The Battle of Ichinotani (一ノ谷の戦い)

The Battle of Ichinotani was a battle at Fukuwara-kyo in Settsu Province on March 27, 1184, during the end of the Heian period. It was one in a series of battles during the Jisho-Juei War (the Genpei War).

Background

Since MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka defeated the Taira clan during the battle of Kurikara Pass on June, 1183, the Taira clan lost almost all of their army's power. Thus, the Taira clan left Kyoto City to follow Emperor Antoku and the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family in August of 1183. They then escaped to Kyushu Dazaifu. Although Yoshinaka controlled Kyoto City, he failed to govern. He then confronted Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa. Yoshinaka raised his army to "search out and destroy Heishi" (of the Taira clan) by the order of Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa but he was greatly defeated in Bicchu Province (the Battle of Mizushima). Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa turned his back on Yoshinaka and attempted to rely on MINAMOTO no Yoritomo in Kamakura City. Subsequently, Yoshinaka became indignant toward the betraying behavior of Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa and imprisoned the Emperor.

There was a reversal in the war situation to the disadvantage of Yoshinaka where the soldiers of Yoshinaka's army continued to desert and the army dramatically lost power. Although Yoshinaka requested a peace negotiation with the Taira clan, which had regained the army of Yashima in Sanuki Province, the Taira clan refused the peace negotiation. On March 4, 1184, MINAMOTO no Noriyori, who was dispatched by Yoritomo, and the Kamakura Government army of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune, combined their forces, destroying Yoshinaka (the Battle of Uji-gawa River).

During the internal disputes among the Minamoto clan, the Taira clan recovered its power and landed in Owada no Tomari in February of 1184. They then advanced to Fukuwara District where TAIRA no Kiyomori had once planned to establish the capital. The Taira clan controlled the Seto Inland Sea, the Chugoku region, the Shikoku region, and the Kyushu region. Additionally, the Taira clan had recovered in numbers to include tens of thousands of cavalrymen under militarily power. The clan also planned to raise an army which would recapture Kyoto in March of the same year.

On March 17, Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa ordered an Imperial decree to Yoritomo - to hunt down and kill the Heike family (the Taira clan family) and to recover the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family, which were taken by the Taira clan when they left Kyoto. Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa gave the five hundred territories of the Taira clan to Yoritomo.

Progress of the Battle

The section below is the progress of the battle which was known as the public consensus based on historical written records such as "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East) and "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike).

The Preliminary Encounter of the Battle

On March 24, 1184, the Kamakura (Minamoto) side decided upon the Ya-Awase (the signal to start war or battle, followed by the opposing sides in the battle shooting arrows at each other.)
Noriyori led fifty-six thousand Ote army cavalrymen (the army attacking the front line), Yoshitsune led ten thousand cavalrymen of Karamete troops (the force attacking the rear of an enemy force or castle), and they left Kyoto heading for Settsu Province. The Taira clan set their military camp in the Fukuwara region and built a strong defensive army in the surrounding areas (the Ikuta fortress entrance for protection of the East; the Ichinotani fortress entrance would protect the West, and the Yumeno fortress entrance would protect the hilly section of the city), and they waited for the arrival of the Kamakura (Minamoto) army.

On the same day, Yoshitsune's army led the Karamete troops and progressed into Tanba Province. Once there, Yoshitsune's army executed a night attack, destroying the military camps of TAIRA no Sukemori and TAIRA no Arimori, who were on Mikusa-yama Mountain in Harima Province (Battle of Mikusayama). Yoshitsune won the preliminary encounter and subsequently ordered Sanehira DOI to pursue the routed armies of Sukemori and Arimori. Yoshitsune then advanced his army further onto the mountain path.

On March 26, 1184, the envoy from Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa visited the Taira clan as they were performing a Buddhist memorial service for Kiyomori at Fukuwara. There the envoy told the Taira clan that Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa shall recommend peace and ordered the Genpei (the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan) to end the conflict. The Taira clan family believed the words of the envoy and relaxed their armies' guard. Therefore, there is a theory that the Taira clan's behavior at this point resulted in the winning or losing of the Battle of Ichinotani (the primary factor in the defeat of the Taira clan).

Yoshitsune continued to lead the Karamete troops in a detoured advance, dividing his army into two sections at Hiyodorigoe. Yoshitsune gave most of his troops to Yoshisada YASUDA and Yukitsuna TADA, ordering them into position at the Yumeno fortress entrance (hilly section of a city), which was the location that was guarded by TAIRA no Michimori and TAIRA no Noritsune with tens of thousands of cavalrymen under their command (the commander for attacking the hilly section). Yoshitsune led a mere seventy cavalrymen, turning west into the steep path of the mountain.

