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Amakusa Shiro - God's Samurai The revolt of Shimabara

Roland Habersetzer
by Palisander

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German hardcover book with dust jacket and about 360 pages, format 21 x 13.5 x 3 cm
weight: approx. 0.48 kg

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The revolt of Shimabara, translated from the French by Frank Elstner.
At the beginning of the 17th century, there were about 300,000 Christians in Japan, among them several daimyo. However, the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan since 1603, forbade the exercise of foreign religion. Especially the third Shogun of the dynasty, Tokugawa Iemitsu, saw it as a threat to the original culture of the country and not least for his rule. At his command, Japanese Christians were tortured tens of thousands and executed. Especially in the south of the country, where most Christians live, the living conditions were unbearable. But in secret opposition to the reign of terror grew. In its center stood five Ronin, who planned a revolt. As the leader they chose a 17-year-old boy, Shiro, of whom it was said he was a messenger of Heaven, a new Messiah. End of 1637 the rebellion broke out, and quickly developed into the one of the largest rebellions that ever experienced the Empire of the Rising Sun. Tens of thousands of peasants, samurai and ronin fought, inspired by the strength of their faith, against the power of the shogunate.

The French martial arts master Roland Habersetzer portrays in this novel extraordinarily exciting and lively manner and with great historical accuracy of the uprising of the Christians from Shimabara.

Introduction - History:

On the history of the late 16th century, Japan experienced a tremendous battle for supremacy in the country. The young Tokugawa Ieyasu was determined to suppress the Klan of the 1598 deceased Toyotomi Hideyoshi from power. In the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 the Toyotomi clan suffered a crushing defeat. As a result, the defeated daimyo contributed to the winner allegiance. 1603 had himself appointed shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. This appears as a just reward for his skilful policy, by which he had united the country. A seemingly endless series of civil wars Japan had not previously have come to rest. Under the rule of the Tokugawa began a long period of political stability. It was not until the Meiji Revolution in 1868 ended the power of this clan, as the new emperor Mutsuhito precipitated the decision to lead his country into a modern era. But 21 years after the death of Tokugawa Ieyasu there was a brief but bloody interlude. Some months fell in the extreme south of the country, on the island of Kyushu, the firmly established order he had established throughout the country, to falter. Here, far away from the capital Edo, now Tokyo, a revolt broke out of Christians (kirishitan), which, strictly speaking, an inter-religious revolt of the peasantry as a whole constituted, which had been suppressed here for decades mercilessly and exploited. From the Philippines missionary Jesuits were in the second half of the 16th century comes to Japan and had successfully begun to spread their faith in the island kingdom. No sooner had the first Tokugawa Shogun seized power, he issued edicts demanding the increased persecution of the followers of alien faith. Ieyasu ordered to destroy the churches, and he demanded that the converted Japanese would either getting them to renounce their faith or that they would if they remained inflexible, executed. In this way, Buddhism, which he viewed as a threat should find back to its former strength. Kyushu, but especially the Shimabara Peninsula and the Amakusa Islands were the scene of a ruthless persecution of Christians. Between 1614 and 1635 nearly 300,000 Christians who refused to renounce including many foreign Jesuits died. The inhabitants of Kyushu dulled gradually under constant terror with which they had to live - just so they could endure the incessant violence of Governors of Nagasaki, who had vowed to wipe out the foreign religion. It was only allowed to enter Japan in one God, the Emperor, the Tenno, who was regarded as the son of heaven. Many Christians swore under the pressure of persecution and the horrors of torture from their faith. Other retired, bruised mentally and physically, in remote corners of the country back in order to eke out as agricultural laborers. But the taxes that were levied on harvests were so high, that what remained farmers, often barely enough to survive. The local daimyo literally squeezed the very last of the poor islanders to play during the high expenditures that correspond to their rank. But among these farmers, whose lives counted for nothing in the eyes of those in power, numerous samurai who had lost their income and their privileges as professional warriors hid because they are the among their Christian daimyo Konishi Yukinaga, the erstwhile rulers of these provinces to had converted faith. Poverty and misery had let it be bitter in the heart, but all the misfortunes of their morale had been able to harm it. Still the memory of the time of the glory of their liege lord in them was alive that time, included in the discipline and the preservation of the tradition of the most important things in their lives. And so these brave men remained a long time in silence, until the day on which it became obvious that they actually no other choice remained but to fight. When they realized this, they decided to initiate an uprising. And so got up, totally unexpected for the rulers, the tortured peasants in a massive revolt. This was the revolt of Shimabara (Shimabara-no-ran). At the top of the survey were five Ronin, former samurai in the wake of Konishi Yukinaga. Denominated Your name Ashizuka Chuemon (Chidzuka Zenzaemon) - he was the senior officer - Mori Soi (Soiken), Oye Matsuemon, Oye Genyemon and Yamada Emonsaku (Zenzaemon). It was they who selected in that fateful fall of 1637 the 17-year-old Shiro Masuda Tokisada as a charismatic leader of the rebellion. Following him, tens of thousands of Japanese Christians threw in an adventure from which there could be no turning back, because they dared to confront the power of their shogun in the way. Masuda Shiro Tokisada quickly became the symbol of resistance against oppression and injustice. In fact, he remains the most mysterious personality. No one knows whether he actually held the command of the uprising of Shimabara or whether he enforced the will of the five Ronin who use his charisma for their purposes. There are now many details about the events of that day, but the real personality of the young leader remains hidden in the fog. He came from the nearby province of Higo city Udo. His father was the Christian peasants Samurai Masuda Yoshitsugu (Jinbei). Since he was twelve years old, Shiro was often in Nagasaki, where he worked for Chinese traders and got in a Christian family teaching. Probably it was where he was baptized in secret and was awarded the Portuguese name Jerónimo Machondano Chico (Maxondanoxiro). It is, at a very young age, his talent for literature and all forms of art have shown. And the legend adds: He was able to bring birds to settle on his hand and lay there even eggs. Some have seen him walk even across the sea, near a glowing cross that had appeared out of the water. It gave him messianic qualities, as they were required to tear out the mass of peasants, Christians and non-Christians from their dull lethargy. His youth, his bright face and his burning eyes wore hers to this: Amakusa Shiro was the angels of heaven (Tendo), a new Jesus Christ (Yaso Kirishito), the emissary of God (Deusu). His magnetic personality beat anyone who came near him, in the spell. His message he repeated tirelessly, said that "Verily, all things on this earth and every being, whatever his rank was also, had the same origin and of the same nature were" (Tenchi dokon banbutsu Ittai Kisen fusen ISSAI Shujo) . This generous and on the equality of all directional vision found sympathetic ears among ordinary people on the southern Japanese islands, suffering hunger and dreamed under the relentless pressure of the tyranny of a better world. The five Ronin had therefore agreed to act in the name of Shiro's, can raise not only because of its natural youthful charisma, but also because he is aware belonged to none of the rival Gruppierun12 who had a right to take the lead in this uprising . And before he even stepped in front of the eyes of thousands oppressed, who wanted too happy to believe only what they had happened the rumors became all the rage for a plan that has been attributed to him: A march north to be Christian with foreign troops to unite - then take the fortress of Osaka and march to Edo. The hated daimyo would be captured on the go. A new age would buy in Japan! Full of hope, the people crowded at the beginning that autumn of the year 1637 to brazier, which were embedded in the clay soils of the miserable huts, while outside in the wind and the cold roamed the spirits and the moon rose in the sky and the tops of the trees and the silhouettes of the mountains appeared in a bluish light. All events that are told in this book, as well as its timing, and the names of the places in which they are played out, historically documented. Many of the people who appear on these sites actually existed. The reader will find listed in the Appendix. Their conversations and specific behaviors were, however devised by the author. The same goes for "Shiro's Diary," is quoted from in the course of the narrative again and again. The diary entries are according to the Japanese era Kan'ei (1624-1643) dated, which corresponds to the end of the reign of Emperor Go-Mizuno-o and the beginning of the reign of Emperor Meisho. Japanese terms are shown in italics in the text, this should help the reader to find it again in the glossary of this book. Exceptions are items that can be assumed to be largely known today or their meaning is clear from the text itself. What the people - be they historical or not - is concerned, their names are given according to the Japanese tradition: First, the name is called and then the first name. The two maps in the appendix allow us to classify the events spatially.

