The Strategic Prowess of Takigawa Kazumasu ~ Part 3

We continue with Takigawa Kazumasu’s history during Medieval Japan under renown feudal lords such as Oda Nobunaga, as he accomplishes many feats through his tact, resourcefulness, and his influence on others. Last we left off where Kazumasu participates in the ambitious campaign by his lord Oda Nobunaga to take over Northern Ise. Will they be successful?


Around the middle of the 5th month of 1569, Takigawa Kazumasu, his force, and his new allies stayed holed up in Kizukuri castle, as they had to hold out against Kitabatake Tomomori and his large force. Kizukuri castle was completely surrounded, so any chances of escape were cut off. Fortunately, word of their plight got back to Oda Nobunaga, was also taking care of other matters at the same time¹. He would command his available top officers to round up their troops and head to assist them. A large army was able to gather at Gifu castle in Mino Province², which consisted of the combined strength of his trusted retainers and their own troops, such as Shibata Katsuie, Ujiie Naomoto from western Mino, and Kinoshita Hideyoshi.

Artwork of Oda Nobunaga. From the series “Taiheiki Eiyūden” (太平記英勇傳, Heroes of the Great Peace). By Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

In the 8th month of the same year, Nobunaga’s large army finally headed into Northern Ise and made their way towards Kizukuri castle. For the last 3 months, Kazumasu and everyone else holed up inside Kizukuri castle did their best to hold out for as long as they could against Kitabatake Tomonori’s force. While they had to endure a long siege, in the long run it paid off; when Tomonori heard how large the incoming army of the Oda force was, he and his troops fell back, and quickly retreated to Okawachi castle.


Kazumasu and his force were finally rescued, and in short time joined Nobunaga’s large force as they moved on to besiege Okawachi castle. Arriving there, Nobunaga had his force surround this castle by making it triple-layered, to prevent any chances of escape. This would be the chance they’ve been waiting for, to take control over Northern Ise in a decisive battle against the Kitabatake family, starting with Tomonori.

Okawachi castle was well equipped, fortified, and suited against sieges, so Tomonori made no attempts to go into battle. Seeing how no confrontation was going to be made, Nobunaga ordered his troops to hold their ground in an attempt to wait their opponents out and weaken their morale. This waiting period lasted for about a month, with a couple of attempts to speed up things. This included building spiked fences around the castle’s perimeter, and a night raid, which ultimately failed due to heavy rainfall rendering their rifles useless. At a later date, Nobunaga ordered Kazumasu to cut off their rations supply by burning down neighboring Tage castle. Kazumasu did as ordered, as well as set ablaze the immediate area around this castle. The fire caused the inhabitants of Tage castle to flee to Okawachi castle, which allowed them in. However, this brought about an even bigger issue as with their food line cut, Tomonori now had even more people to feed, which was an outcome Nobunaga must’ve anticipated.

Although it took time, Nobunaga’s actions did prove fruitful, for eventually Tomonori called for a peaceful surrender. To capitalize over his defeated foe, Nobunaga had his 2nd son, Nobukatsu, become the next heir of the Kitabatake by having him marry with Tomonori’s daughter, Yukihime, then have him adopted by Tomonori’s son, Tomofusa. The way this process worked was Tomofusa had no children of his own, so if Nobukatsu was taken in as an adopted son, he would be able to keep the Kitabatake line going. This also meant that the Oda clan would claim Northern Ise through hereditary means. Along with this union, Okawachi castle was given up by the Kitabatake family, in which Kazumasu was given the responsibility to take control.

At a lost, Tomonori moved to Mise Yakata (三瀬館, Mise Mansion), which was near the Kitabatake-owned Kiriyama castle. There, he would later retire from his military career and become a monk. Clinching control over Northern Ise, Nobunaga went to Ise Shrine to say prayers and pay respect to the new land that is now in his control.


