Seven Spears of Shizugatake
At the battle of Shizugatake, fought in like many samurai battles, the samurai performing the most meritorious deeds were named as the “spears” of the battle. Although Ishida Mitsunari, Otani Yoshitsugu, Ikeda Tsuneoki, Gamo Ujisato, Kuroda Kanbei and many other famous warriors of the Toyotomi forces also fought well at Shizugatake, the warriors who would become renown as the Shichi Hon Yari, or Seven Spears of Shizugatake for their martial valor were:
Kato Kiyomasa (July 25, 1562 – August 2, 1611)
Second cousin to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Kato Kiyomasa was born in what is now Nakamura-ku of Nagoya City (Aichi Prefecture)
Fukushima Masanori (1561 – August 26, 1624)
Hailing from Owari Province (Aichi Pref.) Fukushima Masanori was also a cousin of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. At Shizugatake, he gained recognition for having taken the first head in battle, that of the general Ogasato Ieyoshi, winning 5,000 koku for his efforts.
Kato Yoshiaki (1563 – October 7, 1631)
One of Hideyoshi’s most able and trusted generals, Kato Yoshiaki (no relation to Kato Kiyomasa) was born in Hazu-gun, Mikawa Province (Aichi Pref.) He would later serve Tokugawa Ieyasu, playing a major role in the Battle of Sekigahara.
Wakizaka Yasuharu (1554 – September 26, 1626)
A native of Omi (Shiga Pref.) Wakizaka Yasuharu served Akechi Mitsuhide under Oda Nobunaga, until the Akechi turned and killed Nobunaga. From then, Wakizaka served Toyotomi Hideyoshi, later becoming commander of Hideyoshi’s naval fleet.
Hirano Nagayasu (1559 – 1628)
Born in Kaito-gun, Owari Province (Nishikasugai, Aichi Pref.) Hirano Nagayasu was a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Although he fought against the Toyotomi loyalists at the 1600 Battle of Sekigahara, he attempted to re-join the Toyotomi faction at the Siege of Osaka, but was refused.
Katagiri Katsumoto (1556 – June 24, 1615)
The Katagiri clan were originally vassals of the noble Minamoto clan. Katagiri Katsumoto would come to serve the Toyotomi loyally, but later, after the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, fall under the suspicions of Hideyoshi’s wife, Yodo-dono as he tried to placate peace between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa houses.
Kasuya Takenori (1562-1607)
originally of Harima (Hyogo Pref.) he received 3,000 koku as well as the Seven Spears title from Hideyoshi following the Battle of Shizugatake. Interestingly, he was the only one of the Seven Spears to have joined the Western forces at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 against Tokugawa Ieyasu. Takenori’s exceptionally long spear is kept on display in Nagahama Castle.