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Reinterpreting Sekigahara
Topic Started: Jul 15 2018, 09:30 PM (533 Views)
Parallel Pain
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Has anyone with access to Japanese scholarship been following the Sekigahara scholarship these past few years?

I swear a few years ago someone wrote a thesis challenging an aspect of the battle using surviving letters and reports, then someone else wrote another, then someone wrote a book, then next thing you know the entire narrative has been overturned. I was only just rechecking up on it and didn't expect to find the reinterpretation be accepted so fast.

Anyone know how wide the current consensus is?
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Parallel Pain
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I guess not.

Just for everyone's information, here's the new narrative (I'm going to assume everyone's familiar with the traditional narrative so I'm not going to type it out)

1) There was no meeting at Oyama where the other lords decided to follow Ieyasu. This is the only part of the new theory I've seen resistance to, based on the the opinion of some scholars that Ieyasu "should have needed to call a general meeting to ensure the other lords followed him". However no period sources attest to a meeting at Oyama, or even a meeting. Some lords had already been ordered to other places. Fukushima Masanori was in fact already on his way west on the date the meeting at Oyama is supposed to have taken place. The evidence point to that the lords just kept following Ieyasu without a meeting to confirm their loyalty. Even if a meeting actually took place, the traditional depicted meeting at Oyama is impossible (since Fukushima Masanori wasn't anywhere near Oyama).

2) After participating in the taking of Fushimi, Kobayaka Hideaki broke off from the main Western Army without orders and began moving eastward. Sensing treachery, Ōtani Yoshitsugu began shadowing him. However, before the two came to blow, Hideaki deployed on Mount Matsuo, where Mōri contingents that were on their way were supposed to be positioned, also kicking out the tiny place-holder force that was stationed there. Yoshitsugu deployed for a fight with Hideaki. The Western contingents gathered at Ōgaki Castle (Mitsunari, Shimazu Yoshihiro, Ukita Hideie, Konishi Yushinaga, etc) decided to move in support of Yoshitsugu. Ieyasu also followed.

3) This movement resulted in the deployment at Sekigahara with Yoshitsugu and Hideaki facing each other, while the contingent that moved from Ōgaki facing Ieyasu. Skirmishing took place in the fog of the early morning. In mid-morning (10am-ish), general combat began. Ieyasu attacked westwards and Hideaki attacked northwards at about the same time. Caught in a pincer with inferior numbers, and cries of treachery spreading among the ranks, the Western army immediately began to break. By about noon the entire Western army was already running and the Eastern army was in pursuit.

4) The Shimazu contingent did not sit out the battle because of some disagreement in the ranks. They were placed in reserve due to their small number, and there wasn't really a battle for them to "sit out" anyway. When the roads westwards began clogging up from routing allies and pursuing enemies, the Shimazu decided to retreat through an opening in the southeast (around noon).

So basically everything exciting about Ieyasu and the main battle is not real.

There's also some reinterpretation of the political situation before and after the battle, though to my eyes there seems to be less significant changes.
Edited by Parallel Pain, Jul 17 2018, 08:49 AM.
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tercero
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very interesting! do you know what the root if the reinterpretation seems to be? Did it lean on previously overlooked primary sources? Just a general shift in interpreting previous sources?
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Parallel Pain
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As far as I know, this seem to be just an extension of the post-war/post 90s trend of rejecting the popular, traditional narratives that are based on Edo era narrative sources (some of which are fiction) and the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff reports that took these sources without question and also add a lot of unsupported assumptions as fact. Instead, only contemporary sources (letters, administrative documents, reports), and the earliest of narrative sources are used.

It seems the new interpretation is almost completely based on contemporary sources like letters and reports, of which there is a surprisingly lot of.

In Shiramine Jun's book (the book I mentioned in the OP), besides using the contemporary sources, he actually block quotes/translates three narrative sources, one from a year or a few years after the battle, one from 1656, and one from 1713. You can actually see the changes from what's still more-or-less in line with the reinterpretation, to what's more-or-less in line with the traditional depiction. For instance, the earliest narrative sources matches contemporary sources in saying that the Eastern Army after a brief rest moved to Sawayama Castle and placed it under siege the same day of the battle, while the later narrative sources say the Eastern Army moved to Sawayama the day after the battle.