Gaining control over Northern Ise did wonders in propelling Oda Nobunaga’s power and influence, as well as further cement his presence as a threat to those who oppose him. During the campaign he even was able to establish good relations with Ashikaga Yoshiaki, and helped him gain entry into Kyoto and ascend to being the 15th shogun, continuing the Ashikaga rule…although Nobunaga himself used him as a stepping stone in order to have direct influence in the Imperial court. Takigawa Kazumasu had truly sided himself with a warlord who has the potential to rule Japan, thus he used his talents to achieve victory in whatever task was presented to him. It just so happened that late within the same year, there was some bad relations between a feudal lord within Ise province named Hosono Fujiatsu of Anō castle and Oda Nobukane, who had recently been instated as lord of Ise Ueno castle³. Kazumasu was sent to handle the situation, and he was able to quell the situation by allowing Fujiatsu to adopt his son, Yatsumaro⁴. Through this, Kazumasu was entrusted with Anotsu castle, Shibumi castle, and Kozukuri castle. As can be seen, his story is heavily dependent on much of his lord’s actions, for his story goes hand-in-hand with many of the war campaigns the Oda army took part in.

Artwork of Kennyo in what appears to be suit of armor.

Kazumasu’s next task at hand would soon present itself just one year after the dealings with Kitabatake clan, In Osaka, located in Japan’s western area sits a large estate that acts as a religious ground, with a large temple Ishiyama Honganji in the center. This temple was home of Buddhist monks of Jōdō Shinshu sect, led by the head priest Kennyo. At the time, Jōdō Shinshu Buddhism was not only the most widely practiced at the time, but Kennyo also expressed separation from governing rule. They were in a unique position as they grew in their own political power and influence, and commanded their own force of warrior monks⁵. On top of this, others in the land sided with the the monks’ viewpoint, especially those who suffered a lose due to the Oda force taking over Nagashima castle. This group of rebels collaborated with those of the temple Ganshōji in Nagashima, and were known as the Nagashima ikkō ikki (長島一向一揆). Over a course of time, as he acquired new allies and developed working relations with the Imperial court in Kyoto, Nobunaga also had deteriorating relations with Kennyo, as he expressed his disapproval of this unchecked rising power of the monks of Ishiyama Honganji.

In the 9th month of 1570, Oda Nobunaga had sent a small army to Fukushima in Settsu (present day southern part of Hyōgo Prefecture), north of Ishiyama Honganji. This expedition was to deal with the Miyoshi clan, who were considered allies with the monks of Ishiyama Honganji, as well as supported by 15th shogun Yoshiaki, who was trying to side with those who could help suppress the potential seize of power by Nobunaga. A month later, after declaring Oda Nobunaga a threat to Buddhism as a whole, Kennyo ordered his force to go and attack that army. A battle soon ensued around Yōdō river, which ran along Osaka and Settsu where the Oda army was stationed. Nobunaga’s army won and drove Kennyo’s force back to Ishiyama Honganji, and would also have a few more successful wins in other skirmishes against supporting groups as a small war was on the rise.

Artwork called “Taiheiki Nagashima Gassen: Ise Nagashima Ikkō Ikki” (太平記長嶋合戦 -伊勢長島一向一揆-). Here, the Nagashima ikkō ikki are shown battling against the Oda Force. By Utagawa Yoshikazu.

Kazumasu and other top officers took part in the war, setting up their fortifications for the long haul, including in castles they took over during the war with the Kitabatake family. However, they would soon have to deal with the relentless force of the Nagashima ikkō ikki. At one point, they had harassed Kazumasu to the point where as he and his force retreated from the battlefield, they gave chase. Later, they would assault Kokie castle in Owari Province, where Oda Nobuoki, Nobunaga’s younger brother, was stationed at. Nobuoki would hold out against the assault for 6 days, until the castle was breached and he and his troops had to evacuate. During the assault, Nobunaga had sent aid to save his son. Kazumasu, who was occupying Kuwana castle at the time, was also summoned to help. However, he too was besieged and had to stay walled up in his castle. While Nobuoki managed to survive the besiegers, Kokie castle was lost in the hands of the Nagashima ikkō ikki.