According to "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike), Musashibo BENKEI, a retainer of Yoshitsune, looked for a guide. Ultimately, a young hunter took this assignment. Yoshitsune liked this young hunter, added him to his retainers, and gave him the name "Yoshihisa WASHIO." Yoshihisa WASHIO explained to Yoshitsune that neither humans nor horses could cross Hiyodorigoe because of its rough and steep path. Yoshitsune then asked if a deer could cross this road. To which Yoshihisa WASHIO answered, "A deer can cross the road during winter." Yoshitsune encouraged his soldiers by exclaiming, "If a deer can cross the road, a horse can cross the road."

Yoshitsune and his seventy cavalrymen determinedly crossed the steep path and showed up on the rear side of the Taira clan's militarily camp. The Taira clan never prepared precautions for the mountainous side because of its precipitous cliffs.

The Outbreak of War and the Battle of Ikuta

On March 27, at dawn, five cavalrymen sneaked out from among the Yoshitsune troops and attempted to be the first to engage, among whch were Naozane KUMAGAI and Naoie KUMAGAI, father and son, and Sueshige HIRAYAMA. These five cavalrymen then appeared at Nishikido at the Shioya fortress entrance, guarded by TAIRA no Tadanori. Here the five cavalrymen performed the Nanori (announcement of one's name) to begin the battle. The Taira clan first disregarded them because of their small numbers in troops and didn't take them seriously. However, later, the Taira clan would send their troops out to surround Naozane and the other troops present. Although Naozane and the other troops fought valiantly, they were almost annihilated by the Taira clan due to being so severely out numbered. Finally, Sanehira DOI rushed in, arrived with nearly seven thousand cavalrymen, and engaged in a fierce battle with the Taira clan.

At six o'clock in the morning, Noriyori led his Ote army, followed by Kagetoki KAJIWARA and Shigetada HATAKEYAMA and their fifty thousand cavalrymen, and took positions on the east side front of the battle formation at the Ikuta fortress entrance, where the major force of the Taira clan army, led by Tomonori TAIRA and Shigehira TAIRA, was prepared to defend. Noriyori's army fiercely shot their arrows. However, the Taira clan army had firmed up their battle formation by digging trenches around them and constructed several layers of Sakamogi (fence made of thorny or steeple branches to prevent the entry of an enemy) fences, and commenced to wait. The Taira clan also shot arrows like rain, which fell from the sky making the Bando musha (warriors from the Kanto region) collectively wince. The Taira clan sent out two thousand cavalrymen, and the battle raged into hand-to-hand combat. Takanao KAWARA and Yukiyasu FUJITA, from Noriyori's army, were killed. As the battle progressed, many more troops were killed, and Noriyori's army could not sustain the fight. Kagetoki KAJIWARA and Kagesue KAJIWARA, father and son, removed the Sakamogi fence and rushed under falling arrows. The Kajiwara family engaged in a more determined fight, which was called "The second run and battle by Kajiwara."

Yoshisada YASUDA and Yukitsuna TADA, who were separated from Yoshitsune, led their troops in an attack on the Yumeno fortress entrance (hilly section of the city).

Fierce battles occured at the Ikuta fortress entrance, the Shioya fortress entrance, and the Yumeno fortress entrance. However, the Taira clan fiercely resisted, so the Minamoto clan's army could not break through the defensive points easily.

"Sakaotoshi" (the running down of a steep hillside)

Yoshitsune, leading seventy elite cavalrymen, stood at the top of the precipitous cliff which was located on the rear side of the Ichinotani region. Subsequently, he thought this was the time for battle and decided to run down the hill.

According to "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike), Yoshitsune forced two horses down the hill; one horse sprained its foot and fell, but the other one ran down the hill safely. Yoshitsune said as follows. "If you are careful, you will not lose your horse."
"Everybody, let's run down the hill!"
Quickly, Yoshitsune rode down the hill at the front of his army. The Bando musha cavalrymen followed Yoshitsune in riding down the hill. After they rode approximately two Cho (218.18m), they came upon a steep rocky area, just like a folded erect screen. Even Bando musha soldiers (who were renown for their bravery) were intimidated by the rocky formation. However, Yoshitsura SAHARA who was a family member of the Miura clan said "In the Miura region, we are always running down a hill which is steeper than this." Yoshitsura SAHARA was the first to then quickly run down. Yoshitsune and the others followed Yoshitsura SAHARA. Shigetada HATAKEYAMA, who had enormous physical strength, carried his horse upon his back and ran down the hill because he was afraid of injuring his horse. However, according to the "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East), Shigetada HATAKEYAMA belonged to the Ote army of Noriyori and did not belong to Yoshitsune's army.

