Battle of Yamazaki (山崎の戦い)

The Battle of Yamazaki was fought between Mitsuhide AKECHI, who had defeated Nobunaga ODA in the Honnoji Incident in June and July 1582, and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI returning from an attack on Takamatsu-jo Castle (in Bicchu Province); the scene of the battle was Yamazaki (Yamazaki, Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka Prefecture and Oyamazaki-cho, Otokuni-gun, Kyoto Prefecture), located on the border between Settsu Province and Yamashiro Province, where Toyotomi's forces passed on their way to Kyoto and clashed head on with Akechi's on July 2. It is also known as Yamazaki Kassen or Battle of Tennozan).

Before the battle

When the Honnoji Incident broke out, the whereabouts of the top level bushos (military commanders) under the Oda family and its ally Ieyasu TOKUGAWA were as described below.

Katsuie SHIBATA: Fighting against the Uesugi forces at Uozu Castle-jo in Ecchu Province

Kazumasu TAKIGAWA: Holding out as Kanto Kanrei (shogunal deputy for the Kanto region) against the Hojo forces at Umayabashi Castle-jo in Kozuke Province.

Nagahide NIWA: Standing by in Sakai, Osaka Prefecture for the expedition to Shikoku.

Hideyoshi HASHIBA: Fighting against the Mori forces near Takamatsu-jo Castle in Bicchu Province.

Ieyasu TOKUGAWA: While sightseeing together with a few attendants was informed of the death of Nobunaga near Kawachi Iimoriyama (Shijonawate City, on his way back).

Hideyoshi had been confronting with the enemy near Takamatsu-jo Castle in Bicchu Province, which would have been surrendered to Hideyoshi on June 4 with Muneharu SHIMIZU committing jijin (suicide by the sword), as this arrangement had been accepted by Hideyoshi. However, catching information on the day before on the Honnoji Incident, Hideyoshi in no time made peace with Mori's army. On June 4, Muneharu's jijin was confirmed by Yoshiharu HORIO and Masakatsu HACHISUKA as eye witnesses, and Hideyoshi withdrew his forces from June 5 to 6 after settling the aftermath. His forces, reaching Numa (east of Okayama-jo Castle), Himeji-ji Castle and Amagasaki (today's Amagasaki City) on June 6, 7 and 11, respectively, in what is acclaimed as Chugoku Ogaeshi (big U turn from Chugoku), and rushed to Kinai (the greater capital area). One of Hideyoshi's worries was how the Settsushu (Settsu gang) who were geographically close to Mitsuhide would react.
A letter came from Kiyohide NAKAGAWA, one of the Settsushu members who seemed to have smelled the incident, but Hideyoshi sent to Kiyohide a reply to the effect: 'His Highness (Nobunaga) and the Lord (Nobutada) have overcome the crisis and retreated to Otsu City,
And Hidekatsu FUKUTOMI, who followed them, has made an unparalleled achievement' (dated June 5). Of course, it was a lie, but eventually most leading members of Settsushu including Kiyohide and Ukon TAKAYAMA sided with Hideyoshi, and Nobutaka Oda and Nagahide NIWA, having gathered in Osaka to join the Conquest of Shikoku, also joined Hideyoshi's camp. A war council was convened in Takatsuki City on June 12, where Hideyoshi recommended Nagahide, and then Nobutaka, as the supreme commander, but conversely Hideyoshi himself became the virtual leader at the request of the two (nominally Nobutaka became the supreme commander). Supposing the Yamazaki area to be the likely scene of the battle, Hideyoshi made strategical personnel assignments. Incidentally, before the war council, Nagahide and Nobutaka drove Mitsuhide's son-in-law Nobusumi TSUDA, who had been rumored to have in collusion with Mitsuhide, into jijin.

