Tachibana Dōsetsu (立花 道雪, 22 April 1513 – 2 November 1585), born Betsugi Akitsura (戸次鑑連), also as Bekki Akitsura, and Bekki Dōsetsu,[1] was a Japanese samurai of the Sengoku period who served the Ōtomo clan. A member of Bekki clan, He was the father of Tachibana Ginchiyo and adopted father of Tachibana Muneshige.[2]

Tachibana Dōsetsu
立花 道雪
Head of Tachibana clan
In office
Preceded byTachibana Akitoshi
Succeeded byTachibana Ginchiyo
Personal details
BornBungo Province, 1513
DiedChikugo Province, 1585
Military service
Allegiance Ōtomo clan
Bekki clan
Battles/warsBattle of Umegatake castle
Battle of Kurumagaeshi
Pacification of Bungo
Pacification of Higo
Siege of Mount Kosho castle
First Battle of Yanagigaura
Siege of Moji (1562)
Siege of Moji (1563)
Fourth Battle of Yanagigaura
Siege of Yasumimatsu castle
Siege of Mount Kosho castle (1567)
Battle of Yasumimatsu
Campaign of Mount Tachibana

Tatarahama battles (1569)
Siege of Mount Hōman castle
Siege of Yamakuma Castle
Battle of Imayama
Battle of Saga Castle
Fukuoka campaign (1571-1583)

  • Battle of Junnohara / Battle of Yagiyama (1581)
  • 5th battle of Ima Matsubara (1582)
  • Battle of Iwato (1582)
  • Battle of Sawara (1582)
  • Battle of Koganebara (1582)
  • Siege of Konomidake Castle

Bungo province reconquest
Siege of Kurume
Siege of Neko'o Castle

He was known as one of the wisest Ōtomo retainers and remembered for his anti Christianity in the Ōtomo's domain stance. Dōsetsu was counted as the Sanshuku of Ōtomo clan together with Usuki Akisumi and Yoshihiro. Akimasa.[3]

The military career of Tachibana Dōsetsu is mostly known for his involvements in 37 military campaigns and more than 100 engagements of smaller scale, despite half of his lower body being paralyzed, including the Battle of Tatarahama, and the brilliant defense of Kurume city.

As a subject of mythical legends and for his personal battle prowess, Dōsetsu has earned some nicknames such as Hachiman incarnation(弓矢八幡), Thunder god's incarnation(摩利支天の化身), God of war from Kyushu(九州の軍神), or Dōsetsu the ogre(鬼道雪、).[4][5][5]

Dōsetsu died from illness during a military at Chikugo Province in 1585.



Born with a childhood name Akitsura in Yoroigatake Castle, Bungo Province, Dōsetsu hailed from Bekki clan. Dōsetsu fought his first battle leading 2,000 soldiers when he reached 14 years old, replacing his sickly father who has been retired from military service.[6] In this campaign, Dōsetsu fought against the Ōuchi clan in Umegatake castle [jp] , Buzen Province, where he emerged victorious despite being outnumbered by around 3,000 mens in difference.[6][7]

In August 22, 1535, Dōsetsu lead an army to pacify a rebellion of Kikuchi clan in Higo Province, where he manage to suppress the rebels after the battle of Kurumagaeshi.[8][9] After this battle, Dōsetsu organized 48 of his warriors to form a small elite squad nicknamed as the "Shiro-Taka" or "White Hawks" squad.[10][11][12]

In 1546, Dōsetsu and other Ōtomo clan retainers were sent with 10,000 strong troops to suppress the first rebellion of Akizuki clan.[13]

In 1548, Dōsetsu was recorded to have experienced an incident where he was struck by a lightning bolt. This incident caused his left leg to be permanently paralyzed[14]

In 1550, Dōsetsu was involved in the Ōtomo clan civil war of succession between Ōtomo Sōrin and Ōtomo Shioichimaru. At the end of this conflict, Shioichimaru was killed, while Dōsetsu was sent with an army to attack Irita Chikazane, a Shioichimaru loyalist. Dōsetsu managed to beat Chikazane army and forced him flee from Ōtomo territory.[15]

Military service 1553-1562 & Siege of Moji


In 1553, Dōsetsu retired from his position as head of Bekki clan at 41 years old, then adopted Bekki Shigetsura, his half nephew, as foster son. Dōsetsu also immediately appointed Shigetsura as the next head of Bekki clan.[a][17]

In 1554, Dōsetsu was sent to suppress several uprisings in Bungo and Higo Province which were incited by Obara Akimoto, Honjo Shinzaemon, and Nakamura Shinbei.[18][19][13][20]

In 1556 at May 19, Dōsetsu's forces finally manage to quell the rebellions incited by Akimoto, and he later sent recommendation letters of his subordinates who gave outstanding performance during this operation, such as Korenobu Yufu, Takano Daizen, Adachi Sakyō, and Ando Iesada.[21]

In 1557, the Akizuki clan rebelled again due to their collaboration with Mōri Motonari, to which Sorin responded by sending Dōsetsu and Usuki Akisumi with 2,000 soldiers to quell their rebellion. Dōsetsu besieged the Akizuki clan which was led by Akizuki Kiyotane in Mount Kosho castle [jp].[22] In the end, Kiyotane and his son committed seppuku inside their castle.[23]: 564 

