Lifespan: 8/15 of Tenbun 14 (15xx) (?) to 7/17 of Tenshō 6 (1578)
Other Names: Shikanosuke (common), Jinjirō, Kirinji (nickname meaning child prodigy)
Clan: Yamanaka (descended from the Uda-Genji-Sasaki family or an illegitimate branch of the Ōmi-Yamanaka from the Tachibana family)
Lord: Amago Yoshihisa → Amago Katsuhisa
Father: Yamanaka Mitsuyuki
Mother: Nami (daughter of Tachihara Tsunashige)
Siblings: Yukitaka, Yukimori, sister (formal wife of Iida Sadamasa)
Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Kamei Hidetsuna
Children: Yukimoto, Yukinori, daughter (wife of Yoshiwa Yoshikane)
Adopted Children: Wife of Kamei Korenori
Yamanaka Yukimori served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods in the western portion of Honshū along the Sea of Japan in an area known as the Sanin region. His common name was Shikanosuke. His childhood name was Jinjirō. His is known as one of the Three Elite of the Amago. An expert in the military arts, he was called the Child Prodigy of Sanin. Yukimori was the head of the Ten Warriors of the Amago. There is a famous anecdote of Yukimori praying under a crescent moon, vowing to endure “Seven Misfortunes and Eight Pains” (a Buddhist term of hardship) in exchange for realizing his desire to revive the Amago clan. Yukimori achieved renown as the intrepid leader of the Amago revival army in a zealous mission to restore the clan after their defeat to the rival Mōri clan.
There is an absence of authenticated materials concerning the first half of Yukimori’s life, so many points are uncertain. The traditional view is that he was born on 8/15 of Tenbun 14 (1545) in the Tomita manor in Izumo Province.
The lineage of the Yamanaka clan is uncertain. There are several genealogies of the Yamanaka family, but the most convincing is that the Yamanaka were a branch of the Sasaki clan (Kyōgoku clan) descended from the Utagenji family. The Yamanaka were members of the Amago clan and founded by Yamanaka Yukihisa, the younger brother of Amago Kiyosada. Yukimori was a fourth (or sixth) generation descendant of Yukihisa.
The Yamanaka were the chief retainers of the Amago clan, but his father, Yamanaka Mitsuyuki, died early so he was left impoverished, raised only by his mother. From his youth, Yukimori served the Amago clan, killing an enemy at the age of eight. From around the age of ten, he studied the art of mounted archery as well as military tactics and, at the age of thirteen, achieved the feat of taking the head of an enemy soldier.
At the age of sixteen, Yukimori joined in the attack by his lord, Amago Yoshihisa, on Hōki-Odaka Castle during which he killed Kikuchi Otohachi, a renowned character in Inaba and Hōki provinces, in a mounted duel.
Yukimori was the second son in his family, so he was adopted by the Kamei Hidetsuna, a senior retainer of the Amago, and wed one of his daughters. Later, however, he returned to the Yamanaka and inherited the headship of the clan in lieu of his older brother, Yamanaka Yukitaka (Jintarō), who was of frail health and not naturally inclined to serve as a bushō.
Elimination of the Amago clan
On 7/3 of Eiroku 5 (1562), the Mōri army marched into Izumo Province for the purpose of eliminating the Amago clan. Prior to this event, on 10/1 of Tenbun 4 (1555), the Mōri defeated Sue Harukata at the Battle of Itsukushima followed, in 1557, by decimating the Ōuchi clan. By this means, the Mōri garnered control of Suō and Nagato provinces (known together as Bōchō). Moreover, in the sixth month of 1562, the Mōri placed Iwami Province under their command, becoming the greatest power in the western provinces of the Chūgoku region. Meanwhile, on 12/24 of Eiroku 3 (1560), Amago Haruhisa, a sengoku daimyō of Izumo Province and the head of the Amago clan, suddenly died. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Amago Yoshihisa, but, owing to diplomatic failures among other reasons, the power the clan began to wane.
After the Mōri army led by Mōri Motonari entered Izumo, the invading forces advanced, compelling the surrender of powerful kokujin, or provincial landowners, formerly aligned with the Amago. In the twelfth month of 1562, the Mōri army established a base at Arawai Castle, setting about in earnest to attack the base of the Amago clan at Gassantoda Castle.
On 8/13 of Eiroku 6 (1563), the Mōri army commenced attacks against Shiraga Castle, the first among ten outlying castles arrayed for the defense of the main base at Gassantoda. These castles were referred to as the Amago jikki, or Ten Banners of the Amago. Shiraga Castle was located on the northern shore of Lake Shinji, in a strategic position connecting Gassantoda Castle to the Shimane Peninsula facing the Sea of Japan. This served an important role to secure the supply routes to Gassantoda.
