Kukuri Yorioki




Mino Province

Lifespan:  15xx to First month of Tenshō 11 (1583)

Other Names:  Akugorō, Toki Akugorō, Mikawa-no-kami

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Kukuri (an illegitimate branch of the Toki clan)

Lord:  Saitō Masayoshi → Saitō Dōsan → Saitō Yoshitatsu → Saitō Tatsuoki → Oda Nobunaga (Mori Yoshinari → Mori Nagayoshi)

Children:  Two sons

Kukuri Yorioki served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  He was the lord of Kukuri Castle in Mino Province.

The Kukuri descended from the Toki clan.  Toki Yasusada, the fifth son of Toki Yorikiyo and a shugo daimyō in the early Muromachi period, built Kukuri Castle in Kukuri in Mino Province.  After inheriting the headship of the clan, Yasuyori adopted the Kukuri surname.  After Yasusada, the common name of Akugorō and the honorary title of Mikawa-no-kami were used, with the lineage being Toki Yorikiyo → Toki Yasusada → Kukuri Yasuyori (Mikawa Yukiharu) → Kukuri Haruyori → Kukuri Yoritada → Kukuri Yorioki.

Originally, Yorioki served under the command of Saitō Masayoshi, the lord of Torimine Castle, a yūshi, or nephew raised as one’s own son of Saitō Dōsan.  In the second month of 1548, Yorioki invited Masayoshi to Kukuri Castle under the pretext of a banquet and murdered him.  Yorioki subsequently gained prominence as an influential figure in eastern Mino.  The absence of retribution by Dōsan against Yorioki gives rise to a theory that Dōsan sanctioned the killing as a means to counter the growing influence of Masayoshi.

In the conflict between Dōsan and his son, Saitō Yoshitatsu, Yorioki sided with Yoshitatsu and, after the death of Yoshitatsu, then Yoshitatsu’s successor, Saitō Tatsuoki.  As the invasion of eastern Mino by Oda Nobunaga intensified, in 1565, Yorioki surrendered to the Oda.  After Mori Yoshinari renovated Torimine Castle which was renamed Kaneyama Castle, Yorioki served as a yoriki, or security officer, of Yoshinari.  In 1570, Yoshinari was killed in action during the Siege of Shiga.  Yorioki then served his successor, Mori Nagayoshi.  In 1582, after the territory of Nagayoshi changed to Kawanakajima in Shinano Province, Yorioki appears to have been treated similar to a retainer of Mori Naritoshi, the younger brother of Nagayoshi.

On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Oda Nobunaga died in a coup d’état known as the Honnō Temple Incident.  Naritoshi was among the retainers of Nobunaga who died in the attack.  After Nagayoshi returned from Shinano to Kaneyama Castle, Yorioki, along with other bushō in eastern Mino including Tōyama Tomotada rebelled against Nagayoshi but owing to an imbalance of forces was cornered into a precarious situation at Kukuri Castle.  Meanwhile, after enduring a series of battles, the Mori forces were exhausted so Nagayoshi sent his younger brother, Senchiyo (Mori Tadamasa), as a hostage to Kukuri Castle and requested a settlement to which Yorioki consented.

In the first month of 1583, Yorioki, to attend a new year’s event including consultations regarding a deployment to Hida Province, joined Senchiyo on a visit to Nagayoshi’s base at Kaneyama Castle.  They were received as guests until the evening.  While departing, at the Sugigadō entrance to Kaneyama Castle, Yorioki was assaulted and slayed by Kagiya Masanori to avenge the killing by Yorioki of his grandfather, Saitō Dainagon (Masayoshi).  Masanori was the son of Kagiya Masatsugu, the orphan of Masayoshi who was killed by Yorioki in 1548.

The murder of Yorioki was orchestrated by Nagayoshi and the individual sent as a hostage was not actually Senchiyo.  Later that evening, Nagayoshi attacked and toppled Kukuri Castle.  Prior to the fall of the castle, Yorioki’s two sons fled and their later whereabouts are unknown, marking the end of the Kukuri clan.


Among the servants of Nobunaga who died during the Honnō Temple Incident was Kukuri Toshikame who is presumed to have been a member of the Kukuri family.