Sieges of Kuromaru

The Kuromaru (黒丸), or "Black Fortress", was a fortress of the Kanrei Shiba Takatsune located in Echizen Province (present-day Nittazuka, Fukui, Fukui Prefecture) in the Hokuriku region of Japan. It was attacked twice during the Nanboku-chō Wars of the 14th century, during which it was likely both built and destroyed.

Battle of Fujishima
Part of the Nanboku-chō Wars
Fujishima Shrine monument to where Nitta Yoshisada's helmet was found
DateAugust 1338
Near Kuromaru fortress, Echizen Province, Japan
Coordinates: 36°5′17.84″N 136°12′33.43″E / 36.0882889°N 136.2092861°E / 36.0882889; 136.2092861
Result Northern Court victory
Northern Court Southern Court
Commanders and leaders
Hosokawa Akiuji Nitta Yoshisada 
Unknown 50 horse
Sieges of Kuromaru is located in Fukui Prefecture
Sieges of Kuromaru
Location within Fukui Prefecture
Sieges of Kuromaru is located in Japan
Sieges of Kuromaru
Sieges of Kuromaru (Japan)
Siege of Kuromaru
DateAutumn 1339
Kuromaru fortress, Echizen Province
Result Siege succeeds; fortress falls to Southern Court
Northern Court Southern Court
Commanders and leaders
Shiba Takatsune Wakiya Yoshisuke

The fortress was first attacked in August 1338 by a small force under Nitta Yoshisada, numbering roughly fifty horse, in what would come to be known as the Battle of Fujishima. Hosokawa Akiuji had been ordered by Ashikaga Takauji to aid Shiba Takatsune in the defense, and encountered Nitta's force a short distance from the fortress.[1]

The warrior monks of the Heisen-ji monastery, originally part of Nitta's force, were bribed by Shiba to abandon the attack, and Nitta's rush to fill the ensuing gap in his formations led to him and his horsemen running into Hosokawa's. In the battle which followed, Nitta was mortally wounded by an arrow.[1][2]

The following year, upon his enthronement, Emperor Go-Murakami ordered the late Nitta Yoshisada's brother, Wakiya Yoshisuke, to lead another attack on the fortress. This assault was successful, and ended in Shiba's surrender.[1]: 68 


Chapter 20 of the Taiheiki chronicles the events of the death of Nitta Yoshisada at Kuromaru. It states that an arrow wounded his horse, making it unable to jump over a ditch. It fell and trapped Yoshisada's left leg. An arrow in the flurry struck him between the brows, and he drew his sword and slit his throat. The resemblance to the death of Minamoto no Yoshinaka as described in the Heike Monogatari has led to questions about whether the account is factual.

Helmet of YoshisadaEdit

In 1660, a farmer tilling the land near the site of the battle uncovered a kabuto helmet and presented it to Matsudaira Mitsumichi, daimyō of Fukui Domain. The construction of the helmet indicated that it had belonged to a high-ranking warrior, and the domain's chief military strategist, Inoue Banzaemon declared that it must have belonged to Nitta Yoshisada. In 1870, the imperial governor of Fukui, Matsudaira Mochiaki, built a Shinto shrine, the Fujishima Shrine on the site, as part of the Meiji government's drive to honour the history of the Kenmu Restoration and to promote loyalty to the Imperial family of Japan. The kabuto is preserved at the shrine, and is an Important Cultural Property.[3] The site of the battle itself was protected as a National Historic Site since1924. [4]


  1. ^ a b c Sansom, George (1961). A History of Japan, 1334–1615. Stanford University Press. p. 64. ISBN 0804705259.
  2. ^ Turnbull, Stephen (1998). The Samurai Sourcebook. Cassell & Co. p. 208. ISBN 1-85409-523-4.
  3. ^ "福井県の文化財" [Fukui Prefecture Cultural Properties] (in Japanese). Fukui Prefecture.
  4. ^ "燈明寺畷新田義貞戦歿伝説地" (in Japanese). Agency for Cultural Affairs. Retrieved August 20, 2020.