Battle of Katsurakawara

桂川原の戦い

Miyoshi Clan

Settsu Province

Hosokawa Clan

Date:  2/12 to 2/13 of Daiei 7 (1527)

Location:  In the fields adjacent to the Katsura River in Settsu Province

Outcome: Through his actions, Hosokawa Takakuni triggered a response from Hosokawa Harumoto by which the allied forces of the Hatano and Miyoshi advanced into Settsu and, over the course of a single night and day, defeated the armies under Takakuni, Ashikaga Yoshiharu (the Muromachi bakufu), and Takeda Motomitsu from Wakasa Province, with the Rokkaku playing an ancillary role toward the end.

Commanders:  Miyoshi Katsunaga, Miyoshi Masanaga (in support of Hosokawa Harumoto – son of Hosokawa Sumimoto), Hatano Tanemichi

Forces:  Unknown

Casualties:  Approximately 80

Commanders:  Hosokawa Takakuni, Takeda Motomitsu

Forces:  Unknown

Casualties:  Approximately 400

The Battle of Katsurakawara occurred over the course of a single night and following day from 2/12 to 2/13 of Daiei 7 (1527).  The conflict was associated with formation of the Sakai kubō, an opposition role to Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun in Kyōto. 

This represented one event in a prolonged series of military clashes between rivals within the Hosokawa-Keichō family that occurred between 1509 and 1531, known as the Conflict between the Hosokawa (Ryō-Hosokawa no ran). These events comprised the military component of a broader succession struggle between the three adopted sons of Hosokawa Masamoto.  Masamoto was an influential deputy shōgun, with de facto power over the bakufu.  However, tensions arose from his choice of a successor, leading to his assassination in 1507, known as the Lord Hosokawa Incident (Hosokawa-dono no hen).  Intertwined with this struggle existed a rivalry between Ashikaga Yoshitane and Ashikaga Yoshizumi to serve as shōgun, all occurring in the midst of a decline in the capacity of the Muromachi bakufu to exercise authority in the capital of Kyōto and beyond.  This multi-faceted struggle is known as the Eishō Disturbance (Eishō no sakuran), commencing from the time of Masamoto’s assassination in 1507 until the defeat of Hosokawa Takakuni by Hosokawa Harumoto at the Collapse at Daimotsu (Daimotsu kuzure) in 1531.

Prelude to the battle

Although Kōzai Motomori served as a retainer of Hosokawa Takakuni, Takakuni forced Motomori to kill himself based on slander from Hosokawa Tadakata of the same family.  On previous occasions, Takakuni believed false charges against retainers and caused them to take their own lives.  Two of Motomori’s older brothers, Hatano Tanemichi and Yanagimoto Kataharu, did not condone these actions, and when it became known that Takakuni took similar action against Motomori without proper investigation, Tanemichi and Kataharu rebelled at Yakami and Kannōsan castles in Tanba Province.

On 10/23 of 1526, Takakuni ordered Tadakata to serve as the lead commander of an army to lay siege to Kannōsan, while Kawarahayashi Shurinosuke and Ikeda Danjō lay siege to Yakami.  On 10/28, he further sent a messenger to request support, in the name of the shōgun (Ashikaga Yoshiharu), from Takeda Motomitsu (the military governor of Wakasa Province).  These developments led to small skirmishes, but then Naitō Kunisada, the deputy military governor of Tanba who had been sympathetic to Hatano Tanemichi, deserted the army laying siege to Kannōsan.  On 11/30, Akai Gorō, the lord of Kuroi Castle, led 3,000 soldiers on a successful attack from behind to defeat the army laying siege to the castle, despite incurring many losses of their own.

Upon learning the fate of those surrounding Kannōsan, the soldiers besieging Yakami withdrew from their positions.  During the withdrawal, forces under Ikeda Danjō (who had been colluding with Hosokawa Harumoto, the military governor of Awa Province), launched a barrage of arrows at Shurinosuke and the others so that the army led by Tadakata returned to Kyōto in shambles.

