Battle of Komaki Nagakute


Battle of Komaki Nagakute

On the outskirts of Nagoya is one of the major battlefields of the Samurai era, Nagakute.
Like many of the greater samurai battles, the lead up to the actual battle of Nagakute is a long
and complicated matter.


It was 1584. The first of the national unifiers, Lord Oda Nobunaga had been assassinated just
2 years before.Now the fate of the country rested in the hands of the few, fighting for Nobunaga’s
legacy. The struggle to succeed him came down to his most able general, Toyotomi Hideyoshi,
and to his nearest rival, Nobunaga’s second son, Nobukatsu, who had sought the support of
Tokugawa Ieyasu. Both armies met at Komaki, north of modern day Nagoya City where Tokugawa
Ieyasu held the small castle. The two armies, Toyotomi’s 40,000 against the combined 18,500
Tokugawa / Oda troops faced off against each other with  very little action until a number of the
Toyotomi units, realizing that Ieyasu’s stronghold, Okazaki Castle in Mikawa, was under guarded
while he and his men were at Komaki, and decided to go around the Oda-Tokugawa forces and
attack Okazaki.




Lead by Ikeda Tsuneoki and his 6,000 men, a large contingent consisting of the 17 year old son
of Hideyoshi, Hidetsugu and 8,000 samurai, supported by another 6,000 under the command of
Mori Nagayoshi and Hori Hidemasa set out for Mikawa.


(Ikeda Tsuneoki)


The plan was to make quick hit and run attacks on the smaller castles and fortresses along the way
so as not to impede their advance to Okazaki, however, Ikeda was detained when attacking the
castle at Iwasaki. (Having been shot off his horse he launched a full scale attack on the fort, wasting
precious time and resources!)




The attackers were then forced to backtrack
as the Tokugawa moved on them, thus
beginning the Battle of Nagakute proper.
Hideyoshi had moved his forces to
Hakusanmori in present day Owariasahi, and
were decimated by a surprise attack from
the Tokugawa. Hideyoshi’s son only barely
managing to escape!


Ikeda’s men fired on the Tokugawa vanguard
Ii forces, followed closely by the Tokugawa
main forces. Another of Hideyoshi’s units
waited hidden near Nagakute to flank the
main opposition, however the  Tokugawa
avoided the flanking maneuver and turned
the tables on the Toyotomi troops. A number
of the Toyotomi generals were slain, and
on the site of the battle’s memorial museum,
Ikeda lost his head.  Following the skirmish,
Toyotomi reinforcements arrived, but soon
pulled out and returned to their castle at
Osaka, as the Tokugawa also quietly withdrew.
The result of the battle is seen as somewhat
of a stalemate despite the losses faced by the Toyotomi.







The starting point to see the battlefield could well be the castle at Komaki, however, the Kosenjo
(Battlefield) Park in Nagkute, site of the most fierce fighting, is recommended. The small park features
a memorial museum, with a rotating series of displays, admittedly some being better than others,
explaining the battle.



As mentioned, Ikeda Tsuneoki was killed on this site, and on the tree covered knoll above the museum
is a memorial gravesite. The battlefield stretches both north towards Komaki, and south to Iwasaki from
this park, but here was where the bulk of the fighting took place.



The area is littered with historical sites, including head mounds (where enemy heads were buried) samurai
general campsites, and special memorial markers attesting to the scale and significance of the battle.
Maps and walking route information, much of which are in English, can be obtained free from the museum.
The Nagakute City has also made many signs and markers in English too, making it easy to understand and navigate the area. One recommended site is the National Monument, Iroganeyama Historical Park, about two kilometers from the museum. 



The hill in the middle of the park was where Ieyasu set camp. The rocks on 
which he is said to have covered in tiger skins and sat upon to direct the battle are still there, and a fortress 
style lookout tower has been built to provide a fine view of the entire battlefield area, despite Komaki Castle
being hidden from view by a nearby factory complex.



Nagakute was a large and bloody battle. Today it is an interesting and exciting battlefield, and at times
a little spooky too. Locals often claim to see the ghosts of the departed samurai wandering the old battle
grounds. Maybe you will too.







【Japan World Link】



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