10/06/10 - Maybe I fixes it?
updated by Mason
I think I may have fixed the code. There was a rather stupid problems with the PHP.

12/22/09 - Testing what's wrong
updated by Mason
I'm not sure what happened to my coding but what the heck.

03/10/09 - Chubu Tour Pt. 3: Sekigahara and Fukui
updated by Mason
After leaving Nagoya is was already about 1pm and I had limited light to get to our next stop on the trip, Sekigahara. From Nagoya, we moved northwest into a tip of Gifu prefecture that sits in-between Aichi and Shiga prefecture.

Following the blue line on the map, we drove about an hour or so out of Nagoya before making it to Sekigahara (click on map to see blown-up view).

Here we are passing into Gifu. I'm not quite sure why there is a black stork on the border sign but it felt appropriate for the setting.

So far on the trip we've been driving in flat geographical areas near the coasts of Japan so we have yet to face any real mountains or difficult terrain. The majority of Japan is made up of very uninhabitable areas of towering mountain ranges. If Japan wasn't small and packed enough already, the actual useable amount of land within the island nation is but a fraction of their actual landmass. The inner parts of the country are all mountain prefectures that during winter offer considerable dangers traveling through. The above picture shows us approaching the first mountain range in Gifu.

Here we are at the Sekigahara battle museum. If you recall my many references to Tokugawa Ieyasu in the previous posts, it all culminates in this place. Sekigahara was the most important battle in Japan's history. Periods of history in Japan are broken up into several epochs based on the main events of the time. For centuries before 1600, the epoch was known as Sengoku era. Sengoku translates to 'warring states period'. At the time, various clans reigning over different geographical regions battled neighboring clans over resources and supremacy. Nearing the end of the 16th century, many of these clans had been formed into two alliances both aiming to unify Japan. One alliance, coming from the west side of Japan, was led by the lord Mitsunari Ishida. The second alliance, coming from the east, was led by Tokugawa Ieyasu. Bitter rivals, they both planned for the conquest of the other with the hopes to rule over one unified Japan.

In fall of the year of 1600, These two massive forces faced off in one final battle in the valley of Sekigahara. Today, the battleground houses many points of interest and a museum explaining the battle indepthly with many artifacts from the battle.

Here I am trying on Tokugawa's armor. Not a bad fit I must say.

The interior of the museum was relatively small and the main attraction was a massive wall with a bird's eye view sculpture of the battlefield with animated lights and an audio description of the progress of the battle. The above picture shows some helmets worn by a couple of Mitsunari's generals. Inside the battle, each side had several clans fighting for the two lords. The leaders of each clan had many forces in their battalion and the general of each clan had a unique helmet and family crest to designate who he was and his family/clan's status.

Here's another one of those long rifles needing two people to operate imported from the Dutch.

Funny story about this. A technique used in the battle was to hide cannons behind hanging woven sheets like this to surprise enemies. Soldiers would taunt the enemy to engage them then when the enemy approached, they'd retreat a bit then out pops a cannon and bam.

These weapons were commonly used in battle at the time. The two spear like items hanging on the wall were used to de-mount enemies from their horses. The bow on the red cloth was used by an archer in the battle.

After watching the animated audio explanation of the battle, we left the museum and went to the next point of interest. The two lords, Mitsunari and Tokugawa, entered the battle from two opposing sides of the valley and initially commanded their troops from spots on opposing mountain sides. The points where they commanded troops is still maintained as historical points. This is Mitsunari's command post.

This is the point on the mountainside where he actually stood. This flag reads "Ishida Mitsunari's command point". While many clans made up the two forces under Tokugawa and Mitsunari, and each clan had their own crest and armor, they denoted which side they were loyal to with banners holding the name of the lord they served. Throughout the command point for Mitsunari, banners still fly with his symbol (which you can see in the pic above) to this day. Tokugawa's command point flies his banners as well.

These two pictures are the panoramic view of the battlefield from Mitsunari's point of view. This point is on the north side of the valley's mountain sides.

This battle map depicts the different forces involved in the battle. The map is looking from north to south on the land from the panoramic view. Red forces are Tokugawa (near the end of the battle in this map) and blue forces are Mitsunari. The yellow forces are Kobayakawa.

