Siege of Kamakura (1333)
|Siege of Kamakura|
|Part of the Genkō War|
|Forces loyal to Emperor Go-Daigo||Hōjō clan|
|Commanders and leaders|
|Nitta Yoshisada||Hōjō Mototoki, Hōjō Takatoki, Hōjō Sadaaki, Hōjō Moritoki|
The 1333 siege of Kamakura was a battle of the Genkō War, and marked the end of the power of the Hōjō clan, which had dominated the regency of the Kamakura shogunate for over a century. Forces loyal to Emperor Go-Daigo and led by Nitta Yoshisada entered the city from multiple directions and destroyed it; in the end, the Hōjō leaders retreated to Tōshō-ji, the Hōjō family temple, where they committed suicide with the rest of the clan.
For ten days, Nitta had been leading the imperial loyalists on a rapid cross country campaign before reaching the outskirts of Kamakura. After the Battle of Bubaigawara ended two days prior, the Hōjō forces rushed back to Kamakura to consolidate defenses. Nitta aggressively pursued and divided his forces into three prongs, thus completely surrounding the landward sides of the city. Only the seaward side, which was fortified by Hōjō ships, remained open.
The Battle for Kamakura
The hills surrounding the shogunal capital of Kamakura contained seven passes, (the so-called Seven Entrances or Mouths), each with guarded checkpoints. Nitta Yoshisada attacked from the east and the north through the Gokuraku Pass, the Kewaizaka Pass and the Kamegayatsu Pass, dividing his forces in three. However, after many hours of fighting, little progress had been made towards the city, particularly on the western passes near Gokuraku-ji, which was guarded with rows upon rows of wooden shielding. Nitta realized the Gokuraku-ji could be bypassed by marching around the cape, where the Inamuragasaki promontory juts out into the water. However, the waters were fortified by Hōjō ships making the approach impossible without heavy losses. According to the chronicles, Nitta threw his sword into the sea as an offering to the Sun Goddess of Ise Amaterasu, and the sea parted as if by a miracle clearing a beach wide enough for Nitta's army to traverse.
Thus the imperial loyalists were able to enter the city, and began to force back the Hōjō forces. The Hōjō were eventually forced to retreat to a cave behind the Tōshō-ji, where they committed suicide.
- McCullough, Helen Craig (1959): pp. 285-311.
- In describing this event, Japanese sources say Nitta Yoshisada prayed to a sea-god or a dragon-god, English sources almost always refer to Sun Goddess Amaterasu. The Taiheiki itself (稲村崎成干潟事) says:
Dismounting from his horse, Yoshisada removed his helmet and prostrating himself across the distant seas prayed to Ryūjin. "It is said that the lord of Japan from the beginning, Amaterasu Ōmikami, enshrined at Ise Jingū, hid herself within a Vairocana and appeared as Ryūjin of the vast blue seas. My lord (Emperor Go-Daigo) is her descendant, and drifts upon waves of the western sea due to rebels. I Yoshisada, in an attempt to serve as a worthy subject, will pick up my axes and face the enemy line. That desire is to aid the nation and bring welfare to the masses. Ryūjin of the Eight Protectorate Gods of the (seven) Inner Seas and the Outer Sea, witness this subject’s loyalty and withdraw the waters afar, open a path to the lines of the three armies.
Yoshisada therefore speaks to Ryūjin who, he has heard, is manifestation of Amaterasu.
- National Geographic Channel Program 3/15/2012 Warrior Graveyard: Samurai Back from the Dead Graves of the Kamakura dead in 1333
- Turnbull, Stephen (1998). 'The Samurai Sourcebook'. London: Cassell & Co.
- McCullough, Helen Craig (1959). "The Taiheiki. A Chronicle of Medieval Japan." 1959. Charles E. Tuttle Company, Tokyo, ISBN 978-0-8048-3538-1.
- Sansom, George (1963). "A history of Japan 1334-1615." Eight Printing (1993). Charles E. Tuttle Company, Tokyo, ISBN 4-8053-0375-1