Lifespan: 2/12 of Eishō 11 (1514) to 12/24 of Eiroku 3 (1561)
Name Changes: Saburō-Shirō → Akihisa → Haruhisa
Other Names: Saburō
Rank: shugo daimyō, sengoku daimyō
Title: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Master of the Office of Palace Repairs, Assistant Vice-Minister of Popular Affairs
Father: Amago Masahisa
Mother: Woman related to Yamana Yukimatsu
Siblings: Sister (formal wife of Matsuda Masayasu), Chiyo Dōji (Masashirō (?), Yōsetsu), Haruhisa
Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Amago Kunihisa
Children: Chitose (Matashirō (?), Yōsetsu), Yoshihisa, Tomohisa, Hidehisa, daughter (wife of Mizawa Tamekiyo), daughter
Amago Haruhisa served as a prominent sengoku daimyō of Izumo Province and shugo daimyō of eight out of a total of eleven western provinces in the Chūgoku region including the provinces of Izumo, Oki, Bizen, Bitchū, Bingo, Mimasaka, Inaba, and Hōki. He was the second son of Amago Masahisa and lineal grandson of Amago Tsunehisa. While lord of the Amago clan, he kept the powerful Ōuchi and Mōri in check. Haruhisa’s childhood name was Saburō-Shirō, followed by Akihisa, and then, from 1541, Haruhisa.
Owing to the premature death of his older brother, Haruhisa became the successor to Masahisa. Meanwhile, in 1518, Masahisa died in a nighttime attack on Ayo Castle in Izumo, also referred to as Togishi Castle. He is said to have been struck in the throat by an arrow while standing atop a turret playing a flute to entertain the soldiers during a break in a prolonged battle. The arrow was shot by Sakurai Sōteki, lord of Ayo Castle, from a bamboo forest across from Masahisa’s location. After the incident, the Amago troops rallied and overcame the defenders.
Haruhisa was first named Akihisa after his coming-of-age ceremony. Following his father’s demise at an early age, Akihisa took orders from Tsunehisa, his grandfather, during the Daiei era (1521-27), and was appointed the deputy military governor of Hōki Province, in service of Yamana Sumiyuki, the military governor. Around this time, Kamei Hidetsuna, a senior retainer of the Amago, led an unsuccessful effort to interfere in the succession plans of the Mōri clan, allowing the Mōri to defect to the Ōuchi, and triggering a weakening of the Amago’s influence in Bingo and Aki provinces.
In 1531, Enya Okihisa, his uncle, launched a rebellion. In a letter from Sue Okifusa, a senior retainer of the Ōuchi, both Okihisa and Tsunehisa requested help from the Ōuchi. Ultimately, the Ōuchi gave support to Tsunehisa, evidencing peace between the Amago and Ōuchi during this period. Later that year, Akihisa led an expedition aimed at defeating the Yamauchi of Bingo Province, allies of Okihisa. He also went after the Mizawa and Taga clans. After invading and securing Mimasaka in 1532, the forces moved on to Bingo.
Early years as head of the clan
In 1537, Akihisa became lord of the Amago clan following the retirement of his grandfather, Tsunehisa. Conflicts with the Ōuchi clan, the Amago’s primary rival and a major powerbroker in the western provinces, feature prominently in Akihisa’s life during his tenure as lord of the Amago.
In 1538, Akihisa attacked the Iwami-Ginzan silver mine, pacified Inaba Province, and invaded Harima Province, achieving a significant victory over Akamatsu Harumasa, the military governor of Iwami, Inaba, and Harima. In 1539, he captured Tatsuno Castle, held by the Akamatsu clan, and extended his influence into Harima. He then collaborated with Ōtomo Yoshiaki in a campaign against the Ōuchi. Yoshiaki relied upon efforts to reinstall Ashikaga Yoshiharu in Kyōto as a pretext for his designs on the Ōuchi. During this period, the Muromachi bakufu struggled against the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, causing them to plead for support from powerful clans including both the Ōuchi and the Amago. Akihisa used this expedition as an opportunity, not to try and capture Kyōto, but to strengthen his command over the kokujin, and demonstrate his power to those in the neighboring provinces. As this time, Akihisa subjugated the Miya and Shibukawa clans of Bingo, increasing pressure on the Ōuchi. He also formed relationships with the Takeda and Kikkawa clans of Aki Province.
