Lifespan: Tenbun 9 (1540) to 4/25 of Tenshō 15 (1587)
Other Names: Mitsuki Yoritsuna, Mitsuyori (common), Kyūan (monk’s name)
Rank: bushō, daimyō
Title: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Chamberlain, Vice Governor-General of Kyūshū, Master of the Eastern Capital Office, Governor of Yamato, Vice-Councilor of State, Chief Councilor of State (the last two titles were self-proclaimed)
Clan: Mitsuki → Anekōji
Lord: Anekōji Yoshiyori
Father: Anekōji Yoshiyori
Mother: Daughter of Konoe Sakitsugu (wife of Anekōji Takatsuna)
Siblings: Yoritsuna, Mitsuki Akitsuna, sister (wife of Saitō Nobutoshi)
Wife: Daughter of Saitō Dōsan (Mino-Saitō)
Children: Nobutsuna, Hidetsuna, Suetsuna (Nabeyama Mototsuna), Mitsuki Naotsuna, Kojima Motoyori, Mitsuki Chikatsuna, daughter (wife of Endō Yoshitaka), daughter (wife of Mukai Nobumasa)
Anekōji Yoritsuna served as a bushō, daimyō, and court noble during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. Yoritsuna served as the head of the Anekōji clan in Hida Province known as the Mitsuki-Anekōji clan. The Anekōji family of Yoritsuna originated from the Mitsuki clan who were retainers of the Kyōgoku clan (the military governors of Hida).
The Anekōji family name originated from an area in Kyōto by the same name that was adopted as a surname by the descendants of Fujiwara no Naritoki (from the Koichijō lineage of the Fujiwara-Hokke), a court noble from the middle Heian period in the tenth century. In connection with establishment of the new Kenmu administration in 1333, Anekōji Takamoto, a Vice-Councilor of State appointed as the provincial governor of Hida, moved from the capital to Hida. Thereafter, the Anekōji family served as the provincial governors of Hida for generations.
Early in the fifteenth century, the Anekōji family split into three branches comprised of the Kojima (the main branch of the family based at Kojima Castle), the Furukawa (based at Furukawa Castle), and the Mukai (also known as the Mukai-Kojima family owing to their base at Mukai-Kojima Castle). Each family carried the title as provincial governor, but the Kojima were the only official governors while the other two branches are surmised to have only assumed the title. The Muromachi bakufu favored the Kojima in recognition of their status as the main branch.
In 1411, in a conflict known as the Hida Disturbance, Furukawa Tadatsuna raised arms and attacked the other branches at Kojima and Mukai-Kojima castles. The bakufu responded by ordering Kyōgoku Takamitsu to eliminate Tadatsuna. Outnumbered by the bakufu army, Tadatsuna attempted to fight back but was ultimately defeated. Thereafter, Furukawa Mototsuna (the grandson of Tadatsuna and the head of the Furukawa) and his son (Naritsugu) overthrew the Kojima family and seized the position as the main branch of the Anekōji, but, after the death of Furukawa Narutoshi in 1527, the family was beset by conflict and finally came to an end. Meanwhile, the Mukai were eliminated by the Ushimaru clan.
Rise of the Mitsuki (retainers of the Kyōgoku)
In the Sengoku period, the power of the Kyōgoku clan as the military governors of Hida became susceptible to challenge by their retainers. Mitsuki Naoyori, based in the Miyaji area in the southern portion of the Mashita District, joined forces with the Toki family of neighboring Mino Province to expand his influence across the southern half of Hida. Later, he provided reinforcements to Toki Yoriaki to battle against the Kiso clan of neighboring Shinano Province. This enabled Naoyori to establish a presence beyond Hida.
Naoyori’s son, Mitsuki Yoshiyori, took advantage of instability in the Furukawa branch to eliminate Furukawa Takatsuna (Anekōji Takatsuna). Next, in a step toward garnering control of the entire province, he sought permission from the Imperial Court to inherit the family name of the Furukawa. This served as a form of officially sanctioned inheritance of an assumed family name. This branch later rose to the status of sengoku daimyō. Yoshiyori then allied with the Kojima which had relations with the Mitsuki from the time of Yoshiyori’s father, Naoyori.
