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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Narita Kosaburo and the Nawa brothers


loyal sacrifice received official recognition, in 1908, on the occasion of military manoeuvres in the neighbourhood of the scene of the tragedy. The Emperor honoured his memory by bestowing on him high posthumous rank.


The Oki group of islands lie in the Sea of Japan forty miles from the coast of the provinces Izumo and Hoki. Beppu, in Nishi-no-shima, one of the smallest of the group, was Go-Daigo's place of exile. By employing the services of a fishing-boat, Prince Morinaga succeeded in conveying to his Majesty some intelligence of the efforts that were being made in the Imperial cause. This was early in 1333, and when the news spread among the guards at Beppu, they began to talk of the duties of loyalty. Narita Kosaburo and the Nawa brothers, Yasunaga and Nagataka--the name of the last was afterwards changed by the Emperor to Nagatoshi--thus became associated in a scheme for assisting the exile to recover his freedom. To remove him from Nishi-no-Shima was not difficult to contrive, but to traverse the provinces of Izumo or Hoki en route for a safe asylum seemed at first impossible, for in Izumo not only the governor but also the chief official of the great Shinto shrine were hostile, and in Hoki the strictest watchfulness had been enjoined from Rokuhara.

Nevertheless, it became necessary to make the attempt at once or refrain altogether. On

the 8th of April, 1333, the guards at Beppu were given a quantity of sake on the plea that the accouchement of a Court lady was imminent. Custom prescribed that in such a case the lady should be removed to a different house, and therefore when the guards had well drunk, a palanquin was carried out, bearing ostensibly this lady only, but in reality freighted with the sovereign also. The night was passed in the village, and at daybreak the little party, leaving the lady behind, set out on foot for the nearest seaport, Chiba. The Emperor could scarcely walk, but happily a man was encountered leading a pack-horse, and on this Go-Daigo rode. The next three days were devoted to seeking a safe landing in Izumo and endeavouring to procure provisions. On one occasion, being pursued by servants of the great shrine, they had to re-embark and put out to sea, the Emperor and his sole attendant, Tadaaki, lying hid in the bottom of the boat beneath a quantity of seaweed and under the feet of the sailors. Finally, on the 13th of April, they made Katami port in the province of Hoki, and, being cordially welcomed by Nawa Nagataka, Go-Daigo was ultimately taken to a mountain called Funanoe, which offered excellent defensive facilities. It is recorded that on the first stage of this journey from Nagataka's residence to the mountain, the Emperor had to be carried on the back of Nagataka's brother, Nagashige, no palanquin being available. Very soon many bushi flocked to the Imperial standard and Funanoe was strongly entrenched. It was on this occasion that Go-Daigo changed Nagataka's name to Nagatoshi, and conferred on him the title of "captain of the Left guards" (saemon-no-jo).

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