On May 12, 1571, Nobunaga had rounded up a large army, and moved towards Nagajima to deal with the ikkō ikki. He led them through a narrow valley, which was a mistake. The rebel group ikkō ikki laid a trap as they waited on both sides of the valley. As the Oda forces proceeded inside, the opposition ambushed them, initiating it by raining gunfire from their rifles, then closing upon them through upclose skirmishes. Many people of the Oda force sustained a large amount of damage, along with a large number of casualties. In the end, the Oda force was not successful in this campaign against the monks of Ishiyama Honganji and their supporters. Kazumasu and others were withdrawn from the fighting, and returned to their territories to recover from their losses. However, Nobunaga himself was not deterred, as he was determined to continue this war with them until he succeeds in eliminating them.


Not too long after the unsuccessful campaign, Takigawa Kazumasu was yet again summoned to take part in a battle. This time it was against a considerably powerful feudal lord, who was known as Takeda Shingen, the lord of Kai Province. There was abit of history between the two, including during the campaign in Northern Ise⁶. This time around, in an effort to rout Nobunaga, Shingen intended to invade neighboring Tōtomi Province and Mikawa Province from the north-east with a large army split into three. In an effort to prevent this, Nobunaga needed to combine efforts with his ally Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was lord over Mikawa Province.

Section featuring Takeda Shingen from the artwork entitled “Ichimosai Mushae Minamoto Harunobu Yamagata Masakage” ( 一猛齋 武者絵 源晴信 山県昌景 , Ichimōsai’s Warriors Art piece: Minamoto Harunobu (aka Takeda Shingen) and Yamagata Masakage). By Utagawa “Ichimōsai” Yoshitora.

Nicknamed “the tiger of Kai⁷”, Shingen was a particularly well-established lord who maintained a highly disciplined and efficiently organized army that utilized cavalry forces very skillfully, so his presence coming anywhere near Nobunaga was a threat that couldn’t be ignored. Nobunaga mobilized an army of a few thousand troops, as he had to keep the majority behind to protect his lands from other potential invasions. As one of the generals, Kazumasu made preparations and led his troops. He coordinated alongside with other top officers, such as Nobunaga’s senior general an war-harden Sakuma Nobumori, the recently acquired Mizuno Nobumoto, and loyal Oda clan retainers Hirate Hirohide & Hayate Hidesada. While the Oda force wasn’t as large as the Takeda’s, their continual development of using gunner squads was expected to be key component in winning. Being experienced with rifles and firearms, Kazumasu was a good candidate to bring for this.

In the 10th month of 1971, Shingen invaded Ieyasu’s borders, with his sights set on claiming Hamamatsu castle and thus controlling the area. He sent is army to first gain control of Futamata castle, which was under the control of one of Tokugawa’s officers. The combined forces of Nobunaga and Ieyasu worked to intercept this, which led to several clashes. First of the clashes would take place around the slope of Hitogoto-zaka (一言坂, Hitogoto Slope) in Tōtomi Province, just north of Hamamatsu castle.

A map showing the layout of the territories controlled by the major players in the war between Oda Nobunaga , Takeda Shingen, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.

The flow of the battle was not in the favor of the Oda-Tokugawa coalition, however, as the Takeda proved to be too much to deal with due to their sheer numbers. The Oda force had to retreat from the skirmish. The Takeda army continued to march towards Futamata castle and, although faced abit of resistance for a few weeks, were able to successfully drive out the defenders and claim Futamata castle by cutting off their water supply. After these unfortunate events, Nobunaga and Ieyasu both took time to regroup.

