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Sekigahara Battlefield

Sekigahara was the biggest, the bloodiest, the most violent and most important of all samurai battles, fought between the factions of a nation divided in two, East and West. 30,000 samurai lost their lives in six hours of fierce fighting on October 21, 1600 when the two great forces clashed on the small plain at Sekigahara.Sekigahara Battlefield is one of the world's top three battlefields, along with Waterloo and Gettysburg.


Oda Nobunaga

Japan had long been at civil war until Oda Nobunaga commenced unifying the nation. Upon his death at the hands of a traitorous general, another vassal, Toyotomi Hideyoshi took the reigns and lead the nation to peace. When Hideyoshi was on his deathbed, he called on his council of regents to rule in his infant son’s stead. The regents were all powerful warlords, and the most powerful of them all was Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

Once Hideyoshi had passed away, Ieyasu commenced wrangling power away from the Toyotomi and into his own hands. With half the country condemning Ieyasu for his usurping actions, and the other half supporting him, the nation was ripped in two, culminating in the greatest battle the samurai ever saw, Sekigahara.


The battle started

Ishida Mitsunari led the western army in Sekigahara in the early morning hours of September 10, 1600, in a ploy to block the eastern army's westward advance. Ishida, who had little military experience, made a rare attempt to form a half-encirclement of the eastern army by using a crane-wing formation. 200 years later, during the Meiji Restoration, Major Mitchell, a German military advisor hired by the Meiji government, saw the Sekigahara Battle Formation and said without hesitation that the western army would surely win the battle.However, the generals of the western army were all harboring their own ideas, and Ishida Mitsunari was not a great general and was not well-liked, so only one-third of the 100,000-strong army was put into the battlefield. Only one-third of the 100,000-strong army was committed to the battlefield. The Mouri family watched from the sidelines, and Hidetaki Kobayakawa turned his back on the Western army, causing it to collapse in only four hours. Ishida Mitsunari escaped and was arrested, and the battle of the century was won in half a day.

Tokugawa Ieyasu had won!

The Western loyalists were numerically superior, and they held the high ground surrounding the Eastern forces, however, during the great battle a number of Western allies suddenly turned, coming to the aid of Ieyasu and the Eastern troops, changing the tide of the battle.

By 2pm that day, Tokugawa Ieyasu had won! The nation was his, and he would soon be invested with the title of Shogun, a position his family would control for the next 250 years.


The best way to see Sekigahara Battlefield


The best way to see the old battlefield is to start at the Sekigahara Town History and Folklore Museum, (350 Yen entry) with it’s many fine exhibits and detailed information on the battle, its participants and the weapons and armor used. The museum also features a well-stocked souvenir shop with all manner of Sekigahara related goods for sale.Bikes can be rented for 500 Yen per day from the museum, which will also provide you with a map of the battlefield. The base camps of the major warlords are clearly marked on the map and at each site, that particular lords’ battle flags can be found fluttering in the breeze above stone monuments and information signposts.

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