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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 6:45 pm    Post subject: Naval Battles Reply with quote
How many were there in this period (ignoring the Imjin War Yi Sun Shin vs. Japanese battles)? I know the Mouri and Oda had a few, and the Mouri occasionally used navies in their campaigns or something, but don't know much other than that. Did other clans have significant navies? Or were naval battles kind of uncommon?

I think I also read that Hideyoshi had navies blockade the Hojou during his Kanto Campaign, but I don't know if there were any actual sea battles..
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
In 1185, Minamoto Clan fought against the Taira Clan at Battle of Dan-no-ura, was at sea (Shimonoseki Strait) that part of Genpei war.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Really early on, the Japanese were allies of various Korean states and took part in a few naval battles in Korea. The most famous of these probably took place in 663, where the Yamato Japanese and their allies from Baekje were crushed at Hakusukinoe by Silla and the Chinese Tang Dynasty.

During the Genpei war, Mizushima (Kiso Yoshinaka against the Taira) was also a notable sea battle. Yashima also featured some minor seaborne fighting.

A hundred years later or so, there was naval combat between the Japanese and Mongols during the second Mongol Invasion. This mostly consisted of 'small boat' raids by the Japanese where they would board a Mongol ship.

In the Sengoku, Miyajima featured a lot of naval manuvering on the part of the Mouri (you can read more about the battle on the SA Wiki). The Winter Battle Of Osaka also featured many small water actions as the Tokugawa made 'amphibious landings' to capture many of the castle's outlying forts. They also conducted ship to shore bombardments using the rivers and canals around the castle during these operations.
There are a few scattered battles where it's noted that one or two offshore ships might aid a land assault by providing covering fire (like at Okita Nawate in 1584, with the Arima navy supporting the Shimazu against the Ryuzoji), but the lack of any real effective artillery pieces limited these actions. There's also a case in 1561 where the Otomo somehow talked the Portuguese into helping them out by shelling Moji castle (being held by the Mouri-and nothing came of it as Otomo decided not to assault the castle after all).

Most Japanese naval warfare consisted of pirate (wako) raids (where they were joined by Chinese and Koreans as well) against Korean and Chinese territory. Occasionally, the Korean navy would make a retaliatory strike against pirate bases, usually Tsushima. Much earlier in its history, there were also naval actions where Korean pirates invaded Japan.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I think the Sue and the Mori also had a few goes at each other over the water during the Sengoku period. The Battle of Miyajima in 1555 is interesting as it featured an amphibious landing by the Mori against the Sue's positions.

Please keep in mind that the Japanese did not fight naval battles as you may imagine naval battles were fought between ships of the line. To the Japanese, naval battles were extensions of land battles but over the water. The aim was to get your boat close enough to the enemy's boat and board it and engage in hand-to-hand combat and take heads. Of course, as you would close the gap between you and the enemy, archers or arquebusiers would be used to start the rain of death.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
And Boshin War - The Battle of Hakodate was major fought at sea. Actually, There was few battles at sea during Boshin war.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Satomi and Hojo navies clashed at various points in their long feud.

It might be noted that the source of the Mori's naval power was the Murakami clan, a family of three branches that dominated the Inland Sea and were sufficiently strong enough to levy a tax an ships passing through their waters.

The Kuki family of Shima were also a local naval power-Nobunaga relied on Kuki Yoshitaka's prowess in naval affairs to confront the Mori's naval lines of communication with the defenders of the Honganji.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Dan no ura is one of my favorite naval battles. I guess the boats were more like archery/infantry platforms though.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2008 12:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kendoka girl wrote:
Dan no ura is one of my favorite naval battles..


Hai me too..

Dan-no-ura made history when:

Dan-no ura was last battle of the Genpei War.

Youngster Emperor Antoku drowned along with his grandmother(widow of Taira no Kiyomori)

Taira formally put an end to their clan.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thank you guys, I learned a lot.

