最上義光歴史館/<Part1-5> Saijoki - The Mogami Chronicles -

最上義光歴史館
<Part1-5> Saijoki - The Mogami Chronicles -
The Surrender of Yatsunuma Castle

  Entrenched within Yatsunuma Castle, there was a lord called Kishi Mimasaka no Kami. Since this castle lord claimed the surrounding territories as his own and did not submit to the authority of Lord Yoshiaki, his lordship saw fit to lead his great army in an assault upon Mimasaka no Kami’s position. Reaching their destination, the Mogami soldiers quickly surrounded Yatsunuma Castle on all sides and commenced to swarm up the mountainsides towards their target, but with the fortification vigorously defended by Koseki Kazaemon and many other skilled and powerful archers, capturing it proved no easy matter.
  Moreover, the Mogami troops had neglected to bring with them many weapons of assault, for they had looked condescendingly upon Yatsunuma as a small castle that would pose them little challenge, and the headlong scramble of the Mogami soldiers to assail the castle resulted in a large number of casualties in the space of but a short time.
  “Taking this castle will be more difficult than I had expected,” said Lord Yoshiaki. “Let us first establish a siege camp and have more weapons prepared.” In response to this command, the Mogami soldiers who had penetrated into the castle withdrew from the main castle gate and retreated a short distance. Emboldened by this development, the castle soldiers sallied forth to pursue the Mogami troops to the foot of the mountain.
  “It is a stroke of luck for us that our enemies have ventured forth,” said Lord Yoshiaki, turning his horse back. “Let us turn this to our advantage and take the castle.”
  It was then that an enemy warrior, attired in a scarlet-threaded suit of armor and wearing a helmet ornamented with a dragon’s head, emerged from the ranks of the enemy mounted upon a sturdy fawn-colored horse with a pole sword held at his side. Fixing his eyes upon this sight, Lord Yoshiaki cried out, “Ah, there is an enemy worth fighting!” and before these words had even left his mouth, he had touched his own horse with his whip and bolted forward.
  “Do not demean yourself by crossing swords with an enemy unworthy of your lordship!” cried his attendants in an attempt to stop their master, but Lord Yoshiaki shook off their restraining hands and galloped directly towards the enemy soldier, approaching him from the left and knocking him from his horse with a single blow of his famous iron baton. He then leapt down from his horse and wrenched off his enemy’s head, and Ujiie Owari no Kami galloped up to find his lordship holding the severed head high. Appearing greatly vexed, Owari no Kami berated his master.
  “My lord, for whose benefit do you flaunt that head in your hands? How can you forget your exalted rank and condescend to act like a common soldier? Persisting in behavior like this will no doubt doom you to an ignominious death, and can it be that you have forgotten what you yourself so recently said when we slew Hashiba Kanjūrō of Sagae? You derided Kanjūrō for forgetting his high rank and letting his passion and desire for glory propel him into battle in advance of his own men, allowing him to be so easily manipulated and cut down by our side – but what your lordship has done is beneath even this. It is disgraceful, so disgraceful!” Owari no Kami wept as he confronted Lord Yoshiaki, and his lordship received his vassal’s rebuke shamefacedly, holding onto the trophy in his hands for some more minutes. “Here, take it,” he finally said, tossing the head to one of his attendants.
   After seeing Lord Yoshiaki himself wield his sword against the enemy, his mounted bodyguard had also hurled themselves furiously into battle, as indeed had all his soldiers down to the humblest pages, slaying the enemy, seizing their belongings, and fighting bravely and heroically. Faced with this onslaught, the castle soldiers began to fall back.
  “To me, men – let us stamp the enemy under our feet!” cried his lordship as he once again attempted to ride into the fray, but he was restrained by Owari no Kami. “Have you so quickly forgotten my words to you?” Owari no Kami cried as he galloped straight out, spear in hand, to lead the assault against the enemy. At this, a great clamor broke out among the two thousand some men of the Mogami force, and warriors both young and old cried out, “Do not let Lord Ujiie come to harm!” and “We must protect Owari no Kami!” as they drew their swords and plunged into battle. They broke through the enemy lines and gave chase to the fleeing units, rounding them up and fighting so ferociously that the enemy soldiers found themselves completely overwhelmed, scattering in all directions as they fled back towards the castle.
  Determined to maintain this momentum and use the enemy’s retreat as an opportunity to take the castle, Lord Yoshiaki took command. He gave orders with great vigor, and no sooner would his eager young soldiers receive an order than they would dash away on their horses, heedless of the steep mountain sides or precipices, in their relentless pursuit of the fleeing enemy soldiers. Finding their way back to the castle blocked by the wooden gates and abatisses they themselves had constructed, the soldiers of the castle garrison fled in every direction. Some who found themselves with no further route of escape slew themselves with their swords, while others leapt to their deaths on the valley floor below. In the midst of this melee, castle lord Kishi Mimasaka no Kami and a group of twenty-four attendants that included Koseki Kazaemon turned back to do battle at the castle gate, repulsing the attacking Mogami soldiers and managing to entrench themselves in the castle. With no resolution to this standoff in sight, however, the group in the castle proceeded to tender all manner of apologies, and that very evening they surrendered the castle and emerged in defeat. Lord Yoshiaki summoned to his presence four or five members of the castle garrison, including Koseki Kazaemon, whose deeds in defense of their castle had been particularly meritorious, and he appointed them hatamoto(1) retainers in his own service.
  The iron baton borne in battle by Lord Yoshiaki was a weapon that he kept upon his person at all times until the resolution of his conflict with Uesugi Kōmon Kagekatsu, but in the peace that followed, his lordship had the baton inlaid with the inscription “Yoshiaki, High General of Mogami” and placed in his storehouse for a descendant who might be deemed worthy of bearing it. This iron baton no doubt remains in the possession of the Mogami family to this day.


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(1) Literally “under the banner”, hatamoto refers to the direct retainers who served as a lord’s closest and most trusted subordinates

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2012/12/20 16:30 (C) 最上義光歴史館
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