The site of the ruined Moji castle

In the next year of 1558, Dōsetsu fought Mōri clan general named Kobayakawa Takakage in the first siege of Moji castle. In this battle, Dōsetsu had 800 of his archers shower Kobayakama's army with arrows.[24][25] As the Dōsetsu continues his siege until 1562, Dōsetsu entered the last phase of this Siege of Moji, where he enlisted the help of traders from Portuguese Empire[26][27] In this battle, the Portuguese merchants assisted Dōsetsu with three ships weighted between 500-600 tons, The bombardment from the ships allowed the Ōtomo troops to establish themselves around Moji castle. However, the castle defenders manage to break the siege after the Portuguese has spent all their ammunitions and withdrew from this operation. Despite the Ōtomo forces under Dōsetsu launching another attempt at besieging the castle in 10 October 1561, they failed to subdue the castle.[28]

In 1560, Dōsetsu, Usuki Akisumi and Yoshihiro Akimasa fought against Munakata Ujisada, the head of Munakata clan.[29][30] For his achievements in pacifying the enemies, Dōsetsu were appointed by Sorin into the position of Kabanshu (personal assistant) and Shugodai (governor) of Chikugo province.[31]

In 1562 of July 13, Dōsetsu and his subordinate Korenobu Yufu,[21] has defeated the Mōri clan army in the battle in Yanagigaura in Buzen Province.[32][33] Later, Dōsetsu stormed Moji castle on October 13 and they managed to subdue the castle which was defended by Reizei Mototoyo, a former Ouchi clan vassal who was 25 years old.[34] On November 26, there was a battle all day long near Moji Castle, leaving hundreds injured and dead with an unclear result.[34]

Military service 1563-1570 & Battle of Yasumimatsu


In 1563, on the New Year's Day of 6th year of Eiroku, a large army led by Mōri Takamoto and Kobayakawa Takakage arrived to relieve Moji castle. The army of Dōsetsu and Mōri Takamoto entered a standoff until an intermediary envoy from Kyoto arrived sending a message from the Ashikaga shogunate to both Dōsetsu and Takamoto to stop their conflict.[34] In the same year, Dōsetsu changed his name from Akitsura into Dōsetsu.[35][36][37]

In 1564 July 25, the mediator from the Shogunate secured an agreement of temporary peace treaty between the Mōri clan and the Ōtomo clan.[38] However, this truce did not last long as on March 25, Dōsetsu once again fought the Mōri clan army which was led by Koremaki Yufu in The Fourth Battle of Yanagigaura.[39]

Later in 1565, the head of Tachibana clan, Tachibana Munekatsu, rebelled against Ōtomo clan. Dōsetsu were sent to pacify this rebellion.[40][41] In the end, the forces of Akitsura managed to capture Tachibanayama Castle belonging to the rebels.[42] However, Ōtomo Sorin, the head of Ōtomo clan, decided to give pardon for Tachibana Munekatsu due to his family relationship.[43]

Battle of Yasumimatsu
Date1567, September 3th
Around Yasumimatsu Castle in Chikuzen Province
Result Akizuki clan victory
Ōtomo clan Akizuki clan
Commanders and leaders

Tachibana Dōsetsu

  • Koretada Totoki  
  • Bekki Akitaka  
  • Bekki Chikashige  
  • Bekki Chikamune  

Usuki Akisumi

  • Yoshihiro Tatewaki  
  • Toshimitsu Hyōgo  

Yoshihiro Akimasa

Akizuki Tanezane

  • Sakata Moromasa  


  • 4,000 during night raid
Casualties and losses
at least 400 Unknown

In 1567, Akizuki Tanezane, a surviving son of Akizuki Kiyotane and the new Akizuki clan's head, has manage to recapture the castle of Mount Kosho from the Ōtomo clan and made his intention clear to fight against them. In response, Sorin sent Dōsetsu, Usuki Akisumi, and Yoshihiro Akimasa with 20,000 soldiers on August 14 to punish Tanezane. The Ōtomo army first engaged the Akizuki clan army on the Battle of Amamizu and Haseyama (also known as the Battle of Uryuno) on August 14, and on the 15th, and captured Ojo, a branch castle of Yasumimatsu Castle, causing the commander of the castle, Moromasa Sakata, to commit suicide.[44]

Dōsetsu then stationed his army around Yasumomatsu castle, in preparation to capture Mount Kosho Castle. However, the castle was defended firmly and the siege dragged on. Subsequently, rumors circulated that a huge Mōri clan army in Chugoku region planned to invade Ojo, which prompted the Ōtomo forces to withdraw from the siege of Mount Kosho. Later, the Ōtomo army abandonned Yasumimatsu castle and began retreating in the morning of September 3. In response, Tanezane decided to sally out to give chase against the withdrawing Ōtomo army by dividing his 12,000 troops into four groups under the command of Kankage Intosho, Sanehisa Uchida Zenbei, over 3,000 cavalry, and Ayabe Suruga no Kami, over 5,000 cavalry. Dōsetsu already anticipated this movement by leading a rearguard with 3,000 soldiers with the assistance of his lieutenants, Bekki Shigetsura, Ono Shizuyuki, and Korenobu Yufu, with each of them leading 500 to 600 cavalry.[45][44]

