Rank: sengoku daimyō
Title: Governor of Iyo
Father: Kōno MIchiyoshi or Murakami Michiyasu
Adoptive Father: Kōno Michinobu
Mother: Tenyū Eiju (daughter of Shishido Takaie)
Adopted Children: Michinori
Kōno Michinao served the last head of the Kōno clan who held the status of sengoku daimyō in Iyo Province in Shikoku. He also carried the title of Governor of Iyo.
Michinao may have been the son of Kōno Michiyoshi; however, under an alternate theory, he was the son of Murakami Michiyasu, a retainer of the Kōno and commander of the infamous Murakami navy who patrolled the Seto Inland Sea. His mother was Tenyū Eiju (the daughter of Shishido Takaie and grandchild of Mōri Motonari) who later re-married to Kōno Michinobu, the former head of the Kōno clan. This enabled Michinao to become the legitimate successor to the family. Under this theory, Michinao would have been a great-grandchild of Mōri Motonari. Based on this blood relationship, the Kōno family under Michinao benefited from the strong influence of the Mōri and Kobayakawa clans.
Kōno Michinobu, the former head of the clan and lord of Yuzuki Castle in the Dōgō area of Matsuyama, did not have an heir so Michinao became an adopted heir and, in 1568, took over as head of the Kōno family. Owing to Michinao’s youth, his natural father, Kōno Michiyoshi, governed the clan until Michinao became an adult. By this time, the Kōno clan was already in decline, and contending with a rebellion by Ōno Naoyuki who had colluded with rival clans including the Ōtomo of Bungo Province in Kyūshū, as well as the Ichijō and Chōsokabe clans of neighboring Tosa Province in Shikoku. Support from the Mōri clan of the western region of Honshū enabled the Kōno to maintain their autonomy.
While Michinao became a bushō in his youth, he possessed notable personal virtues that yielded moving tales. Despite rebelling on repeated occasions, Ōno Naoyuki finally surrendered to Michinao and pledged his support out of respect for Michinao’s character. After Toyotomi Hideyoshi launched the Invasion of Shikoku, leaders of the Kōno clan deliberated in Yuzuki Castle whether to confront the attacking forces or retreat. Upon the counsel of Kobayakawa Takakage, the Kōno surrendered to Kobayakawa forces about one month later. On this occasion, upon hearing pleas for help from forty-five children in the castle, Michinao took the lead to meet with Takakage. This anecdotal story is carved into a monument at the former site of Yuzuki Castle.
Although Michinao’s life was spared, his domain was seized and the role of the Kōno serving as a daimyō family in Iyo came to an end. In 1587, Michinao died of illness in Takehara at the base of Kobayakawa Takakage in Aki Province. Michinao was succeeded by Kōno Michinori, adopted from Shishido Motohide.