Nomi Munekatsu

乃美宗勝

Nomi Clan

Nomi Munekatsu

Aki Province

Lifespan:  Daiei 7 (1527) to 9/23 of Tenshō 20 (1592)

Other Names:  Mankikumaru, Shinshirō, Ura Hyōbu, Ura Hyōbu-no-jō (common), Sukeshirō

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Bizen, Secretary of the Bureau of the Military

Clan:  Ura → Nomi (illegitimate branch of the Kobayakawa clan of the Dohi lineage) 

Lord:  Kobayakawa Takakage

Father:  Nomi Katakatsu

Siblings:  Munekatsu, Shōyū-gorō, Mitsuguchi Shōyū-jirō, Motonobu, sister (formal wife of Shirai Katatane), sister (formal wife of Murakami Yoshimitsu), sister (wife of Oka Ukyō)

Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Suenaga Kagemori, [Dowager] Daughter of Niho Takayasu

Children:  Morikatsu, Kagetsugu, Kagekatsu, Kageyoshi, Kagehisa, Isokane Kagetsuna, daughter (wife of Murakami Yoshisuke), others

Nomi Munekatsu served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was a retainer of the Kobayakawa clan as members of the Mōri clan.  Munekatsu was a kokujin, or provincial landowner, residing in Kagi Castle in Tadanoumi in Aki Province.  Munekatsu served as the head of the Ura clan, an illegitimate branch of the Kobayakawa clan of Numata.  He was also known under the name of Ura Munekatsu.

In 1527, Munekatsu was born as the fourth son of Nomi Katakatsu,  His father was an adoptee of Ura Motoyasu but originated from the Nomi clan which began with Nomi Korekage, the younger brother of Kobayakawa Takahira.  Katakatsu was the younger brother of Nomi Hirohira.  Therefore, Munekatsu adopted the Nomi surname.  Nomi Takaoki from the same Nomi clan was his cousin.  Munekatsu served Kobayakawa Takakage who inherited the headship of the Kobayakawa clan.  In 1555, at the Battle of Itsukushima, owing in part to his blood relationships with Murakami Yoshimitsu and Murakami Takeyoshi, he engaged in negotiations to bring-in the Murakami navy as allies.  Mōri Motonari communicated that he wanted to borrow the naval vessels for just one day.  Murakami Michiyasu issued a verdict and Munekatsu drew-in the Murakami navy as allies, prevailing in the Battle of Itsukushima.  The Murakami also played a role in compelling Sue Harukata to take his own life.

Thereafter, Munekatsu continued to obey Takakage and, as a mainstay of the Kobayakawa navy, conducted operations throughout the region.  During the Subjugation of Bōchō (Suō and Nagato provinces) from the tenth month of 1555, Munekatsu continued as a commander of naval forces.  He participated in the advance by the Mōri into Kyūshū.  In 1561, during the Siege of Moji Castle, he came ashore in front of the enemy and engaged in a one-on-one duel against an intrepid bushō from the Ōtomo clan named Imi Akimasa (Imi Danjōzaemon Munemasa).  During this bout, Munekatsu sustained injuries but was able to take the head of his opponent.  In 1565, he built Kagi Castle on his territory in Aki to serve as his base of operations.  Aiming to seize control of Hakata in Chikuzen Province, Motonari continued his invasion of Kyūshū and, in that connection, Munekatsu served in a primary role in a preliminary clash known as the Deployment of the Mōri to Iyo.  In 1569, Munekatsu was active in the Siege of Tachibanayama Castle.

After capturing Tachibanayama Castle, Munekatsu served as the chamberlain of the castle in his capacity as commander-in-chief for the defense of Chikuzen.  In 1569, Ōuchi Teruhiro, with the support of Ōtomo Yoshishige (Sōrin), invaded Nagato Province.  This event is known as the Revolt of Ōuchi Teruhiro.  This caused chaos in the territory of the Mōri so the main division of the Mōri army withdrew from Tachibanayama Castle on an expedition to subdue Teruhiro.  Munekatsu remained behind with a small garrison to defend the castle but, in 1570, opened the castle to Bekki Akitsura (Tachibana Dōsetsu) and then vacated the premises.  As promised when turning over the castle, the Mōri army was permitted to proudly march back to Aki without a pursuit by the Bekki forces.  That same year, Munekatsu constructed the Shōun Temple on his territory to serve as his family temple.

