Civilization V Customisation Wiki
The Emishi
Emishi map
Map by Homusubi
Samanism (HR)
Kamuism (HJR)



The Emishi led by Aterui is a custom civilisation by Homusubi, with contributions from DJSHenninger.

This mod requires Brave New World.


The Emishi[]

Given the massive amount of written history that has come out of Japan over the last two millennia, it perhaps seems odd that, right up until the late first millennium AD, the northern part of Honshu was occupied by a culture which we know very little about. They most likely didn't even call themselves 'Emishi', a term meaning something along the lines of 'northern barbarian', used by the people of the Yamato state that evolved into what we now know as the state of Japan. The Emishi were largely, but not exclusively, hunter-gatherers; they did not speak Japanese; they did not have a written cultural tradition; and they were exceptionally skilled at mounted archery and guerrilla warfare when they had to be. Not that much is known about the Emishi apart from that, not even who they were, when they reached Tohoku, whether they were ethnically Yamato, or Ainu, or something else entirely. The Yamato didn't seem to care - there are plenty of records of conquests and battles in northern Honshu up until the full Yamato domination of the region was assured, but nobody ever seemed to venture into the Emishi lands in peace.

Archaeological evidence indicates that Yayoi agrarian culture, which seems to have begun in the west, appeared a century or two later in the northern extremes of Honshu as well, leaving little doubt that by historical times the inhabitants of the northeast had reached a level of civilization comparable to that of the Yamato Japanese. On the other hand, Emishi culture differed considerably from its Yamato neighbour. To begin with, despite having adopted rice agriculture, the Emishi continued to depend much more on hunting and fishing than did the peoples of central and western Japan. They also appear to have spoken a distinct language, as evidenced by at least one reference to interpreters attached to the eighth-century subjugation armies. Emishi society was organized into tribes or clans, each based in a territory, called a village in the Japanese sources, comparable in size to the Yamato state's districts. Each tribal village functioned independently of the others. When necessary, related tribes could combine into short-lived federations, but the tribal structure remained intact within the larger organization. At other times even related tribes were regularly at odds - even at war - with one another. Tribes and clans recognized distinct leaders for peacetime and wartime activities. Because the war chief's functions involved the very survival of the group, he normally enjoyed higher authority and status than the peacetime leader. Originally, these leadership positions appear to have been nonhereditary, with appropriately qualified individuals chosen for service as necessity dictated.

Cultural differences of this sort lend credence to the long-debated theory that the Emishi were racially different from the Yamato Japanese. The equation of the Emishi with the ancestors of the modern Ainu goes back to at least the Edo period and may have begun as early as the fourteenth century. Evidence supporting this theory includes the large number of place names in northern Honshu that appear to be of Ainu derivation; the fact that the same orthography used to write "Emishi" in sixth- to twelfth-century sources referred to the Ainu during the Edo period (albeit read as "Ezo" in the later age); and archaeological finds indicating continuities of cultural artifacts, such as pottery forms, between the peoples of Hokkaido and northernmost Honshu. On the other hand, sceptics point out that archaeological evidence also shows continuities between artifacts found in northeastern and central Honshu, and that seventh- and early eighth-century sources used different names for the "barbarians" in Echigo and those in Mutsu and Dewa, suggesting that "Emishi" indicated a commonality of general location, rather than one of ethnicity. Heian-period sources lack any commentary on physical distinctions between the Emishi and state subjects  - although one source, from Tang China at the time of a visit from a Japanese envoy, refers to the Emishi as hirsute, a trait shared by the Ainu but not the Yamato.

Aterui []

Chief Aterui, one of the few Emishi we know the name of and the only one that could be called famous today, was born in Isawa, Hitakami-no-kuni, part of what is now Oshu in southern Iwate Prefecture. Nothing is known of his life until the battle of Sufuse Village in 787. In 786, Ki no Asami Kosami was appointed by the Japanese Emperor Kanmu as the new General of Eastern Conquest and given a commission to conquer Aterui. In June 787, Kosami split his army in two and sent them north from Koromogawa on each side of the Kitakami River hoping to surprise Aterui at his home in Mizusawa. Burning houses and crops as they went, they were surprised when Emishi cavalry swept down from the hills to the East and pushed them into the river. Over 1,000 armored infantry drowned in the river weighed down by their heavy armor. In September of the same year, Kosami returned to Kyoto where he was rebuked by the emperor Kammu for his failure.

Another attack in 795 was also unsuccessful, and it was not until 801 that any Japanese general could claim success against the Emishi. In that year Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, who had previously been appointed to several northern- and Emishi-related court posts (including Sei-i Taishogun, the post of 'barbarian-suppressing generalissimo' that would later morph into the title of shogun), was given a commission by Emperor Kanmu to subjugate the Emishi. He and his 40,000 troops were apparently somewhat successful as he reported back to the emperor on September 27, "We conquered the Emishi rebels."

And yet, Aterui. and fellow Emishi leader More. eluded capture. In 802, Tamuramaro returned to Michinoku and built Fort Isawa in the heart of Isawa Emishi territory. Then, on April 15, he reported the most important success of all in this campaign, as Aterui and More surrendered with more than 500 warriors. General Sakanoue delivered Aterui and More to the capital on July 10. Despite General Sakanoue's pleadings, the government executed both, at Moriyama in Kawachi Province (now in Osaka Prefecture).

