Kojima Takanori (児島高徳)

Takanori KOJIMA (dates of birth and death are unknown) was a samurai from Bizen Province who lived from the end of the Kamakura period to the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan). His name appears in "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace). He is generally called Saburo or Bingo Saburo, and he is sometimes also called Bingo no kami (provincial governor of Bingo), which is actually not his official court rank but just a nickname. His original surname was Miyake, a line of the Fujiwara clan. In "Taiheiki," his name is written as Wada and Imaki, the names used by the Miyake family in Bizen Province, and "Kojima" (written as 児島 in Japanese) is sometimes misspelled with 小島 throughout the book.

After the Genko War in 1331, he showed loyalty to Emperor Godaigo and after the split of the the Northern and Southern Courts, he consistently worked for the Southern Court. In his later years, he became a priest and named himself as Yoshiharu SHIZUMI. His official homyo (a posthumous Buddhist name) is Yoshiharu Shizumi Daitoku-i (the first grade of "Twelve levels of official rank").

In and after the Edo period, he was praised as a loyal subject of the Southern Court and especially in regard to education under the Kokuku Shikan (emperor-centered historiography which is based on state Shinto), the loyal subject Takanori KOJIMA created great teaching material, which made him a national hero.


Although the history around his birth is not clear because there are various opinions about it as stated below, they all have two common points. Firstly, Takanori was a (biological or adopted) son of Norinaga WADA, the leader of the local ruling Miyake family who was based in Oku County, Bizen Province. Secondly, from his name 'Saburo' (literally means 'the third son'), one story suggests that Takanori was the third son and he had his eldest brother Enshin, who was a priest, his second elder brother named Jironorishige, and a younger sister.


His childhood name was Takamaru. Since his childhood, he had strong antipathy to the involvement of the bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in political affairs and tasks at the Imperial Court, including succession to the throne. He had a genpuku (celebrate one's coming of age) ceremony at the age of 15 or 17 and changed his name to Saburotakanori KOJIMA.

Hakuou Juji Shi (ten-character verse on a cherry tree)

In 1332, Emperor Godaigo was exiled to a distant island of Oki Province after losing the Genko War. At that time, Takanori and a group of 200-odd horsemen consisting of his family and his retainers planned to raid the escort for the Emperor consisting of 500 horsemen led by Doyo SASAKI at Funasaka-toge Hill, which was the border of Harima and Bizen Provinces, in order to recapture the Emperor, but his plan ended in failure because he made a mistake in finding out the Emperor's traveling route.

Takanori went to Sugisaka, the border of Harima and Mimasaka Provinces, to catch up the Emperor and the escort, but they already almost reached Innosho (today's Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture) by that time, and his troops were dispersed like mist because of this wrong strategy.

However, as Takanori could not give up recapturing the Emperor, he by himself broke through strict security of the Sakura-jinja Shrine in Innosho, where the group was resting, in the night. Although he got close to the room where the Emperor was, he had to give up his plan of the recapture because of heavier guard and so he carved a message of a Chinese poem '天莫空勾践 時非無范蠡' (which means 'as gods saved King Goujian of Yue, so they will never give up on you, and some faithful retainers like Fan Li shall come to save you' in English) on a nearby cherry tree to deliver his will and to encourage the Emperor.

The soldier who found the poem in the morning could not understand its meaning, and only Emperor Godaigo understood it when he asked what was going on as it was noisy outside.

The Emperor escaped from Oki Province with help from the Nawa clan such as Nagatoshi NAWA as the message of 'as gods saved King Goujian of Yue, so they will never give up on you, and some faithful retainers like Fan Li shall come to save you' suggested, and when he raised an army at Mt. Senjo of Hoki Province, Takanori and his foster father joined the army and rendered distinguished military service in the war. However, Takanori's name did not appear in the record of the grant of honors for the war, and this fact supports the theory of his non-involvement.

After Overthrowing the Shogunate

In 1333, after winning against the bakufu army at Mt. Senjo, Emperor Godaigo assembled pro-Imperialist warlords who were in the Chugoku region such as Nagatoshi NAWA, and before the Emperor's return to Kyoto, he sent an advanced army with Tono Chujo (the first secretary's captain) Tadaaki CHIGUSA as the supreme commander to join with Norimura AKAMATSU of the Harima Domain who was surrounding the capital and attacking the Rokuhara Tandai (the office of shogunal deputy in Kyoto placed by the Kamakura bakufu).

