GATE WITHOUT GATE, THE MILITARY STRATEGY OF IEYASU TOKUGAWA
By the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Ashikaga shogunate collapsed, the Japanese resembled a giant battlefield. Warlords fight over power, but out of their midst three great figures appear, as meteors pass through the night sky. The three men were equally aspiring to master and unite Japan, but their attributes striking one another: Nobunaga, rash, firm, brutal; Hideyoshi, simple, smooth, clever, complex; Ieyasu, calm, patient-minded. Their different philosophies had always been immortalized by the Japanese in a poem.
What if a bird does not want to sing?
Nobunaga replied, “Kill it!”
Hideyoshi replied, “Make the bird want to sing.”
Ieyasu replied, “Wait.”
This story is the story of a man who “waits” birds chirping.
Ieyasu is now thirty years old and in its heyday. His province was filled with the hope of prosperity and the desire to expand the region, so great that the followers, both old and young, the peasants, the townspeople were very excited. Mikawa (Ieyasu Tokugawa Province) may not be a match for Kai (Takeda Shingen Province) in terms of wealth but in terms of determination, the province is not in the slightest.
Shingen “The Legs Long” yesterday still fought against the Uesugi clan of Echigo provincial ruler on the northern border of Kai, today he threatens Mikawa. When Kai and Echigo’s borders are covered with snow, his 30,000-strong force is urged to immediately embody his dream of entering the capital. The easiest way is to grind Mikawa.
As threats drew closer. The Tokugawa ally, the head of the Oda family sent a letter to Ieyasu:
“It would be better if you did not have a frontal confrontation with Kai’s army. I hope you are still strong if the situation is critical and you are forced to withdraw from Hamamatsu to Okazaki. Even if we have to wait another day, I’m sure the day will not be long.”
Ieyasu replied, “before leaving Hamamatsu fort, we better break our bow and get out of the samurai group!” Receiving Oda Nobunaga’s courier response and Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s advisory muttering about Ieyasu’s stubbornness. One of the three unknowable friends. In the view of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, Ieyasu province is a line of defense territory. He can be retaken in the future, or adventure trying to reach a new territory. But for Ieyasu, Mikawa is home. Home matters are a matter of the heart, and the heart, especially Ieyasu’s heart, can not be changed as easily as the cloth re-coloring. Ieyasu challenged! Despite the disagreed alliance, Ieyasu does not expect help, no compassion even for a companion!
Ieyasu continued his preparations and set out for the battlefield, without back-line support. “Sometimes I feel too hard on myself, to get rid of guilt for what I do. And this is the saddest of this story.” Ieyasu thought.
One by one, as a comb is broken, reports of defeat come. The Shingen had attacked Totomi, while at the same time the fortresses in Tadaki and Lida had no choice but to surrender, at the forefront of the battle, there was not a piece of land that the Kai troops did not trample on. Things got worse, when Ieyasu’s Heihachiro Honda troop was caught by enemies around the Senryu River, the Tokugawa troops suffered a total defeat and forcibly retreated to Hamamatsu. Reports that make everyone pale in the castle, but not Tokugawa. In the wake of misfortune and suffering at a young age, he becomes a man who does not exaggerate the trivial defeat, (even) assumes it is nothing.
Ieyasu led troops out of Hamamatsu fortress, advanced up to Kanmashi village on the banks of the Tenryu River, and found Kai’s troop camp. Each position corresponds to Shingen’s headquarters, as the fingers surround the nap. Ieyasu stood on the hill with his arms folded and let out a sigh of admiration. Even from the distance, the banners at Shingen’s main camp were clearly visible, the famous words of Sun Tzu’s utterance, known to friends and foes.
“Fast as the wind, the silence of a forest, as passionate as fire, silent as a mountain”
Silent as a mountain, neither Shingen nor Ieyasu took action for several days. With the Tenryu River between the camps, the winter of the twelfth month is getting colder.
Ieyasu is not a mild opponent, though he intends to show it so. But in the ensuing battle, all the forces of the Takeda clan will encounter all the Tokugawa clan forces, they pound each other in a decisive battle throughout the war. The shadow of the battle actually spurred the morale of Kai people, as they did. Shingen ordered his son, Katsuyori to move their troops against Futamata Castle (across the river Tenryu) with a firm order not to waste time. Ieyasu himself oversaw the rearguard, but Takeda’s ever-changing army of formations again formed a new arrangement and began to push from all sides. It seems that once Ieyasu took a wrong step, he was cut off from his Hamamatsu headquarters.
One of the Takeda warriors raised an insult, the Tokugawa army was defeated and raging. Futurama Citadel crashed, Tokugawa troops led by Honda Heihachiro retreat. Thereafter Shingen’s main army crossed the Litani plain and began to enter the eastern part of Mikawa.
“To Litani!” Thus the order of commands that led to differences of opinion in between.
