Siege of Musashi-Matsuyama Castle


Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi Clan

Musashi Province

Gohōjō Clan

Date:  Tenbun 6 (1537)

Location:  Matsuyama Castle in Musashi Province

Synopsis:  After his death, Uesugi Tomooki, the head of the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi clan, was succeeded by Uesugi Tomosada at the age of thirteen.  Hōjō Ujitsuna took advantage of the situation by toppling Kawagoe Castle and then proceeding to attack Matsuyama Castle in Musashi Province.  The defenders charged out to intercept and drive-away the Gohōjō forces.  The battle became famous owing to the purported exchange of waka verses between opposing bushō in the midst of the battle.

Lord:  Uesugi Tomosada

Commanders:  Nanbada Norishige

Forces:  Unknown

Losses:  Unknown

Lord:  Hōjō Ujitsuna

Commanders:  Hōjō Ujitsuna

Forces:  7,000

Losses:  Unknown

Nanbada Norishige

Yamanaka Shuzen

The Siege of Musashi-Matsuyama Castle occurred in Tenbun 6 (1537) in a contest between the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi and the Gohōjō clans over Matsuyama Castle in Musashi Province.  This event is also well-known for the exchange of waka verses between two bushō on opposing sides (Nanbada Norishige and Yamanaka Shuzen) in the midst of the battle.

In 1537, Uesugi Tomooki, the head of the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi clan, died and was succeeded by his eldest son, Uesugi Tomosada, at the age of thirteen.  Hōjō Ujitsuna, who already had plans to advance into the central portion of Musashi Province, used this succession to his advantage by deploying from Odawara Castle with an army of over 7,000 troops and succeeded in capturing Kawagoe Castle.

Meanwhile, after failing to defend the castle to the death pursuant to the will of his deceased father, Tomosada withdrew to the base of his senior retainer, Nanbada Norishige, at Matsuyama Castle.  After regrouping, Tomosada intercepted the Gohōjō forces who had ridden their momentum to advance to below the castle.  Owing to the valiant efforts of Norishige and others, Tomosada forces were able to repel the Hōjō army.  The exchange of waka verses between opposing bushō gave rise to the celebrated name of this conflict as the “elegant battle.”

As an outcome of this battle, Matsuyama became the main base of the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi clan.  Around this time, both clans experienced a precipitous decline, but, for prestige, the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi undertook a large-scale renovation of the castle.  Matsuyama Castle lasted for approximately eight more years until both clans were extinguished in the Nighttime Attack on Kawagoe in 1545.

Waka verses

As Nanbada Norishige aimed to return to the castle after charging out to intercept and fiercely engage the enemy forces, he exchanged waka verses in passing with Yamanka Shuzen of the Gohōjō regarding the state of the battle.

Nanbada Norishige expressed his loyalty to his young lord, Tomosada, through waka verses.  It is not certain whether this exchange of verses in fact happened, but the episode serves as a reflection of the refined sentiments of bushi during the Muromachi period.

At present, on a slope with volcanic rock near the entry gate to the remains of Matsuyama Castle, there are said to be marks from the horse ridden by Norishige.