Echizen Ikkō-ikki


Oda Clan

Echizen Province


[For the conflict in 1574]

Date:  Tenshō 2 (1574)

Location:  Echizen Province

Outcome:  Katsurada Nagatoshi (aligned with the Oda) was defeated by Toda Nagashige.  After alienating himself from the Ikkō-ikki, Nagashige was then eliminated by his own forces while aggressively leading followers of rival temples against the ikki forces.

[For the conflict in 1575]

Date:  Eighth to ninth months of Tenshō 3 (1575)

Location:  Echizen Province

Outcome:  The Oda army decimated the Echizen ikki forces, killing over 10,000 of their members.

[For the conflict in 1574]

Commanders:  Katsurada Nagatoshi

Forces: Unknown

[For the conflict in 1575]

Commanders:  Oda Nobunaga, Sakuma Nobumori, Shibata Katsuie, Akechi Mitsuhide, Hashiba Hideyoshi, Niwa Nagahide, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, Yanada Hiromasa, Hosokawa Fujitaka, others

Forces:  Over 30,000

Casualties:  Unknown

Commanders:  Shimotsuma Raishō, Shimotsuma Raishun, Shichiri Yorichika, Asakura Kagetake, others

Forces:  Unknown

Casualties:  Over 10,000

The Echizen Ikkō-ikki occurred during the Tenshō era (1573 to 1593) as a series of uprisings by followers of the Ikkō sect in Echizen Province.  The following accounts include:

In Tenshō 2 (1574), the conflict in Echizen occurred in multiple stages.  First, Katsurada Nagatoshi (aligned with the Oda) was defeated by Toda Nagashige and the Echizen Ikkō-ikki acting in collusion with the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple to instigate uprisings by local citizens.  Next, after the ikki forces distanced themselves from Nagashige owing to his treachery, Nagashige led monks from rival temples against the ikki forces commanded by Shichiri Yorichika and Sugiura Gentō.

From the eighth to ninth months of Tenshō 3 (1575), Oda Nobunaga waged a major campaign against the Ikkō-ikki of Echizen to reclaim control of the province after having defeated the Asakura clan several years earlier.

Conflict in 1574

Prelude to hostilities

In the eighth month of 1573, Oda Nobunaga invaded Echizen and eliminated Asakura Yoshikage during which many former retainers of the Asakura surrendered to the Oda and committed to serve on behalf of the Oda in exchange for the recognition of their rights to their former territories.  During Nobunaga’s campaign in Echizen, Maeba Yoshitsugu served as his guide.  As recognition for Yoshitsugu’s contributions, Nobunaga appointed him to serve as the deputy military governor of Echizen.  Yoshitsugu then changed his name to Katsurada Nagatoshi, receiving one of the characters in his name from Nobunaga.  Nagatoshi became the de facto head of military and administrative affairs in Echizen.  However, given that Nagatoshi was not a senior retainer of his former lords, the Asakura, other former retainers of the Asakura made light of his appointment as the deputy military governor.  In particular, while serving as retainers of the Asakura, Toda Nagashige did not get along well with Nagatoshi so Nagashige viewed him as an enemy.

Moreover, Nagatoshi adopted an arrogant attitude toward individuals who were formerly of a similar rank, so, in the first month of 1574, Nagashige decided to eliminate Nagatoshi and, after consulting with influential figures in assorted villages in Echizen, launched a local uprising against Nagatoshi’s rule.

Battle situation

On 1/19, Nagashige himself deployed as the commander of ikki forces, launching an attack on Ichijōdani Castle.  Serving as lord of the castle, Nagatoshi failed to orchestrate a defense, and owing to the size of the ikki forces in excess of 30,000 men, in addition to the contributions of a confidant of Nagashige known as Keya Inosuke, Nagatoshi could not resist and was killed in action.  Nagatoshi’s son, Katsurada Shinshichirō fled with his family from the castle, but was captured the following day and all were killed.  On 1/21, the ikki forces attacked three commissioners who Nobunaga had positioned in the former residence of Asakura Tosa-no-kami in Fuchū in Echizen (Kinoshita Sukehisa, Tsuda Motoyoshi, and Misawa Hidetsugu (Mizu-o Shigetomo)), but Asakura Kagetake mediated a settlement.  The three commissioners departed Echizen and headed toward Gifu.

On 1/24, Nagashige committed an act of treachery, inviting an influential figure named Uozumi Kagekata to his residence at Ryūmonji Castle under the pretext of a banquet to celebrate the defeat of the Katsurada, and then proceeded to murder Kagekata along with his second son, Uozumi Hikoshirō.  The next day, he attacked Tobano Castle and killed Kagekata’s eldest son, Uozumi Hikosanrō, eliminating the Uozumi family.  However, by needlessly decimating the Uozumi who were not enemies of the Toda, Nagashige bred distrust among the ikki forces.  Moreover, at the same time, he pledged allegiance to Nobunaga by tendering his younger brother as a hostage in exchange for appointment as the military governor of Echizen.  This gave rise to rumors of his friendly relations with Nobunaga, further hastening distrust among the ikki forces.