Out of curiosity, did the Hojo have a sizable navy? I didn't know that they skirmished with the Satomi over the sea as well, although that would make sense. I think I read somewhere that they used their navy on other occasions as well, for instance against the Takeda. And didn't Hideyoshi try to blockade them during the Odawara Campaign? I never really thought of it much.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Speaking of naval battles,

I've read time and again about how, at least in the Heian period (and maybe during Sengoku too?), "naval" battles weren't really fought between ships, per se - there were no cannon or the like - but rather, that the boats were basically just floating platforms for archery and hand-to-hand fighting. And yet, I always had a hard time visualizing just how this worked...

Well, films of course always have to be taken with a grain of salt, but I just saw today a clip from the 1965 movie Kwaidan which depicts the battle of Dan-no-ura, and the way they show it there seems pretty compelling as to how this might have worked (albeit, I'm guessing, with less calm waters).

http://vimeo.com/68989011

For those of you more knowledgeable on this, what do you think? Is the film totally off-base? Or can we take this as an acceptable representation of how a battle like Dan-no-ura was (might have been) fought?
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
Speaking of naval battles,

I've read time and again about how, at least in the Heian period (and maybe during Sengoku too?), "naval" battles weren't really fought between ships, per se - there were no cannon or the like - but rather, that the boats were basically just floating platforms for archery and hand-to-hand fighting. And yet, I always had a hard time visualizing just how this worked...

Well, films of course always have to be taken with a grain of salt, but I just saw today a clip from the 1965 movie Kwaidan which depicts the battle of Dan-no-ura, and the way they show it there seems pretty compelling as to how this might have worked (albeit, I'm guessing, with less calm waters).

http://vimeo.com/68989011

For those of you more knowledgeable on this, what do you think? Is the film totally off-base? Or can we take this as an acceptable representation of how a battle like Dan-no-ura was (might have been) fought?


I'm NOT a naval officer, and I can't view the movie here at work, will try to later from home. But, I always find the description

Quote:
I've read time and again about how, at least in the Heian period (and maybe during Sengoku too?), "naval" battles weren't really fought between ships, per se - there were no cannon or the like - but rather, that the boats were basically just floating platforms for archery and hand-to-hand fighting.


somewhat pejorative and misleading. For the Heian period especially--what else would a naval battle be? Just like you, I've read this description time and again in secondary sources, with sort of a demeaning tone, as if the Japanese were "behind" and other (Western) cultures were more "advanced" in naval warfare because it was more than this.

Yet...until the invention of cannon, how much more "advanced" could a naval battle be? Other than having prow-mounted rams to ram and sink the other ship, wouldn't ANY boat be a platform for archers to fire at each other, and wouldn't the purpose of ANY "naval" action be to maneuver your ship in a manner that provided you with the advantage in that, and then to board and capture the ship/kill the crew? It's always written as you say above (I am not blaming you on that, you're simply describing what is written) but I find it hard to imagine what ELSE you could do with boats before you had long-distance projectile capability.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
I find it hard to imagine what ELSE you could do with boats before you had long-distance projectile capability.


I realized this as I was writing this post... and yet, that's how it's often described, isn't it?
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
I realized this as I was writing this post... and yet, that's how it's often described, isn't it?


Fling Greek Fire? I suppose that's about it.

I guess the image I have in my head is of the Athenians at Salamis using the tides and currents and the constrained straits to maneuver into position against the Persians, so there's certainly an element of "seamanship". But the actual combat, as described (again by Wikipedia):

Quote:
The details of the rest of the battle are generally sketchy, and no one involved would have had a view of the entire battlefield.[106] Triremes were generally armed with a large ram at the front, with which it was possible to sink an enemy ship, or at least disable it by shearing off the banks of oars on one side.[96] If the initial ramming was not successful, marines boarded the enemy ship and something similar to a land battle ensued.[96] Both sides had marines on their ships for this eventuality; the Greeks with fully armed hoplites;[106] the Persians probably with more lightly armed Iranian infantry.[115]


That sounds like the options are A. Ram them to disable them, then B. board them and fight. Pretty much the same thing we're talking about with Japanese boats in the Gempei, but for whatever reason this is held up an example of great Naval tactics, while Dannoura is pooh-poohed as unsophisticated.