On the other hand, after keeping public order in post-incident Kyoto, Mitsuhide sent the forces of Motoaki TAKEDA, and Takatsugu KYOGOKU, among others, to Omi and they conquered Omi within a few days except for Seta-jo Castle (held by brothers Kagetaka YAMAOKA and Kagesuke YAMAOKA;
The Yamaoka brothers refused Mitsuhide's invitation to join his camp and, after showing gestures of resistance including the burning of Seta Bridge, temporarily took refuge in the Koka City area) and Hino-jo Castle (held by father and son Katahide GAMO and Ujisato GAMO) was subjugated.
Along with that, Mitsuhide called on the Kumishita daimyos (daimyos who served under powerful bushos) to join his camp, but father and son Yusai HOSOKAWA and Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, who were his relatives through marriage, showed a stance to maintain a neutral position by shaving their heads on June 3 to express their claimed intention of 'taking to mourning.'
On the other hand Junkei TSUTSUI, who had agreed to join Mitsuhide's camp and sent troops to Yamashiro, turned his coat to Hideyoshi side in strict secrecy, and on June 9 began preparations for holing up in Koriyama-jo Castle (in Yamato Province). Mitsuhide, accompanied by his second son, came over to Horaga Toge (Horaga Pass), but there was no possibility for Junkei to come (this episode was dramatized into a story that 'Junkei TSUTSUI took a wait-and-see attitude at Horaga Pass,' which became the origin of the Japanese colloquial expression 'taking a Horaga Toge attitude' meaning opportunism, but as stated above, Junkei in fact did not come to Horaga Pass. In the meantime, hearing on June 10 of Hideyoshi's approach, Mitsuhide hurried to repair Yodo-jo Castle and Shoryuji-jo Castle, and pulled back his forces taking up their position on Mt. Otokoyama. Thus, Mitsuhide had to enter into a showdown, still unable to fully establish a defense setup against the unexpectedly fast advance of Hideyoshi's troops.

Developments of warfare

The two camps confronted each other from about June 12 with the Enmyoji-gawa River between them; on the night before, Takayama's corps had occupied Yamazaki hamlets. Also, Yoshitaka KURODA, Hidenaga HASHIBA and Masaharu MIKODA took up their positions on Mt. Tennozan (270 m high). Hideyoshi's headquarters was set up at Hoshaku-ji Temple behind the mountain at its foot. The confrontation continued into June 13 (allegedly a rainy day), when Nakagawa's corps crossed the foot of Mt. Tennozan to take up a position beside Takayama's. Sadaoki ISE's corps, positioned to the right of Toshimitsu SAITO's, attacked Nakagawa's in transit, and in return Saito's staged a fierce raid on Takayama's. Nakagawa's and Takayama's corps had already begun to break down, and Hideyoshi sent out from his own troops Hidemasa HORI's corps to back up Nakagawa's and Takayama's to prevent their collapse. Kuroda's, Hidenaga's and Mikoda's corps, positioned on Mt. Tennozan, fought against the corps of Masachika MATSUDA and of Yasuie NAMIKAWA having approached Nakagawa's and Takayama's on the flank, and a seesaw match ensued.

The tide of the battle changed significantly when the units under the direct command of Tsuneoki IKEDA, Motosuke IKEDA and Mitsuyasu KATO positioned along the Yodo-gawa River crossed the Enmyoji-gawa River unnoticed and made a surprise attack on Nobuharu TSUDA. Attacked on three sides, Tsuda's corps collapsed, partly because the petty soldiers ran away. Furthermore, as if to follow Ikeda's corps, Niwa's and Nobutaka's staged an all-out attack and assaulted the flank of Mitsuhide's core unit. Acting in concert, Nakagawa's and Takayama's corps so far fighting an uphill battle forced back Akechi's troops, who then broke into a stampede. Kaneaki MIMAKI, after sending a messenger to Mitsuhide to urge him, 'Please pull out while I am fighting to death,' was drowned in the vast crowd of Hashiba's forces. Mitsuhide was obliged to retreat to Shoryuji-jo Castle to the rear of the battle front. However, as his soldiers deserted one after another, Mitsuhide secretly left Shoryuji-jo Castle and tried to retreat to Sakamoto-jo Castle (Otsu City) where he had been based, but on his way he came across native villagers hunting fleeing soldiers of the enemy in a yabu (bamboo grove) at Ogurisu (in today's Fushimi Ward, Kyoto City) (the grove is now called 'Akechi Yabu') and, though he managed to survive the ambush, is said to have committed jijin, seconded by one of his vassals. This is what is known today as Mikka Tenka (literally "three-day rule") (though his rule was in fact 11 days long).

