Siege of Tottori

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Siege of Tottori
Part of the Sengoku period
Date May 1581
Location Tottori Castle, Tamba Province (present-day Tottori, Tottori Prefecture, Japan)
Result Siege succeeds
Territorial
changes
Castle falls to Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Belligerents
forces of Oda Nobunaga Mōri clan
Commanders and leaders
Hashiba Hideyoshi Kikkawa Tsuneie Surrendered 

The Siege of Tottori Castle occurred in 1581 and was part of Oda Nobunaga's campaign to consolidate his power in western Honshu in an effort to unite Japan during the late 16th century. The siege was fought between Hashiba Hideyoshi, a Oda clan general, against a garrison under an ally of the Mōri clan. It is one of the few cases in which starvation tactics were used towards the successful completion of a siege during the Sengoku Period in Japanese history. The siege lasted up to 200 days.

Background[edit]

Tottori Castle (鳥取城 Tottori-jō?) was key to the Mōri clan's defense of their inner provinces against the encroachment of Oda Nobunaga.

In late 1580, as part of his campaign to extend Nobunaga's domain to the west Hashiba Hideyoshi moved north from his new base in Harima and by 1581 entered Inaba province on the Sea of Japan wherein his forces encountered Tottori. The yamashiro (mountain) castle, built into the mountain itself, was owned by the Yamana clan under Yamana Toyokuni, but had passed to the Mori and was guarded by their retainer, Kikkawa Tsuneie. Hideyoshi made efforts to negotiate with Tsuneie, but the Mori retainer was resolved to hold onto the castle and keep it from falling into Oda hands.

Siege[edit]

The siege began when Hideyoshi opted to cut off the castle's supplies and starve the garrison out. To this end, Hideyoshi drove the local villagers within the walls of the castle and all the approaches to Tottori were covered by erecting towers every 500 meters around the perimeter. Hideyoshi even went as far as purchasing all the available rice in Inaba province at several times the market price to aid in the process of breaking the resolve of the garrison.

Though the defenders held out for some time their food stores began to run low and were reduced to consuming all of the horses they had on hand. When these were gone, the defenders resorted to eating grass and rumored to be on the verge of cannibalism. Any emaciated defenders who attempted to flee the castle were picked off by arquebusiers.

After enduring 200 days, the siege ended when the lord of the castle, Kikkawa Tsuneie, surrendered and agreed to commit suicide. In spite of the garrison surviving the siege many perished from overeating when they gorged on the food provided to them when released into Hideyoshi's care.

Aftermath[edit]

Hashiba Hideyoshi would return to his base at Himeji in Harima and continue westward along the San'yōdō through Bizen and into Mori-controlled Bitchu province, where in 1582 he would besiege the castle of Takamatsu.

References[edit]

  • Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. London: Cassell & Co. 
  • Turnbull, Stephen (2010). 'Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Command)'. Osprey Publishing.