Hosokawa Takakuni


Hosokawa Clan

Yamashiro Province

Hosokawa Takakuni

Lifespan:  Bunmei 16 (1484) to 6/8 of Kyōroku 4 (1531)

Other Names:  Rokurō, Dōei (monk’s name)

Rank:  bushō, daimyō

Title:  Junior Fourth Rank (Lower), Governor of Musashi, Assistant Vice-Minister of Popular Affairs, Master of the Western Capital Office

Clan:  Hosokawa (Hosokawa-Yashū → Hosokawa-Keichō)

Bakufu:  Muromachi – deputy shōgun

Lord:  Ashikaga Yoshizumi → Ashikaga Yoshitane → Ashikaga Yoshiharu

Father:  Hosokawa Masaharu

Adoptive Father:  Hosokawa Masamoto

Siblings:  Takakuni, Harukuni, Michimasa (Terumasa)

Wife:  Daughter of Hosokawa Masakata (second cousin)

Children:  Tanekuni, daughter (wife of Kitabatake Harumoto), daughter (wife of Yamana Toyosada), Mochikuni, Takayori, Ankokuji

Adopted Children:  Ujitsuna (natural son of Hosokawa Tadakata, successor of Masakata)

Hosokawa Takakuni served as a bushō and daimyō during the Sengoku period.

Takakuni was the thirty-first deputy shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu and military governor of Settsu, Tanba, Yamashiro, Sanuki, and Tosa provinces.  He was the fifteenth head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family – the main branch of the Hosokawa clan.

Takakuni was the son of Hosokawa Masaharu of the Hosokawa-Yashū, a cadet family of the Hosokawa clan.  He was adopted by Hosokawa Masamoto, a deputy shōgun and head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family.  Takakuni received one of the characters in his name from Ashikaga Yoshitaka (later known as Ashikaga Yoshizumi), the eleventh shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.  His younger brothers included Hosokawa Harukuni (who may have been his son) and Hosokawa Michimasa.  His sons included Hosokawa Tanekuni and Hosokawa Ujitsuna (adopted).

In the sixth month of 1507, Takakuni’s adoptive father, Masamoto, was assassinated by supporters of Hosokawa Sumiyuki in an event known as the Lord Hosokawa Incident (Hosokawa-dono no hen).  This gave rise to a prolonged succession struggle between his three adopted sons: Sumiyuki, Hosokawa Sumimoto, and Takakuni. This is known as the Eishō Disturbance (Eishō no sakuran).

The day after the assassination of Masamoto, Sumimoto was also attacked at his residence by retainers of Sumiyuki, whereupon he fled with Miyoshi Yukinaga to Aochi Castle in Ōmi Province.  The men escaped with the assistance of Yamanaka Tametoshi of Kōka.  Several months later, Sumimoto drew on the support of kokujin, or provincial landowners, in Ōmi to launch an attack in Kyōto, killing Sumiyuki and his supporters. The following day, Sumimoto had Ashikaga Yoshizumi, the shōgun, recognize his succession to the Hosokawa-Keichō family.

In the spring of 1508, Takakuni commenced an invasion of Kyōto.  Itami Motosuke of Settsu, Naitō Sadamasa of Tanba, and Hatakeyama Hisanobu of Kawachi acted in concert with Takakuni, defeating Sumimoto.  Soon thereafter, Sumimoto, Yukinaga, and Yoshizumi fled with the assistance of Yamanaka Tametoshi to Ōmi.  In the summer, Ashikaga Yoshitada marched upon Kyōto with the support of Ōuchi Yoshioki, a powerful sengoku daimyō from Suō Province.  This enabled Yoshitada to reclaim his role as shōgun and take away Sumimoto’s succession of the Keichō family in favor of Takakuni.

While Takakuni held on to his position as deputy shōgun, he and Sumimoto engaged in a long-running rivalry known as the Conflict between the Hosokawa (Ryō-Hosokawa no ran).  Important retainers who formed the base of support for the Hosokawa at the provincial level were also divided over the issue of succession, sapping the strength of the clan.  Takakuni relied upon Ōuchi Yoshioki to exercise control over the capital.  However, after Yoshioki returned to his home of Yamaguchi in Suō, Takakuni failed to establish a solid base of support, and, in the end, suffered a defeat after a surprise attack by Sumimoto’s son, Hosokawa Harumoto, in a conflict known as the Collapse at Daimotsu (Daimotsu kuzure). Takakuni was captured several days later in the town of Amagasaki and forced to kill himself.

Life events

Takakuni was born in 1484 as the son of Hosokawa Masaharu of the Yashū family, a member of the Hosokawa clan.  The time when Takakuni was adopted by Hosokawa Masamoto, the deputy shōgun and head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family, is uncertain, but was likely after the adoption of Sumiyuki and Sumimoto, making Takakuni his third adopted son.

In the sixth month of 1507, Masamoto was assassinated by supporters of Sumiyuki, including Kōzai Motonaga and Yakushiji Nagatada.  Several months later, Sumimoto organized forces to attack and kill Sumiyuki.  At this time, Takakuni supported Sumimoto, contributing along with Hosokawa Masakata and Hosokawa Hisaharu to the attack.  Thereafter, he recognized Sumimoto as the successor to the Hosokawa-Keichō family.