Of course, if one reads the Heike account of it, tides are mentioned--the battle initially goes badly for the Minamoto because the tides are against them, but then the wind changes/tide changes and they win. Perhaps this is some sort of poetic metaphor for favor of the gods, but it indicates to me that it was recognized that tides/currents/wind played a role, and that if you could maneuver your ships to take advantage of it relative to the enemy, you had a better shot to win. Recognizing this shows that there was a greater understanding of tactical options than they often get credit for. But then again, what's new? I see the same thing in discussion of Sengoku land warfare.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
It wouldn't be the first time something Japan did was looked down upon as "inferior" despite being a normal state of affairs elsewhere. Japan largely abandons shields early in its history as it favors pikes and ranged weaponry and gets called an inferiority for it, but Europe abandons shields in and favor of pikes and ranged weaponry and its an "advancement."
Japan doesn't use heavy horse barding to avoid unnecessary weight to maximize a horse's mobility and its called out as being inferior, Europe abandons heavy horse barding to avoid unnecessary weight to maximize a horse's mobility and again its an "advancement." (Yes, I know there is more to the horse thing, like the size of the breeds and all that, but I'm trying to make a point here! Just Kidding )

I don't want to cry racism or anything, but I find there is more than a little bias against Japan and Asia as a whole sometimes in academia and especially hobbyists. I'm also pretty sure it stems from a knee-jerk reaction to the fetishizing of the samurai and Japan that was, and still is, fairly prominent among the popular mind.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
narukagami wrote:

I don't want to cry racism or anything, but I find there is more than a little bias against Japan and Asia as a whole sometimes in academia and especially hobbyists. I'm also pretty sure it stems from a knee-jerk reaction to the fetishizing of the samurai and Japan that was, and still is, fairly prominent among the popular mind.


It's just numbers. I'm sure there are at least 250 times as many "Western Military Historians" than "East Asian Military Historians" in the West (or it might even be 1000 to 1), and that's it plain and simple. The bulk of people who study East Asia are Asian Studies PhDs, not military historians, and they definitely don't look at warfare the way a military historian does. East Asian (Japanese) military history has almost no voice in the West.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
It's just numbers. I'm sure there are at least 250 times as many "Western Military Historians" than "East Asian Military Historians" in the West (or it might even be 1000 to 1), and that's it plain and simple. The bulk of people who study East Asia are Asian Studies PhDs, not military historians, and they definitely don't look at warfare the way a military historian does. East Asian (Japanese) military history has almost no voice in the West.
I could just be misunderstanding what you mean, but I mean a bias in the attitude towards East Asian military history, not the numbers of works.
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 23, 2013 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yes, you are misunderstanding. There aren't enough people studying, promoting, or publishing on Japanese MILITARY history, so there are not enough "experts" and not enough people interested in listening to the "experts" that are there, so it is marginalized. I.e. no one cares. Why would a Rome/military history scholar even take the time to assume that Japan has anything to offer in compare/contrast value to the study of Rome (or scholars of the Napoleonic wars, or Medieval Europe or whatever, take your pick) - there isn't a big enough pool or enough interest out there for military historians specializing in the West to "look East" for any reason. So it is ignored, or misunderstood, or brushed off.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno wrote:
It's just numbers. I'm sure there are at least 250 times as many "Western Military Historians" than "East Asian Military Historians" in the West (or it might even be 1000 to 1), and that's it plain and simple. The bulk of people who study East Asia are Asian Studies PhDs, not military historians, and they definitely don't look at warfare the way a military historian does. East Asian (Japanese) military history has almost no voice in the West.


I'M WORKING ON IT, DAMMIT!

