Battle of Yamashina-Hongan Temple


Hongan Temple


Hokke ikki

Date:  8/23 to 8/24 of Tenbun 1 (1532)

Location:  The Yamashina-Hongan Temple in the Yamashina Basin east of Kyōto separated by Mount Higashi

Synopsis:  Led by Shōnyo (the tenth high priest of the Yamashina-Hongan Temple associated with the Jōdo sect), the Ikkō-ikki became a menace to Hosokawa Harumoto (the deputy shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) and the citizens of Kyōto and other provinces in the Kinai.  Harumoto joined forces with the rival Hokke ikki (of the Nichiren sect based in Kyōto), in addition to the Rokkaku clan of southern Ōmi and others, to encircle and destroy the Yamashina-Hongan Temple, forcing Shōnyo to flee with his belongings to Ōsaka.

Yamashina-Hongan Temple Grounds

High Priest:  Shōnyo

Commanders:  Unknown

Forces:  Unknown

Losses:  Yamashina-Hongan Temple completely destroyed

Lord:  Hosokawa Harumoto

Commanders:  Rokkaku Sadayori, Yamamura Masatsugu (leading the army of Yanagimoto Kataharu)

Forces:  30,000 to 40,000 (including Hokke ikki forces and native ikki forces)

Losses:  Unknown

The Battle of Yamashina-Hongan Temple occurred from 8/23 to 8/24 of Tenbun 1 (1532) in the Yamashina Basin east of Kyōto.  The battle was waged by the allied forces of Hosokawa Harumoto, Rokkaku Sadayori, and the Hokke ikki forces of Kyōto against the Ikkō-ikki forces of the Jōdo sect (True Pure Land School) affiliated with the Hongan Temple.  This battle occurred in the context of a broader conflict between the Hokke group and the Enryaku Temple in and around the capital of Kyōto from 1532 to 1547 known as the Hokke Uprising.


Rising the momentum of victory at the Siege of Iimori Castle, the Ikkō-ikki forces proceeded to invade Yamato Province, attacking the Kōfuku Temple and the Kasuga Shrine.  After having requested support from the ikki forces at the Siege of Iimori Castle, Hosokawa Harumoto, the kanrei, or deputy shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, viewed these developments as threatening.

In addition to Harumoto, the citizens of Kyōto were also anxious in regard to the Ikkō-ikki, giving rise to rumors that their followers would invade the capital to attack members of the Hokke school of the Nichiren sect.  Ibaraki Nagataka, a kokujin from Settsu Province on the side of Harumoto, issued a written appeal, whereupon monks from the Hokke school quickly armed themselves and, on 7/28 of Kyōroku 5 (1532), started an uprising known as the Hokke ikki.  This was also likely triggered in part to seek revenge after Miyoshi Motonaga, an ardent believer of the Hokke faith, killed himself in the course of the Siege of Iimori Castle.  The followers of the Hokke school soon combined forces with Harumoto.

After a change in the era name from the Kyōroku (1528 to 1532) to Tenbun (1532 to 1555), on 8/2 of Tenbun 1 (1532), the Ikkō-ikki advanced on Kizawa Nagamasa who was allied with Harumoto, but the Kizawa forces responded by setting fire to temples owned by the Ikkō sect as well as their hall in Sakai.  Members of the Ikkō-ikki responded by standing up across the Kinai including in Izumi, Kawachi, Settsu, and Yamato provinces.  Once these forces pressed toward Sakai where Harumoto was located, the Kizawa army intercepted them.

One account described the scene as follows:  There was a falling out between the Hongan Temple and Hosokawa Harumoto, after which, on 8/2, armed forces of the Hongan Temple surrounded him in Sakai.  However, in the course of a battle won by Harumoto, the ikki forces lost several hundred fighters.  It is rumored that the world will be engulfed by uprisings; the age of the decline of Buddhism is a wretched sight.

Information that Shōnyo (the tenth head of the Hongan Temple and the Ōtani sect of Shin Buddhism) joined with the Ikkō-ikki generated animosity toward these developments.

On 8/7, the Hokke ikki forces commenced military operations in Kyōto.  At this time, Yamamura Masatsugu, a retainer of Yanagimoto Kataharu, led the Hokke ikki forces.  Events proceeded as follows:

From 8/7 to 8/10, several thousand Hokke ikki forces gathered and circled around the environs of Higashiyama and Yamashina.

On 8/15, the forces set-up a camp on Mount Higashi near the Kiyomizu Temple.

From 8/16 to 8/17, a total of 10,000 Hokke forces violently clashed against several thousand Ikkō-ikki forces in the foothills of Mount Higashi and the Hokke ikki forces prevailed.

On 8/19, a total of 2,000 members of the Settsu Ikkō-ikki set-up a camp in Yamazaki, the Hokke Ikkō-ikki marched forward, clashed in the environs of Nishioka, and the Hokke ikki forces prevailed.

In this way, having suppressed Kyōto and Nishioka, the Hokke ikki forces made preparations for an all-out assault against the Yamashina-Hongan Temple.

Course of events

On 8/23, the preparation of an encampment for attacks against the Yamashina-Hongan Temple were in order.  The army to attack the castle was comprised primarily of four divisions:

Main force:  Hokke ikki forces – the Awata entrance on the east side of the temple

Yanagimoto forces led by Yamamura Masatsugu – the Shirutani entrance on the south side of the temple

Rokkaku amy led by Rokkaku Sadayori – the Higashi entrance to Ōtsu on the west side of the temple

Over 50 local ikki forces from the neighborhood – Mount Higashi-Iwakura on the north side of the temple

By this means, the forces completed surrounded the site from four directions.  The besieging army was comprised of 30,000 to 40,000 troops.  Hostilities commenced from early in the morning of 8/24.  Forces invaded from a location known as the drain of the Yamashina-Hongan Temple.  After setting fire to residences, around 10:00 AM, the attacking soldiers forcibly entered from assorted openings, torching the environs of the temple, killing many in the area.  The Yamashina-Hongan Temple was completely destroyed without any structures remaining.  According to one theory, in a bid to save time, the besieging forces took advantage of the inattention of the defenders while in the midst of settlement discussions to attack the temple.

A short time after the attacking forces burst in, the hall for monks was set ablaze.  According to the account of Jitsujū (the last child of Rennyo), Shōnyo was driven out of the Yamashina-Hongan Temple, and, taking images of Shinran (the founder of the Jōdo sect (True Pure Land School of Buddhism) from the Kamakura period) and valuables, retreated to a monastery in Ōsaka which became the Ōsaka-Hongan Temple and new base of operations for the religious group.


The Yamashina-Hongan Temple was extinguished, but this battle was not over, and, at the end of the ninth month, the Ikkō-ikki forces and Hokke ikki forces clashed again in the environs of Yamazaki.  This time, the Ikkō-ikki forces prevailed, setting fires around the area and attempting to attack inside Kyōto, but the Hokke ikki forces patrolled the capital and, by the tenth month, a sense of calm finally returned.  Nevertheless, fighting continued in Settsu Province where the Hongan Temple and Ikkō-ikki forces battled against Hosokawa Harumoto and the Hokke ikki forces in a conflict known as the Tenbun Disturbance.