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Shogun

       Shogun is a series launched by Disney this year that has been well received in North America. Here's a look at Shogun's real-life backstory, the Sekigahara Combine, as well as some resources for sightseeing related to the Sekigahara Combine.

The Battle of Sekigahara

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Tokugawa Ieyasu

(1543~1616)

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Ishida Mitsunari

(1559~1600)

In 1598, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the supreme ruler of Japan and a great man of his generation, died, leaving behind his -year-old son. Before his death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi set up the system of the Council of Five Elders and  Five Commissioners  to assist his young son in ruling the country. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the head of  the Council of Five Elders, was the leader of the most prestigious samurai family at that time, just below the Toyotomi family. As the head of the Council of Five Elders, Tokugawa Ieyasu coerced, seduced, and drew in the rest of the samurai who were subordinate to the Toyotomi family, almost overthrowing the Toyotomi family. Ishida Mitsunari, the head of  the Council of Five Elders, was a young samurai who was single-handedly promoted by Toyotomi Hideyoshi from a small samurai and had absolute loyalty to the Toyotomi family. He had long been dissatisfied with Tokugawa Ieyasu's insubordination, so he moved around and gathered many samurai who were dissatisfied with Tokugawa Ieyasu's domineering behavior. Finally, when Tokugawa Ieyasu went east to conquer the Uesugi family, Ishida Mitsunari raised an army and formed a western army to crush Tokugawa. Tokugawa Ieyasu took advantage of the fact that Ishida Mitsunari was very unpopular, and formed an eastern army with samurai of the former Toyotomi family to fight against Ishida Mitsunari. The two sides, totaling 200,000 troops, gathered in Sekigahara. In the end, Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was more experienced in war, was superior, and the western generals had their own plans, so in just four hours, a great battle was decided, and Ishida Mitsunari was arrested and beheaded. From then on, the Tokugawa family replaced the Toyotomi family as the most powerful samurai family in Japan. In 1603, the Edo Shogunate was established, and the center of power in Japan shifted from Osaka and Kyoto to Edo (now Tokyo).

Fushimi Momoyama Castle

Fushimi Castle, built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi for its strategic location, became his residence. Anticipating an attack, Tokugawa Ieyasu left Torii Mototada and 1,000 soldiers to defend it. Mototada was a loyal Tokugawa servant and Ieyasu’s childhood companion.

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On the eve of their departure, Ieyasu and Mototada drank and talked late into the night, understanding that they would never see each other again. At the banquet, there was no courtesy between the king and his ministers, but only the love of brotherhood.        After Ieyasu left, Ishida Mitsunari raised an army of 40,000 men to besiege Fushimi Castle. Faced with an army 20 times the size of the enemy's,  Torii Mototada was unafraid and defended the castle for more than 10 days, but was eventually outnumbered and defeated. Torii Mototada died bravely without surrendering or fleeing, and was praised by the samurai of the Western army as a reference for samurai.

It is said that the battle was so fierce that the blood of the dead and wounded samurai from both sides penetrated into the floor and stained the floor so red that it could not be washed away. When Fushimi Castle was demolished, the floorboards were used to build the patio of the main hall of Housen-in (located in the northeast of Kyoto), which is still said to be a bloody patio.

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Gifu Castle

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Formerly Inabayama Castle, Gifu Castle was the residence of Saito Dosan, the "Viper of Mino," during the Warring States period. After the Saito family's fall, Oda Nobunaga took over and renamed it Gifu Castle, marking the start of his reign. Strategically located on a hill, it overlooked the Nobi Plain (Nagoya area).

Before the Battle of Sekigahara, the Eastern Army's vanguard, composed of former Toyotomi retainers, fought Oda Hidenobu, the grandson of Oda Nobunaga and a Western Army subordinate. They conquered Gifu Castle to welcome Tokugawa Ieyasu to the city.

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Gifu Castle, on Mount Kinka in Gifu, Japan, is now a civic park with attractions like a cable car to the castle. The Tenshukaku, rebuilt with reinforced concrete, houses a museum with samurai armor, weapons, and exhibits on the Sengoku period. The top floor offers panoramic views, making it a popular sightseeing spot.

Ogaki  Castle

Ogaki Castle was a strategic place that held the road from Mino (present-day Gifu Prefecture) to Osaka, Kyoto, and was easy to defend and difficult to attack. Before the Battle of Sekigahara, Ishida Mitsunari's western army of 100,000 men defended the castle against Tokugawa Ieyasu's eastern army.

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Tokugawa Ieyasu tricked Ishida Mitsunari to lead his army out of the castle and set up a battlefield by pretending to ignore Ogaki Castle and continue westward to Osaka. Ishida Mitsunari, who was inexperienced in military affairs and did not listen to the advice of the rest of the samurai, set up his troops in Sekigahara, giving Tokugawa Ieyasu, who was good at field battles and had a lot of experience in military affairs, a chance. In only 4 hours, Ishida Mitsunari was defeated and fled.

Apart from some stone walls, there is not much left of the original castle, which was besieged and taken by Tokugawa after the Battle of Sekigahara and destroyed in World War II.The small keep in Ogaki Park is a modern reconstruction, built in 1959 and then completely redesigned in 2002 to be more faithful to the pre-war original. The castle keep now houses an interesting history museum, dedicated to the events at Sekigahara. Other exhibits include Edo Period weapons, suits of armor, documents and original roof tiles.

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Sekigahara Battlefield

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Sekigahara, one of the world's greatest battlefields alongside Waterloo and Gettysburg, witnessed Ishida Mitsunari leading the western army against the eastern forces on September 10, 1600. Despite limited military experience, Mitsunari used a crane-wing formation to half-enclose the eastern army. During the Meiji Restoration, German advisor Major Mitchell saw this formation and confidently stated the western army should have won.

However, internal discord plagued the western army. Ishida Mitsunari was unpopular, resulting in only a third of the 100,000-strong force engaging in battle. The Mouri family stayed passive, and Kobayakawa Hideaki's betrayal led to the army's collapse in four hours. Mitsunari fled but was captured, ending the battle in half a day.

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Today, the old battlefield of Sekigahara has returned to a peaceful, idyllic setting, with samurai positions marked around the farmland. A new memorial hall at the battle's center showcases detailed accounts, swords, and armor from that time. Visitors can watch samurai performances and even dress up as samurai to experience the battlefield's atmosphere.

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