Shingen generals. Some feel anxious that Oda forces have arrived at Hamamatsu, and no one knows their number. Shingen sat among the Generals. His eyes closed, he nodded when he heard the opinions of his men, then said cautiously, “all your words make sense. But I’m sure the reinforcements of the Oda clan will not be greater than four thousand. Even if most of Oda’s troops headed for Hamamatsu, the Asai and Asakura people I had contacted earlier would attack Nobunaga from behind. In addition, the Shogun in Kyoto sent a message to the monk-warrior, urging them to immediately take up arms. The Oda people are not a threat to us.”
He paused, then proceeded calmly, “From the beginning, my desire was to enter Kyoto. But if I pass Ieyasu away now, when we turn to Gifu, Ieyasu will help the people of Oda by blocking us behind us. Would not it be best if Ieyasu was destroyed in Hamamatsu fortress before the Oda people could send enough reinforcements?”
At night, reports about the turn of Kai’s army reach the Hamamatsu fortress. Just as Shingen predicted, there were only three thousand people under Takigawa Kazumasu and Sakuma Nobumori reinforcements from Nobunaga. “The number is meaningless,” disappointed comments by the Tokugawa Generals, Ieyasu shows no joy or dissatisfaction, as report after report arrives, a war meeting begins. Not a few General Ieyasu advocated temporarily retreating to Okazaki, and they had the support of Oda’s commanders.
Only Ieyasu is unmoved, stubbornly hard to fight. “Do we retreat without releasing an arrow while the enemy insulted my province?” Ieyasu understood enough that he could not rely on allies altogether, he could only risk his fate on his own strength, not others.
In the Hamamatsu area, there is a land higher than the surrounding area, more than two miles wide, three miles long-Mitagahara. At dawn Ieyasu’s troops leave Hamamatsu and take the position to the north, a steep cliff. There they are waiting for Takeda’s troops.
The Tokugawa Forces form a wing formation of cranes, at first glance they look like big troops, but in reality, the second and third lines have no power. Ieyasu was escorted by a handful of soldiers who barely meant anything. Their regiment looks chaotic, plus clearly visible reinforcements Oda did not want to fight. Opponents know it! Shingen’s voice thundered, unmoved by Tokugawa’s bluff forming a fish-like formation, and moving forward toward the Tokugawa army, accompanied by a war drum.
Ieyasu was amazed to see the Shingen troop movement, and how the troops reacted to every word given, pinched in his condition, “if I had reached the age of as old as Shingen, I wished to be able to move a large army as skilled as he once was. After seeing his talent as a troop leader, I was reluctant to see him killed, even though someone offered to poison him.”
Dust flown by enemies and their people reach the sky. Only the sun’s reflections at the ends of the spears are visible. Mikawa and Kai’s armies have advanced, facing each other. Fighting broke out and chaos. Within minutes alone Sakai Tadatsugu’s defense line was destroyed by Kai’s forces. Proudly Kai’s troops released the triumphant shouts. Ieyasu stood on a hill, watching his troops. We lose, he realizes a crushing defeat.
“Sakuma Nobumori from the Oda clan is rolled out. Takigawa Kazumazu was forced to retreat, and Hirate Kazumasa was wounded. Stay Sakai Tadatsugu who still fought valiantly. Takeda Katsuyori combines his forces with the Yamagata corps and surrounds our left wing. Ishikawa Kazumasa was injured and Nakane Masateru and Aoki Hirotsugu were killed. Matsudaira Yasuzumi spurred his horse into the midst of the enemy and met his death there. Honda Tadamasa and Naruse Masayoshi forces targeted Shingen followers and successfully penetrated deep into enemy lines. But then they were surrounded by several thousand soldiers, and none of them returned alive.”
Suddenly Tadahiro grabbed Ieyasu’s arm, and with the help of the other generals, raised him on the horse. “Get out of here,” after Ieyasu sat in the saddle and the horse ran away, Tadahiro and the other followers on their horses, then followed their lord. The snow began to fall, making it difficult for the troops to retreat. Kai troops aimed at escaping enemy soldiers, firing a shot amid falling snow. Like a tidal wave, the Tokugawa forces retreated to the North. But because they lost their way, their victims fell back. Eventually, everyone began to push in one direction, to the South.
Ieyasu, who had just escaped the danger of looking back, and suddenly stopped the horse. “Fling the banner. Raise the banners and gather people,” he ordered. The night began to close, and the snow was heavier. The Ieyasu followers crowded around him and rang the trumpet. Waving, slowly the defeated soldiers began to gather.
But the corps under Baba Nobufusa and Obata Kazusa from Kai knew the main enemy troops were there, then pushed with arrows on one side and shotgun on the other. They were about to cut off Ieyasu’s retreat.
“This place is dangerous, my lord. You should retreat immediately, “Mizuno Sakon urges Ieyasu, then turns to the people, he orders,” protect the noble, I will attack the enemy. Anyone who wants to sacrifice life for the noble, follow me.”
