Akamatsu Norimura (赤松則村)

Norimura AKAMATSU (born 1277, died February 26, 1350) was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts. His homyo (a name given to a person who enters the Buddhist priesthood) was Enshin. His father was Shigenori AKAMATSU. His children included Norisuke AKAMATSU, Sadanori AKAMATSU, Norisuke AKAMATSU, Ujinori AKAMATSU and Ujiyasu AKAMATSU. He was the fourth head of the Akamatsu clan.

During the Genko War, in which Emperor Godaigo raised an army to overthrow the Kamakura bakufu, Norimura took up arms against the shogunate at ryoji (orders issued by princes, empresses, etc.) of Imperial Prince Moriyoshi, the son of Godaigo, in 1333. He first used his army to fight against the Takada clan, members of his family, which attempted naitsu (engagement in secret communication), at Nishijoyama-jo Castle. He later forced the Takada clan to commit suicide at Ryotaku-an, which was his Bodai-ji Temple (a Buddhist temple that houses one's family grave). Subsequently, the Kaji clan, serving as Shugo (provincial constable) in Bizen Province (Okayama Prefecture), raised an army at the order of Rokuhara Tandai (an administrative and judicial agency in Rokuhara, Kyoto). Enshin fought against its advance team composed of the Ito clan at Mitsuishi-jo Castle; the leader Koremure ITO, who came to heel, remained at Mitsuishi-jo Castle as the reserve force of Saigoku bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun); Enshin started toward the east.

Enshin established his armed camp in Muroyama, where he waited for various Gozoku (local ruling families) to join. After a while, he stayed in Shirakawago, Obu-go, Yamada-mura and Mt. Shakunage. He went south along Nunobikidani, and entered Mayasan-jo Castle, which had been founded by his oldest son, Norisuke. On March 5, 1333, as many as 20,000 Rokuhara warriors invaded. However, Akamatsu's forces conducted their specialty, nobuserisen (war by unofficial warriors) to repel the enemy.

Conquering Rokuhara

Fueled by the victory, Enshin established an armed camp in Kukuchi, and advanced into Sakebe on the 18th. On May 2, 10,000 Rokuhara worriers were deployed in Segawa. Ogasawara ambush forces, which came ashore in Amagasaki from Shikoku, attacked Enshin's armed camp that evening. Enshin defeated the enemy with only 50 soldiers, and returned to Kukuchi. He waited for his army to turn out, took Norisuke's advice, and entered the enemy line in a night raid with 3,000 soldiers; the enemy was put to flight. Norisuke once again advised him to chase the enemy, and his forces invaded Yamazaki on the 4th. He pressed ahead with torching the neighborhood areas of Kyoto Yodo, Akai and Nishioka. As a countermeasure, the Rokuhara forces delegated 20,000 warriors to two kendan (official in charge of judicial administration), Takahashi and Sumida, after which the Rokuhara forces departed for the front. Enshin was informed of their move; he separated his army into two, making one group go to Koganawate and the other, including himself, go to Katsura occupied by the Rokuhara forces. The two forces confronted each other across the Katsura-gawa River. The river was swollen and looked uncrossable; however, Norisuke led the troop across the river and defeated the enemy. The troop set fire in Omiya, Inokuma, Horikawa and Aburakoji, heading to Rokuhara. In a sense of crisis, Rokuhara Tandai invited the then-Emperor Kogon to Rokuhara, which he had designated as a makeshift palace. Many warriers, including rookies, Kono and Suyama, joined the forces.

As a result, Enshin's forces, which had invaded in full career, suffered a debacle. Enshin and Norisuke immediately escaped to Otokoyama, where Enshin was believed to have told his servant that he would commit suicide with his sword. However, Enshin drew a big dragon on his flag marked with the hidari mitsudomoe crest; the dragon was a prophecy of hachiman bosatsu (hachiman Bodhisattva), reflecting his determination to once again invade Kyo (Kyoto).

After a sweeping victory in the Battle of Yamazaki, he was defeated in the following battle of Rakuchu. Enshin stayed at the army camp in Yamazaki for a while. He lay in wait for Takaie NAGOE and Takauji ASHIKAGA, who he was informed had departed; Yoriie SAYO killed Takaie NAGOE to end the war. After the war, the Ko clan went to their terrirory, Shinomura, Tanba, to recruit 23,000 soldiers for raising an army. The robust warlords on the Emperor's side besieged Kyo. Rokuhara Tandai escaped to Kamakura; this was the fall of Rokuhara. In the Kanto region, Yoshisada NITTA fought bravely with Kamakura to end the Genko War.

