Sakai kubō


Ashikaga Clan

Sakai kubō

Izumi Province

The Sakai kubō was a role held by Ashikaga Yoshitsuna from 1527 to 1532.  Alternatively, he was referred to as the Sakai taiju, with taiju meaning shōgun.  During this period, Yoshitsuna resided in Sakai in Izumi Province, from where he opposed his half-brother of a different mother, Ashikaga Yoshiharu.  The officials serving Yoshitsuna issued written edicts to a degree similar to the Muromachi bakufu based in the capital, so that this administration is also referred to as the Sakai bakufu.

Beginning in 1508, a rebellion arose within the military faction of Hosokawa Takakuni, the deputy shōgun who held a tenuous grip on power in the Muromachi bakufu at the time.  This provided an opportunity for opposition forces based in Awa Province led by Yoshitsuna, Hosokawa Harumoto, and Miyoshi Motonaga to advance from Shikoku Island into Sakai in Izumi Province, closer to the seat of the Muromachi bakufu in Kyōto.  From their base in Sakai, the opposition forces aspired to become successors to the Hosokawa-Keichō branch led by Takakuni and garner control of Kinai.  During most of this period, Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun, resided in exile in Ōmi Province, referred to as the gōshū taiju.  While fleeing, in 1531, Takakuni was cornered and took his own life in an event known as the Collapse at Daimotsu.  Soon thereafter, an insurrection occurred within the ranks of the Sakai kubō, while Hosokawa Harumoto eliminated Miyoshi Motonaga in a bid to become the shōgun, whereupon Yoshitsuna fled to Awa and the campaign ended.

The Meiō Political Incident in 1491 resulted in a division of the Ashikaga family over the role of the shōgun, with their positions reversing during the Eishō Disturbance and the Battle of Tōjiin.  Meanwhile, the fracturing of the Hosokawa-Keichō family contributed to an extended period of discord.  This further gave rise to the contest between the Sakai kubō and Muromachi bakufu  for dominance.  During this time, the Sakai kubō faction rivaled the Muromachi bakufu by expanding their influence in Kinai.  However, after overthrowing Hosokawa Takakuni, the preeminent power within the Muromachi bakufu, the Sakai kubō self-destructed.


Collapse of the administration of Hosokawa Takakuni and the Muromachi bakufu

In the summer of 1526, Takakuni relied upon slander from his younger cousin, Hosokawa Tadakata, to question and compel a senior official named Kōsai Motomori to take his own life.  This triggered conflict centered upon the role of the Sakai kubō.  Upon learning of this incident, the brothers of Motomori, Hatano Tanemichi and Yanagimoto Kataharu, secretly colluded with the Hosokawa and Miyoshi clans based in Awa Province in Shikoku to launch an autumn rebellion.  Takakuni’s army surrounded them at Yakami and Kannōsan castle sin Tanba Province, but the forces retreated owing to a lack of support from a Naitō Kunisada (a deputy military governor) and others.  Toward the end of the year, Miyoshi Katsunaga and Miyoshi Masanaga led vanguard forces from Shikoku, landing in Sakai and occupying Nakajima in Kakenokōri in Settsu Province.  In the early part of 1527, the Yanagimoto army attacked multiple castles in Settsu.  At the Battle of Katsurakawara in Rakusai to the southwest of Kyōto, the allied Yanagimoto and Miyoshi forces defeated Takakuni’s army, whereupon Takakuni fled to Sakamoto in Ōmi Province in support of Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun.  Officials and magistrates from the Muromachi bakufu followed after Yoshiharu, enabling the Hatano and Yanagimoto forces to advance into the vacated area of the capital.

