Saitō Toshifuji

斎藤利藤

Saitō Clan

Bushō

Mino Province

Lifespan:  Unknown to 1/12 of Meiō 7 (1498)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Saitō

Lord:  Toki Shigeyori

Father:  Saitō Toshinaga

Siblings:  Noriaki, Toshikuni (Myōjun), Toshiyasu, Toshitsuna

Children:  Genshirō, Bishadō (later assumed the name of Nichiun)

Saitō Toshifuji served as a bushō during the late Muromachi period.  Toshifuji was the deputy military governor of Mino Province.  He was born as the eldest son of Saitō Toshinaga.  Following Toshinaga’s death, he succeeded him but his uncle, Saitō Myōchin, was the real power-broker in Mino, so Toshifuji was not able to exercise the authority commensurate with his role as deputy military governor.  After the demise of Myōchin, Toshifuji approached the Muromachi bakufu to leverage their authority upon which he came into conflict with Saitō Toshikuni (known as Myōjun), his younger brother of a different mother who had been adopted by Myōchin.  In the eighth month of 1480, at last a battle began known as the Mino-Bunmei Conflict.  Toshifuji fought from his base at Sunomata Castle, but, in the eleventh month, was defeated and went into exile was given sanctuary by the Rokkaku clan of Ōmi Province.  He then headed to the capital of Kyōto for protection from the bakufu.  In the fifth month of 1487, Toki Shigeyori, the military governor of Mino, reached a settlement with Myōjun and Toshifuji’s role as the deputy military governor was restored.

However, an internal struggle in the Toki clan over the selection of Shigeyori’s designated successor led to the Battle of Funada.  Toshifuji sided with Toki Motoyori and Ishimaru Toshimitsu so, after Motoyori and Toshimitsu committed seppuku in defeat, in the sixth month of 1496, Toshifuji was forced into retirement and died in despair.

Toshifuji’s eldest son, Genshirō (Tatewaki-zaemon-no-jō) died prematurely before the Battle of Funada.  His lineal grandson, Saitō Toshiharu, was looked after by Toshimitsu at the Battle of Funada, but died of a illness on 6/6 of 1495.  Moreover, following the death of Toshiharu, his youngest son, Bishadō, was also taken care of by Toshimitsu.  At the time of the defeat, Bishadō was only thirteen years old, so was spared, whereupon he entered monastic life and assumed the name of Nichiun.  In 1516, Nichiun became the abbot of the Jōzai Temple.

In addition to Toshifuji’s natural children, Saitō Toshitame is believed to have been adopted. However, at the Battle of Funada, he was allied with Myōjun so, after the death of Toshifuji, he may have been ordered to inherit the family name.