After successfully running down the hill, the Yoshitsune's army drove into the Taira battle formation. Since the Taira clan's army didn't expect an attack from this direction, the action created chaos in their military camp. Thus, Yoshitsune took the advantage of the position of his army, setting fires in many places. Soldiers of the Taira clan were striving to be first to escape to the ocean.

In the "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East) which was edited by Kamakura Bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), this battle is described as follows. "MINAMOTO no Kuro (Yoshitsune) leading seventy brave warriors, arrived at the rear of the mountain in the Ichinotani region (referred to as "Hiyodorigoe")." "While Kuro led brave warriors such as Juro Yoshitsura MIURA (Yoshitsura SAHARA) and engaged in an offensive and defensive battle at Hiyodorigoe (this mountain had a steep precipice and only a wild boar, a deer, a rabbit, and a fox could pass through the mountain), the Taira clan lost concentration of their consideration about their strategy and retreated, some of whom attempted to get out of Ichinotani-jo Castle by horse, and some attempted to escape into the Shikoku region by ship." According to these descriptions, we can understand that Yoshitsune led seventy cavalrymen and started his attack on the Taira clan from the rear side of Ichinotani (Hiyodorigoe), which contained a steep precipice. Historians and experts interpreted the meaning of "sakaotoshi" as this entire event.

According to "Gyokuyo," a Diary of Kanezane KUJO, Yoshitsune who was the leader of the Karamete troops (the force attacking the rear of the enemy force or a castle) took Tanba-jo Castle (Mikusa-yama Mountain) and continued to take the Ichinotani fortress. Noriyori who was the leader of the Ote army (the force attacking the front of the enemy) attacked the Taira clan at Fukuwara from the beach. Yukitsuna TADA attacked the Taira clan from the mountain side and took the hilly section of the city (Yumeno fortress entrance). Kanezane KUJO wrote the war situation described above in "Gyokuyo." The fact that Yoshitsune attacked and took Ichinotani, but it is not described that Yoshitsune executed a surprise attack of "sakaotoshi".

In this section, the theory that maintains Tekkaisan on the back side of the Ichinotani region was the location of "sakaotoshi" (Ichinotani theory) to explain the progress and in images because this theory is the currently main stream theory to explain this battle. However, according to "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike) and the above mentioned "Azuma Kagami," Yoshitsune fought at Hiyodorigoe (eight kilometers to the east from the Ichinotani region), so some historians and experts still strongly support the Hiyodorigoe theory. Furthermore, there is a leading opinion that "Heike Monogatari" created the story of "sakaotoshi" in the first place. The dispute about the location of "sakaotoshi."

The Retreat of the Taira Clan

By spreading chaos, the Nishikido of the Shioya fortress entrance which Tadanori TAIRA guarded was broken through. The soldiers of the Taira clan ran about trying to escape, rushing to their ships. The end result was that the soldiers continued to die by drowning.

At the Higashikido of the Ikuta fortress entrance, Shigehira who was the second in command, leading eight thousand cavalrymen, headed to the Yumeno fortress entrance (hilly section of the city) to rescue the Taira clan who was in crisis because of the attack from Yoshisada YASUDA and Yukitsuna. At around eleven o'clock in the morning, Shigehira ordered the Ote army into a general attack when he saw smoke rising from the Ichinotani region. Although Tomomori was desperately engaged in a defensive fight, the soldiers of the Taira clan's army were preparing to flee and eventually started to retreat.

Munemori TAIRA, who was the supreme commander, was with Emperor Antoku and Tokuko TAIRA on board an offshore ship. Subsequently, Munemori TAIRA realized the defeat and headed to Yashima.

Tadanori, who was under guard at the Nishikido fortress, was tackled by Tadazumi OKABE and subsequently injured when he was about to escape. Tadanori then prepared himself, sat upright, chanted nenbutsu (Buddhist invocation), and was beheaded. Tadanori was a poet, so there was an anecdote that he wrote in a waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) on an arrow quiver.

