Battle of Takōgahara
Date: 5/29 of Eiroku 1 (1558)
Location: Takōgahara below Takō Castle in the Kawachi District of Shimotsuke Province
Synopsis: After Utusnomiya Hirotsuna became the twenty-first head of the Utsunomiya clan while still a youth, Nagao Kagetora of Echizen and Ashina Moriuji of Mutsu launched a plot to invade the Utsunomiya territory in Shimotsuke Province. Combined forces from the Nagao and Sano clans proceeded to capture several castles, with Takō Castle next in their sights. Takō Nagatomo, however, led the Takō army with reinforcements from the Utsunomiya to intercept the invaders and routed them at Takōgahara.
The Battle of Takōgahara occurred on 5/29 of Eiroku 1 (1558) at Takōgahara in the Kawachi District of Shimotsuke Province. The conflict was waged between the Takō army (with reinforcements from the Utsunomiya) led by Takō Nagatomo and the allied forces of the Nagao and Sano clans led by Nagao Kagetora and Sano Toyotsuna.
Prior to deploying to the Kantō, Nagao Kagetora of Echigo Province plotted with Ashina Moriuji based in Aizu in Mutsu Province to attack the Utsunomiya clan of Shimotsuke Province. In 1557, owing to the efforts of a senior retainer named Haga Takasada, the Utsunomiya clan obtained the cooperation of Hōjō Ujiyasu and Satake Yoshiaki to recapture Utsunomiya Castle from Mibu Tsunatake. Mibu Tsunafusa (Tsunatake’s father) had earlier garnered control of the castle in 1549 following the death in battle of its former lord, Utsunomiya Hisatsuna, at the Battle of Kitsuregawa-Sōtomezaka. At this time, the new lord, Utsunomiya Hirotsuna, was young and the situation unstable so Kagetora ordered the Sano clan, who were a small-scale daimyō in Shimotsuke, to launch an attack in the territory of the Utsunomiya and then he invaded the province.
Course of events
Prior to invading the Utsunomiya territory, Kagetora and the allied armies of the Nagao and Sano attacked the base of the Oyama clan at Gion Castle. These forces compelled the surrender of the lord of the castle, Oyama Takatomo, without a fight. Thereafter, the invaders toppled Mibu Castle defended by Mibu Tsunatake and then marched toward Takō Castle in the Utsunomiya territory. This army was intercepted by approximately 2,000 soldiers (including reinforcements from the Utsunomiya family) led by Takō Nagatomo who was known as the top commander in the Utsunomiya family. The opposing armies violently clashed at Takōgahara below Takō Castle. After the vanguard division of the Nagao and Sano forces led by Sano Kotarō (Sano Toyotsuna) incurred many casualties, Kagetora decided to pull back the main division. The Nagao and Sano forces somehow managed to push back against the valiant fighting of the Utsunomiya troops, but suffered significant losses. Early in the sixth month, the Takō army led by Nagatomo engaged in a pursuit of the Nagao and Sano forces, chasing them as far as Shiroi in Kōzuke Province, but, after mediation by Ōta Sukemasa, the opposing armies settled.
Utsunomiya army: Takō Nagatomo, Takō Fusatomo, Yana Tomomitsu, Yana Yoshitomo, Ichizaki Michisue, Ueno Suketomo, Koyama Kanetomo, Nozawa Yasutoki, Takagi Michishige, Kida Awaji-no-kami, Izawa Tōtōmi-no-kami, Hashimoto Wakasa-no-kami, Aoyanagi Tango-no-kami, Saka Jibu, Kosuge Hayato
Reinforcements to the Utsunomiya army: Ubagai Yoshitane, Yasaka Naganori, members of the Haga and Kaminokawa clans
Allied army of the Nagao and Sano clans: Sano Toyotsuna (vanguard division), Nagao Kagetora (main division)
According to one researcher, there is a strong possibility that the pursuit of the fleeing forces by the Takō army early in the sixth month was an embellishment to the story added in a later era. Meanwhile, the death in battle of Sano Kotarō was not likely a reference to Sano Toyotsuna but rather to his eldest son and heir.