Sugihara Morishige


Sugihara Clan


Hōki Province

Lifespan:  Tenbun 2 (1533) to 12/25 of Tenshō 9 (1582)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Upper), Governor of Harima

Clan:  Sugihara (descended from Taira no Sadamori of the Kanmu-Heishi)

Lord:  Yamana Tadaoki → Mōri Motonari → Mōri Terumoto

Father:  Sugihara Kuninobu

Mother:  Daughter of Takasu Mitsutada

Wife:  [Formal] Daughter of Mōri Okimoto

Children:  Motomori, Kagemori, Kageyasu, Jōsuke, daughter (wife of Kawaguchi Hisauji), daughter (wife of Yoshida Motoshige), daughter (wife of Suetsugu Motoyasu)

Sugihara Morishige served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was a retainer of the Mōri clan.

Morishige was born as the second son of Sugihara Kuninobu.

Morishige was a member of the Yamanote-Sugihara clan.  He served as the third lord of Ginzan Castle in Bingo Province and as the chief retainer of Yamana Tadaoki, a kokujin, or provincial landowner, in Bingo Province.  He participated in the Kannabe Conflict against the Ōuchi clan.

After the Mōri succeeded the Ōuchi as the regional power, Tadaoki came under their command but, in 1557, died without an heir.  Kikkawa Motoharu, a senior retainer of the Mōri (and Mōri Motonari’s second son) recognized Morishige’s intrepid character.  Morishige then became Tadaoki’s successor and the lord of Kannabe Castle.

Thereafter, Morishige served as a bushō for the Mōri, participating in assorted battles.  A former retainer of Tadaoki named Fujii Kōgen who had lost power following the demise of Tadaoki opposed the succession by Morishige and the Sugihara family.  While Morishige was away, Kōgen took over Kannabe Castle.  This revolt was quickly suppressed whereupon Kōgen fled to Bitchū Province and took his own life.

Toward the end of 1563, Yukimatsu Masamori, the lord of Odaka Castle in Hōki Province, died of illness.  In 1564, Morishige was appointed as his successor and wed Masamori’s widow (who was a niece of Mōri Motonari) and raised Masamori’s surviving children.  Later that year, according to a letter from Morishige dated 9/16 of Eiroku 7 (1564), Morishige captured Ebi Castle in Hōki and forced its lord, Hachitsuka Uemon-no-jō, to take his own life.

In 1566, he recognized the landholdings of the Zuisen Temple in Hōki, and, in 1567, he appointed Tanaka Chiyowaka as the abbot of the Higōtsu Shrine.

In battles against the Amago clan, Morishige fought against Yamanaka Yukimori.  In 1569, Odaka Castle was captured by the Amago revival army led by Yukimori.

In 1571, Morishige fought against remnants of the Amago army at Jōmanbara.

In 1573, Morishige contributed the Jōon Temple in Hōki to the Kōgen Temple as a memorial offering for Ashikaga Yoshiteru, the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu who was killed in 1565.

Morishige was awarded the stronghold of Yabase Castle in eastern Hōki.  In 1580, Morishige repelled an attack by Nanjō Mototsugu (the son of Nanjō Munekatsu who had betrayed the Mōri in favor of the Oda) and Motosugu’s younger brother, Ogamo Motokiyo.  In 1581, he contributed the Kugo manor to the Saimyō sub-temple of the Daizen Temple.  That same year, Tottori Castle, the base of the Mōri in Hōki, was felled by Hashiba Hideyoshi.  Two months later, Morishige died of illness at Yabase Castle.

His graves are at the Kannon Temple in Odaka in Hōki, the Taigen Temple at Yabase, and the Daian Temple in Tema.

Following his death, Morishige was succeeded by his eldest son, Sugihara Motomori.  This was opposed by his second son, Sugihara Kagemori, who, in turn, killed Motomori.  The succession by Kagemori, however, was not recognized and he was compelled to kill himself while his landholdings were seized by Kikkawa Motoharu.  One of his sons, Sugihara Kageyasu, later became a retainer of the Kikkawa and continued as a retainer of the Iwakuni domain.


According to historical records of Hōki, there is an account that Morishige lured Nanjō Munekatsu to Odaka Castle and poisoned him, but through further research this was determined to be a false story.