Battle of Ashiyagawara


Hosokawa Sumimoto

Settsu Province

Hosokawa Takakuni

Date:  7/26 to 8/10 of Eishō 8 (1511)

Location:  Takao Castle and its environs in Settsu Province

Outcome:  After Hosokawa Sumimoto sent forces led by Hosokawa Hisaharu to Hyōgo, these forces were joined by the Akamatsu army and jizamurai from Nada. Hosokawa Takakuni responded by sending forces to support Kawarabayashi Masayori at Takao Castle.   The defenders incurred 3,000 casualties and were chased to Itami Castle.

Commanders: Hosokawa Hisaharu, Akamatsu Yoshimura

Forces:  Hosokawa Sumimoto’s army, Akamatsu army, jizamurai (peasant fighters) from Nada

Participants:  Approximately 20,000

Casualties: Over 200

Commanders: Kawarabayashi Masayori, Yanagimoto Muneo, Hatano Tanemichi, Nose Yoritoyo, Araki Daisuke

Forces:  Hosokawa Takakuni’s army

Participants:  Unknown

Casualties:  3,000

The Battle of Ashiyagawara  occurred from 7/26 to 8/10 of Eishō 8 (1511) in the environs of the Ashiyagawa Plain and Takao Castle in Settsu Province.  The army of Hosokawa Sumimoto advanced on two fronts, with one contingent sailing from Awa Province in Shikoku to the city of Sakai in Izumi Province to engage in the Battle of Fukai, and the other group landing in Hyōgo in Settsu Province to launch this Battle of Ashiyagawara. This is also known as the Battle of Taka-no-o Castle.

Prelude to the battle

This represented one event in a prolonged series of military clashes between rivals within the Hosokawa clan that occurred between 1509 and 1531, known as the Conflict between the Hosokawa (Ryō-Hosokawa no ran).  These events comprised the military component of a broader succession struggle between the adopted sons of Hosokawa Masamoto. Masamoto was an influential deputy shōgun, with de facto power over the bakufu. However, tensions arose from his choice of a successor, leading to his assassination in 1507, known as the Lord Hosokawa Incident (Hosokawa-dono no hen).  Intertwined with this struggle existed a rivalry between Ashikaga Yoshitane and Ashikaga Yoshizumi to serve as shōgun, all occurring in the midst of a decline in the capacity of the Muromachi bakufu to exercise authority in the capital of Kyōto and beyond.  This multi-faceted struggle is known as the Eishō Disturbance (Eishō no sakuran), commencing from the time of Masamoto’s assassination in 1507 until the defeat of Hosokawa Takakuni by Hosokawa Harumoto at the Collapse at Daimotsu (Daimotsu kuzure) in 1531.

In 1509, the allied forces of Takakuni and Ōuchi Yoshioki prevailed at the Battle of Nyoigatake, enabling Takakuni to assert himself as head of Hosokawa clan, but Sumimoto re-grouped his forces in Awa Province to prepare for another opportunity to advance on the capital.  On 5/1 of 1511, a small skirmish arose in relation to the construction of Takao Castle. This was triggered after Takakuni ordered one of his officials, Kawarabayashi Masayori, to build the castle.  Takakuni planned for the castle to be located on the route from Awa Province to Kyōto as a means to block Sumimoto from advancing. However, this also served as an important location for transport to and from the western provinces, and was viewed as restricting access to the fertile area of Nada. Five neighborhoods in Nada were organized as a , a form of autonomous community prevalent in this period as a means to protect peasants and their local landowners.  Masayori refused to follow orders given by Takakuni in his capacity as the military governor of Settsu on the premise that doing so would violate the exclusive rights of the local villagers.  According to some sources, there were as many as three to four thousand jizamurai, or peasant farmers who doubled as combatants as the need arose, who governed the territory.

The construction of Takao Castle served as a catalyst for the neighborhoods in Nada to resist the feudal authority of the military families.  The members of these neighborhoods overcame longstanding differences with members of the Honjō and Nishinomiya to form a mutual alliance against the proponents of the castle.  Aware of these developments, Masayori dispatched over twenty marksmen from Takao to kill the leaders of the movement.  Although these leaders were members of the same clan as Masayori, they were believed to have been aligned with Sumimoto.  With regard to the members of the Honjō, Masayori refused to obey orders and, instead of killing them, ordered them to construct the outer moat for the castle in addition to the culverts for water.  The water was to be used to irrigate the fields for cultivation.  The members of the Honjō, however, rejected these demands.  On 5/6, all together, 2,000 locals attacked Takao.  The twenty-three security personnel in the castle drank water before the altar and then killed over twenty among three hundred members of the Honjō who had invaded the castle.   The Honjō fled in defeat, while other locals absconded after seeing the situation.