After that, Hashiba's forces sent Hidemasa to intercept the traffic to Omi and search for Mitsuhide, and Hori's corps on June 14 met and defeated Hidemitsu AKECHI's corps, having been hurriedly dispatched to back up Mitsuhide, at Uchide no hama (Uchide Beach) (in Otsu City). Hidemitsu, having lost more than 300 soldiers and put to rout, Hidemitsu killed Mitsuhide's wife and child after presenting the Akechi family's treasures to the enemy at Sakamoto-jo Castle, and committed jijin together with Shigetomo MIZOO and Mitsutada AKECHI. As Nakagawa's and Takayama's corps went to Kameyama-jo Castle (in Tanba Province), forced Mitsuyoshi AKECHI to commit jijin, and then occupied the castle, the Akechi family became extinct except for its priest members. On June 16, Norikata TSUMAKI of Nagahama-jo Castle (in Omi Province), Yukishige ARAKI of Sawayama-jo Castle, Sadayuki ATSUJI of Yamamotoyama-jo Castle and Kataie YAMAZAKI either ran away or surrendered, and Omi was subjugated as a result. On June 17, Toshimitsu SAITO was captured at Katata (Katata, Otsu City), and crucified on Rokujogawara (Rokujo-gawa river beach). As a result of winning this battle to avenge Nobunaga's death, Hideyoshi claimed his position as the leading candidate for the succession of Nobunaga's position through the meeting at Kiyosu-jo Castle and on other occasions, and began to proceed his way toward assuming political leadership of the whole nation. On July 19, after the Kiyosu meeting, Motoaki TAKEDA, the last surviving military leader on Mitsuhide's side, was attacked by Nagahide committed jijin, and Takatsugu KYOGOKU surrendered, presenting his younger (elder according to some historians) sister Tatsuko KYOGOKU to Hideyoshi.

Mitsuhide's defeat is attributed to his inability to sufficiently equip himself for engaging the enemy on account of an unexpectedly small size of the mobilized troops and the circumstances which obliged his troops in the form of defending Yamazaki which was a key transit point from Kyoto to western provinces. Yet, the Akechi camp well demonstrated the high capacity of its chain of command, and the number of war deaths is said to have been greater in the winning Hashiba camp (more than 3,300 on the Hashiba side against somewhat over 3,000 on the Akechi side).

On Mt. Tennozan, there remains 'Hideyoshi hata-tate no matsu' (pine tree on which Hideyoshi flew his flag).

Data on Hashiba's and Akechi's troops

Hashiba's troops (about 36,500)

Ukon TAKAYAMA and Shigekore KIMURA's: 2,000

Kiyohide NAKAGAWA's: 2,500

Tsuneoki IKEDA, Motosuke IKEDA and Mitsuyasu KATO's: 5,000

Nagahide NIWA's: 3,000 (some historians count this figure into Hideyoshi's core troops)

Nobutaka ODA's: 4,000 (some historians count this figure together with Hideyoshi's core troops)

Hideyoshi's core troops (including those of Masakatsu HACHISUKA, Hidemasa HORI, Kazuuji NAKAMURA, Yoshiharu HORIO, Hidenaga HASHIBA, Kanbei KURODA, Masaharu MIKODA and Yoritaka HACHIYA): 20,000

Hideyoshi's core troops also included forces of other leaders including Kiyomasa KATO, Masanori FUKUSHIMA, Yoshitsugu OTANI, Katsutoyo YAMAUCHI, Nagamori MASHITA, Hidehisa SENGOKU and Yoshimasa TANAKA as choku banshu (literally "immediate guards").

Akechi's troops (about 16,000)

Toshimitsu SAITO and Katsusada SHIBATA's: 2,000

Sadayuki ATSUJI and Shigetomo AKECHI's: 3,000

Masachika MATSUDA and Kamon NAMIKAWA's: 2,000

Sadaoki ISE, Katsubee MIZOO, Morinao SUWA and Kaneaki MIMAKI's: 2,000

Nobuharu TSUDA's: 2,000

Mitsuhide's core troops: 5,000

Suketada OGAWA, among others, was also on Mitsuhide's side.

Moves of other military leaders

Katsuie SHIBATA: Leaving anti-Uesugi maneuvers to Toshiie MAEDA, Narimasa SASSA and others, he headed for Kyoto, but when he reached Hokurikudo on the border of Omi and Echizen provinces, he learned of the outbreak of the battle, and went straight on to Kiyosu-jo Castle.

Kazumasu TAKIGAWA: Informed of the incident by Ujimasa HOJO and of the declaration that 'Hojo will not intervene,' but Kazumasu noticed that it was a trick, eventually running into a fight with the Hojo troops (Battle of the Kanna-gawa River). After the defeat in the second battle, he returned to his province Ise from Usui Pass in July. He was unable to take part in the Kiyosu meeting, and his later life was one of consistent downfall.

Ieyasu TOKUGAWA: He left his Okazaki-jo Castle to join the battle against Mitsuhide by way of so-called Shinkun Iga-goe (literary "Divine lord going over Iga"), but when he reached the area of today's Midori Ward (Nagoya City) (or Atsuta Ward according to some other historians; Tadatsugu SAKAI had advanced as far as to Kita Ise (North Ise)), he learned of the battle and reversed the direction of his expedition. After that, intending to make now no man's land Kai and Shinano provinces his territories, Tokugawa fought Hojo, also eager to win Kai and Shinano, in Battle of Tenshojingo.