After making donations and engaging in political maneuvers to influence Ashikaga Yoshiteru (the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) and Konoe Sakihisa (the kanpaku, or Chief Advisor of the Emperor), in the first month of 1558, he was invested with the titles of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Governor of Hida (the kokushi, or provincial governor of Hida).
That same year, Yoritsuna joined forces with Hirose Munekuni of Takadō Castle in the Yoshiki District to attack and decimate Takayama Harutaka of Tenjinyama Castle in Takayama in the Ōno District of Hida and Yamada Kii-no-kami in the Saegusa township, bringing under their command as retainers Nabeyama Yasumuro, Hata Yasutaka, Ōtani Kurōdo, and Okamoto Buzen-no-kami.
Thereafter, he allied with Kojima Tokimitsu. The Kojima (who were the true main branch of the family) adopted a son (Motoyori) of Mitsuki (Anekōji) Yoritsuna and became subordinate to the Furukawa. By this means, the Mitsuki clan extended their influence into the Mashita and Ōno districts.
Later, Tokimitsu, together with Yoritsuna, obeyed orders of Hashiba Hideyoshi to fight against the army of Kanamori Nagachika during which they were attacked and decimated, extinguishing the branch of the Anekōji descended from the Koichijō lineage of the Fujiwara-Hokke.
Early days of Yoritsuna
At the time of his coming-of-age ceremony, he was known as Mitsuyori. Later, he adopted the name of Mitsuki Yoritsuna.
In the tenth month of 1559, through the political maneuverings of his father, Yoshiyori, Yoritsuna was officially recognized by the Imperial Court as a member of the Anekōji family. In 1560, Yoshiyori was invested with the title of Junior Fourth Rank (Lower) and Yoritsuna was invested with the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Assistant Captain of Outer Palace Guards of the Left Division. The Mitsuki were also permitted to inherit the Furukawa-Anekōji family name.
In the second month of 1562, Yoshiyori was awarded the title of Junior Third Rank. Konoe Sakitsugu (later known as Konoe Sakihisa), the kanpaku, or Chief Advisor of the Emperor, served as an intermediary on behalf of Yoshiyori to obtain the titles. Thereafter, Yoshiyori received one of the characters from the name of Sakitsugu and adopted the name of Anekōji Tsuguyori. At the same time, Yoritsuna retained the name of Yoritsuna but adopted one of the characters with the same pronunciation from his father’s name. In the twelfth month, Tsuguyori appealed to Ashikaga Yoshiteru (the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) and Sakitsugu to petition the Court for the title of chūnagon, or Vice-Councilor of State, but was rejected by Emperor Ōgimachi. Nevertheless, he then self-proclaimed the title. In the third month of 1563, Yoritsuna was appointed to the official post of Chamberlain.
In 1569, Yoritsuna came into conflict with Endō Yoshitaka, a daimyō and the lord of Hachiman Castle in the Gujō District of Mino Province. Later, the two sides reconciled and Yoritsuna tendered one of his daughters to Yoshitaka to establish a political alliance between the families.
Travel to the capital
After capturing Mino Province to the south of Hida from the Saitō clan, in the ninth month of 1568, Oda Nobunaga marched upon the capital of Kyōto to install Ashikaga Yoshiaki as the fifteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu. In the second month of 1570, he ordered Anekōji Tsuguyori to travel to Kyōto. Yoritsuna, through Saitō Toshiharu (a relative and the lord of Kajita Castle in the Kamo District of Mino) and Saitō Toshitaka, traveled to the capital in lieu of his father and as a relative of Nobunaga. In the fourth month, Yoritsuna met with Emperor Ōgimachi in a palace building to receive visitors known as the kogosho whereupon he thanked the Emperor for awarding him an official position. On 4/14 of Eiroku 13 (1570), Yoritsuna attended (under the name of Anekōji chūnagon (Vice-Councilor of State) and provincial governor of Hida) a nō drama to celebrate the completion of the Nijō Castle that Nobunaga constructed for Ashikaga Yoshiaki.