What surprised me is I would think Sekigahara would already have been reinterpreted in this way already, since it was such an important battle. Usually reinterpretations takes years, or even decades of debate and revision for it to become accepted. Yet there seem to be almost no resistance to Sekigahara's reinterpretation, which tells me that the case for the reinterpretation is so strong and the traditional interpretation so weak that no one could really challenge the reinterpretation. I don't agree with all of Shiramine's interpretation. Especially when he tries to reconstruct the face of battle from the viewpoint of the warriors, I think he overstates his case. However, I do agree that most of the reinterpretation that he put forth using primary sources for the campaign and battle for the big players seems pretty solid, and unassailable, as Shiramine block quotes the contemporary sources. I had expected though other scholars who also have access to contemporary sources to challenge the reinterpretation and support the traditional interpretation. I didn't expect it to be so one-sided.

So I was wondering if maybe I'm missing the debate because I don't have access to university scholarship, only Amazon books, news articles, and whatever's on the internet.
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Parallel Pain
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Also note that there are lively debates about Sekigahara that can be seen even just from what I can access right now, but the focus seem to be on the reinterpreters trying to sort out the precise location of battle (seems the focus is to move it from plains of Sekigahara to the mountains just to the west, the Yamanaka area, though it's so close I don't think the distinction matters), and the actual deployment of the two sides. Besides the Oyama case there seem not to be anyone defending the traditional interpretation.
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Harewood
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Interesting stuff. Are the numbers involved on each side, and the detailed breakdown per contingent, still 'safe?'
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Parallel Pain
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Oh no. People have called bullshit on the numbers and breakdown for a long time, so I didn't count that in the reinterpretation. The reason is that the usual number (as copied in Bryant's book and then in Wikipedia), is based estimates either without evidence (for Ieyasu) or a stupid shorthand. Shimazu Yoshihiro wrote that Ieyasu called on his generals to bring 3 men for every 100 koku for the Aizu campaign. This is beyond silly, as there's little possibility that someone like Kuroda Nagamasa, coming all the way from Kyūshū, would have brought the same ratio of troops as Fukushima Masanori, for whom Sekigahara was practically back-yard and could call up reinforcements once the situation becomes clear. And primary sources exist to demonstrate that indeed this wasn't the case (see below). Yet for some reason that is both taken as gospel and applied to both East and West for the IJAGS publication.

What the reinterpretation brought out is people digging out primary sources to try to construct the number and breakdown. So here's where it stands right now:

From Shiramine Jun's book:
According to the report of Fukushima Masanori just before the action at Kiso river and Gifu Castle, about three weeks before the battle of Sekigahara, the Eastern forces gathered in the vicinity were:

Two contingents.
One, lead by Fukushima Masanori, which included:
Fukushima Masanori - 6,500
Hosokawa Tadaoki - 2,000
Katō Yoshiaki - 1,600
Tōdō Takatora - 1,500
Kuroda Nagamasa - 1,300
Kyōgoku Takatomo - 1,500
Tsutsui Sadatsugu - 1,000
Tanaka Yoshimasa - 4,000

Total 19,400

The other, lead by Ikeda Terumasa, which included:
Ikeda Terumasa - 6,500
Asano Yukinaga - 5,000
Horio Tadauji - 4,000
Yamauchi Katsutoyo - 2,600
Arima Toyouji - 2,200
Matsushita Shigetsuna - 1,000

Total 21,300

Not knowing who's contingent is 400 under Nishio Mitsunori.

All together is 41,100.

A report for for the action of Kiso/Gifu says Fukushima Masanori's contingent has two parts: Fukushima Masanori, leading 10,000, and Kuroda Nagamasa and Katō Yoshiaki leading the other, number 15,000.
The total for this is 25,000. As Fukushima Masanori's report prior to battle excluded some known contingent, his team should be considered roughly 25,000.

On the other hand, Ikeda Terumasa's contingent matches what is reported as the contingent he lead to hold in check the Mōri (and Chosokabe) forces in the after-action-report of Sekigahara by Kikkawa Hiroie. So it's probably accurate as is.