On 9/21, in an effort to support Shiraga Castle, the Amago clan dispatched an army led by Amago Tomohisa as the commander-in-chief. Yukimori accompanied these forces. In the ensuing Siege of Shiraga Castle, the Mōri prevailed while the Amago forces retreated to Gassantoda Castle. During the withdrawal, Yukimori led approximately 200 troops in the rear guard, repelling a total of seven times the divisions led by Kikkawa Motoharu and Kobayakawa Takakage who were pursuing the Amago forces during their withdrawal. He took the heads of seven enemy soldiers. Shiraga Castle fell to the Mōri around the middle of the tenth month.
In 1564, the Amago army fought against the Mōri army led by Sugihara Morishige at Mihonoseki and Yumihama. Yukimori participated in this event known as the Battle of Yuminohama. At this time, the Amago were attacked at Shiraga Castle which served as a supply base from the side of the Sea of Japan. To secure the supply routes from the direction of Nakaumi, the Amago endeavored to secure bases in Hōki Province and restore their power. Although the Amago army prevailed in this battle, at the ensuing Siege of Odaka Castle which was one of the strategic bases in Hōki, the Amago lost to the Mōri army. Thereafter, Hōki was subjugated by the Mōri. In this way, the Amago army was defeated in multiple locations and their supply routes severed, leaving their main base at Gassantoda Castle completely isolated.
In the fourth month of 1565, the Mōri army established a main base on Mount Hoshigami, three kilometers northwest of Gassantoda Castle. The troops then proceeded to cut-down the wheat crops below the castle and commence an assault on Gassantoda.
On 4/17, the Mōri army launched an all-out assault against Gassantoda Castle in an event known as the Second Siege of Gassantoda Castle. Yukimori fought against a division led by Kikkawa Motoharu at Shiotaniguchi, repelling the attacking forces. During this clash, Yukimori killed Takano Orimono in a duel.
On 4/28, the Mōri army could not topple the castle and was defeated, withdrawing to Arawai Castle approximately twenty-five kilometers away from Gassantoda Castle.
In the ninth month, the Mōri army resumed attacks against Gassantoda Castle. During this battle, Yukimori killed Shinagawa Masakazu (a retainer of Masuda Fujikane) in a duel. This event is known as the One-on-One Duel between Yamanaka Yukimori and Shinagawa Masakazu. In the same month, Yukimori launched a nighttime attack against a battalion of the Mōri led by Oguchi Yukitsuna camped in Shirakata, killing many of the Mōri troops.
In 1566, the Mōri army launched multiple assaults against Gassantoda Castle, but were unable to topple the stronghold.
On 11/21 of Eiroku 9 (1566), the provisions inside the castle ran low, leading to desertion among the soldiers in the garrison. After determining he could no longer continue the battle, Amago Yoshihisa proposed surrender to the Mōri army. On 11/28, Yoshihisa vacated the castle, marking the end of the status of the Amago clan as the sengoku daimyō of Izumo. Three of the Amago siblings including Yoshihisa, along with some of their retainers, were taken to the Enmyō Temple and incarcerated. Yukimori asked to follow but was denied, and, at the Izumo Grand Shrine, was separated from his lord. Thereafter, Yukimori endeavored to revive the Amago clan.
Amago Revival Campaign
The campaigns led by Yukimori can be divided into three primary events.
First Amago Revival Campaign
After the demise of the Amago clan, Yukimori became a rōnin, or masterless samurai. Later, his movements between 1566 and 1568 are uncertain. According to one theory, after recovering from his injuries at the Arima hot springs, he dressed for a pilgrimage and headed toward the eastern provinces, acquiring knowledge of the military tactics of the Takeda (Takeda Shingen), the Nagao (Uesugi Kenshin), and the Hōjō (Hōjō Ujiyasu). After exposure to the family traditions of the Asakura of Echizen Province, he went to the capital of Kyōto.
In 1568, Yukimori joined with Tachihara Hisatsuna and other rōnin from the Amago clan and arranged for Amago Katsuhisa (the orphan of Amago Sanehisa serving as a monk at the Tōfuku Temple in Kyōto) to return to secular life, and then gathered the remnants of the Amago clan from assorted locations and covertly plotted the revival of the Amago clan.
In the fifth month of 1569, after Mōri Motonari dispatched an army to northern Kyūshū to attack the Ōtomo clan, Yukimori seized the opportunity to rebel by commencing an invasion of Izumo Province.
At this time, the Amago revival army led by Yukimori was backed by Yamana Suketoyo. As the head of the Yamana clan, Suketoyo had been an enemy of the Amago clan for many years, but the Yamana territory in Bingo, Hōki, and Inaba provinces had been subjugated by the Mōri, so he likely offered support to the Amago revival army as a means to try and recover his own power. Subsequently, the Yamana territory was attacked by the Oda army in response to appeals from the Mōri. His plan to support the Amago revival army did not proceed as desired.
