Ōtawara Sukekiyo


Ōtawara Clan

Ōtawara Sukekiyo

Shimotsuke Province

Lifespan:  Bunmei 18 (1486) to 1/17 of Eiroku 3 (1560)

Other Names:  Sukekurō

Name Changes:  Ōtawara Takakiyo → Ōtawara Sukekiyo → Eizon

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Bizen

Clan:  Ōtawara 

Lord:  Nasu Sukechika → Nasu Sukefusa → Nasu Masasuke → Nasu Takasuke → Nasu Suketane

Father:  Ōtawara Tanekiyo

Siblings:  Rindō (founder of the Kōshin Temple), Sukekiyo

Wife:  Daughter of Kanemaru Kawachi-no-kami

Children:  Ōzeki Takamasu, daughter (wife of Sakuyama Yoshitaka), Fukuhara Suketaka, Tsunakiyo, daughter (wife of Nasu Masasuke)

Ōtawara Sukekiyo served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was a retainer of the Nasu clan.

The Ōtawara were counted among important retainers known as the Seven Clans of the Nasu.  In 1486, Sukekiyo was born as the son of Ōtawara Tanekiyo.

In 1514, after the death of Nasu Sukechika, the fifteenth head of the Nasu clan (the Upper Nasu family), a succession struggle erupted between his natural son, Yamada Sukehisa, and his adopted son, Nasu Sukenaga.  Nasu Sukefusa (the seventeenth head of the clan) supported Sukehisa but, at the height of the conflict, Sukehisa was killed by Sukenaga and the Upper Nasu family came to an end.  Sukefusa, together with Sukekiyo and others, attacked Sukenaga, compelling him to take his own life.  Sukefusa positioned his own son, Nasu Masasuke, as the head of the Upper Nasu family while he unified the Nasu clan and became the real holder of authority.

Known as smart and courageous, Sukekiyo was respected by Sukefusa, receiving one of the characters in his name from Sukefusa.  Owing to his abilities, however, Sukekiyo was viewed as a threat by some of those around him.  In 1518, Sukekiyo was slandered by a fellow retainer named Ōzeki Munemasu, after which he lost his position and entered the priesthood.  Through the offices of his older brother, Rindō (who was also in the priesthood), Sukekiyo was able to obscure himself at the Daihonzan-Eihei Temple (affiliated with the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism) in Echizen Province.  He received protection from the Asakura clan of Echizen.

In 1542, after returning to Nasu in Shimotsuke Province, Sukekiyo launched a surprise attack against Ōzeki Masutsugu, the lineal heir of Munemasu, killing him.  He then sent his own eldest son, Takamasu to the Ōzeki clan as an adopted heir, becoming Ōzeki Takamasu.  Further, after sending his second son, Suketaka, as an adopted heir of the Fukuhara clan, Sukekiyo garnered control of three of the Seven Clans of the Nasu, namely, the Ōtawara, the Ōzeki, and the Fukuhara.  By this means, he became the most powerful figure in the Nasu family.  Deepening ties with the ruling family, he had his daughter wed Nasu Masasuke, the son of Sukefusa.

By 1545, Sukekiyo moved his residence from Minakuchi Castle to Ōtawara Castle and changed some of the characters in his surname (although the pronunciation remained the same).  That same year, he founded the Kōshin Temple in Ōtawara and welcomed his older brother, Rindō (who was serving as the third-generation priest at the Chōkō Temple in Shioya in Shimotsuke), granting temple landholdings of 300 koku (later 500 koku).  Thereafter, the Kōshin Temple became the family temple of the Ōtawara clan for generations.

Sukekiyo aimed for Nasu Suketane, his grandchild from a daughter married into another family, to become the next head of the Nasu clan, triggering conflict with Nasu Takasuke, the son of Nasu Masasuke.  In 1551, Haga Takasada lured Senbon Suketoshi to murder Takasuke, providing an opportunity for Suketane to wield authority as the successor to the Nasu clan.

Sukekiyo died in 1560.