Araki Murashige (荒木村重)

Murashige ARAKI (1535-1586) was a Japanese military commander and feudal lord during the Period of Warring States and the Azuchi-Momoyama period. He was among the seven disciples of Rikyu. His childhood name was Jujiro, later it was Yasuke. He was well known as a military commander who revolted against Nobunaga ODA four years before Mitsuhide AKECHI. His ancestor was FUJIWARA no Hidesato.

As a vassal of Ikeda and Oda

He was born in Ikeda (present-day Ikeda City, Osaka Prefecture) in 1535, as a male heir of Yoshimura ARAKI (the other version is that Takamura ARAKI) who was a vassal of the Ikedajo Castle lord, the Ikeda clan in Settsu Province. Initially, he served Katsumasa IKEDA as a vassal, but then he became a member of the Ikeda family by marrying a daughter of Nagamasa IKEDA. But he went over to the Miyoshi clan along with Tomomasa IKEDA, following a stratagem of the three chief retainers of the Miyoshi clan. Having allowed Tomomasa to banish Katsumasa, he took advantage of the confusion and seized the Ikeda family.

Subsequently, Nobunaga ODA allowed him to serve the Oda clan from the Miyoshi clan because Murashige's personality pleased Nobunaga. He became the lord of Ibarakijo Castle in 1573. In the same year, he played a major role in the Makishimajo Castle attack at Uji, when Nobunaga attacked Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA. He became the lord of Itamijo Castle and, in 1574, was put in charge of the entire province of Settsu.

He continuously followed Nobunaga and had military exploits in various battles, such as the siege of Ishiyama Honganji Temple and the conquest of Kishu.


In November through December 1578, Murashige suddenly rebelled against Nobunaga in the Ariokajo Castle (Also known as Itamijo Castle) (the battle of Ariokajo Castle). Although he thought he would return to Nobunaga once and headed for Azuchijo Castle for an explanation, he returned to Itami because he was told by his vassal Ukon TAKAYAMA that 'once Nobunaga has doubt in a subordinate, he will surely destroy him soon or later' when Murashige stopped by Takatsukijo Castle on his way to Azuchi. Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI of the Oda forces, urged Murashige to reconsider by sending Yoshitaka KURODA, a former friend of Murashige, to Ariokajo Castle. However, Murashige arrested and imprisoned Yoshitaka in a dungeon. After that, Murashige held Ariokajo Castle and, for a year, led all-out resistance against the Oda forces. However, the situation became decidedly disadvantageous because his close aides, Kiyohide NAKAGAWA and Ukon TAKAYAMA, deserted to Nobunaga's side.

On October 2, 1579, Murashige escaped from Ariokajo Castle alone and moved to Amagasakijo Castle subsequently to Hanakumajo Castle (the Battle of Hanakumajo Castle). Ultimately, he defected to the Mori clan.

On January 9, 1580, 122 court ladies of Ariokajo Castle, which had surrendered, were massacred in Nanamatsu near Amagasaki.
The cruelty of this incident was described in the Biography of Nobunaga ODA "Shinchoko-ki" as follows:
Everyone who watched fell prostrate and could not control the emotions, as the pitiful cries of 122 court ladies echoed into the heavens.
The images of the women stayed with the witnesses for 20 to 30 days.'
On January 12, 36 of the Murashige family and his senior vassal's family members were sent to Kyoto and decapitated in Rokujo-gawara, after being bound to a large wagon and pulled through the city of Kyoto.
Sokei TATERI described the situation in "Tateri Sakyonosuke sokei Nyudo Ryusaki," stating, 'It was the most fearful execution in history.'
Even after that, Nobunaga pursued Murashige exhaustively by killing, on sight, people of the domain who had taken refuge. On September 24, 1581, hundreds of priests of Kongobuji Temple on Mt. Koya were slaughtered for having given shelter to Murashige's vassal and killing Nobunaga's vassal, who had been searching for him.

