Sunday, March 26, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-14)

     We can find a good instance of pirates’ maneuvering behavior in the tug-of-wars over Motobuto Castle.  The castle was located in Honjo, Kojima County, Bizen Province.  Kojima used to be an island in ancient times.  The island was between Bizen Province in the mainland Japan and Sanuki Province in Shikoku Island.  It was also between Bizen and Bicchu Provinces and was an important water transportation center in the Eastern Seto Inland Sea.  Although Kojima had become a peninsula with a sandbar by sometime in medieval times, the strategic importance of Motobuto Castle kept unchanging.

     Although Kojima was in Bizen Province, it was under the hegemony of the Hosokawa Clan, which produced provincial guardian samurais in Sanuki and Awa Provinces in Shikoku Island.  The castle itself and its surrounding domain were managed by the Kozai Family.


     In 1567, the Mori Clan and No-shima Murakami Pirates invaded Motobuto Castle.  Shima Yoshitoshi (?-1602), a member of the pirates, killed Kozai Matagoro (?-1567) in the battle, and was appointed to be the lord of the castle.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-13)

     Nomi Munekatsu (1527-1592), a vassal of Kobayakawa Takakage (1533-1597), had been trying to lure Murakami Michiyasu (1519-1567), the head of Kuru-shima Murakami Family, into Mori’s side.  On the 28th, Mori Motonari (1497-1571) got scared that Miya-no-o Castle would fall to Sue Harukata(1521-1555), and sent out his forces from Kusatsu Port.  On the very day, as if they had been timing the moment, Kuru-shima Murakami Pirates appeared with a couple of hundreds of fighting boats.  On the 29th, Mori’s landed Itsuki-shima Island.  On the 30th, on the last day of the month, the two clashed against each other.  Murakami Pirates set fire to many of Harukata’s boats, and cut off land samurais’ retreat.  At that moment, supposedly 8000 out of 20000 of Harukata’s forces were on the island.  On October the 1st, Harukata was maneuvered into getting isolated from his still active and fighting forces, and was cornered into committing suicide, with his head cut, buried, and hidden somewhere in the island all by only 3 out of 8000 vassals left around him, Ikaga Fusaaki (?-1555), Kakinami Takamasa (?-1555), and Yamazaki Takakata (?-1555).  After the concealment of their lord’s head, the three, as the matter of course, killed themselves with their own swords.  3000 of Harukata’s had been captured.  Unknowingly or knowingly that Harukata had died, his last force led by Hironaka Takasuke (?-1555) was finally destroyed 2 days later, on the 3rd day of October.  In total, 4700 of Harukata’s were killed on the holly island where people had never been allowed even to reside. 


     We should notice that the pirates did not make the-last-moment entrance of the hero like Superman.  They just raised their market price, as was often the case.  Unlike the Kawa-no-uchi and Tada-no-umi Sea Guards, the Mori Clan always had to try to lure Murakami Pirates.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-12)

     The most remarkable contribution Nomi Munekatsu (1527-1592) made to the Mori Clan’s domination over the West Seto Inland Sea was that he mediated between the clan and Murakami Pirates.  Murakami Pirates were composed of In-no-shima Murakami Family, No-shima Murakami Family, and Kuru-shima Murakami Family from North to South.  Each family’s headquarters was based in In-no-shima Island, No-shima Island, and Kuru-shima Island respectively.  Munekatsu’s daughter was married to Murakami Yoshisuke (?-1596), who was the 7th head of In-no-shima Murakami Family.  Munekatsu made good use of the relationship by the marriage.

     Mori Motonari (1497-1571) and Sue Harukata (1521-1555), who had usurped the domain of the Ouchi Clan, clashed against each other around Itsuku-shima Island in 1555 over the hegemony in the Western Chugoku District.  Kuru-shima Murakami Family had been wavering between the 2 clans just until the battle broke out.

     Itsuku-shima Island was a holly island, and thus used not to be inhabitable.  It was, however, the Warring States Period, and wars were always shameless.


     In May, 1554, Motonari built Miya-no-o Castle at the north-east corner of Itsuku-shima Island, the nearest spot in the island from his domain.  After fighting some preludes on the mainland, Harukata sent out his large army of 20000 to Itsuku-shima Island on September the 21st, 1555, landed on the island on the 22nd, and pitched his main camp at To-no-oka, from where he could looked down at Miya-no-o Castle.  He started attacking the castle on the 23rd, and had cut the source of the water supply and had filled in the outer moats of the castle by the 27th.  On the very 27th, Motonari was still writing to Kobayakawa Takakage (1533-1597), his third son, grumbling whether Kuru-shima Murakami Pirates were going to support his clan or not.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-11)

     Kobayakawa Hirohira (1416-1473), the 10th head of the family, had 2 sons.  The elder, Takahira (1452-1499), became the 11th head of the family, and the younger, Korekage (?-?), started Nomi Family.  The sea area the family based in had been called Nomi-no-ura (Nomi Inlet).  In 1129, Taira Tadamori (1096-1153) brought the area under his control and called it Tada-no-umi (Tada Sea).  Korekage picked up the older name for his family name.  In this respect, the Nomi family was older than the Ura Family.


