Battle of Yashima

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Battle of Yashima
Part of the Genpei War
Yasima.jpg
Nasu no Yoichi firing his famous shot at a fan atop the mast of a Taira ship. From a hanging scroll, Watanabe Museum, Tottori Prefecture, Japan.
Date March 22, 1185
Location Yashima, just off Shikoku in the Seto Inland Sea
Result Minamoto victory
Belligerents
Minamoto clan Taira clan
Commanders and leaders
Minamoto no Yoshitsune Various
Strength
100+ men, 140 ships Unknown

The naval Battle of Yashima took place on March 22, 1185. Following a long string of defeats, the Taira clan retreated to Yashima, today's Takamatsu, just off the coast of Shikoku. Here they had a fortress, and an improvised palace for Emperor Antoku and the imperial regalia, which they had taken earlier in the war.

Minamoto no Yoshitsune, setting out from Kyoto after a lull of several months in the war, found his way to Shikoku with a small force, no more than about a hundred men. Most of his ships were destroyed or lost in a storm only days before; but he was re-supplied by an ally, Kajiwara Kagetoki.

The Taira were expecting a naval attack, and so Yoshitsune lit bonfires on Shikoku, essentially in their rear, fooling the Taira into believing that a large force was approaching on land. They abandoned the fortress/palace, and took to their ships, along with Emperor Antoku and the imperial regalia. In a memorable account in the Heike monogatari, the Taira supposedly placed a fan atop the mast of one of their ships, and dared the Minamoto to knock it off. In one of the most famous archery feats in all of Japanese history, Nasu no Yoichi rode out into the sea on horseback, and did just that in one shot. The Minamoto were victorious, but the majority of the Taira fleet escaped to Dan-no-ura, where they were defeated one month later in the Battle of Dan-no-ura.

References[edit]

  • Sansom, George (1958). A History of Japan to 1334. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
  • Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co.