First on the Battlefield! Ichiban-yari


In 1581, Katsunari won his first battle at the age of 18, but he was disowned by his father, Tadashige, and fled the Mizuno family. He went on to serve Toyotomi Hideyoshi and famous commanders in Kyushu, but none of these posts lasted long and he frequently changed lords.

In 1599, Katsunari reconciled with Tadashige and joined in the attack on Ogaki Castle and the Siege of Osaka as a daimyo in hereditary vassal to the Tokugawa family. Particular in the summer campaign, he made his prowess known by planting the First Banner at Osaka’s Sakuramon Gate. After that, Katsunari devoted himself to urban development as the lord of Fukuyama Domain. On the orders of the shogunate, he went to Kyushu to crush the Shimabara Rebellion, bringing with him his heir, Katsutoshi, and his grandson, Katusada. Katsunari was 75 years old at that time.


A:Sassa Narimasa
A participant in the Battle of Okehazama and the Battle of Nagashino, he provided support for Oda Nobunaga’s advances alongside Toyotomi Hideyoshi and others.
He was the first commander that Katsunari served under when wandering through Kyushu.

B:Tokugawa Ieyasu
After winning the Battle of Sekigahara, he established the Tokugawa shogunate and started a 250-year time of peace.
He admonished Katsunari as a cousin, and also praised his bravery in battle and was a sworn lifelong friend.

C:Konishi Yukinaga
Said to be the son of a wealthy merchant in Sakai, he ruled the southern half of Higo Province in 1588.
After Sassa Narimasa committed seppuku, Katsunari served under him and successfully suppressed an uprising in Konishi territory.

D:Kato Kiyomasa
In addition to building Kumamoto Castle, he was one of the Seven Spears of Shizugatake, trained from their boyhood by Hideyoshi and a brave general.
At a posting in Kyushu, Katsunari’s younger sister became Kiyomasa’s wife.

E:Kuroda Nagamasa
Heir to Kuroda Kanbei. In the Battle of Sekigahara, he defected to the enemy and contributed to the victory of the Eastern Army.
After his final tour of service in Kyushu, Katsunari caused trouble on a ship to Osaka and fled.

F:Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Succeeding Oda Nobunaga, he conquered Chugoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, and Odawara and thereby took control of Japan.
He employed Katsunari, who had been disowned by Tadashige, and gave him 728 koku (1 koku equals about 150 kg of rice) in Settsu Province.

G:Miyamoto Musashi
A great swordsman said to have founded the school of double-bladed swordsmanship.
In addition to giving Katsunari a book of swordfighting secrets, he joined the Mizuno camp for the summer siege of Osaka as an escort of Katsunari’s heir (Katsutoshi).

H:Date Masamune
After several fierce engagements with Uesugi’s forces at the Battle of Sekigahara, he became the first feudal lord (daimyo) of Sendai with 600,000 koku (1 koku equals about 150 kg of rice).
Katsunari fought along with Masamune in the Yamato Province vanguard army at the summer siege of Osaka, but the two sides had an incompatible dynamic in their advance that ultimately resulted in friendly fire.

I:Oda Nobunaga
Defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto at the Battle of Okehazama. He made rapid progress after that, but he died at the Honno-ji Incident.
He sent a sword and commendation letter to Katsunari, who decapitated an enemy in his first battle.

J:Period of Wandering
1584 (Age 21) – 1600 (Age 37)
Disowned by his father, he wandered the domains of Japan serving under various lords, then set out wandering again.。


Spears in the Warring States Period

In a time in which battles were primarily between groups of foot soldiers, the spear was a widely used weapon due to its ease of use and wide range of attacks for both stabbing and sweeping. Excluding the short spears meant for indoor use, spear handles varied in length from around 2 meters on the shorter end to as long as 6.3 meters (according to Shincho Koki, the chronicle of Oda Nobunaga).


Legendary Spear “Tonbokiri” Wielded by Honda Tadakatsu

The spear, aka “Tonbokiri” was known as the favorite of Honda Tadakatsu. Considered one of the Three Great Spears of Japan, it can be found in various pieces of documentary evidence alongside accounts of Tadakatsu’s bravery. In Hankanfu (Genealogy of the Protectors of the Shogunate), Tonbokiri is described as having a handle around six meters long and made of mother-of-pearl, while The Life of Honda Heihachiro Tadakatsu describes it as around four meters long and black lacquer. In this exhibit, only the blade, which still exists, is the actual size of the original.