For the next couple months Nobunaga and Ieyasu prepared to trap the advancing Takeda army and attack from different angles. There was also extra fortification put in place at Hamamatsu castle, with trusted generals such as Takigawa Kazumasu and Sakuma Nobumori given the task of defending it. This was certainly a great honor, mostly likely due to Kazumasu’s track record of successfully managing captured castles during the campaign in Northern Ise. In 1572, as the joint forces prepared to set their plan into motion, Takigawa assisted in administrative duties at Hamamatsu castle and the given area around it, along with maintaining diplomatic relations, and administrative duties.

At some point it was discovered that Shingen wasn’t heading for Hamamatsu castle, but instead commanded his troops to pass by and entrap Nobunaga and his force with the Takeda army moving in several parts. Kazumasu and Nobumori of the Oda force, along with other officers of the Tokugawa force tried to advice Ieyasu against the planned trap, especially since his force was still outnumbered. Ieyasu, on the other hand, did not heed to the advice, and continued with the intended plan. Taking position up on Mikatagahara, Ieyasu ordered his troops to charge at the passing Takeda troops. Kazumasu, along with Sakuma Nobumori and other generals combined their efforts with the Tokugawa force, intending to overcome their larger opponents with the newer technology of rifles. Initially this ambush appeared to have worked, as it caused some disarray in their formation. However, it proved to not be enough as Shingen had his cavalry units run through the gunners, disrupting their attack while killing unprepared soldiers.

A 3-section art piece entitled, “Mikatagahara no Tatakai” ( 三方ヶ原の戦い , Battle at Mikatagahara). In the center panel is Takeda Shingen, who’s leading his cavalry in the right panel against the Tokugawa force in the left panel By Yōshu Chikanobu.

Both the Oda and Tokugawa troops were overwhelmed by the Takeda army’s exceptionally crafted strategies and militaristic discipline, while their formations crumbled before the cavalry assaults. In the long run, much casualties were faced on the defenders’ side, especially with the lost of Nobunaga’s close retainer Hirate Hirohide. Kazumasu and others retreated off the field in order to save their lives. Ieyasu not only had to fled back to Hamamatsu castle to save himself, but lost many soldiers and important officers as they tried to cover his retreat.

It was clear that Takeda Shingen was the superior force, while a looming fear crept on the losing side that he would succeed in defeating Nobunaga and capture parts of the eastern provinces. What will happen to Takigawa Kazumasu and his companions? Will they survive? Could the mighty Shingen be stopped? Tune in to part 4 to find out the outcome.

1) Around this time, Oda Nobunaga was making an agreement with displaced Ashikaga Yoshiaki, who was trying to continue his family’s line of shogunate rulers by gaining entry into Kyoto.

2) Interestingly, Mino Province in next to Kuwana, where the Kitabatake family were located in

3) During the Northern Ise campaign, Oda Nobunaga was able to claim Ise Ueno castle through peace relations with Nagano Tomofuji. This was solidified through marriage between Nobunaga’s younger brother, Nobukane, and Tomofuji’s niece.

4) Details about him are scarce. It is not clear if Yatsumaro (八麿) was a biological son of Kazumasu’s. One thing that is clear is that this deal benefited Oda Nobunaga a great deal, for when Fujiatsu is out of the picture, Yatsumaro would claim Anō castle.

5) Around 1568, Nobunaga was multitasking between the Northern Ise campaign and assisting Ashikaga Yoshiaki into becoming the next shogun. As Oda headed to Kyoto to help Yoshiaki gain entrance, there were many that had some connection with the Imperial court who opposed this, such as the Miyoshi clan, Asai clan, Araki clan, and even Kennyo of Ishiyama Honganji. They made a pact called “Nobunaga Hōimō” (信長包囲網, Anti-Nobunaga network). Takeda Shingen was also against Nobunaga, and was recruited by these opposers to help subdue this growing threat. Apparently Shingen had mobilized an army, but was kept back through the assistance of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