Lineage of the Sakai kubō

Prior to these developments, in 1520, Hosokawa Sumimoto and Miyoshi Yukinaga led forces invaded Settsu from Awa, causing Takakuni to seek refuge in Ōmi.  The shōgun at that time, Ashikaga Yoshitane, had been alienated from Takakuni and therefore abandoned him, recognizing Sumimoto as the successor to the Hosokawa-Keichō family (who served as the deputy shōgun in the Muromachi bakufu).  Sumimoto, however, became bed-ridden with illness, while Takakuni garnered support from Rokkaku Sadayori, the military governor of Ōmi, enabling him to revive his forces that resulted in a reversal of fortunes for the rivals.  At the Battle of Tōjiin in Kyōto, the forces from Awa incurred a bitter defeat.  Yukinaga was captured and committed seppuku, while Sumimoto fled to Awa.  Sumimoto had at once been adopted by the Hosokawa-Keichō family from the Awa-Hosokawa family, and as an outcome of the Eishō Disturbance, became the successor, only to be ousted from that position by Takakuni in less than a year.  In the end, he could not regain his position and, leaving behind a seven-year-old son named Sōmeimaru (later known as Hosokawa Harumoto), died of illness at the age of 32 years old.

After having betrayed Takakuni in favor of Sumimoto, this turn of events also made it difficult for Yoshitane to resume the role of shōgun, and he absconded from the capital of Kyōto the following year.  In the absence of a natural son and heir, Yoshitane fled with his adopted son from Sakai to Awaji Province.  This adopted son was the surviving child of Ashikaga Yoshizumi, the former shōgun, who later became Ashikaga Yoshitsuna, the Sakai kubō.  Meanwhile, another surviving child of Yoshizumi, Ashikaga Yoshiharu, became the next shōgun.  In 1523, Yoshitane sailed to Awa in search of refuge and died.  Yoshitsuna and Harumoto were raised under the protection Hosokawa Mochitaka, the military governor of Awa and an elder cousin of Harumoto.

In the spring of 1527, progress in battle around the capital allowed Miyoshi Motonaga, a supporter of Yoshitsuna and Harumoto, to sail to Sakai.  Motonaga was the grandson of Miyoshi Yukinaga who had killed himself after a defeat at the Battle of Tōjiin in 1520.  Motonaga’s father, Miyoshi Nagahide, had earlier died in battle in 1509, so after the death of his father, a youthful Motonaga carried responsibility as the eldest child to carry on the Miyoshi family name.  Local families from Settsu and Tanba provinces which were in the domain of the Hosokawa-Keichō family returned to the service of Yoshitsuna and Harumoto and visited Sakai.  This included Ibaraki Nagataka who was singled out by Motonaga to serve as the secretary-magistrate for Harumoto.  That summer, Yoshitsuna was awarded the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Head of the Imperial Cavalry of the Left Division.  This investiture was a precedent for previous generations of shōgun.   When he finally arrived in the capital of Kyōto to become the next shōgun, the nobles and influential families in the capital referred to him as the Sakai kubō or Sakai taiju.  Official edicts had been issued from before the time of his appointment as the Head of the Left Division of the Imperial Cavalry, made possible by a minority of bakufu officials who supported Yoshitane after his exile from Kyōto.  As such, the Sakai kubō continued to solidify his governance.

Confrontation between Miyoshi Motonaga and Yanagimoto Kataharu 

In the autumn of 1527, while Miyoshi Motonaga attacked Itama Motosuke, an ally of Hosokawa Takakuni in Settsu Province, Rokkaku Sadayori (the military governor of Ōmi Province) and Asakura Takakage (the military governor of Echizen Province) dispatched reinforcements to the army fighting on behalf of Takakuni and Yoshiharu, the shōgun.   Together, these forces launched attacks in Kyōto, defeating Hatakeyama Yoshitaka, the military governor of Kawachi Province, who had been left with insufficient resources to defend the capital.  In response, Motonaga counterattacked from Settsu while Yanagimoto Kataharu counterattacked from Tanba. This led to ongoing skirmishes in the environs of the capital.

Although the forces fighting on behalf of the Sakai kubō gradually gained the upper hand, the battles headed toward a stalemate.  Early in 1528, through the mediation of Rokkaku Sadayori, Motonaga and Takakuni entered into settlement negotiations.  In opposition to these negotiations, the Hatano and Yanagimoto vigorously appealed to Hosokawa Harumoto in Sakai, while Harumoto refused to hold a meeting with Motonaga.  Nevertheless, the negotiations failed, with Yoshiharu and Takakuni departing the capital in the spring and retreating, once again, to Ōmi.

