Yūki Yoshitsuna


Yūki Clan


Mutsu Province

Lifespan:  Meiō 9 (1500) (?) to Eiroku 2 (1559) (?)

Other Names:  Dōkai (monk’s name)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Assistant Captain of Imperial Guards of the Left Division

Clan:  Shirakawa-Yūki

Father:  Yūki Akiyori or Komine Tomonobu

Siblings:  Yoshitsuna, Komine Yoshichika (?), Komine Yoshina, Kashiwagi Yoshitake

Children:  Tōnosuke (?), Harutsuna, Komine Yoshichika (?)

Yūki Yoshitsuna served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was the ninth head of the Shirakawa-Yūki clan.

Yoshitsuna was born as the lineal heir of Yūki Akiyori, the eighth head of the Shirakawa-Yūki clan.  There is also a theory that he was a son of the Komine clan.

During an internal conflict in 1510, he was still in his youth so did not appear in records under the name of Yoshitsuna.  The name of Yoshitsuna first appears in records from 1518.  It is surmised that he began to serve as a bushō from around this time.  In 1522, he was invested with the title of Assistant Captain of Imperial Guards of the Left Division.

The Shirakawa-Yūki clan took advantage of an internal disturbance in the Satake clan to expand their influence, garnering territory near the main base of the Satake.  In the era of Yoshitsuna, however, the Shirakawa-Yūki encountered resistance from the Satake, suffering a gradual loss of authority.  To prepare against an invasion by the Satake from the south, the Shirakawa-Yūki built several outlying castles and positioned bushō in these locations for protection.  In 1521, under the governance of Yoshitsuna, Shishi Castle in the Yorigami neighborhood of Hitachi Province was toppled, and, in 1541, Higashi-Date Castle in the Nangō area in the southernmost portion of Mutsu Province was captured by Satake Yoshiatsu.  Later, Higashi-Date Castle was demolished as a condition of settlement between the Satake and Shirakawa clans based on a mediation by Iwaki Shigetaka.

In 1532, during a battle against the Nikaidō clan, the eldest son of the Shirakawa-Yūki, Tōnosuke, was killed by an enemy bushō named Suda Nagahide.  Although not authenticated, based on the timing, he is deemed to have been the eldest son of Yoshitsuna.

In 1534, Yoshitsuna came into conflict with the Date clan in regard to the engagement of his lineal heir, Yūki Harutsuna, to the daughter of Iwaki Shigetaka.  Yoshitsuna battled against the Date who were joined by the Ashina, the Ishikawa, the Nikaidō, and the Sōma but was defeated and, as a result, could not proceed with the political alliance through a marriage with the Iwaki clan.  He also lost a portion of his territory.  Perhaps for this reason, during the Tenbun Conflict, Date Harumune demanded that Yoshitsuna’s son, Harutsuna, contain Tamura Takaaki from the rear.  Harutsuna, however, did not comply, refusing to actively participate in the conflict.

In 1542, Yoshitsuna entered the priesthood and adopted the name of Dōkai, transferring the headship of the clan to Harutsuna.

In 1544, Yoshitsuna donated a copper bell to the Rokuōsan-Saishō Temple on the grounds of the Kashima Shrine.  This bell exists to this day and is a significant historical artifact.  It is the only copper bell from the Middle Ages in the city of Shirakawa and one of only a few in Fukushima Prefecture.  The inscription on the bell has the names of Yoshitsuna and Harutsuna along with magistrates (Wachi Naoyori and Madarame Hiromoto), in addition to family members including Minami 恵綱, Nikogaya Atsutsuna, and the craftsman of the bell, Hayama Kiyotsugu.

The last record of Yoshitsuna is a letter from 1558.  His whereabouts thereafter are unknown.  It is surmised that he died around this time.