With Shikoku pacified, Motonari turned his attention to fulfilling the Shogun’s wishes and weakening the Takeda. Takamoto reamined in Awa only long enough to repair battle-damage to the castle and recruit a small garrison to remind the population of their duty to the Daimyo.
As soon as he was ready, Takamoto’s army boarded ships and sailed east.
As he had advanced in years, Motonari had evidently discovered that his wife had also advanced in years, for his womanising ways had now reached the point that his frequent distractions now slowed his army on the march.
Although Motonari did not want to sully his own honour by embarking upon a war against a clan with whom he had long enjoyed a positive trading relationship, he was nevertheless hopeful that he might be able to acquire the two provinces currently controlled by the Ouchi. To this end, he took the bulk of his army out of Hamada castle in Iwami, and had them hide in forests near the road. He hoped that the traders would inform the Ouchi of the minimal defences in Hamada castle, and that the Ouchi would seize the opportunity to attack.
Signs that conflict in central Honshu were leading to the consolidation of power by certain, unknown Daimyo were further heightened by news that the Hojo clan had been destroyed. Read more…
The potential for conflict with the Ouchi weighed on Motonari’s mind. He began searching for alternative allies. The Shoni, who were allied to the Ouchi, and who had a daughter married into the Mori clan, could not be persuaded to formalise their strong relationship with the Mori into an alliance.
Unable to reach the fortifications in Izumo before winter set in, Takamoto decided to wait at the border, rather than risk starving his men by forcing them to forage in enemy territory. While he waited, the Amako sent emissaries frantically begging for peace.
They were not willing to pay the price the Mori demanded, however, and so the war dragged on. Read more…
In Winter, a Mori trade ship finally established a cotton trade with the Korean Kingdom. Despite the small scale of trade in its beginnings, it still brought in an extra 2-300 koku per season.
As Takamoto followed the Amako force from Iwami to Aki, he was met near the border by a small detachment.
The period between winter 1545 and summer 1546 is not well represented in Mori records. It is thought that documents were lost in transit between Iwami and Aki, Iwami being subject to Amako raiding during this period.
What is known is that the small Amako raiding part travelled south to continue their raiding into the Mori’s home province of Aki. Motonari and his councillors elected to ignore the raiders, and sent his son, Takamoto, east with the bulk of the army that had conquered Iwami. Motonari and the Mori senior retainers had apparently suspected that the Amako armies were thoroughly depleted, and hoped that Takamoto would be able to conquer Izumo with ease.
They were surprised when Takamoto encountered an Amako force, somwhat larger than his own marching west to meet him.
By Autumn, Motonari had heard learned that the tiny Amako force had continued its incursion laying waste to farmland in its wake. Motonari held council with his son and senior retainers, concluded that he was content to leave it be, while his army convalesced. He ordered the newly-recruited arched in Aki to march northward to Iwami. He hoped to destroy the Amako before they sacked the gold-mining operation in Iwami.
Reports from Aki brought news that the clan’s scholars had made progress in codifying the way of the warrior. Motonari decreed that the scholars should focus future efforts on civilian endeavours.
Surprisingly, it was also reported that the Tokugawa clan had been destroyed, and that their daimyo had been forced to commit seppuku.
The clan’s finances were such that Motonari was able to recruit an additional unit of yari ashigaru in Izumo, and finally to order an expansion of Koriyama Castle in Aki. This left no funds for more ships, but existing Mori ships continued to seek out trade routes.
Motonari and his council also decided to repair the damaged farming infrastructure, despite the likelihood that it would be destroyed again. If nothing else, they hoped that it would distract the Amako from the goldmine.
By early summer, Motonari had led his army to Hamada castle, and had established siege works around the fortifications. The army’s camp became the clan’s centre of government, as Motonari directed the clan’s activities. His recent victories had added to his reknown as a strategist, and a biwa player had joined his retinue. This improved the morale of his tired troops.
His recent victories had also boosted the morale of the Mori subjects and this feel-good factor appeared to be providing a small boost to the economy. A message arrived from senior retainers in Aki proposing that Mori clan scholars work towards improving their understanding of ship building and naval strategy.
By 1545, in the 14th year of the reign of emperor Go-Nara, the once peaceful realm of Japan had descended into chaos. Since the outbreak of the Onin war, over 70 years earlier, the power of the Muromachi Bakufu of the Ashikaga Shoguns had been nearly totally eroded. Nominally still charged with the security of the country, in practise the Ashikaga were figureheads, just like the imperial family whose power they had usurped.
Mori Motonari had been at the healm of his clan for over 20 years, and had thus far protected his province from the ravages of war.
The Mori clan’s home province was in Aki. Aki has good fertile soil, and was known for a local holy site, which made local monks especially zealous. In 1545, the Mori clan was embroiled in an ongoing disupte with the Amako clan. A Mori invasion was recently turned back at the gates of the Amako clan stronghold in Izumo, and now the Amako were counter-attacking, with an army having reached the Aki-Iwami border.
Bucaneer dropped me an email to let me know about his blog The Losing Move and the Shogun 2 AAR/Lets Play he’s working on. He’s done a great job, and the AAR is a fun read and well illustrated. Head over and give it a read!