Siege of Kamakura (1333)

The 1333 siege of Kamakura was a battle of the Genkō War, and marked the end of the power of the Hōjō clan, which had dominated the regency of the Kamakura shogunate for over a century. Forces loyal to Emperor Go-Daigo and led by Nitta Yoshisada entered the city from multiple directions and destroyed it; in the end, the Hōjō leaders retreated to Tōshō-ji, the Hōjō family temple, where they committed suicide with the rest of the clan.

Siege of Kamakura
Part of the Genkō War
Date1-5 July 1333
LocationCoordinates: 35°18′57″N 139°33′01″E / 35.3158°N 139.5502°E / 35.3158; 139.5502
Result Imperial victory; city destroyed.
Forces loyal to Emperor Go-Daigo Hōjō clan
Commanders and leaders
Nitta Yoshisada Hōjō Mototoki
Hōjō Takatoki
Osaragi Sadanao
Akahashi Moritoki
Kanazawa Aritoki


For ten days, Nitta had been leading the imperial loyalists on a rapid cross country campaign before reaching the outskirts of Kamakura. After the Battle of Bubaigawara ended two days prior, the Hōjō forces rushed back to Kamakura to consolidate defenses. Nitta aggressively pursued and divided his forces into three prongs, thus completely surrounding the landward sides of the city. Only the seaward side, which was fortified by Hōjō ships, remained open.

Battle for KamakuraEdit

The hills surrounding Kamakura contained seven passes, (the so-called Seven Entrances or Mouths), each with guarded checkpoints. Nitta Yoshisada attacked from the west, east and the north through the Gokuraku Pass, the Nagoe Pass and the Kewaizaka Pass, dividing his forces in three. However, after many hours of fighting, little progress had been made towards the city, particularly on the western passes near Gokuraku-ji, which was guarded with rows upon rows of wooden shielding. Nitta realized the Gokuraku-ji could be bypassed by marching around the cape, where the Inamuragasaki promontory juts out into the water. However, the waters were fortified by Hōjō ships making the approach impossible without heavy losses. According to the chronicles, Nitta threw his sword into the sea as an offering to the sun goddess, Amaterasu, and the sea parted as if by a miracle clearing a beach wide enough for Nitta's army to traverse.[1][2][3][4] Though in fact they were taking advantage of a very low tide.[5]

Thus the imperial loyalists were able to enter the city, and began to force back the Hōjō forces. The Hōjō were eventually forced to retreat to a cave behind the Tōshō-ji, where they committed suicide.[2]


  1. ^ a b Turnbull, Stephen (1987). Battles of the Samurai. Arms and Armour Press. pp. 27–28. ISBN 0853688265.
  2. ^ a b Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co. p. 206. ISBN 1-85409-523-4.
  3. ^ McCullough, Helen Craig (1959): pp. 285-311.
  4. ^ In describing this event, Japanese sources say Nitta Yoshisada prayed to a sea-god or a dragon-god, English sources almost always refer to Sun Goddess Amaterasu. The Taiheiki itself (稲村崎成干潟事) says:

    Dismounting from his horse, Yoshisada removed his helmet and prostrating himself across the distant seas prayed to Ryūjin. "It is said that the lord of Japan from the beginning, Amaterasu Ōmikami, enshrined at Ise Jingū, hid herself within a Vairocana and appeared as Ryūjin of the vast blue seas. My lord (Emperor Go-Daigo) is her descendant, and drifts upon waves of the western sea due to rebels. I Yoshisada, in an attempt to serve as a worthy subject, will pick up my axes and face the enemy line. That desire is to aid the nation and bring welfare to the masses. Ryūjin of the Eight Protectorate Gods of the (seven) Inner Seas and the Outer Sea, witness this subject’s loyalty and withdraw the waters afar, open a path to the lines of the three armies.

    Yoshisada therefore speaks to Ryūjin who, he has heard, is manifestation of Amaterasu.

  5. ^ Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan, 1334-1615. Stanford University Press. p. 20. ISBN 0804705259.


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