Wada Koremasa

和田惟政

Wada Clan

Wada Koremasa

Settsu Province

Lifespan:  Kyōroku 3 (1530) to 8/28 of Genki 2 ((1571)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Inspector of the Board of Censors, Governor of Iga, Governor of Kii

Clan:  Ōmi-Wada

Bakufu:  Muromachi – direct retainer of the bakufu and military governor of one-half of Settsu Province

Lord:  Rokkaku clan → Ashikaga Yoshiteru → Ashikaga Yoshiaki and Oda Nobunaga (dual role)

Father:  Wada Sōryū (Koresuke)

Siblings:  Koremasa, Sadatoshi, Koremasu, Sadanori

Wife:  Daughter of Takayama Tomoteru

Children:  Korenaga

Wada Koremasa and the Escape of Ashikaga Yoshiaki

Wada Koremasa served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  Koremasa was a direct retainer of the bakufu in the latter years of the Ashikaga administration.  Koremasa was born as the son of Wada Sōryū (Koresuke).

The Wada clan was a powerful gōzoku, or wealthy family, from the village of Wada in the Kōka District of Ōmi Province.  Among the fifty-three families of bushi, or local samurai, in Kōka, the Wada were counted among the top twenty-one regarded as particularly influential.  The family was known as one of the Seven Families of Yamanami having close ties to the Aburahi Shrine in the Kōka District.  Initially, the Wada were servants of the Rokkaku clan, but, in the era of Koremasa’s father, became direct retainers of Ashikaga Yoshiteru (the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu).  In 1553, after Yoshiteru was ousted by Miyoshi Nagayoshi and fled to Ōmi for the protection of the Rokkaku clan, a relationship formed between the Ashikaga shōgun family and the Wada clan whereby the Wada were elevated to the hōkōshū, the military organ under direct control of the Muromachi bakufu.

In 1565, Yoshiteru was assassinated by retainers known as the Miyoshi Group of Three in an event known as the Eiroku Incident.  At the time, Koremasa had incurred the displeasure of Yoshiteru and was ordered to exercise self-restraint in Wada so did not get swept-up in the incident.  After learning of the assassination, Koremasa, together with Hosokawa Fujitaka, Mitsubuchi Fujihide, Isshiki Fujinaga, Nitsuki Yoshimasa, and Komeda Motomasa, rescued Kakukei (Yoshiteru’s younger brother later known as Ashikaga Yoshiaki) from his confinement in the Ichijō sub-temple on the grounds of the Kōfuku Temple in Kyōto and sheltered him in his residence in Kōka.

Owing to the base of Nitsuki Yoshimasa in Iga and the base of Koremasa in Kōka, Yoshiaki was able to escape via Iga to Kōka, and then convinced the Rokkaku clan of his plan to march upon the capital of Kyōto.  In fact, Koremasa allied with Rokkaku Yoshikata, and, together with Yoshikata, endeavored to bring Oda Nobunaga, Azai Nagamasa, and Saitō Tatsuoki into their camp.  There is a letter dated 6/11 of 1566 in which Yoshiaki ordered Koremasa to meet with Nobunaga as his messenger.  However, after it became known that the Rokkaku and Saitō clans had abandoned the Ashikaga, and Yoshiaki could no longer remain in Ōmi, Koremasa continued to follow him as Yoshiaki was left to wander for a home.  In 1568, after Ashikaga Yoshiaki became the fifteenth shōgun with the support of Nobunaga, Koremasa was awarded Akutagawayama Castle, and, later, Takatsuki Castle in Settsu Province.  Furthermore, , Koremasa was appointed (together with Ikeda Katsumasa and Itami Chikaoki) by Yoshiaki as one of the military governors of Settsu.  Thereafter, these men were called the Three Military Governors of Settsu.

Thereafter, Koremasa served as a direct retainer of the Muromachi bakufu, making significant contributions in the diplomatic and political spheres in Kyōto and its environs.  Meanwhile, Koremasa also served as a retainer of the Oda involved in political and military affairs, functioning as a bridge between Ashikaga Yoshiaki and Oda Nobunaga.  Notably, in the tenth month of 1569, Koremasa participated in attacks against the Uragami clan in Bizen Province as one of the reinforcements sent in response to a request by the Akamatsu clan of Harima Province.

Thereafter, while Koremasa was en route to the Oda territory in Mino Province on his own business, he received an order from Nobunaga for a house arrest.  According to the diary of Luís Fróis, a Jesuit missionary residing in Japan during this period, he was subject to severe penalties including a prohibition against taking audience with visitors, the destruction of his castle in Ōmi Province, and the seizure of the equivalent of 20,000 Portuguese Cruzados (or about 4,500 taels of gold) from his income (Fróis recorded amounts in his diary based on the equivalent value in Portuguese currency).  Fróis noted these orders were given because Asayama Nichijō had slandered Koremasa to Nobunaga, but, it is surmised that, owing to Koremasa’s role as a direct retainer of the bakufu, a deterioration in the relationship between Nobunaga and Yoshiaki was a significant factor.  Koremasa undertook the rites of tonsure but protested the sentence.

Fróis detailed in his chronicles how Koremasa protected the practice of the Christian faith in his territory.  When Fróis met with Nobunaga, Koremasa served as an intermediary, and appealed to other bushi to prevent soldiers from sojourning in churches.  After the Imperial Court issued an edict to oust the padres, or Portuguese Jesuits in Japan, Koremasa endeavored to have it repealed and persisted in having missionaries take his seat, reflecting his zeal for their cause.  He also enthusiastically supported evangelical activities in the Kinai area, but, prior to undergoing the rites of baptism, Koremasa himself was killed in battle so Fróis anguished over his loss.  Prior to his interest in Christianity, Koremasa was said to be a follower of Zen Buddhism.

In 1570, Nobunaga restored Koremasa’s position after a meeting in Kyōto before Nobunaga headed out on an invasion of Echizen.  According to Fróis, Koremasa was treated very well including with an increase to his stipend of the equivalent of 30,000 Portuguese Cruzados (or about 6,800 taels of gold).  On 6/28, Koremasa participated on behalf of the Oda at the Battle of Anegawa.

In the eleventh month, while confronting enemies on multiple fronts, Nobunaga used the authority of Ashikaga Yoshiaki (the fifteenth shōgun) to reconcile with the Rokkaku clan.  A letter from Koremasa addressed to Mikumo Shigemochi and Mikumo Sadamochi shows his involvement in the reconciliation with the Rokkaku through his connections with the Mikumo clan who were dogō, or wealthy landowners, in Kōka formerly under the influence of the Rokkaku clan.

In 1571, Koremasa joined forces from the Itami and Ibaraki clans to eliminate Ikeda Tomomasa who had connected with Miyoshi Nagayasu, but, at the Battle of Shiraikawara in fields along the Ibaraki River in Settsu Province, Koremasa was killed in action against the allied forces of Nakagawa Kiyohide and Araki Murashige, a retainer of the Ikeda clan.  After being pierced with numerous gun shots as well as swords, he injured his opponents while attempting to take their heads.

Soon after the demise of Koremasa, his son, Wada Korenaga, was ousted by Takayama Tomoteru and Takayama Ukon (father and son).  Following the death of Korenaga, the Wada clan was extinguished.