The Battle of Agincourt's "Japanese version" — Shimazu Iehisa greater than Henry V !?

Jul 2018
Hong Kong
The Battle of Agincourt's "Japanese version" — Shimazu Iehisa greater than Henry V !?


Kyushu (九州) was one of the most intensely-contested region embroiled with constant warfare between the major clans in the Japanese Sengoku Era.

In AD 1584, the known “Fat Bear of Hizen” (肥前の熊) Ryuzoji Takanobu (龍造寺隆信) led 30,000 troops into the Shimabara Peninsula (島原半島). His vassal lord who ruled the Shimabara region, Arima Harunobu (有馬晴信) rebelled against him, thus Takanobu determined to destroy the Arima clan by a punitive expedition. Harunobu knew that his strength was far too weak to against the mighty Ryuzoji, thus seek his ally Shimazu Yoshihisa (島津義久) of the Satsuma Province (薩摩國) for aid.

However, the Shimazu main force was confronting with the Ryuzoji army in the Higo province (肥後國, nowadays Kumamoto Prefecture 熊本縣), thus unable to dispatch the large troops to support Arima. Nevertheless, Yoshihisa did not want to abandon Arima considering the latter’s strategic value. As a result, his youngest brother Shimazu Iehisa (島津家久) was ordered to rescue Arima with only 5,000 men.

Although the situation seemed extremely unfavorable to Iehisa considering the huge disparity of number between Shimazu-Arima and Ryuzoji — 8,000 VS 30,000, Iehisa brilliantly turned the table with his outstanding battle plan, soundly defeated the numerically much larger Ryuzoji army and even slained Takanobu ! This was the Battle of Okitanawate (沖田畷の戦い) occurred on 24th March 1584, one of the most resounding victory obtained by the Shimazu clan in his path of the conquest of Kyushu (九州制覇) !

What sort of great tactics he adopted that brought him the victory so complete !?

Was this battle comparable with the Battle of Agincourt in military history ? How would you comment the military command of Shimazu Iehisa ? Would you compare him with another great military commander in the history of England, Henry V ?

Let’s examine the background and the whole course about this thrilling Battle of Okitanawate !


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Forum Staff
Oct 2011
Italy, Lago Maggiore
The "bait and trap" recalls a bit the tactic that the legions used [under the command of Suetonius] in Britain to defeat Boudicca, the main difference is that the heavy Roman infantry [the bait] didn't withdrew, they stayed firm, standing the impact of the outnumbering forces of the rebel Queen. Then the cavalry, coming from the sides, ended the job.

Boudicca was so sure to obtain an easy victory that she allowed the people to watch the battle, like an audience in a stadium. It was a tremendous error for the local population: after defeating Boudicca the Romans didn't show mercy.