Naozane KUMAGAI had accomplished the great achievement of being the first to arrive for the battle, and then rode his horse into the ocean seeking enemy soldiers. Naozane found a young warrior of the Taira who was about to escape onto a ship.
Naozane shouted to him, "Come back! Come back!"
The young warrior responded to Naozane and returned to the shore in an attempt to tackle Naozane. However, the young warrior couldn't beat Naozane who was a brave warrior, and Naozane was able to subdue him. While Naozane was attempting to slice the young warrior's neck, but discovered the warrior was a young boy with a beautifully featured face painted in makeup. The young warrior stated his age as sixteen and was called TAIRA no Atsumori, the son of TAIRA no Tsunemori, who was the younger brother of Kiyomori (According to "Genpei Seisui ki" (Rise and Fall of the Minamoto and Taira clans), Atsumori identified himself, but Atsumori would not identify himself in "Heike Monogatari"). Since Naozane's own son was also sixteen years old, Naozane felt pity on Atsumori and attempted to free Atsumori, but other Minamoto soldiers approached them. Therefore, Naozane then tearfully killed Atsumori because Naozane thought that Atsumori would not be able to escape. Naozane realized the cruelty in the conduct of a samurai family, and later, would climb Koya-san Mountain in order to become a priest. This is one of the great scenes in the writings of "Heike Monogatari." Historical facts tell us that Naozane conducted a memorial service for Atsumori on Koya-san Mountain. Afterward, Naozane would become a priest, serving Honen (Buddhist priest). According to "Azuma Kagami," the direct reason as to why Naozane would become a priest was because of Naozane's angry reaction toward the speech and conduct of Kagetoki KAJIWARA at the time of Naozane losing a lawsuit concerning a matter of territory.

After TAIRA no Shigehira retreated, Kagesue KAJIWARA and the Sho clan captured him. According to "Azuma Kagami," Ienaga SHO, who was a busho (Japanese military commander) of the Kodama Party, captured TAIRA no Shigehira. And according to "Heike Monogatari," Takaie SHO captured TAIRA no Shigehira.
(Among the researchers, the theory of Ienaga has gained an influential position because of Ienaga's receipt of reward grants in recognition of his military exploits.)

A result of the retreat of many soldiers was the killing of a large number of Taira clan family members as they escaped to Yashima. Thus, the Kamakura (Minamoto) side was triumphant in battle.

The Post War Period

It is said that Noriyori's army killed TAIRA no Michimori, TAIRA no Tadanori, TAIRA no Tsunetoshi, TAIRA no Kiyofusa, and TAIRA no Kiyosada, and the armies of Yoshitsune and Yoshisada YASUDA killed TAIRA no Atsumori, TAIRA no Tomoakira, TAIRA no Narimori, TAIRA no Moritoshi, TAIRA no Tsunemasa, TAIRA no Moromori, and TAIRA no Noritsune. However, the story slightly differed in the historical documents of "Heike Monogatari" and "Azuma Kagami." During this battle, the Taira clan lost many members of the clan family which had a result of fatally damaging the Taira clan.

Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa negotiated with the Taira clan to exchange the imprisoned Shigehira and the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family. However, Munemori refused this proposal and objected due to the Taira clan following the conditions of the orders, and suspending battle just before it was to break out, and suddenly the Taira clan came under attack by the Minamoto clan's army. Additionally, Munemori related at great length his doubts regarding Emperor Goshirakawa, saying "the order to suspend battle must have been an unconventional tactic, and its purpose must have been to distract the Taira clan so it would be defeated in battle."

The Kamakura side had gained a great battle victory but failed to gain the target of the mission which was the recovery of the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family. Thus, the battle between the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan was destined to continue along with the battles of Yashima and Dan no ura.

The Primary Factor in the Defeat of the Taira Clan

As for the primary factor for the defeat of the Taira clan, historians and experts are strongly supportive in the theory that Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa strategicly proposed a peace negotiation with the Taira clan, to significantly relax the guard of the militarily defenses for the Taira clan's army while cooperating with the Kamakura Government army that was preparing for the pending attack upon the Taira clan.

In this theory, historians and experts stressed two important factors - Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa ordered the Taira clan to suspend battle preparations against Minamoto on March 26, 1184, and in the post war period, Munemori wrote a protest letter to the Emperor, "When the Taira clan believed the order to suspend the battle, the Minamoto clan attacked and killed many members of the Taira clan family, so I was of the belief that this order was an unconventional tactic (a pretense to set the Taira clan for defeat in battle)." The Taira clan trusted Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa and hoped to develop grounds for reconciliation; therefore, the Taira clan could not imagine a sudden attack by the Kamakura (Minamoto) side. In consideration, it was not necessary to think that the talents of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune as the commander was the sole cause in the victory of the Kamakura (Minamoto) side.

