Lifespan: Tenbun 22 (1553) to 3/28 of Tenshō 5 (1577)
Title: Governor of Awa
Father: Miyoshi Jikkyū
Mother: Koshōshō (daughter of Okamoto Mokusai)
Siblings: Hosokawa Saneyuki (older brother of a different father) (?), Nagaharu, Sogō Masayasu, Chōsokabe Ukon Taifu (younger brother of a different father) (?)
Miyoshi Nagaharu served as a daimyō in Awa Province during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.
In 1553, Nagaharu was born as the eldest son of Miyoshi Jikkyū. His childhood name was Chizurumaru.
In 1562, Jikkyū was killed at the Battle of Kumeda so Nagaharu inherited the headship of the clan. Even compared to his uncle, Miyoshi Nagayoshi, who gained power in the Kinai, Nagaharu carried a significant responsibility as the head of the Miyoshi clan in their home province of Awa. At the time of his father’s death, however, Nagaharu was still immature, so he was supported by a senior retainer, Shinohara Nagafusa.
Nagaharu is known for enacting the shinka-seishiki, a body of well-known provincial laws of the Miyoshi clan, and, in 1566, backing Ashikaga Yoshihide (the fourteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) to march upon the capital of Kyōto. Owing to his youth, however, these achievements were primarily the work of capable retainers in the Miyoshi family led by Shinohara Nagafusa and the Miyoshi Group of Three (Iwanari Tomomichi, Miyoshi Nagayasu, and Miyoshi Sōi).
Battles in the Kinai
The march to Kyōto by Oda Nobunaga in reverence to Ashikaga Yoshiaki placed the Miyoshi clan at a disadvantage. Several months after Yoshiaki’s ascension to the role of shōgun, the Miyoshi suffered a defeat at the Battle of Honkoku Temple. Gradually ousted from the Kinai, members of the clan withdrew to Awa Province.
In 1570, the Miyoshi Group of Three and members of the Shinohara family who had withdrawn to Shikoku planned a counterattack on the main island of Honshū. Hosokawa Akimoto was the eldest son and lineal heir to Hosokawa Harumoto as head of the Hosokawa clan of the deputy shōgun. The plan called for Akimoto to serve as the commanding general and to bring together a majority of the members of the Miyoshi family (excluding Miyoshi Yoshitsugu) in Settsu Province to wage battle against Oda Nobunaga. This resulted in the Battle of Noda and Fukushima Castles. At this time, although outnumbered, additional forces from the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, along with participation by the allied armies of the Azai and Asakura, repelled the Oda army so that the Miyoshi regained almost complete control of Settsu, Kawachi, and Izumi provinces. Thereafter, the two sides reached a settlement and the Miyoshi forces retreated to Awa.
Governance of Awa Province
In 1572, Nagaharu had a falling out with Shinohara Nagafusa, after which Nagaharu collaborated with Hosokawa Saneyuki (his older brother of a different father and military governor of Awa) to eliminate Nagafusa at the Siege of Uezakura Castle.
With respect to Nagaharu’s heavy-handed wielding of power, Kagawa Yukikage and Kōzai Yoshikiyo of Sanuki Province sent Nagaharu a jointly signed letter warning him of the disaffection of his younger brother, Sogō Masayasu. Meanwhile, Nagaharu was admonished by Masayasu who was concerned about Nagaharu’s tyrannical tendencies. However, having shunned him, Nagaharu instead ignored Masayasu and led 3,000 soldiers to attack the Kagawa and Kōzai clans, resulting in the definitive alienation of these clans from the Miyoshi.
In 1575, he compelled all of the kokujin and citizens of Awa to convert to the Hokke school of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism. In addition to losing the support of the kokujin and other citizens of the province, he invited the resentment of those affiliated with other sects. The situation deteriorated to the point that he could lose authority over Awa Province. This chaos served to instigate Chōsokabe Motochika from Tosa to invade Awa, resulting in the fall of Kaifu and Ōnishi castles.
In 1576, Nagaharu came into conflict with Hosokawa Saneyuki (the military governor) who enjoyed the cooperation of Chōsokabe Motochika, the Fukura clan and others, placing Nagaharu at an overwhelming disadvantage. In 1577, he was defeated and killed in a clash against Saneyuki (supported by Motochika) at the Battle of Aratano in Awa. He was twenty-five years old.
The courier bodhisattva at the Fukujō Temple in Awa received this name based on the following story: The abbot at the Fukujō Temple was requested by Nagaharu to take an urgent letter to his uncle, Miyoshi Nagayoshi, in Kyōto. The abbot then brought the letter back to the temple and placed it in a letter box in front of the bodhisattva. Planning to depart early the next morning, he spent a sleepless night next to the letter box. Without any incident over night, he prepared to depart the next morning only to discover the letter missing from the box. Moreover, a reply from Nagayoshi was in the box instead. According to the tale, the bodhisattva carved by the Kōbō Daishi (the founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism in the early Heian period) felt pity on the abbot for the long journey ahead so, during the night, he went to Kyōto to deliver the letter and return with the reply from Nagayoshi. This soon became the subject of rumors among the citizens of Awa, and, thereafter, the bodhisattva was warmly referred to as the courier bodhisattva.
In 1572, Nagaharu engaged in falconry. At this time, a falcon that caught a duck dropped it in front of the residence of a samurai named Yūri Gon-no-suke. A youth named Wakamatsu who was in front of the entrance at the time was surprised and brandished a stick, killing the falcon and the duck. Enraged, Nagaharu had him captured and torn apart as punishment. The citizens of Sanuki witnessing the incident noted that Wakamatsu was a child unaware of the difference between right and wrong, and the punishment was too savage for the children shocked to witness it, criticizing the ruthless act as unbecoming of Nagaharu as their lord.