Upon learning of this incident, Sumimoto made preparations in the early summer of 1511 for a pincer attack on Kyōto in coordination with Ashikaga Yoshizumi who took refuge in the sixth month in Ōmi Province.  He summoned his forces in Shikoku, assigning Hosokawa Masakata and Hosokawa Mototsune to serve as commanding generals.  The army landed on 7/7 in Sakai and set-up an encampment at Fukai Castle.  Meanwhile, Takakuni responded by ordering the deployment of an army of 20,000 men comprised of kokujin, or local families of influence in Settsu, including members of the Ikeda, Itami, Miyake, Ibaraki, Aiu, Fukui, Ōta, Irie, and Takatsuki clans.  This led within one week to a loss at the Battle of Fukai, whereupon Sumimoto’s forces advanced to Nakajima Castle.

Details of the battle

After those in Takao Castle heard that forces under the command of Hosokawa Hisaharu (the military governor of Awaji Province) landed in Hyōgo, Masayori informed Takakuni, whereupon Takakuni dispatched an advance unit of thirty mounted soldiers including Yanagimoto Muneo, Hatano Tanemichi, Nose Yoritoyo, and Araki Daisuke, along with 3,000 reinforcements to set-up a base on the shore of Ashiya.  Masayori solidified defenses on the mountainside surrounding Takao Castle.  Hisaharu’s army was joined by the jizamurai from the Nada area.  Reinforcements in Takakuni’s army initiated fighting on the plains alongside the Ashiya River while Masayori led operations on the mountainside.  A relative of Masayori named Kawarabayashi Shingorō (who was aligned with Sumimoto) applied pressure against the castle, toppling the outer citadel, for which he later received a latter of commendation from Sumimoto.  According to one source, the main castle was on the mountaintop (Takaoyama Castle), whereas the outer citadel (Ashiya Castle) was at the base of the mountain.  Despite losing the outer citadel, Masayori continued the fight, killing over two hundred soldiers in Hisaharu’s army.   Thereafter, the attacking forces pursued Masayori’s men to the village of Yuhara in the Arima District of Settsu.

Akamatsu Yoshimura, the military governor of neighboring Harima Province, sided with Sumimoto.  This owed to the fact that Yoshimura’s mother-in-law, Tōshōin, was the daughter of Hosokawa Katsumoto.  Moreover, Hosokawa Yukimochi, the military governor of Awa Province and older brother of Sumimoto, was married to Yoshimura’s elder sister.  This made him an opponent of Takakuni.  Drawing upon these relationships, Sumimoto requested reinforcements.  In the early part of the eighth month, Yoshimura responded by departing Gochaku Castle and organizing a contingent in the environs of the Kako River.  These forces converged with Hisaharu’s soldiers and the remaining jizamurai from Nada near the Ōkura Valley, thereafter arriving on 8/5 at the shore in Hyōgo with an army of 20,000 men.

On 8/8, the forces laid siege to Takao Castle, giving way to violent clashes along the shore and valleys.  The conflict persisted for ten days.  Despite valiant resistance, the defenders incurred 3,000 casualties.  A rumor circulated that the attackers planned to set fire to the castle the next day, so, on the night of 8/10, Masayori vacated the castle and retreated with his men to Itami Castle.

Aftermath of the battle

The allied forces of Hisaharu, Yoshimura, and the combatants from Nada promptly occupied Takao Castle, looting the rice, coins, and armaments before setting the castle afire.  Upon learning of this defeat, Sanjōnishi Sanetaka, a noble from Kyōto noted that it is hard to ascertain the fate of the world, everywhere.  This battle had an effect on the welfare and safety of Kyōto, likely having stirred anxiety among its citizens.  Thereafter, the Akamatsu army surrounded Itami Castle, after which Masayori’s men, accompanied by a servant, took refuge in Yakami Castle, the base for reinforcements under the command of Hatano Motokiyo.

Hisaharu’s army converged with forces led by Hosokawa Masakata after the victory in the Battle of Fukai and marched toward Kyōto.  Fearing the advance, Ashikaga Yoshitane, the supreme leader and shōgun, departed Kyōto with the allied forces of Hosokawa Takakuni and Ōuchi Yoshioki and, on 8/16, escaped to Tanba Province.  The allied forces of Hisaharu and Masakata then entered the capital.  On 8/24, however, the allied forces of Takakuni and Yoshioki attacked the encampment of Sumimoto’s army at Funaokayama Castle and achieved a victory.

Although Masayori had departed Itami Castle, the battle against the remaining holdouts continued.  News of the defeat at Funaokayama reached the Akamatsu army laying siege to Itami, whereupon, on 8/26, Yoshimura lifted the siege and returned to Harima.  In the sixth month of 1512, Takakuni and Tōshōin held a meeting at the Daimotsu Castle, whereby Yoshimura’s transgressions were forgiven and the two sides reconciled.  This enabled Masayori to return to Takao Castle.  Meanwhile, Ashikaga Yoshizumi, who had been planning the pincer attack against Takakuni in Kyōto, died of illness at Mizugu-okayama Castle in Ōmi Province.  Owing to the victory in the Battle of Funaokayama and settlement with Yoshimura, Takakuni and Yoshioki could stablize their governance, while a cessation of hostilities between Takakuni and Sumimoto lasted for the ensuing eight years.