On the other hand, as Taira clan was familiar with the geography of the region, they set their battle formations in important locations, such as the East gate, North gate (two locations, the Yumeno entrance fortress and Ko-Myosen-ji Temple (Myosen-ji Temple)), and West gate. Therefore, some historians and experts supported an opposition theory that the Taira clan was still prepared militarily in the case of possibly engaging in battle.

The militarily power of the Genpei (the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan) by the "Gyokuyo" (Diary of Kanezane KUJO)

According to "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East), the military power of the Minamoto clan was concentrated in Noriyori's army's fifty-four thousand cavalrymen and Yoshitsune's army's twenty thousand cavalrymen. According to "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike), the military power was nearly the same as "Azuma Kagami." Moreover, most authors of books related to the battle mainly used these numbers to explain the battle, and this section has also followed this tradition to explain the progress of the battle. However, there are different points of view.

On March 24, in the Diary of Kanezane KUJO, "Gyokuyo," there is a description as follows. "By the story of Nagon (counsellor) MINAMOTO (Sudafusa MINAMOTO), the Taira clan followed Emperor (Emperor Antoku) and arrived in Fukuwara." "Although the troops of the Kyushu region did not arrive, Nagon MINAMOTO said that the troops of the Shikoku region and Kii Province were several tens of thousands." "They were going to enter Kyoto on April 2." "On the other hand, the Imperial Army (Minamoto clan) had merely one to two thousand cavalrymen."

Additionally, in an article dated March 26, there is a description as follows. "According to one person, the Taira clan left the Ichinotani region and headed to Inamino." "However, the Taira military forces had twenty thousand cavalrymen." "The Imperial Army (Minamoto clan) merely had one or two thousand cavalrymen." "(Omission) Another person's story indicated the reports of the Taira clan's withdrawal as a fallacious argument, and in fact the Taira military forces were several thousand, possibly up to several tens of thousands."

If we follow the "Gyokuyo," the Minamoto clan merely had one to two thousand cavalrymen as opposed to the Taira clan's several thousand cavalrymen, so the Minamoto clan was facing an overwhelming disadvantage. The authors of traditional books on history depicted the Genpei (the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan) as a conflict between coequal military powers (especially in the battle at Ikuta Forest by Noriyori) in "Azuma Kagami" and "Heike Monogatari"; thus, the depiction of the conflict in "Gyokuyo" invalidated a point of view on the battle based upon "Azuma Kagami" and "Heike Monogatari." The military powers illustrated in "Gyokuyo" indicates a difference of more than ten times in the number of opposing cavalrymen, so it was unrealistic to believe a battle occurred. Furthermore, Noriyori and Yoshitsune had commenced their attack on the Fukuwara headquarters, where the Taira clan had a force of more than ten times larger than the number of troops in the army of the Minamoto clan. In spite of this number disadvantage, the Minamoto clan won the battle.

Some scholars point out that "Heike Monogatari," which is a war chronicle, influenced the description of the battle of Ichinotani in "Azuma Kagami." Therefore, in "Azuma Kagami," the author wrote that Yoshitsune led seventy elite cavalrymen, stood at the rear side of Ichinotani (Hiyodorigoe), started his attack on the Taira clan from Hiyodorigoe, and took the Ichinotani fortress. This depiction confirmed "sakaotoshi" along with "Heike Monogatari." However, experts in Japanese historical studies commonly support the point of view that "sakaotoshi" was an absurd story they should not take seriously. Thus, the Minamoto clan needed a bold trick to win the battle, such as "the unconventional strategy of Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa," which was described in the previous section. In other words, the entire battle was framed upon a strategically planned surprise attack. The Taira clan possessed overwhelmingly superior power over the Minamoto clan but was subsequently made vulnerable (by some viewpoints) when they were surprisingly attacked by the Minamoto clan (there was limited fighting during the battle), and the Taira clan then lost the battle, suffering a massive defeat.

Should we accept this theory, then the story of "the fierce battle at Ikuta Forest by Noriyori," and of course the story of "sakaotoshi" by Yoshitsune, never occurred. Additionally, all of the general explanations of the battle based on "Azuma Kagami" and "Heike Monogatari" would be fiction, such as the progress explanation in this section. Traditional historians and experts interpreted all of the battles being fiercely contested, but this new viewpoint would fundamentally alter this traditionalist view.

If we eliminate "Azuma Kagami" and "Heike Monogatari" due to their fictional natures, strictly interpreting only Gyokuyo," then the depictions of the battles would change to the following. "Yoshitsune took Mikusa-yama Mountain and Ichinotani, and then Noriyori approached Fukuwara from the beach." "Yukitsuna TADA captured the hilly section of the city, the battle ended in a little less than two hours, and the Taira clan retreated." However, except for these elements, we would not understand the practical transitions in the combat progression.