On 6/23, Yukimori sailed with a flotilla of several hundred vessels from Tango or Tajima to the Shimane Peninsula and, after making landfall, occupied the Chūyama fortress. After rallying the troops for a revival campaign, former retainers of the Amago residing underground in the province heeded the call and, within five days, over 3,000 forces gathered. Toward the end of the month, the Amago revival army led by Yukimori attacked Shinyama Castle defended by Taga Mototatsu. Next, the forces constructed a fortress at Suetsugu on the northern shore of Lake Shinji, naming the site Suetsugu Castle. Over the course of a series of battles across the Sanin region, the army expanded their base of power in an event known as the Invasion of Unshū by the Amago revival army.
In the middle of the seventh month, Yukimori initiated a siege of the former base o the Amago clan at Gassantoda Castle. This siege did not involve an assault against the castle. Owing to dwindling provisions for the garrison of Mōri forces defending the castle along with the surrender by some of the troops, the unfolding events favored the besieging army. Nevertheless, attacks by the Mōri army against Amago forces in neighboring Iwami Province resulted in a precarious situation, so Yukimori halted the assault on the castle to assist the forces in Iwami, defeating the Mōri army in the Battle of Harate. Thereafter, the Amago revival army attacked a total of sixteen castles in Izumo and expanded their army to over 6,000 troops. Meanwhile, powerful kokujin from Izumo (including Yonebara Tsunehiro and Mitoya Hisasuke) ordered by Mōri Motonari, ordered to return from Kyūshū to subjugate the Amago switched sides to join the Amago instead so that the Amago revival army garnered control of all of Izumo.
In Hōki Province, the Amago forces attacked numerous castles, including Odaka Castle, Yabase Castle, and Iwakura Castle on the border with Inaba Province. Yukimori lured Jinzai Motomichi of Sueyoshi Castle to betray the Mōri in favor of the Amago, in addition to the Hino Group (kunishū) from across the Hino District of Hōki. By this means, the Amago expanded the territory under their control to include all of Hōki. In neighboring Mimasaka Province, Yukimori persuaded Saiki Shichirō-jirō (the husband of his elder sister) who was the chamberlain of Takada Castle. Consequently, the Amago revival army battled their way across Inaba, Bingo, Bitchū, and Mimasaka provinces.
On 10/11, in a bid to revive the Ōuchi family, Ōuchi Teruhiro invaded Yamaguchi in Suō Province, occupying the vestiges of the Tsukiyama residence. Owing to successive rebellions in the territory that caused concern by Motonari regarding the stability of his governance, on 10/15, he decided to have the Mōri army withdraw from Kyūshū to subjugate the rebel army. On 10/18, after the Mōri army led by Kikkawa Motoharu and Kobayakawa Takakage withdrew from Kyūshū and arrived in Chōfu in Suō, around 10/25, these forces subdued the rebellion by the Ōuchi revival army. Teruhiro took his own life in Tonomi, drawing to an end in less than half a month the short-lived rebellion by the remnants of the Ōuchi clan. This event is known as the Revolt of Ōuchi Teruhiro. After crushing the rebellion, on 12/23, the Mōri army departed their encampment in Chōfu and returned to their main base at Yoshida-Kōriyama Castle.
On 1/6 of Eiroku 13 (1570), Mōri Terumoto, Kikkawa Motoharu, Kobayakawa Takakage, among others, departed from Yoshida-Kōriyama Castle leading a massive army with the aim of suppressing the Amago revival army. The Mōri army marched north, and, after crossing into Izumo Province, proceeded to attack in succession castles aligned with the Amago, while advancing to Gassantoda Castle. Meanwhile, owing to the time invested in the Battle of Harate and a rebellion by Oki Tamekiyo known as the Battle of Mihonoseki, the Amago revival army had not, by this time, attacked the base of the Mōri at Gassantoda Castle. As a result, in an effort to halt the advance of the Mōri forces, Yukimori established a position in Fube in preparation for a final showdown.
On 2/14, the Amago revival army fought against the Mōri and lost at the Battle of Fubeyama. As his allies fled, Yukimori remained to fight in the rear guard until the end, and after preventing the disintegration of the army, he returned to his base at Suetsugu Castle. After their victory, on 2/15, the Mōri army entered Gassantoda Castle, liberating the castle from the siege by the Amago forces. Owing to their loss at Fube, the Amago revival army headed into decline.
