Utsunomiya Hisatsuna


Utsunomiya Clan


Shimotsuke Province

Lifespan:  Eishō 10 (1513) to 9/17 of Tenbun 18 (1549)

Other Names:  Shigetsuna

Rank:  daimyō

Title:  Junior Fourth Rank (Lower) and Governor of Shimotsuke, Lieutenant of the Outer Palace Guards of the Left Division, Director of the Imperial Cavalry of the Right Division

Clan:  Utsunomiya

Father:  Utsunomiya Shigetsuna or Utsunomiya Okitsuna

Mother:  Daughter of Oda Shigeharu

Wife:  Daughter of Yūki Masatomo

Children:  Ise Jumaru (later known as Utsunomiya Hirotsuna)

Utsunomiya Hisatsuna served as a daimyō in Shimotsuke Province during the Sengoku Period.  Hisatsuna was the twentieth head of the Utsunomiya clan.

In 1513, Hisatsuna was born as the son of Utsunomiya Shigetsuna or Utsunomiya Okitsuna.  The theory supporting Shigetsuna as his father is more recent.  He wed the daughter of Yūki Masatomo.

Originally, Hisatsuna intended to become a monk so he entered the Jishin Temple (a Buddhist temple within the grounds of the Utsunomiya Futa-arayama Shrine) to which the Utsunomiya had connections, but, in the early part of the Tenbun era (1532 to 1555), after Utsunomiya Okitsuna was incarcerated by Haga Takatsune, Hisatsuna returned to secular life to succeed him and become the twentieth head of the Utsunomiya clan.  Around this time, a clan veteran named Mibu Tsunafusa began to act in a more overtly despotic manner.  In 1539, Hisatsuna joined with the Yūki and Oyama clans to kill Takatsune and Tsunafusa, garnering control of the family.  Thereafter, he ousted Haga Takateru (the son of Takatsune) and backed Haga Takasada, actively expanding his authority.

On 9/17 of Tenbun 18 (1549), Nasu Takasuke (a sengoku daimyō and the nineteenth head of the Nasu clan) led 300 soldiers to invade the territory of the Utsunomiya.  As a result, upon orders from Ashikaga Haruuji, the Koga kubō, Hisatsuna led an army of 2,500 men to deploy to the Kitsure River and engage in battle against the Nasu forces.  This event is known as the Battle of Kitsuregawa-Sōtomezaka.

Initially, the Utsunomiya enjoyed an advantage based on their superior numbers, so Takasuke used troops lying in ambush in Sōtomezaka to create havoc for the Utsunomiya army, reversing the tide of the battle in favor of the Nasu.  Takō Nagatomo (a retainer of the Utsunomiya), Michikawa Tadachika (a retainer of the Kasama), and the Yokota brothers (five sons of Yokota Tsunamura who were retainers of the Yokota) fought valiantly, halting the assault by the Nasu army, but Tadachika and the Yokota brothers were killed in action.  These individuals are known as the Five Brothers of the Yokota.

In an effort to control his army amidst the chaos, Hisatsuna went to the front lines of the battle but died after being struck in the chest by an arrow shot by Ayugase Sanemitsu, a retainer of Iono Sukenobu.  The battle ended in victory for the Nasu army led by Takasuke.

At the time of his death, Hisatsuna was thirty-seven years old and his successor, Ise Jumaru (later known as Utsunomiya Hirotsuna), was only five years old.  A senior retainer named Mibu Tsunafusa took control of Utsunomiya Castle while Jumaru was taken by Haga Takasada to safety to the base of the Haga clan at Mooka Castle.  Tsunafusa, along with other members of the band of retainers, including Haga Takateru and Shionoya Yoshitaka, seized power in the Utsunomiya clan.