The ikki forces parted ways with Nagashige and invited Shichiri Yorichika and Sugiura Gentō (leaders of the Ikkō-ikki from Kaga Province) to serve as the heads of an autonomous organization.  Although a priest, Gentō also served as a bushō and commander-in-chief of the ikki army in battle in Etchū Province against Uesugi Kenshin.  Gentō lost to Kenshin at the Battle of Shiritarezaka, but prevailed against the Uesugi at Mount Gofuku and Hinomiya Castle, while also engaging in battle against Asakura Yoshikage, so he had recognized achievements to his name.  The ikki forces included many adherents of the Jōdo Shinshū branch of the Hongan Temple so their opinion governed.  Therefore, what began as a local uprising headed by Toda Nagashige evolved into a revolt by the Ikkō-ikki led by Shichiri Yorichika.

On 2/13, the ikki forces launched a preemptive strike, attacking the Katayama residence defended by a retainer of Nagashige named Masui Jinnai-no-suke, along with the former residence of Asakura Tosa-no-kami defended by Keya Inosuke, annihilating both of them.  On 2/16, Nagashige counterattacked, and with only 700 men, defeated a contingent of 30,000 ikki forces at Hoyama-kawara.

On 2/17, Nagashige marched north with the aim of capturing Kita-no-shō Castle by joining forces with locals from Fuchū along with members of the Shinshū-Takada branch (the Senju Temple) and the Shinshū-Sanmondo branch (the Senshō Temple) who were opposed to the Jōdo-Shinshū branch of the Hongan Temple leading the ikki forces.

In their bid to eliminate Nagashige, Shichiri Yorichika and Sugiura Gentō directed 50,000 ikki forces gathered from the Kita-no-shō area, resulting in a violent clash against Nagashige’s forces near Asamizu.  Despite being vastly outnumbered, Nagashige’s forces fought valiantly, destroying the vanguard of the ikki forces and scattering their main contingent.  During the battle in Asamizu, Ago Kagetake (formerly Asakura Kagetake) and Asakura Kagetane observed without participating in the clash, causing Nagashige to view them as enemies.   On the evening of 2/17, Nagashige attacked their fortress on Mount Chōsenji, but, owing to exhaustion from the fighting against the ikki forces, Nagashige’s men could not capture the fortress.

On 2/18, although Nagashige ordered another full-scale attack, this heightened distrust and dissatisfaction among his troops being ordered to engage in a reckless mission.  At the peak of the battle early in the morning of 2/18, Nagashige was betrayed when one of his soldiers, Kobayashi Yoshitaka, shot him from behind with an arquebus, killing him and triggering a break-up of the forces.  On 2/19, Nagashige’s head was brought to Sugiura Gentō, commander of the ikki army, while an inspection was performed at the Ryūtaku Temple.  On this same day, the ikki forces forced the surrender of the Toyohara Temple that was the base of adherents of the Hakusan faith who then allied with the ikki.

In the fourth month, attacks by the ikki forces gained momentum, toppling Mizoe Castle.  Members of the Mizoe clan including Mizoe Kageyasu and Mizoe Nagayasu, along with subordinates such as Myōryūji Bennei, 明円坊印海, Sōshōbō, and Tōzenji Hidekatsu, in addition to Koizumi Tōzaemon, Fujisaki Kura-no-suke, and Ichikawa Sasuke all killed themselves.  Only Mizoe Nagazumi (the son of Nagayasu) fled Mizoe Castle.

On 4/14, the ikki forces attacked the base of Tsuchihashi Nobuakira (formerly Asakura Kageakira) at Iyama Castle.  Nobuakira fled the castle and holed-up in the Heisen Temple, but the temple was burned down and the occupants annihilated.  Although Nobuakira attempted to flee again, in the end, he charged into the enemy with only a small number of retainers and died in action.

In the fifth month, the ikki forces attacked Oda Kagetsuna (formerly Asakaura Kagetsuna) of Oda Castle. Kagetsuna made a valiant defense, but, aware that he was outnumbered, abandoned his retainers and, under cover of darkness, fled the castle with his wife and children to Tsuruga.  In this way, with the exception of some commanders such as Ago Kagetake and Asakura Kagetane who colluded with the Ikkō-ikki, former retainers of the Asakura were completely decimated, and Echizen joined Kaga as a province controlled by the peasants.