Although Takanori KOJIMA was in the advanced army, he formed another corps and deployed it because of a conflict regarding their strategic plan with the supreme commander Tadaaki CHIGUSA. The commander Tadaaki CHIGUSA was soundly defeated due to his impatience, and Takanori could not finish deploying his corps before Takauji ASHIKAGA and some other commanders who had already joined Emperor Godaigo's side made an all-out attack on Kyoto, and accordingly, he returned to Kojima in Bizen Province without any distinguished service. Taiheiki (The Record of the Great peace) described Takanori KOJIMA's rage against Tadaaki CHIGUSA at the attack of the Rokuhara.

As a grant for honors after this war, Takanori KOJIMA was awarded Kyuryoando (recognition and guarantee, by the shogunate, of ownership of the inherited estate of a samurai who pledged allegiance to it) and a private estate called Tottorisho.

In 1335, in response to Takauji ASHIKAGA, a rebellion occurred in Bicchu Province and Takanori went there to suppress it, but he eventually lost his foothold, Mitsuishi-jo Castle in Bizen Province, as well as most of his family members due to betrayal of his vassals. Takanori attacked Enshin AKAMATSU, who was on the Ashikaga side, together with Yoshisada NITTA in the following year, but they were defeated severely. His foster father Norinaga was forced to kill himself by the Akamatsu clan, and also, Takanori fainted during a battle, but his nephew's quick thinking made it possible for him to get out of the battle. After that, Takanori fought around the Hokuriku and the Togoku regions with Yoshisada and the Imperial Prince Muneyoshi. Later on, he attempted a comeback but failed it, and then he ran to Yoshino to meet Emperor Gomurakami (according to the theory of Takanori being the author of "Taiheiki," he was supposed to have written the original book of Taiheiki around this time). In 1352, he was said to have tried to return to the capital by order of Emperor Gomurakami, but his whereabouts after that is unknown and there are various opinions about that.

His tomb is in Sakoshi, Ako City.

Although he has been praised as a loyal subject of the Southern Court for a long time, as there is no other literature to show his actual involvement apart from the war chronicle "Taiheiki," some people still strongly believe that he was a fictional character. In addition, some people believe that he was the same person as Kojima Hoshi (priest), who edited the book, or that Takanori was from a local powerful yamabushi (mountain priest) family.

Shoka (Songs)

In 1914, a Monbusho Shoka (song authorized by the Ministry of Education) named 'Kojima Takanori' was released and it was published in "Jinjo Shogaku Shoka Dai Rokugakunen yo" (songs for school music classes, for sixth graders).

*The copyright of the lyrics has already expired. Verse 1: After Mt. Funasaka, Sugisaka and all the way to Innosho, he followed the Emperor to tell his wish, engraved a verse in ten characters. "as gods saved King Goujian of Yue, so they will never give up on you, and some faithful retainers like Fan Li shall come to save you."

Verse 2: Although it was against his wish wetting his sleeves with dews and tears, he was such a smart person that he could make the Emperor smile with this ten-character poem on the cherry tree. "as gods saved King Goujian of Yue, so they will never give up on you, and some faithful retainers like Fan Li shall come to save you."

His Origin

There are two major theories on Takanori KOJIMA's birth. One theory says that he was from the Miyake clan who had been originally from China or Korea, and the other says that he was an Imperial descendant. The latter theory consists of two different opinions: a descendant of Emperor Gotoba, and a descendant of Emperor Uda. Among these theories, the one connecting him to the Miyake clan is older than the others which insist he was an Imperial descendant. As it is impossible to change someone's Imperial linage to an immigrant, someone might have forged the story, considering that the loyal subject Takanori KOJIMA being a naturalized person was not good. That could be the reason why "Taiheiki" is the only material to prove this. This means that these theories cannot lead to anything that confirms the existence of Takanori KOJIMA who appears in "Taiheiki."

Theory of a Descendant of Emperor Gotoba

The theory insists that he was a child of the priest named Raien, a grandchild of the Imperial Prince Yorihito (the fourth son of Emperor Gotoba), who was exiled to Kojima, Bizen Province after the Jokyu War. The Sonryu-in Temple is one of Shugendo (Japanese ascetic and shamanistic practice in mountainous sites) temples, and accordingly, this theory makes Takanori KOJIMA have something to do with yamabushi (mountain priests). There is another version of this theory which says that Nobu, who was a daughter of Bongo no kami Norinaga, married to Raien and had Takanori KOJIMA, and according to this theory, Bizen no kami Norinaga was Takanori KOJIMA's maternal grandfather. However, the theory of him being a descendant of the Retired Emperor Gotoba was created in the Meiji period, and there was no proof that such a legend existed before that.

