Yura Narishige


Yura Clan


Kōzuke Province

Lifespan:  Eishō 3 (1506) to 6/30 of Tenshō 6 (1578)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Shinano

Bakufu:  Muromachi

Clan:  Yokose → Yura

Lord:  Iwamatsu Ujizumi → Iwamatsu Morizumi

Father:  Yokose Yasushige

Siblings:  Narishige, Yokose Shigekatsu, Yokose Shigeaki, Yokose Nagashige

Wife:  Myōin-ni (daughter of Akai Shigehide (or Akai Iekata))

Children:  Kunishige, Watarase Shigeaki, Nagao Akinaga, daughter (formal wife of Narita Ujinaga), daughter (wife of Kuroda Naoyuki)

Yura Narishige served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  Narishige was the eighth head of the Yokose clan, a sengoku daimyō family in Kōzuke Province.  His great-grandfather had the same name.  Narishige had the childhood name of Kumahisamaru and the common name of Shinrokurō.

In 1506, Narishige was born as the eldest son of Yokose Yasushige.  In the era of Yasushige, the Yokose clan became the sengoku daimyō of Kōzuke after usurping the Iwamatsu clan.  The Yokose clan were members of the Yokoyama clan, a branch of the Ono family.  The Yokose were descendants of Yura Tomoshige, a bushō from the Nanboku period and senior retaūiner of Nitta Yoshisada, counted among the Four Guardian Kings of the Nitta.

Initially, Narishige served as a chief elder of the Iwamatsu clan, but later usurped his lord, Iwamatsu Morizumi, a sengoku daimyō, and seized Nitta-Kanayama Castle.  He adopted his surname from the name of the Yura township in the Nitta District of Kōzuke that had been inherited by generations of the main branch of the Nitta clan from the Kamakura period.  This was to demonstrate the independence of the Yura clan in their newly acquired role as sengoku daimyō.

In 1553, Narishige received as a gift an arquebus from Ashikaga Yoshitō (later known as Yoshiteru), the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu who had an interest in these weapons.

In 1565, after Yoshiteru was killed in an event known as the Eiroku Incident, Yoshiteru’s younger brother, Ashikaga Yoshiaki (who later became the fifteenth shōgun), fled to Yajima in Ōmi Province.  Yoshiaki then sent a messenger to Narishige, in addition to Takeda Shingen, Uesugi Kenshin, and Hōjō Ujiyasu, to request that their armies march upon Kyōto.

The territory of Kōzuke governed by the Yura clan was surrounded by other powerful clans including the Kai-Takeda, the Uesugi, and the Ashikaga branch of the Koga kubō.  Consequently, the Yura aimed to survive by alternating their affiliations, first with the Uesugi clan who were the deputy shōgun of the Kantō, the Gohōjō clan, Uesugi Kenshin, and, again, the Gohōjō clan.  In particular, in 1569, on behalf of Hōjō Ujiyasu and Hōjō Ujimasa (father and son), Narishige and Nagao Masanaga helped forge an alliance between the Hōjō of Sagami and Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo as a means to counter the threat from Takeda Shingen of Kai Province.

In 1573, Narishige toppled Tatebayashi Castle and, after capturing Hishakuyama Castle and eliminating the Gokiryū clan, he transferred his base at Kanayama Castle to his eldest son, Yura Kunishige and, in 1574, retired at Hishakuyama Castle.  Narishige exercised good governance, developing the town below the castle including construction of the Hōsen Temple.

In 1578, Narishige died in Kiryū in Kōzuke Province.  His formal wife, Myōin-ni, was the daughter of Akai Shigehide of Tatebayashi Castle.  In 1584, at the age of seventy-one, she served as a heroine to defend Kanayama Castle against an attack by the Hōjō clan.