Consequences of the conflict

As a result, Nobunaga lost control of Echizen.  Around this time, however, the Oda were enveloped in conflict with an array of enemies including the Takeda, the Nagashima Ikkō-ikki, and the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple based in Ōsaka so did not have the capacity to quickly dispatch an army to recover the lost territory.

Nevertheless, the governance of Shichiri Yorichika and Shimotsuma Raishō, dispatched by the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple to serve as the supreme commander of Echizen, did not result in the leadership desired by the influential families and heads of the temples and shrines in the province.  For their personal benefit, the Shimotsuma imposed heavy taxes and levies on the citizenry (beyond those imposed by Katsurada Nagatoshi) under the pretext of military preparedness with the Oda clan.  This triggered uprisings among the class of individuals dissatisfied with the Shimotsuma’s governance, fracturing the ikki forces from within.

Conflict in 1575

Prelude to hostilities

Following the defeat of former retainers of the Asakura, their territories were taken over Shimotsuma Raishō, sent by Kennyo to serve as the military governor of the province, along with senior figures associated with the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, including Sugiura Gentō (governor of the Ōno District), Shimotsuma Raishun (governor of the Asuwa District), and Shichiri Yorichika (governor of the Fuchū District).  Moreover, under the pretext of military preparedness with the Oda clan, the new lords exercised a malevolent form of governance, imposing heavy taxes and levies on the kokujin and citizens of Echizen.  As a result, followers of the Tendai and Shingon sects in Echizen opposed their rule.  The opposition began with members of the Shinshū Takada branch of the Jōdo sect (affiliated with the Senju Temple), kokujin, and local citizens, ultimately expanding to Ikkō monks in Echizen.  Commencing around 1575, the ikki forces began to fracture from within.

From this year, Nobunaga began to develop roads and bridges throughout the territory and prepared for battle in many locations.  In the fifth month, Nobunaga achieved a major victory against Takeda Katsuyori at the Battle of Nagashino, allowing him the leeway to take advantage of internal conflict within the Ikkō-ikki to invade Echizen.

On 8/12, Nobunaga departed from Gifu and, on 8/13, stayed overnight at Odani Castle protected by Hashiba Hideyoshi.  He then distributed military provisions from Odani to the troops.  On 8/14, the Oda army went to Tsuruga Castle.

The positions of the ikki forces were as follows:

  • Itadori Castle:  Shimotsuma Raishun and ikki forces from Kaga and Echizen
  • Kinome Ridge:  Ishida Saikōji and ikki forces
  • Hachibuse Castle:  Abbot of the Senju Temple, Abaga Saburō and Abaga Yosa (siblings), Echizen forces
  • Ima Castle and Hiuchiga Castle:  Shimotsuma Raishō
  • Dairagoe Castle and Suizu Castle:  Ōshio Engyōji and Kaga forces
  • Castles newly constructed along the sea coast:  Wakabayashi Nagato-no-kami and Jinshichirō (father and son) and Echizen forces
  • Fuchū and Ryūmon Temple:  Miyake Gon-no-jō

Ikki forces from other western provinces were also believed to have joined.

On 8/15, the weather was windy and rainy, but the Oda army crossed via Dairagoe and charged into Echizen.

Nobunaga led a contingent of 30,000 forces, including the following bushō:  Sakuma Nobumori, Shibata Katsuie, Takigawa Kazumasu, Hashiba Hideyoshi, Akechi Mitsuhide, Niwa Nagahide, Sassa Narimasa, Maeda Toshiie, Yanada Hiromasa, Hosokawa Fujitaka, Ban Naomasa, Hachiya Yoritaka, Araki Murashige, Inaba Yoshimichi (Ittetsu), Inaba Sadamichi, Ujiie Naomasa, Andō Morinari, Isono Kazumasa, Atsuji Sadayuki, Atsuji Sadahiro, Fuwa Mitsuharu, Fuwa Naomitsu, Mutō Kiyohide, Kanbe Nobutaka, Tsuda Nobuzumi, Oda Nobukane, Kitabatake Nobukatsu (Ise forces), Kanamori Nagachika, and Hara Nagayori.  On the front lines of the army, he positioned kokujin, rōnin, and monks from Echizen who opposed the autocratic rule of the priests and had joined the Oda forces.

In addition, several hundred naval vessels approached by sea.  Kuriya Etchū-no-kami, Itsumi Suruga-no-kami, Kuriya Yashirō, Naitō Chikuzen, Kumagaya Dezaemon, Yamagata Shimotsuke-no-kami, the Shiroi, the Matsumiya, the Terai, the Kagawa, and the Hatada of Wakasa Province, along with Isshiki Yoshimichi, the Yano, Ōshima Tajima-no-kami, and Sakurai Buzen-no-kami were mobilized.  After landing in inlets and harbors, these sailors set fires all around.