Bessho Nariharu, a kokujin and lord of the Bessho clan, occupied Miki Castle in eastern Harima under the control of the Akamatsu clan. The Amago attacked, and after he capitulated, Akamatsu Harumasa fled to Sakai. This provided an opening for Akihisa to march upon Kyōto, but instead he returned to Izumo. In response to the advance of the Amago in Harima, Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun, appealed to the Ōuchi to challenge the Amago. The Ōuchi then attacked Takeda Nobuzane, the head of the Takeda clan in Aki and an ally of the Amago. Akihisa dispatched reinforcements but Satōkanayama Castle fell while Nobuzane escaped to Wakasa Province. These developments broke the tenuous peace maintained between the Amago and the Ōuchi since 1530.
In 1540, Akihisa attacked Mōri Motonari, a powerful kokujin in Aki who betrayed the Amago and joined forces with Ōuchi Yoshitaka. Tsunehisa, his grandfather, opposed this expedition, while Akihisa vigorously insisted to proceed. Moreover, prior to the attack on the Mōri, numerous influential kokujin pledged support for the Amago, including the Ogasawara and Fukuya (based at Motoake Castle) in Iwami, the Kikkawa and Takeda of Aki, and the Miyoshi of Bingo.
Once the conflict began, fierce fighting by the Takeda delayed the arrival of reinforcements from the Ōuchi. Direct clashes with these troops prevented the Ōuchi from converging with the Mōri, compelling the Mōri to move their main base from Mount Kabuto to Mount Sanzuka in Aoyama. Under the command of Motonari, the Mōri adopted a defensive strategy, hunkering down in Yoshida-Kōriyama Castle. Despite the presence of large battalions, the First Battle of Yoshida-Kōriyama was reduced to a series of minor clashes until Sue Harukata arrived with more men in support of the Mōri, leading to a major defeat for the Amago and the loss of Amago Hisayuki, Akihisa’s granduncle.
Fresh from their victory, the Ōuchi succeeded in attacking and eliminating the Takeda of Aki. In 1541, Akihisa’s misfortune continued when Tsunehisa died, after which many of the kokujin switched their allegiance to the Ōuchi, causing a crisis within the Amago clan. This same year, Ashikaga Yoshiharu conferred upon Akihisa the right to use one of the characters from his name, after which Akihisa was referred to as Haruhisa. Haruhisa continued to engage in battle, establishing bases in Bitchū and Mimasaka, and launching attacks against the Miura and Nakamura clans in Mimasaka.
In 1542, Ōuchi Yoshitaka led a large force to attack Haruhisa’s home base in the First Battle of Gassantoda Castle. Stiff resistance by the Amago defenders resulted in a stalemate, while the Ōuchi confronted exhaustion. Some of the kokujin were shaken and reverted to the Amago. These double-betrayals caused a complete reversal in the course of the conflict, leading the Ōuchi to begin a withdrawal, but in the confusion, Yoshitaka’s beloved adopted son, Ōuchi Harumochi, drowned while attempting to retreat by boat. Meanwhile, a youthful kokujin named Kobayakawa Masahira who was ordered by Yoshitaka to defend the retreating forces from the rear, was killed. Mōri Motonari narrowly escaped. Consequently, Haruhisa regained control of lost territory in eastern Iwami and banished the Sawa clan to the Ōuchi domain.
Haruhisa endeavored to recover the influence he had earlier lost, taking measures including the purging of Amago Kiyohisa for having sided with the Ōuchi, demoting the Senge clan who had served as regional administrators in Izumo and head priests of the Kizuki no Ōyashiro, breaking up and placing under his direct control the hereditary landholdings and local association of the Kawazu, the Sawa, the Taga, the Jinzai and the Shinji clan, reducing the holdings of the Mizawa, and seizing control of the region in southern Izumo for the mining of magnetite sand along with the distribution channels. In a bid to extend his influence, Haruhisa operated from his base in Izumo to invade the neighboring provinces of Hōki, Mimasaka, and Oki.
