Battle of Yariba
Date: The latter half of Tenbun 22 (1553)
Location: Near the villages of Kuroda and Nakatomi in the Myōdō District of Awa Province
Synopsis: After Miyoshi Jikkyū cornered Hosokawa Mochitaka (the head of the Awa-Hosokawa family and military governor of Awa Province) that resulted in Mochitaka’s death, a retainer named Kume Yoshihiro gathered forces to avenge the killing, but suffered defeat in a spear battle against the Miyoshi along the banks of the Ō River in a location later referred to as the spear grounds.
Commanders: Kume Yoshihiro, Ogura Shigenobu, Sano Hiraaki, Noda Kuranosuke, Niki Takamasa
Forces: Less than 2,000 (according to one account: 600)
Losses: All commanders were killed
The Battle of Yariba occurred in the latter half of Tenbun 22 (1553) near the villages of Kuroda and Nakatomi in the Myōdō District of Awa Province. This conflict was waged between Miyoshi Jikkyū and Kume Yoshihiro and is also referred to as the Crusade at Yariba (initiated by Kume Yoshihiro to avenge the killing of Hosokawa Mochitaka) or the Kume Conflict (based on a revolt led by Kume Yoshihiro against the Miyoshi clan). The site name of “Yariba” means spear grounds, which was given after the two armies clashed with spears in this location.
The Shōzui Incident
Hosokawa Mochitaka served as the head of the Awa-Hosokawa family and military governor of Awa and Sanuki provinces based in Shōzui Castle in Awa. On 6/17 of Tenbun 22 (1553), Mochitaka was cornered by Miyoshi Jikkyū and killed himself at the Kenshō Temple near the castle. This is known as the Shōzui Incident. There are assorted theories for the killing. Under one theory, Jikkyū discovered a plot by Mochitaka to oppose Miyoshi Nagayoshi by supporting Ashikaga Yoshihide (Ashikaga Yoshitsuna‘s son) in a march to the capital. Under another view, Mochitaka was threatened by Jikkyū’s growing power in Awa and sought to assassinate him, which plot was leaked to Jikkyū. Finally, Jikkyū may have learned that Mochitaka was supporting a revival by Hosokawa Harumoto. Nevertheless, there are many uncertainties as to the circumstances surrounding a sudden confrontation between Mochitaka and Jikkyū given his neutrality during the peak of fighting between Nagayoshi and Harumoto.
According to one account, Mochitaka conspired to kill Jikkyū at a sumō event but a retainer of Mochitaka serving as a magistrate named Shinomiya Yokichibei secretly informed Jikkyū so the plot was exposed. Jikkyū gathered 3,000 soldiers whereas Mochitaka had a unit of only about 100 umamawari, or mounted soldiers. Mochitaka sought reinforcements at the Kenshō Temple, but few responded to the call, whereupon he killed himself, while two of his retainers, Seisō Uemon and Hasuike Shōnosuke died. As a result, Mochitaka’s son, Hosokawa Saneyuki, became the lord of Awa Province.
Rebellion by Kume Yoshihiro
Kume Yoshihiro, the lord of Shibahara Castle in Awa, was married to Mochitaka’s younger sister. Meanwhile, Yoshihiro’s daughter was the wife of Jikkyū, the younger brother of Nagayoshi. Once a dispute arose between Mochitaka and Jikkyū, Yoshihiro sided with Mochitaka.
According to one account, after Yoshihiro decided to avenge the death of Mochitaka, he devised a plan with the assistance of lords from nearby castles with whom he was on friendly terms, including Ogura Shigenobu (Kuramoto Castle), Sano Tango-no-kami (Hiraaki) (Sanozuka Castle), Noda Kuranosuke (Nodayama Castle), and Niki Takamasa (Ei Castle). The next day, when Ogura Shigenobu visited Shōzui Castle, Jikkyū was guarded only be several tens of troops. After Shigenobu informed Yoshihiro of the situation, Yoshihiro gathered more than 2,000 forces at Shibahara Castle. Meanwhile, Jikkyū learned of these developments and assembled his own contingent of 2,000 troops including residents of the village at Shōzui Castle.
Noting that Jikkyū’s younger sister was the wife of Ogasawara Narisuke of Ichinomiya Castle in Awa, Yoshihiro sought to capture her as a hostage, so he intentionally ignored Shōzui Castle located near Shibahara Castle and launched a nighttime assault on Ichinomiya Castle. After being rescued by a retainer named Kimura Higo-no-kami, Narisuke fled, but the attacking forces broke down the main gate and the castle fell, while Narisuke’s wife and daughter were taken hostage.
Based on accounts of the Miyoshi family, soon thereafter, Noguchi Norimori from Awaji Island in the eastern portion of the Seto Inland Sea, brought 1,000 soldiers to converge with the Miyoshi. In addition, Jikkyū summoned reinforcements from the upper districts including the Miyoshi and Mima districts, sending 2,000 troops to the Nakatomi River. Meanwhile, the Kume forces traversed the river and set-up a camp at the Kuroda Yariba.
Therefore, Jikkyū concluded that the Kume had gathered only a small number of soldiers so he crossed the river and advanced to the Kuroda Yariba. In this conflict, Noda Kuranosuke and Noguchi Norimori were killed in action while all of those on the side of the Kume were killed.
According to one account, there were 3,000 soldiers on the Miyoshi side and 600 solders on the Kume side. The Kume forces were surrounded and, including Yoshihiro, annihilated.
Mochitaka’s younger sister was married to Akamatsu Harumasa, and, after the Battle of Yariba, the orphan of Yoshihiro relied upon the Akamatsu clan to escape to the Akamatsu residence in Harima Province.
After Yoshihiro’s son, Kume Yoshimasa, fled to Harima, he became a retainer of Hachisuka Masakatsu. In 1585, during the Invasion of Shikoku, he participated in an attack on Ichinomiya Castle which, at the time, was under the control of the Chōsokabe clan. He recommended that the besieging forces cut-off the water supply as a means of attack.
Mochitaka allowed Ashikaga Yoshifuyu to come to Awa. After the Shōzui Incident, the relationship between Yoshifuyu and Miyoshi Jikkyū deteriorated. In the spring of 1555, Yoshifuyu departed Awa and resided with the Ōuchi clan of Suō Province.
The formal wives of Mochitaka and Yoshifuyu were sisters (daughters of Ōuchi Yoshioki who formerly marched upon Kyōto to install Ashikaga Yoshitane as the shōgun). However, in 1551, after the death of Yoshioki’s eldest son, Ōuchi Yoshitaka in an internal rebellion known as the Tainei Temple Incident, the former Ōuchi clan came to an end. Ōuchi Yoshinaga became the nominal head of the Ōuchi. Yoshinaga was the younger brother of Ōtomo Yoshishige who received one of the characters in his name from Ashikaga Yoshiharu and Yoshitane. In the spring of 1557, owing to an invasion by Mōri Motonari known as the Subjugation of Bōchō, Yoshinaga took his own life and the Ōuchi clan was extinguished.
In 1579, Miyoshi Yasutoshi of Iwakura Castle switched his allegiance to the Chōsokabe clan of Tosa Province. As a result, an event occurred in which a large number of senior retainers of the Miyoshi who came as reinforcements were killed in battle. This included the killing of Yano Kunimura by Niki Hyūga-no-kami. Later, the Chōsokabe forces marched east so Yano Toramura and others fielded soldiers for the Miyoshi. After traversing the Ō River, these forces set-up bases in the villages of Kuroda and Nakatomi. At this time, the two armies clashed with spears on the banks of the river so it became known as the spear grounds.