During this attack, at first the assault forces of Tanezane manage to inflict losses as they killed one of Dōsetsu's most trusted generals, Koretada Totoki. However, the rearguard detachment of Dōsetsu managed to reverse the situation and inflicted heavy losses upon Tanezane troops, forcing them to retreat. Later at night, Tanezane once again launched an assault this time with 4,000 soldiers in a night raid. The unexpected night attack by the Akizuki forces threw the Ōtomo army into chaos, and they suffered heavy losses with the total number of casualties being over 400, throwing the latter's force into panic. Dōsetsu managed to return order onto his troops and organize a retreat, however, Tanezane order his troops to pursue the fleeing Dōsetsu further, as they continued to pursue them as far as Chikugo Yamakuma Castle, forcing the Ōtomo army to suffer even more casualties.[44] Many of Dōsetsu's clansmen were killed in this battle, such as Bekki Akitaka, Bekki Chikashige, Bekki Chikamune.[46]

Later in August, Dōsetsu marched to Mount Hōman Castle to suppress the Akizuki clan. However, they faced stubborn resistance from the Akizuki forces as they clashed twice at Amamizu and Haseyama, before they finally could overcome the Akizuki army through daring personal charge by Dōsetsu[47][23] Later in November 15, Ōtomo Sorin sent Dōsetsu to further suppress the Akizuki clan, where Dōsetsu managed to capture the enemy castle in Mount Hōman.[23] Dōsetsu was recorded being armed with a long sword in this battle.[48] Then, Dōsetsu captured the Yamakuma Castle from Tanezane during autumn.[49][50]

In 1568, Mōri Motonari sent his army under the lead of Shimizu Munenori to besiege the Tachibanayama castle. Dōsetsu's army successfully defended the castle. In this battle, four of Dōsetsu vassals, Tsuresada Totoki, Takano Daizen, Korenobu Yufu, and Ando Iesada, gained fame in the battle, and later received the nicknames of Dōsetsu-Shitennō(Four heavenly kings of Dōsetsu).[41][20] The invasion of Mōri also involved Tachibana Munekatsu, the head of Tachibana clan, who has now betrayed the Ōtomo clan for the second time.[51]

Later in same year, Dōsetsu besieged Tachibana castle, which defended by Tachibana Munekatsu. In response, the Ōtomo clan sent Dōsetsu, Yoshihiro Akimasa, and Shiga Chikamori to led 30,000 soldier in order to pacify Munekatsu rebellion. Then as the Ōtomo army arrived at Tachibana castle on July 4, they immediately stormed the branch castle of Tachibana on the cliff of Tachibana mountain, until they captured the castle along with 28 Munakata's soldiers.[52] Later that night, one of Munekatsu vassal defected into Dōsetsu's ranks, and in the end, the castle of Tachibanayama had fallen to the Ōtomo army.[22] On July 23, after the fall of various parts of Tachibana mountain branch castles, Munekatsu fled to his last remaining castle, as the Ōtomo army pursued them, until Munekatsu committed suicide inside the castle.[53] On the same day, Dōsetsu and Takahashi Shigetane continued their operation to attack the Mōri clan's army which was sent to help Munekatsu. The standoff continued between them until in the next night Dōsetsu led a night raid against the Mōri army's supply base and managed to rout them from the area, completing the mission to subdue the rebellion in Tachibana mountain.[54] On July 29, Dōsetsu and other Ōtomo generals cleaning up the remaining resistances on Tachibana mountain, until the Mōri clan army under the lead of Shimizu Munenori and Harada Takatane invaded the Tachibana mountain once again with 5,000 soldiers in August 2. Dōsetsu responded to this development by bringing his army along with Usuki Akisumi, and Yoshihiro Akimasa to meet the Mōri clan army at the foot of Tachibana Mountain. The result of this battle ended with Ōtomo clan victory with the Mōri clan army routed and more than 300 mens being captured.[55][56] Following the end of Munekatsu rebellion and the failure of Mōri clan invasion, the office of Tachibana clan were postponed from Munekatsu's heir [b]

On November 25, Dōsetsu entered Chikugo Akashi Castle and married Hitoshihime, the daughter of Monchūsho Akitoyo, an Otomo vassal.[57]

In 1569, Dōsetsu was involved in the failed defense of the Siege of Tachibana castle, where the enemy forces under Mōri Motonari beat Dosetsu forces with the extensive use of cannons.[27] It was said that the reason why Dōsetsu forced to abandon the castle was due to lack of supplies.[58] Later in the same year, Dōsetsu personally led the Otomo forces against the Mōri clan in Tatara area (located in modern day Higashi-ku, Fukuoka), where they engaged in at least four battles which ended in deadlocks.[59]

Hakata Bay, where Dōsetsu fought the Mōri clan army at the Battle of Tatarahama

In May 18, after several engagements at the Battle of Tatarahama, the Ōtomo army led by Dōsetsu, Usuki Akisumi, and Yoshihiro Akimasa clashed against 40,000 soldiers under Kikkawa Motoharu and Kobayakawa Takakage.[27][60][61][62][63] During the fierce battle between the two sides, Dōsetsu lead the charge into the enemy formation and killed more than ten enemies and manage to beat the vanguard of Motoharu which was led by Yoshikawa Motoharu's vanguard led by Nobuki Narazaki. Then, Yoshikawa Motoharu used iron cannons to counterattack. The situation was described as dire for the Ōtomo side before Dōsetsu charged towards a gap in the formation of Takakage's army, allowing other Dōsetsu generals to reorganize themselves and rearrange their artillery. Dōsetsu rode his horse and charged forward unto the enemy camp while drawing his sword.The army of Motoharu and Takakage was unable to resist and was pushed back.[64]

Following the battle of Tatatahama, there are about 18 more clashes in the area from 21–26 May, between the Dōsetsu and the Mōri army with undetermined results.[38] by this moment, the Mōri clan suddenly lose their motivation to defend the Tachibana castle from Dōsetsu, as their own territories were threatened by Yamanaka Yukimori and Ōuchi Teruhiro. Then the Mōri offered peace by which accepted by the Ōtomo on the condition that Tachibana castle relinquished back to them.[65]

