Siege of Nanao Castle


Noto-Hatakeyama Clan

Noto Province

Uesugi Clan

Date:  Eleventh month of Tenshō 4 (1576) to the ninth month of Tenshō 5 (1577)

Location:  Nanao Castle in the Kashima District of Noto Province

Synopsis:  The Noto-Hatakeyama of Noto Province opposed intervention in their affairs by Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province.  Following an invasion of Noto by the Uesugi, Chō Tsugutsura (a senior retainer of the Hatakeyama) gathered 15,000 persons (soldiers and civilians) to resist the Uesugi from the stronghold of Nanao Castle.  Over the course of two sieges, betrayals among the ranks of the defenders resulted in the slaughter of almost all of the Chō family while control of the province fell to the Uesugi.

Lord:  Hatakeyama Haruōmaru (young child)

Commanders:  Chō Tsugutsura

Forces:  15,000

Losses:  Unknown

Lord:  Uesugi Kenshin

Commanders:  Uesugi Kenshin

Forces:  20,000

Losses:  Unknown

The Siege of Nanao Castle occurred from the eleventh month of Tenshō 4 (1576) to the ninth month of Tenshō 5 (1577).  The conflict was waged between the army of Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province and Chō Tsugutsura, a senior retainer of the Noto-Hatakeyama clan at Nanao Castle in the Kashima District of Noto Province.  Victory by the Uesugi resulted in their control of the province.

Relationship between the Oda and Uesugi clans

In 1572, owing to a campaign known as the Encirclement of Nobunaga orchestrated behind the scenes by Ashikaga Yoshiaki, Nobunaga struggled against the forces opposed to him.  To counter Takeda Shingen, the sengoku daimyō of Kai Province, applying pressure from the east in an expedition known as the Western Campaign, Nobunaga entered into an alliance with Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province who was similarly opposed to Shingen.  Nobunaga and Kenshin also held a shared interest in confronting the Ikkō-ikki forces in Ise and Etchū provinces.

On 4/12 of Genki 4 (1573), after Shingen died of illness during the Western Campaign, the situation dramatically changed.  Two years earlier, Hōjō Ujiyasu died.  The elimination of these two archenemies reduced the need to focus on the Kantō.  Instead, with a continuation of uprisings in Etchū and Kaga provinces, the members of the Ikkō sect became the chief enemy.  Consequently, in 1574, after deploying to the Kantō and fighting against Hōjō Ujimasa, Uesugi Kenshin delegated the Kantō to Hōjō Takahiro and Hōjō Kagehiro (father and son) based at Mayabashi Castle in Kōzuke Province.  Thereafter, he aimed to expand his influence in the Hokuriku.

In the fifth month of 1575, Nobunaga defeated Takeda Katsuyori at the Battle of Nagashino and, in the eighth month, ordered Shibata Katsuie to invade Echizen Province.  At the time, the province was controlled by the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple.  Nonbunaga had their commander in chief in Echizen, Shimotsuma Raishō, and 12,000 followers executed.  As a result, the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple confronted a crises so, in the sixth month of 1574, requested the support of Kenshin.  In the ninth month, remaining forces of the Ikkō-ikki appealed for support from Kawada Nagachika of Toyama Castle in Etchū.  In addition to these demands, owing to a clash between his interests and the real crisis caused by the expansion of influence by Nobunaga in the Hokuriku, in the second month of 1576, Kenshin broke his alliance with Nobunaga.  In the fifth month, through the mediation of Ashikaga Yoshiaki, he reconciled with Kennyo, formed an alliance, and became a member of the power opposed to Nobunaga.

