Battle of Minatogawa
Portrait traditionally identified as that of Ashikaga Takauji
Troops disposition at Minatogawa
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Tomb of Ashikaga Takauji at Tōji-in in Kyoto

The Imperial forces loyal to Emperor Go-Daigo led by Kusunoki Masashige and Nitta Yoshisada attempted to intercept the Ashikaga forces led by Ashikaga Takauji in Settsu.

- Battle of Minatogawa

At the decisive Battle of Minatogawa in 1336, Takauji defeated Yoshisada again and killed Masashige, allowing him to seize Kyoto for good.

- Ashikaga Takauji

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Emperor Go-Daigo

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The 96th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

The 96th emperor of Japan, according to the traditional order of succession.

Woodblock print triptych by Ogata Gekkō; Emperor Go-Daigo dreams of ghosts at his palace in Kasagiyama
Memorial Shinto shrine and mausoleum honoring Emperor Go-Daigo
Empress Kishi and Emperor Go-Daigo. From Taiheiki Emaki (c. 17th century), vol. 2, On the Lamentation of the Empress. Owned by Saitama Prefectural Museum of History and Folklore.
Japanese Imperial kamon — a stylized chrysanthemum blossom

The Kenmu restoration was in turn overthrown by Ashikaga Takauji in 1336, ushering in the Ashikaga shogunate, and split the imperial family into two opposing factions between the Ashikaga backed Northern Court situated in Kyoto and the Southern Court based in Yoshino led by Go-Daigo and his later successors.

Kusunoki's army was defeated at the Battle of Minatogawa.

Nitta Yoshisada

Nitta Yoshisada

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Samurai lord of the Nanboku-chō period Japan.

Samurai lord of the Nanboku-chō period Japan.

Nitta Yoshisada
Nitta Yoshisada offering his sword to Ryūjin

Long an enemy of Ashikaga Takauji, Nitta Yoshisada is often blamed for the split between the Northern and Southern Courts, as he fought against the Ashikaga and for the emperor, Emperor Go-Daigo.

Yoshisada was defeated in the Battle of Minatogawa allowing Takauji to occupy Kyoto once again.

Portrait of Kusunoki Masashige by Kanō Sanraku

Kusunoki Masashige

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Japanese samurai of the Kamakura period remembered as the ideal of samurai loyalty.

Japanese samurai of the Kamakura period remembered as the ideal of samurai loyalty.

Portrait of Kusunoki Masashige by Kanō Sanraku
Equestrian statue of Kusunoki Masashige outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
The same statue from a different angle, close-up.
Equestrian statue of Kusunoki Masashige at the entrance to Kanshin-ji in Kawachinagano, Osaka Prefecture.

Kusunoki was a leading figure of the Kenmu Restoration in 1333 and remained loyal to the unpopular Emperor Go-Daigo after Ashikaga Takauji began to reverse the restoration in the Nanboku-chō wars three years later.

Kusunoki attacked Takauji in Settsu at the command of the Emperor, an act of obedience surely to result in defeat, and died at the Battle of Minatogawa in 1336.

Ashikaga Tadayoshi depicted in an Edo period print

Ashikaga Tadayoshi

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Ashikaga Tadayoshi depicted in an Edo period print

Ashikaga Tadayoshi (足利 直義) was a general of the Northern and Southern Courts period (1337–92) of Japanese history and a close associate of his elder brother Takauji, the first Muromachi shōgun.

Turning against Go-Daigo, Tadayoshi and Takauji set up a rival emperor in 1336 after defeating the Loyalists in the Battle of Minatogawa.