In April 23, 1570, Dōsetsu fought the forces of Ryūzōji Takanobu and Nabeshima Naoshige in the battle of Imayama. in this engagement, Dōsetsu was recorded riding a palanquin for the first time to support his disabled left leg during battle.[66] After this battle, Dōsetsu advanced further to engage the Ryūzōji army on the eastern flank of Saga Castle, until september after Dōsetsu manage to negotiate a truce with Ryūzōji Takanobu.[67] However, this campaign by Ōtomo forces was considered a catastrophic defeat due to the massive casualties they suffered and failure to complete their objectives, which ended in August 20.[68][69]

Military service 1571-1579 & defense of Chikuzen

Stone wall of Tachibana Castle Ruins.

In 1571, Dōsetsu was appointed as the official head of Tachibana clan, and changed his name, becoming Tachibana Dōsetsu.[70] As he became an authority who was responsible for the Tachibanayama Castle, Dōsetsu was tasked to maintain the defense of the Bungo's northwestern reaches.[71] However, as Dōsetsu was now appointed in Tachibana castle, the Bekki clan was split into two, as there are some who wanted to remain in Bekki clan's traditional domain, Fujikita, while other vassals of Bekki clan like Andō Ietada choose to follow Dōsetsu into Tachibana.[c] Furthermore, Dōsetsu also promoted into Shugodai of Chikuzen province, causing Dōsetsu now held virtually limitless authority on the province.[73]

On the same year, Dōsetsu took Munakata Irohime, sister of his old enemy, Munakata Ujisada, as concubine. At that year, Dōsetsu were 59 years old, while Irohime was 25 years old[74] This was considered as a reconciliatory political marriage between the Munakata clan and the Ōtomo clan.[citation needed]

In 1575, Dōsetsu try to adopt his vassal, Komono Masutoki, as the heir of Tachibana clan. However, Masutoki declined to be adopted, Dōsetsu now changing his focus for the Tachibana clan heir to his daughter sole daughter Ginchiyo.[75] Dōsetsu managed to secure authorization from Ōtomo Sorin to appoint Ginchiyo into Tachibana Ginchiyo, as the inheritor for the next head of Tachibana clan.[76] After Sorin gave him permission, Dōsetsu immediately retired as head of Tachibana clan and appoint Ginchiyo, who at that time was still 7 years old, as head of the Tachibana clan.[23]: 358  Dōsetsu also resigned from the position of Karō (senior official) of the Ōtomo clan, and assumed a more active role in the military command of Chikuzen province.[77][78]

In 1578, Dōsetsu and Takahashi Shigetane led a military operation in Tsukushi, where they pacified Iwaya castle in Chikuzen, until they stopped at Shibata river.[79] Later in the same year, the Ōtomo clan suffered a disastrous defeat in the Battle of Mimigawa at the hand of Shimazu clan. Nevertheless, the defeat of the Ōtomo clan in Mimigawa prompted Dōsetsu to write many letters to Yoshimune and other high ranking vassals of the clan that the he blamed the setbacks and also various rebellions by former Ōtomo vassals such as Akizuki Tanezane to the conversions and apostasy of many peoples in the region to christianity. This harsh criticism from Dōsetsu caused many Ōtomo vassals to change their attitude towards christianity and European missionaries, while Yoshimune himself even told Luís Fróis that he would not sponsor christianity anymore in Ōtomo's territory.[80]

The Ōtomo clan indeed suffered massive defections from their vassals, although Dōsetsu stayed loyal to the Ōtomo clan. However, the Tachibana castle which was located at the frontier of Ōtomo clan territories now became vulnerable against enemy aggressions.[81] In December 11-13 , Ryuzoji Takanobu worked together with Tsukushi Hirokado and Akizuki Tanezane to invade Chikuzen, while Dōsetsu and his army worked hard to defend those territories.[13]

Map of Japanese provinces (1868) with Chikuzen Province highlighted

In 1579 of mid January, Dōsetsu participated in the second Ōtomo invasion of Tsukushi province and Dazaifu town against the Akizuki clan, forcing Akizuki Tanezane to abandon his siege of Takatoriyama Castle. After that, Dōsetsu besieged the Iwaya castle for the second time.[82][83][84][85][86]

In March, Dōsetsu besieged the Iwaya castle for the third time subsequently with some clashes against the forces of Akizuki Tanezane.[87][88][89][90][91] Following that, Dōsetsu engaged against Akizuki clan forces in the battle of Yatake, Chikuzen province.[92]

Later in April 18, Dōsetsu rescued an Ōtomo clan general named Shiga Chikamori from the pursuit of Akizuki Tanezane by tricking the latter with some deceptions. Tanezane then withdrew his army as he believed the ruse.[87][88][93][89][91] Later, in July 12-18th, Dōsetsu defeated Harada Nobutane in the Battle of Namamatsuhara.[94][95] In July 27, Dōsetsu repelled a joint attack from Tanezane and Nobutane.[96]

From August 18 until early September, Dōsetsu engaged in three separate battles against the armies of Harada Nobutane, Munakata Ujisada, and Sugi clan respectively, in Tatarahama, Hakozaki, and adjacent of Agematsu Castle.[97][4][5]

