Battle of Taihei Temple


Hosokawa Clan

Hatakeyama Clan

Kawachi Province

Kizawa Clan

Date:  3/17 of Tenbun 11 (1542)

Location:  Near the remains of the Taihei Temple in Ochiaigawa-Uehata in Kawachi Province

Synopsis:  Kizawa Nagamasa wielded authority in the Kinai over a ten-year period, but his autocratic style and acts in defiance of the rule of the Muromachi bakufu yielded enemies among the Hatakeyama, the Hosokawa, the Miyoshi, and the Yusa clans.  Members of these clans then combined forces to defeat and eliminate him.

Lord:  Hosokawa Harumoto, Hatakeyama Tanenaga

Commanders:  Miyoshi Masanaga, Miyoshi Nagayoshi, Yusa Naganori

Forces:  Over 8,000

Losses:  Unknown

Lord:  Hatakeyama Ariuji

Commanders:  Kizawa Nagamasa

Forces:  Approximately 7,000

Losses:  Approximately 300

The Battle of Taihei Temple occurred on 3/17 of Tenbun 11 (1542) in the environs of the former Taihei Temple located in Ochiaigawa-Uehata at the confluence of the Ochiai, Yamato, and Ishi rivers in Kawachi Province.  In this conflict, after wielding authority in the Kinai for a ten-year period, Kizawa Nagamasa was defeated by the combined armies of Miyoshi Nagayoshi and Yusa Naganori.  The battle is named after the location where Nagamasa was killed by a servant of Naganori along the Kōya main road on the northern shore of the Yamato River, but the Taihei Temple is believed to have been no longer standing and was only a place name at that time.  This is also referred to as the Battle of Ochiaigawa.

Prelude to hostilities

After his father, Miyoshi Motonaga, was killed at the Siege of Iimori Castle, Miyoshi Nagayasu viewed Hosokawa Harumoto as his mortal enemy for giving the orders that resulted in the death of his father.  In the sixth month of 1539, believing that the time for action had arrived, he conspired with Hosokawa Mochitaka of Awa Province and raised an army to overthrow Harumoto.  Concerned by these developments, Rokkaku Sadayori, the military governor of Ōmi Province, requested a response from the Muromachi bakufu.  Upon hearing the news, Ashikaga Yoshiharu (the twelfth shōgun) ordered Sadayori and Kizawa Nagamasa to mediate while Yoshiharu himself sent correspondence to Nagayoshi and Harumoto to request restraint.

As though these measures were ignored, in the middle of the sixth month, the Miyoshi army advanced to the environs of Shimakami in Settsu Province.  The vanguard forces proceeded to the Nishiokamuki Shrine.  Harumoto responded by ordering Miyoshi Masanaga to deploy, and he marched forces to Nishi-no-kyō.  Harumoto himself led a battalion and, on 7/25, deployed to Yamazaki Castle.  The two armies confronted one another at the provincial border between Settsu and Yamashiro.  A battle appeared imminent, but the two armies agreed to withdraw after intervention by Rokkaku Sadayori and Ninagawa Chikayo (the deputy head of the mandokoro of the Muromachi bakufu).  As a condition of the withdrawal, the Miyoshi army agreed to vacate Akutagawa Castle and, on 8/14, entered Koshimizu Castle.  As a condition of settlement, Koshimizu Castle was given to Nagayoshi and he became the deputy military governor of one-half of Settsu Province.

At this time, Nagayoshi was only seventeen years old and was praised for his military aptitude, offering a glimpse of a deep well of prospective talent (like a mythical dragon that ascends from a ravine).

Having been preoccupied with mediation activities, Kizawa Nagamasa was granted the role of deputy military governor of the northern one-half of Kawachi along with the most impregnable fortress in the Kinai – Shigisan Castle.  After allying with kokujin, or provincial landowners, in Yamato, in the seventh month of 1541, Nagamasa rebuilt and entered Kasagi Castle.  Meanwhile, he had Harumoto and Nagayoshi reconcile on their own accord.  In the eighth month, he murdered Hatakeyama Nagatsune at Takaya Castle.