6) Here I use loosely the term “warrior monks”, which is sōhei (僧兵) in Japanese, as this is common term. However, it has to be pointed out that there’s a large misconception regarding warrior monks, not on in the West but in Japan as well. While the idea sounds similar to say the Shaolin monks in China, warrior monks were not necessarily Buddhist monks, or fully ordained. Books like “The Teeth and Claws of the Buddha: Monastic Warriors and Sōhei in Japanese History” (Mikael S. Adolphson) goes into deep details regarding Japanese researchers and how they’ve been able to get a better picture through surviving accounts about warriors who represent the military strength recruited by these Buddhist temples. In many cases, they were oftentimes warriors hired to protect the temple. This isn’t saying that monks themselves didn’t go to war, but at what rate can these warriors be called “Buddhist monks” is the point here.

Also, while the popular image has these hired “warrior monks” dressed in robes and have a shawl wrapped around their head and face, in reality their appearance was, in many cases, similar to that of regular warriors. There may have been few who do fit the stereotypical image, but it may be more related to them being of status where they could dress with extra attire to distinguish themselves. This is not unusual.

7) This is “Kai no tora” (甲斐の虎) in Japanese

Kuki Archives: Pioneering ~ Part 3 (Beginning)

Here we continue with the final discussion on those of the Kuki clan renown for being pioneers in expanding the Kuki clan’s line. We will look at the life and history of Kuki Yoshitaka¹, who not only was mentioned in the previous part, but was essentially the ending point. Possibly the most well known historically, his involvement in political and militaristic struggles under powerful warlords, as well as the honors earned, may possibly make his tale the most famous. Due to how involved he was in many events during Sengoku period, along with how detailed they were recorded, Yoshitaka’s tale will be split into 2 posts.

Artwork of Kuki Yoshitaka. From the collection of the temple Joanji. Author unknown. From Wikipedia.


Kuki Yoshitaka was born in 1542, as one of the children of the Kuki line that developed in Shima no Kuni. His father was Kuki Sadetake, native of the Nakiri-Kuki line. His mother, whose name is unknown², was a native from Ago Gun (Ago District), Koka in Shima no Kuni. Yoshitaka was the 3rd son out of 3 boys, where his older brothers were Kiyotaka and Mitsutaka. Yoshitaka and his brothers were raised in Tashiro Jo. They learned the family trade of military and naval affairs, as they were groomed to follow in the footsteps of their father.

Yoshitaka’s story is well documented in many types of publications due to how much he was involved in many events that affected Japan’s trek to unification. His service under some of Japan’s most renown warlords is an important factor. Many books in Japanese recite these events, such as “Sengoku Jinmei Jiten³” and “Kuki Yoshitaka Nobunaga – Hideyoshi wo tsugaeta Suigun Taisho⁴”. Let us begin Yoshitaka’s story, as he joins the side of his 1st master, Oda Nobunaga.


His tale begins in 1560, same year where Kuki Kiyotaka’s ends. Fleeing from Shima no Kumi after losing to the combined strength of the 7 Lords of Shima⁵ backed by Ise no Kuni’s governing force, the Kitabatake clan, Yoshitaka made his way to Mt. Asama (in present day Nagano Prefecture). He traveled there along with his nephew and 8th head of the Kuki line, Kuki Sumitaka, as well as their comrades, to hide within grounds where many monks visit on their pilgrimage. Yoshitaka took time to regroup his force’s strength, as well as figure out their next move.

Artwork of Oda Nobunaga. From the collection of Kobe city Museum. Author unknown. From Wikipedia.

In 1569, he catches word of Oda Nobunaga’s declaration of war on the Kitabatake clan as he sets his sights on Ise no Kuni (present day Mie prefecture). A chance to get revenge and possibly reclaim his lost home, Yoshitaka had a plan to enter Nobunaga’s service. He made contact with Takigawa Kazumasu⁶, a retainer of Nobunaga, and told him his story, along with his wishes to enter Nobunaga’s force. They got along well and became good acquaintances. Kazumasu would then later inform his master of Yoshitaka’s request, who in turn was pleased to hear about Yoshitaka’s naval capabilities. After the necessary formalities, Yoshitaka was made into one of Nobunaga’s retainers, meaning he had to serve another if he wanted to reclaim his lost home.


