Suwa Clan


Shinano Province

Chōkyū was an individual who lived during the Sengoku period.

Chōkyū was the lineal heir of Suwa Yorishige (a sengoku daimyō and the head of the Suwa clan) and Nene-Goryōnin, the younger sister of Takeda Shingen.  His childhood name was Toraōmaru (or Toraō) and later changed to Chiyomiyamaru.

In 1532, following a long period of conflict, a settlement was reached between the Takeda clan (military governors of Kai Province) and the Suwa clan (landlords of the Suwa District in Shinano Province).  On 11/29 of 1540, the alliance was solidified through the marriage of Suwa Yorishige to the third daughter of Takeda Nobutora, the head of the Takeda clan.  Thereafter, the Takeda and Suwa clans joined forces to invade the Chiisagata District in Shinano, but, in the seventh month of 1541, in response to an invasion by Uesugi Norimasa (the deputy shōgun of the Kantō from Kōzuke Province) of the Saku District in eastern Shinano, Yorishige entered into an agreement with Norimasa to divide the territory without involving the Takeda.  Harunobu (Shingen) became the head of the Takeda clan in the sixth month of the same year and is believed to have used this breach as a reason to break the alliance.

Toraō was born in the fourth month of 1542 during the course of these events, and was named Toraōmaru after the name of the year.  In the sixth month of 1542, Nobuharu joined Takatō Yoritsugu from the Ina District to invade Suwa.  The Takatō were a branch of the Suwa family.  In the seventh month, Yorishige was taken to Kōfu where he was incarcerated at the Tōkō Temple and later killed himself along with his younger brother, Suwa Yoritaka.  This marked the end of the main branch of the Suwa family.

Meanwhile, Toraōmaru and his natural mother, Nene-Goryōnin returned to Kai Province, after which he changed his name to Chiyomiyamaru.  After the invasion, the former landholdings of the Suwa were divided so that Takatō Yoritsugu controlled the territory to the west of the Miya River while the Takeda controlled the territory to the east.  However, Yoritsugu desired to govern all of the former Suwa territory, so, in the ninth month of 1542, together with Fujisawa Yorichika (the lord of Fukuyo Castle in the Ina District), he invaded the territory controlled by the Takeda.  Harunobu presided over Toraō in a bid to unify the Suwa family.  On 9/25, at the Battle of Miyagawa, the Takeda overwhelmingly defeated Yoritsugu, causing him to retreat from the Suwa District.  Yoritsugu’s younger brother, Takatō Yorimune, died in this conflict.  Yoritsugu then entered the priesthood.

To govern Shinano, the Takeda clan adopted a policy to placate the conquered families in Shinano by adopting a child from one family; however, within the Suwa clan, in 1546, Suwa Goryōnin (Toraō’s older sister) and Harunobu had a son, Shirō (later Suwa Katsuyori, then Takeda Katsuyori) who inherited the Suwa family.  According to a post-period genealogy of the Suwa, in 1546, Chōkyū’s great-uncle, Suwa Mitsutaka, launched a rebellion in protest against the decision for Shirō to become the successor to the family.  Around that time, Chōkyū attempted to go into exile with the assistance of Imagawa Yoshimoto, the sengoku daimyō of Suruga Province, but upon discovery of this plan, he was apprehended and killed.

Alternatively, in 1553, Chōkyū fled to Echigo Province, whereupon Uesugi Kenshin, who admired Chōkyū’s courage and handsome appearance, permitted him to reside in Kasugayama Castle.  According to another theory, he fled to the Tōhoku Region.