     Nomi Masakatsu (?-?) was adopted to the Ura Family, and his son, Munekatsu (1527-1592), succeeded to the headship of the Ura Family, although he preferred to be called Nomi Munekatsu.  Munekatsu built a castle on the west hill of the inlet.  The building was in the shape of “kagi” (the Japanese word for “key”), and the castle was called Kagi Castle.  Munekatsu commanded the Tada-no-umi Sea Guards there.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-10)

     Kobayakawa Korehira (?-?), Sadahira’s another younger brother and the 8th son in the family, came to be based in Ikuchi-jima Island, and called his family Ikuchi.  Korehira’s son, Kimizane (?-?), willingly and actively connected himself with the traders at Setoda Port in the island.  In 1422, he managed to be privileged by the Muromachi Shogunate not to pay toll taxes at Hyogo and other ports, although the privilege was confiscated next year as it was detected that he illegally distributed the privilege to the Setoda traders.  Morihira(?-?), who was the head of the family at the time, was authorized to be a steward samurai of the island by the Muromachi Shogunate in 1433.


     With those branch families, many of which had their own sea forces, and with the Tada-no-umi Sea Guards, the Kobayakawa Family grew up to be the Kobayakawa Clan.  Their sea forces were collectively called the Kobayakawa Sea Forces.  However, the clan’s 14th and 15th heads died young, and the clan adopted Takakage (1533-1597) from the Mori Clan to be subordinate to the Mori Clan.  Thus, the Kobayakawa Sea Forces became the second type of the sea forces of the Mori Clan.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-9)

     Tomohira’s grandson, Sadahira (?-1375), started crossing the Seto Inland Sea with a reminder from the Muromachi Shogunate in his hand.  He and his brothers occupied Ikuchi-jima and Yuge-jima Islands, and invaded Inno-shima Island.  They put Setoda Port on Ikuchi-jima Island under their rule.  The port used to be one of the most important ports  in the Seto Inland Sea to wait for the changes of tidal currents.  The rule over the port enabled the family to keep the hegemony over the control of the transportation structures in the sea, and to trade even with Korea.  They later went further down to Osaki-Kami-jima, Osaki-Shimo-jima Islands, and even advanced to O-shima Island in Ochi County, Iyo Province.

     Kobayakawa Ujihira (?-?), Sadahira’s younger brother and the 5th son in the family, came to be based originally in Koizumi Village in the mountains between Nuta and Takehara, and called his family Koizumi.  He repeatedly intruded O-shima Island, and misappropriated annual land taxes.  His son, Munehira (?-?), was finally authorized to be a steward samurai in the island.  Munehira’s son, Okihira (?-?), organized convoys of armed merchant ships, and smuggled with China and Korea.


     Kobayakawa Ujizane (?-?), Sadahira’s another younger brother and the 7th son in the family, came to be based in Ura District in Toyota County, Aki Province, and called his family Ura.  The area included Tada-no-umi Village, where Tada-no-umi Sea Guards was based.  The sea guards were directly supervised by the Kobayakawa Family.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Toyotomi Hideyoshi—The Third Pirate King of Japan (0-8)

     Tohira’s grandson, Shigehira (?-1264), built Takayama-jo Castle in 1206, which kept being the clan’s stronghold until 1552 for 13 generations.  Shigehira also further exploited Nuta Manor.  He built embarkments at the mouth of the Nuta River, and developed extensive rice fields called Nuta 1000 Cho Da, nominally (about) 1000-hectare rice fields in Nuta, with the cooperation of traders in Nuta Bazaar, which was formed on the natural levee at the Nuta Estuary.  He laid the foundations for the growth of the Kobayakawa Family thereafter.  The Kobayakawa Family at the time were changing their character significantly from eastern land samurais fighting on horses to sea samurais commanding sea people.


     The Kobayakawa Family’s 5th head, Tomohira (?-1343), half following Kamakura Shogunate’s orders and half answering Nuta Bazaar traders’ needs, actively performed series of crackdowns on pirates around Nuta Port.  In 1314, he rounded up Uemon Goro and Saemon Jiro, and, in 1319, he even arrested a pirate of Iyo Province, Yagoro Hideie.  The Kobayakawa Family might have organized their own sea forces, to execute these duties against pirates.  Even after the collapse of Kamakura Shogunate in 1333, the family didn’t stop their jobs.  Tomohira’s 3 successors tried to expand their advance into the Geiyo Islands, the islands between Aki and Iyo Provinces, across the Seto Inland Sea even more eagerly and freely.