Owing to his accomplishments, Motonaga was appointed the deputy military governor of the lower five districts in Yamashiro Province, and then soon levied property taxes in Kyōto.  However, the Hatano and Yanagimoto had earlier gained control of Kyōto, which led to a deepening of the discord between the two sides.  That same year, following consultations with the shōgun in Ōmi, but without consulting the Sakai kubō, the Imperial Court changed the name of the era from Daiei to Kyōroku.  This indicated that the Imperial Court did not trust the Sakai kubō as much as the shōgun, and that the position of Yoshitsuna as the shōgun could not be viewed as unassailable.  The Sakai kubō did not find favor in this act, and for a while thereafter, did not use the Kyōroku era name on official edicts.

In 1529, the discord between Miyoshi Motonaga and Yanagimoto Kataharu intensified.  That summer, Motonaga was blocked from returning to Awa while Miyoshi Masanaga led forces in opposition to Motonaga from Shikoku.

A final showdown with Hosokawa Takakuni

Meanwhile, Hosokawa Takakuni passionately sought a revival, reaching out to multiple families including the Nitsuki clan of Iga Province, the Kitabatake clan of Ise Province, and the Asakura of Echizen Province to negotiate for reinforcements.  Finally, Uragami Muramune, the deputy military governor of Bizen Province agreed to ally with Takakuni.  At this time, the Uragami army may have even been stronger than the Akamatsu who were the military governors, but Muramune intended to use support for the shōgun as a pretext to further expand the influence of his clan.

On the part of the Sakai kubō, the loss of Miyoshi Motonaga from among the ranks of Yoshitsuna’s supporters reduced the military capabilities of the administration.  Attempts by Yanagimoto Kataharu and Matsui Munenobu to engage in settlement negotiations with the shōgun led to severe criticism from Yoshitsuna and Harumoto.  The men were compelled to shave their heads and apologize.  Local families in Harima Province made appeals for support in the face of attacks by the allied forces of Hosokawa Takakuni and Uragami Muramune.  Kataharu led forces to Yorifuji Castle, but was assassinated in the summer of 1530.  The forces supporting Takakuni and Muramune then advanced into Settsu, toppling Amagasaki Castle.  Early in 1531, the invading forces captured Itami and Ikeda castles.  Next, Kizawa Nagamasa, the deputy military governor of Kawachi aligned with the Sakai kubō, abandoned the defense of Kyōto and fled, allowing Takakuni to reclaim the capital, while Yoshiharu (the shōgun)  made an official trip to Sakamoto in Ōmi.

In response to demands from Hosokawa Harumoto for arrows, Motonaga departed Awa and sailed to Sakai. The allied forces under Takakuni and Muramune repelled them from the north.  Motonaga received support from Hosokawa Mochitaka, the military governor of Awa, after which the opposing forces engaged in a standoff for two months at the Battle of Tennōji (also known as the Battle of Nakajima).  In the summer, Akamatsu Masamura, the military governor of Harima and lord of Muramune, arrived with a contingent in support of Takakuni and Muramune.  However, in fact, Masamura had earlier sent a hostage to the Sakai kubō and promised to collude with Yoshitsuna, whereupon, days later, his forces attacked from behind, causing the allied army under Takakuni and Muramune to scatter in an event known as the Collapse at Daimotsu.  Takakuni fled to Amagasaki but was captured by Miyoshi Kazuhide and ordered to commit seppuku.