Return as a master of the tea ceremony

Murashige returned to Sakai City and resided there when Nobunaga died unnaturally in the Honnoji incident of July 1582. When Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI seized hegemony, he returned to Osaka as Dokun ARAKI of tea ceremony, and there he formed friendly relationship with people including Sen no Rikyu. In the beginning, he called himself "feces", looking down on himself because he deserted his own family; however, Hideyoshi forgave his past mistakes and let him be renamed as Dokun.

He owned a famous teabowl entitled 'Araki Korai.'

He died in Sakai on June 20, 1586. He was 52 years old.


Matabei IWASA, a painter in the early Edo period and recognized as the patriarch of Japanese woodblock print, is thought to be one of Murashige's descendants who escaped from Nobunaga's execution by the wet nurse's quick thinking.

Murashige's son, Zenbe ARAKI, was with Tadaoki HOSOKAWA at the fall of the castle and was raised by the Hosokawa family. Zenbe ARAKI subsequently became the keeper of Takamorijo Castle, of the Hosokawa family, at Mt. Oe, Tango.

It is said that Araki-cho, Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture, was developed by Murashige's children who had escaped with the wet nurse upon the fall of Itamijo Castle.

Taiheiki Eiyuden

Araki Murashige Nishikie-zu is a color woodblock print depicting Murashige ARAKI eating a rice cake.
According to "Taiheiki Eiyuden," in his audience Nobunaga ODA, Murashige said, 'Settsu Province has 13 counties with a castle and soldiers, if you order me to occupy I will risk my life to settle down.'

In response, Nobunaga pulled out a short sword, pierced several steamed bean-jam buns on a plate, thrust them in the face of Murashige, and said, 'Eat.'
Everyone in attendance had turned pale, but Murashige said, 'I'll have them with gratitude,' opened his mouth wide, and ate the buns pierced to the point of the sword by the mouthful. Seeing this, Nobunaga laughed out and thereby entrusted Settsu Province to Murashige. This is the picture describing that moment.

Murashige was 22 years old at the time. It is thought that Nobunaga ODA highly extolled Murashige ARAKI's conquest of Takatsukijo Castle (the influence of the postwar period of Battle of Shiraikawara), and that he was trying to discern Murashige's personality and reactions.

Although the accuracy of "Taiheiki Eiyuden" isn't certain, this color woodblock print fully shows the personalities of two men, Nobunaga ODA and Murashige ARAKI.

The cause of rebellion

There have been various views regarding the cause that Murashige rebelled against Nobunaga ODA, but it remains uncertain. However, it was considered that since Nobunaga had high regard for Murashige and treated him preferentially; he was astonished by the rebellion and once even urged Murashige to reconsider, which was unusual for Nobunaga.

Some have said that Murashige rebelled against Nobunaga at the request of Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA and Ishiyama Honganji Temple, because he was close to them. Settsu Province, ruled by Murashige, was an important place for Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, of Harima Province, who was advancing to the Chugoku area, and Mitsuhide AKECHI, who was advancing to the Tanba area. It would have been a strategic rebellion because both Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide would be isolated by Murashige's rebellion.

Murashige's vassal Kiyohide NAKAGAWA had secretly sold army provisions to Ishiyama Honganji Temple. Others have said that Murashige feared the punishment if Nobunaga find out the fact, so he rebelled in order to avoid that.

Still others have said that Murashige couldn't stand the haughtiness of Hidekazu HASEGAWA, who was a close adviser of Nobunaga according to "Todaiki".

Others have said that Nobunaga had humiliated Murashige by forcing to eat the bean-jam cakes pierced by the sword when Murashige greeted Nobunaga in Seta, Omi Province in 1573. Others have said that his motive originated from a grudge.

Others have said that it was a conspiracy that emerged following a consultation with Yoshitaka KURODA. It has been said that there was a plan to lure Nobunaga to the place where he could bring a few guards and make a night attack like that of the later Honnoji incident, which resulted in death of Nobunaga. Therefore, he was well treated by Hideyoshi, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, and others who succeeded to Nobunaga's inheritance and became the country's ruler.

[Original Japanese]