When the stone pagoda, which is thought to have been established during the time of the Imperial Prince Yorihito, at the Sonryu-in Temple was repaired and investigated in 1970, Shari (Buddhist relics) were found. This fact strengthened a commonly accepted theory that Imperial Prince Yorihito and his younger brother the Imperial Prince Kakunin built a stone pagoda on the first anniversary of the Retired Emperor Gotoba's death and buried his ashes and bones in separate places. However, this cannot be connected to Takanori KOJIMA's origin to make him as a descendant of the Emperor.

Theory of a Descendant of Emperor Uda

According to this theory, the Imperial Prince Atsuyoshi, a son of Emperor Uda, was exiled to Kojima in Bizen Province, and Takanori KOJIMA was a biological son of the 14th descendant of the prince called Bingo no kami Norinaga. If he was a descendant of Emperor Uda, his clan should be the Uda-Genji (Minamoto clan). Another version has it that Takanori's ancestor was Shigenori (should be the same person as a grandfather of Norinaga WADA who appears in another theory called Amenohiboko theory) the second son of Morinori, who was the youngest son of Moritsuna SASAKI from the Uda-Genji, who worked for Yoritomo MINAMOTO, but the only proof of this theory is "Seishi Kakei Daijiten" (a large dictionary of Japanese surnames) published by Kadokawa Group Publishing Co., Ltd., and as the source of the dictionary was not clear, it is not highly credible. Regarding this version, it is also said that it could have been a mix-up with the Kojima (written as 小島 in Japanese, not Takanori's 児島) clan of the Sasakikaji family.

Theory of a Descendant of Amenohiboko

This theory has Takanori as a descendant of Amenohiboko, a son of the King of Shilla who appeared in Japanese mythology ("Nihon Shoki" [The Chronicles of Japan] and "Kojiki" [The Records of Ancient Matters]). Amenohiboko was said to have left for Japan and settled in Tajima Province, and then he naturalized during the reign of Emperor Suinin, and additionally, he was thought to have left some descendants in the course of that. Since there was a document stating that places called Imaki, Wada, and Kojima of Misato, Kojima County were addressed as Kojima-Miyake, one of directly-controlled territories of the Imperial Court, the descendants of Amenohiboko chose Miyake as their family name.

There are many different versions of this Amenohiboko theory, and another says that Amenohiboko's descendant called the Miyake clan who was a local powerful clan in Shikama, Harima Province, was a clan which had been pressured by the Taira clan at the Jisho-Juei War and settled in Kojima, Bizen Province. Seigeninbon Taiheiki (The Record of the Great Peace, the Seigen-in Temple Version) says that a biological son of Saburo IMAKI Bingo no kami Norinaga, a descendant of Amenohiboko, was Takanori KOJIMA. Some of family trees made according to this theory have a description which says that Norinaga's grandfather Shigenori served Yoritomo MINAMOTO, and because of his great achievement, he was appointed Jito shiki (manager and lord of a private estate) in Kojima, Bizen Province.

The Non-existence Theory

This theory was suggested by Yasutsugu SHIGENO in the Meiji period. From the view of modern historical investigation, he denied Takanori's existence.

The reason was that there was no other literature to show Takanori's activities in detail apart from "Taiheiki," and this evoked disputes whether he existed or not. After World War II, Takanori KOJIMA rapidly became less popular due to the disapproval of the Kokoku Shikan (emperor-centered historiography), and consequently, disputes came to the end virtually as people no longer talked about this theory.

Theory of Takanori Being the Author of the "Taiheiki"

The theory says that one of the authors of the book was Kojima Hoshi and this person was someone close to the family of Takanori KOJIMA or Takanori KOJIMA himself and Takanori wrote "Taiheiki." The theory was suggested because it was strange that contents relating to Takanori KOJIMA were too detailed and too many, even though he was just a samurai.

Years of Birth and Death

According to "The Biography of the Miyake Clan" owned by descendants of Takanori KOJIMA, Takanori was born in 1312 and died in Kokai Village, Oura County, Kozuke Province on January 6, 1383. He died at the age of 72 (this could be a writing error in "The Biography of the Miyake Clan").

This "The Biography of the Miyake Clan" is an important and rare family book to studies of Takanori KOJIMA, but whether it is accurate or not is still questionable from the point of the rightness of this material itself; therefore the dates of his birth and death should remain as unknown.

Legends of Takanori KOJIMA throughout Japan

In the Tomo region of Gunma Prefecture where the Nittanosho (Nitta estate) was, it has been said that Takanori moved to this area in his last years counting on a samurai named Tarohirofusa KOKAI, and he entered priesthood with the name of Bingosaburo-Nyudo-Yoshiharu SHIZUMI and lived there from 1371 until his death in 1838. Additionally, in Kokai, Oizumi Town, Gunma Prefecture, there are a tomb believed to be of Takanori, a temple (Kotoku-ji Temple) where is believed that Takanori lived at, and a Shinto shrine (Kojima-jinja Shrine) raised to Takanori.