In the sixth month, following their defeat at Fube, the Amago revival army in Izumo was pushed back to Shinyama and Takase castles. In the seventh and eighth months, the Mōri forces cut-down the wheat crops below each of the castles to eliminate their food supply. On 9/5, after Mōri Motonari became gravely ill in Aki, Kikkawa Motoharu remained behind while the divisions led by Mōri Terumoto and Kobayakawa Takakage returned to their home territory, causing an abrupt change in circumstances. The Mōri army was left with a thin army in the Sanin Region, providing an opportunity for Yukimori and the Amago revival army to make gains.
The Amago revival army led by Yukimori recaptured Tokamiyama and Sueyoshi castles which were strategically located to control sea lanes in the Nakaumi, in addition to other castles on the borders of Izumo and Hōki provinces. The Amago forces attacked the stronghold on Mount Kiyomizu and approached Gassantoda Castle again. Aiming to ally with Yonehara Tsunahiro of Takase Castle, the Amago captured and expanded Manganji Castle on the northern shore of Lake Shinji. Gaining momentum, the Amago cornered Kikkawa Motoharu and attacked his base at Hirata Castle. The revival army further succeeded by forming an alliance with Oki Danjōzaemon-no-jō, a kokujin from Oki Province. While acquiring control of the sea lanes, the forces once again expanded their reach across the entire Shimane Peninsula.
On 10/6 of Genki 1 (1570), upon learning of the weakness of the Mōri army in Izumo, Motonari sent reinforcements to assist them and, in a bid to regain control of the sea lanes along the coastline, dispatched under his direct command a naval division led by Kodama Narihide. Owing to these actions, the battlefield situation gradually turned in favor of the Mōri, and, around the end of the tenth month, Tokamiyama Castle fell, followed, in the twelfth month, by Manganji Castle. After a temporary resurgence, the power of the Amago revival army once again began to wane.
Around 8/20 of Genki 2 (1571), the last hold-out at Shinyama Castle fell to the Mōri. Prior to its capture, Amago Katsuhisa, who had been taking refuge in the castle, fled to Oki Province.
Around this time, Yukimori, who was holed-up in Sueyoshi Castle, lost and was apprehended by Kikkakwa Motoharu. After his capture, Yukimori was incarcerated at Odaka Castle, but, following appeals by Shishido Takaie and Kuchiba Michiyoshi to spare him, and an offer made to grant landholdings of 1000 kan each in Tokuji in the Saba District of Suō and Daisen in the Aseri District of Hōki. Yukimori, however, refused, and found an opportunity to escape. By this means, the Amago revival army was expelled from the Sanin region and the first revival campaign ended in failure for the remnants of the Amago.
Second Amago Revival Campaign
After his escape from Odaka Castle, Yukimori crossed the sea to Oki Province. During the third and fourth months of 1572, once again, he crossed the sea and returned to the mainland, going underground in Tajima Province. Yukimori then made contacts with a pirate from the Seto Inland Sea named Murakami Takeyoshi and Maki Naoharu, a senior retainer of the Mimasaka-Miura clan, seeking a pathway to revitalize the Amago family. At this time, Yukimori adopted the surname of Kamei.
At the beginning of 1573, Yukimori departed from Tajima to invade Inaba, capturing Kiriyama Castle to utilize as a base for a range of military operations. From this foothold in Inaba, Yukimori made plans to expand into Hōki and Izumo again.
At this time, a kokujin and ally of the Mōri named Takeda Takanobu was the lord of Inaba. A decade earlier, in 1563, Takanobu prevailed in a struggle against Yamana Toyokazu (the lord of Inaba at that time). Thereafter, he allied with the Mōri clan and expanded his power across Inaba. Yukimori allied with Yamana Toyokuni, the younger brother of Toyokazu who had his own aspirations to revive the Yamana clan and proceeded to win battles across Inaba. On 8/1 of Tenshō 1 (1573), after achieving a decisive victory in a battle against the Takeda army at Koshikiyama Castle, an event known as the Collapse on Tonomo in Tottori, Yukimori initiated an assault in earnest against Takanobu’s base at Tottori Castle.
Continuing the offensive operations, approximately 1,000 soldiers from the Amago revival army approached Tottori Castle and, at the end of the ninth month, assaulted the site in which 5,000 Takeda forces had taken refuge in an event known as the Siege of Tottori Castle by the Amago revival army. The retainers of the Takeda in the castle tendered hostages to the Amago revival army and surrendered.
Yamana Toyokuni entered Tottori Castle while the Amago revival army had Kisaichi Castle served as its main base. Later, over a period of ten days, Yukimori attacked fifteen castles, expanding his army to over 3,000 troops and garnering control of all of eastern Inaba Province.
In the beginning of the eleventh month, Toyokuni was won over by Takimi Takatsugu to switch sides to the Mōri. As a result, in just over one month since the assault by the Amago revival army, Tottori Castle reverted to the control of the Mōri. The loss of Tottori Castle caused instability among the Amago forces, and Yukimori responded by conducting an assortment of military operations across Inaba in an effort to pacify the province.