After reconciling with Harumoto, Nagayoshi, together with Miyoshi Masanaga,  Ikeda Nobumasa (the lord of Ikeda Castle) and Hatano Hidetada (the lord of Yakami Castle), abided by orders of Harumoto and, on 8/12, attacked Hitokura Castle.  This was the base of Shiokawa Masatoshi, the husband of the younger sister of Hosokawa Takakuni.​  On 6/4 of Kyōroku 4 (1531), Takakuni was defeated at the Collapse at Daimotsu by the allied armies of Harumoto, Akamatsu Masasuke, and Miyoshi Motonaga.  Several days later, after capturing Takakuni, Harumoto ordered him to kill himself in the Kyōtoku Temple in Amagasaki.  Next, Harumoto sought to sweep-up the remnants of Takakuni’s forces.  On 9/29, however, Itami Chikaoki (the lord of Itami Castle in Settsu Province and a relative of Shiokawa Masatoshi through family marriage) and Miyake Kunimura (the lord of Miyake Castle in Izumi Province) appealed to Ashikaga Yoshiharu (the shōgun) with respect to the impropriety of these actions.  Meanwhile, they requested reinforcements from Kizawa Nagamasa and led a large army with soldiers from Yamashiro, Yamato, and Kawachi in an effort to attack the Miyoshi army from the rear.  After detecting these movements, on 10/12, the Miyoshi army returned to Koshimizu Castle.

The Kizawa army pursued them, surrounding Koshimizu Castle.  On 10/11, Nagamasa expressed to Yoshiharu his desire to provide security in Kyōto.  Nagamasa, however, faced detractors in the Muromachi bakufu opposed to his autocratic style, along with his spurning of official approvals for the construction of Kasagi Castle, the murder of Hatakeyama Nagatsune, and the Siege of Hitokura Castle.  On 10/29, Harumoto (the deputy shōgun) retreated to Kitaiwakura while, on 10/30, Yoshiharu went to the Jishō Temple.  Thereafter, they fled to Sakamoto in Ōmi via a gateway known as Shirakawaguchi.  After the departure of the shōgun who he sought to protect, Nagamasa withdrew to Kawachi.

After pulling back to Kitaiwakura, on 11/18, Harumoto requested Yoshiharu to send a personal letter to the Nitsuki clan who served as the military governors of Iga Province and ordered an attack against Kasagi Castle.  After receiving these orders at the end of the eleventh month, the Nitsuki clan assembled a unit of 70 to 80 ninja from Iga and Kōka to sneak into Kasagi Castle and set fire to a portion of the compound.  Two days later, this unit was subject to a counterattack.  These are the oldest known accounts with respect to the activities of a ninja unit.

Thereafter, Yusa Naganori, the deputy military governor of southern Kawachi and Harumoto sent a petition to Yoshiharu again, requesting that he send a personal letter to Hatakeyama Tanenaga ordering him to subjugate Hatakeyama Masakuni (or Hatakeyama Yakurō) and a separate petition to Shōnyo (the high priest of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple) requesting that he not ally with Kizawa Nagamasa.

After completing preparations, Harumoto raised an army with the intention of subduing Nagamasa, and, on 12/8, departed from Kitaiwakura and entered Akutagawayama Castle, amassing Miyoshi forces.  The Kizawa army quickly responded, departing Kasagi Castle and heading down along the Kizu River, setting up an encampment near Ide in Yamashiro.  Into the next year, the two armies opposed one another across the Kizu and Yodo rivers.  Another ally, Yusa Naganori, made progress pacifying the kokujin, or provincial landowners, in Kii Province.  He even mobilized warrior monks from the Negoro, Kōya, and Kokawa temples.  In the second month of 1542, Hosokawa Mototsune, the military governor of the upper half of Izumi Province and a member of Harumoto’s forces, returned to his province and gathered troops for imminent action.