So in total, the Eastern contingent at Sekigahara minus Ieyasu's men, assuming not too much total changes from casualties and reinforcements for those three weeks, is 46,300 (between 45,000 and 50,000).

Not from Shiramine Jun's book (the above is all he wrote in the book about the numbers) but from my own digging

According to the Jesuit's report on the battle, the Western army mobilized 80,000 but for a month would not engage the under 30,000 opposite them. Ieyasu came, bringing the total to 50,000 total. This actually matches what Mitsunari, according to his letter to Sanada Masayuki, thought Ieyasu could be bringing, though it might mean Mitsunari was the Jesuits' source. Still, if this is to be believed, then Ieyasu brought with him 20,000 to 25,000 men. It does however underestimate the forces already gathered by 15,000+. Still, if we take 20,000 to 25,000 for Ieyasu, that makes the total at Sekigahara for the Eastern forces 65,000 to 70,000.

For the western forces, in another letter to Sanada Masayuki, Mitsunari lists all the forces available to the Western army. Using those numbers for those who were present at Sekigahara it goes:

Ukita Hideie - 18,000
Ishida Mitsunari - 6,700
Ōtani Yoshitsugu - 1,200
Kinoshita Yoritsugu - 700
Toda Katsushige - 500
Shimazu Yoshihiro - 5,000
Konishi Yukinaga - 6,900 (2,900 himself plus 4,000 others placed under his command)
Kobayakawa Hideaki - 8,000
Wakisaka Yasuharu - 1,200
Ogawa Suketada - 2,500
Chosokabe Morichika - 2,100
Natsuka Masaie - 1,000
Mōri Terumoto - 41,500

The accuracy of these numbers are questionable. They appear to be theoretical, telling Masayuki in early days of the eighth month what the Western forces had available. Late in the eight month (again, just before the action at Kiso/Gifu) in a letter home, Shimazu Yoshihiro complained that Chosokabe was asked to bring 2,000 but brought 5,000, Tachibana Muneshige (didn't participate in the main battle) was asked to bring 1,300 but brought 4,000, while he himself had less than 1000 (better than back early in seventh month when he had 200). Adding some surviving records of more troops joining Shimazu, and he probably reached just under 1,500 for Sekigahara (for once the IJAGS publication isn't off, probably because they did proper calculations for Shimazu from the same available sources). On the other hand, the Mōri number matches what the Jesuits reported, that Terumoto brought 40,000 men to Ōsaka.

Note that these numbers are what's available to the Western forces in general, not what was at Sekigahara. In particular we know not all 41,500 Mōri forces were at Sekigahara (more on that later). Also, in the primary sources Akaza Naoyasu and Kutuski Mototsuna do not appear at Sekigahara.

Ignoring the Mōri for a second, and adding the numbers together.

As reported by Mitsunari, 39,000 men fought with Mitsunari, 11,700 defected, and 3,100 deployed in the mountains to the east (like the Mōri) and so did not fight, for a total of 53,800.

If we adjust the numbers by what Shimazu Yoshihiro reported, the the number becomes, using 1,500 for the Shimazu forces and 5,000 for Chosokabe, the number becomes 35,500 men who fought with Mitsunari and 6,000 who sat out, with no change to the defectors, for 53,200 total.

So the question is how many men the Mōri brought. We know not all 41,500 were there as some (15,000?) were away at besieging Ōtsu while some must have been left at Ōsaka. The Jesuits reported that the Western army gathered 80,000 men in Mino. We're short 26,800 (using Shimazu's adjusted numbers) from that total. Oda Hidenobu who had surrendered at Gifu had 5,300 according to Mitsunari's letter to Masayuki (the traditional number is 6000, which is not unreasonable). Using the list of names from people left at Ōgaki from Kurada clan sources and matched with numbers from Mitsunari's letter, the remaining garrison is at least 4,040 (the traditional number is 7000 to 7500, which is not that unreasonable either). Taking those two away from 26,800 we get 17,460. Adding that to the Shimazu adjusted numbers gives us 70,660 total.

