Masuda Fujikane


Masuda Clan

Masuda Fujikane

Iwami Province

Lifespan:  Kyōroku 2 (1529) to 12/1 of Keichō 1 (1597)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Upper), Assistant Captain of Outer Palace Guards of the Right Division, Governor of Etchū, Vice Minister of Civil Affairs, Junior Fourth Rank, Chamberlain

Clan:  Masuda (a member of the Mikamoto clan descended from the branch of Fujiwara no Michikane – a noble from the Heian period)

Lord:  Ōuchi Yoshitaka → Sue Harukata → Mōri Motonari → Mōri Terumoto

Father:  Masuda Tadakane

Siblings:  Fujikane, Kanetō, sister (wife of a member of the Terado clan)

Wife:  [Formal] Daughter of Sugi Okishige, [Second] Daughter of Ishizu Tsuneyori, [Consort] Daughter of Naitō Takaharu

Children:  Son, Motonaga, daughter (wife of Shinji Masayoshi)

Masuda Fujikane served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  Fujikane was the nineteenth head of the Masuda clan, a kokujin, or provincial landowner, in Iwami Province.


In 1529, Fujikane was born as the son of Masuda Tadakane in Iwami.  Tadakane was a kokujin under the command of the Ōuchi clan who controlled Suō and Nagato provinces.  In 1543, Fujikane had his first experience in battle at the age of fifteen in the First Siege of Gassantoda Castle.  In 1544, after his grandfather, Masuda Munekane, died, Fujikane inherited the headship of the clan.  At the time of succession, his father, Tadakane, was still living but, aware of Fujikane’s abilities, Tadakane permitted Fujikane to lead the clan.  Nevertheless, Tadakane himself was a capable bushō who supported Fujikane to enable the Masuda clan to flourish.  In 1546, when he became the head of the clan, Fujikane received one of the characters from each of the names of Tadakane and from Ashikaga Yoshifuji (later known as Yoshiteru), the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, adopting the name of Fujikane.

Around the time of a falling out in the relationship between Ōuchi Yoshitaka and a senior retainer, Sue Takafusa (Harukata), Fujkane began to quarrel with the Yoshimi clan, a neighboring kokujin, in Iwami.  Following the death of Yoshitaka, Fujikane subdued Misumi Kanetaka – a member of the Masuda family who surrendered and fled.  He then forced the submission of Sufu Motokane, the head of the Sufu clan, and focused his energy on expanding his power.

Service as a senior retainer of the Ōuchi clan

In 1551, Harukata rebelled against Ōuchi Yoshitaka.  The Masuda and Sue clans were relatives – Harukata’s grandmother was the daughter of Fuijkane’s great-grandfather, Masuda Kanetaka – so Fujikane supported Harukta’s rebellion and Yoshitaka was cornered and forced to take his own life.  This is known as the Tainei Temple Incident.  At the time, Fujikane was in Iwami and invaded the territory of the Yoshimi clan, but retreated in the face of a counterattack.  The son of Sagara Taketō named Toraō was captured and killed.  Later, Fujikane was relied upon to exercise his diplomatic skills with Ōuchi Yoshinaga, the nephew of Yoshitaka backed by Harukata.

From 1551 to 1555, Fujikane invaded the territory of the Yoshimi clan, but Yoshimi forces led by Yoshimi Masayori put up stiff resistance.  In 1554, a large contingent of Ōuchi forces attacked Sanbonmatsu Castle, commencing the Siege of Sanbonmatsu Castle.  The Ōuchi army was unable to topple the castle and, in the end, reached a settlement with Yoshimi Masayori.  That same year, upon orders of Harukata, Fujikane entered into an alliance with Amago Haruhisa.

However, in 1555, at the Battle of Itsukushima, through the devices of Mōri Motonari, Harukata’s army was drawn to Itsukushima and Harukata was killed in action.  Having made many contributions alongside Harukata, Fujikane, along with Ōuchi Yoshinaga, became one of the top targets of Mōri Motonari.

Surrender to the Mōri clan

In 1556, Motonari’s second son, Kikkawa Motoharu, commenced an invasion of Iwami.  Fujikane rebuilt Nanao Castle to serve as his base.  In the sixth month, the Kikkawa army invaded the territory held by the Masuda and, by the end of the year, small-scale gōzoku, or local families of means, in the area also commenced attacks on the territory of the Masuda.  Yoshimi Masayori invaded the territory of the Masuda, attacking several castles.  In the third month of 1557, Fujikane surrendered to the Mōri clan.  In the fourth month, Motonari cornered Ōuchi Yoshinaga, compelling Yoshinaga to take his own life, upon which almost the entire former territory of the Ōuchi fell to the Mōri.  This invasion by the Mōri is known as the Subjugation of Bōchō (meaning the provinces of Suō and Nagato).

In addition to viewing Fujikane as a great criminal for the killing of Yoshitaka, Motonari gave consideration to the fact that Fujikane had been at odds with Yoshimi Masayori for many years, and that if he did not punish Fujikane, Masayori would likely take issue with his response and revolt, so he pondered the execution of Fujikane.  Kikkawa Motoharu, however, valued Fujikane’s military prowess, so he spared Fujikane’s life and recognized the rights of Fujikane to his own landholdings.  Thereafter, Fujikane became a retainer of the Mōri clan.  In 1561, after Fukuya Takakane rebelled, Fujikane headed-out to subdue him, and, in the tenth month, deployed to Kyūshū to battle against Ōtomo Yoshishige (Sōrin).  In 1562, Fujikane appealed to the Mōri clan to resolve the territorial disputes that he had with the Yoshimi clan over many years, and, although there were small skirmishes, the issues were eventually resolved.

Service in the Kikkawa army

From around 1563, Mōri Motonari mobilized his army in an effort to oust the Amago clan.  The forces toppled Shiraga Castle and, in 1565, surrounded the main base of the Amago at Gassantoda Castle in Izumo.  During this battle, a retainer of Fujikane named Shinagawa Masakazu engaged Yamanaka Yukimori of the Amago revival army in a duel on a sandbar in the Hirose River in an event known as the One-on-One Duel between Yamanaka Yukimori and Shinagawa Masakazu.  Although he engaged in the duel for notoriety, Masakazu was killed.  Nevertheless, the Amago were unable to prevail in the battle against the superior number of Mōri forces and, in 1566, surrendered in this Second Siege of Gassantoda Castle.

From 1567, Fujikane participated in battles against the Amago and Ōtomo armies in Izumo, Hōki, and Buzen.  In 1570, he transferred headship of the clan to his eldest son, Masuda Motonaga.  That same year, he served valorously in the course of subduing a rebellion launched by Misumi Takashige and Misumi Kunisada (siblings) in Iwami.  Thereafter, he arranged for Motonaga to wed the daughter of Kikkawa Motoharu to strengthen ties between with the Mōri clan.  In 1571, at the Battle of Fubeyama, he defeated the Amago revival army while serving as a member of the Kikkawa army.

As Fujikane became advanced in age, he rebuilt the shrines and temples in his territory and took special care of these sites.  He died in 1597.