Unno Yukimitsu

海野幸光

Unno Clan

Bushō

Kōzuke Province

Lifespan:  Eishō 4 (1507) to Tenshō 9 (1581)

Other Names:  Nagato-no-kami

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Unno (Haneo)

Lord:  Saitō Norihiro → Takeda Shingen → Takeda Katsuyori

Father:  Haneo Kageyuki

Siblings:  Haneo Dōun, Yukimitsu, Teruyuki

Children:  Daughter (wife of Urano Danjō-no-jō), daughter (wife of Kanbara Shigezumi), daughter

Unno Yukimitsu served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was a member of the kunishū, or provincial landowner class, in the Agatsuma District of Kōzuke Province.

Yukimitsu was born as the second son of Haneo Kageyuki, a member of the kunishū in Haneo in the Agatsuma District.  The Haneo called themselves descendants of Unno Yukiuji, the lord of the Mihara manor during the Kamakura period.  Yukimitsu and his younger brother, Teruyuki, adopted the Unno surname.  Under another theory, he inherited the family name of Unno after Unno Munetsuna was exiled to Kōzuke after being driven out of Shinano in 1541.

In the Sengoku period, the Agatsuma-Saitō clan based in the eastern portion of the Agatsuma District expanded their influence in the western portion occupied by the Haneo clan.  Yukimitsu’s older brother, Haneo Jibu-Nyūdō Dōun, also obeyed Saitō Norihiro, the lord of Dakeyama Castle.

A territorial dispute arose between the Haneo clan and an adjacent landowner, the Kanbara.  In the tenth month of 1560, Haneo Dōun, with the support of Saitō Norihiro, attacked Kanbara Shigezumi at Kanbara Castle in the Agatsuma District.  Shigezumi’s father, Kanbara Yukishige, surrendered.  After Takeda Shingen launched an Invasion of Western Kōzuke in the eleventh month of 1561, Yukimitsu defected from the Agatsuma-Saitō and submitted to the Takeda clan.  Later, the Agatsuma-Saitō also became subordinate to the Takeda.  Norihiro was instructed by Shingen to return to the Kanbara the territory earlier seized, but Norihiro refused.  As a result, Shigezumi was granted the Unno territory in Shinano in lieu of the territory lost to the Agatsuma-Saitō.

In 1563, Norihiro defected from the Takeda and holed-up in Iwabitsu Castle (or Iwashita Castle).  Yukimitsu, together with his older brother, Dōun, initially sided with the Saitō but, upon solicitation by Sanada Nobutsuna and Muroga Mitsumasa, joined with his younger brother (Teruyuki) and Norihiro’s nephew (Saitō Yazaburō) to collude with the Takeda and turned over Iwabitsu Castle to the Takeda.

Thereafter, Yukimitsu became a subordinate landowner under the command of the Takeda and was assigned to Iwabitsu Castle to join the Sanada clan to secure the position.  Yukimitsu and Teruyuki, upon the recommendation of Sanada Yukitsuna, were appointed by Shingen as district governors of Agatsuma.  Yukimitsu’s daughters wed Urano Danjō-no-jō (the lineal heir of Urano Shinrakusai of the Ōdo-Urano clan) and Kanbara Shigezumi while Teruyuki’s lineal heir, Unno Yukisada, became the son-in-law of Yazawa Yoritsuna (the younger brother of Sanada Yukitsuna).

The Takeda clan commenced an assault on Numata Castle in the second month of 1580.  On 5/23, Yukimitsu was positioned at Nagurumi Castle on the front lines and temporarily commanded Teruyuki, Kaneko Yasukiyo, and Watanabe Sakon-no-jō at the castle.  After the capture of Numata Castle, his younger brother, Teruyuki, was assigned to the outer citadel at Numata Castle.  Consequently, Yukimitsu and Teruyuki held strategic locations at Iwabitsu and Numata castles in northern Kōzuke.  On 3/7 of the next year, he was recognized by Sanada Masayuki for acquiring two more castles in Kōzuke.

Purge of the Unno family

In 1581, Yukimitsu, along with his younger brother (Teruyuki) and nephew (Yukisada), were suddenly purged.  There are no authenticated accounts to substantiate the reasons for this event.  According to one account, it occurred on 10/23 of Tenshō 9 and, according to another, in the eleventh month.

In one account, his final moments unfolded as follows:  Yukimitsu incurred an attack at his residence at Iwabitsu Castle by forces under Sanada Masayuki.  At the time, he had turned blind in old age, but scattered flax hulls on the tatami mats to discern the approach of enemies.  Wielding a long sword over one meter in length, he cut down 14 or 15 assailants.  Unable, however, to cut his way through, he set fire to his residence and took his own life.  He was seventy-five years old.  His wife and daughter fled from the residence and attempted to escape to Echigo but were surrounded by the Sanada forces and killed by a retainer named Watari Hitachi-no-suke.  Meanwhile, his younger brother (Teruyuki) and nephew (Yukisada) were attacked by Katsuno Masaharu (Sanada Nobutada) at Numata Castle.  The father and son stabbed one another and perished.

Primary reasons for the purge of Yukimitsu and the Unno family include a territorial dispute between the Unno and Kanbara clans (adjacent landowners in the Agatsuma District) as well as conflict with Sanada Masayuki in regard to governance of the Agatsuma District following the capture of Numata Castle.  Differences over the issue of control of the district led to a deterioration of relations between Yukimitsu on one side and other members of the kunishū and the Sanada on the other side.  Removal of the Unno clan provided an opportunity for the Takeda and Sanada clans to stabilize the governance of Kōzuke and resolve the territorial disputes involving the Unno.  Moreover, delays and confusion accompanying the allocation of rewards for the capture of Numata Castle in addition to a loss of momentum by the Takeda clan owing to the fall of Takatenjin Castle in the third month of the same year induced defections by Yukimitsu and other members of the kunishū in Kōzuke.