In September, Dōsetsu and other Ōtomo generals fought in five separate battles against allied forces of Akizuki, Ryuzoji, Munakata and Harada clans, spanning in several places such as Arahei castle, Ikeda castle, and Kosoyama Castle.[98][99][100][101][102][103]

In November 15 until December 29, Dōsetsu was involved in five engagements against Akizuki clan and their allies such as Tsukushi Hirokado and the Harada clan.[104][105]

Military service 1580-1584


In 1580, Dōsetsu sent a letter which he aimed to 13 senior retainers of Ōtomo Yoshimune, heir to Sorin. In that letter, Dōsetsu condemned the spread of christianity in the territories of Ōtomo clan.[106] Later in February 2, Dōsetsu fought the forces of Ryuzoji clan in Sawara, Chiba.[107]

in May, he managed to capture a castle in Chikuzen from Munakata Ujisada.[108] in September 10 Dōsetsu clashed against Ujisada in Yoshikawa area of Fukuoka.[94][109] followed by the second Battle at Kama-Honami, Battle of Mount Ishigaki, and Battle of Yagiyama Ishizaka in October.[110][111][112][113] In November 3 until December, Dōsetsu fought against the forces of Akizuki Tanezane and Munakata Ujisada respectively.[113][114][115]

Tachibana Muneshige, Dōsetsu's son-in-law and future head of Tachibana clan

Next year in 1581, Dōsetsu participated in the several engagements across against Akizuki Tanezane. First, Dōsetsu fought against Tanezane and Ujisada in the battle of Koganebara,[116] which was recorded in history as the largest military engagement ever happened in Kurate until at that time.[117] In this battle, Dōsetsu has inflicted a crushing defeat on his enemies, which left the territories under the control of Ujisada vulnerable to further incursions by Dōsetsu's army.[118] Later, Dōsetsu fought against Tanezane again in Shimizuhara, and Takatori castle.[119][120]

In July 27, Dōsetsu and Shigetane Shigetane fought against Tsukushi Hirokado and Akizuki Tanezane in the second battle of Dazaifu Kanzeon-ji. It is in this battle that, Takahashi Munetora, who will be known as Tachibana Muneshige, saw his first notable action.[121][122] Contemporary Italian jesuit Alessandro Valignano has recorded that Muneshige was adopted as son by Dōsetsu and inherited the Tachibana clan.[123] At first, Shigetane declined. However, Dōsetsu implored him and stating that although he had Ginchiyo as inheritor of his clan, but he needed strong young samurai to lead the Tachibana clan in the future, as he further stated his reason that after his death, he need strong commanders to lead the both Takahashi clan and Tachibana clan to defend the declining Ōtomo clan. As he saw the Takahashi Shigetane potential heirs were many, then he need Muneshige inherit the command of Tachibana. Thus Shigetane finally accepted this reason and agree to give Muneshige for the Tachibana clan.[124] Then, as he secured the adoption, Dōsetsu immediately changed the lordships of Tachibana clan from his daughter, Ginchiyo, to Muneshige.[125][126]

On November 6, Dōsetsu marched to Kama and Honami along with Muneshige, and Shigetane. While on their way to the rescue of Kutami Akiyasu, the Tachibana and Takahashi forces received information that Akiyasu had safely retreated after fighting Akizuki Tanezane and Monjūjo Munekage the elder(great-uncle of Monjūjo Munekage the younger) in the Battle of Haratsuru, so they retreated. However, Tanezane forces turns out still pursuing them. Both fierce battles resulted in over 1,000 casualties, including over 300 casualties from Tachibana and Takahashi, and 760 for the Akizuki clan.[d]

In 1582 of February 10, Dōsetsu fought the Harada clan forces in the Fifth battle of Ima Matsubara.[134][135][136] Later in March 16, he fought in the battle of mount Konomi against Ujisada forces.[137][138][139][140] In April 16, Dōsetsu and Tachibana Muneshige besiege a castle under the control Nobutane.[141][142][143] At first, Dōsetsu brought 1,000 of his soldiers crossing the Naka river in the morning, then he divide them into two groups before storming the castle and forcing the defenders to abandon the castle, allowing Dōsetsu to claim the Iwato castle.[144]

On April 16, 1582, during the Battle of Iwato against the combined forces of 2,000 from the Akizuki, Harada, and Munakata clans, Dōsetsu led a 500-strong ambush force and surrounded his 1,000-strong main force. 300 of Muneshige's troops launched a surprise attack from the side with guns, while the remaining 200 soldiers were led by Komono Masutoki, who set up a false flag to make it look like reinforcements from the Ōtomo clan were coming, and finally managed to lift the siege. Muneshige then led 1,000 cavalry including Komono Masutoki, Korenobu Yufu, and Shigeyuki Ono, eliminating 300 of the Harada general's troops, Kasa Okinaga, who had built a fort at Iwatosho Kubeno, killing 150 of them, and pursuing them west to Sawara County, where he burned down Harada Chikahide's Sawara Castle.[145][146][147][148]

In October 2, Dōsetsu send his retainer, Yoshida Rensama to assist Shigetane in recapturing Yonenoyama Castle from the Akizuki clan. It was recorded that 200 soldiers of Akizuki clan has been slain during this battle.[149][150][133] In November 12, Dōsetsu was tasked to govern the town of Takatori by Mori Shizuma, an Ōtomo clan vassal. In the following day, as Dōsetsu were on the way Transported military supplies to Nōgata, they were ambushed by Munakata Ujisada's army at Miyawaka. As Dōsetsu forces fought back the ambush, the manage to repulse Ujisada forces although they also suffered many losses. In the following day of November 14, Dōsetsu once again clashed against Ujisada forces, followed with the next day Dōsetsu hastily marched his army to capture Miyaji town at Fukutsu, Fukuoka, while Ujisada still occupied with defending Kōbitake Castle.[151] The last military engagement Dōsetsu was involved in 1582 occured in December 22, where Dōsetsu, Shigetane, and Muneshige fought against Ujisada.[152]