Course of events

Internal conflict in the Noto-Hatakeyama clan

In the ninth month of 1576, Kenshin led 20,000 troops to invade neighboring Etchū Province.  Originally, the Noto-Hatakeyama family of Kawachi served as the military governors of Etchū, but, in the Sengoku period, deputy military governors such as the Jinbō and Shiina clans acquired power and competed among themselves for dominance.  In 1566, Hatakeyama Yoshitsuna was ousted by his band of retainers.  In the second month of 1574, Hatakeyama Yoshinori (who was backed as the successor to Yoshitsuna) met an untimely death.  Based on one theory, he was assassinated by retainers including Yusa Tsugumitsu and Nukui Kagetaka.  Yoshinori was, in turn, succeeded by his younger brother, Hatakeyama Yoshitaka, who died in 1576.  In the end, Yoshitaka’s young son, Hatakeyama Haruōmaru, was backed as his successor, but the real authority was held by a senior retainer, Chō Tsugutsura. In order to promote stability in Noto, Jōjō Masashige was backed as the next head of the Hatakeyama clan who had earlier been tendered by the Hatakeyama as hostage.

First Siege of Nanao Castle

The members of the Noto-Hatakeyama clan resented intervention in their affairs by Kenshin, making clear an intention for a showdown.  Tsugutsura, the head of veteran retainers at Nanao Castle, along with 2,000 soldiers, committed to a battle to defend the castle.  Decisions were made for Tsugutsura to defend the main entrance, for Nukui Kagetaka to defend Kobudani, and for Yusa Tsugumitsu to defend the Keoto entrance.  To antagonize Kenshin from behind, Tsugutsura incited uprisings by residents of the villages of Kasashi, Tsuchikawa, and Nagaura.  Owing to lessons learned in conflict against the Ikkō-ikki, Kenshin had built an intelligence network, and after suppressing these threats, he laid siege to Nanao Castle.  Nanao Castle, however, was built by Hatakeyama Yoshifusa to withstand assaults with expansive grounds.  On a par with Kasugayama Castle, Nanao Castle posed a challenge even for Kenshin to mount an assault.  To isolate Nanao Castle, Kenshin turned his attention toward outlying castles that served as its support network.  The Uesugi army then quickly toppled Kumaki Castle in Yachi in the town of Nakajima in the Kashima District, Kurotaki Castle in Kawashiri in the town of Shōin in Suzu, Tomiku Castle in Yawata in the town of Tomiku in the Hakui District, Shiroganeyama Castle in the town of Tomiku, Aō Castle (defended by Aō Shichirō) in the town of Yanagida in the Hakui District, and Komeyama Castle (defended by Makino Kazusa-no-suke) in Kunimitsu in the village of Yanagida in the Hōsu District of Noto, isolating Nanao Castle.  Nevertheless, Tsugutsura refused to surrender from the stronghold.

In the third month of 1577, Hōjō Ujimasa deployed to the northern Kantō so Kenshin temporarily returned to Echigo.  At this time, Kenshin assigned Sanbōji Heishirō, along with Saitō Taitō, Naitō Kyūya, and 七杉 Kodenji to Kumaki Castle, Chō Kagetsura to Kurotaki Castle, Nagasawa Mitsukuni and 白小田 Zenbei to Anamizu Castle, Kutsuwada Higo-no-kami and Hirako Izumi to Kōyama Castle, Aiura Nagato to Tomiku Castle, and Jōjō Oribe and Hatakeyama Shōgen to Mount Sendō.

After Kenshin returned to Echigo, the Hatakeyama forces at Nanao Castle immediately launched a counterattack.  Kumaki Castle fell owing to betrayal by Saitō Taitō who was lured through a plot led by Kai-no-shō Oyake, a retainer of the Hatakeyama.  七杉 Kodenji took his own life while Sanbōji Heishirō and Naitō Kyūya were killed.  At Tomiku Castle, an army led by Sugihara Izumi-no-kami (a retainer of the Hatakeyama) pressed forward and Aiura Nagato was captured and executed.  Tsugutsura himself deployed in a bid to retake his base at Anamizu Castle as the Hatakeyama army attacked the Uesugi forces left behind.

Second Siege of Nanao Castle

In the seventh month, the invasion by the Hōjō army was limited in scale, and, after punishing his opponents in Echizen, redeployed to Noto.  Tsugutsura hurriedly abandoned the castles that he had taken back and, together with all of his forces, holed-up in Nanao Castle.  At this time, Tsugutsura called upon all of the residents of the territory to engage in a war of resistance and forced some to hole-up in the castle.  As a result, nearly 15,000 soldiers and civilians amassed at the castle.  As the defenders anxiously set about to prepare for a siege, Nagasawa Mitsukuni of Anamizu Castle and Kutsuwada Higo-no-kami of Kōyama Castle attacked Nanao but retreated in defeat.

