Battle of Nakajima

中島の戦い

Miyoshi Clan

Settsu Province

Hosokawa Clan

Date:  3/10 to latter part of fifth month of Kyōroku 4 (1531)

Location:  In the environs of Nakajima and the Tennō Temple in the Abeno District of Settsu Province

Outcome:  The allied forces of Hosokawa Takakuni and Uragami Muramune prevailed in the initial stages of an advance into Settsu, but, after Miyoshi Motonaga brought reinforcements from Awa Province, the conflict ended in a stalemate with limited casualties

Commanders:  Miyoshi Motonaga (in support of Hosokawa Harumoto – son of Hosokawa Sumimoto)

Forces:  15,000

Casualties:  Unknown

Commanders:  Hosokawa Takakuni, Uragami Muramune

Forces:  20,000

Casualties:  Approximately 80

The Battle of Nakajima occurred from 3/10 to the latter part of the fifth month of Kyōroku 4 (1531) in the environs of Nakajima in Settsu Province.  This event is also referred to as the Battle of Tennō Temple, serving as a prelude to a conflict known as the Collapse at Daimotsu (Daimotsu kuzure) that resulted in decimation of the allied forces of Uragami Muramune and Hosokawa Takakuni.  This is one of numerous battles arising from a succession struggle within the Hosokawa clan known as the Conflict between the Hosokawa (Ryō-Hosokawa no ran).

Background of the conflict

Takakuni was defeated at the Battle of Katsurakawara, and his subsequent attempts to broker a peace failed.  He proceeded to reach out to daimyō in several provinces in search of pledges for reinforcements.  Finally, Muramune, lord of Mitsuishi Castle in Bizen Province, offered to raise arms.  Muramune sought to leverage Takakuni’s power to realize his ambition to unify Harima under his control.

Yanagimoto Kataharu was a district military governor in Settsu who formerly served Takakuni but later rebelled after Takakuni slayed his younger brother, Kōzai Motomori, based on slander by Hosokawa Tadakata.  Upon the urging of Bessho Nariharu, on 6/29 of 1530, Kataharu advanced toward Toichi Castle in Harima to attack the Yorifuji clan, allies of the Uragami.  During this action, he died at the Gyokuren Temple in Tōjōdani. There are alternate theories as to the proximate cause.  Either he killed himself, or, under another account, Muramune deployed an assassin, Nakamura Sukesaburō, to kill Kataharu in his sleep, for which Sukesaburō received a letter of commendation from Takakuni and Naitō Kunisada.

By 7/27, Takakuni and Muramune attacked Shōyama, Miki, and Arita castles, after which Muramune realized his ardent desire to unify Harima under his command.

Having established a firm foundation, the allied forces led by Hosokawa Takakuni and Uragami Muramune departed Harima with the aim of attacking and toppling the Sakai kubō supported by Hosokawa Harumoto.  On 8/27, the army set-up a base at the Kannōji Castle in Settsu Province.  Alarmed at the advance, Harumoto dispatched reinforcements to Itami and Tomatsu castles, but Tomatsu Castle fell on 9/21, and Yakushiji Kunimori fled to Daimotsu Castle (also known as Amagasaki Castle).  On 11/6 of 1530, Daimotsu Castle also fell to the invaders.  This owed to betrayal by Kunimori after he witnessed how quickly Takakuni’s forces had advanced.  A seven-year-old child that he had left with the Sakai kubō as a hostage was slayed in the third month of the following year.

Next, Takakuni ordered Naitō Hikoshichi to build Shōgunyama Castle.  This surprised the citizens of Kyōto.  On 2/17 of 1531, Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the twelfth shōgun, proceeded to Sakamoto with the aim of capturing the capital.  Following the opening of Itami Castle in Settsu by the end of the second month, the stronghold of Ikeda Castle fell on 3/6 to an attack by Hikoshichi launched from Shōgunyama Castle.  The advancing army then directed attention toward Kyōto.  Beginning in late 1530, Kizawa Nagamasa served upon orders from Harumoto as the lead commander for the defense of Kyōto.  However, having learned of their rapid gains, rather than put up a defense, on 3/7, he slipped away in a driving rain, while the soldiers from the Shōgunyama Castle marched into and took control of Kyōto, enabling Takakuni to capture his coveted prize.  Over an approximately six-month period commencing on 8/27 of 1531 when the allied forces of the Hosokawa and Uragami arrived at Kannōji Castle, Tomatsu, Itami, Daimotsu, and Ikeda castles, followed by the capital of Kyōto, were all captured by 3/6 of 1532.

Circumstances of the battle

Having garnered control of Kyōto and toppled Ikeda Castle, the allied forces of the Hosokawa and Uragami progressed toward their ultimate goal to overthrow Ashikaga Yoshitsuna (the Sakai kubō) and Hosokawa Harumoto.  The main contingent established a base in the southern area of Settsu, while the vanguard set-up in Katsuma in Sumiyoshi.  Harumoto confronted an overwhelming disadvantage relative to his opponents, leading him to draw upon Miyoshi Motonaga for support.

Motonaga did not get along well with Yanagimoto Kataharu, and before their differences boiled over, returned to Awa Province on 8/10 of 1529.  However, Kataharu died, and his grandfather, Miyoshi Yukinaga, was killed by Takakuni.  Either because he could not disregard the tribulations of his lord, Harumoto, or else in response to appeals for help, Motonaga arrived in Sakai on 2/21 of 1531.  On 3/10, he killed as many as eighty soldiers from Takakuni’s vanguard force at Katsuma in Sumiyoshi, causing the vanguard to retreat to the Tennō Temple.  The main contingent of the allied forces of the Hosokawa and Uragami quickly changed their location, with Takakuni’s men moving to Urae in Nakajima and Muramune’s men gathering in the strongholds of Noda and Fukushima castles.  Similar to the east and west versions of Tomatsu Castle nearby, Noda and Fukushima constituted a single castle on two sites.  Muramune may have arranged for their construction.

Upon request of Motonaga, on 3/25, Hosokawa Mochitaka, the elder cousin of Harumoto and military governor of Awa, sent 8,000 reinforcements to Sakai.  Motonaga stationed these soldiers in Sakai to serve in the defense of Harumoto and the Sakai kubō, Ashikaga Yoshitsuna.  Meanwhile, Motonaga aimed to confront the enemy from the Tennō Temple.  At this time, the allied forces of the Hosokawa and Uragami totaled about 20,000 troops, while the Miyoshi amounted to 15,000, meaning approximately 7,000 soldiers joined Motonaga with the balance in Sakai.  On 5/13, Motonaga advanced with mounted soldiers to the area of Oriono, Hosokawa Sumikata led a detached force toward Tsuki Island, and Miyoshi Kazuhide led elite forces from Awa to construct fortresses southeast of Sumiyoshi in Abiko, Katta, and Hori.  Separated by the Abeno Forest, the opposing armies deployed archery units to fight for days until the latter part of the fifth month without a victor, leading to a stalemate.

Consequences of the battle

The presence of Motonaga on the front lines caused Harumoto’s army to pull back, but neither side could achieve a decisive victory, so it appeared to head toward a prolonged conflict. On 6/2, this changed dramatically after Akamatsu Masasuke arrived at the Kannōji Castle under the pretext of serving as the rear-guard for Takakuni, whereas, in fact, he had colluded in advance with the Miyoshi to launch a devastating pincer attack against the allied forces of Takakuni and Muramune, an event known as the Collapse at Daimotsu.