In the seventh month of 1543, Haruhisa invaded Iwami Province and succeeded in a second attempt to capture the Iwami-Ginzan silver mine. In 1544, he subjugated Yamana Nobumichi, the military governor of Inaba, and increased his influence across Inaba. Haruhisa granted one of the characters of his name to Nobumichi, who thereafter assumed the name of Hisamichi. Soon thereafter, an attack by Yamana Suketoyo, the military governor of Tajima Province, caused Hisamichi to retreat along with men sent by the Amago, followed by skirmishes with the Yamana over Shikano Castle. Haruhisa then entered Bingo, attacking the Miki clan who held sway over the Miyoshi Basin, overpowering an army led by retainers of the Mōri, including Kodama Naritada and Fukubara Sadatoshi, in a conflict known as the Collapse at Funo. Meanwhile, the Sawa returned to Iwami with support from the Ōuchi, while the Akana withdrew to Izumo Province.
In 1548, Haruhisa subjugated the Miura clan based at Takada Castle in Mimasaka Province by securing their territory and ensuring succession. This expanded the influence of the Amago into the western portions of the Mimasaka. In 1550, Haruhisa attempted to weaken the independence of the Kizuki no Ōyashiro, a major shrine whose proprietors sought to manage political and military affairs on their own accord and raised controversy when changing the enshrined diety from one called Susano-o to Ōkuninushi. He also provided support to the Hinomisaki Shrine which was allied with the Amago, and leveraged the Uryū Harbor to actively promote trade.
In 1551, the Amago suppressed Bingo Province, allying with the Matsuda clan, a kokujin, and Uragami Masamune, the deputy military governor. However, Uragami Munekage, Masamune’s younger brother, remained independent, choosing to rally kokujin from Bingo to oppose the Amago, and resisted with support from the Mōri and Mimura clan of Bitchū. Haruhisa departed for Bizen, and, joining with Masamune of Harima, advanced to Munekage’s castles of Tenjinyama and Numa, placing them in check.
Meanwhile, Ōuchi Yoshitaka, head of the clan based in Suō Province, was killed in a rebellion by one of his senior retainers in an event known as the Tainei Temple Incident. In 1552, Ashikaga Yoshiteru, the shōgun, appointed Haruhisa to be the military governor of the eight western provinces of Izumo, Oki, Hōki, Inaba, Mimasaka, Bizen, Bitchū, and Bingo, as well as an official of the bakufu. He was invested with the court title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Master of the Office of Palace Repairs. Together, these actions demonstrated that the central authorities, namely the bakufu and the Court, recognized the Amago as a powerful clan in the western provinces on a par with the Ōuchi. It also symbolized the superior strength of the Amago in those provinces where Haruhisa was appointed to be the military governor. Haruhisa leveraged his appointment as the military governor to strengthen his command structure, assigning as magistrates those senior retainers who had been with him through times of struggle in Izumo.
In 1552, Haruhisa benefited from the efforts of the Tsubouchi clan. Commercial proprietors in Kizuki, the Tsubouchi also served as the oshi, or host, for visitors to the local shrines and temples. The Tsubouchi persuaded the Eda clan to pledge support for the Amago. This was of value to Haruhisa because the Eda had influence in the Miyoshi Basin area of northern Bingo. Haruhisa brought under control seafaring pirates including the Ukashima based in Ōshima of Suō Province, and further encouraged attacks by the Ichinomiya clan against kokujin who were allied with the Ōuchi and Mōri in Bingo.
In the third month of 1553, Haruhisa personally led 28,000 men into the eastern portion of Mimasaka, overcoming an opposing force of 15,000 men under the command of Uragami Munekage and Gotō Katsumoto. The invading army advanced to the environs of Tenjinyama Castle and on to the Kako River in Harima after the Battle of Mimasaka-Katsuyama. From 4/6 of 1553, kokujin allied with the Mōri used this as an opportunity to counterattack against the Eda clan of Bingo. Haruhisa retreated from Mimasaka, clashing with a contingent of the Ōuchi led by Sue Harukata at Haginose in Bingo. The battle persisted without a clear victor until the Ōuchi captured the base of the Eda clan at Hatagaeshiyama Castle. In the twelfth month, the Yamauchi and Tagayama clans submitted to the Ōuchi, while the Amago lost control of territory from Shobara to Fukuyama in Bingo. Although the Amago held considerable influence in Bingo owing to its proximity to their home province of Izumo, attacks from the Mōri under the umbrella of the Ōuchi, the Ōuchi also wielded power in this same province.
