関ヶ原で最も首を獲った男「笹の才蔵」 | BEST TiMESコラム

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第九回 SAMURAIファイル「可児吉長」


効率優先、実戦派の変わり者? 可児吉長










〈以下 英訳〉
Kani Yoshinaga is better remembered by his nickname of Kani “Saizo”, and due to his strange habit of sticking a freshly cut stalk of bamboo grass in the banner holder on the back of his armor instead of the usual identification flag, claiming the bamboo grass brought him luck. Known as somewhat of a maverick, Saizo entered the services of the Saito Clan of Mino (Gifu) at the age of 13, later coming into the employ of the Shibata following Saito Tatsuoki’s defeat by Oda Nobunaga. Saizo later joined Akechi Mitsuhide until he was killed, then Oda Nobutaka until his death, Toyotomi Hidetsugu until he was ordered to commit seppuku (Hara-Kiri), then Maeda Toshiie until his natural death, and finally the army of Fukushima Masanori.

Saizo was a captain in the Fukushima forces at the time of Sekigahara, and was easily identified on the field with his bushy green sprig of bamboo grass in place of a flag. During battle, the samurai would take the heads of their victims. Often, following a duel in battle, a head would be taken, and in many cases, the victor would temporarily retire from the field to wash, perfume, register and prepare the head for the viewing ceremony, thus being absent from the fight for a short while. Saizo, lusting for blood, refused to leave the battlefield, and often left the heads next to the decapitated body. Some unscrupulous samurai, finding the heads on the battlefield would take them, and claim them as their own kill. Saizo however would leave a little calling card, rolled up bamboo grass leaves in the ears, nostrils, mouth or throat cavities of his victims to later identify them. Although he claimed to have taken at least 22 heads at Sekigahara, 17 were confirmed, giving him the battle’s record number of heads.

Kani Saizo is said to have tied strings of twisted washi paper between the lower rung of his helmet’s neck guard, and the shoulder straps of his armor, a practice that would no doubt have hindered his head movements, but gave his enemy little access to his neck. An expert with the Naginata, a type of glaive, Saizo cut a striking figure.

His unorthodox ways, odd battle flag, and determined, fighting spirit have made him one of my samurai heroes!



クリス グレン

くりす ぐれん