Battle of Shōkoku Temple

相国寺の戦い (1551年)

Miyoshi Clan


Hosokawa Clan

Date:  7/14 to 7/15 of Tenbun 20 (1551)

Location:  Shōkoku Temple in Nishijin in Kyōto in Yamashiro Province

Synopsis:   An army of 3,000 soldiers under the command of Hosokawa Harumoto established a base at the Shōkoku Temple in Kyōto only to be surrounded by a much larger force of 40,000 soldiers in the army of Miyoshi Nagayoshi who had seized control of the capital.  Following a day of fighting, the defenders fled while the temple burned.

Lord:  Miyoshi Nagayoshi

Commanders:  Matsunaga Hisahide, Matsunaga Nagayori

Forces:  40,000

Losses:  Unknown

Lord:  Hosokawa Harumoto

Commanders:  Miyoshi Masakatsu, Kōzai Motonari

Forces:  3,000

Losses:  Unknown

The Battle of Shōkoku Temple occurred from 7/14 to 7/15 of Tenbun 20 (1551) at the Shōkoku Temple in Nishijin in Kyōto.  The battle was waged by the army of Miyoshi Nagayoshi against the army of Hosokawa Harumoto.  This conflict is distinguished from a battle under the same name that occurred in the preliminary stages of the Ōnin-Bunmei War early in the tenth month of 1467.

In 1549, after being ousted by Nagayoshi and fleeing from Kyōto to Ōmi Province for protection, Ashikaga Yoshiteru (the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) and Hosokawa Harumoto (the deputy shōgun) sought to reclaim their authority in the capital.  In 1550, with the support of Rokkaku Sadayori (the military governor of Ōmi), they constructed a base at Nakao Castle on the backside of Mount Higashi in the eastern environs of Kyōto and proceeded to clash with the Miyoshi army.  After bitter fighting, the forces fighting for Yoshiteru and Harumoto were attacked near Lake Biwa.  Fearing isolation, Yoshiteru set fire to Nakao Castle and fled to Sakamoto and then on to Katata in Ōmi.  This is known as the Battle of Nakao Castle.  Meanwhile, in the capital, Nagayoshi served in lieu of the shōgun to establish security and protect the nobles, independently exercising the organs of power in the absence of the Muromachi bakufu.

Unable to directly confront Nagayoshi, Yoshiteru plotted an assassination.  In the third month of 1551, he sent forth assassins to target Nagayoshi on two occasions.  Neither attempt succeeded, but, owing to alarm at the incidents, Nagayoshi retreated from the capital to Yamazaki.  In an effort to take advantage of Nagayoshi’s absence, on 3/15, supporters of Yoshiteru including Miyoshi Masakatsu and Kōzai Motonari headed south from Tanba to Kyōto, advanced temporarily to the Gojō Road, a major east-west artery through the capital, and set fires.  Meanwhile, on 5/5, Yusa Naganori, the deputy military governor of Kawachi in Nagayoshi’s faction, was assassinated, which was attributed to Yoshiteru, creating an air of instability in the Kinai.

On 7/14, Miyoshi Masakatsu and Kōzai Motonari led 3,000 soldiers including kokujin from Tanba to enter Kyōto again.  The forces marched from Funaokayama via Tōji Temple and set-up a base at the Shōkoku Temple.  The Miyoshi army adopted a plan to charge the enemy forces, while Matsunaga Hisahide and his younger brother, Matsunaga Nagayori, led a contingent of 40,000 soldiers from Settsu, Awa, and Izumi provinces, to surround the Shōkoku Temple.  Following a battle that ended by dawn, Masakatsu and Motonari fled in defeat to Tanba and the Shōkoku Temple burned.

As a result of this battle, it became impossible for Yoshiteru and Harumoto to return to Kyōto by means of military force.  Rokkaku Sadayori, who was backing them, began settlement negotiations.  After Sadayori died, his son, Rokkaku Yoshikata, continued the negotiations.  On 1/28 of Tenbun 21 (1552), Yoshiteru was able to return to Kyōto, and peace was, for the time being, attained.  However, Harumoto rejected the settlement and continued the resistance.  In 1553, Yoshiteru joined with Harumoto to confront Nagayoshi again, fueling a continuation of conflict in the Kinai.