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

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Location: Sakai, Osaka, Japan

Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Mukai Sea Forces (2)

     Imagawa Yoshimoto (1519-1560) was killed on his expedition to Kyoto, and his son, Ujizane (1538-1614) succeeded him.  Ujizane, however, was defeated by Takeda Shingen (1521-1573) and was driven out of Suruga Province in 1568.  In 1572, Mukai Masashige (1519-1579) was re-employed by the Takeda Clan.

     Almost at the same time, in 1571, Ohama Kagetaka (1540-1597), who had been driven out of Shima Province by Kuki Yoshitaka (1542-1600), was employed by the Takeda Clan, too.  It was under the command of Kagetaka that Masashige operated as one of Takeda Sea Forces.


     Masashige’s brilliant naval operation was recorded in 1577.  Kajiwara Kagemune (?-?), who was commanding Izu Sea Forces under the Hojo Clan, attacked Kambara Castle and other castles in the eastern part of Suruga Province.  Kambara Castle had been seized by the Hojo Clan from the Imagawa Clan in 1568, but, in the same year, had been captured by the Takeda Clan, but had been re-captured by the Hojo Clan in the same year.  In 1569, the castle had fallen to the Takeda Clan again.  Kokokuji Castle was located about 30-kilometer east from Kambara Castle, much nearer to Hojo’s domain.  Masashige defended the castle almost at the expense of his family.

The Mukai Sea Forces (1)

     In Ancient Japan, the term “Eastern Provinces” meant those east to the Suzuka Mountain Range.  The Mukai Family used to live at the east foot of the mountain range.  It is not clear how and when the family moved to a sea shore and mastered sea battles.

     In the 15th century, the family came to work and fight for the Kitabatake Clan, the ruler in Ise Province.  It is privately recorded that, in 1505, Mukai Tadatsuna (1488-1553) fought against Hojo Soun (1432-1519) for the Kitabatake Clan.  He died at an ocean village, Tashigara, Watarai County, Ise Province.  His son, Masashige (1519-1579), moved to Suruga Province to be a vassal of the Imagawa Clan, the ruler of the province, in the late 1550’s while other family members stayed in the southern part of Ise Province.

     In 1550’s, Imagawa Yoshimoto (1519-1560) was busy building his navy to support his expedition to Kyoto.  In 1558, he also recruited Itami Yasunao (1522-1596) as a sea-force samurai, who was born in Itami, Settsu Province, as a son of the lord of Itami Castle, Motosuke (?-1529).  Motosuke was killed in defending his castle, involved in the internal fightings within the Miyoshi Clan.  Yasunao had traveled around the provinces, seeking employment as a samurai, under the protection of Mano Tokiaki (?-?), a vassal of his late father and the maternal grandfather of himself.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Saji Sea Forces (3)

     However, after the death of Nobunaga and his first son, Nobutada (1557-1582), in 1582, Nobunaga’s second son, Nobuo (1558-1630), Nobunaga’s third son, Nobutaka (1558-1583), and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), one of Nobunaga’s vassals, struggled for the leadership.  As Nobuo was based in Owari Province, Saji Kazunari almost naturally joined Nobuo’s camp, which sealed the family’s fate though.  Hideyoshi triumphed in the struggle, and unified the whole country.  Kazunari was forced to get divorced from Oeyo, forfeited his domain, Chita County, and retreated to Ise Province, which was in the opposite side of Ise Bay.  There, he later became a vassal of Oda Nobukane (1543-1614), Nobunaga’s younger brother.  Nobukane was ordered to move to Tamba Province, an inland province, in 1598, and Kazunari followed him.  It means the Saji Family was separated from the sea.  Kazunari died in Kyoto with a disease.  He died in peace, but the family could never make a major daimyo-lord comeback.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

The Saji Sea Forces (2)

     The 7th head of the Isshiki Clan, Mitsunori (1368-1409), was additionally appointed as the guardian samurai of Chita County in 1392.  When Isshiki Yoshitsuna (1400-1440) was the head of the clan, the clan started its downfall.  Yoshinao (?-?), who belonged to one of the branch families, abandoned Mikawa Province, which was just east to Owari Province.  It is not clear what he did with Chita County.  Yoshihide (?-1498), the head of the clan at the time, had to commit suicide, facing the rebellion of samurais in Tango Province, the clan’s base province.  His younger brother, Yoshito (?-?), abandoned Chita County, and went back to Tango, to have his son, Yoshiari (1487-1512), succeed the head of the clan.

     In the confusion and the downfall of the Isshiki Clan, Saji Munesada (?-1532), who had been their vassal, took over Ono Castle in Chita County, controlled Ono Sea People, and, accordingly, held the hegemony over the sea transportation of Ise Bay.

     In 1560, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) beat off the Imagawa Clan from Suruga Province.  Seeing Oda’s victory in the Battle of Okehazama, Saji Nobukata (1550-1571), who was the chief of the Saji Sea Forces at the time,  got married to Nobunaga’s younger sister, Oinu(?-1582).