We could not, however, write almost anything about the progress of the battle, which is too simple. Thus, as a general explanation of the battle, the authors of history books mainly reference descriptions of the specific progress of the battle in "Azuma Kagami" and "Heike Monogatari," considering the political maneuver of Emperor Goshirakawa and adding the view of "Gyokuyo." Due to the distinct disparity in the descriptions of militarily power, authors of history books reference "Azuma Kagami." And they adopt several tens of thousands for the Taira clan, ignoring "Gyokuyo," which describes the cavalry number of Minamoto clan as one to two thousand. Regarding specific progress of the battle, recent researchers have not been able to form a consensus since the conclusions reached would vary. Moreover, these recent researchers have not sufficiently circulated the latest discoveries into Japan's general population. Therefore, in the depiction of the progress of the battle, the author of this section relied upon historical books for a general audience and written circulations for sightseeing guides.

The Dispute over the Location of "Sakaotoshi."

"Sakaotoshi" by Yoshitsune is famous, and in a general sense it would seem Yoshitsune had executed this from Hiyodorigoe. In "Heike Monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike), the author of the book has illustrated Yoshitsune running down the hillside at Hiyodorigoe. Moreover, in "Azuma Kagami" (The Mirror of the East), the author of the book indicated in his writings that Yoshitsune fought at Hiyodorigoe. However, Hiyodorigoe (Hiyodorigoe Cho, Hyogo Ward, Kobe City) is located eight kilometers to the east from the Ichinotani region (Ichinotani Cho, Suma Ward, Kobe City). This contradicts with the depictions of Yoshitsune capturing the Ichinotani camp in the books of "Azuma Kagami," "Gyokuyo," and "Heike Monogatari."

Because of this, Tadachika KUWATA, a professor at Kokugakuin University and other scholars had taken serious consideration in the Ichinotani incident, and concludes the location from the war's situation and the fragmented written records contained within historical materials. In his conclusion, Tadachika KUWATA stated that Yoshitsune executed "sakaotoshi" from a steep cliff on the southeast side of Tekkai-san Mountain, located on the rear side of the Ichinotani region. It is more logical to explain the battle assuming the location was the cliff of Tekkai-san Mountain, which is located on the rear side of Ichinotani, than assuming it was Hiyodorigoe, which is located a greater distance from the Ichinotani region. Therefore, in recent books relating to the battle and guiding materials for the sightseeing of historic sites (e.g. "Kobe Genpei Monogatari" (Tale of the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan at Kobe") by Yoshitsune), this Ichinotani theory is mainly supported. In this section and also in the illustrated image of the war's situational map, the Ichinotani theory is adopted.

On the other hand, some historians and experts continue to support the entrenched theory for the location of "sakaotoshi" as Hiyodorigoe, as depicted in "Azuma Kagami" and "Heike Monogatari." This has resulted in historians and experts continuing to dispute whether the location of "sakaotoshi" was the southeast side of Tekkai-san Mountain or Hiyodorigoe. Shigenobu OCHIAI, a historian of Kobe City, takes the Hiyodorigoe theory and explaines that Yoshistune captured the camps of Michimori, Noritsune, and Moritoshi on the hilly section of the city (Yumeno fortress entrance). "Heike Monogatari" also writes that Yoshitsune started to attack the camp of Moritoshi who was guarding the Hiyodorigoe side on the hilly section of the city in the northern direction of the Ichinotani region.

Additionally, people who take the position of the Hiyodorigoe theory, explain that the Taira clan constructed the castle in a different location, not in present-day Ichinotani Cho of Suma Ward.
(The name given to the present location of Ichinotani, Suma Ward appeared during the Edo period.)
Moreover, some scholars expressed the theory that traditional researchers were fundamentally wrong to identify the location of Ichinotani in their traditional explanation of the battle (local history researcher of Hyogo Prefecture, Nobuo UEMURA).

However, there is no description of 'sakaotoshi' which indicates Yoshitsune having ran down a cliff or a hill then executing a surprise attack on the Ichinotani military camp of the Taira clan in "Gyokuyo," the first class historical material of that period. Additionally, historical scholars points out the influnence of Heike Monogatari" on "Azuma Kagami." In the first place, it is physically impossible to run down a steep cliff while riding a horse. Therefore, mainstream experts of historical studies express the influential point of view that the author of "Heike Monogatari" created this fictional story of "sakaotoshi."

