Battle of Shōkoku Temple

相国寺の戦い

Western Army

Kyōto

Eastern Army

Date:  10/3 to 10/4 of Ōnin 1 (1467)

Location:  Shōkoku Temple in the environs of Kyōto in Yamashiro Province

Synopsis:  In a ferocious fight in the early stages of the prolonged struggle for control of the capital known as the Ōnin-Bunmei War, the Western Army, bolstered by additional forces led by Ōuchi Masahiro, attacked the Eastern Army at multiple locations in the Kamigyō District, including at the Shōkoku Temple, in addition to palaces of the shōgun and the Emperor.  After extensive losses on both sides, the conflict evolved into a war of attrition with sporadic fighting between the two armies that, over time, spread into outlying areas.

Commanders:  Hatakeyama Yoshinari, Ōuchi Masahiro, Isshiki Yoshinao, Rokkaku Takayori, Asakura Takakage

Forces:  Unknown

Losses:  Unknown

Commanders:  Hosokawa Katsuyuki, Yasutomi Mototsuna, Takeda Nobukata, Kyōgoku Mochikiyo, Hatakeyama Masanaga

Forces:  Unknown

Losses:  Unknown

The Battle of Shōkoku Temple occurred from 10/3 to 10/4 of Ōnin 1 (1467) in the Kamigyō District of Kyōto.  This is considered the most ferocious battle to have occurred during the Ōnin-Bunmei War.  After the battle, the two armies refrained from fighting in Kyōto and moved the battlefield to the environs in Yamashiro Province.

Bolstered by the addition of forces led by Ōuchi Masahiro, in the ninth month, the Western Army defeated the Eastern Army at the Battle of Higashi-Iwakura, cornering the Eastern Army into the northeast area of the capital.  On 10/3, the Western Army further continued the offensive, commencing a march toward the shōgun‘s palace known as the hana-no-gosho, the Shōkoku Temple, and the Imperial Palace of the Emperor which were under the control of the Eastern Army.

Forces led by Hatakeyama Yoshinari, Ōuchi Masahiro, and Isshiki Yoshinao of the Western Army converged with Asakura Takakage and initiated attacks against the Shōkoku Temple and units of the Eastern Army in the vicinity.  The Shōkoku Temple was protected by Hosokawa Katsuyuki ( the adopted son of Hosokawa Katsumoto) and retainers of Katsumoto including Yasutomi Mototsuna and Takeda Nobukata.  Kyōgoku Mochikiyo and others we stationed to the south at the residence of Ashikaga Yoshimasa (the karasuma-dono), the Imperial Palace (the dairi), and the shōgun‘s palace (the sanjō-dono).

The armies of Hatakeyama Yoshinari and Asakura Takakage first attacked the Shōkoku Temple, and after violent clashes, forced the retreat of the Takeda forces and burned down the temple.  Under one theory, monks at the temple who colluded with the Western Army were said to have set the fires.  Soldiers in the Eastern Army at the karasuma-dono, the dairi, and the sanjō-dono fled while Shōkoku Temple fell to the Western Army.  The hana-no-gosho was just to the west of the Shōkoku Temple so it also came under attack.  Although one-half was burned down, it was not toppled.  Although the Eastern Army initially withdrew, with support of Hatakeyama Masanaga and others, the forces re-grouped for a counterattack.  A lightening assault against the Isshiki army and forces led by Rokkaku Takayori camped on the remains of the Shōkoku Temple resulted in a defeat for these divisions of the Western Army while the attackers reclaimed the remains of the Shōkoku Temple.  However, in a response to the counterattack led by Asakura Takakage, the Western Army reclaimed the site again, after which the two sides entered into a ceasefire.

By reclaiming the site of the Shōkoku Temple, the Western Army was able to corner the Eastern Army, but, after extensive losses on both sides, the conflict turned into a war of attrition.  Owing to the severe losses, subsequent clashes became sporadic, and, before long, the conflict spread to areas outside of the capital of Kyōto, while new tactics were deployed in attempts such as luring away capable bushō from each other’s camps.