Battle of Tōji Monastery


Hosokawa Sumimoto

Yamashiro Province

Hosokawa Takakuni

Date:  5/5 of Eishō 17 (1520)

Location:  Near the Tōji Temple on the far west side of Kyōto in Yamashiro Province.

Outcome:  Forces allied with Hosokawa Takakuni, led by Rokkaku Sadayori from the west and Naitō Sadamasa from the north, launched a pincer attack against a much smaller contingent led by Miyoshi Yukinaga who were overwhelmed in a single day.

Commander:  Miyoshi Yukinaga

Forces:  4,000 to 5,000

Casualties: Unknown

Commander:  Rokkaku Sadayori, Naitō Sadamasa

Forces:  40,000 to 50,000

Casualties:  Unknown

The Battle of Tōji Monastery occurred on 5/5 of Eishō 17 (1520) near the Tōji Monastery in Yamashiro Province.  In this conflict, the army of Hosokawa Takakuni of the Hosokawa-Keichō family fought against the army of Miyoshi Yukinaga, an ally of Hosokawa Sumimoto of the Awa branch of the Hosokawa.  Takakuni’s victory established his position as head of the Hosokawa clan for the ensuing decade, during which he exercised power as the kanrei, or deputy shōgun, of the Muromachi bakufu.

The Battle of Tōji Monastery represented one event in a prolonged series of military clashes between rivals within the Hosokawa clan 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 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

Hosokawa Takakuni and Hosokawa Sumimoto competed to become leader of the Hosokawa clan.  In 1511, after the Battle of Funaokayama, Sumimoto and his senior retainer, Miyoshi Yukinaga, fled to their home base in Awa Province, while Takakuni became the successor to his father and secured the role of deputy shōgun along with de facto control of the Muromachi bakufu in the capital of Kyōto.  Takukuni stood as the most powerful daimyō in the Kinai region until 1520.

Takakuni benefited from the presence and support of Ōuchi Yoshioki, an influential daimyō from Suō Province who resided in Kyōto during Takakuni’s tenure as deputy shōgun. However, in 1518, unrest in the western provinces caused Yoshioki to return to his home base in Yamaguchi.  Viewing this as an opportunity to challenge Takakuni, Sumimoto and Yukinaga conspired with kokujin, or families of local influence, in Settsu Province.  In the tenth month of 1519, Ikeda Nobumasa, lord of Shimonotanaka Castle, betrayed Takakuni in favor of Sumimoto, and defeated Takakuni’s army in the Battle of Tanaka Castle.  In the eleventh month, Sumimoto and Yukinaga landed in Hyōgo and laid siege to Koshimizu Castle, held by Kawarabayashi Masayori, an ally of Takakuni.  The castle fell three months later in the second month of 1520, whereupon Takakuni fled to Sakamoto in Ōmi Province.  Ashikaga Yoshitane, the shōgun, separated from Takakuni and indicated a desire for support from Sumimoto.  Following Takakuni’s departure, Yukinaga led an advance unit into Kyōto while Sumimoto remained behind in Itami Castle in Settsu Province.  Sumimoto is believed to have waited to allow Yukinaga first to secure Kyōto or else because he was ill at the time.

After capturing the capital, Yukinaga served as Sumimoto’s representative, and, on 3/27, imposed restrictions on shrines and temples and ordered the banishment of supporters of Takakuni. Yukinaga made steady progress, having Ashikaga Yoshitane formally declare Sumimoto as successor to the Hosokawa clan.  Nevertheless, although Takakuni had been exiled, he remained capable and intent on waiting for an opportunity to strike back and restore his position.

Battles in Kyōto

On 5/3 of 1520, Takakuni leveraged support from Rokkaku Sadayori, the military governor of Ōmi, (and his father, Rokkaku Takayori) to complete preparations necessary for an advance into Nyoigatake in the eastern portion of Kyōto.  Reinforcements from the Rokkaku headed farther west and awaited near the Chion Temple.  Naitō Sadamasa, the military governor of Tanba, led 7,000 forces from the north, arriving in Funaokayama.   All together, as many as 40,000 forces in support of Takakuni set-up in the north and east for a pincer attack against the Miyoshi army.  The Miyoshi found themselves significantly outnumbered, having fielded only 4,000 to 5,000 men.  In the absence of Sumimoto, their supreme commander, morale sank and defeat appeared certain.

On 5/5, the battle began around noon.  The Miyoshi units based near the Tōji Temple on the far west side of Kyōto fought valiantly despite their small numbers, but kokujinshū, or members of influential families from Awa and Sanuki provinces, switched sides one after another to Takakuni’s army so that the outcome of the conflict was determined by that same evening.  In the notes written by a local resident, it was surmised that the troops lacked goodwill toward Yukinaga and sought to return to their home provinces in Shikoku to rescue families that had been taken hostage.


Overweight, Yukinaga was unable to escape from Kyōto, so after the defeat he went into hiding in the city.  He was captured days later by Takakuni’s forces and, along with his nephew, Shingorō, and his two sons, Akutagawa Nagamitsu and Miyoshi Naganori, executed on 5/11.  Upon learning of the defeat, Sumimoto left Itami Castle and returned to Awa via Harima Province to avoid blockades by Kawarabayashi Masayori of the sea routes between Settsu and Awa.  However, Sumimoto’s health declined, and he died on 6/10.  Miyoshi Motonaga succeeded Yukinaga as the head of the Miyoshi while Hosokawa Harumoto succeeded Sumimoto as the head of the Awa branch of the Hosokawa.  Nevertheless, the clans were challenged to overcome the defeat at the Battle of Tōji Temple, and were compelled to stand down under reduced circumstances again.

Owing to the earlier decision by Ashikaga Yoshitane to align with Sumimoto and to recognize Sumimoto as the head of the Hosokawa clan, Takakuni did not get along well with Yoshitane after his return to power.  In 1521, Yoshitane fled to Awaji Province, and, despite a desire to reclaim his position, died in 1523.  With Yoshitane gone, Takakuni supported Ashikaga Yoshiharu as the next shōgun, while Takakuni exercised real power from behind in his role as the depute shōgun.  Having expelled his opponents, Takakuni’s administration experienced a short period of relative stability.  In 1526, a minor conflict that led to an unfair decision generated resentment among kokujinshū in Tanba Province, who then aligned themselves with the Hosokawa branch in Awa under Hosokawa Harumoto and aimed to overthrow Takakuni’s regime at the Battle of Katsurakawara.