First Siege of Taka Castle

第一次高城合戦

Ōtomo Clan

Hyūga Province

Shimazu Clan

Date:  Tenth month of Tenshō 6 (1578)

Location:  Taka Castle in the Niiroin area of the Koyu District of Hyūga Province

Synopsis:  Ōtomo Yoshishige of Bungo invaded Hyūga from the north, laying siege to Niiroin-Taka Castle defended by a retainer of the Shimazu clan.  Although the garrison was initially outnumbered, the arrival of forces led by Shimazu Yoshihisa drew the Ōtomo into the Battle of Mimikawa that ended in their defeat.

Lord:  Ōtomo Yoshishige (Sōrin)

Commanders:  Unknown

Forces:  60,000

Losses:  Unknown

Lord:  Shimazu Yoshihisa

Commanders:  Shimazu Iehisa, Yoshitoshi Tadazumi, Kamata Masachika, Hisajima Kunisada, Yamada Arinobu (lord of the castle)

Forces:  1,500 to 3,000

Losses:  Unknown

The First Siege of Taka Castle occurred in the tenth month of Tenshō 6 (1578) at Taka Castle in an area known as Niiroin in the Koyu District of Hyūga Province in Kyūshū.  The battle was waged between the Ōtomo army of Bungo Province and the Shimazu army of Satsuma Province.  The siege of Niiroin-Taka Castle served as a segue to the Battle of Mimikawa in the eleventh month of 1578. 

Background

Hyūga Province was located in-between Bungo Province to the north (the base of the Ōtomo clan) and Satsuma Province to the south (the base of the Shimazu clan) in Kyūshū.  Consequently, as these two powerful armies sought to expand their territories, Hyūga became the stage for battles between them.

The Tsuchimochi clan wielded influence in the northern part of Hyūga dating back to the late Heian period (the end of the twelfth century).  The Tsuchimochi had earlier submitted to the Ōtomo as a means to resist the Itō clan.  However, the Ōtomo army eliminated the Tsuchimochi clan after their betrayal in favor of the Shimazu clan. 

In 1577, the Shimazu army invaded Hyūga from the south and sent the Itō clan fleeing in defeat to Bungo to the north.  In the second month of 1578, Yamada Arinobu, a retainer of the Shimazu, was appointed to serve as the lord of Niiroin-Taka Castle and lord of the manor.

Meanwhile, Ōtomo Yoshishige (the sengoku daimyō of Bungo and the twenty-first head of the Ōtomo clan) sought to recover the former territory of the Itō clan and establish a Christian sanctuary in Hyūga.  Prior to the deployment, in the seventh month of 1578, Yoshishige was baptized by a Jesuit missionary named Francisco Cabral and adopted the name of Don Francisco, becoming an advocate of the Christian faith.

Course of events

In the tenth month of 1578, Yoshishige commenced the invasion of Hyūga, leading 60,000 troops across the Mimi River and, on 10/11, arriving at the Kokkōbaru Plain near Taka Castle.  Initially, the garrison in the castle totaled only 300 soldiers, but after forces led by Shimazu Iehisa, Yoshitoshi Tadazumi, Kamata Masachika, and Hishijima Kunisada pulled back from the Mimi River to the castle, the number rose to between 1,500 and 3,000 men.  On 10/20, the Ōtomo army began its assault on the castle.

Around 7:00 AM, the Ōtomo army approached the neighborhood below the castle and burned down over 100 residences while shooting arrows toward the castle. Around noon, additional forces joined in the assault, but were repelled with arquebus fire from the defenders and forced to temporarily pull back.  Around 6:00 PM, the first castle gate was breached and the Ōtomo forces pressed forward to the second gate, but were repelled again by arquebus fire.

During this engagement, the water supply to the castle was severed, but water gushed from below an old hedge, enabling the defenders a workaround for their water needs.  Thereafter, the Ōtomo changed their strategy to a siege, after which they only shot arrows in response to the firing from the garrison. 

On 11/12, conflict erupted between the Ōtomo and Shimazu armies that had arrived on the shores of the Takagi River.  As the Ōtomo army traversed the Tanseto and Takagi rivers, these forces were attacked by Shimazu Yoshihisa, Shimazu Yoshihiro, and Shimazu Mochihisa.  In an effort to maintain their formations, the Ōtomo soldiers attempted to retreat to their main base, upon which they were attacked by soldiers charging out of Taka Castle.  As a result, the Ōtomo suffered a defeat in an event known as the Battle of Mimikawa.

Anecdotes

The grave of Kitagō Hisamori, a retainer of the Shimazu killed during the battle, resides in present-day Shimozuru in the town of Kijō in Miyazaki Prefecture.  There is no conclusive evidence that his forces pretended to flee in defeat.  In the course of the battle, forces led by Shimazu Mochihisa from the position on Oisezaka attacked from the flank.  To maintain their formations, as the Ōtomo army retreated in the direction of Bungo, some of the units lost soldiers to drowning in an abyss known as Dakekugafuchi.  There are no details of the conflict in the records of the Satsuma domain so the account is not authenticated.