Excerpt from the book:

Amakusa, in early January 1638 The hikyaku come with imposed reins. Hardly the exhausted rider had been able to keep in the saddle as he reached the gates of Funai in the province of Bungo, and when he was serving his sweaty steed, he fell to the ground. However, it took two full days, until the two governors of the shogun understood at this location, how urgent was the answer that demanded the letter from Shimabara, which had brought hikyaku. They summoned a council of war in Takase, which lay in the neighboring province of Higo, a. Four daimyo, whose areas were affected by the uprising, were present. They were rushed to the instructions of the Shoguns from Edo. They wasted no time with formalities. The daimyo quarreled because each accused the other of wanting to meddle in his affairs. So it was impossible to reach an agreement on a joint rapid intervention in favor of the besieged Shimabara or Tomioka. In vain suggested Shimizu Hoki, wanting to knock down its own forces from his castle in Kumamoto from the collection. On no account should charge him alone be the glory, the rebels defeated to have! In addition, the whole was nothing more than an ordinary popular uprising, as it existed at any time of the year somewhere in the country. What was special about this kirishitan? It would not hurt to be seen a little. What about fall? The Military Council came to the conclusion that time is enough to wait for the troops of the shogun led by Itakura Shigemasa that had been held up by organizational problems, but now could not be far. The wave of attack of the Christians broke a third time at the entrenchment, the Harada Iyo, one of those who had escaped the ambush of Shimako, in all haste had built. They blocked the way on the narrow tongue of land, which led to the fortress, so that the attacks took place far away from their walls. Harada had had enough time. After the rest period after their overwhelming victory, the rebels formed only slowly. In great disorder, but triumphantly holding their banners up, they marched towards the headland of Tomioka. Their leaders had tried in vain to coordinate the attack on the citadel. It was impossible for them, the thousands of rebels to discipline still drunk with their success in Shimako. And again stormed a troop, colorful crowd of bushi and peasants, the clumsy agricultural implements or captured weapons waved, without any order of battle with a loud roar forward. But that surge was thrown back, the attacker each other disabled and dead and wounded had to leave at the foot of the new obstacle. Ashizuka and Yamada were on a wooded hill, from where they could watch the futile attempts exactly. But they could do nothing. The entrenchment was occupied by the men Harada. Further back, in the ramparts of the castle, the silhouettes of other armed men were seen, ready to take the places of fallen defenders. All this could take a long time, and time was pressing. Suddenly came a silence, as if both camps needed a respite. What followed was reminiscent of the old days, to those far-off centuries in which the armies of the clans of the Taira and the Minamoto used to open their battles with the fact that they initially their greatest fighter on the field that separated the troops from each other, could compete against each other. This is exactly what happened now under the incredulous eyes Ashizukas, Yamada and other rebel leaders who had joined them on their observation post. The silhouette of a warrior broke away from the foot of the makeshift fortification, to the already had lost their lives from both camps so many brave fighters. Although the sun was veiled by clouds veils, could a short light reflex on the occupied helmet with horns see what suddenly facing hundreds of pairs of eyes with a feverish glance. One more involuntarily back a little intrigued by the handsome appearance and the authority of the man who wore a suit of black armor radiated. The warrior would have provided an easy target. There had to be a very brave man. Suddenly the fighter recognized him - she murmured his name and finally fell silent: it was Harada Iyo personally, the Samurai captain, who had come from Karatsu and had saved from the ambush of Shimako what was still to save. Although he had to be tired and exhausted from the rigors of the last days and nights, he exuded a fearsome force. His confident appearance before the attackers seemed to calm things down - the last cries were silenced. He paused a while, then he cried with a far-reaching voice, "Oei! Is there among you not a single true samurai who dares to compete with Harada Iyo in a duel? "Since the last major battles of the Samuraiklane who constantly were fighting with each other until the Shogunate of the Tokugawa had been built, the imposed upon all his peace, had not experienced such behavior. This custom had once allowed many warriors of the great families of the country to publicly prove their heroism. But a command of the Shogun had the put an end, as well as the large regular battles. Ashizuka who had participated in the great battle of Sekigahara over thirty years ago, could testify that the custom was at that time still existed. And that many noble warriors had immortalized in this way their names in history, as once in centuries past, the warriors of the Yamato era. But what was happening up here in front of his eyes, was really incredible, because the old custom said that the ikki- uchi was proclaimed only in the face of an opponent, which you wanted to show in this way his respect. But this could not possibly be the case here with an enemy that was