The Commander for Attacking the Hilly Section of the City

In this section, the progression of the battle is explained as follows:
Yoshitsune who led three thousand cavalrymen (after the battle of Mikusayama, Yoshitsune had given seven thousand cavalrymen to Sanehira DOI, ordering him to take separate action) divided his force, taking seventy cavalrymen and led them to a rear mountain in the Ichinotani region. Yoshitsune then executed his surprise attack of "sakaotoshi." However, according to "Heike Monogatari" that depicts the details of "sakaotoshi," Yoshitsune did not divid his troops but instead executed "sakaotoshi" from Hiyodorigoe to Ichinotani with his three thousand cavalrymen. On the other hand, "Azuma Kagami" writes that the troops who went to the rear mountain of Ichinotani were "about seventy brave cavalrymen." If Yoshitsune's army had actually executed "sakaotoshi" maneuver, then these depictions in "Azuma Kagami" seems slightly more realistic. Therefore, many authors of related books of this battle adopt the later figures. If we assume that this is true, someone else must have been in command of the emaining majority of troops. Then that particular someone would have been responsible for the attack upon the hilly section of the city (Yumeno fortress entrance) that was under the guard of Noritsune and Moritoshi. In many books relating to the battle, the progress is described as above, which this section follows.

In "Azuma Kagami," it is written that Yoshisada YASUDA as the recorded name, listed next to Noriyori and Yoshitsune, in the report of the war results. We can consider that these three served as the generals commanding the battles in each direction. Yoshisada belonged to Yoshitsune's Karamete troops, and it was reported in the war chronicle that he had killed TAIRA no Tsunemasa, TAIRA no Moromori, and TAIRA no Noritsune. Generally, is is now presumed Yoshisada as the general who attacked the hilly section fortress of the Taira clan because tsune was in command of the hilly section of the city (Yumeno fortress entrance).
For example, in "Yoshitsune" (NHK Taiga-dorama [Historical Drama]), produced in 2005, depicted as above (Of course authenticity as historical evidence is not very important since it was constructed as a dramatic production, but we can point out this theory was well circulate to the general audience.)

Yoshisada YASUDA was of the Kai-Genji (Minamoto clan) and raised his army for defeating the Taira clan, and then accomplished a meritorious service during the Battle of Fujigawa. Later, Yoshisada belonged to MINAMOTO no Yoshinaka and entered the capital. Furthermore, Yoshisada turned his back on Yoshinaka but belonged to the Kamakura (Minamoto) side during the Battle of Ujigawa, so Yoshisada took the independent action. The Kai-Genji (Minamoto clan) was in the lineage of MINAMOTO noYoshimitsu who was the younger brother of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie. Since they had raised their army, the Kai-Genji seemed to have possessed an extremely large military power. Additionally, regarding this lineage, the Kai-Genji clan family could have been a direct rival to Yoritomo.

On the other hand, "Gyokuyo" describes that Yoshitsune took the Ichinotani fortress, Noriyori approached Fukuwara (Ikuta fortress entrance) from the beach, and Yukitsuna TADA took the hilly section of the city (Yumeno fortress entrance). This means that the Minamoto clan side attacked the Taira clan from three directions, one of them being Yukitsuna TADA's troops and not Yoshisada YASUDA's troops. However, in "Azuma Kagami," there was no written name of Yukitsuna TADA neither in the organization of the troops nor in the war chronicle reports.

Although Yukitsuna TADA was famous in his role as the person who secretly tipped off Kiyomori through the Shishigatani plot, Yukitsuna TADA was toryo (leader) of the Tada-Genji (Minamoto clan) of Settsu Province.
Tada-Genji took action as kyobushi (literally, samurai in Kyoto), maintained a strong connection with the Imperial Court, and possessed significant power in the Kinai region (provinces surrounding Kyoto and Nara.)
Yukitsuna TADA raised his army for the anti-Taira clan and fought as its major power representing the Emperor's side during the Battle of Hoju-ji Temple when Yoshinaka attacked Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa.

Yukitsuna TADA established his stronghold in Settsu Province, the location of the developing battle, and possessed considerable military power and familiarity with the geography of the region. In consideration of his position, some scholars expressed the theory that Yukitsuna TADA was the commander who attacked the fortress on the hilly section of the city, as clearly stated in "Gyokuyo." Furthermore, some scholars expressed the theory that the local samurai Yukitsuna TADA played a most active role in the battle of Ichinotani (a local history researcher of Kobe City, Nobuo UEMURA).

Yasuo MOTOKI, a professor in the Graduate School of Kyoto University, proposed that the reason why war merito of Yukitsuna TADA is not in "Azuma Kagami" is his territories were seized because Yoritomo became angry with him after the fall of the Heike (Taira clan) family (in 1185).