Castles captured in Settsu Province

Upon hearing the news from Hatano Tanemichi, Hosokawa Harumoto ordered the deployment of Miyoshi Katsunaga and Miyoshi Masanaga, who landed in the city of Sakai from Awa Province in Shikoku.  The forces occupied Hori Castle in Nakajima and passed the new year.  Meanwhile, on 12/29, Takeda Motomitsu responded to the request for support from Hosokawa Takakuni by leading an army into Kyōto.  However, other daimyō such as Rokkaku Sadayori, Akamatsu Masamura, and Shiba Yoshimune from whom both Yoshiharu and Takakuni requested reinforcements did not, in the end, march to the capital.

The Hatano army began to move, departing Tanba Province and, from 1/28, over the next seven days, toppled Noda Castle.  Tanemichi feigned a march toward Kyōto, and, instead, quickly went south and captured Yamazaki Castle.  In the face of the impending confrontation, Yakushiji Kuninaga, the deputy military governor of Settsu Province, fled Yamazaki on 2/4 and took refuge in Takatsuki Castle.  Thereafter, the army either toppled or forced the surrender of Akutagawa, Ōda, Ibaraki, Ai, Fukui, and Miyake castles.  On 2/11, the Hatano and Miyoshi forces converged at Yamazaki Castle, and then confronted the forces of Hosokawa Takakuni across the Katsura River.  Around this time, Rokkaku Sadayori, who had not responded to previous pleas for support, led an army from his home base in Ōmi Province to an area along the Kitashira River without a clear explanation.

The battle situation

The main contingent of Takakuni’s army formed a straight line without gaps along the river from Toba to near Sagi no Mori.  The primary base was set slightly back from the line in Rokujō under the command of Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun.  Takeda Motomitsu led the rear guard located to the north at the Kawakatsu Temple on the Katsura River.  The conflict began on the evening of 2/12 with an exchange of arrows shot across the river.  While Takakuni expected the Miyoshi army would attack the main contingent, instead, on 2/13, the Miyoshi crossed the river to attack the Takeda forces in the rear guard.  The armies clashed violently, with the Takeda incurring eighty casualties in defeat.  Alarmed at the turn of events, Takakuni led his men to support the Takeda, only to have perish his relative (the younger cousin of Takakuni’s father (Hosokawa Masaharu)), Hino Uchimitsu (the Chief Councilor of State), and father and son retainers from the Araki family.  Total losses included about ten mounted soldiers and 300 irregular forces.

Next, the Rokkaku army which had been observing the events suddenly attacked the unit under Yanagimoto Kataharu who was associated with the allied forces of the Hatano and Miyoshi, compelling the allied army to retreat.  Although, on balance, the Hatano and Miyoshi were the victor, their army incurred eighty losses and Miyoshi Katsunaga incurred serious injuries.

The aftermath

On 2/14, Takakuni paid respect to Ashikaga Yoshiharu and then fled to Sakamoto in Ōmi Province.  In the past, the shōgun and deputy shōgun had, on several occasions, safely escaped to Kyōto.   However, at this time, administrators and officials of the Muromachi bakufu had fled the capital, so the bakufu itself had disintegrated.  This became a catalyst for the formation of the Sakai kubō, or shōgun of Sakai.  After the battle, Takeda Motomitsu’s men retreated to Wakasa, having sustained serious losses.  This led to a steady drop in the influence of the Wakasa-Takeda clan on the central authorities.  Meanwhile, after Takakuni and Yoshiharu retreated, the offensive actions taken by Rokkaku Sadayori against the allied forces of the Hatano and Miyoshi served to demonstrate his strength, thereby increasing the powers of the Rokkaku in the capital.

The allied forces of the Hatano and Miyoshi proceeded to Kyōto to maintain order and engage in pacification activities while awaiting Hosokawa Harumoto to arrive.