In 1583, Dōsetsu and Shigetane spent their time from January to February fighting the Tsukushi clan in Hakata-ku, Fukuoka.[153] Later, from February to April, Dōsetsu manage to repel the repeated attacks by Tsukushi Hirokado.[153][154][155] In April 23, Dōsetsu and Shigetane stormed the Konomidake Castle which was defended by Ujisada, causing the latter to fled into Hakusan Castle.[156][157]

Bungo province reconquest

Location of Bungo province

in 1584, After Ryūzōji Takanobu was killed at the Battle of Okitanawate, the Ōtomo clan took their chance to launch a reconquest expedition of Ryūzōji territories which formerly belonged to the Ōtomo in March by invading Bungo Province. However, they were unable to subdue Chikugo Neko'o Castle which was defended by Kuroki Ienaga.[158]

This prompted Yoshimune to request assistance to Dōsetsu and Shigetane On August 18, which responded by both mobilize their army of 5,000 soldiers, crossing the mountainous and difficult terrain of the Chikugo River, Minou Mountains, Kujukujiri, and Takatori mountain.[158] progressively, the forces of Dōsetsu and Shigetane marches on while beating the Tsukushi clan and Akizuki clan forces. The next opponent Dōsetsu and Shigetane faced was the Kusano Clan and the Hoshino clan, which Dōsetsu and Shigetane defeated in the series of battle on Tanushimaru Town, Katase, Eritoguchi and Ishigaki, spanning 60 kilometer of from their starting point. On the 20th, Dōsetsu appointed his vassal, Ujibe Tsubakihara to led the assault against Takamure Castle, which surrendered in August 24.[159] Then the forces of Dōsetsu and Shigetane further advance and subdued Inuo castle.[160]

Later in August 25, they moving further to mount Okagoya, where the local samurai clans around the area submitted peacefully and joined the Ōtomo side.[161][162]: 96 [163] On August 28, Dōsetsu sent his general Tachibana Shizumi to led a detachment of 800 soldiers to besiege Jojima Castle.[e] However, this detachment failed to subdue the castle.[f] From September 8–11, Dōsetsu and Shigetane continued their marches while subduing many Chikugo province castles such as Yamashita Castle, Tanigawa Castle, Henshun Castle, Kanematsu Castle, and Yamazaki Castle, while they are recorded to burn several villages surrounding Yanagawa castle in 9th.[164]

Later in October 3, Dōsetsu and Shigetane stormed Takei Castle and burned it. This was followed with their operating in October 28 of pursuing an enemy commander named Kusano Chin'ei, who was retreating into Hosshindake Castle. However, they castle were failed to take the castle, so Dōsetsu and Shigetane abandon the siege and move further and capturing Takatori Castle/Hoshino Castle (Yamanonaka Castle), Fukumaru Castle, and on November 14, capturing the Inoue Castle.[165] Furthermore, after commencing scorched earth tactics by burning down several settlements in Akizuki clan's territory around Amagi and Amamizu, they once again commence operation to capture many castles in Mizuma District. However, at the sametime the Akizuki clan army manage to defeat an Ōtomo general named Chikaie Tawara, prompting Dōsetsu and Shigetane to abort their operation and returned to mount Tawara to rendezvous with other Ōtomo generals such as Kutami Akiyasu and Chiga Shikamore to strengthen the defensive position there. From then on, the year passed with their forces stationed in Kitano.[166][167]

Defense of Kurume 1585

Siege of Kurume
Location of Kurume, where the anti-Ōtomo forces besiege the town
Result Ōtomo clan victory, siege failed
Ōtomo clan

Anti Ōtomo alliance

Commanders and leaders
Tachibana Dōsetsu
Takahashi Shigetane
Ryūzōji Ieharu
Kusano Chin'ei
Nabeshima Naoshige
Tsukushi Hirokado
Ki Shigefusa
Nagano Sukemori
Goto Ienobu
9,800 30,000
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown

In 1585, Dōsetsu were involved in a defense against anti Ōtomo alliance massive invasion which was led by Ryūzōji Ieharu. This alliance involved many Ōtomo enemies such as Kusano Chin'ei, Nabeshima Naoshige, Tsukushi Hirokado, Ki Shigefusa (also known as Utsunomiya Chinfusa), Nagano Sukemori, and Goto Ienobu. This alliance was further augmented by Samurai clans from Hizen, Chikuzen, Chikugo, and Buzen, so that they all add up to 30,000 soldiers in strength, while Dōsetsu and Takahashi Shigetane had only 9,800 soldiers under their commands. The alliance has begun their attacks towards Kurume town.[168][169]

Dōsetsu and Shigetane manage to score a series of war victories over the numerically superior allied focers with a combination of brilliant maneuvers and tactics in three separate battles:[168][169][170]

