Battle of Kanōguchi
Date: 9/22 of Tenbun 13 (1544) or 9/22 of Tenbun 16 (1547)
Location: Inoguchi in the area below Inabayama Castle in Mino Province
Outcome: After an invasion into Mino by the combined forces of the Oda and Asakura, the attackers were caught off-guard by the Saitō and suffered a major defeat with many casualties.
The Battle of Kanōguchi occurred either on 9/22 of Tenbun 13 (1544) or 9/22 of Tenbun 16 (1547). The battle was waged between Oda Nobuhide (along with Asakura Takakage and Toki Yoriaki) and Saitō Dōsan at Inoguchi in Mino Province. This event is also known as the Battle of Inoguchi.
Course of events
According to an authoritative account of Nobunaga known as the Shinchō-kōki, on 9/3, Oda Nobuhide urged soldiers from across Owari Province to gather and proceeded to invade Mino Province. On 9/22, the forces set fires and burned down villages around the base of the mountain on which stood Inabayama Castle, the home base of Saitō Dōsan and then approached the entrance to the town below the castle. However, when the forces ceased their raid around 4:00 PM and half of them retreated, Dōsan launched an attack. Caught off-guard, the Oda forces were unable to organize their defenses. A total of 5,000 forces were killed including Nobuhide’s younger brother, Oda Nobuyasu, and a chief retainer of Nobunaga named Aoyama Nobumasa.
Meanwhile, in the chronicles of Mino Province, the details state, on 8/15 of Tenbun 13 (1544), Nobuhide (who despised Toki Yoriaki, the military governor of Mino, for his treachery) acted in concert with Asakura Takakage of Echizen to invade Mino from the north and south. Nobuhide was said to have led over 5,000 soldiers in the invasion. Under attack from two directions, Dōsan proposed a settlement. However, the Oda and Asakura did not trust Dōsan, and, on 8/15 of Tenbun 16 (1547), caused Toki Yoriaki and Toki Yorizumi to revolt from Ōga Castle. The combined forces of the Oda and Asakura attempted to support them, but Dōsan preempted this action by having 13,000 soldiers launch an assault and topple the castle. Yorizumi charged out of the castle only to be killed in action while Yoriaki escaped to Ichijōdani through the assistance of the Asakura.
Uncertainties regarding the year of the battle
Certain accounts place this battle in 1547. Meanwhile, other records designate 1544. There is a copy of a prohibition issued by Oda Takenaga dated in the ninth month of 1544 in the Ryūshō Temple in Mino. According to the account of Tani Sōboku, a renga artist, he traveled to Nagoya Castle in the tenth month of 1544, and met with Nobuhide just after Nobuhide had incurred a major defeat in Mino. Historical records of Gifu prefecture set the battle in 1547 while those of the city of Gifu designate 1544. Moreover, records of the town of Kanō indicate that Nobuhide launched attacks below Inabayama Castle in both 1544 and 1547, each time losing to Dōsan. These sources further indicate that Nobuyasu and the 5,000 troops were lost in 1547.
Competing forces and losses
As noted above, according to the Shinchō-kōki, the Oda lost 5,000 men. Based on other accounts, 2,000 men from the Bishū group (another name for Owari) died in battle. In a letter from a chief retainer of Dōsan named Nagai Kyūbei (Hidemoto) addressed to Mizuno Jūrōzaemon, he states that out of an army of 25,000 to 26,000 led by Oda Nobuhide, Asakura Takakage, and Toki Yorizumi, the Saitō killed 500 to 600 men, whereupon 2,000 to 3,000 of the Oda forces fleeing in defeat drowned in the Kiso River, while Nobuhide returned home with only six or seven soldiers. In another account, Nobuhide returned alone. In any case, the Oda army suffered a major defeat, although it states in the Shinchō-kōki that Nobuhide deployed to Mikawa in the following month.
In the wake of this bitter defeat of the Oda, a senior retainer of Nobuhide named Hirate Masahide arranged for the marriage between Nobuhide’s eldest son, Oda Nobunaga, and Dōsan’s daughter, Kichō (Nōhime), to forge a political alliance between the families.
Afterwards, an Oda tomb was built to honor those who died in the battle. The remains were later moved to the Entoku Temple in Mino.