On 3/1, Yoritsuna is listed among the nobles and members of military families joining when Oda Nobunaga, Yamashina Tokitsugu, and Sanjō Kiminaka called upon the shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshiaki. That same day, he accompanied Nobunaga on a visit to the Imperial Palace.
On 3/3, his is identified under the name of Anekōji jijū (Chamberlain) among the many nobles and members of military families calling upon Yoshiaki. The group of nobles called upon the shōgun after the members of the military families.
On 3/4, Yoritsuna joined Tsuchimikado Arinaga on a visit to the residence of Yamashina Tokitsugu.
On 4/1, a banquet with traditional theater known as sarugaku was held to celebrate the rapid construction by Nobunaga of a palace for Ashikaga Yoshiaki and the shōgun family. Invitees included members of the shōgun‘s retinue known as the otomoshū, outside daimyō, and nobles. Yoritsuna attended along with others including Oda Nobukatsu, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Hatakeyama Takamasa, Isshiki Yoshimichi, Miyoshi Yoshitsugu, Matsunaga Hisahide (Danjō), and Kitabatake Tomonori.
On 4/11, Takei Sekian, the private secretary of the Oda family, visited Yoritsuna at his lodge.
On 4/18, Yoritsuna visited Emperor Ōgimachi at the kogosho and thanked him for granting access to the Imperial Court with an official position. According to one account, Yoritsuna presented the Emperor with a horse and long sword as appreciation for the appointment as Chamberlain on 3/12 of Eiroku 6 (1563).
While fostering friendly relations with Nobunaga, in 1572, Yoritsuna responded to a demand from Uesugi Kenshin to deploy to Etchū Province, evincing a spirit of cooperation toward the Uesugi clan in an effort to maintain a balance between the two larger powers (the Uesugi and the Oda) on either side of his territory.
In the eleventh month of 1572, soon after the foregoing deployment to Etchū known as the Battle of Shiritarezaka, Tsuguyori died of illness. Yoritsuna succeeded him as the head of the family.
In 1575, he traveled to Kyōto again and presented Nobunaga with a horse.
On 3/13 of Tenshō 6 (1578), Uesugi Kenshin died of illness while in the course of conquering Etchū Province. His demise led to a succession conflict in the Uesugi family known as the Otate Conflict. This diverted attention away from the invasion of the neighboring provinces of Echigo, namely Etchū and Hida. As a result, Yoritsuna fully aligned with the Oda camp and forged an alliance with the Oda.
Alliance with the Oda clan
On 10/4 of Tenshō 6 (1578), an Oda army led by Saitō Toshiharu of the Mino-Saitō clan serving as retainers of the Oda marched through Hida to invade Etchū Province. As a relative of the Mino-Saitō (through his formal wife), Yoritsuna joined Saitō Nobutoshi and Saitō Nobuyoshi (members of the Etchū-Saitō) to support the campaign. From Hida, he traversed the Mozumi Pass to enter Etchū and, at the Battle of Tsukiokano, participated with members of the Anekōji clan including in a siege of Imaiizumi Castle.
In 1579, Yoritsuna moved his base from Sakurabora Castle to Hida-Matsukura Castle and commenced efforts to unify Hida. After moving his base, he assigned his eldest son, Anekōji Nobutsuna, to Sakurabora. Later that year, he suspected Nobutsuna of conspiring with Mitsuki Akitsuna to rebel and had them killed. Yoritsuna cooperated in a campaign led by Sassa Narimasa, a senior retainer of Nobunaga, to conquer the Uesugi in Etchū Province. At the same time, he attacked and destroyed kokujin, or provincial landowners, in Hida who were aligned with the Uesugi.
In the winter of 1581, Naoe Kanetsugu (the chief retainer of the Uesugi clan) shared news that Yoritsuna was breaking ties with the Oda, but this was false information.
Saitō Toshiharu and Saitō Toshitaka (siblings) serving as daimyō based at Kajita Castle at the entrance to Hida Province were close associates of Oda Nobutada, the eldest son and designated heir of Nobunaga. Through this connection, Yoritsuna maintained friendly relations with the Oda clan.
In 1581, the Oda launched an invasion of Kai to eliminate the Takeda clan in the Conquest of Kōshū. Yoritsuna had a division of retainers of the Anekōji serve as reinforcements in the rear guard for Oda forces led by Kanamori Nagachika invading Kai from Hida.
