Do you know one of the most famous, decisive and historical battle happened in 1600 in Japan?
This is the Battle of Sekigahara(関ケ原の戦い), in which the eastern and western armies fought, resulting in the victory of the east side.
It’s also known that the victory triggered a drastic social change; the establishment of Edo bakufu(江戸幕府) in 1603.
For those who love to study Japanese history, Sekigahara, located in Gifu prefecture, is possibly one of the most attractive spots to visit.
Today, I’m introducing the things about the Battle of Sekigahara, and some sightseeing information about Sekigahara.
Knowing things about Sekigahara, you’ll have many times more fun!
１. Things to know before visiting Sekigahara(関ケ原)
Before visiting Sekigahara(関ケ原), enrich your knowledge about the Battle of Sekigahara!
After the death of Hideyoshi Toyotomi(豊臣秀吉), who had unified the whole country, the two groups in the government carried out the politics in the late Azuchi-Momoyama period(安土桃山時代).
The one was Toyotomi-Gotairou(豊臣五大老), which leader was Ieyasu Tokugawa(徳川家康), and the other was Toyotomi-Gobugyou(豊臣五奉行).
In 1600, the heads of the two groups started fighting in Sekigahara for the purpose of deciding the next leader of Japan.
This is the Battle of Sekigahara(関ケ原の戦い).
The leader of the east was Ieyasu Tokugawa(徳川家康), with the army 74,000 strong, and that of the west side was Mitsunari Ishida(石田三成), with the army 84,000 strong.
The west side fought the battle advantageously not only for the number of army but also for they took up its position in a small mountain which made the east difficult to invade.
However, in the end, the east won the battle.
This is because Hideaki Kobayakawa(小早川秀秋), a shogun in the west side, switched the side at the middle of the battle.
It changed the tide of the battle, and the east started to fight the battle advantageously.
Ohtani Yoshitsugu(大谷吉継), a shogun in the west side, predicted the betrayal, and he was making a counterplot against Kobayakawa.
However, Kobayakawa and his followers (some of them betrayed Ohtani and switched their side to the east with Kobayakawa!) fought against Ohtani before being attacked by Ohtani.
The incident affected tremendously the tide of the battle, and the east won as a result.
The Battle of Sekigahara(関ケ原の戦い) started in 15th of September at noon in 1600, and it took only six hours to end the battle.
The victory of the east strengthened the influence of Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康) on the whole country as a result.
２. Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成), the person of the attentive
Though Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成) lost the battle, he is a popular shogun, and many Japanese love him.
Here are several stories about Mitsunari as an attentive person.
When Toyotomi Hideyoshi(豊臣秀吉) went for hunting, he dropped in for tea at a temple.
There, Mitsunari, who was only 10 years old at the time, served three cups of tea for Hideyoshi.
Firstly, Mitsunari served not-too-hot tea, because he thought that the shogun was thirsty and wanted to finish his tea at once.
Secondly, he served a bit hot tea.
The third one was hot, so that the shogun could take time to enjoy having tea and relax.
Hideyoshi was happy and very impressed by the boy’s attentiveness, and at the same time, he decided to accept Mitsunari as a retainer.
Later, and still now, Mitsunari has been known as the most royal shogun to Hideyoshi.
Now, you know why Ishida Mitsunari (石田三成) has been loved for more than 400 years among many people, even though he was defeated!
３. Where is Sekigahara-town?
The battle field of Sekigahara is located in Gifu prefecture, Fuwa Country, Sekigahara town.
Now, I’m telling you one of route to Sekigahara.
The nearest station is JR Sekigahara station, where is closed to the border between Shiga and Gifu prefecture.
From Tokyo, take JR Tokaido Shinkansen (東海道新幹線), and get off at Nagoya station.
From Nagoya station, take a rapid train on Tokaido Line (東海道線快速), and transfer a train at JR Ohgaki station (大垣駅).
At Ohgaki station, get on a local train which is bound for Yonehara.
It takes 13 minutes to get to JR Sekigahara station.
On average, it takes about three hours to get to Sekigahara from Tokyo.
It seems a bit difficult to get there, but you will have a sense of freedom, or will be able to forget daily life!
4. The spot you can’t miss at Sekigahara
I pick up one of the spots that you need to go in Sekigahara, where you can feel as you have time travel to the period when the battle occurred!
* Sekigahara War Land (関ケ原ウォーランド)
The amusement park reproduces the battlefield of Sekigahara!
Here, you can walk around the battlefield in a Japanese traditional armor!
It also has a museum with rich resources about the Battle of Sekigahara.
5. Ekiben, a boxed lunch
For the Japanese, eating an Ekiben(駅弁), a boxed lunch which sells at a station, is one of the favorite things to do when traveling.
At Nagoya station, you can buy an Ekiben which are created as the 400 years of anniversary of the establishment of Edo bakufu, with a picture of the three most famous shoguns in the age of provincial wars, Oda Nobunaga (織田信長), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康).
Because it’s popular, it sometimes sells out at noon.
If you find it, don’t miss it!
How was it?
Small children may not know things about the Battle of Sekigahara, but when they get old, almost all of students learn the battle for the great historical impact on Japan.
You may feel not interested to study history through a textbook or at school, but visiting a historical site will make you easy to understand history.
In this sense, visiting Sekigahara is very beneficial for family with student to enrich his knowledge about the battle and the period, because studying the history about the period is one of the most complicated parts of Japanese history.
If you are now planning a trip to somewhere, why not choose Sekigahara!
I hope you have fun!