Enshin during the Kemmu Restoration

During the Kemmu Restoration after the fall of the Kamakura bakufu, Enshin was dismissed from the governor of Harima Province that he had assumed; it is known that he was not given favorable treatment during this period. This is believed to have happened because Imperial Prince Moriyoshi's side lost to the sanmi no tsubone (Yasuko ANO)'s side as a result of an internal power struggle within the Imperial family. Similarly, Masashige KUSUNOKI, who is believed to have been on Moriyoshi's side, was in obscurity despite his contributions during the war (Masashige gained a reputation in future generations). In contrast, Nagatoshi NAWA and Tadaaki CHIGUSA, both belonging to sanmi no tsubone's side, were given rewards and treated favorably during the Restoration. In 1334, Imperial Prince Moriyoshi, with whom Enshin had fought during the anti-bakufu war, fell from power; this marked the end of Enshin's career in the Restoration. The infuriated Enshin returned to Akamatsu.

Battle at Shirahata-jo Castle

In 1335, Enshin made his second son, Sadanori, join the army that Takauji ASHIKAGA formed to suppress the Nakasendai War. After the suppression, Takauji seceded from the Kenmu government in Kamakura and invaded Kyoto; in the following year, Takauji was defeated by the court's side, including Akiie KITABATAKE, Yoshisada NITTA, and Masashige KUSUNOKI, and escapted to Kyushu. Enshin took sides with ASHIKAGA, and was reappointed the governor of Harima Province.

After that, he took sides with Ashikaga. 60,000 soldiers marched from Kyoto as the troop aiming at subjugation of Takauji; the troop was headed by Yoshisada NITTA; Enshin lay in wait for the soldiers at Shirahata-jo Castle in Akamatsu, Harima Province (Kamigori Town, Ako County, Hyogo Prefecture). Tokishige KUGE of Hikami County, Tanba Province added Yoriaki NIKI's forces to fight back. Descending along the Kako-gawa River from Kosanji-jo Castle in Hikami, the enemy repeatedly threatened to cut Nitta forces' supply lines. Shirahata-jo Castle had another geographical advantage; it could receive as many supplies as they wished from the Northern Mimasaka and Tajima. Despite the overwhelming number of troops, Yoshisada struggled to tear apart Shirahata-jo Castle, in which Norimura and his 2,000 warriors cloistered themselves; Yoshisada was tied up for more than 50 days.

Meanwhile, Takauji defeated Taketoshi KIKUCHI in the Tatarahama War and conquered Kyushu. Gaining over almost all warriors in Saigoku (the western part of Japan), Takauji started to go to the east with his two troops; one by the sea and the other by land. Nitta's forces started to withdraw when they were informed of Takauji's forces heading east. With extreme moral corruption, many warriors switched to or surrendered to Ashikaga's forces. Nitta's forces suffered a debacle with the pursuit of Akamatsu's forces that came out from Shirahata-jo Castle; Nitta managed to escape to Hyogo. Takauji later won the Minatogawa War.

His Later Years

Enshin followed Takauji in the Kanno Riot, in which Takauji ASHIKAGA confronted his younger brother, Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA. He suddenly died in Kyoto while he was organizing an army to hunt down Tadafuyu ASHIKAGA, who took sides with Tadayoshi; Tadafuyu was born a son of Takauji by his concubine and was later adopted by Tadayoshi.

His posthumous Buddhist name was Hounji Gettan Enshin.

He was buried at Kyushoin, tatchu (sub-temples in the site of main temple) of Higashiyama Kennin-ji Temple in Higashi Ward, Kyoto City. His memorial tower was constructed at Kinkazan Houn-ji Temple (Kamigori Town) (Houn Shokoku Zenji-Temple) in Kamigori Town, Ako County, Hyogo Prefecture.

His wooden statue is kept at Horin-ji Temple in Kamigori Town, Ako County, Hyogo Prefecture.

Relationship with Masashige KUSUNOKI

Enshin was a relative of Masashige KUSUNOKI. Enshin had a younger brother named Enko, who became a priest. Enko married Masashige's eldery sister; Enshin is Masashige's brother in law.

Works that feature Enshin

"Akuto no sue" authored by Kenzo KITAKATA (Chuo Koronsha/Chuko Bunko)
"Taiheiki" (NHK historical drama) produced by Tetsu WATANABE

[Original Japanese]