The Battle of Tatarahama (多々良浜の戦い)

The Battle of Tatarahama was a battle in 1336 during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan).


At the battle of Hakone-Takenoshita, Takauji ASHIKAGA, who was defecting from the Kemmu Restoration by Emperor Godaigo, defeated Yoshisada NITTA who had been ordered to crush Takauji by the Kemmu government; then, Takauji chased Nitta's forces trying to capture Kyoto, but in 1336, he was defeated in and around Kyoto by the Imperial forces which had contact with Masashige KUSUNOKI and Akiie KITABATAKE; he escaped to the west, towards Kyushu, by ship to renew his forces, helped by Norimura AKAMATU (Enshin) of Harima Province on the way.

Takauji was welcomed by the provincial governer of Hizen Province, Yorinao SHONI, and some other people who sided with Ashikaga. On the other hand, a large number of powerful clans in Kyushu, including Taketoshi KIKUCHI, of Higo Province who had been on the Imperial side, Tanemichi AKIZUKI of Chikuzen Province, Korenao ASO of Higo Province, Takehisa KAMACHI and Ieyoshi HOSHINO of Chikugo Province, all sided with the Imperial side, resulting in a force of over 20,000 cavalry. Gaining momentum, the Imperial forces (the Southern Court side, or Yoshino Imperial court) advanced to attack Hakata, and captured Dazaifu, the headquarters of the Shoni clan, forcing Sadatsune SHONI to commit suicide.

With support from Ujinori MUNAKATA, based in Munakata, Chikuzen Province (the present-day area around Munakata City in Fukuoka Prefecture), the Ashikaga side prayed for victory at the Munakata-taisha Shrine, and with only 2,000 cavalry, fought the Imperial forces led by the Kikuchi clan who set up camp in Tatarahama, Chikuzen Province (Higashi Ward, Fukuoka City). At first Kikuchi's forces on the Imperial side were superior because the Ashikaga forces were greatly outnumbered and the military equipment obtained by Sadatsune SHONI was destroyed by fire during the attack of Dazaifu; the situation, however, was reversed due to betrayal by many warriors in Kikuchi's forces: leading Kikuchi's forces to collapse and flee, and in the meantime, Korenao ASO died in battle.

One reason for the betrayal by many warriors was that even though Kikuchi's side led a large force allied with almost all the powerful clans in Kyushu, most of them regarded the Southern Court side as superior and sided with Taketoshi KIKUCHI. Korenao ASO was the only one clearly on the side of the Southern Court while the other warriors were opportunistic or on the side of Takauji. Additionally, Takauji's constant, proactive tactics even in a devastating situation played a major role in bringing about the betrayal of those who once sided with the Southern Court side.

As a result of this battle, almost all the areas in Kyushu allied with the Ashikaga side, and Takauji succeeded in renewing his forces. Takauji advanced on Kyoto again, leaving Noriuji ISSHIKI and Yoshinaga NIKI behind to protect Kyushu, and defeated Yoshisada NITTA in the Battle of Minatogawa in Settsu Province.

However, after the battle, Takauji ASHIKAGA established the Muromachi Shogunate as the central government, but the Kikuchi clan continued to resist stubbornly as the Southern Court side; furthermore, Imperial Prince Kaneyoshi, an Imperial prince of Emperor Godaigo, along with Sadayasu UTSUNOMIYA of Iyo Province landed in Kyushu to fight the Shogunate side, and the Southern Court side led by Imperial Prince Kaneyoshi in the anti-western forces posts dominated Kyushu for a while.

When Takauji's illegitimate child, Tadafuyu ASHIKAGA who revolted against the Shogunate in the Kanno Disturbance entered Kyushu, it was divided among the three equal powers of the Southern Court, Takauji (the Shogunate) and Tadafuyu.

[Original Japanese]