This site is a mirror of the Conquest of Emishi site by Suzuta Yukinori. Not everything that appeared on the original site is included here, however, most of the contents of the original site regarding the conquest is included. The present site is an attempt to preserve the original site content since the original site is no longer in active status. Suzuta's maps and content is all original. Syntax corrections in English and minor additions and rewording, and all illustrations are attributable to Kenjiro Hakomori. If any of this content is used in any way please cite the author Suzuta Yukinori. If any illustrations are used please cite Kenjiro Hakomori.
1. Who were the Emishi?
2. Naval Expedition of Abe No Hirafu
3. Ideha Foundation
4. Building the Fortline in Michinoku
5. Principal Strategy of Oono no Azumahito
6. Restart Northward Progress
7. Destruction of Castles in Michinoku
8. War with Isawa (added illustration 2012.9.29)
9. Battle of Subuse
10. Grand General Sakanoue no Tamuramaro (minor revision 2009.1.3)
11. Outbreak of the Revolt of Gan'gyo
12. Comparative History: Battle of Fallen Timbers 1794 (2009.1.3)
Emishi archer 600AD. The Emishi when first encountered by the Japanese (such as the naval expedition of Abe no hirafu) fought using much of the tools used for hunting such as the bow shown here. He is wearing deerskin clothing which was typical before the influence of Kofun culture. The only item made for battle is the warabite-tou sword. This is the type of hunter warrior encountered by the Yamato state early on, and these type of Emishi were often called san-I (mountain barbarian) in contrast to den-I (field barbarian, i.e. "barbarian" who cultivated fields). It is thought that the descendants of the san-I were the Ainu of Hokkaido.
Emishi mounted archer of the eighth century. By this time, armor known as Keiko had already been introduced among the Japanese forces in the Nara period, but this type made of lamellar plates laced together was very expensive and tedious to produce. It was light and strong, and very flexible. There is more evidence from tombs of the period that this type of armor saw more widespread use in the eighth century among Emishi warriors who also continued to use tanko armor as well (see picture below). The warrior has a warabite-tou sword and wearing continental style riding boots common in this period. This type of sword has been found in a number of Ezo-ana kofun and judging from their shape is thought to have influenced the development of the samurai sword. The stirrup is a simple loop and the textile design incorporates a Jomon pattern. Compare with the illustration at top and also on Who Were the Emishi page. The difference reflects an important change in Emishi society as the influence of Japanese culture through trade and alliances with local Japanese kofun states made itself felt, and more Japanese armor made its way into the hands of local Emishi chiefs. Much of what they wore for armor is still not clear. For example, there are a number of instances of tanko found in Tohoku burial sites into the eighth century, and examples of keiko that have been recovered from yoko-ana bogun and ezo-ana kofun burials in areas where Emishi are thought to have lived, but this is not known with certainty as recent studies have shown (see Tohoku Kofun population). However, what is clear is that by the second half of the eighth century nearly all of the Emishi of central Tohoku had in some ways been incorporated into the orbit of the Japanese Empire as fushu, and pressure towards still independent Emishi living north of Taga Castle increased considerably. This volatile mix was part of what made the long Tohoku War of the eighth century so violent and protracted. The remaining independent Emishi such as Isawa fiercely resisted the encroaching Japanese state. The population in these frontier areas was mixed between Jomon and Yayoi, varying by location. It is thought that further north the Jomon population predominated and inversely towards the south the Yayoi population was more numerous. In central Tohoku the Yayoi population was much larger than the Jomon by this time period. What is still not clear and is debated among scholars is did the Emishi also include predominately Yayoi people (similar to ancient Japanese) from these areas? Or were these simply representatives of Japanese frontier families who lived among the Emishi dominated countryside?
Battle of Subuse. In one of the episodes of the battle of Subuse a group of approximately four hundred Emishi warriors contests the crossing of the Kitakami river by approximately two thousand Japanese soldiers of the Front Army crossing east from the west side of the river. The Emishi force shown is wearing tanko style armor. The Japanese Imperial army is wearing keiko armor of the Nara period, mainly breast plates and skirt armor. There was an overlapping time period during the kofun period when both types of armor were worn. The Emishi had a conservative culture based on a fusion of kofun culture and Jomon culture which survived during a time when that culture had long been superceded in Japan. Evidence of this is the continuation of tunnel tomb burials in the Emishi controlled areas well into the ninth century AD. However, recent excavations of tombs has shown that perhaps more well to do Emishi used keiko style armor which generally saw wider use in the eighth century. Despite this, tanko armor was very practical and continued to be used. In the above illustration, leather tanko was made with reinforced iron. This suited their type of warfare which included quick strikes and the use of horse archery. Note also the style of helmets worn, consisting of small plates held together by horizontal bands. The other type of helmet was a central band of iron at the crest that held together wide horizontal strips. Skirt and neck armor were made of iron bands held together by silk or leather cords.As in all wars it is the elderly, women and children who are most affected. Here is a group of Emishi who are fleeing the village of Subuse to nearby foothills under the watchful gaze of an Emishi warrior and under the direction of a village headman.2007.11.3 by Kenjiro Hakomori (layout revised 2013.1.19)