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Kusunoki Masashige- The Rich History of this Brilliant Strategist

Updated: Jan 15, 2022

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The immortalizing and spectacular shiny statute situated next to the Imperial Palace is the Kusunoki Masashige. One particular source that sheds some brilliant light on the life and career of Kusunoki Masashige is the Japanese tale called the “Taiheiki.” Given this is a tale though signifies that it should not be accepted 100 percent as factual. This tale should indeed just help one understand the time period between 1294-1336 when the Kamakura Hojo Shogonate or Bakfu (a Japanese army military dictatorship created by Minamoto Yoritomo) was active.

During the Genko War, a revolt was energetically led by the Kamakura Shogonates. During the 14th century, Kamakura was once the capital of Japan. The Emperor of the time was Go Daigo who requested military support from Kusunoki. As a landowner and loyal Samurai, Kusunoki responded positively by accepting the Emperor’s plea. They joined forces and fought gallantly against the Hojo Shogonates. Two of the battles Kusonoki waged transpired at the fortresses of Chihuahua and Akasaka.

First, at Chihuahua, Kusunoki employed a brilliant and cunning strategy to defeat his opponents. That strategy involved Kusonoki’s army staging on a hill. While the opponents inched their way up the hill, Kusonoki’s army unleashed their fury by aggressively rolling large boulders down the hill. The boulders would subsequently pummel and crush the enemies. As a superb strategist, Kusunoki wisely executed many other tactics, which included pouring boiling water onto the enemies and placing warrior dummies to lure the enemies. These two tactics often resulted in the enemies capitulating.

Second, Kusonoki fought not only at Chihuahua, but at the fort of Akasaka as well. During the tiring three week battle, Kusonoki successfully annihilated a substantial number of enemies although he was entirely outnumbered. However, towards the end, the enemy captured Kusonoki’s fort. They were able to successfully weaken Kusonoki and his army by cutting off their water supply. Consequently, Kusonoki cheated death by faking it. He planted a funeral scene to make the enemies think he had committed suicide. Following this act, Kusonoki commanded that his castle be burned to the ground. While the castle burned, Kusonoki escaped the area in darkness.

The last time Kusonoki fought he was not very lucky. His awesome loyalty was keenly recognized though when he accepted the Emperor Go Daigo’s unwise command to battle Takauji in a daring attempt to regain Kyoto. This decision was unwise because Kusonoki was severely outnumbered. Kusunoki and his army audaciously fought Takauji and his army for about 6 long hours. When this time lapsed, Kusonoki loyally accepted his demise by sadly committing suicide.

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