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Wada Conflict

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A section of Wakamiya-ôji, where much of the fighting took place
  • Date: 1213/5/2-3
  • Japanese: 和田合戦 (Wada gassen)

The Wada Conflict was a series of battles or skirmishes which took place in Kamakura in 1213, fought between forces of shogunal retainer Wada Yoshimori and those of shogunal regent Hôjô Yoshitoki.

Contents

Background

In the early months of that year, Hôjô Yoshitoki and his sister Hôjô Masako (mother of Shogun Minamoto no Sanetomo), seeing shogunal retainer Wada Yoshimori as a potential threat to the shogunate, arrested two of Yoshimori's sons and his nephew Tanenaga on charges of conspiring against the shogunate. The two sons were released shortly afterwards, but Tanenaga was paraded through the streets as a common criminal might have been, and a month later, the Hôjô confiscated a portion of Wada's lands.

Battle

After spending roughly a month gathering his forces and his allies, Yoshimori organized a series of attacks on shogunal targets to take place on 1213/5/2. The Wada residence was located just across Wakamiya-ôji (the main avenue of the shogunal capital of Kamakura) from that of Hôjô Yoshitoki; though Yoshimori made efforts to hide his military build-up, it was obvious to Yoshitoki, who, anticipating the attack, snuck out of his own home and fled to the shogunal residence, a block and a half to the northeast, while the shogun himself, and his mother Hôjô Masako, sought refuge at the residence of the head of the city's main shrine, Tsurugaoka Hachimangû.

The attack began at the beginning of the Hour of the Monkey (around 3pm), under cloudy skies. Yoshimori split his forces in three, attacking the residence of Shogun Minamoto no Sanetomo, that of Hôjô Yoshitoki, and that of top-ranking Hôjô retainer Ôe Hiromoto. Each group consisted of several hundred warriors. The second group took Yoshitoki's home after sustaining some losses; Yoshimori led the third group, taking Hiromoto's home with ease, finding Hiromoto's men engaged in a drinking party. Hiromoto himself had fled previously, however, taking up shelter at the shogunal residence alongside Yoshitoki.

Moving onwards from Hiromoto's residence, Yoshimori and his men encountered a number of the shogunate's mounted warriors in the sidestreets just south of the shogunal residence. These men were led by Hitano Tadatsuna and Miura Yoshimura; Miura was a relative of Yoshimori, and had been party to plotting the attacks, but betrayed Yoshimori in the end, revealing his plans to the Hôjô. The two forces fought in the streets for roughly two hours, until, at the Hour of the Rooster (around 5-7pm), a group of Wada's men, led by Asahina Yoshihide managed to get through the southern gate of the shogunal compound, and to set the compound on fire. Hôjô Yoshitoki, Ôe Hiromoto, and their men who had been hiding out at the compound then joined in the battle.

Eventually, as dusk approached, Wada Yoshimori ordered his men to withdraw. They made their way down Wakamiya-ôji, towards the beach, pursued by Hôjô Yasutoki (the son of Yoshitoki), as Ôe Hiromoto and his men remained at the shogunate compound. The Wada and Hôjô forces continued to clash, in fits and starts, here and there, throughout the night, even as rain began to fall around midnight. By the early hours of the morning, the Wada forces found themselves trapped on the beach, with Hôjô forces controlling all the major roads. Shortly before dawn, however (the Hour of the Tiger, 3-5am), Wada's ally Yokoyama Tokikane appeared with reinforcements. Wada's men now numbered roughly 3,000. Yoshimori, however, held his position, possibly in order to allow his men some respite.

At the Hour of the Snake (9-11am), Hôjô Yoshitoki and Ôe Hiromoto composed, signed, and sealed a document declaring Wada and Yokoyama to be enemies of the state. What had up to this point been a "private" conflict between two warrior houses was now a rebellion against the shogunate. Copies of the document were dispatched to forces in neighboring provinces loyal to the shogunate, and it was also read out loud there on the beach. A very significant portion of Wada & Yokoyama's men defected immediately, declaring themselves for the shogunate. Wada nevertheless pressed forward, somehow managing to get past the Hôjô forces, and making his way back up Wakamiya-ôji, with the aim of attacking Hôjô Yoshitoki's mansion once again. One of Wada's generals, Tsuchiya Yoshikiyo, was suddenly struck and killed by an arrow from an unknown bow. It seemed to come from the direction of the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine, and a rumor rapidly spread among Wada's men that it was a kami kabura, or a divine arrow, leading to a collapse of order among Wada's force. By that evening (the Hour of the Rooster, 5-7pm), they were in full retreat.

Aftermath

Yoshimori lost his eldest son Wada Yoshinao to the arrows of Iguma Shideshige, and was later killed himself, along with three of his other sons, by Edo Yoshinori. Asahina Yoshihide managed to make it back to the beach, meanwhile, along with roughly 500 men, who boarded boats and headed for the nearby Awa province. A number of other Wada generals attempted to flee overland. Meanwhile, Yoshitoki placed the heads of Yoshimori and a number of other prominent casualties on pikes, and held a victory party which is said to have lasted two days.

Reports following the conflict give the names of 142 of Wada's followers who were killed, and indicate that casualties on the Wada side also included many more lesser retainers, whose names are not given. Twenty-eight Wada followers were captured alive, while only fifty names appear as casualties on the Hôjô side, along with an indication that over a thousand lesser shogunate warriors were wounded. Roughly twenty-five properties and titles were confiscated from the Wada clan and their allies by the Hôjô and redistributed to Yoshitoki and his men.

In popular culture

The bunraku & kabuki play Wada Gassen Onna Maizuru, which premiered in Osaka in 1736, is based upon these events. It is rarely performed today, however.[1]

References

  • Karl Friday, Samurai Warfare and the State in Early Medieval Japan, Routledge (2004), 1-5.
  1. "Hangaku," Kabuki21.com.
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