     Nobukata took part in the First Siege of Nagashima in 1571, which Nobunaga mounted to lose, supposedly supporting Nobunaga’s troops from the sea, and was killed in the battle.  When Nobukata’s son, Kazunari (1569-1634), came of age, he got married to Nobunaga’s niece, Oeyo (1573-1626).  The family looked to have a bright future before them.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Saji Sea Forces (1)

     In Ancient Japan, the term “Eastern Provinces” meant those east to the Suzuka Mountain Range.  It means Owari, Ise, and Shima Provinces all belonged to Eastern Provinces.  In contrast to pirates in Western Provinces, such as the Murakami Clan in the Seto Inland Sea, we can scarcely find famous pirates in the East.  Even Kuki Yoshitaka (1542-1600) in Shima Province, who was famous as a pirate warlord at the time, was a descendant of Kumano Sea Forces in Kii Province, which used to belong to Nan-kai-do, literally South Sea Lane Region.

     However, let me introduce some sea forces in Eastern Provinces so as that you would not believe there used to be no sea forces or pirates in Eastern Japan.


     According to a half-legendary story, Taira Narikuni (?-?) was the son of Koretoki (?-?) and the younger brother of Naokata (?-?), and he came to live in Saji, Koga County, Omi Province in 1062.  Since then, his family called themselves Saji.  In 1470’s, Saji Tametsugu (?-?), the head of the family at the time, sent his third son, Tametsuna (?-?), to Chita County, Owari Province, to answer the request from Isshiki Yoshiharu (1466-1484), who belonged to a branch family of the Isshiki Clan, which was struggling to cling to the power at the time.  Tametsugu served Yoshiharu in the county.

Friday, September 02, 2016

The Kuki Sea Forces (5)

     Just 2 years witnessed a big change in navy battles; from throwing in earthenware explosives to shooting big guns.  The armored ships were not only armored with iron plates to shield the enemy attacks of shooting arrows and guns.  The Correspondences of the Society of Jesus in Japan also reported that the ships were also equipped with 3 cannons.  We may well call them battleships with heavy guns.

     Kano Mitsunobu (1565-1608), a painter of the Kano school, one of the most famous schools of Japanese painting, painted Nagoya Castle in Hizen on a byobu with 6 panels in detail years later.  The castle was a base to sally forth to Korean Peninsula at the time.  The byobu represents armored ships as well with two-storied or three-storied donjons on top of them.  Those donjons might have been spaces for a commander, and symbols of authority and power.  The ships had sails, but was usually driven with oars.  Small-sized armored ships were said to have 50 oars, while big-sizes to have more than 150 oars.  They were equivalent to ships with 75-300 of net tonnage, and were equipped with heavy guns, and were crenelated.


     The structure of the armored ships suggests that they could not sail so fast.  They went to battles with small fast boats guarding them.  In terms of modern navy battles, an armored ship fought as a battleship, a medium-sized boat as a cruiser, and a small boat as a destroyer.  Navy battles were definitely changing, and surpassing in firepower was coming to play more decisive roles than maneuverability, which the Murakami Clan was good at.  Big ships with a high-rise building on top of them and with a lot of guns to shoot from there at enemy ships and boats were opening a new era on the sea as well.  I just wonder how much iron they should have imported to meet the need.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Kuki Sea Forces (4)

     Another quotation about the Second Battle of Kidu River Estuary in June and November, 1578, tells us that, in June, the armored ships which had sailed to Osaka Bay via the Sea of Kumano-nada encountered the besieging enemy sea forces from Soka and Tan’nowa which were shooting arrows and guns, but defeated them with big guns.

     “On June 26, in the 6th year of Tensho, our ships sailed out to the Sea of Kumano-ura, sailed to Osaka.  They rowed numerous boats out of Soga, Tan’nowa and as such against our big ships off Tan’nowa.  They shot arrows and guns, and pressed attacks on us from all sides.  Kuki Yoshitaka (1542-1600), who had decorated the 7 ships like mountains, fought restrictively first, waited for the enemy boats to come closer, then fired big guns all at once, and destroyed many of the enemy boats.  Afterward, the enemy boats could hardly find ways to approach our ships, and we could easily sail to Sakai on July 17.

     Those big guns showed their power in November as well to defeat the sea forces of the Mori and Kono Clans, whose de facto main force was the Murakami Clan.


     “On November 6, more than 600 ships and boats from western provinces advanced to Kidu areas.  Kuki Yoshitaka intercepted the enemy ships and boats.  They besieged our ships, sailing southward, and fought a sea battle from 8 in the morning till around noon.  Kuki seemed to be having a hard battle at first, but, having many big guns in their 6 ships, waited for the enemy ships and boats to come closer, and fired the guns to the enemy flagship to strike it down.  They became panicked and couldn’t approach ours any more.  Kuki finally drove hundreds of the enemy ships and boats into Kidu Estuary, and all the audience praised Kuki Yoshitaka for his military exploits.”

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.