Unification of Hida Province
After the death of Nobunaga in the sixth month of 1582, Ema Terumori, a landowner in the Yoshiki District of northern Hida aim to expand his influence by launching a nighttime attack against the Kojima clan (the main branch of the Anekōji in Hida) at Kojima Castle. Kojima Tokimitsu, however, fought back and held-out against the siege in a victory for the defenders.
Upon hearing of the attack, Yoritsuna quickly led allied forces to aid the defenders. As an allied force of the Kojima-Anekōji (the main branch of the Anekōji and relatives of Yoritsuna) including Kojima Tokimitsu and Kojima Motoyori, Yoritsuna defeated Ema Terumori at the Battle of Yōkamachi. Next, he eliminated his younger brother, Nabeyama Akitsuna, on grounds of plotting against him. Yoritsuna proceeded to decimate powers associated with Akitsuna including former allies such as the Ushimaru clan who contributed in battle against the Ema and Hirose Munekuni of the Hirose clan who supported the offensive against the Ushimaru along with provincial landowners in Hida beyond the main branch of the Anekōji. Around 1583, he finally took control of the entire province of Hida.
For many years, Yoritsuna quarreled with the Uchigashima clan based in the Shirakawa township. Finally, Yoritsuna allied with Uchigashima Ujimasa and recognized his autonomy over the township. Meanwhile, the Uchigashima forged an alliance with the Sassa clan of Etchū.
Conquest of Hida
In the wake of the Honnō Temple Incident resulting in the death of Nobunaga and his eldest son, Nobutada, the former territory of the Oda descended into chaos. The Anekōji, among others, sought to take advantage of the situation. Meanwhile, after the Kiyosu Conference held on 6/27 of Tenshō 10 (1582) to decide upon the successor to Nobunaga, Oda Nobutaka and Shibata Katsuie joined forces against Hashiba Hideyoshi in a competition to attain a hegemony over the entire country, but, in the spring of 1583, were defeated at the Battle of Shizugatake. The advance by the Hashiba army against the allied forces of Nobutaka and Katsuie extended into Hida in an event known as the Conquest of Hida.
At this time, the Hashiba army eliminated Sassa Narimasa of Etchū while the Anekōji, owing to their position as allies of the Sassa, became a further target of Hideyoshi’s forces. Upon orders of Hideyoshi to invade Hida, Kanamori Nagachika commanded an army guided by elements from clans in Hida earlier defeated by the Anekōji including Ema Tokimasa, Hirose Munenobu, Ushimaru Chikatsuna, and Nabeyama Toshitaka. The Kanamori army split into two battalions (the main battalion under Nagachika and a detached battalion led by Kanamori Yoshishige) and invaded Hida from the north and the south. Across the province, the Anekōji army resisted the invaders and imposed some losses, but were ultimately swept by the Kanamori forces.
Yoritsuna was attacked by a large army without reinforcements from Sassa Narimasa. His ally, Uchigashima Ujimasa, was betrayed by retainers lured by the Kanamori army so, after Ujimasa departed with his forces toward Toyama in support of the Sassa, his base at Kaerikumo Castle in Shirakawa was taken over and he was compelled to surrender.
Yoritsuna was then surrounded at Takadō Castle where he had retired. He rejected a written warning from Kanachika to surrender and instead vowed to defend the castle. The castle was situated on steep terrain, causing the Kanamori forces to yield their attempted assault. In the midst of the battle, an order came from the Imperial Court whereupon Yoritsuna surrendered and vacated the castle.
Thereafter, Yoritsuna transferred the headship of the clan and his base at Matsukura Castle to his son, Anekōji Hidetsuna and moved his residence to Takadō Castle to the north. Yoritsuna operated with Shibata Katsuie (a senior retainer of the Oda in charge of the Hokuriku region) and Sassa Narimasa of Etchū to oppose the Uesugi clan. On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Nobunaga died in a dramatic coup d’état known as the Honnō Temple Incident. After this event, Saitō Nobutoshi and Saitō Nobuyoshi (siblings of the Etchū-Saitō clan) aligned with the Uesugi, but lost their base at Jō-no-u Castle in an attack by Sassa Narimasa and Jinbō Ujiharu. As an older brother-in-law, Yoritsuna helped them escape to Hida. Thereafter, Yoritsuna mediated a settlement between the siblings and Narimasa by which they came under the command of the Sassa. With respect to Mino Province to the south, Yoritsuna engaged in communications with Saitō Toshitaka, a relative and elder retainer of Oda Nobutaka.
