Magara Naotaka


Magara Clan


Echizen Province

Lifespan:  Tenbun 5 (1536) to 6/28 of Genki 1 (1570)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Magara

Lord:  Asakura clan

Siblings:  Naotaka, Naozumi

Children:  Takamoto

Magara Naotaka served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was a retainer of the Asakura clan of Echizen Province.  In the northern region, he was none as a powerful warrior and is referenced numerous times in military chronicles.  He had a younger brother, Magara Naozumi.  Under one theory, the historical accounts refer to the same individual.

Originating as a kokujin , or landowner in the Magara manor in Echizen, Naotaka became a guest commander of the Asakura clan.  He kept his residence in upper Magara; however, within the Asakura family, the Magara clan, along with the Horie clan and others, were from a kokujin class strongly oriented toward land ownership and independence.  Until Ashikaga Yoshiaki came to Echizen for protection, these clans exhibited their subservience to the Asakura, but only bore a portion of the military burden and did not serve as dedicated retainers of the Asakura.

Naotaka was known within the Asakura family for excelling in the military arts, riding atop a black deerskin on his horse and wielding a massive long sword in battle that was 175 centimeters in length.  When Ashikaka Yoshiaki (the fifteen and final shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) arrived at the main base of the Asakura clan in Ichijōdani for protection under Asakura Yoshikage (a sengoku daimyō and the eleventh and final head of the Asakura clan), Naotaka displayed his physical prowess by readily swinging his long sword above his head dozens of times in front of Yoshiaki.  In a similar show of strength, Naotaka’s son, Magara Takamoto, was said to have hurled black egg-shaped boulders into the air dozens of times in front of Yoshiaki.

In the sixth month of 1570, at the Battle of Anegawa, Naotaka fought valiantly against the allied forces of the Oda and Tokugawa.  However, as the tide turned against the allied forces of the Asakura and Azai, Naotaka sought to rescue some allied soldiers by charging the Tokugawa forces on his horse, slashing his way through eight of twelve layers of defenses.  Nevertheless, exhausted after being attacked by the Kōsaka brothers, he gave himself up to be slayed by the enemy forces.  At this time, the sword used by the Kōsaka brothers to kill Naotaka was famously named the Magara Slayer.  Naotaka’s younger brother (Magara Naozumi) along with Naotaka’s son (Takamoto) who were known to be fierce warriors themselves also died in this battle.  However, after the elimination of the Asakura clan, there is a letter from Niwa Nagahide dated in 1583 addressed to Magara Kasuke to recognize his rights to a fief so it is surmised that some members of the Magara family survived after the battle.

His long sword is kept at the Atsuta Shrine Museum in Nagoya.  There is a theory that the long sword in the museum belonged to Naozumi whereas Naotaka’s sword is in the Shirayamahime Shrine.