Battle of Shizugatake

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Battle of Shizugatake
Part of the Sengoku period
Battle of Shizugatake.jpg
Ukiyo-e print of the Battle of Shizugatake by Utagawa Toyonobu
DateMay 1583
Shizugatake, Ōmi Province, near Lake Biwa
Result Hashiba Hideyoshi victory
forces of Hashiba Hideyoshi forces loyal to Oda Nobutaka
Commanders and leaders
Hashiba Hideyoshi,
Katō Kiyomasa,
Fukushima Masanori
Shibata Katsuie,
Sakuma Morimasa,
Maeda Toshiie
50,000 men 27,000 men

The Battle of Shizugatake (賤ヶ岳の戦い, Shizugatake no Tatakai) was a battle in Sengoku period Japan between supporters of Hashiba Hideyoshi and Oda Nobutaka. George Sansom states it "must be regarded as one of the decisive battles in Japanese history."[1]


In May 1583, a former general of Nobunaga's named Shibata Katsuie coordinated a number of simultaneous attacks on Shizugatake, a series of forts held by Hideyoshi's generals, Iwasaki-yama, Tagami, and Shizugatake, the latter held by Nakagawa Kiyohide. Takayama Ukon was another defender. Sakuma Morimasa attacked these forts on orders from Shibata Katsuie, Iwasaki-yama fell and Nakagawa was killed, but Shizugatake's defenses held. On hearing that Hideyoshi had made camp at Ōgaki with a large mounted force of 20,000, Shibata Katsuie ordered Sakuma Morimasa to withdraw his troops to Ōiwa. Sakuma, however, did not heed his lord's orders, calculating the castle would have fallen before Hideyoshi's army could arrive.[1][2]

Hideyoshi was assumed to be at least three days away. However, Hideyoshi led his men on a forced march through the night, covering nearly 50 miles in 6 hours, and linked up with the defenders of Tagami. Sakuma ordered his men to break the siege lines and prepare to defend themselves.[2][1]

Pursuit and victory[edit]

Hideyoshi's army pushed Sakuma's forces into a rout and pursued them back to Shibata Katsuie's fortress at Kitanosho Castle (Fukui) in Echizen Province. They seized the castle after three days, but not before Shibata set the keep on fire and died along with his family, committing seppuku.[1][2][3]


Hideyoshi's chief seven generals in the battle at Shizugatake earned a great degree of fame and honor, and came to be known as the shichi-hon yari or "Seven Spears" of Shizugatake. Among these generals were men who would later become some of Hideyoshi's closest retainers, such as Katō Kiyomasa.[2]

Top of Mount Shizu and Lake Yogo


  1. ^ a b c d Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan, 1334-1615. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p. 311-313. ISBN 0804705259.
  2. ^ a b c d Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co. p. 234. ISBN 9781854095237.
  3. ^ Turnbull, S.R. (1977). The Samurai. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. pp. 168–171. ISBN 0026205408.
  • Black, Jeremy (2008). Great Military Leaders and their Campaigns Thamsen & Hudson Ltd, London