In 1554, Haruhisa invited Sōyō to participate in a renga event at Gassantoda Castle, evincing his interest in the cultural arts. On 6/7 of 1554, Sue Harukata formed an alliance with the Ōuchi through the mediation of Masuda Fujikane, head of the Masuda clan. Tensions between Haruhisa and Amago Kunihisa, Haruhisa’s uncle, came to a head when, in the eleventh month, Haruhisa assassinated Kunihisa, his son, Amago Sanehisa, and members of an elite battalion led by Kunihisa and Sanehisa known as the shingūtō. This strengthened the power base of Haruhisa by placing under his direct control the territories of the Enya clan in the Nogi District of western Izumo as well as the holdings of the Yoshida clan that had served as the home base of the shingūtō in eastern Izumo, furthering his goal to govern Izumo Province in its entirety.
In 1555, Sue Harukata, who had taken de facto control of the Ōuchi clan after an earlier rebellion in 1551 against Ōuchi Yoshitaka, lost to Mōri Motonari in the Battle of Itsukushima and killed himself. This led to a natural dissolution of the alliance formed the prior year.
Haruhisa, who was engaged at the time in an attack against the Uragami at Tenjinyama Castle in Bizen, eyed the weakness within the Ōuchi as an opportunity to invade Iwami. Quickly pulling his forces from Bizen, Haruhisa joined with Ogasawara Nagakatsu from Kawamoto to initiate an attack aimed at capturing the Iwami-Ginzan silver mine. In 1556, Haruhisa led 25,000 men to surround Yamabuki Castle, perched on a steep mountaintop to protect the mine. Shishido Takaie, a senior commander of the Mōri, led an army of 7,000 soldiers to counter the invasion. The armies clashed violently in a narrow mountain valley called Oshibara. The Amago attacked the Shishido with rocks from the steep hillsides, and in a frontal assault from their base at Kametani Castle. Without an avenue for escape, the Shishido forces descended into chaos as hundreds perished in the onslaught. This battle is known as the Collapse at Oshibara. In the ninth month, the Amago defeated reinforcements from Mōri Motonari and Mōri Motoharu, and thereafter captured Yamabuki Castle.
Haruhisa appointed Honjō Tsunemitsu to serve as the new lord of Yamabuki Castle, and dispatched other retainers to actively protect the mine, including Tako Tokitaka, who had been assigned to Sasuka-Iwayama Castle on the border of Izumo and Iwami provinces, Ushio Hisakiyo from 鰐走 Castle, and Onsen Hidenaga, a local kokujin.
In 1557, Ōuchi Yoshinaga, son of Yoshitaka, killed himself after being cornered by Mōri Motonari. This occurred during a campaign by the Mōri known as the Bōchō keiryaku over the period from late 1555 to mid-1557 having the principal aim of capturing Suō and Nagato provinces from the Ōuchi.
After occupying a majority of the Ōuchi territory, the Mōri intensified their attacks in the eastern portions of Iwami, leading to an assault on Ogasawara Nagakatsu at Nukuyu Castle in 1558. Haruhisa sent forces to support the defenders, but owing to heavy rains, the Gō River overflowed and could not be traversed, and in the eighth month of 1559, the Ogasawara surrendered to the Mōri. In an effort to claim the Iwami-Ginzan silver mine, in 1559, the Mōri attacked Yamabuki Castle, but failed to topple the stronghold. Honjō Tsunemitsu, lord of the castle, attacked and defeated the retreating forces at the Battle of Gōrozaka. In the tenth month, the forces returned to Ōda in Iwami, so that, during Haruhisa’s lifetime, the Mōri failed to capture the Iwami-Ginzan silver mine. Over a period of years from 1555, Haruhisa sent his eldest son, Amago Yoshihisa, into Harima Province as the commanding general of forces in support of Uragami Masamune.
In 1560, Haruhisa prevailed in battle against Mimura Iechika, a kokujin and ally of the Mōri in the Jōbō District of Bitchū. On 12/24 of 1561, Haruhisa suddenly died at Gassantoda Castle, and he was succeeded by his son, Yoshihisa.