While battling against the Mōri army in Inaba, Yukimori sought to ally with clans opposed to the Mōri including, among others, the Mimasaka-Miura, the Uragami of Bizen, and the Ōtomo of Buzen Province. He also engaged in covert communications with Shibata Katsuie (a senior retainer of Oda Nobunaga) and aimed to reconstitute his organization.
Amidst these battles, in the eleventh month of 1574, Yukimori repelled the army of Ukita Naoie at Takada Castle (the base of the Mimasaka-Miura) and received a jar of nitre from Ōtomo Yoshishige (Sōrin) to serve as raw material for gunpowder.
In the fifth month of 1575, Yamana Suketoyo of Tajima succeeded in peace negotiations with the Mōri known as the Aki and Tajima Settlement. Suketoyo had formerly supported the Amago revival army in opposition to the Mōri, but his settlement with the Mōri posed a threat to the governance of the Oda in Tajima as well as the rights to the Ikuno-Ginzan, or mountain for the mining of silver. His decision to align with the Mōri therefore had significant implications.
Having lost the support of the Yamana clan of Tajima, from 6/14 to 6/15 of Tenshō 3 (1575), Yukimori attacked Wakasaoniga Castle in Inaba and moved his base there. Meanwhile, Kamei Korenori entered Yukimori’s prior base at Kisaichi Castle. Wakasaoniga Castle was situated near an intersection of mountain roads to travel from Inaba to Tajima and Harima. This enabled Yukimori to avoid Tajima which was the base of the Yamana who had aligned with the Mōri as well as to secure the route from Harima to the capital of Kyōto.
In the sixth month, Kikkawa Motoharu and Kobayakawa Takakage led approximately 47,000 troops into Inaba and launched an all-out attack against the Amago revival army. The Mōri attacked numerous castles held by the Amago and, on 8/29, attacked Wakasa-Oniga Castle where Yukimori was holed-up. The Amago revival army succeeded in blunting the attack and repelling the Mōri but, around the beginning of the tenth month, Kisaichi Castle fell, leaving Wakasaoniga Castle as the only base of the Amago revival army remaining in Inaba. Nevertheless, owing to the valiant fighting by the Amago, as well as heightening tensions between the Oda and Mōri clans in the Sanyō Region, on 10/21, the Mōri army constructed fortresses in the environs of Wakasaoniga Castle and then withdrew from Inaba Province.
Nevertheless, following the elimination of the Miura clan who were opposed to the Mōri, the decline of the Uragami clan, and the surrender to the Mōri of the Mimasaka-Miura clan who had been a source of support for the Amago, the Amago revival army in Inaba was completely isolated.
Despite the withdrawal of the main contingent of the Mōri army led by Motoharu, the Amago revival army remained under pressure in Inaba from the remaining Mōri forces. Around the fifth month of 1576, the Amago departed from Wakasa-Oniga Castle and withdrew from Inaba Province. In this manner, the second campaign to revive the Amago came to an end.
Third Amago Revival Campaign and the demise of Yukimori
After withdrawing from Inaba, Yukimori relied upon Oda Nobunaga to travel to the capital of Kyōto. After meeting with Nobunaga in the capital, Nobunaga called Yukimori a good man and presented him with a swift horse. Thereafter, Yukimori aimed for the revival of the Amago clan under the command of the Oda army.
In 1576, Yukimori and the Amago revival army joined the division of the Oda army led by Akechi Mitsuhide. The forces participated in attacks against Yagi Castle in Tajima and Momii Castle in Tanba. In the eleventh month, after the Akechi army attacked Momii Castle and lost, Yukimori and the Amago revival army fought in the rear guard, intercepting and cutting through forces from the Hatano and Akai armies who chased the fleeing members of the Akechi army. Yukimori received praise from Mitsuhide for preventing the collapse of the army. Thereafter, Yukimori exhibited heroic efforts during the attack in Tanba.
In 1577, Yukimori served under Oda Nobutada (Nobunaga’s eldest son), joining in attacks against Kataoka Castle and Shigisan Castle where Matsunaga Hisahide had taken refuge in an event known as the Siege of Shigisan Castle that resulted in the demise of Hisahide. On these occasions, Yukimori served in the first line of attack against Kataoka Castle and the second line of attack against Shigisan Castle. In addition, he killed Kawai Shōgen, a general under Hisahide, in a one-on-one mounted duel.
In the tenth month, after, upon orders of Nobunaga, Hashiba Hideyoshi commenced a march to Harima, Yukimori and the Amago revival army left the Akechi army and fought with the Hashiba forces.