nothing but a bunch of yokels and neglected Ronin in the eyes of the representatives of the shogun. What happened here? The man took a huge risk. The leader of the Ronin knew, of course, that after such a feat the men Harada him either follow into battle or would avenge him without regard to his own life. Ashizuka regretted that such a man of her case had been able to escape, but he could not help but acknowledge his bravery. Time seemed to stand still. Finally broke away from the ranks of the Christians a tall warrior, who also wore a Samurai armor. His helmet was decorated with a crane plume, and the jimbaori, which he wore over his armor was painted behind with two crossed kama on bright red background. »Umetsu-sama," whispered Ashizuka Chuemon who recognized the famous warrior crest. The image of the crescents was once a sign of recognition, which contributed many Christian daimyo and samurai. The old warrior had to their ranks have joined recently, as well as other famous samurai who now came from everywhere to reinforce the rebel forces. But now was not the time to think about where Umetsu might have come so suddenly. "Is Umetsu Yusai you enough? I was once a vassal of noble Konishi Yukinaga, and I took part in his side in the campaign against Chuzan! Even against the rebellious Sadato in the distant provinces of the North I fought. My life does not weigh more than one crane feather, but I would rather die with his face to the enemy, than continue living with her back to him. "His voice carried far into the silence. To the two Samurai is a large open space had formed. No one spoke a word more. Umetsu drew his katana, took it firmly in both hands and approached with short, cautious steps his opponent before he occupied a stable position. You could tell that he was looking for a suitable angle of attack allowed him to shorten the distance. Both men turned a little. Abruptly Umetsu rushed to the man in black armor, but his jump was not fast enough. He did not succeed, at the same time avoid the ball out lance Harada and get him close enough that he could hit him with his sword. Harada yari pierced the side of his armor and penetrated him deeply between hip and ribs in the body. Umetsu was thrown backwards. The fight was over. Hundreds of men cried out as with one voice. Harada Iyo had time enough to bring before the furious onslaught of Christians in security that immediately a living barrier to their heroes were, who lay in a growing pool of blood. They lifted him and carried him to the rear. The old warrior was no match for his opponent. He had not possessed the necessary power and speed and was not used to dealing with the weapon. Ashizuka and Yamada had jumped up and rushed from their hill to the dying. She bent over him and gently took off his helmet. "Forgive me, Ashizuka-sama. I should join you earlier, "he said in a barely audible voice. "But - the road was a bit far for the old man I am today, is not it? I'm now facing rather than your our Lord. "His eyes turned to the sky, and he died. At least his head was the enemy not fallen into the hands, and you would be able to give him a burial according to the rites. His name would be mentioned in the same breath with that of his illustrious ancestors. In both camps, hundreds had seen the struggle of this hero, who seemed to have come from another age to them. And they would never forget him. Uchibori Paulo, one of the priests of the Christian community of Sakitsu was rushed, but he reached the dying at the very moment when he breathed his last. He fell beside him on his knees and remained long with him, with a sad look deep reciting the rosary and the prayer for the dead. The general tumult that had arisen again, he seemed not to notice. The leader of the Christians had all who had muskets, ordered to refer in the night on the wooded hillside position, which was in firing range for entrenchment. Thus, the fighter Harada Iyos nothing noticed minor attacks were waged against them again and again. At dawn the advanced enemy camp was suddenly taken under constant fire. A majority of the men fell under the bullets, and the survivors were forced to flee into the interior of the fortress. The bolt that blocked access to it was broken. The Christians could reach up to the walls again. Like a pack of mad dogs rushed ahead thousands of them, in shambles. Seen through the loopholes of the citadel through the number of assailants seemed innumerable. The nightmare Miwake Tobeis, the commander of the fortress, began again, and it was far worse than at the beginning. If no help coming from outside, they would be lost. The gain from Karatsu had been decimated in Shimako. He did not have enough men to withstand long can. The hatred of the Christians was particularly pronounced against him. Miwake she can torture without any mercy, and he had the inhabitants of the island literally squeezed the last to the financial needs Terasawas, his daimyo satisfy, can. In a message he had one of the last pigeons that were still available entrusted to him, he had his predicament justified by the fact that the Christians were just too many, than that he would have his men can beat. Tomioka was now completely cut off on its headland, besieged by tens of thousands of Christians who were clearly determined to put a quick end to the matter. Mori Soiken had sent another well-equipped troops from Shimabara. They had the strait traversed at low tide - the besieged had to watch helplessly as columns of warriors on foot and on horseback, whose armor flashed from time to time in the sun, cause came through the shallow water and struggled