Sekigahara was the greatest samurai battle in history. Japan had long been at civil war until brought under the rule of Oda Nobunaga, and then, following his death at the hands of a traitorous general, that of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It was Hideyoshi who completed the unification of Japan and ushered in a period of peace. After Hideyoshi died in 1598, a power struggle emerged between those loyal to the Toyotomi, and those who supported the second most powerful warlord, Tokugawa Ieyasu. With Hideyoshi gone, Ieyasu made moves that brought the ire of a number of his contemporaries, and soon the entire country was divided into two great armies, East and West. Leading the loyalist cause was Ishida Mitsunari, who gathered a force of around 130,000 samurai, while the Tokugawa commanded just 80,000. Both sides hurried to seize strategically vital highways and castles. These attacks and sieges culminated in the decisive Battle of Sekigahara.
Fought on 21 October 1600, the battle lasted just six hours but saw the deaths of an estimated 30,000 samurai, the destruction of several noble families and the creation of the Tokugawa Shogunate that was to rule Japan for 260 years of relative peace. The loyalist forces were defeated despite their superior numbers and excellent battle formations. In his exploration of the battle, Chris Glenn reveals the developments that led up to the outbreak of war, the characters involved, how the battle itself unfolded, and the aftermath. The weapons and armour of the time are also fully explained, along with the samurai's little-known customs and warfare.
About the author:
Chris Glenn is an Adelaide, Australia, born bilingual radio DJ, TV presenter, helicopter pilot, narrator, historian, lecturer and copywriter. He first visited Japan as a Rotary Exchange Student in 1985, spending a year in Sapporo, returning to Japan in 1992. A researcher of samurai history and culture, he is a member of the Japan Armor and Weapons Research and Preservation Society and the Japan Castle Research Society. He was apprenticed to a traditional samurai armour craftsman from 1994 and is a collector of samurai arms and armour. Chris holds Shodan rank in Kendo and studied traditional combat techniques Owari Yagyu Shinkage and Enmei Ryu Kobudo. A resident of Nagoya, Japan, since 1993, he has served as the Sekigahara Tourism Ambassador, the Nagoya Tourism, Cultural and Exchange Special Ambassador, and the Omi Tourism Ambassador. He has had numerous books on Japanese castles and battles published in Japanese and English. Called upon various local and national government agencies as an advisor and committee member, he remains active in researching, preserving and promoting Japanese history and culture.
- 'The Battle of Sekigahara' retraces Japan's historic samurai conflict (Japan Times, 5 February 2022)