In the twelfth month of 1577, after Hideyoshi attacked Kōzuki Castle (a base of the Mōri in western Harima), Yukimori entered the castle together with his lord, Amago Katsuhisa. The Amago revival army used this castle as a base of operations to mount the final effort to resuscitate the Amago family. Kōzuki Castle was comparatively small, but was situated near the borders of Bizen, Mimasaka, and Harima provinces, and was in a strategic location from which to govern these areas. Yukimori became the chamberlain of the castle, defending the territory, and, among other activities, serving as an intermediary between the Oda and Mimasaka-Emi clan (a branch of the Sugawara family). He further made efforts to placate and lure the support of the kokujin, or provincial landowners, in Mimasaka.
On 2/1 of Tenshō 6 (1578), a general in the Ukita army named Makabe Jirō-shirō led about 3,000 soldiers on an assault against Kōzuki Castle. During this engagement, Yukimori led 800 troops on a nighttime attack against the Ukita, killing Jirō-shirō and achieving victory for the Amago revival army.
In the middle of the second month, Bessho Nagaharu of Miki Castle revolted against Nobunaga and allied with the Mōri. Given that the Mōri were in a state of war against the Oda, in the fourth month, Kikkawa Motoharu and Kobayakawa Takakage took advantage of the situation by advancing with over 30,000 soldiers into Harima. On 4/18, this army surrounded the Amago revival army holed-up at Kōzuki Castle in an event known as the Siege of Kōzuki Castle.
On 5/4, upon learning that Kōzuki Castle had been surrounded by the Mōri army, Hideyoshi, together with Araki Murashige, departed with a contingent of 10,000 soldiers to support the defenders at Kōzuki and established a base on Mount Takakura. However, Hideyoshi was ordered by Nobunaga to give priority to an attack against Miki Castle where Bessho Nagaharu had launched a rebellion. He was then surrounded by the Hashiba army in an event known as the Siege of Miki.
On 6/21, at the Battle of Takakurayama, the Hashiba forces were defeated in a clash with the Mōri. On 6/26, Hideyoshi withdrew his army to Mount Shosha. As a result, Kōzuki became isolated, provisions ran low, and those among the defenders began to flee. On 7/5, the Amago revival army surrendered to the Mōri army.
As a condition of surrender, Amago Katsuhisa and his younger brother, Amago Ujihisa, were compelled to commit seppuku, while Yukimori and Tachihara Hisatsuna were taken as hostages. Many others who fought against the Mōri were executed, while some were pardoned and released.
The captors planned to take Yukimori to the base of Mōri Terumoto at Bitchū-Matsuyama Castle. While en route, however, at the Ai crossing into Bitchū Province, Yukimori was murdered by a retainer of the Mōri named Fukuma Motoaki. At the time, he was either thirty-four or thirty-nine years old.
When Oki Tamekiyo launched a rebellion at Mihonoseki in the Battle of Mihonoseki, Yukimori launched an attack to suppress him. Tamekiyo, however, launched a counterattack that put Yukimori in a difficult spot. Thereafter, Yokomichi Takamitsu and Yokomichi Takamune (siblings), Matsuda Masayasu, and others rushed to his aid, and fought valiantly. As a result, Tamekiyo was captured and Yukimori prevailed. Out of deference to Yukimori, Amago Katsuhisa refrained from give written commendations to the Yokomichi siblings. Yukimori, however, scorned him, saying that if the Yokomichi siblings and others had not joined the fight, he would not have survived. Given that we were losing early in the battle, there is no need to be deferential. Acknowledge the merits and failings and do not show preference for political reasons and promptly give them their commendations. Thereafter, Katsuhisa gladly complied.
After a retainer of Akechi Mitsuhide named Nonokuchi Tanba invited Yukimori to his home, Mitsuhide also said that a hot bath had been prepared so Yukimori should come to his residence. Nonokuchi’s home was a shambles, but Yukimori laughingly replied to Mitsuhide that he had a prior engagement with Nonokuchi, so he could not go. Mitsuide also laughed, and told Nonokuchi to go ahead and host Yukimori, whereupon Mitsuhide gave him a wild goose and salmon.
There is a letter from Yukimori to an individual under his command named Shindō Jinsuke. This is the last letter written by Yukimori before he was killed at the Ai crossing after being captured. In the letter, Yukimori commended Jinsuke for his years of service as a rōnin and contributions in the battle at Kōzuki Castle that he said he would never forget. He then offered for Jinsuke to enter into service anywhere he desires, thereby releasing him from his duties to Yukimori.
A retainer of Akechi Mitsuhide named Nonokuchi Tanba said to Yukimori that he had taken three heads in one-on-one mounted duels, and each time the circumstances seemed hazy, but there are others who have been in just one battle yet claim to clearly remember it all. Do you think those people are naturally brave? Yukimori took an interest in his comments and said to Tanba that you are an honest person and a rarity in a world with many who adorn their language or tell lies. Yukimori further said that he felt the same when he had taken four or five heads. When he took seven or eight, it became clearer and, for the tenth, he could even see where he had speared the enemy in his armor. He could fell an enemy with a staff like it was child’s play. If you gain more experience, you will understand what I am saying.