According to Ōta Gyūichi's Naifukō-Gunki, about 20,000 sat out the battle on the mountains to the east. Taking away 6,000 (Chosokabe plus Natsuka), gives us 14,000 for the Mōri.
The Matsudaira Tadaakira's Tōdaiki on the other hand gives 25,000 who sat out, which gives us 19,000 for the Mōri.
The two of them are the among the earliest narrative sources, so should still be somewhat trustworthy.
The 1687 Kuroda clan records on the other hand gives us 23,800 who sat out, making the Mōri 17,800.

So for the combined Mōri forces (Hidemoto, Kikkawa Hiroie, Ankokuji Ekei) at Sekigahara was roughly 17,500, with a range of 14,000 to 19,000 total.

This gives us a rough total 71,000 for the Western army, or a range between roughly 67,000 and 73,000.

Surviving Shimazu sources report that they were heavily outnumbered. This makes sense considering Fukushima Masanori's 25,000, Ieyasu's 20,000 to 25,000, and the defectors 11,700 comes to 56,700 to 61,700 versus 35,500 who fought on the Western side.

Also perhaps not surprisingly, these numbers are less than reported in both traditionally used narrative sources and the IJAGS estimates.
Edited by Parallel Pain, Jul 20 2018, 02:27 PM.
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Harewood
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Very interesting, thanks for taking the time to explain that. Is this re-evaluation part of a greater trend in Japanese historical research? Are more of the classic battles being re-evaluated, in addition to Sekigahara and Nagashino?
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Parallel Pain
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Well I know they did Okehazama before they did Nagashino

I think. I'm not actually sure which one they did first.

There's also a lot of argument on whether or not to throw out the traditional depiction of 4th Kawanakajima. I think also no one really think Kawagoe happened the way traditionally depicted, though we have no other sources.
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Harewood
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Okehazama? How does that differ from the standard version we have in the West?
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Parallel Pain
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Ignoring the nitty gritty details, but in general:

1) Imagawa Yoshimoto was a super competent lord, not a bumbling fool

2) Yoshimoto was not marching for Kyōto

3) Yoshimoto was encamped on top of a hill, which Nobunaga ended up having to attack up of. Yoshimoto was not caught traveling in a ravine.

3) Nobunaga did not ambush Yoshimoto

4) Under cover of the rain, Nobunaga launched a frontal attack. He caught unawares a contingent who were exhausted from assaulting nearby forts that morning and drove them to flight, pursuing them. The routing troops snowballed into other unexpecting troops all the way to Yoshimoto's camp. Nobunaga had not planned to nor expected to end up fighting Yoshimoto's contingent.

5) In the snowballing route, Yoshimoto's bodyguards put up a valiant fight trying to cover his retreat before they were cut down. Yoshimoto was not caught so unawares that he was drunk and thought the fighting outside was his own troops arguing.

6) Nobunaga did not win by doing a surprise attack through some hidden mountain route. Yoshimoto lost because the terrain (and maybe his own overconfidence) forced him to place his contingents too far apart for them to support each other, and just some god awful luck.

7) Neither battlefield parks (there's one in Nagoya and one in Toyoake cities) were where the combat between Nobunaga and Yoshimoto's guards took place, though one of them was probably where Yoshimoto was killed trying to escape.

This video is very close to my interpretation of the current state of the research (well, considering I edited the script...)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmlFnt1pmKE
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hashiba_hideyoshi
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What's this about the scholarship? Is that a study program? Online lecture?

Parallel Pain
Jul 21 2018, 09:07 PM
2) Yoshimoto was not marching for Kyōto

Interesting. So, what was he actually doing? The vid linked still says Yoshimoto was marching to Kyoto.
Edited by hashiba_hideyoshi, Aug 9 2018, 12:44 AM.
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Parallel Pain
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No it said the common explanation is he's marching to Kyoto, but it's wrong. Watch the video again.
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hashiba_hideyoshi
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My bad. Since the narrator said that AFTER saying Yodhimoto was intending to rescue his forts, I thought it was part of the Kyoto thing.