  1. At first, in April 8, Dōsetsu and Shigetane launched assault to Yanagawa, destroying an enemy troops and manage to capture enemy generals such as Ryuzouji Shinsuke, Then they followed in action by burn down Yanagawa and returned to the coast of Takao.[171] Then later the Ōtomo forces splitting the 9,800 soldiers into two groups.[172]
  2. Later, Dōsetsu and Shigetane camped at Takara mountain, before they once again mobilized their army in April 18 storming Hatsushin castle and capturing it. Dōsetsu and Shigetane manage to repulse the Ryūzōji clan reinforcements which sent to help Hatsushin castle.[173]
  3. In the final phase of this series of engagements around the vicinity of Kurume town, the anti-Ōtomo forces were beaten back with losses after Dōsetsu and Shigetane fought bitterly defending their position.[174][175][176][172]

In April 23, Ieharu and Hirokado commit their reserves of remaining 16,000 troops and dividing their forces into five sections besieging Kurume. Dōsetsu and Shigetane engaged the allied forces with the combination of skillful artillery salvos, defensive formation tactics, and timely counterattacks, which in the end caused the allied siege collapsed.[177]



During the siege of Neko'o Castle, Chikugo Province in 1585, Dōsetsu fell ill, then as his condition worsened, and felt he was about to die, Dōsetsu told his retainers to put his body in armor and bury it on Mt. Kora facing Yanagawa Castle. Thus he was passed in September 11 at the age of 73.[178][179] However, as Takahashi Shigetane and Tachibana Muneshige fearing that the enemy will desecrate Dōsetsu's body if they retreat, they did not fulfill his wishes and instead brought his corpse along with them on their retreat. Until his death, Dōsetsu was recorded to have fought in 37 campaigns and more than 100 minor engagements while about half of his body was paralyzed.[180][181][182]

Personal info


Dōsetsu Was known for his loyalty to the Ōtomo clan. however, he was not afraid to speak out his mind to criticize his lord. When In 1578 Ōtomo Sorin planned to subjugate the Shimazu clan in southern Kyushu. Dōsetsu firmly opposed this policy.[183] Later, when indeed Sorin was crushed by the Shimazu clan at the Battle of Mimigawa, Dōsetsu immediately harshly criticized Sorin.[183] However, although the aftermath of this crushing defeat causing many of their vassals to lose confidence with the Ōtomo clan and defected, Dōsetsu stayed loyal to the Ōtomo and kept defending the Ōtomo clan.[71] At one occasion, Dōsetsu even killed a monkey pet of Sorin with a Japanese war fan, as he saw Sorin was too indulged with party and playing with his pet.[184] Furthermore, It was recorded that he started change his name from "Hetsugi" to "Dōsetsu" in 1563 as a deliberate attempt to associate himself with loyalty to Sorin, as he saw the name of Dōsetsu which literally means "road's snow", symbolized a loyalty in term that a road which frozen by snow would never change its way, which interpreted as never changing his way or betray his master until his death.[185][3]

Dōsetsu also was notoriously known as a ruthless disciplinarian. During the campaign against the Ryuzoji clan at Chikuzen Kawarasaki , he learned that some of his soldiers had left the camp without permission and returned to their homes. Dōsetsu immediately dispatched his soldiers and ordered them to execute not only those deserting soldiers who had returned home, but also their parents. Despite the urging of other senior military officers to not kill those soldier's parents, Dōsetsu insisted as he viewed the parents are equally guilty.[186]

Dōsetsu was said to possess a "strength that above any ordinary men" and has mastered a particular sword style which were named as tachiuchi ni myō o etaru (the art of slashing in all-direction).[187] According to the chronicle of Bekkidōsetsu Jō-jō” “Bekki gundan, Dōsetsu manage to personally kill 3 of Mōri clan general, namely Motonori Akagawa, Motochika Katsura, and Motoyo Reisen during the battle in Yanagigaura In 1562 in october 13th.[32][33] Meanwhile another records from Bekki Gundan and Kyūshū shoshō gunki has stated that in 1567, Dōsetsu personally killed two of enemy warriors namely Katsura Motochika and Akagawa Motonori. In the following days of 14th, during the battle of Yasumimatsu, Dōsetsu also reportedly has cut down seven enemy warriors and personally charging into enemy camp while on horseback. From then on he got a nickname 'Oni-Dōsetsu'.[48] During a battle against Mori clan in 1569, Dōsetsu killed at least ten of the enemy warriors personally.[64]

It was said that Dōsetsu was respected and admired even by his enemies. Nabeshima Naoshige reportedly shed his after hearing the death of Dōsetsu, while Ryūzōji Takanobu once praised Dōsetsu as "a best military figure in his time who are a lover of martial arts and literatures.".[188]

Meanwhile, his contemporary, the famous daimyo of Kai Province, Takeda Shingen, reportedly has heard the reputation of Dōsetsu, and once said that Shingen said he "would like to fight Dōsetsu in a battle and test his fighting skills" although Shingen lamented that the distance between his territory with Dōsetsu were too far apart.[188][189]

Weaponry & armory


According to folklore, while Dōsetsu was still a young man, he was taking shelter under a tree, as it was raining. Suddenly, a lightning bot struck him. However, Dōsetsu unsheath his Chidori sword to cut the Thunder God inside the lightning bolt, allowing him to survive. After this incident, he renamed his 'Chidori' to 'Raikiri'.[190][191][2][192][162]: 7–73, 89 [193] The sword which now preserved in museum has discolored marks on its tip, which allegedly a mark of being struck by lightning bolt once.[194]

Aside from Raikiri, Dōsetsu also possessed a 85 cm katana sword of made of Bizen Kiyomitsu origin.[195]

