Daibutsu, Kamakura

Daibutsu, Kamakura
Daibutsu in Kamakura, June 2010. There were thousands of school kids visiting that day. It was still great fun.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Samurai Battles of Kawanakajima, Nagashino & Sekigahara

I recently finished reading two books by Stephen Turnbull, a prolific author of samurai history as well as another book by the author Anthony Bryant about the famous battle of Sekigahara.

The first book was called "Kawanakajima 1553-64: Samurai Power Struggle".

The book detailed a series of five battles between two of the most famous samurai warlords in Japanese history, Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin. The book described the battles in pretty good detail laying out the tactics and strategies of both armies. One of the things I especially liked about the book were the detailed battle drawings. They were very realistic and may be fairly accurate as to how samurai battle might have looked like. One issue for me is the author's relative lack of references. Other than that it was a very interesting book.

The second book I read from this author is called "Nagashino 1575: Slaughter at the Barricades".

This book was also very interesting. This book was about the battle at Nagashino castle between the forces of the Takeda clan led by Takeda Katsuyori, Takeda Shingen's heir, and the combined forces of Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu, whose territory the Takeda invaded. This book, like the first one, provided good detail about the famous battle that eventually led to the collapse of the Takeda some years later. The book described how the Oda/Tokugawa forces utilized 3,000 gunners but many historians now feel that the real number of gunners were closer to 1,000. Whatever the real number was, the outcome was that the Takeda forces were annihilated and the survivors had to retreat back to their home province of Kai. The Takeda never again were a threat outside their borders and the clan was finally completely destroyed in 1582 by Ieyasu and Nobunaga. Once again, a lack of many references from the author is one of the issues I had.

The third samurai battle book I read was called "Sekigahara 1600: The Final Struggle for Power".

Sekigahara is the great battle between the eastern alliance led by Tokugawa Ieyasu and the Western alliance led by Ishida Mitsunari following the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi who had ruled Japan since Oda Nobunaga's death in 1582. Ieyasu was victorious which allowed him to claim the title of Shogun three years later in 1603. This book by Anthony Bryant was in a similar format to those by Turnbull. It also explained the battle and the tactics involved in great detail. One thing I thought was a little cheesy was the author's use of photos from the outdoor Sekigahara War World attraction. He admits the place is a little cheeky at the end of the book but I think the pictures are pretty goofy. See a couple pics below:

Overall this book was pretty good. The maps and diagrams of the battle were excellent. Since I think this is the most important samurai battle in Japanese history, I recommend those interested to read this book.

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