The disintegration of the Sakai kubō

Owing to his military accomplishments leading forces from Shikoku in battle against Takakuni’s army, Miyoshi Motonaga restored his authority, but this also caused alarm among military figures in Kinai.  Influential families in Settsu Province relied upon Ibaraki Nagataka, Harumoto’s chief magistrate, to make claims against Motonaga to Miyoshi Masanaga and Kizawa Nagamasa.  Nagamasa, the deputy military governor of Kawachi Province, opposed Hatakeyama Yoshitaka, a member of the Motonaga faction.  Nagamasa established relations with Hosokawa Harumoto through the offices of Renjun, the guardian of Shōnyo, the priest of the Yamashina-Hongan Temple in Kyōto, whereupon Harumoto sought Nagamasa to lead the opposition to Motonaga.  Meanwhile, internal discord soon arose within the Sakai kubō as the prospect of its ouster approached.  Early in 1532,  Motonaga dispatched his granduncle, Miyoshi Kazuhide, to Kyōto to attack and eliminate Yanagimoto Jinjirō, the orphan of Yanagimoto Kataharu.  This act caused Harumoto to seek to kill Motonaga, but, through the mediation of Hosokawa Mochitaka, Motonaga entered the priesthood and confined himself to the Kenpon Temple in Sakai, adopting the name of Kaiun.  Moreover, soon thereafter, Mochitaka, who supported Motonaga, severed ties with Harumoto and moved to Awa Province in Shikoku.  The break in relations between Harumoto and Motonaga had reached a peak.

Motonaga joined with Hatakeyama Yoshitaka of Kawachi and families from Yamato Province to prepare for an inevitable showdown.  Upon the advice of Ibaraki Nagataka and others, Harumoto aimed to reconcile with Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun, after a prolonged period of opposition.  The death of his rival Takakuni created an opportunity for Harumoto to become the successor to the Hosokawa-Keichō family and return to the service of the shōgun and the bakufu.  This was a betrayal of the Sakai kubō, Ashikaga Yoshitsuna.

Motonaga sought to be presided over by Yoshitsuna, and Yoshitaka concurred with him.  Harumoto, however, under the protection of forces from Awa, aspired to become the leader of the bakufu based in Kinai, whereupon he amassed the forces to oppose Motonaga.  In the spring of 1532, Yoshitaka, together with reinforcements led by Miyoshi Kazuhide sent by Motonaga, laid siege to Kizawa Nagamasa at Iimoriyama Castle, an event known as the Battle of Iimoriyama Castle.  Lacking the forces needed to rescue Nagamasa, Harumoto struggled to respond to the predicament.  Based on a proposal by Ibaraki Nagataka, he demanded the mobilization of monks from the Yamashina-Hongan Temple known as Ikkō-Ikki.  The monks responded with vigorous uprisings in Settsu, Kawachi, and Izumi provinces, not only enabling Nagamasa to break the siege but to kill Miyoshi Kazuhide and compel Yoshitaka to take his own life at the Kenpon Temple in Sakai.  Next, Motonaga killed himself in an event known as the Tenbun Conflict.   Yoshitsuna attempted to follow after Motonaga by committing seppuku but was apprehended by retainers of Harumoto.  As a result, within one year after the death of Hosokawa Takakuni, the administration of the Sakai kubō came to an end.  After several months, Yoshitsuna escaped from Sakai, and similar to his adoptive father, fled to Awa Province through the assistance of Hosokawa Mochitaka.  Soon thereafter, Harumoto reconciled with Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun.

After Ashikaga Yoshitsuna (Yoshifuyu)

After returning to Hirajima in Awa Province, Yoshitsuna changed his name to Yoshifuyu.  Meanwhile, an important issue remained unresolved between the Hosokawa and Miyoshi administrations.  This came in the form of tension between those backing Yoshifuyu as the next shōgun versus those favoring reconciliation with Yoshiharu.  Retainers based in Shikoku led by Miyoshi Motonaga favored Yoshifuyu as shōgun, while retainers based in the Kinai led by Yanagimoto Kataharu, Matsui Munenobu, and Kizawa Nagamasa advocated for settlement with Yoshiharu, who enjoyed public support as the shōgun.  Miyoshi Nagayoshi, the son of Motonaga, backed Yoshifuyu, and although he opposed Ashikaga Yoshiteru (the successor of Yoshiharu), in the end, he did not attempt to replace Yoshiteru with Yoshifuyu as the shōgun because support for the authority of Yoshiharu and Yoshiteru (as father and son) continued in the capital of Kyōto and its environs.  It would be difficult to overcome that support.