Additionally, Yoritomo also seized the territories of Yoshisada YASUDA and forced him to his death.

Different historic books identifies different people for the position of the commander who had attacked the hilly section of the city, either Yoshisada YASUDA or Yukitsuna TADA. Furthermore, some historic books list two names as the commander, Yoshisada YASUDA and Yukitsuna TADA, and this may be the compromised proposal. In this section, for convenience, the author has listed two names as the commander, Yoshisada YASUDA and Yukitsuna TADA, who attacked the hilly section of the city. However, there are no concrete historical materials in support of this idea that two people cooperated in the attack upon the hilly section of the city. "Azuma Kagami" depicts Yoshisada YASUDA, who was one of the three generals, killing Noritsune, who guarded the fortress on the hilly section of the city. On the other hand, "Gyokuyo" clearly states that Yukitsuna TADA took the fortress on the hilly section of the city. Because of those depictions, we can assume that these two people must have fought as commanders in the Ichinotani region.

Studies in Recent Years

Kazunori HISHINUMA (research partnership member of the National Museum of Japanese History) stated his theory on this battle in his book, "The battle and strategy of MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune: His legend and real image" (Kadokawa Sensho, published in 2005), as follows.

On March 24, 1184, the Karamete troops of Yoshitsune's army started a night attack upon the military camps of TAIRA no Sukemori and TAIRA no Arimori on Mikusa-yama Mountain in Banshu (Harima Province) and forced the Taira clan to retreat. Karamete troops of Yoshitsune's army then gathered at Shioya (this location was the western neighbor of the Ichinotani fortress entrance), while Yoshitsune's army was gaining total control over Higashi-Harima (east side of the Harima region). The Taira clan established their stronghold in the Higashi-Harima region and initiated the commandeering and collection of their soldiers and army provisions from the region. Additionally, the Higashi-Harima region controlled the main road through which a large army could pass, and it was also an important route to the capital (Kyoto). After TAIRA no Munemori knew the Mikusa-yama Mountain fortress had been defeated, he added the strong generalship of TAIRA no Noritsune to the defense of Hiyodorigoe for protection from Yoshitsune's army.

According to "Gyokuyo," in the early morning of March 27, the predetermined time for Ya-Awase, Noriyori started to attack the Ikuta fortress entrance, Yoshitsune started his attack on the Ichinotani fortress entrance, and Yukitsuna TADA commenced his attack on the Hiyodorigoe fortress entrance. First, Yukitsuna took the Hiyodorigoe fortress entrance. Since Hiyodorigoe was the closest fortress to the headquarters of the Taira clan in Fukuwara, and Owada no Tomari, Munemori followed Emperor Antoku and escaped to the ocean. Ichinotani and Ikuta were then surrendered one after the other.

As for the reason why so many military commanders were killed, Kazunori HISHINUMA assumes that the Minamoto clan first took Hiyodorigoe, which was the closest fortress to Owada no Tomari, and therefore, the military commanders who were at Ichinotani and Ikuta, failed to escape.

The Name of "The Battle of Ichinotani"

The actual battle developed with Fukuwara as its center and simultaneously at the Ikuta fortress entrance and the Ichinotani fortress entrance. Therefore, Ichinotani was not the only place where the battle took place. According to Kazunori HISHINUMA, the Minamoto clan side leaked lots of information to the outside, so people started to refer to this battle as "The Battle of Ichinotani." After the battle, Yoshitsune worked as a local governor staying in Kyoto for one year and became engaged in government affairs, and thus made many personal connections. However, Noriyori returned to Kamakura, so Kazunori HISHINUMA concluded that there was a lack of information on the Ikuta fortress entrance.

According to Akira SUZUKI, as a result, "Heike Monogatari" stated as if the headquarters of the Taira clan were in Ichinotani even though it must have been in Fukuwara. Additionally, although Hiyodorigoe was located a far distance to the east from Ichinotani, Akira SUZUKI states that "Heike Monogatari" created this idea to depict the setting as if the Minamoto clan could look down upon the headquarters of the Taira clan.

As for "Ichinotani", however, there is a theory that Ichinotani, which originally referred to the lake in the south of the Minatogawa River and Mt. Egenoyama became the name of the Suma district later, based on many historical literature. We can observe it in the depiction of how TAIRA no Tadanori was killed in "Heike Monogatari," volume 9 and "Genpei Seisuiki," volume 37. The battles for Ikuta and Ichinotani are referred to as "The Battle of Higashikido" and "The Battle of Nishikido" respectively in literature.