This was a turning point in the history of the conquest of the Emishi. Before this time, the Japanese had adhered to a policy of deporting captured women and children to Western Japan and then enticing their warrior husbands and fathers to join their families in their new homes, rather than killing any of the captured warriors. Some claim, therefore, that the executions of Aterui and More are thought to have been responsible for the fierce resistance by the Emishi over the next hundred years or so. Perhaps the Yamato acted this way out of fear of Aterui's military prowess. Indeed, according to some Yamato sources, Aterui was deported outside of the capital (Kyoto) before his execution due to a Heian-period superstition concerning demons and the direction of north-east, implying the Emperor was perhaps frightened of the effect Aterui's ghost might have had on the city.

The head of Chief Aterui was buried at Katano Shrine, a shrine which may have been linked with Aterui's ancestors, by shogun Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, out of respect for his enemy. Annual private ceremonies have been held for Aterui by the Shinto priests for the last 1200 years. In more recent times, the figure of Aterui has been somewhat lionised, becoming both the protagonist for an anime series and the central character in at least one modern folk play of Tohoku.

Dawn of Man[]

Emishi scene

"Honoured war chief Aterui, the people you protect bow to you. The southerners know your people as the Emishi; barbarians, they say, but of course, you know better. Your people are without equal in the way of the horse and bow that those outlanders claim to respect so much, and what is more, they are clever, enough to know how to make the high mountains and thick forests of your home a blessing instead of a curse. You do not go lightly into the field of battle, for again, that is something they would do, preferring to pass on your culture and traditions to the next to hunt in these forests.

But fight you must, for the fate of the people of the north depends on you, O mighty Aterui. Your warriors have already steadied their arrows, ready to set them fly at a moment's notice. Will you find that moment? Will you ensure that your people are Emishi no more? Can you build a civilisation that stands the test of time?"

Introduction 1: "I bid you welcome, whoever you may be, to our hunting grounds. We have no issue with strangers here so long as they respect that this is our land."

Introduction 2: "Halt. Who goes there, who wishes to enter our lands? Another one approaching from the west while claiming to be of the rising sun?"

Defeat: "You're going to write the history books now, aren't you? And call us barbarians the whole time? One day, people will realise the truth, and you will in turn realise what you have just done."

Unique Attributes[]

The Emishi (Aterui)
Emishi leader

Mounted Units suffer no Combat Strength penalty against Cities, and may benefit from defensive terrain bonuses. Upon the outbreak of war, receive a free contemporary Mounted Unit in each City within three tiles of a worked source of Horses Horses.

Emishi uu
Tumikorkur (Chariot Archer)

Starts with the Indirect Fire promotion. Counts as mounted for the purposes of the Emishi Unique Ability.

Emishi ui

Yields +1 Food Food, and +1 CultureIcon Culture after researching Industrialisation. Units trained in a City working at least two Kura begin with their respective first-level rough terrain promotions, at least four Kura may ignore rough terrain costs, and at least six Kura gain one additional attack per turn. Must be built on a Forest or Jungle tile.

City List
  1. Isawa
  2. Atoroi
  3. Okachi
  4. Toyoma
  5. Korehari
  6. Nishimonai
  7. Obane
  8. Akka
  9. Osanai
  10. Hirahoko
  11. Igarashi
  12. Sarugaishi
  13. Takko
  14. Utsuto
  15. Hiraotori
  16. Yonai
  17. Tsukumoushi
  18. Okashinai
  19. Hitachinai
  20. Tassobe
  21. Netsuko
  22. Nukamae
  23. Sabane
  24. Kozunai
  25. Yokobori
  26. Shitomae
  27. Hineushi
  28. Yakurai
  29. Motai
  30. Kurenai
Spy List
  • Abe
  • Kiyohara
  • Waga
  • Osatsu
  • Tota
  • Horpecha
  • Isonash
  • Turushno
  • Resunotek
  • Tekatte
Homusubi Emishi icon


Peace Theme War Theme
Link Link
Ashitaka Sekki by Joe Hisaishi, cover by Relaxing Japan Mononoke-hime by Joe Hisaishi, cover by All Beyond Epic

Mod Support[]

Unique Cultural Influence[]

(To Aterui) “Our people are doing... I am not sure what, but it must be barbaric. I worry the rest of the world will also succumb to the influence of your culture.”

(From Aterui) "I see your people are living in the woods hunting for half the year. The amazing works of our civilisation are truly inspiring!"

Full Credits List[]

Steam Workshop
Latest Version: v 1
Last Updated: 8 March 2020


  • Homusubi: original author, XML, art, most Lua, most text
  • DJSHenninger, Walter Hawkwood, and the EU3 dev team: UI graphics
  • PorkBean: design help
  • BoomStick, chinagreenelvis, Croc, David Brasher, Howard Anderson, jet4571, JJC71, Prime, and Windsong: mods involved in creating the leaderhead
  • Karl F. Friday/The Journal of Japanese Studies; Wikipedia: parts of Civilopedia
Homusubi's Civilizations
Rising Sun
AkechiChubuChugokuEast ShikokuEchigoHokurikuIkko-IkkiKansaiKantoNorth KyushuRyukyuShikokuShinshuSouth KyushuTohokuTokaidoWest Kyushu
Individual Civs
EmishiJapan (Tanaka Kakuei)Japan (Tokugawa Yoshimune)Manchukuo (Nobusuke Kishi)SatsumaShetlandShikoku (Standalone)South Korea (Kim Dae-Jung)Taiwan (Tsai Ing-wen)United Kingdom (Clement Attlee)