Battle of Kamigyō


Western Army


Eastern Army

Date:  5/26 to 5/27 of Ōnin 1 (1467)

Location:  Kamigyō District of Kyōto in Yamashiro Province

Outcome:  After two days of conflict, the two sides separated without a clear victory for either one.

Commanders:  Isshiki Yoshinao, Shiba Yoshikado, Asakura Takakage, Kai Toshimitsu

Forces:  Unknown

Losses:  Unknown

Commanders:  Takeda Nobukata, Jōshinin Kōsen, Hosokawa Katsuhisa, Kyōgoku Mochikiyo, Akamatsu Masanori

Forces:  Unknown

Losses:  Unknown

The Battle of Kamigyō occurred over a two-day period in the fifth month of 1467 in the Kamigyō District of Kyōto.  This was one battle within the larger conflict known as the Ōnin-Bunmei War waged between the western and eastern armies.

Course of events

At the Battle of Goryō in the first month of 1467, Hatakeyama Masanaga was defeated by his political opponent, Hatakeyama Yoshinari, whereupon Masanaga harbored in the residence of Hosokawa Katsumoto.  Ashikaga Yoshimasa (the eighth shōgun)  had earlier prohibited external support to either side, so the conflict was limited in scope.  After the battle, the advocates for each side, namely, Katsumoto and Yamana Sōzen, as well as the daimyō affiliated with each faction, called upon Yoshimasa, while the affairs of the Muromachi bakufu and the Imperial court were conducted in a peaceful atmosphere.  On 2/24, Yoshimasa’s younger brother, Ashikaga Yoshimi, concluded mediation between Katsumoto and Sōzen, and the conflict appeared to subside.

Nevertheless, the disquiet persisted.  At an event held on 3/3 to mark the change of seasons, the Hosokawa faction was absent, while servants of the Hosokawa and Yamana factions quarreled.  This led to the deterioration of security in the capital of Kyōto, including the murder of a servant of the Yamana, the robbing of provisions of the Yamana faction by the Hosokawa army, and an assault on a servant of the Hosokawa by retainers of Hatakeyama Yoshinari.  In the fifth month, Katsumoto attempted to rollback the conflict by dispatching regional daimyō to areas outside the capital, adopting a strategy to weaken the foundation of the Yamana faction.

Shiba Yoshitane went to the territory of Shiba Yoshikado in Echizen Province, Uno Masahide, a retainer of Akamatsu Masanori, went to the territory of Yamana Sōzen in Harima Province, and Toki Masayasu attacked the territory of Isshiki Yoshinao in Ise Province.  Meanwhile, Katsumoto demanded regional daimyō to travel to Kyōto, while Sōzen mobilized forces to assemble in Kyōto.  This amounted to 160,000 forces in the eastern army and 110,000 forces in the Western Army.  The main bases and spheres of influence for each army were set.  The Hosokawa faction was located in the northern and eastern portions of Kyōto, centered upon Katsumoto’s residence and the palace of the shōgun known as the hana-no-gosho in the Kamigyō District.  The Yamana faction occupied the western and central areas, centered upon Sōzen’s residence built on the western shore of the Hori River and the residence of Shiba Yoshikado in the central portion of the capital.  This defined the territory of each camp, and the names of the Eastern and Western armies corresponded to the locations of the residences of Katsumoto and Sōzen.

On 5/26, hostilities broke out in the Kamigyō District.  Before the break of dawn, Takeda Nobukata of the Eastern Army occupied the Jissō Temple of the Tendai sect on the western shore of a tributary to the Hori River, while Jōshinin Kōsen occupied the district for money-brokers on the eastern shore known as shōjitsubō.  (Accompanying the mobilization of Katsumoto’s forces, Masanaga returned to service.)  This was aimed at occupying the residence of Isshiki Yoshinao located to the left Yoshimasa’s residence at the hana-no-gosho palace.  Having established a foothold, around dawn, the Takeda army launched a surprise attack against the Isshiki residence.  Unable to defend against the attack, Yoshinao fled to the residence of Sōzen.  By protecting Yoshimasa, the eastern army obtained the legitimacy to conquer the western army.  The Yamana army headed to reclaim the Jissō Temple and the money-broker district, but a counterattack by the eastern army caused then to retreat to the area near Sōzen’s residence.

Next, a battle erupted in the central district of Ichijō-Ōmiya.  Meanwhile, the Western Army set its sights on the residence of Hosokawa Katsuhisa (the military governor of Bitchū of the same family as Katsumoto) on the western shore of the Hori River.  This site was within their sphere of influence and therefore isolated, so the western army commenced an attack.  On the side of the attacking forces, Shiba Yoshikado took his retainers (Asakura Takakage and Kai Toshimitsu) and headed toward the residence of Katsuhisa.  In response, Kyōgoku Mochikiyo of the Eastern Army mobilized in support of Katsuhisa, and attacked the Shiba army proceeding west on Ichijō Avenue.  The Kyōgoku forces met with a counterattack from Asakura Takakage and were routed.  After the flight of the Kyōgoku forces, Akamatsu Masanori proceeded from Ichijō Avenue to Ōgimachi Avenue to the south and detoured to clash with the Shiba army.  Already worn out from a long battle, the Shiba army retreated.  Katsuhisa set his home on fire and fled to the residence of Hosokawa Nariyuki, the military governor of Awa from the same family.

After this conflict that lasted from 4:00 AM on the 26th until 6:00 PM on the 27th, both sides were exhausted and entered into a stalemate across fixed lines of battle.  On the 28th, Yoshimasa issued an order for a ceasefire and both sides stopped fighting.  There was no clear victor, but the Eastern Army had the advantage of holding the hana-no-gosho palace of the shōgun.  Despite their offensive, the western army only managed to occupy the remains of Katsuhisa’s residence.  On 6/3, Yoshimasa gave the banner of the shōgun family to Katsumoto.  Recognition as the loyalists played to the advantage of the Eastern Army, meaning the western army would be labeled as rebels.  In an effort to break the stalemate, Sōzen appealed to Ōuchi Masahiro, the military governor of Suō and Nagato provinces to deploy.  The Ōuchi army responded by marching east toward the capital of Kyōto, further escalating the war.