Minatogawa is a river near the modern-day city of Kobe, Japan, and was the site of a famous battle between imperial loyalist forces fighting for Emperor Go-Daigo and the forces of rebellious warlord Ashikaga Takauji.
The Battle of Minatogawa, July 5, 1336
Ashikaga Takauji, in revolt against Emperor Go-Daigo, had been driven out of Kyoto in March of 1336 and forced to retreat to Kyushu. Gathering support and troops from the Kyushu warlords throughout the spring, Takauji marched on Kyoto again in June, this time with an even bigger army than before.
Go-Daigo's main general, Nitta Yoshisada, decided to meet Takauji at Minatogawa in Harima province, calling upon the other leading loyalist, Kusunoki Masashige, to join him. But Masashige was not enamored of the idea of facing Takauji's superior force in the open field. He advised Go-Daigo to call off Yoshisada and retreat to the impenetrable heights of Mount Hiei, whence the loyalists could undertake a campaign of harrassment and guerilla warfare against Takauji until a better opportunity to fight arose. Go-Daigo flatly refused to abandon the capital, however, perhaps overconfident after three years of victories. He ordered Masashige to join Yoshisada, and the ever loyal Masashige complied, marching with Yoshisada into what he believed would be a hopeless battle.
At Minatogawa Yoshisada arrayed his army of about 2,000 men on the east bank of the river's mouth, while Masashige and his 700 men were ordered to hold the west bank. Masashige was forward deployed, but his position was strong because his flank was protected by Yoshisada's main army. Takauji, meanwhile, divided his army into three units, and enacted a plan that worked about as perfectly as any battle plan in history. First Shoni Yorihisa launched an assault against Yoshisada's front. Meanwhile, a second force led by Hosokawa Jozen and Takauji himself sailed in by sea and landed troops to Yoshisada's rear. Panicking, Yoshisada pulled back into a defensive position, leaving Masashige isolated and exposed to the full force of Ashikaga Tadayoshi and the third section of Takauji's army. Surrounded and outnumbered, Masashige nevertheless held out for over six hours, but finally was overwhelmed. He, his brother Masasue, and his surviving followers committed suicide.
The cowardly Yoshisada fled and escaped, but would later killed at the Battle of Fujishima. Go-Daigo fled to Mount Hiei, and later to Mount Yoshino, but would never regain his power. A month after Minatogawa, Takauji entered Kyoto in triumph. The Kemmu Restoration was over.