Asano Ujishige


Asano Clan


Aki Province

Kii Province

Lifespan:  15xx to 11/26 of Genna 5 (1619)

Other Names:  Yoshishige, Ujisada

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Assistant Captain of Outer Palace Guards of the Left Division

Clan:  Asano

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Kii-Wakayama and Aki-Hiroshima

Lord:  Asano Nagamasa → Asano Yoshinaga → Asano Nagaakira

Father:  Asano Ujitsugu

Children:  Tomoyoshi

Asano Ujishige served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.

As a retainer of the Asano clan, Ujishige served as the chief retainer of the Kii-Wakayama and Aki-Hiroshima domains.

According to a genealogical records, Ujishige appears to have been the son of Asano Ujitsugu (Zenzaemon), the son of Asano Nagakatsu who, in turn, was the adoptive father of Asano Nagamasa.  Ujishige had a fief of 20,000 koku and, within the Asano family, the same level of status as Asano Tadayoshi.

Following the demise of Katō Mitsuyasu, the lord of Kai Province, on 8/29 of Bunroku 2 (1593), the Asano clan, on 11/20 of the same year, entered Kai.  During the absence of a lord, Ujishige entered and took control of governance.  There are documents issued by Ujishige in the Tsuru District of Kai.  The Asano family governed by assigning family members to serve as local magistrates at manors and territories across the province.

During the Sengoku period, the Tsuru District in the eastern portion of Kai was held by the Oyamada clan, retainers of the Kai-Takeda family.  After the decimation of the Kai-Takeda by the Oda in the third month of 1582 in an event known as the Conquest of Kōshū, this territory had importance for being adjacent to the territory of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the Kantō.  In the era of the Katō family, chief retainers who were members of the family were in charge of governing this area.  Meanwhile, in the era of the Asano, Ujishige is considered to have built Katsuyama Castle as a base from which to govern the Tsuru District.  In addition, he constructed the main hall on the west side of the Kitaguchi-Hongū Fuji-Sengen Shrine in the same district.

In 1600, Asano Yoshinaga (who had succeeded Asano Nagamasa as the head of the clan), was  recognized for his contributions at the Battle of Sekigahara with an increase to his fief and transferred to Kii Province.  Ujishige followed him and received a fief of 30,000 koku in Tanabe.  In 1606, he built Minato Castle and was appointed as the head of the chief retainers.

In 1613, after the death of Yoshinaga, Ujishige endorsed Asano Nagashige, the third younger brother of Yoshinaga who had friendly relations with the Tokugawa family, to become Yoshinaga’s successor.  Owing, however, to Yoshinaga’s will in addition to the mediation of Nagamasa’s formal wife, Chōsei-in, the second younger brother of Yoshinaga, Asano Nagaakira, backed by Asano Tadayoshi, became the next lord of the Kishū domain.  Thereafter, at the Siege of Ōsaka, Ujishige participated under the command of Nagaakira.  In particular, during the Summer Campaign, he joined Kameda Takatsuna and other senior retainers of the Asano family to fight against Ōno Harufusa at the Battle of Kashii, defeating Harufusa’s army including Ban Naoyuki and Tannowa Shigemasa.

In 1619, the Edo bakufu removed Fukushima Masanori from his position and transferred Nagaakira to Hiroshima in Aki with a fief of 420,000 koku.  Ujishige was assigned to receive Hiroshima Castle and sought to become a chamberlain, similar to when he owned territory in Kai.  On 11/26, however, at Mihara in the Mitsugi District of Bingo Province, Ujishige was assassinated by Nagaakira owing to Nagaakira’s opposition to a tertiary allocation of 30,000 koku to him.  Ujishige’s son, Tomoyoshi, also committed seppuku.

While the Edo bakufu viewed this incident was viewed as a problem, Nagaakira’s designated heir, Gamō Tadasato, the lord of the Aizu domain, along with his father-in-law, Tōdō Takatora, advocated for Nagaakira so the bakufu did not impose any punishment.