Ōuchi Yoshioki viewed this political turmoil as an opportunity to march upon Kyōto as the patron of Ashikaga Yoshitane, the prior shōgun who had fled to him for protection.  Sumimoto had ordered Takakuni to engage in peace negotiations with Yoshioki, but Takakuni defied him by colluding with Yoshioki and fleeing to Ise Province.  In 1508, he acted in concert with Nikki Takanaga (the Nikki clan), Itami Motosuke, and Naitō Sadamasa (father of Kunisada) to attack the capital, ousting Sumimoto and Ashikaga Yoshizumi (the shōgun), who fled to Ōmi.  Thereafter, Yoshitane issued an edict acknowledging Takakuni as the head of the Keichō family.  Takakuni then entered Kyōto together with Yoshioki and reinstalled Yoshitane as the shōgun. Several months thereafter, Takakuni was appointed as deputy shōgun and Master of the Western Capital Office.

In 1509, in the Battle of Nyoigatake, a senior retainer of Sumimoto named Miyoshi Yukinaga launched an assault against Kyōto, but Takakuni repelled the attackers with the support of Yoshioki.  The defenders chased the invading forces to Ōmi, achieving victory in the ensuing clash.  In 1510, Takakuni attempted a second invasion of Ōmi that ended in bitter defeat owing to resistance by kokujin, or provincial landowner, aligned with Sumimoto. Takakuni attempted to enter the priesthood as a means to take responsibility for the loss.  Meanwhile, Sumimoto’s forces did not give up on their effort to reclaim political control.  In 1511, Hosokawa Masakata and Akamatsu Yoshimura supported subsequent attacks against Kyōto at the Battle of Fukai Castle and the Battle of Ashiyagawara.  Finding himself in an inferior position, Takakuni was compelled to temporarily retreat to Tanba Province, but he benefited from the death by illness of Ashikaga Yoshizumi, the former shōgun, and then prevailed at the Battle of Funaokayama.

In 1515, Takakuni aimed to counterattack against Sumimoto and strengthen his control of Settsu Province.  In the outlying areas of Akutagawa and Nishinomiya, he built Akutagawayama Castle and Koshimizu Castle, posting Nose Yorinori and Kawarabayashi Masayori to these locations.

On 8/2 of Eishō 15 (1518), Ōuchi Yoshioki returned to his home in Suō Province while Takakuni governed on his own.  However, in 1519, Sumimoto viewed the absence of Yoshioki as an opportunity, and joined with Miyoshi Yukinaga to attack Settsu Province at the Siege of Tanaka Castle.  Once again, Takakuni found himself in precarious circumstances.  In the second month of 1520, in the absence of the Ōuchi army, Takakuni lost and was compelled to withdraw to Sakamoto in Ōmi Province.  Acting out of his own self-interest, Ashikaga Yoshitane, the shōgun, took the initiative to collude with Sumimoto.  In the fifth month, Takakuni raised arms again with the support of the Rokkaku, Asakura, and Toki clans.  The forces under Takakuni launched a counterattack in the capital, and, at the Battle of Tōji Monastery, compelled Miyoshi Yukinaga to kill himself, chased Sumimoto to Settsu, and overcame the crises that threatened to overturn his political administration.  The following month, Sumimoto died of illness in Awa Province after having opposed Takakuni for many years.  As a result of earlier abandoning Takakuni in favor of Sumimoto, Yoshitane, the shōgun, lost face.  Meanwhile, the death of Sumimoto meant that Takakuni no longer had an arch-rival and in fact had become the supreme leader.  Discussions ensued with the Court in regard to bestowing the titles of Junior Third Rank on Yoshioki and Junior Fourth Rank on Takakuni.  Yoshioki accepted the title while Takakuni rejected the title and, instead, accepted the honor of entering the residence of the shōgun.

Thereafter, Takakuni killed Kawarabayashi Masayori upon suspicion of plotting a rebellion despite Masayori having made numerous contributions on the battlefield.  Takakuni set about to purge those whom he feared threatened his position, tightening control over the clan.  In 1521, Yoshitane fled the capital after having lost his influence.  The enthronement ceremony for Emperor Gokashiwabara was held later that month under the watch of Takakuni.  Having lost the trust of the emperor, Takakuni expelled Yoshitane from his role and backed Ashikaga Kameōmaru, the orphan of Yoshizumi, his former enemy.  This prevented a crisis for continuation of Takakuni’s governance in the absence of a shōgun.  He received Kameōmaru in the summer and arranged a congratulatory visit to the Imperial Palace marking the new reign.  At the end of the year, a coming-of-age ceremony was held for Kameōmaru, whereupon he changed his name to Ashikaga Yoshiharu, and was appointed shōgun the next day.  Thereafter, Takakuni incurred repeated attacks by forces loyal to Yoshitane (the former shōgun) but, in 1523, Yoshitane died, resulting in victory for Takakuni.