Nobunaga and his large force set out by sea, heading towards the Kitabatake’s main castle, Tage Jo⁷ in the western part of Ise no Kuni. Kitabatake Tomonori, alerted by the impending danger, sent his navy to deter them, but the Kuki suigun⁸ easily dispatched their naval rivals. Reaching their destination, they laid sieges on various castles owned by the Kitabatake’s in the area. The Kuki suigun even went as far as to take down the hidden coastal castle, Ōyodo Jo⁹. Fearing for their lives, Kitabatake Tomonori had him and his family fled to their stronghold Ōkawachi Jo¹⁰ in the northern part of Ise no Kuni. Nobunaga and his troops tried to storm in, but could not due to its rather tough defenses. Relentless, Nobunaga would not let up, and would lay his siege for around 2 months.

While the siege on Kitabatake Tomonori was at a stalemate, Yoshitaka would be granted permission to go and claim Shima no Kuni. Reaching there, Yoshitaka and the Kuki suigun would assault the 13 main territories of Shima no Kuni, which were in complete control by their former allies¹¹. Without support from the Kitabatake’s, these territories were each taken down with little effort. The defenders of each territory made varying decisions as they found themselves powerless against the Kuki suigun; some would commit seppuku for fear of punishment, others would surrender and pledge loyalty by joining the ranks within the Kuki’s force. There are a few who were allowed to bear the Kuki surname, which further expanded their family line. Extracting revenge and proving to be the dominant force, Yoshitaka and his family (including his nephew Sumitaka) could once again return back to their home in Shima no Kuni. In time, they moved back into Tashiro Jo.

The siege on the Kitabatake concluded with Oda Nobunaga making the defeated Kitabatake clan as subordinates through a bargain¹², thus gaining control of Ise no Kuni. Due to his invaluable work, Nobunaga made Yoshitaka lord of Shima no Kuni. Also, Yoshitaka was granted the role as head of his Kuki line; since his performance as a naval commander made him to shine while Sumitaka did not engage in any military actions, Yoshitaka thought it was fitting that he took this role publicly¹³. With the rise in power, the reputation of the Kuki clan grew, especially as specialists in naval matters. Under the command of Yoshitaka, the Kuki name was affiliated with many historical events, which allowed them to see great success, or unforgettable failure. The following war below is an example of this.


In 1576, Oda Nobunaga, in his attempt at supreme rule over Japan, traveled across the waters from the south in an attempt to quell the rebellious movement called Ikki Ikkō¹⁴. This rebellion was a continuation of the Ikki Ikkō that took place in Nagashima, Ise no Kuni from 1570 to 1574. The present one was headed by the Buddhist group Jōdo Shinsu sect of the temple Ishiyama Honganji¹⁵, located in the north-eastern part of Ōsaka. Lead by the 11th successor named Kennyo, he and his followers encouraged their fellow neighbors that self-governing was the way, rejecting Nobunaga’s growing presence for several years. Irritated by this thorn in his side, Nobunaga sought to capture Ishiyama Honganji in order to crush the rebels’ spirit once and for all.

Artwork of Kennyo. In the top left corner, says “顕如上人” (The saint Kennyo). Author unknown. From Wikipedia.

Kennyo made preparations in anticipation of Nobunaga’s inevitable arrival. Allies & supporters in the form of military families and warrior groups were called upon for help. Many came to give aid, including a team of rifle specialists called the Saika group¹⁶, and the Mōri clan who owned one of the largest navy at the time. Experienced in naval warfare, the Mōri clan set up a blockade with their ships to the south-west of Settsu no Kuni (present day Settsu City, Ōsaka), across the entryway of a waterway called Kizugawa. This was to prevent Oda’s forces from invading Ōsaka from the south. They even grew the size of their naval forces by recruiting others, including the Murakami suigun, which is considered one of Japan’s oldest and most successful naval fleets.

