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|Main Objective:||Oppose imperial samurai authority|
|Estimated Numbers:||over 5,000 (speculative)|
|Major Figure(s):||Saika Magoichi|
|Major Battle(s)|| Nagashima,|
The Saika Renegades (雑賀衆, Saika-shu or Saiga-shu) is an umbrella term used to describe the group of insurgents in Kii Province (roughly modern day Wakayama Prefecture). Their namesake is believed to be either be the main dock of the group's trade routes, Saikazaki, or their main headquarters, Saika Castle. Descendants of the group's members reportedly still exist today.
The group's earliest origins is believed to be either the Saika-Tsuchihashi or Suzuki clans. Both rural clans took advantage of the civil wars in the Kansai region to establish themselves as mercenaries. Comprised of sailors, pirates and traders from Kyushu (or Shikoku), they were soon feared for leading a formidable navy. Their knowledge of Western trade routes led to their familiarity with the Tanegashima rifle crafting, eventually leading to their own rifle-crafting expertise. For decades, the group thrived and lived as a rural power independent from the shogunate's rulings.
During the Warring States period, five prominent families in Saika decided to band together to protect their independence and to rebel against samurai expansion. Historical records do not name a particular clan as a leader, but gunki-monogatari and folklore will often have the Suzuki clan act as the figurehead since they were reportedly the lords of Saika Castle. In due time, the group threw in their lot with the Honganji Rioters and posed a threat to Nobunaga with their expert gunners and guerrilla tactics. They surrendered to Nobunaga in 1577 and later fought Hideyoshi at Komaki-Nagakute. When Hideyoshi led a campaign to demolish them, the group's name disappears with Suzuki Sadayū's death in 1585. Surviving members later found service within the Toyotomi ranks.
The Saika-shu label first appeared in historical records when they joined forces with Kennyo; they were likely named as such to distinguish them from the Negoro-shu, a group sharing similar origins and talents. Both groups collaborated together and were both crushed by Hideyoshi at the same time. Alternatively, it is said that the Saika-shu and Negoro-shu were originally the same group. After their surrender to Nobunaga, the Saika lords were divided over their technical servitude to the Oda and split into two parties for a fierce civil war. The dispute came to close with Nobunaga's death in 1582; whether the two groups reconciled their differences is up for debate.
"Magoichi" (孫一 or 孫市) is a legendary name often associated with the Saika-shu during the 1500s of the Warring States period. While famous for being the chief commander for the renegades, it is currently unclear if Magoichi existed or was ever a singular person. His name is often shoehorned into fiction for historical instances in which the Saika-shu were present under unanimous command.
The name's numerous sightings across Japan has led many to believe that it was a moniker/political alias used by the Suzuki clan, or the members of the Saika-shu who were regarded to have had the closest ties with Kennyo. The Suzuki clan's alleged family history with ancient Kumano, one of the divine resting places for Emperor Jinmu's descendants, is one of the reasons why the yatagarasu (three-legged-crow) is often associated with the Saika-shu today. "Suzuki" is said to be a wordplay for "rice crops" and "bird", each name having ties to bountiful wealth in Kumano. Magoichi is famed to have used yatagarasu as a reference to his heritage and for good luck, although this contrasts with historical accounts which states the opposite. Birds were generally regarded as signs of calamity and thus avoided in the era.
Most folklore and fictional mediums tend to follow the moniker theory, each postulating on who could have been the "original" user. Here is a short list of some of the argued individuals said to have been known under the name:
- Suzuki Shigeoki (Suzuki Sadayū) - although it is more likely the name was used by his descendants.
- Suzuki Shigekane
- Suzuki Shigehide - popular choice in Koei's games.
- Suzuki Shigetomo
- Suzuki Shigetsugu - argued to have been the "Magoichi" fighting for the Toyotomi side at Sekigahara.
- Saika Hirai Magoichirō
- Kim Chung-seon (Suzuki Yoshiyuki)
The Saika-shu are fabled to have also relied on Saika ninja for their tactics and intelligence gathering. Their unnamed men and women informants were said to have been called "Magoichi" by their clients.
- Suzuki Magoroku
- Umedo Sanehide
- Satake Yoshimasa (Satake Iganokami)
- Minamoto Hyōbu
- Matsuda Genzō
- Kojima Yoshitsugu (Kitsunejima Yoshitsugu)
- Watanabe Tōzaemon
- Kurimura Saburō
- Tsuchihashi Shigetaka
- Tsuchihashi Morishige (Tsuchihashi Wakatayū)
- Tsuchihashi Shigeharu
- Tsuchihashi Shigeoki
- Minato Takahide
- Sakai Yoshirō
- Oku Shigemasa
- Oku Yoshimasa
- Seki Gamon
- Matoba Masanaga (Matoba Genshirō)
These legendary figures of unknown gender and origins are found in gunki-monogatari. Each sniper was purportedly named after a feat/talent associated with them and allegedly served in the Saika ranks in Kii Province. While their validity is questionable, they often appear in Saika related fiction as female snipers.
- Kosuzume - able to snipe flying sparrows from the air with perfect accuracy. Also said to be swift on their feet. Appears as a Saika female lieutenant in Nobunaga no Yabou Online.
- Shimobari - could shoot the tops of dice from a broad distance so they would always land on evens. Also said to be able to snipe the needles clean off an enemy barricades without missing.
- Tsurukubi - had an extremely long and crane-like neck. Was able to stick his/her head out from cover, aim while weaving head and fire without getting hit. Appears as a Saika female lieutenant in Nobunaga no Yabou Online under the name "Tsuru".
- Hacchū - number one sniper. Hunted for every target and never let their prey escape. Famed for killing over one hundred targets in their prime.
- Tanchū - namesake unknown. Said to have been the second best sniper who was frequently paired with Hacchū. Knew the ins and outs of matchlock rifles like the back of their hand.
- Muni - reputedly never missed a shot since his/her childhood.
- Magoichi Matsuri
- Fansite for live rifle demonstrations
- SAIKAYA CO. - reportedly founded by descendants of the Saika-shu
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