The battle started when Mitsunari heard Tokugawa was going to march his army to Kyoto for an ambush night battle against Mitsunari's army (night battles were his specialty). To stop him, Mitsunari moved to intercept his forces at Sekigahara, a sort of middle ground and on the road to Kyoto from Tokyo (known as Edo at the time and Tokugawa's home base). Mitsunari's forces greatly outnumbered Tokugawa's forces (claimed to be in excess of 100,000 troops while Tokugawa had maybe 60,000) and Tokugawa hoped to use the night to his advantage to make up the difference in numbers. Tokugawa found out on the way to Kyoto that Mitsunari was going to stop him at Sekigahara so Tokugawa hatched a plan with his generals and they intercepted one of Mitsunari's generals, Kobayakawa.

Kobayakawa was a nephew of some lord and was relatively young and not much of the type for the hardcore samurai battle lifestyle. Tokugawa used this weakness and captured him and threatened to kill him and his family if he didn't agree to betray Mitsunari during the battle when he was signaled to do so. Fearing for his life Kobayakawa agreed and went back to Mitsunari's forces keeping the secret. As Kobayakawa wasn't a strong general, his forces were placed in the rear and southwest of the valley behind most of Mitsunari's army. Mitsunari entered from the northwest and commaned there. Tokugawa entered from the southeast and east as can be seen from the map above.

As the battle progressed throughout the day, things got difficult for Tokugawa and he signaled Kobayakawa to begin attacking Mitsunari's forces from behind. Initially, he refused to comply. To enforce Tokugawa's orders, he set up a long rifler behind Kobayakawa and threatened to kill him on the spot if he didn't follow orders immediately. Again fearing for his life, he ordered his men to attack Mitsunari's forces, effectively pinning Mitsunari in the center of the valley surrounded on all sides and destroying his advantage in numbers. From there the, the battle swung heavily in Tokugawa's favor and he moved from his command post to a more aggressive command closer to the forward of the forces. Shortly thereafter Mitsunari was defeated and Tokugawa claimed victory, giving him domination over the whole of Japan, and unifying the entire country for the first time in history.

Whew, crazy crazy sorry for the long history lesson, I started to go off on a tangent there. Anyway, at Mitsunari's command post, there have this memorial to his efforts and command. If you look closely, you can see that people still bring flowers to commemorate his life.

This is the last point of interest I visited at Sekigahara. After Tokugawa moved to the forward of the battle, he claimed his victory in this exact spot. They made a small memorial to his victory in this space. The banner on the left if Tokugawa's banner (you can see his family crest printed three times on it).

After the battle ended, the generals of Mitsunari's army were executed and their heads were brought here to Tokugawa for him to review with his top generals at his side. Pretty gruesome if you ask me.

From there, we left Sekigahara to move on to our next stop, Fukui!

In order to go to Fukui, we had to head west out of the tip of Gifu and pass through Shiga prefecture, then head north into Fukui. Shiga is part of the Kansai area and not planned in this Chubu trip, but since we were there, we thought we'd stop by for a quick peak. Shiga is most famous for Biwa-ko, the biggest lake in Japan. When I mean big, I mean big. It's practically a sea in size...think of it as comparable to one of the great lakes in America.

Biwa is actually the name of one of Japan's traditional instruments (akin to the guitar). Unfortunately, since we were running out of light, by the name we made it to the lake, this is what we saw. Although...

This is what the lake would've looked like in the day. We drove around the circumference of Biwa-ko until we reached the north side where we continued north into Fukui.

On the way, we ran into yet another castle. At the northeast tip of Biwa-ko lies Nagahama, one of the bigger towns (not very big) in Shiga. They have Nagahama castle that was established shortly into Tokugawa's reign. It was night though so all we could do was walk by and take a picture of it.

We weren't quite quick enough to get a good picture, but here we are passing into Fukui.

After crossing the border we continued north into the center of Fukui where we stayed at another Toyoko Inn near Fukui station.

Before going to bed though, we needed to go and get some dinner from a nice local restaurant. Fukui is famous for crab and that's what I was going to eat. In Japan though, they don't just eat the leg meat, they eat everything, including the brains (known as kanimiso) which is pretty delicious.

Miki is usually pouting. The lady behind her owned the shop and I'm pretty sure she's never had a foreigner come to her restaurant before cause she was really excited to come to our table over and over to make small talk and ask a lot of questions. She was very nice though and kept giving us brochures on different site seeing spots in Fukui.

We got back to the hotel pretty late and went to bed. Another full day awaited us as we were headed to a showa museum. Check out Pt.4 to see Fukui and Ishikawa! crazy wink razz