Period of decline

Takakuni backed Ashikaga Yoshiharu and was appointed the deputy shōgun, provincial governor of Musashi Province along with the title of Junior Fourth Rank (Lower).  On 4/21 of Daiei 5 (1525), he underwent the rites of tonsure, assumed the name of Dōei, assigned the role of deputy shōgun and the role of head of the family to his lineal son, Hosokawa Tanekuni, and retired.  This, however, was an unlucky year by tradition so, although he took the opportunity to assign the family to his son, Takakuni himself did not wish to retire.  Nevertheless, Tanekuni died later that year at the age of eighteen, so he had to revert to his role of deputy shōgun and head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family.

On 7/13 of Daiei 6 (1526), Takakuni believed slander from his younger cousin, Hosokawa Tadakata, and killed a senior retainer named Kōzai Motomori.  Upon learning of this news, Motomori’s older brothers, Hatano Tanemichi and Yanagimoto Kataharu, betrayed Takakuni and raised arms in Tanba Province.  Takakuni dispatched Tadakata in an effort to quell the rebellion but Tadakata lost and retreated.  Then, Sumimoto’s orphan named Hosokawa Rokurō (later known as Hosokawa Harumoto) and Miyoshi Motonaga (Yukinaga’s lineal grandson) launched a rebellion from Awa Province in Shikoku.  During their advance to the Kinai region, the Awa forces were joined by forces from Tanba, swelling into a large rebel army.  Despite the power wielded by Takakuni, he could not devise an effective response.

In the second month of 1527, the vanguard of the allied rebel army led by Yanagimoto Kataharu and Miyoshi Motonaga invaded the capital.  Takakuni’s army attempted to confront them at the Katsura River but lost at the Battle of Katsurakawara.  While continuing to back Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the forces retreated to Sakamoto in Ōmi.  This led to a collapse of the Takakuni administration.

In the tenth month, Takakuni requested military support from Asakura Takakage of Echizen Province in an effort to restore his position.  The Asakura responded by sending an army under the command Asakura Sōteki (the great-uncle of Takakage), a distinguished veteran of military affairs for the Asakura clan.  This enabled Takakuni to re-enter Kyōto, but, in 1528, after the return of the Asakura army to Echizen, Takakuni fled again to Ōmi.

Final days

Takakuni escaped safely with the assistance of Nikki Yoshihiro of Iga, Kitabatake Harutomo, the kokushi, or director of Ise Province, Asakura Takakage of Echizen Province, and Amago Tsunehisa of Izumo Province.  In 1530, after Yanagimoto Kataharu was assassinated while deployed in Harima Province, Takakuni joined with Uragami Muramune, the deputy military governor of Bizen Province, and marched to Kyōto.

By 1531, Takakuni had garnered control of a majority of Settsu while Kyōto was taken back by Naitō Hikoshichi of Takakuni’s faction.  After returning to the capital, Takakuni attempted an expedition to the domain of the Sakai kubō as part of an effort to overthrow Harumoto who threatened his role as the deputy shōgun.  The Sakai kubō was exposed to attack but, in the second month, Harumoto reconciled with Miyoshi Motonaga.  On 3/10 of Kyōroku 4 (1531), Takakuni was forestalled by a counterattack by Motonaga.  This resulted in a stalemate in Settsu and is known as the Battle of Nakajima.  On 6/4, Akamatsu Masasuke (Harumasa) arrived under the pretense of providing reinforcements to join the fight on behalf of Takakuni, but, instead, Masasuke betrayed Takakuni.  Acting in coordination with Harumoto, Masasuke attacked Takakuni’s forces from the rear while Motonaga attacked from in front.  This pincer attack caused Takakuni’s army to fall into disarray in an event known as the Collapse at Daimotsu.  Takakuni fled to Amagasaki nearby and attempted to hide in a barrel in an indigo dye shop but was apprehended and compelled to kill himself on 6/8 at the Kōtoku Temple.  This brought to an end the prolonged succession struggle known as the Conflict between the Hosokawa that was triggered by the assassination of Hosokawa Masamoto (the adoptive father of Sumimoto and Takakuni) in the sixth month of 1507.


Following the demise of Takakuni, Tadakata attempted to surrender to the Sakai kubō, but was killed upon orders of Harumoto.  An internal conflict then arose among supporters of the Sakai kubō.  Seeking to take advantage of a confrontation between Harumoto and adherents of the Ikkō sect, remnants of Takakuni’s forces backed rallied behind Takakuni’s son, Harukuni, and joined with members of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple to fight against Harumoto and members of the jōdō-shinshū sect known as the hokke in Tanba Province.  However, in 1536, he lost and perished at the Battle of Kyōroku-Tenbun (Kyōroku-Tenbun no ran).

Hosokawa Ujitsuna (the son of Tadakata) raised arms in 1542 on the basis he was a successor to Takakuni.  He joined with a retainer of Harumoto named Miyoshi Nagayoshi (the eldest son of Motonaga) to expel Harumoto and became the deputy shōgun.  However, he was a puppet of Nagayoshi without real power and died in 1564.  This ended the lineage of Takakuni and the role of deputy shōgun.