Samurai Gaiden: Siege of Arai (Updated)

You may have heard of Ise Shinkuro, if not by that name then by the one he received posthumously, Hojo Soun. Back when he was still known as a member of the Ise family he ruled over the provinces of Izu and Sagami. His expansionism put him at odds with the Miura clan, mostly because they were the next stepping stone to Ise’s expansion.

The Miura ruled over the area that shared their name, the Miura peninsula. You see the Miura were ruled by Miura Yoshiatsu, also known as Dosun. Dosun was the son of Uesugi Takamasa.

Arai Castle, also known as Misako Castle.

Arai Castle, also known as Misako Castle.

 

Dosun had been adopted by the childless ruler of the peninsula, Miura Tokitaka; at this time, follow along with me, Uesugi Yoshiatsu became Miura Yoshiatsu. However some years later, Tokitaka had a natural son of his own.

This put Yoshiatsu at odds with his adoptive father, because now Tokitaka’s son, Miura Takanori was named heir to the Miura clan. Yoshiatsu was forced to take up the tonsure and become a Buddhist monk; this is likely when he took his name Miura Dosun that we will be referring to him as for the rest of this episode.

Dosun, however, found an opportunity one night, and he gathered his loyalists to attack his adoptive father at their castle in Arai. In the night raid Dosun and his men managed to kill both Tokitaka and young Takanori.

Fast forward to the present, well, the present as of 1512 and Ise Shinkuro now owns the old Shogunal capital of Kamakura. War between the Miura and the Ise are brewing. The Miura rule from their two major castles, Arai, the old home of the Miura, and Okazaki. Dosun controlled Okazaki and his son, Miura Yoshimoto, their hereditary capital at Arai.

Ise attacked Okazaki and the elder Miura was not able to hold him off. The castle fell relatively quickly and Dosun fled with his remnants to his son’s castle, Arai. Ise was fast on his heels and besieged Arai, which was a far more imposing castle than Okazaki had been.

Dosun and Yoshimoto holed up in Arai waiting for their allies to come to their rescue. And sure enough the Ota clan marched to their aid…at which point they were soundly thrashed by Ise Shinkuro. Thrashed so bad that their own lord, Ota Sukeyasu, died in the fighting.

With no allies remaining, the Miura continued to hold out at Arai, hoping that Ise would eventually figure the castle wasn’t worth taking. The siege began in 1512.

Does this guy look like he half-asses anything?

1513 came and went…1514…1515…1516…

So four years of surrounding and skirmishing at Arai and finally Shinkuro had cleared away everything else in the peninsula. It was time to end the war between the Ise and the Miura. Records suggest that the Miura had around 6,000 troops, however this may have been what they marched into Arai with and not what remained after being under siege for four years.

Either way, the Ise had them outnumbered with 9,000 troops. Ise Shinkuro, possibly feeling that he was nearing the end of his life and didn’t want to leave the task of tearing down Arai to his son, Ise Ujitsuna, ordered the castle to be assaulted.

So the Ise breached the gates, they climbed the walls, they assaulted the Miura ferociously. The battle was certainly not moving in the Miura’s favor. Dosun retired to his inner chambers and committed seppuku. He sliced open his belly and was beheaded by a trusted retainer, perhaps even his son.

Yoshimoto however, felt that impaling your own abdomen and eviscerating yourself wasn’t badass enough for him.

He drew his sword, swung it around, and decapitated himself. Quite an imposing display for the encroaching Ise troops to witness. Not imposing enough to keep them from capturing the castle, of course. But still pretty badass.

The grave of the Miura family.

The grave of the Miura family.

Ultimately Arai become Ise Shinkuro’s last big hurrah.

By the time that Arai fell, or shortly thereafter, Shinkuro had already retired in favor of his son Ise Ujitsuna. Shinkuro died a few years later, in 1519, and Ujitsuna took over the Ise clan, eventually renaming it the Hojo clan.

So that’s the story of the war between the Hojo, well the Ise at the time, and the Miura clan; culminating in the Siege of Arai Castle and Miura Yoshimoto boldly beheading himself.

~RCS

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