His Wife and Children

His wife was Sadako, the third daughter of Kazumichi KONO from the Kono clan of the Iyo Province, and they had three sons and one daughter.

According to one theory, he was born in 1329. He moved back to Bizen Province. Although it is said that a Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period) called the Ukita clan was derived from him, as there was another theory in regard to the origin of the Ukita clan, it is impossible to decide that the clan was descent from him with absolute certainty.

Jirotakahisa (Takasumi)
According to one theory, he was born in 1334. Many books say that he died young. One of his descendants is the Sawada family who produced the ninth Mihogasaki Oyakata (stablemaster), who had been an Ozeki (Sumo wrestler in the second highest rank) Daishiro MASUIYAMA, in Grand Sumo.

He settled in Mikawa Province and named his family as Miyake. One of his descendants is the Miyake clan of Mikawa Province, who became the lord of the Tahara Domain.

His Daughter
According to one theory, her name was Tokuko (written as 徳子 in Japanese), but it is also possible that she was named Tokuko in later ages, using one character from Takanori (高徳). There are some family trees showing that she became the wife of Yoshiharu WAKIYA and had Yoshifuyu (however, some other family trees show Yoshifuyu as Yoshiharu's younger brother), or she married a man from the Miyashita clan in Kozuke Province, but what happened to her exactly is unknown.


Shrines Having Takanori KOJIMA as an Enshrined Deity
Sakura-jinja Shrine
The shrine was built in 1869 in Tsuyama City, Okayama Prefecture. It was built on the site of the old Innosho residence where Takanori left the ten-character verse. There are a monument of honor and stone statues.

Sankun-jinja Shrine
The shrine was built in 1875 in Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture. It was originally a large shrine in the middle of Mt. Sou, but it was moved to a small shrine built in the grounds of the Tamaigu-Toshogu Shrine in 1953 due to severe dilapidation after World War II.

Tomoe-jinja Shrine
The shrine was built in 1878 in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture. It is at the keep of Taha-jo Castle, the government building of the Tahara Domain, (Mikawa Province), where descendants of Takanori KOJIMA were the lords. It was originally built at the ninomaru (second bailey), but it was moved to the current place in 1933.

Kojima-jinja Shrine
The shrine was built in Kokai, Oizumi Town, Gunma Prefecture in 1882. It is in the place believed to be where Takanori KOJIMA spent his later years.

Funaoka-jinja Shrine
The shrine was built as a sub-shrine in the precincts of Yoshino-jingu Shrine in Yoshino Town, Nara Prefecture in 1892.

This shrine keeps some objects associated with Takanori KOJIMA.
Kumayama-jinja Shrine
It is in Akaiwa City, Okayama Prefecture. Its enshrined deity is Okuninushi (chief god of Izumo in southern Honshu Island, Japan, and the central character in the important cycle of myths set in that region). The shrine was built in the Meiji period. In the precincts of the shrine, there are two rocks named as 'Koshikake Iwa' (Rock for sitting) and 'Hatatate Iwa' (Rock where Takanori put his flag up) in relation to his raising an army in 1336.


Goryu Sonryu-in Temple
The temple is in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture. There is a monument to Takanori KOJIMA's birth place.

Yokei-ji Temple
It is in Oku Town, Setouchi City, Okayama Prefecture. The temple is in the place used as his father Norinaga WADA's base, and it has a memorial tower for Takanori KOJIMA and his family.

Myoken-ji Temple (Ako City)
It is in Ako City, Hyogo Prefecture. The temple is said to be the place where Takanori stayed to receive medical treatment after he got severe injury at the Battle of Kumayama. In the middle of the mountain, there are Takanori KOJIMA's tomb and the tomb for the family of Norinaga WADA.

Kotoku-ji Temple
It is in Kokai, Oizumi Town, Gunma Prefecture. This temple is believed to have been established by Takanori KOJIMA to spend his later years. The Garan (cathedral) was built in 1380. Takanori's tomb is about 100 meters away from there.

Ryozen-ji Temple
It is in Iwakura Town, Yonago City, Tottori Prefecture. Takanori's descendants lived in this area, and there are Takanori's tomb and a monument of honor.


The front of two-yen notes issued by the National Bank in August 1873 had an image of Yoshisada NITTA presenting a sword at Inamuragasaki on the right-hand side and an image of Takanori KOJIMA writing the verse on the cherry tree with Indian ink on the left-hand side. These were famous stories printed in school textbooks used until the end of World War II. A picture of the Palace of the Dragon King was printed on the other side of this banknote.

[Original Japanese]