Battle of Arita-Nakaide

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In 1517 the most powerful lord of Aki province was arguably Takeda Motoshige, lord of Kanayama Castle. A decade earlier, as a vassal of the Ôuchi, he had accompanied Ôuchi Yoshioki to Kyoto as part of the latter's expedition there in support of deposed shôgun, Ashikaga Yoshitane. The connection of the Ôuchi and Takeda was not mutually agreeable, however. In the last decade of the 15th century, the Ôuchi had taken advantage of disorder in the Takeda house to invade and force their submission. When he was able to return to Aki, Motoshige gained the support of the Amako and now broke from the Ôuchi.

In 1516, Môri Okimoto, the lord of the neighboring Mori clan, died suddenly and was succeeded by his young son Komatsumaru. Taking advantage of this and the fact that the bulk of the Ôuchi army remained in Kyoto, the following year, Takeda gathered an army of some 5,000 and advanced into the territory of the Môri's Kikkawa allies and surrounded Arita Castle [有田城], held by Oda Nobutada [小田信忠], in the 10th month. A few weeks later, Motoshige dispatched a raid into the Môri's territory and set fire to houses in Tajihi [多治比] so as to further provoke the Môri to action. The Môri were led by Motonari, younger brother to Okimoto and Komatsumaru's guardian. At age 20, he is thought to have never seen battle prior to this campaign.

Despite not being able to rely on help from the Ôuchi, Motonari mobilized his clan and their supporters, including the Awaya, Fukuhara, Inoue, Kuchiba, and Watanabe. He was also supported by his younger brother, Mototsuna. In total his strength was around 700 men, reinforced by 300 from the Kikkawa, for a total of around 1,000. This force marched towards Arita Castle and on the way encountered the Takeda vangaurd, commanded by Kumagai Motonao [熊谷元直], and numbering around 500 men. The allies stood off and engaged the Takeda with archery fire. Motonao was in the front ranks and encouraging his men when he was struck and killed by an arrow.

Motoshige was meanwhile with the main army at Arita. Learning of the reverse, he drew up his forces and marched to avenge Nobunao. The Takeda encountered the Môri and Kikkawa occupying the opposite bank of the Matauchi River [又打川] and a hard-fought contest began. Heavily outnumbered, the allied troops began to waver and fall back, held in place only by Motonari's desperate pleas to stand their ground. Motoshige himself advanced forward across the river on horseback. He was struck by an arrow and killed. The Takeda broke and retreated, leaving Motonari the victor and paving the way for the future rise of the Môri, not just in Aki but throughout the Chugoku region.