to finally back on dry land reach. "We do not have enough arrows and not enough gunpowder to destroy these rats," Miwake Tobei blurted out, without interrupting his walk through the great hall of the castle. All officers here, in the extreme south of Kyushu still represented the shogunale order were gathered. An order which was more than ever at risk, if not speedily assistants were sent to them. In their faces the fear was written. In vain the scouts had been held out to the towers in the corners of the citadel. They could only report that the tide of Christians who flocked from the promontory of Kuchinotsu, continues to swell. "Well. We are left with after all, still plenty of time to kill many of them, "said finally Harada Iyo firmly. Even if some of those present nodded in agreement, but no one could ignore what resonated in his words. Not all of the samurai leaders were willing to die. Certainly they were familiar with the idea of ​​an inevitable death from childhood, but to lose the life of this peasant Pack, was another matter. It had been little the honor to fight against them. Okajima Jirozaimon, Ogasawara Saisuke, Sawaki Hichirobei, Tatsukuri Hachirobei, Nabika Kuhei, they had all been massacred in Shimako, an end that their was not worthy. The young Aoki Kanaemon, who had been wounded in the battle and his rescue thanked only the swiftness of his horse ver125 wanted at any price to give up hope that the sea may be covered by one hour to the other with ships full auxiliary troops they before this obnoxious amount saved. Once again, his gaze fixed on the silhouette of one of the scouts that he could see through the window, and the still motionless watching the horizon. Suddenly the cry of a sentry rang out: "Here they come," But the call did not come from the side of the sea!. The officers rushed to the walls, each in his assigned post. Drums were beaten - there was a deafening noise. Kenzaki Nobata just needed a little time to get his Thunderers above on the part of the rampart behind the parapet in position, the attack seemed to concentrate. Such a pathetic tactic offered him the unexpected opportunity, the salvos to focus also. The result was not long in coming. The first attack wave of Christians was literally mowed down. They died by the hundreds. Kenzaki had had to compete in several rows his riflemen, so that they could constantly alternate with each other and they had enough time to recharge. The attackers were left with no respite. They could not even get to the foot of the walls. They had to retreat and their dead and their wounded to leave, the desperate cries they followed. Who could walk out of the wounded still, trying in vain to escape the ensuing hail of arrows. The archers Hayashi Kojuros had taken the place of the Thunderers. In this way, balls and powder could be saved. Shiro and his Ronin had to helplessly watch the debacle of their fighters. Some of the survivors were looking directly at the walls of the fortress protection from arrows and bullets. They were stormed by the first waves of attack blindly forward and had not managed to reverse time. But their fate was sealed. - It was given orders not to do anything that day on. It was Emonsaku Yamada, who announced a plan that promised greater effectiveness in the attack. Mori Soiken had explained to him what his men had already been tried with success on the other side of the strait. In Yamada's instruction, several hundred men were detailed to make them the rest of the day and also a part of the night preparing the material in secret, which was needed for the next attack. It was makeshift shields were made of woven bamboo and reinforced with wood. In its protection, it should be possible to arrive at the gates of the fortress. The attack took place at dawn. It was raining lightly. War-cry rang, drums were beaten, glaring sounded conches. The rush excelled in his balancing the attacks of recent days, and apparently indifferent to the hail of bullets and arrows that the men Kenzaki Nobatas and Kunie Seizaimons who had rushed to the ramparts fired, rose unleashed Christians about the rapidly piling up bodies of their comrades and climbed the outer wall. They put their foot on the second ring wall, but the third Wall resisted their attack. The garrison commander had several hundred fire arrows send through the embrasures, the aflame the fragile bamboo shields what Christians surprised and their morale broke. Many were burnt alive because they had fallen into the scrum under the dead bodies of fallen comrades and could not rid fast enough from the load. This time Ashizuka Chuemon had to admit that, the courage of his men would remain in vain without guns, who fired a breach in the fortifications. Without at least a gun he would Tomioka can not take it. The conches of Christians gave signal to retreat. Great discouragement began to spread in the camp of the insurgents. Nevertheless, already prepared the next before it, to go in tight rows forward. But panic broke out as the survivors of the first attack wave returned to the camp, in resolution, stunned, many of them seriously wounded. Those who were too weak to drag himself to the camp, the expected amid the countless corpses of certain death. In the camp who remained could not do anything for those whose cries of pain and prayers put her into despair. The narrow strip of land that was on the island with the hill on which Tomioka, union, was full of men, women and children, as far as possible ventured themselves, at least to the wounded who made it up to them, in safety bring.


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