Anyway, going back to Sekigahara. Do you maybe still remember who wrote the book? Was it just the one guy or were there multiple books about similar issues that came out?
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Parallel Pain
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新解釈 関ヶ原合戦の真実 脚色された天下分け目の戦い

The book is sitting on my shelf, so I do still remember it :read: .
The author is Shiramine Jun, professor at Beppu University. He's leading the reinterpretation, though other scholars are following.
Edited by Parallel Pain, Aug 10 2018, 06:59 AM.
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hashiba_hideyoshi
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Thanks.

"Reinterpretation" is really a thing nowadays, eh. Akechi Kenzaburou's "reinterpreting Honnouji" book has been trending for a while too.
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Parallel Pain
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Eh. I don't really like non-professionals who try to play up their own ancestors. Gives me headache with the whole Tenkai is Mitsuhide thing, though admittedly not Kenzaburo. Suzuki Masaya too when he talks about Saikat mercenaries.

Both Ota Gyuichi and Frois says Mitsuhide is a pragmatic realist and ruthlessly ambitious. Why keep saying he was conservative trying to protect something. I also don't see any evidence for Nobunaga replacing the emperor.

Except Chosokabe, which there's letter from before the incident for. Although I guess that counts as reinterpretation too.
Edited by Parallel Pain, Aug 12 2018, 04:16 PM.
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Bethetsu
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Parallel Pain
Aug 12 2018, 03:47 PM
Both Ota Gyuichi and Frois says Mitsuhide is a pragmatic realist and ruthlessly ambitious. Why keep saying he was conservative trying to protect something. I also don't see any evidence for Nobunaga replacing the emperor.
Mitsuhide himself said that his only reason was to promote his son-in-law Hokokawa Tadaoki (我等不慮乃儀存立候事、忠興なと取立可申とての儀ニ候、更無別条候), and to back it up he even offered the Hosokawas their choice of Settsu or Tajima and Wakasa. Maybe we should take that with a lump of salt. However, he did not claim he was protecting the emperor or any noble cause.
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Parallel Pain
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Yep.

So I mistakenly thought Kenzaburo's hypothesis was the protect the emperor.
Just checking up, his hypothesis mainly focuses on supposedly Nobunaga ordered Mitsuhide to attack Tokugawa Ieyasu once he's called to Honnoji, and then take the Tokugawa lands, because apparently he hates being transferred outside the Kinai. Also to prevent Nobunaga from eventually carrying out an attack on China (like Hideyoshi's Korean campaigns). Apparently the reason Nobunaga's unprepared is because he thought Mitsuhide was coming to kill Ieyasu.

Anyway it doesn't seem to have much academic support because it rest on too many unproven hypothesis that don't match with the evidence. Not surprisingly.
Personally I'd buy the hypothesis to protect the court and emperor over this one.
Edited by Parallel Pain, Aug 14 2018, 09:13 AM.
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Bethetsu
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Parallel Pain
Aug 14 2018, 08:01 AM
supposedly Nobunaga ordered Mitsuhide to attack Tokugawa Ieyasu once he's called to Honnoji,
Frois's History says, "Before they entered the capital [Akechi] said he wanted to let Nobunaga see what a splendid army he was leading against Môri, so everyone should place their 'serpe' at the 'espengaruta' 火縄銃 [this apparently means to have fire burning for shooting the firearms]….The soldiers began to wonder what in the world this was all about, and thought that probably Akechi on orders from Nobunaga intended to kill Nobunaga's brother-in-law, the lord of Mikawa."

So it is not a completely wild idea, but there is no evidence that Nobunaga gave such an order. By the way, they did well to come all that way on a moonless night.
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Parallel Pain
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Yeah I read that.

The problem is Kenzaburo taking what is clearly described as the soldiers' wild guesses in the confusion of not knowing why they're suddenly going to the capital and using that as evidence that Nobunaga actually had ordered Mitsuhide to kill Ieyasu.

I would even say Frois passage is stronger evidence that Nobunaga didn't give such an order, than he did, as the purpose of the passage was to describe that the soldiers were so confused as to make wild guesses, not Nobunaga's plans were so transparent lowly foot soldiers figured out what it was.
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