbe (1502-1570), a sword smith, copy the guns.  At first, Kinbe only could make defective ones, which were called “tanegashima hari.”  He, or Japanese people at large, did not know how to cut screws, and welded the tail end of guns instead of using screws, which left the guns difficult to clean up and, thus, easy to misfire or to blow up.

     Next year, those Portuguese traders brought a gun smith.  Kinbe learned very quickly from him how to cut screws, and made tens of matchlock guns within a year.

     By the end of the 16th century, each warlord had come to have thousands of matchlock guns.  Japan had come to possess as many as 0.3-0.5 million guns in total.  Japan was fairly good at import substituting industrialization even at the time.


     The problem was iron.  Being handmade, each matchlock gun weighed different, from about 1 kilogram to 5 kilograms.  Let me make a guess from leftover average ones that they used about 3 kilograms of iron in average.  0.5 million guns means 1500 tons of iron.  Even after World War II, Japan had to industrialize itself by the processing trade due to its scarce natural resources.  Iron sand and simple furnaces could not provide that much iron within half a century.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What Were Smuggled to Japan (11)

     Those luxurious goods such as what Oda Nobunaga presented to other warlords were recorded as imported ones fairly well, but there were some others which were smuggled into Japan secretly.  They were munitions.  Being merchants of death always paid well, has always paid well so far, and, I’m afraid, will pay well for the foreseeable future.

     Let me talk about niter first.  We have a few pieces of written supporting evidence of its import to Japan.

     One of the written texts the Mori Clan has kept reveals that they had to purchase niter to attack Susuma-numa Castle in Suo Province in 1557.

     In 1567, Otomo Sorin wrote a letter to Bishop Carneiro in Macao, requesting him to forbid exporting niter to the Mori Clan so that the Otomo Clan could beat the Mori Clan to spread Christianity to the Mori Clan’s domain, and to have the captain-major there sell 120 kilograms of niter to his clan annually, promising to pay 4 kilograms of silver or more for the niter.


     Later, during the Edo Period, after the national isolation policy was instituted by the Tokugawa Clan, the Maeda Clan developed an efficient method to produce niter in their mountainous area, Gokayama, but, till then, extracting niter from aged dung and droppings was not sufficient for an estimated 0.5 million matchlock guns in Japan.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

What Were Smuggled to Japan (10)

     After the victory in the Battle of Okehazama, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) married his younger sister, Oinu(?-1582), to Saji Nobukata (1550-1571), who was the chief of the Saji Sea Forces, which were controlling the water transportation in Ise Bay.

     Nobukata took part in the First Siege of Nagashima in 1571, supposedly supporting Nobunaga’s troops from the sea, and was killed in the battle, which Nobunaga lost.

     In 1574, Nobunaga mounted the Third Siege of Nagashima to win, employing more powerful sea forces, the Kuki Clan.  However, Nobunaga did not forget Nobukata’s support.  When Nobukata’s son, Kazunari (1569-1634), came of age, Nobunaga married his niece, Ogo (1573-1626), to Kazunari.

     In the earliest months of the year 1569, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) sent his vassals to 2 port towns at the east end of the Seto Inland Sea; Amagasaki, Settsu Province, and Sakai, Izumi Province, to force them pay taxes.  Amagasaki citizens refused, and the port town was burned out on March the 6th.  Sakai citizens yielded.  Imai Sokyu (1520-1593), one of the richest merchants of Sakai, was appointed magistracy, and Matsui Yukan(?-?), a merchant from Nobunaga’s hometown, Kiyosu, Owari Province, was appointed local finance officer.  Thus, Nobunaga grabbed the international smuggling networks Sakai merchants had.

     When Nobunaga sent gifts to Eastern warlords to placate them, he presented imported goods.  For example, he gifted, according to Imai Sokyu’s notes, gold-brocaded satin damask, a tiger hide, crimson strings etc. to Date Terumune (1544-1585), Ou Province, and satin damask, crimson, hides of a tiger, a leopard, and an orangutan etc. to Shiratori Nagahisa (?-1584), Dewa Province.  The notes tell us that a tiger hide cost about 2kilograms of silver or about 1 ton of rice.


     There seems to have been wide preferences for imported goods among warlords, and presenting imported goods might have been an effective way to conciliate enemy warlords.  They might have been more effective against Eastern warlords who had fewer chances to purchase those imported goods directly by themselves.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

What Were Smuggled to Japan (9)

     Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) half put an end to the Warring States Period (1467-1568) and half unified Japan.  He killed his younger brother, Nobukatsu (1536-1557), and unified Owari Province in 1559.  He knew quite well of the importance of gaining naval supremacy of water and controlling water transportation from the very beginning.  As soon as he unified Owari Province, one of his vassals, Senshu Suetada (1534-1560), trapped the pirates around Hazuzaki, the southern tip of the Chita Peninsula, the southernmost part of the province, between Ise and Mikawa Bays, into obeying him.

     Suetada took advantage of being a chief priest of Atsuta Shrine in Owari Province, one of the oldest shrines in Japan, and proposed a business talk to the pirates to buy wood through them from Kii Province to rebuild the shrine.  As the pirates believed in the shrine heartily and also found it a good deal, they sailed all their boats off to Kii to meet the request.

     Suetada secretly set fire to pirates’ village, whose security was weak then.  Besides, he innocently started to fight the fire with his men, rescued the pirates’ families, and took good care of them.  The pirates returned to find their village burned out, and to know Suetada helped their families.  They thanked Suetada for his rapid and conscientious responses, and handed wood over to him for free.  As the villagers were hardly able to get by without their homes, Suetada gave them land to live on away from the sea.  Thus, he cleared pirates from Hazuzaki.


     Suetada was killed in the Battle of Okehazama as he attacked, with no more than 30 men, the advance troop of Imagawa Yoshimoto (1519-1560), who was leading no less than 20-25 thousand men in total to mount a military expedition to Kyoto to dominate the whole country.