The Ikkō-ikki responded with attacks led by Ōshio Engyōji and Wakabayashi Nagato-no-kami (father and son), but Hashiba Hideyoshi and Akechi Mitsuhide quickly defeated them.  After killing 200 to 300 enemy forces, the Hashiba and Akechi units took over and burned down the Ikkō-ikki bases ar Suizu Castle and Dairagoe Castle, along with newly constructed castles on the sea coast.  Enemy heads taken that day were delivered to Nobunaga in Tsuruga.

The Oda forces then launched a nighttime attack against the Ryūmon Temple in Fuchū and burned down the surrounding area.  Ikki forces that had been caught off-guard with attacks from behind on the Kinome Ridge, Hachibuse Castle, Ima Castle, and Hiuchiga Castle had retreated to Fuchū, but Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide were lying in wait and killed over 2000 of them.  At this time, Sugiura Gentō, based in Hachibuse Castle, died in action, while Abaga Sanrō and Abaga Yosa (siblings in command of the castle) surrendered and requested a pardon but Nobunaga refused and ordered Ban Naomasa to kill them.

On 8/15, the Oda army commenced an attack against Suizu Castle defended by Ōshio Engyōji and Horie Kagetada.  After learning that a large Oda army was coming to attack, Kagetada, together with Morita Sanzaemon and Sakai Zusho-no-suke, colluded with the Oda forces and betrayed the defenders.  Next, Shimotsuma Raishun at Itadori Castle, Shimotsuma Raishō at 火裡城 and Shichiri Yorichika at Ima-no-shō all fled.  The leadership of the Ikkō-ikki completely collapsed so the ikki forces could no longer resist the Oda army in a coordinated manner.

On 8/16, departed from Tsuruga with 10,000 soldiers led by umamawari, or mounted soldiers.  After establishing a camp at the Ryūmon Temple in Fuchū, he positioned Fukuda Mikawa-no-kami at Ima Castle and secured the route.

Shimotsuma Raishun, Shimotsuma Raishō, and the abbot from the Senju Temple went into hiding in the mountains of Echizen, but were killed by Ago Kagetake who switched allegiance to the Oda after realizing that the ikki forces were on the defensive.  Kagetake carried the heads of the Shimotsuma and others and plead for forgiveness from Nobunaga, but was refused and ordered to kill himself.  At this time, his retainers, namely, Kaneko Shin-no-jō Chichiko and Yamauchi 源右衛門 also martyred themselves by committing seppuku.

On 8/18, Shibata Katsuie, Niwa Nagahide, and Tsuda Nobuzumi attacked and toppled Toba Castle, killing 500 to 600 enemy forces in the process.  Kanamori Nagachika and Hara Nagayori went from Minoguchi via Neo and Tokuyama to the Ōno District, destroyed the army of Sugiura Gentō, toppled several small castles, slayed a substantial number of ikki members, and torched the area.  Sugiura Gentō was either killed in action or fled.

The uprisings collapsed and, in the midst of chaos, the ikki members fled in disarray into the mountains.  Nobunaga, however, maintained the pressure, ordering his forces to locate their hiding places in the mountains and to indiscriminently kill them all, men and women alike.

In a series of battles, over 12,250 ikki forces were killed in action.  In addition, 30,000 to 40,000 were sent as slaves to Owari and Mino.

On 9/2, owing to suspicions of allying with the Ikkō-ikki, the Hakusan-Toyohara Temple affiliated with the Tendai sect was burned down.

In this manner, the ikki forces were completely expelled from Echizen.  According to a note left on tiles excavated on the site of Komaru Castle, on 5/24 of 1576, Maeda Toshiie killed 1,000 ikki forces through crucifixion and boiling in hot kettles.

Aftermath of the battle

Nobunaga awarded eight districts in Echizen comprised of 75,000 koku to Shibata Katsuie and ordered him to serve as the lord of Kita-no-shō Castle.  He then equally divided 100,000 koku in Fuchū among Maeda Toshiie, Sassa Narimasa, and Fuwa Mitsuharu.  These men comprised the Fuchū Group of Three, providing support and protection to Katsuie.  Meanwhile, Kanamori Nagachika received 30,000 koku while Hara Nagayori received 20,000 koku in Ōno.  Nobunaga also prepared a set of laws for Echizen.

In this manner, Nobunaga established his governance structure for the northern provinces led by Shibata Katsuie.


This conflict was a major victory for Oda Nobunaga while further serving as a display of Nobunaga’s military power.  Moreover, this one case highlighted the fact that the directions from the central authorities of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple were not deeply embedded at the local level.  By 1580, the Ikkō-ikki of neighboring Kaga Province were, for the most part, conquered by the Oda army.  Around this time, Shichiri Yorichika, a leader of the Echizen Ikkō-ikki who had narrowly escaped to Kaga, was executed.