名古屋在住、日本大好きラジオDJクリス・グレンが語る、
日本が誇る錚々たる戦国武将たちの魅力。
外国人の目に我が国の英雄たちはどう映っているのか?


上杉謙信に従った?川中島の戦いにも伝説が残る
 

 


上杉謙信の家臣「越後十七将」の一人と言われるサムライ、小島弥太郎。
別名「鬼小島」とも呼ばれる彼の兜の前立ても、指物も「鬼」のモチーフが
使われていたそうだ。しかも彼の特技は、金棒!(だという説もある)
相手の鎧を壊したり、相手の乗ってきた馬や相手自身を叩いて骨折させたりと
豪傑なサムライというイメージが強い。

彼の豪傑さを表すエピソードとして、こんなものもある。
「川中島の戦い」の際、上杉謙信からの使者として武田信玄のところへ
出向いたときのこと。
弥太郎への嫌がらせのため、信玄は、猛犬を縁の下に待機させていた。
弥太郎が口上をのべると、その猛犬が弥太郎に噛み付いたが
彼は顔色一つ変えず最後まで口上を続け、帰り際に、いとも簡単に犬を殺し
帰っていったそうだ。(一説には、口上の最中に殺してしまったという話もある)

まさしく、鬼。そして、サムライ!
家臣としての役割を何がなんでも果たすという、気構えがすごい。
僕なら、やっぱり「ピクッ」と反応したり、慌ててしまったりしてしまいそうなシチュエーションだ。

そんな鬼小島弥太郎。
人生の最後も、サムライとして立派な終りを遂げる。

川中島の戦いから退去する際、上杉謙信と行動を共にしていた弥太郎は
深い傷を負っていたため、自害するのだ。謙信の足手まといにならないために。

どちらかと言えば、マイナーな武将に入るであろう小島弥太郎。
実在したかどうか不明だと言われることもあるが、浮世絵作家、歌川国芳に
よっても描かれている「英雄六家撰 鬼小嶋弥太郎一忠」が存在していたことを信じたい。
豪傑で、勇ましい立派なSAMURAIだ。

 

〈以下、英訳〉

Kojima Yataro was one of the Great 17 Generals in the employ of Uesugi Kenshin, the Daimyo of Echizen Province. His other name was “Oni” or “Devil” Kojima, as both the crest of his helmet and his battle flag both featured a large, grinning Devil’s face. It is said he would favor a Kanabo, the preferred weapon of a demon, a large, fearsome, iron studded club requiring great strength and agility to use, to smash opponents armor, limbs, bones and the legs of their horses.
It wasn’t just these three devices which gave him his nickname, it was his ferocity in battle and his impressive fighting skills that gave him this frightening moniker.

A famous episode, testament to his strength, bravery and vicious nature, happened during the Battle of Kawanakajima. Oni Kojima was sent by his master, Uesugi Kenshin as a messenger to the enemy commander, Takeda Shingen. As Oni Kojima entered the enemy camp, Shingen set a fierce guard dog onto the man in harassment. Yataro simply grabbed the dog as it bit into him and without flinching, continued to deliver his master’s message. Upon finishing, he crushed the dog’s skull, and dropping it on the ground, departed.Indeed a demon and a samurai!

The end of his life was worthy of that of a samurai too. Following the Battle of Kawanakajima, the badly wounded Oni Kojima Yataro was traveling home with his lord, Uesugi Kenshin. Fearing that he was slowing the retinue down, he stopped and committed ritual suicide. He was 60 years old.

Although a minor warrior, Oni Kojima Yataro has been remembered in woodblock print artist, Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s series of prints titled “ Six Great Heroes”, one of which shows Yataro in armor holding a severed head! In 1918, he was the subject of a popular film titled Oni Kojima Yataro starring Onoe Matsunosuke in the lead role.

There are those who believe that Kojima Yataro was an amalgamation of a number of samurai, and that his many feats were not performed by the one man, however Oni Kojima Yataro did exist, and although he had a frightening name, was a very brave and honorable samurai.