Lifespan: Eishō 16 (1519) (?) to 6/7 of Genki 2 (1571)
Other Names: Akinao (initial name), Tarō (common), Oni-iyo (nickname)
Title: Master of the Imperial Guards of the Left Division, Governor of Iyo
Lord: Ōtomo Yoshiaki → Ōtomo Yoshishige
Father: Yoshihiro Ujinao
Siblings: Akimasa, Akihiro
Wife: Daughter of Ōtomo Yoshiaki
Children: Shigenobu, Shigemasa (Takahashi Jōun), daughter (wife of Bekki Shigehide), Sonjuin, daughter (wife of Sakai Masatsugu)
Yoshihiro Akimasa served as a bushō during the Sengoku period. He was a senior retainer of the Ōtomo clan and trusted associate of Ōtomo Yoshishige (Sōrin). Akimasa was the father of Takahashi Jōun, one of the most accomplished commanders in Kyūshū during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.
The Yoshihiro were an illegitimate branch of the Ōtomo and cadet family of the Tawara clan. In the early Kamakura period, Ōtomo Yasuhiro (the son of Ōtomo Yoshinao) founded the Tawara clan and, in turn, Tawara Masakata (the younger brother of Tawara Sadahiro who was the great-grandson of Yasuhiro) founded the Yoshihiro clan.
Akimasa was born as the son of Yoshihiro Ujinao. His year of birth is surmised to have been 1519 but is not certain.
Akimasa received one character each from his father, Ujinao, and from the name of Ōtomo Yoshiaki (his first lord and, later, his father-in-law) and intially adopted the name of Akinao. In 1534, after Ujinao (who was nineteen at the time) died fighting against the Ōuchi clan at the Battle of Seibagaharu, Akimasa inherited the headship of the clan. In the ninth month, Nishimuta Harima-no-kami (親毎) and Nishimuta Chikauji (father and son) who were kokujin, or provincial landowners, in Chikugo, along with small-scale landowners including the Miike, Mizoguchi, and Hebaru and from Higo Province, launched a rebellion. To suppress the revolt, Ōtomo Yoshiaki, Yoshihiro Sakon-no-taifu, and Takita Sakyō-no-jō commanded an army of 8,700 soldiers to assault and topple Nishimuta Castle and assail Harima-no-kami and Chikauji (father and son).
In the seventh month of 1550, Akimasa opposed Kikuchi Yoshitake by participating in the capture of Takaba, Udo, Shimojin, and Katashida castles in Higo Province. In the fifth month of 1556, he deployed to Higo to suppress a rebellion by Obara Akimoto. From 1557 until his demise, Akimasa served as a close associate of Ōtomo Yoshishige (Sōrin), a sengoku daimyō and the twenty-first head of the Ōtomo clan of Bungo Province. Together with Usuki Akisumi and Yoshioka Nagamasu, he ranked as one of the Three Elders. On 4/18, and from 8/16 to 8/19 of Eiroku 3 (1560), Akimasa joined in several assaults against Munakata Ujisada (a daimyō and the head of the main branch of the Munakata, a gōzoku, or wealthy family, in Chikuzen) at Konomiyama, Hakusan, and Tsutagatake castles. In the political sphere, he worked on the division of Hizen and, on 9/7 of the same year, Akimasa joined Nagamasu and Takita Akinari to enable a reconciliation between Ryūzōji Takanobu and Kumashiro Katsutoshi. In 1561, he served as a mōshitsugi, or intermediary, on behalf of Sōrin.
In 1562, upon request of Amago Yoshihisa, Sōrin ordered another deployment to Buzen Province, dispatching two elders (Bekki Akitsura and Yoshihiro Akimasu) and seven members of the kunishū, or provincial landowners. In the seventh month, the Ōtomo army toppled Kawaradake Castle again in Buzen and ousted Harada Chikatane while Senju Munemoto, the commander at the castle, surrendered.
Matsuyama Castle earlier fell to the Mōri army and was defended by Amano Takashige and Sugi Shigeyoshi. In a bid to recapture the castle, Akimasa arrived at Kanda in Buzen and, on 9/1, conducted a nighttime attack on Mikenokōri. On 9/13 and 11/19, Ōtomo forces led by Akimasa and Akitsura attacked Matsuyama Castle but this ended in small skirmishes. While laying siege to Matsuyama Castle, the Ōtomo army attacked the area below Moji Castle again and throughout the day and night on 10/13, during the third Battle of Yanagigaura at Dairi, valiant fighting by Akimasa and Akitsura resulted in the killing of Reizei Mototoyo (the chamberlain at Moji Castle), Akagawa Motonori, and Katsura Motochika.
On 11/26, battles continued throughout the day below Moji Castle yielding several hundred dead and wounded. In the first month of 1563, a large army under Mōri Takamoto and Kobayakawa Takakage arrived and engaged in a standoff with the Ōtomo army.
A smart and courageous bushō, Akimasa earned the deep trust of Sōrin and exercised authority over military affairs in Chikuzen Province. Later, he took over from Yoshioka Nagamasu the conduct of political affairs in Buzen and Bungo. Akimasa participated in an attack against Akizuki Fumitane in the seventh month of 1557, an operation to subdue Takahashi Akitane in the seventh month of 1567, and a deployment to suppress a rebellion by Tachibana Akikoto from the fourth to seventh months in 1568. He served valorously in a majority of the major battles by the Ōtomo clan including the Siege of Moji Castle against the Mōri clan and, in the fifth month of 1569, the Battle of Tatarahama.
In the third month of 1569, during the first campaign to subdue Ryūzōji Takanobu, Takanobu sent a messenger to Akimasa (who was in charge of affairs for the Ōtomo in Hizen) to propose surrender, but knowing Takanobu’s character, Akimasa rejected the offer. Thereafter, Takanobu sent a messenger to propose surrender to Bekki Akitsura, but was denied again. At this time, the letter sent by Takanobu to Akitsura noted “I am asking you because I am tired or worthless people like Akimasa.” On 4/6, at the Battle of Tafuseguchi, Akimasa trounced the main force of the Ryūzōji army, and during the subsequent offensive, appeared to have fallen ill so missed the opportunity to extinguish the Ryūzōji army. In the eleventh month, Akimasa, together with Akitsura and others, attacked and forced the surrender of Takahashi Akitane at Hōman Castle in Chikuzen.
In the fourth month of 1570, Akimasa participated in a second campaign to subdue Ryūzōji Takanobu at the Battle of Imayama. In 1571, Akimasa died. The next day, Sōrin mourned the loss of his trusted retainer, noting that efforts were made to provide treatment and to perform incantations and prayers for him. Akimasa was succeeded by his lineal heir, Yoshihiro Shigenobu.
Akimasa intended to serve as a magistrate at Tachibanayama Castle, a stronghold in Chikuzen, but died of illness prior to the assignment so soon thereafter this role was assigned to his son, Shigenobu. Before long, Bekki Akitsura was appointed as the magistrate for Tachibanayama Castle and changed his name from Bekki Akitsura to Tachibana Dōsetsu.