Battle of Sakabe, 24 April 1333

The battle of Sakabe (24 April 1333) was a minor skirmish in which the Imperial loyalist Akamatsu Norimura was nearly captured by the forces of the Shogunate.

In the summer of 1332 Akamatsu rose in support of the Emperor Go-Daigo, and took control of his home province of Harima. Early in 1333, encouraged by the Shogunate's inability to capture Chihaya, Akamatsu advanced towards Kyoto, reaching Maya. There he built a castle, and repelled an attack by a Bakufu army sent from Kyoto (battle of Maya, 27 March 1333).

In the aftermath of this defeat the lords of the Rokuhara (the Shogunate's headquarters in Kyoto) decided to send a second army to attack Maya. This army, which the Taiheiki says was 10,000 strong, left Kyoto on the 28th day of the intercalary second month (13 April 1333). Some of the troops advanced on land, while a force of 3,000 men under Awa no Ogasawara moved by sea, landing at Amagasaki (north-west of modern Osaka and south of Akamatsu's position).

When he learnt that a fresh army was heading towards him Akamatsu decided to advance to meet them, arguing that this would harm the morale of his opponents. He led his force of 3,000 horsemen east from Maya to a fresh camp at Sakabe (somewhere to the north of Osaka).

On 24 April 1333 the Bakufu army reached Segawa, north of Osaka and close to Akamatsu's camp. Akamatsu believed that there wouldn't be any fighting until the following day. His main force was posted to the west of Koyano post station (near modern Itami). The main Bakufu force was to the east (Segawa is north of Itami International Airport). Akamatsu wasn't with his main force, but was with a small escort of fifty three men. This group was caught in a rain shower and took shelter in a small hut.

At this moment Awa no Ogasawara arrived from the south. Realising they were trapped Akamatsu and his small escort mounted their horses and charged into the enemy host. Forty seven of them were killed in the melee and the survivors only escaped by discarding their identifying marks and avoiding detection. Akamatsu and the five survivors of his escort reached safety with the main part of his force.

That ended the fighting for the day. The two sides remained in their original positions, with the Bakufu forces at Segawa and Akamatsu at Koyano. On the following day Akamatsu attacked the Bakufu forces, winning the resulting battle of Segawa (25 April 1333). He then advanced on Kyoto, but was repulsed at the edge of the city (battle of the Twelfth Day of the Third Month, 1333).
Taiheiki: A Chronicle of Medieval Japan, trans. Helen Craig McCullough. A modern English translation of the first twelve chapters of the Taiheiki, covering the period of the Genko War, a civil war that saw the Emperor Go-Daigo briefly overthrow the Shogunate and restore direct Imperial rule.
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A History of Japan, 1334-1615, Sir George Sansom. A classic history of Japan, covering the period from the fall of the Kamakura Shogunate in the 1330s to the battle of Sekigahara of 1600 and the end of the civil wars in 1615. A little dated now, but it still provides an excellent narrative history of this period, with more detail on the military events than in most more modern works.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (29 October 2012), Battle of Sakabe, 24 April 1333 ,

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