In 1575, Munekatsu served as a key participant in battles in Bitchū Province.  During an attack against Ueno Takanori at Tsuneyama Castle in Bitchū, just before the fall of the castle, Tsuruhime (Takanori’s wife and the younger sister of Mimura Motochika) charged out of the castle with a contingent of 34 female samurai to launch a fierce attack against the besieging forces.  Surprised at the attack, the Mōri were routed.  Amidst the chaos, Tsuruhime spotted Munekatsu and challenged him to a bout, but Munekatsu refused to fight against a woman.  Giving up the call for a challenge, Tsuruhime tendered her precious sword (known as the Kunihira Long Sword) to Munekatsu, returned to the castle, and took her own life.  This event is known as the Siege of Tsuneyama.

In the fifth month of 1576, Munekatsu entered the territory of Miki Michiaki, a landlord in Aga in Harima who was allied with the Mōri.  After converging with the Miki army, a combined army of 5,000 soldiers clashed with the forces of Kodera Yoshitaka, the leading supporter of the Oda among kokujin in Harima.  On this occasion, Munekatsu was defeated in the Battle of Aga.  In the seventh month, at the First Battle of Kizugawaguchi, Munekatsu deployed as the commanding general and violently clashed against the Oda navy.  The Mōri attacked by hurling a barrage of earthenware pots filled with gunpowder at their opponents, decimating the Oda navy.  As a result, they succeeded in provisioning the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple.  In 1578, at the Second Battle of Kizugawaguchi, the Oda navy sailed in larger, steel-plated vessels under the command of Kuki Yoshitaka and defeated the Mōri.  In 1579, during the Siege of Miki by the Hashiba army, Munekatsu aided Bessho Nagaharu by provisioning the castle but eventually the routes were severed and the defenders capitulated.

In 1582, operations by the Oda clan (Hashiba Hideyoshi) to lure away the enemy appear to have extended to Munekatsu.  Although Munekatsu rejected the solicitations, his lineal heir, Ura Morikatsu, received a letter from Hideyoshi stating that even Morikatsu on his own would be welcome, raising suspicions.  His lord, Kobayakawa Takakage, swiftly responded and, that same year, Morikatsu suddenly died.  There were rumors that Morikatsu was assassinated but the causes of his death remain a mystery.

In 1592, during the Bunroku Campaign by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Munekatsu deployed to the Korean Peninsula.  During the deployment, he fell ill and, on 9/23, returned to Japan.  He later died near Tachibanayama Castle in Akiya in the Kasuya District of Chikuzen Province.  In battles against the Ōtomo clan, Munekatsu had the most prominent role in the Mōri army.  Bekki Akitsura, a commander in the Ōtomo clan, highly praised Munekatsu.  For his military contributions on behalf of a series of lords including Mōri Motonari, Kobayakawa Takakage, Mōri Terumoto, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Munekatsu received fifteen letters of commendation.

Lineage

Among Munekatsu’s descendants, those who were lineal heirs adopted the Ura surname and those from a collateral branch of the family adopted the surname of Annoura.  Based on dialogue with the abbot of the Shūshō Temple and the epitaphs on stone monuments in the Kasuya District of Fukuoka Prefecture, the lineage of the children of Munekatsu’s consorts could not use the Ura surname so in reminiscence of Munekatsu, adopted the surname of Akinoura.  There are approximately only 100 households with the Annoura surname which are only from the Kasuya District of Fukuoka Prefecture.  To pray for the soul of Ōuchi Moriakira, a shugo daimyō and grave-keeper, the Mōri family made a dedication to the Annoura surname at the Senzō Temple in the town of Kasuya in the Kasuya District to usher in a long period of prosperity.  Even now, that prosperity cannot be discussed without reference to Moriakira.

The direct lineage of Munekatsu ended in the mid-Edo period (with the line of his second son, Kagetsugu) after which the family adopted a series of heirs.  Ura Mototoshi, a chief retainer of the Chōshū domain toward the end of the Edo period is one of those descendants.