After heading toward Kyōto, he was harbored by Konoe Sakihisa, a noble and relative. In addition to the Konoe family, Yoritsuna was supported by Endō Yoshitaka (a son-in-law) and Mukai Nobumasa (a son-in-law affiliated with the main branch of the Anekōji family). He obtained support for the appointment of his son to an official position and assurances for the status of his relatives in Hida as landowners.
Thereafter, he became a recluse. He underwent the rites of tonsure and adopted the monk’s name of Kyūan. He died on 4/25 of Tenshō 15 (1587) and was respectfully buried at the Jōrin Temple in Hashimoto.
Character and anecdotes
The Mitsuki clan usurped the Anekōji and assumed their family name, but, with his connections in the capital, Yoritsuna continued to act as the head of the Anekōji family. In 1579, he was among close associates of the Imperial Court known as the kobanshū. As the kokushi, or provincial governor, of Hida, Yoritsuna served loyally on behalf of the Court and was an active member of noble society.
Kojima Tokimitsu, the lord of Kojima Castle, suggested to the Konoe family and the Imperial Court to assume the Anekōji surname and, as the head of the main branch of the Anekōji, got along well with the related Mitsuki clan, and had his daughter wed a member of the Mukai clan who thereby became his son-in-law. He also had connections with the Muromachi bakufu. In a list of retainers of the shōgun from 1563, Yoshiyori is identified as Anekōji chūnagon (Vice-Councilor of State) and provincial governor of Hida along with Yoritsuna as the chancellor. Other influential figures on the list included Date Harumune, Asakura Yoshikage, Hōjō Ujiyasu, Imagawa Ujizane, Uesugi Kagetora, Takeda Shingen, Oda Nobunaga, Mōri Motonari, Ōtomo Sōrin, and Shimazu Takahisa.
Yoritsuna succeeded his father, Anekōji Yoshiyori, as the head of the Anekōji family and wed as his formal wife the daughter of Saitō Dōsan. Through this connection, he approached Oda Nobunaga who was married to another one of Dōsan’s daughters, Nōhime. Nobunaga recognized Yoritsuna’s title as the provincial governor of Hida and treated the Mitsuki-Anekōji as guest commanders and an allied province.
Yoritsuna’s mother was the second wife of Yoshiyori from the Anekōji-Mukai clan (original wife of Anekōji Takatsuna). Drawing upon bloodlines from the Mitsuki, the Anekōji, and the Konoe, Yoritsuna was recognized as a proper successor and obtained formal permission from the Imperial Court to succeed to the Anekōji family name.
Although Yoritsuna’s formal wife was a daughter of Saitō Dōsan, his consorts cannot be confirmed from historical records. From the time that he went to Kyōto, he had a close relationship with Oda Nobunaga based on their common status as son-in-laws of Dōsan. Yoritsuna also maintained close relations with Saitō Toshiharu, a daimyō of the Oda family who was of the same age. After the end of the Echizen Ikkō-ikki in 1575, Yoritsuna went to the capital and, on 10/23 of Tenshō 3 (1575), under the title of Anekōji chūnagon (Vice-Councilor of State) and the provincial governor of Hida, he presented a chestnut-colored horse to Nobunaga. In the authenticated biography of Nobunaga known as the Shinchō-kōki, it is referred to as an extraordinarily swift and prized horse. In the eleventh month, Nobunaga received the title of Chief Councilor of State and General of the Right Division and Yoritsuna joined in the celebration.
A picture of Yoritsuna is kept at the Senkō Temple. There is a portrait of Anekōji Yoritsuna at the Zenshō Temple in Hida and a Buddhist mortuary tablet kept for multiple generations of the Mitsuki clan.