A Yari (Japanese spear) belonging to Dōsetsu is also preserved in Tachibana museum of Yanagawa city. It was reported that Dōsetsu used this spear to fight during a battle of Mount Tachibana valley in July 4 of 1568, when he fought against Tachibana Akitoshi, former head of Tachibana clan who rebelled against Ōtomo clan.[196]

Tachibana museum also preserved a Naginata polearm which was dated from 1553 which belongs to Tachibana clan. Its Blade length 65.0 cm while its Curvature is 2.1 cm. This Naginata were said as one of Naginata which carried by 100 soldiers whose escorting Dōsetsu carriage during battles.[197]


Tachibana Dōsetsu reportedly always praying in this Rokusho Shrine before going to war

As a military commander, Dōsetsu was recorded to participate in fighting melee combats during his wars, despite being suffering from paralysis in his left leg due to an accident at certain point during his life, which forcing him to ride a carriage which carried by his followers even during battles. He also said to keep his personal arquebusTanegashima gun on the side of his carriage[198][199][200][201][202][203] there are about 100 soldiers surrounding his carriage to escort Dōsetsu in battles.[197] Dōsetsu was said to command the soldiers who carried him to take him along with his carriage to charge into enemy ranks during battles.[204]

The military regime under Dōsetsu command has developed many miscellanous posts which were unique to his clan. Those units were usually named with extravagant sobriquet such as "Tachibana's clan four heavenly kings" (Shitennō),[41][20] "Dōsetsu's 48 White hawk warriors" (Shirotaka),[10][11][12] "Tachibana's 32 spear warriors"(San jū ni yari hashira),[205] or "Dōsetsu's two great kings" (no niō)[206] These positions usually consisted of the most elite and trusted retainers of both Bekki clan and Tachibana clan. However, the membership of this units also changed many times during Dōsetsu lifetime. as example, the 48 White hawk Warriors usually recruit new members to replace old members who has retired or killed in a battle to sustain their numbers.[207] Meanwhile, to help him maintain the administrations, Dōsetsu has appointed 7 of hist most senior retainers as Karō.[208]

Dōsetsu also known as avid reader of military strategy principles from the book of Sun Tzu treatise of The Art of War[209]。Later, in a Ōtomo military campaign together with Takahashi Shigetane, Dōsetsu fought using the hōen formation, which included six ranks of arquebusiers and two ranks of bows to fend off attacks.[210] In this battle, Shigetane used a defensive formation which was named as kōyaku formation.[210] Another tactic implemented by Dōsetsu was an ad-hoc maneuver called Nagao-Gakari (長尾懸かり). This tactic were involved two ranks of riflemens which shot their guns in rotation, then followed by spearmens charging forward, which further followed by cavalry troops to follow suit charging behind them.[211]

Dōsetsu was also known for his innovation in gunpowder warfare, as according to one record, Dōsetsu once conducted experiments on complex movements of iron cannons before firing, where he invented a method of mixing ammunition and projectiles for one shot and putting them into special bamboo tubes. This technique was rumored to cause the musket gunners of Tachibana clan could fire salvo of their matchlock rifles three times faster than other contemoporary rifle gunners in Japan.[212] This technique was reportedly used by Tachibana Muneshige during the Siege of Ōtsu in 1600.[213] This technique was named hayagō.[214][215]


18th century Japanese philosopher Miura Baien wrote an elegy that praised Tachibana Dōsetsu for his wisdom, courage, and honor.[188]

Tachibana Dōsetsu was depicted in Japanese semi-historical novel Honō no gunsen Tachibana Dōsetsu authored by Nishizu Hiromi.[216]

In the popular anime series Naruto, there are techniques named “Chidori” and “Raikiri”. To reference the story of Dōsetsu, a major character named Kakashi Hatake uses one of these techniques to cut a bolt of lightning in half.

In the anime series Katana Maidens, Chidori is the sword used by the main character, Eto Kanami.

Tachibana appears in the video game Samurai Warriors 2: Empires as a generic officer.

Tachibana is mentioned in the description of the Raikiri, which is usable in the fantasy RPG Nioh.

See also




Foot notes

  1. ^ One source recorded that he relinquish lordshipf of Bekki clan to Shigetsura in 1550.[16]
  2. ^ Tachibana Shinzen, before later in 1571, Sorin instead give the office of Tachibana clan to Dōsetsu.[51]
  3. ^ Nakano Anai stated Dōsetsu were appointed as head of the Tachibana clan in 1570[72]
  4. ^ ^ The Tachibana side referred to this battle as the Battle of Junnohara (also called the Third Battle of Kama and Honami, the Battle of Junnohara, or the Second Battle of Yagiyama-Ishizaka (a battle that took place at the Dainichi-ji entrance on the Yagiyama Ishizaka road in Honami County, a different battle from the Second Battle of Dazaifu Kanzeonji and the Second Battle of Dazaifu Ishizaka in Ishizaka, Dazaifu City on July 27 of the same year)), while the Akizuki side referred to it as the Battle of Yagiyama.[127][128][129][130][131][132][133]
  5. ^ According to the first collection of the Yanagawa Domain history Series, he was killed in the Battle of Chikugo Castle. meanwhile, "Yanagawa City History" chronicle has stated that Shizumi was killed in action at Nishimuta Castle during the Mizuma District mopping up battle in late November.
  6. ^ depends on the version, according to "Komono family records", they manage to subdue the castle. while according to "Nabeshima Naoshige Documents from Hizen and Chikugo ", Dōsetsu and Shigetane army were failed.


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External biography

Preceded by Tachibana family head
Succeeded by