When Nonokuchi Hikosuke (who may have been the same individual as Nonokuchi Tanba) asked Yukimori how he achieved his deeds, Yukimori said that before a battle, be aware that you definitely cannot see. Hikosuke did not initially believe that was necessarily the case. When, however, he stood on a battlefield in a morning fog in which you could not even distinguish the color of objects in your surroundings, Hikosuke remembered what Yukimori had said and thought that he could not see because he had lost his nerve. To calm himself, he closed his eyes and, after opening them, he was refreshed and could see clearly so he was able to overcome his opponents and succeed on the battlefield.
One day, after experiencing their first battle, two young soldiers spoke to Yukimori. One said that he began to shake, could not look steadily at the enemy, and did not remember what armor the fallen enemy was wearing. The other said that was not the case for him. He clearly remembered what armor the enemy wore, what horse he rode, and where he engaged his opponent. After the two of them returned, Yukimori said to the person next to him that the first young man who spoke to him would become a gallant warrior. The second was very unreliable. Perhaps he took the head of a fallen enemy killed by someone else and claimed the achievement for himself. He will probably be killed in the next battle. On another day, that is in fact what happened.
Yukimori’s mother, Yamanaka Nami, was known as being very wise. Yukimori’s father died at a young age, so Nami raised Yukimori on her own. Without a path to earn income, the family was poor and struggled even to buy clothes. Nami cultivated hemp in the fields from which to make clothes for Yukimori while she wore ragged dress. Meanwhile, she gave clothing and food and lodging to other poor children. These same children appreciated the kindness and, after growing up, cooperated with Yukimori. Nami told Yukimori to share his successes and failures with those who followed him and, after losing in a battle, not to leave his troops to die or monopolize for himself the accolades from a victory. Yukimori was said to have never forgotten these lessons.
When Yukimori invaded Izumo in support of Amago Katsuhisa, a former comrade named Jinzai Motomichi aligned with the Mōri and served as the chamberlain of Sueishi Castle in Hōki Province. Based on their prior relationship, Yukimori sought to persuade Motomichi to ally with him so he planned first to guage Motomichi’s state of mind. Yukimori sent a monk to Motomichi to request that Motomichi convey his thoughts by writing on a folding fan. Motomichi simply wrote a phrase referring to an old oak in a small field and asked the monk to return it to Yukimori. Yukimori recognized this as a phrase from an old poem implying that he did not forget his original sentiment whereupon he sent the monk back to Motomochi to request that he switch his allegiance to the Amago. Motomochi then brought along Nakahara Zenzaemon who served as an inspector and allied with the Amago revival army. Thereafter, Motomichi accompanied Yukimori until the fall of Kōzuki Castle and committed seppuku along with Amago Katsuhisa.
After the demise of the Amago clan, Yukimori engaged in battles across Izumo in a bid to revive the Amago family. However, he lost and surrendered at Sueyoshi Castle. Thereafter, he was incarcerated at Odaka Castle. Pretending to be afflicted with dysentery, he made numerous trips to an outside toilet. Owing to the frequency of these trips, the guard stopped escorting him to the toilet. Yukimori then used this as an opportunity to escape from his captors.
In the seventh month of 1578, Yukimori was attacked at Kōzuki Castle by the Mōri army. After the withdrawal of reinforcements led by Hashiba Hideyoshi, he surrendered. At this time, he made earnest requests to Kikkawa Motoharu and Kobayakawa Takakage to spare the life of his lord, Amago Katsuhisa, but the Mōri generals refused, saying that unless Katsuhisa committed seppuku, everyone in the castle would be killed. Having exhausted his options, Yukimori tearfully turned to Katsuhisa and said that he tried in earnest to save the life of his lord but Motoharu and Takakage would not consent. He told Katsuhisa to please take his own life knowing that he had done his utmost to achieve fortune in war, further saying that while it would be natural to do so together with his lord, he particularly resented Motoharu, so planned to pretend to surrender and then stab Motoharu to vent the frustration endured by the family over many years. He then said that although he regretted being viewed as a disloyal fallen soldier who held dear his life, he would soon follow Katsuhisa across the Sanzu River (Buddhist equivalent of the River Styx) and, at that time, more than ever, demonstrate his loyalty to him. Katsuhisa responded that ordinarily he would have sewn his own robes and ended life as an itinerant monk, but, even though only for a short while, he was able to lead the Amago army comprised of tens of thousands of soldiers. The time was brief, but he experienced a good dream. There is no need to be resentful that now he must take his own life. If by dying those under his command are spared, then, as their general, this would please him. Attempting to stab Motoharu is a noble plan, but Motoharu is smart and brave, so it is not likely Yukimori would have the opportunity to do so. A better option is to live longer, find an illegitimate heir of the Amago, and help that person to become a leader to revive the family.