Sakon immediately hit the enemy, without turning around. About thirty soldiers followed, spurring their horses to challenge death. Almost instantly the lament, the shouts, the clash of swords and spears mixed with the roar of the wind that blew snow, formed a gigantic vortex.
“Sakon cannot die!” Ieyasu shouted. His attitude was unusual. The followers tried to prevent him and grabbed his horse’s bridle, but he shook off them and as they rose, Ieyasu had plunged into the center of the vortex. His appearance resembles a demon.
Bearing the burden of defeat, Ieyasu’s troops marched and returned to the snow-covered city of the fort. One rider entered, one after another, then the next and Ieyasu’s own eighth man. When their Lord has seen the troops inside the castle jumped up and down for joy.
Ieyasu blood stuck to his cheek, and his hair was disheveled. He ordered the ladies to prepare the food, after the food presented he immediately grabbed the chopsticks but did not immediately eat instead said, “Open all doors to the porch.” After the room opened, vaguely visible figures of soldiers who were unwilling to be on the porch, so Ieyasu finished He ordered Amano Yasukage and Uemura Masakatsu to get ready for the enemy’s attack. The other commanders started the main gate until the main door into the living room, Ieyasu’s mind branched off. He lacks experience with Shingen, as well as strength. Usually, he overcame his limitations by making a conspiracy. And Shingen is a mature general, will not work.
On the verge of Ieyasu’s death remembering that since I was five years old, Ieyasu lived with the Oda clan, then with the Imagawa people, moved in exile in the enemy provinces. As a hostage, he had never known freedom at that time. The eyes, ears, and soul of the hostage are closed, and if he does not work alone, there is nothing to reprove or encourage him. Nevertheless, or precisely because of being confined since childhood, Ieyasu became very ambitious. He does not understand the feelings of affection that people often talk about. She tries to find her feelings of empathy, and only finds that feeling not just a bit, but really thin. When Oda Nobunaga defeated Yoshimoto Imagawa, he felt the moment had come. Breakaway from Imagawa and fellowship with Oda, today Takeda Shingen is coming, he can not afford to flee again, not wanting him to repeat the bitter journey of life and suffering as before. But how? “If I do not get what I want, then I’d better not have anything.”
Ieyasu came out, the commanders though with a tense voice trying to calm Ieyasu and encourage him. He understood and nodded vigorously. But when they were about to hurry back to their posts, he called them, “Let every door from the main gate to the sitting room open.”
What kind of reckless strategy is this? The command is contrary to the most basic principles of defense, the iron doors at all gates have been closed tightly. Enemy troops have approached the fortress city, urging forward to destroy them. Ieyasu added with a laugh, “and I do not just want the gate of the castle to be opened. I want five or six fires to be lit in front of the gate. In addition, the fire also must be blazed inside the wall. But make sure we stay fully alert. Do not sound and watch the enemy’s advance.”
They run the order as Ieyasu wishes. After observing the scene, Ieyasu went back inside.
Shortly thereafter, Kai’s troops under the leadership of Baba Nobufusa and Yamagata Masakage arrived near the sewer, ready to launch the night raid. Yamagata looked astonished. Baba was suspicious and stared at the enemy gate. There, in the distance, he saw the flame of the fire, both inside and outside. And all the gates are wide open. They face a gate without a gate. This situation raises a nagging question.
Yamagata said. “Let’s just kill them. The enemy is so confused, so they do not have time to close the gate.”
“No, wait,” Baba interrupted. “Ieyasu is a man full of tactics, of course, he is waiting for us to attack in haste. All his attention was only on this fort, and he was sure of his victory. He was young, lacking experience, but he was Tokugawa Ieyasu. It is better that we do not act recklessly, so as not to bring disgrace to the Takeda clan and instead become a laughingstock in the future.”
They had pushed so far, but eventually, the two generals withdrew their troops.
Inside the castle Ieyasu’s dream was broken by one of his assistants. He stood up immediately. “I’m not dead!” He exclaimed and jumped happily. Instantly he sends troops to chase the enemy. But, in keeping with their reputation, Yamagata and Baba remain self-controlled amidst the chaos. They staged resistance, lit a fire around Naguri, and ran a number of brilliant maneuvers.
The Tokugawa suffered great losses, but it is not wrong to say that they have shown courage. Not only that, they managed to thwart Shingen’s plans to advance to the capital, and force him to retreat to Kai. Many are victims. Compared to the four hundred casualties on Takeda’s side, the Tokugawa forces lost far more troops. The victims on their side numbered one thousand and eighty people.
The wise man who cultivates wisdom can drown in it. Having many traces (would) be more vulnerable than those with many weaknesses, scattered traces will be mapped, re-traced. Yet the great trailer might have forgotten what was left behind. Urge so much, but in the end (forced) to withdraw everything. Gate without the gate.
Translated from Istana Kosong