May 11th, 1333
Supporters of the imperial family, led by Nitta Yoshisada, crossed the Iruma River on their advance toward Kamakura. They were engaged by the forces of the Hojo Regents around the village of Kotesashi.
The ensuring battle was won by Nitta, who was able to maintain momentum, winning a battle in Kumegawa village the next day.
A third (and lucky) victory three days later cleared the way for the imperial forces to lay siege to Kamakura.
Fast forward 681 years…
Taking the route 463 bypass to one of the schools I work at, I notice a pair of stone markers at Seishigahashi, near Kotesashi. After passing it a couple of times, I decide to get a photo and do a bit of research – just in case it is Wild in Japan-worthy. (A quick look at my stats shows that the most frequent web-engine search terms and most popular posts are related to snakes and racoon dogs… I need to find more snakes!)
The stone markers are a memorial and a road marker (such markers apparently were placed at crossroads near villages to ward off sickness), dating from the Edo Period.
The name “Seishigahashi” (誓詞橋) is said to come from the bridge where Nitta swore allegiance to the imperial family.
A little further south is a marker for the Battle of Kotesashigahara, and about 60 metres west of that is Shirohatazuka (白旗塚). Whether Shirohatazuka is a natural feature or an ancient burial mound is uncertain. It is said to take its name (literally “White Flag Mound”) from Nitta posting the white banner of the Minamoto/Genji clan on top of it. (Nitta was a descendent of the Genji, and this was probably symbolic of his going into battle against descendants of the Taira/Heike clan, who fought under a red banner)
Today, the mound has a small shrine on top.
I recall spotting a stone statue in front of a shop along the main 463 route, and make a detour to investigate. I find an Edo Period memorial marker and a three-headed, four-armed Bato Kannon.
Some things are worth getting of your bike and investigating.