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Battle of Iwaya Castle
Yoshihiro at Iwaya
Conflict: Campaigns of Yoshihiro Shimazu
Date: 1585
Place: Iwaya Castle, Bungo Province
Outcome: Shimazu victory

Yoshihiro crest Forces loyal to Yoshihiro Shimazu

Otomo Forces loyal to Joun Takahashi


Yoshihiro Shimazu

Joun Takahashi
Dosetsu Tachibana







The Battle of Iwaya Castle was an engagement between the Otomo and Shimazu clans, led by Joun Takahashi and Yoshihiro Shimazu. The battle was a great example of samurai pride an honor, as Joun Takahashi sacrificed his life to buy his allies time to retreat, staying behind and fighting to the death, earning the admiration of his allies and enemies alike.


The Shimazu clan of Satsuma Province was a powerful clan that was led by Takahisa Shimazu. Takahisa was a strong warlord who conquered all of Kyushu by 1550 and had made his way into western Honshu, halting only to face a Shogunate-loyal alliance that was gathered to resist his strength. After the death of Takahisa, the vassals of the Shimazu became independent once more. One of them, the Otomo clan, regained its power. Yoshihiro Shimazu, the head of the Shimazu after the death of Takahisa, prepared to reconquer all of the territories that had been made independent.

The Otomo clan was a weak target, led by Sorin Otomo, and it had lost Tachibana Castle to the Tachibana clan in 1569. The Otomo were allies of the Tachibana now, and the Shimazu declared war on both consecutively. The Shimazu surprised the Otomo, and immediately besieged Iwaya Castle.


Yoshihiro Shimazu

A young Yoshihiro Shimazu

Yoshihiro and his massive army encircled Joun Takahashi, an Otomo commander, in the castle, giving the Otomo garrison little hope of escaping. The Otomo troops were outnumbered, so Joun decided to hold off the Shimazu while they withdrew. The Otomo forces watched as Joun single-handedly fought off droves of Shimazu, and even though Yoshihiro told him to just run, he remained and fought until he was killed. Takahashi's sacrifice earned him the respect of all engaged in the field of battle, including Yoshihiro. However, his son Muneshige Tachibana hungered for revenge against the Shimazu, and he prepared to be attacked next.