Lifespan: Tenbun 8 (1539) to 9/1 of Tenshō 15 (1587)
Rank: bushō, sengoku daimyō
Title: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Junior Fifth Rank (Upper), Chamberlain
Clan: Shimokuni (Hiyama) Andō (later changed to Akita)
Father: Andō Kiyosue
Mother: Daughter of Andō Takasue
Siblings: Chikasue, Harusue (Tomosue), Shigesue, Suetaka, Suekata
Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Sagoshi Munenobu, [Consort] Daughter of Hatakeyama Kiyonobu
Children: Narisue, Akita-no-tsubone, Sanesue, Hidesue, Suekatsu, daughter (formal wife of Namioka Akimura)
Andō Chikasue served as a bushō and sengoku daimyō of Dewa Province during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. He was the eighth head of the Shimokuni (Hiyama) Andō family based at Hiyama-Andō Castle in Dewa Province.
In 1539, Chikasue was born as the son of Andō Kiyosue, a sengoku daimyō in Dewa Province.
Chikasue unified the Hiyama and Minato branches of the Andō clan which had been separated since the early Muromachi period. His superior abilities enabled Chikasue to raise the Andō clan to the status of a sengoku daimyō family. There are assorted theories regarding the details of the unification which remain uncertain, but it is surmised that, on the basis of marital relationships and alliances made through adoption, the Hiyama in fact absorbed the Minato branch of the family.
For a long period, the Hiyama-Andō quarreled with the Hinai-Asari clan, kokujin, or provincial landowners, based in the Hinai District who operated semi-autonomously. In the era of Chikasue, after Asari Norisuke betrayed his younger brother, Asari Katsuyori (who was conspiring with the Andō), Chikasue attacked Norisuke at Ogita-Nagaoka Castle whereupon Norisuke took his own life. Thereafter, Katsuyori came under the command of Chikasue and the Andō expanded their power. From 1564, the Andō invaded the territory of the Nanbu clan with the aim of garnering control of the Kazuno District, but, in 1569, were blocked by Nanbu Harumasa.
With respect to the governance of trade, the Minato-Andō permitted the local daimyō and kokujin from the upstream Omono River Basin to pay low harbor fees. By regulating trade in the harbor, Chikasue was able to implement controls on river commerce in addition to overseas trade including with the northern areas occupied by the Ezo people. Chikasue renovated the Tsuchizaki Harbor and built the greatest harbor settlement in Japan. He also bolstered controls with respect to the neighboring kokujin.
The controls imposed by Chikasue, however, led to resistance. In 1570, Toshima Kyūshin and his allies launched the Second Minato Disturbance. The Daihōji clan demonstrated support for the Toshima by marching to the Yuri District situated along the coastline. In this series of conflicts, with the benefit of the self-destruction of Daihōji Yoshiuji (a daimyō and the seventeenth head of the Daihōji clan), the Andō family prevailed while a majority of the Yuri District came under the control of Chikasue. At this time, the Andō forces crossed over Mount Misaki and invaded Sakata.
From 1573 to 1582, Chikasue maintained friendly relations with Oda Nobunaga by sending a tribute every year. After the death of Nobunaga in 1582, Chikasue continued the practice by promoting good relations with Hashiba Hideyoshi, making frequent contact with the central authorities.
On 7/22 of Tenshō 5 (1577), he was conferred the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and, on 8/13 of Tenshō 8 (1580), he was promoted to Junior Fifth Rank (Upper) and Chamberlain. Chikasue is considered to have ushered in the era of peak prosperity for the Andō clan. In his later years, he changed his surname from Andō to Akita.
In 1582, he arranged for Matsumae Yoshihiro to murder Asari Katsuyori. He then assigned Isonome Hidekane to serve as his representative in the former territory of the Asari clan in the Hinai District and had him reside in Ōdate Castle. He nearly unified the shoreline area of northern Dewa and advanced inland to challenge the Tozawa clan for control of the Omono River Basin. In 1587, however, when battling against Tozawa Moriyasu, the lord of Kakunodate Castle, Chikasue died of illness while on deployment along the Yodo River in Senboku.
An entry dated 2/28 of Eiroku 8 (1565) in the diary of Luís Fróis, a Jesuit missionary from Portugal who resided in Japan during this period, notes “In the far north of Japan, approximately 300 leagues from the capital, there is a great province where the residents wear fur from wild animals, have hair over their entire bodies, and long hair on their heads and faces, living like the southern barbarians. There is a large city called Akita in an area near Yezo (the northern part of Japan inhabited by non-Yamato people referred to as Ezo or Emishi). The people come to trade in numerous settlements while the residents of Akita periodically head toward Yezo.” After engaging in trade with the Ezo for generations, it can be surmised that, after unification with the Minato-Andō, the Hiyama-Andō continued trade with the northern peoples.
Excelling in both the arts of literature and military affairs, and after becoming the most powerful daimyō in the northern half of Dewa after expanding the territory of the clan to encompass the Akita, Hiyama, and Yuri districts, Chikasue was extolled as being like the Big Dipper in the northern sky.