Course of events

On 3/8 of Tenbun 11 (1542), Yusa Nagamori also took action, assassinated Saitō Yamashiro-no-kami and his son who were servants of Hatakeyama Masakuni, making clear his return to the service of Hatakeyama Tanenaga.  Out of concern for his own safety, on 3/10, Masakuni departed Takaya Castle and fled to Shigisan Castle.  On 3/13, Tanenaga, accompanied by an army of approximately 10,000 soldiers from Kishū (Kii Province), returned to his castle after an eight-year absence.

Having failed to believe that Tanenaga had the capability to mobilize 10,000 soldiers, Nagamasa quickly left his encampment and led his forces to Yamato and Yamashiro, entering Nijōzan Castle which was even more defensible than Shigisan, located to the southeast of Takaya Castle.  Nijōzan stood across from Shigisan on the opposite side of the Yamato River.  The provided an opportunity for a pincer attack against Takaya Castle, with Masakuni from Shigisan Castle and Nagamasa from Nijōzan Castle.   Harumoto responded by ordering reinforcements from the Miyoshi forces, departing Akutayama Castle and heading south on the Kōya main road.

On 3/17, a vanguard unit that departed from Takaya Castle violently clashed with a scouting unit headed toward Takaya Caste from Nijōzan Castle.  In view of these developments, Nagamasa concluded that his army was in a disadvantageous position, so he left 3,000 troops at Nijōzan Castle and sent the remaining 7,000 troops to the front line.  The two armies proceeded north from the Kōya main road toward Iimoriyama.  Close combat occurred at a place called Uehata in Ochiaigawa in Kawachi.  The northern march is surmised to have been to seek reinforcements from Masakuni’s base at Shigisan Castle.  The clashes began around 3:00 in the afternoon and continued for about one hour.  As reinforcements approached, Nagamasa believed these were from Masakuni, but, instead, these were Miyoshi forces.

After Miyoshi and Yusa forces penetrated their flanks, the Kizawa army began to fall into disarray.  Aware that the tide had turned against his army, Nagamasa ordered his troops to retreat to Iimoriyama Castle.  Nagamasa’s lord, Hatakeyama Ariuji, was based in this location so Nagamasa was likely seeking protection.  However, en route to Iimoriyama, he was pursued by members of the Yusa and Miyoshi armies, caught, and killed.  The individual who took his head was a servant of Yusa Naganori with the surname of Kojima.

After this battle, the arrangement with separate military governors for the upper and lower halves of Kawachi came to an end, and Hatakeyama Tanenaga was appointed to serve as the military governor of the entire province.  Meanwhile, Akutagawayama Castle was assigned to Akutagawa Magojūrō, an ally of Miyoshi Nagayoshi.  Owing to this battle, the Kizawa forces that had held sway over the Kinai for the prior ten-year period collapsed while the youthful Nagayoshi gained influence.  These events laid the foundation for the Battle of Shari Temple in the seventh month of 1547.

Additional notes

Nagamasa was killed on the northern shore of the Yamato River, near the Taihei Temple along the Kōya main road, from which the name of the battle is derived.

Although, at the time of this conflict, the Taihei Temple existed in name only, prior to the Sengoku period, it was counted (along with the Chishiki, the Yamashita, the Dairi, the Miyake, and the Iehara) among the Six Temples of Kawachi.  At the Chishiki Temple resided a large-scale statue of Vairocana, an enlightened Buddha.  This statue is believed to have provided inspiration to Emperor Shōmu to build the Giant Buddha in Nara in the eighth century.  Based on artifacts, the temple was deemed to have been built toward the end of the Asuka period (592 to 710) and abandoned in the Muromachi period.  At the time of the battle, similar to the Tahei Temple, only the place name of the Chishiki Temple remained.