But in all seriousness, Kitsuno is right. Narukagami, you are misunderstanding his point--# of works is an important indicator of what academia feels is "important". I'm a member of the Society for Military History, the academic organization of military history scholars, and get their journal and email group and so on. Every week I get a roll-up of new articles/blogposts on military history from them (it's actually from H-War, but it's the same people on both lists). The number of articles/posts on the US Civil War is NAUSEATING, to the point of people writing about what Robert E. Lee had for breakfast or whatever. Meanwhile, I was shocked to find something Early Modern (English Civil War) last week that wasn't Rome. Forget finding an Asia-focused article. I'd write and tell them to read my own blog, but I'm not that confident in it yet.

I deal with this problem looking at my own future career in academia, and have talked extensively with professors and others to try to figure out where I "fit". Asia scholars, especially Japan scholars, don't really CARE about military stuff--especially anything not in the "war and SOCIETY" (emphasis intentional) approach to military history. And at last year's SMH conference, I was the ONLY--THE ONLY--one presenting on pre-modern Japan. The only other person there who could, Peter Shapinsky (Great dude, by the way) was part of a panel on teaching Asian military history, but not presenting a paper on Japan per se. This is why I was so glad to find the Chinese Military History Society, and while I'll be presenting with them again this coming year--they are in the same niche as me, where they aren't mainstream Chinese history, but are also not in the US-Euro focused mainstream of military history.

Because seriously, do we really need ANOTHER book on the Civil War?

Part of it as well is the language barrier, and the way academia is set up. As Kitsuno says, most people doing Japanese history go through East Asian Language and Culture programs, because they have to in order to get enough language ability to read old texts. The 2 years of Japanese required in a regular history program is nowhere near enough, or the right material. If you're doing a regular history program, chances are you're studying modern Japan (Post-Meiji), because A. that relates to the West (WWII and so on) and B. the language requirements aren't completely insane and don't require classical Japanese and classical Chinese.

Premodern Japanese scholars require all those things, and so you have to go EALC to get them. And that environment is generally not conducive to military history. Even folks like Conlan and Spafford incorporate a lot of war and SOCIETY, as much as they focus on warfare as a societal phenomenon. In that academic environment, it's much easier to have an advisor who knows nothing about military history, and so steers you towards some softer aspect of things.

I don't want that--I want to do things comprehensively, which means including social aspects, but not at the expense of actually studying what happens in warfare. As I said on my blog recently (I think in a comment), war and SOCIETY treats warfare/battle/combat like a weather phenomenon that just "happens" and affects society around it, and they care about those effects. That's great, but you also have to know what happens in the weather--what causes lightning, etc? And I want to do both of those things, where most people do one or the other.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It's also why, as much as I'd rather just concentrate on Japan and I hate the idea of comparative study with the West because it's always done so poorly (Hello, Geoffrey Parker!!), I will HAVE to do work in European military history, so I can engage the wider military history community. If all of Japanese military history is done by EALC's with little backgrond in military history at large, then why would any military historian read what they write? If it's done by someone who uses the same methodologies or academic lingo, then they're more inclined to go outside their area and listen/read.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Aaaaah, I see what you mean. Thanks for clearing that up, guys!

I remember I once spoke to a professor of Japanese history specializing in Tokugawa Law about getting into military history, and a lot of what you just said, Itdomer, is pretty reminiscent of what he told me. I wanted to get into it not (just) because of my childhood love of chanbara and jidaigeki, but because I feel the same way you seem to about War and SOCIETY (to borrow your emphasis). But even in casual conversation I often encounter that attitude of war being this thing that just happens, and is icky so we don't need to talk about it.

Unfortunately I ended up not pursuing it past my BA (yet... hopefully someday) for various reasons. And even at that time the only way I could actually study in Japanese history and military history was by dual majoring in Japanese Studies and World History, and doing some very careful course selection. My school's history department had quite a selection of military history/war and society courses even for an undergrad, but the EAS department's Asian history courses were all primarily focused on Society and Culture, touching on military history only when it was relevant to other topics.
I'd love to go back to school and pursue higher degrees, but now I've got to brush up on my languages first... among other things...

