The Battle for the Sundered Realm - Aftermath

The Battle for Sekigahara

The Battle of Sekigahara was decisive victory. A "heads inspection" was performed at Lord Tokugawa's final encampment just north of Sekigahara along the Hokkoku Road, where he viewed the nearly 40,000 enemy heads taken in battle. Within three days, Lord Ishida Mitsunari was captured in the area of Mount Ibuki and taken to Kyoto with other captive leaders of the Western Army. All were executed on the river bed within a matter of days. Having cleared the path to become the next shogun, Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu sat back on his stool and mused to those in his presence, "After victory, tighten the cords of your helmet."

The Battle of Sekigahara represented the last great leap out of generations of bitter civil warfare in Japan. First and foremost, it established Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu as hegemon over all Japan and ended any claim to supremacy by the Toyotomi family. He permitted the young Toyotomi Hideyori and his mother Yodogimi to retain his residence in Osaka Castle along with 650,000 koku of land in three nearby provinces, but he confiscated the domains of some ninety daimyo outright and reduced the land holdings of many others. Before Sekigahara, all the daimyo had submitted to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Now, they would have to submit to Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Tokugawa Ieyasu spent the next three years establishing the foundations for a new form of government in Japan. The Tokugawa family made many enemies in their ascent to power. An unsuccessful assassination attempt against Tokugawa Ieyasu following a banquet to celebrate his victory at Sekigahara, left no doubt about the depth of the opposition.

In 1603, Lord Tokugawa realized his life-long ambition when the Imperial Court assigned him the honored title of Shogun. Thus began the Tokugawa Shogunate. The Tokugawa family sustained a dynasty of fifteen Shoguns and remained the governing power in Japan until 1868, supported by the descendants of the original daimyo warlords.

The last of the three great "unifiers" of sixteenth century Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu became the first shogun in 150 years to exercise the real power of the office. After establishing his new government in Edo, the new shogun set about building a new ruling government, one that sharply defined the foundation of future political relationships in Japan. Putting politics and loyalties aside, he wisely recognized the many skills and management systems the daimyo used to build and maintain their territories and saw the potential of incorporating these well-managed domains under his rule. The Tokugawa Shogunate operated under the baku-han system, which uniquely blended the best of the traditional centralized bakufu, or "tent government" of the shogun, with the local administrative duties of the daimyo's domain, or han. The shogun held national authority and the daimyo held regional authority.

Today the battle of Sekigahara, the uniting battle of Japan still captures the imagination of the Japanese people and foreigners alike. There is a yearly festival and reinactment of the battle each year in late October. There have been many movies and shows made about the battle and it has also insipired many books and manga.

Ashigaru

Conscripted foot-soldiers of medieval Japan.

Daimyo

Regional ruler, similar to a duke.

Emperor

Spiritual ruler of Japan. He kept no armies.

Oda Nobunaga

The initiator of the unification of Japan under the rule of the shogun.

Samuari

The warrior class of Japan.

Shogun

Chief military commander of Japan.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

The founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan which ruled from 1600 until 1868.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

A daimyo who unified the political factions of Japan after succeeding Oda Nobunaga.

Toyotomi Hideyori

The sun and successor of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

Glossary

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