Nobunaga called upon his loyal generals once again for the task at hand, including Yoshitaka¹⁷. With the growth in naval power through his dominance over Shima no Kuni, Yoshitaka had amassed over 600 types of ships and boats, as well as guns for long range combat. He assembled his subordinates and comrades (including the newly recruited Toba suigun) to aid in this upcoming battle. Yoshitaka commanded a navy of 300 ships. He had been a loyal retainer to Nobunaga in many battles, and was ready to do his best again. Upon reaching Ōsaka’s south-western area, they were soon locked into combat with the Mōri clan and their navy at Kizugawa¹⁸.

As the battle ensued into the night, there were a few factors that tilted the scales in the favor of the Mōri clan. For starters, their side consisted of 600+ ships, doubling that of the Yoshitaka’s. Furthermore, the Mōri clan utilized long-range fire tactics which included incendiary projectiles called “hōroku dama¹⁹”, and incendiary arrows called “hōrokuya²⁰” from the Saika group. This proved especially effective during the night battle, as Yoshitaka’s navy couldn’t close the gap nor match the long-range combat with only their guns. In the end, Nobunaga’s force took a huge blow, not only in losing many ships of the Toba suigun to the fire attack, but a great number of important warriors died. Yoshitaka and the remaining fleet had to withdraw from the battle.


Enraged by the defeat, Nobunaga demanded that Yoshitaka make his next boats fire-proof, and have them ready for the next battle. Contemplating on the matter at hand for awhile, Yoshitaka came up with an idea to cover the boats with iron plates in the form of armor. This required lots of metal resources, which Nobunaga agreed to meet the needs for this project.

It took over a year, but Yoshitaka’s plan was completed. The result was very large boats outfitted with metal coverings that not only made them resistance to fire, but were also outfitted with large cannons and guns to deal devastating damage. Each of these boats were designed to hold up to 5000 people. Due to their size, these boats were named “Ise Ura no Dai Fune”, which stood for “Great Ships from Inner Ise²¹”.

In 1578, another attempt was made to capture Ishiyama Honganji. This time, Nobunaga’s naval force was made up of 6 iron-clad ships²² from Yoshitaka, and 1 iron-clad ship from his retainer Takigawa Kazumasu (he also took part in the project). They set off to Ōsaka, seeking victory in the upcoming rematch.

Map of Japan, showing where Shima no Kuni, Ise no Kuni, and Settsu no Kuni are located. Under Oda Nobunaga’s command, Kuki Yoshitaka and the Kuki suigun traveled south by boat in order to get to the port where Ishiyama Honganji was located.


On their way to the southern part of Ōsaka, the Saika group sailed out to intercept them with about 500 ships. With his new ships, Yoshitaka and his naval force were able to rout the Saika group, gaining way to progress towards the waterways of Kizugawa. Seeing as Nobunaga would not be stopped so easily, Kennyo called upon the Mōri clan once again to help defend their land.

The Mōri, along with the Murakami suigun, assembled their naval force of 600 ships and headed out once again to repel the invaders by Kizugawa²³. Both sides fought as before, but the outcome was in Nobunaga’s favor as the iron-clad ships were impervious to the fire attacks from the Mōri’s naval force. In the end, the Kuki suigun was able to overpower the opposition granting Nobunaga the victory to this battle.

Nobunaga and his naval force embarked upon Ōsaka. Instead of attacking Ishiyama Honganji, he declared himself as controller of the seas around Japan, and cut off the delivery of goods and supplies that Kennyo and others regularly received from their neighbors, such as the Mōri clan. This task of controlling water travel was in the hands of Yoshitaka. While he tried to hold out for several more years, Kennyo finally submitted to Nobunaga due to internal strife.

The victory in the naval battle at Kizugawa greatly elevated Yoshitaka and the Kuki clan’s worth. As a reward for his success, Yoshitaka acquired more rewards, such as territories like Noda of Settsu and Fukushima, earned an increase to his yearly salary, and was elevated to feudal lord status.