While Yukimori was still young, his home province was taken over by the Mōri clan, after which he led a band of 300 intrepid fighters who wandered the Chūgoku and Kinai regions to fight as mercenaries. After hearing of these activities, Kobayakawa Takakage informed Mōri Terumoto that Yukimori was a brave warrior who understood military tactics, but was also a duplicitous samurai who today could be your ally and tomorrow your enemy, so he betrayed the honor of war. For these reasons, he advised Terumoto that Yukimori should be killed, whereupon Terumoto dispatched an assassin to murder Yukimori.
When Yukimori was killed by an assassin from the Mōri named Watanuki Samanosuke (Uzuki Ichinichi-Samanosuke), there were two servants with him. The servants took his remains to bury alongside a river and made a burial mound. This was early in the third month so they took flowering branches from a peach tree and put these into the mound, noting that despite being murdered, Yukimori was an honorable samurai. If there is mercy in heaven, please accept these flowers as recompense. After reciting Buddhist verses, the servants committed seppuku. Samanosuke buried their remains and created burial mounds alongside the remains of Yukimori. Thereafter, these branches took root and grew into large peach trees. A rumor then spread that if you make a drink from this tree, it will cure a fever. This resulted in persons coming from near and far to carve pieces of the tree, after which the tree withered.
The death of Yukimori marked the end of the campaign to revive the Amago clan, but during the fall of the Kōzuki Castle, the battalion led by Kamei Korenori (an illegitimate branch of the Amago) followed Hideyoshi and avoided disaster so the remnants of the Amago were not completely disbanded. The band of retainers associated with the Kamei family were reorganized and began down a path toward becoming a modern daimyō.
On the basis of a promise to reward him with control of one-half of Izumo, Korenori served under the command of Hideyoshi, engaging in assorted battles. On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), a coup d’état against Nobunaga known as the Honnō Temple Incident caused Hideyoshi to enter into a prompt settlement with the Mōri and rush with his forces back to the capital in an event known as the Great March from Chūgoku. This turn of events nullifed the earlier promise made to Korenori.
Thereafter, Korenori used his official title of Ryūkyū-no-kami (Governor of Ryūkyū) as his name. Seeking control of Ryūkyū Province (southern islands), he received consent from Hideyoshi but was impeded by an attack on Ryūkyū by the Shimazu clan who were alert to these developments. Korenori participated in the deployment to the Korean Peninsula and, after death of Hideyoshi in 1598, participated in the vanguard forces for the Eastern Army at the Battle of Sekigahara in the ninth month of 1600. Korenori facilitated the betrayal by Saimura Masahiro of the Western Army led by Ishida Mitsunari, participated in burning down the village below Tottori Castle, and joined the pursuit of Natsuka Masaie and ensuing siege of Minakuchi-Okayama Castle in Ōmi. Korenori was included in the political structure of the Edo bakufu and was awarded the territory of Shikano in Inaba Province neighboring Izumo. As the lord of the Shikano domain, he engaged in licensed trade overseas, dispatching a ship to Thailand.
Sakazaki Naomori was the lord of the Tsuwano domain in Iwami Province near the Mōri family in Chōshū (Suō and Nagato provinces). In 1616, in connection with the Siege of Ōsaka, Naomori attempted to abduct the daughter of Tokugawa Hidetada (who was the young widow of Toyotomi Hideyori) prior to her second marriage to Honda Tadatoki. The plan, which involved a surprise attack on the wedding procession, backfired and Naomori was killed by his retainers. This event is known as the Senhime Incident. Korenori was chosen to take the place of Naomori and transferred to Tsuwano with a fief of 43,000 koku.
After the death of Yukimori, his eldest son, Yamanaka Yukimoto (Kōnoike Shinroku), abandoned the life of a bushi, and, entered the business of producing saké in the village of Kōnoike in the Kawabe District of Settsu Province. He later moved to Ōsaka, and, in the early Edo period, founded a flourishing enterprise known as the Kōnoike zaibatsu, or industrial group.
Yukimori’s demonstration of loyalty by continuing to fight after the demise of his lord’s family struck a chord with those of later generations, becoming the subject of embellishment in storytelling. In the Edo period, portrayals of Yukimori emphasized his nature as a devoted bushō, creating the image of Yamanaka Shikanosuke as a tragic hero. As a widely recognized historical figure, Yukimori was revered as a model of the spirit of bushi, becoming the subject of education from the Meiji period, with his prayer to endure untold hardship to revive the clan adopted for use in textbooks.