On 8/9, Kenshin learned of the deployment by the Oda army to Echizen whereupon he sent a letter to Shichiri Yorichika, the head of the Hongan Temple in Kaga, to request support to block the advance of the Oda army.  He then established a main camp on Mount Sendō in an effort to press ahead with the capture of Nanao Castle.  The redeployment by Kenshin deepened a sense of crisis by Tsugutsura so he dispatched his son, Chō Tsuratatsu (who had entered the priesthood) as a messenger to request reinforcements from Oda Nobunaga based at Azuchi Castle.  Nobunaga consented to the request and, on 8/8, ordered forces led by Shibata Katsuie as the commanding general to Noto.

Nanao Castle was a stronghold, but, as the siege wore on, pestilence spread inside the castle, and soldiers from the Hatakeyama army died one after another of illness rather than combat.  The young lord, Hatakeyama Haruōmaru, also fell to the epidemic.  Confronting a precarious situation, Tsugutsura incited an uprising by Hachirōemon from the village of Koise against the Uesugi army.  The uprising, however, was countered by Kenshin before it could take root so that Nanao Castle was on the verge of falling to the Uesugi.

In the midst of these circumstances, Yusa Tsugumitsu (a former supporter of Kenshin) responded to earlier calls from Kenshin by joining forces with Nukui Kagetaka and Miyake Nagamori in an effort to collude with the Uesugi.  This group did not underestimate Tsugutsura who, as a member of the faction supporting Nobunaga, had previously usurped them.  However, they concluded that continued resistance against the Uesugi would not yield a victory.  In a letter dated on 9/13, the Yusa and Nukui informed Kenshin of their intention to collude.  This was the night of the harvest moon, so, to mark the occasion, Kenshin held a banquet at his main base including recitations of linked-verse poetry.

On the evening of 9/15, members of the Yusa, the Nukui, and the Miyake clans launched a rebellion from inside the castle, opened the gate and allowed the Uesugi army into the premises.  This rebellion led to the killing of over one hundred members of the Chō family including Chō Tsugutsura and his sons (Chō Tsunatsura and Chō Norinao), Tsunatsura’s sons (Takematsumaru and Yakurō).  The only survivor was Chō Tsuratatsu who had headed out to request reinforcements from Nobunaga and Tsunatsura’s youngest son, Kikumatsumaru.  Through these events, Nanao Castle fell to Uesugi Kenshin while Noto came under his complete control.


Around this time, reinforcements led by Shibata Katsuie were delayed so the march did not make progress.  In Kaga, the army was also impeded by the Ikkō-ikki forces, but, on 8/17 of Tenshō 5 (1577), Matsunaga Hisahide and Matsunaga Hisamichi (father and son) of Yamato Province, who had been participating in the siege of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, left the front lines on their own accord and launched a rebellion from their base at Shigisan Castle.  As a result, Nobunaga led his main division with the intention of deploying to the Hokuriku region, but efforts to negotiate with Hisahide and ultimately attack him became urgent priorities, so the plans to advance to the Hokuriku were suspended.  Meanwhile, among the Oda army deployed to Kaga, conflict over issues relating to war strategy arose between Shibata Katsuie and Hashiba Hideyoshi.  Hideyoshi then returned to his home province with permission, depressing the morale of the Oda army.  After advancing into Kaga with the momentum of victory, on 9/23, the Uesugi Forces attacked and roundly defeated the Oda army at the Battle of Tedorigawa.

Afterwards, the influence of the Uesugi in Noto Province declined for a while, but, the death of Uesugi Kenshin in the third month of 1578 triggered a succession struggle within the Uesugi family known as the Otate Conflict.  The Uesugi were then confronted by opposition forces in Noto in addition to Oda forces invading Etchū via Hida Province.  As a result, control of Noto reverted to Nobunaga.