Here we conclude the 1st half of Kuki Yoshitaka’s tale. Service under Nobunaga was the beginning of growing the fame and status of the Kuki clan. The 2nd half of his tale will be posted soon, which will wrap up this 3-part series.

1) 九鬼嘉隆.

2) In many records from the past, it was not unusual to omit the names of mothers, wives, daughters, etc. This can be unfortunate at times when trying piece certain individuals’ complete family line and relations.

3) 戦国人名辞典. There are a few versions, one published by the Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, and another co-authored by Abe Takashi & Nishimura Keiko.

4) 九鬼嘉隆 信長・秀吉に仕えた水軍大将. Written by Shizu Saburō.

5) The Kuki of Nakiri was once one of the 7 Lords of Shima prior to their departure.

6) 滝川一益

7) 多芸城. Also written as 多気城 with the same pronunciation.

8) During this invasion of Ise no Kuni, Yoshitaka enlisted the Toba suigun to assist. Speaking of which, the Toba suigun (鳥羽水軍) appears to represent the naval force of Toba of Toshi Gun (Toshi District), Shima no Kuni. There is not much mentioned about their own history, such as significant members, if established prior to or after the Kuki clan’s 1st departure from Shima no Kuni, etc. The Toba suigun is affiliated with Toba Jo, Yoshitaka’s home, yet seem to be a separate entity from the Kuki suigun, although they seem paired together history-wise.

9) 大淀城

10) 大河内城

11) For more on this, see “Kuki Archives: Pioneering ~ Part 2“.

12) To “conclude” the war, Nobunaga offered his son, Oda Nobuo, for adoption to Kitabatake Tomonori. In a sense, it would seem as if Tomonori had a hostage as a bargaining chip, but in reality he was forced to retire as the lord of Ise no Kuni. Although he and his immediate family were spared, they were still at the mercy of Nobunaga’s whim.

13) This move turned Sumitaka into the “puppet” head, although he legally had rights as the head of their Kuki line.

14) 一向一揆. This stands for “unified movement towards self governance”. There were several cases of this, where groups within certain territories banded together to reject those rising in power.

15) Ishiyama Honganji (石山本願寺) was a very large estate where those of the Jōdo sect resided. It featured its main temple, along with other smaller housing structures. It sat in the center of several towns, surrounded by a moat and walls, similar to a castle. Along with its outer defenses, it housed its own inner defenses, including its own warriors that were equipped with rifles.

16) 雑賀衆

17) In terms of dates, Nobunaga was dealing with the Ikkō Ikki situation as early as 1570. Yoshitaka was involved in commanding naval battles in relation to this situation before the travel across the waters to Ōsaka.

18) This incident is known in Japanese as the “Kizugawaguchi no Tatakai” (木津川口の戦い, Battle at the Entryway of Kizugawa). It is part of the ongoing war called “Ishiyama Kassen” (石山合戦, War on Ishiyama Honganji) between Oda Nobunaga and those instigators of the Ikki Ikkō movement, primarily those of the Ishiyama Honganji. There were 2 battles that took place at Kizugawa, this being the first.

19) 焙烙玉. These are described as small clay pots filled with flammable materials inside. Propelled at their target, it will shatter upon impact, spreading the contents so to catch fire.

20) 焙烙火矢. Like the hōroku dama, these were arrows with small containers tied close by the arrowhead. Filled with flammable materials, the container shatters upon impact with its target, causing the contents to spill out and catch fire.

21) “Ise Ura”, or “Inner Ise” is referring to Shima no Kuni, where Yoshitaka resides.

22) This is how these boats are usually label in Japanese, which is “鉄甲船” (tekkousen).

23) Some written accounts claim that the Murakami suigun were not able to make it to the 2nd battle at Kizugawa in time, which contributed to the Mōri clan’s lose.