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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Commanded by Yoshisada himself


THE

FALL OF KAMAKURA

These things happened at the close of June, 1333, and immediately after the fall of Rokuhara, Nitta Yoshisada raised the Imperial standard in the province of Kotsuke. Yoshisada represented the tenth generation of the great Yoshiiye's family. Like Ashikaga Takauji he was of pure Minamoto blood, though Takauji belonged to a junior branch. The Nitta estates were in the district of that name in the province of Kotsuke; that is to say, in the very heart of the Kwanto. Hitherto, the whole of the eastern region had remained loyal to the Hojo; but the people were growing weary of the heavy taxes and requisitions entailed by this three-years' struggle, and when Nitta Yoshisada declared against the Hojo, his ranks soon swelled to formidable dimensions. It has been stated by some historians that Yoshisada's resolve was first taken on receipt of news that Rokuhara was lost to the Hojo. But there can be no doubt that, like others of his sept, he had long resented the comparatively subordinate position occupied by Yoritomo's descendants, and the most trustworthy annals show that already while engaged in besieging Masashige in Chihaya fortress, he conceived the idea of deserting the Hojo's cause. Through one of his officers, Funada Yoshimasa, he obtained a mandate from Prince Morinaga, and then, feigning sickness, he left the camp in Yamato and returned to Kotsuke, where he lost no time in making preparations for revolt.

justify;">This actual declaration did not come, however, until the arrival of an officer from Kamakura, carrying a requisition for a great quantity of provisions to victual an army which the Hojo were hastily equipping to recover Rokuhara. The officer was put to death, and Yoshisada with his brother, Yoshisuke, set their forces in motion for Kamakura. Menaced thus closely, the Hojo made a supreme effort. They put into the field an army said to have numbered one hundred thousand of all arms. But their ranks were perpetually reduced by defections, whereas those of the Imperialists received constant accessions. The campaign lasted only a fortnight. For the final attack Yoshisada divided his army into three corps and advanced against Kamakura from the north, the east, and the west. The eastern column was repulsed and its general slain, but the western onset, commanded by Yoshisada himself, succeeded. Taking advantage of a low tide, he led his men over the sands and round the base of a steep cliff,* and carried the city by storm, setting fire to the buildings everywhere. The Hojo troops were shattered and slaughtered relentlessly. Takatoki retreated to his ancestral cemetery at the temple Tosho-ji, and there committed suicide with all the members of his family and some eight hundred officers and men of his army. Thus, Kamakura fell on the 5th of July, 1333, a century and a half after the establishment of the Bakufu by Yoritomo. Many heroic incidents marked the catastrophe and showed the spirit animating the bushi of that epoch. A few of them will find a fitting place here.

*This cliff--Inamura-ga-saki--may be seen at Kamakura to-day. Tradition says that Yoshisada threw his sword into the waves, supplicating the god of the Sea to roll back the water and open a path for the loyal army. At dawn on the following day the tide was found to have receded sufficiently.

HEROIC DEATHS

It has been related above that, when Ashikaga Takauji marched westward from Kamakura, he left his family and his brother-in-law as hostages in the hands of the Bakufu. Subsequently, on the occasion of the assault by Nitta Yoshisada, this brother-in-law (Akabashi Moritoki) resisted stoutly but was defeated at the pass of Kobukoro. He committed suicide, remarking calmly, "It is better to die trusted than to live doubted."


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