Lifespan: 15xx to 7/27 of Tenshō 18 (1590)
Name Changes: Kanai Hidekage → Kuragano Hidekage
Other Names: Kogenta
Title: Governor of Awaji
Clan: Kanai (branch of the Iwamatsu who were members of the Nitta clan descended from the Seiwa-Genji) → Kuragano clan affiliated with the Kodama clan of the Musashi shichitō (band of bushi)
Lord: Kuragano Yukimasa → Kuragano Tamehiro → Kuragano Naoyuki → Takeda Shingen → Takeda Katsuyori → Takigawa Kazumasu → Hōjō Ujinao
Wife: Daughter of Nagano Narimasa
Children: Gensuke, Jinzaemon, Yosōemon
Adopted Children: Ieyoshi
Kanai Hidekage served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. Hidekage was a member of the Kuragano group, a band of bushi from the western portion of Kōzuke Province. He was also known as Kanai Awaji-no-kami. Hidekage served as the lord of Kuragano Castle in Takasaki in Kōzuke.
The Kanai were a branch of the Iwamatsu clan who, in turn, were affiliated with the Nitta clan. The Kanai were founded by Kanai Nagayoshi, the third son of Iwamatsu Tokikane. Initially, Hidekage served Uesugi Norimasa, the deputy shōgun of the Kantō and was counted among the Sixteen Cavalry Soldiers of the Kuragano under the command of Kuragano Yukimasa, the head of the Kuragano clan.
In 1546, after the death of Yukimasa in battle against Hōjō Ujiyasu at the Siege of Kawagoe Castle, Hidekage, along with other members of the Sixteen Cavalry Soldiers of the Kuragano, assisted Yukimasa’s frail lineal heir, Kuragano Tamehiro, defending Kuragano Castle.
In 1547, during the Battle of Otaihara, based on a random draw to serve in the vanguard, Hidekage served as a proxy for Tamehiro to lead Uesugi forces in battle against Takeda Harunobu (Shingen) but suffered an overwhelming defeat. Thereafter, Tamehiro died. Around 1559 when Kuragano Naoyuki succeeded Tamehiro, Hidekage switched his allegiance to the Takeda clan and served Takeda Shingen.
In 1565, Kuragano Castle was toppled by Takeda Shingen. The next year, an isolated Minowa Castle also fell while its lord, Nagano Narimori, took his own life. Kuragano Naoyuki fled to the territory of Uesugi Kenshin.
In 1570, Hidekage became the lord of Kuragano Castle and changed his surname to Kuragano, adopting the name of Kuragano Hidekage.
In the third month of 1582, the Conquest of the Kōshū by the Oda decimated the Kai-Takeda clan. Thereafter, Hidekage provided assistance to Takigawa Kazumasu, a senior retainer of Oda Nobunaga, but did not serve the Oda clan thereafter. At this time, Hidekage urged Takeda Toyonobu to serve the Oda and, via Kajiwara Masakage, became a deputy to Kazumasu. In the sixth month, at the Battle of Kannagawa, Hidekage fought valiantly against forces led by Hōjō Ujinao, but after the defeated Kazumasu retreated from the Kantō, Hidekage, along with Wada Nobunari, surrendered to the Gohōjō army. Reluctant to separate from Kazumasu, Hidekage, together with Sanada Masayuki and others, guarded him to Kiso.
In 1590, at the Conquest of Odawara, Hidekage holed-up in Odawara Castle on the side of the Hōjō and defended the Hayakawa entrance. On 7/5, Odawara Castle fell and, on 7/27, Hidekage died. The cause of his death is unknown.
The family name of Kuragano Awaji-no-kami was inherited by from Hidekage by Ieyoshi around 1582.
After coming under the command of Takigawa Kazumasu, Kuragano Awaji-no-kami served in an important role to promote diplomatic initiatives. He was primarily responsible for communications with Shimotsuke and Hitachi provinces. In a letter dated 4/6 of Tenshō 10 (1582) addressed to Takeda Toyonobu based at the Chōnan Castle in Kazusa Province, Hidekage requested Toyonobu to affiliate with Kazumasu.
With respect to the individual named Ieyoshi, there is a strong likelihood that Atobe Ieyoshi (who originated from the Atobe serving as senior retainers of the Takeda clan and inherited the family name) was adopted by Hidekage and changed his named to Kuragano Ieyoshi. This is based on confirmation of the existence of an individual named Atobe Awaji-no-kami Ieyoshi. Ieyoshi’s name does not appear in the genealogical records of the Atobe clan.