By the way, that professor also indicated that there was an underlying attitude against military history, particularly Japanese military history, of it being looked at as less "serious" and being considered more of a "hobby" history. Have you ever encountered that or heard of it? Or was he just blowing smoke?
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
narukagami wrote:
By the way, that professor also indicated that there was an underlying attitude against military history, particularly Japanese military history, of it being looked at as less "serious" and being considered more of a "hobby" history. Have you ever encountered that or heard of it? Or was he just blowing smoke?


That's absolutely true, that there is an attitude like that. It's why some great institutions for studying Japanese history, like Berkeley and Michigan, are completely off my option list (Michigan for other reasons as well, because...yuck.) Academics see it as something people like Turnbull and Osprey do, pop history, and not meeting the standards of real academics. And they're right--the way that Turnbull, etc. do it. As I said in the thread on ninjer podcasts, the only way you can be taken seriously is to A. be absolutely impeccable in your research methodology and transparency and B. relate it to the things they are interested in--which I think my particular methodology does, I just have to figure out how to express it in a way that academics less inclined to my topics will see the value. I've been talking a lot about this on my blog recently, and will have some video posts up about it soon.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
And all this is why I have zero interest in becoming part of academia. The incredibly microfocused and generally pointless 'acre of land' most scholars patrol, the disdain for anything non-artsy/religion in Japanese studies among academics, and the ridiculous emphasis on current trendy issues and relating them to Japanese studies through any means possible is a huge turn-off. I'm glad I have those books to read, but I sure wouldn't want to write them.

Wouldn't mind having Turnbull's gig after I retire, though, or writing for Rekishi Gunzou.

"The 47 Ronin-The Feudal Drive-By"
"Shadow Warriors of the Chiba"
"Warrior Shrine Maidens, 672-1185"
"Papinot's Historical And Geographical Atlas of Japan with My New Title"

Then I'd just start reissuing it all with new titles and a page of new material.
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 24, 2013 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
Well, films of course always have to be taken with a grain of salt, but I just saw today a clip from the 1965 movie Kwaidan which depicts the battle of Dan-no-ura, and the way they show it there seems pretty compelling as to how this might have worked (albeit, I'm guessing, with less calm waters).

http://vimeo.com/68989011

For those of you more knowledgeable on this, what do you think? Is the film totally off-base? Or can we take this as an acceptable representation of how a battle like Dan-no-ura was (might have been) fought?


It's consistent with the way the battle is described in the Heike Monogatari-in fact, it follows it almost perfectly (not surprising since that epsiode of Kwaidan, Hoichi The Earless, involves a Biwa Hoshi performing Heike Monogatari for the ghosts of the Taira).

The biggest problem is that no one really knows what warships of the time looked like-none survive, and supposedly there are no pictoral representations of them until the picture scrolls of Takezaki Suenaga that depicted the Mongol Invasions (although I think a couple have surfaced in the last ten years). The ships didn't really change all that much from the Mongol Invasions to the early Sengoku, and from the descriptions in war tales it seems they probably were much the same around the time of Dan-no-ura. While the Heike was a quasi-fictional gunkimono, most scholars who have bothered to examine the military aspects of it agree that it's a pretty accurate representation of how naval battles were fought-that's how "Japanese" pirates fought for centuries, that's basically what they also did during the Mongol invasions (with the small boat raids), and what they tried to do even as late as Hideyoshi's invasions of Korea (although attempting to board ships armed with cannon when you rarely had any of your own tended not to work so well).

Yoshitsune was said to have gathered up many of the 'pirate chieftains' from southwest Shikoku, northeast Kyushu, and parts of the coastal mainland in preparation for Dan-no-ura, both for their knowledge of the tides and the boats they could supply to the Minamoto (the Minamoto always had problems scraping together enough boats to face the Taira). The tide did play a major part in the battle, but the Heike overdramatizes the effect. Lots of the Taira ships and soldiers managed to escape the battle. The Minamoto targeted the boatmen first, basically disabling the enemy boats, and took advantage of the tide to overtake, surround, and board the outnumbered Taira ships.
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