Imagawa Ujichika


Imagawa Clan

Sengoku Daimyō

Suruga Province

Lifespan:  Bunmei 3 (1471) to 6/23 of Daiei 6 (1526)

Name Changes:  Tatsuōmaru → Ujichika

Other Names:  Hikogorō

Rank:  bushō, shugo daimyō, sengoku daimyō

Title:  Junior Fourth Rank (Upper), Deputy Governor of Kazusa, Vice Minister of Civil Affairs, Master of the Office of Palace Repairs

Clan:  Imagawa (a branch of the Kira clan descended from the Ashikaga clan from the lineage of Minamoto no Yoshikuni of the Seiwa-Genji)

Bakufu:  Muromachi – Military governor of Suruga, Military governor of Tōtōmi

Lord:  Ashikaga Yoshihisa → Ashikaga Yoshiki → Ashikaga Yoshizumi → Ashikaga Yoshitane

Father:  Imagawa Yoshitada

Mother:  Kitagawa-dono (daughter of Ise Morisada)

Siblings:  Sister (wife of Ōgimachisanjō Sanemochi), Ujichika, 心範

Wife: [Jukeini] (daughter of Naka-no-mikado Nobutane) 

Children:  Ujiteru, Hikogorō, Genkō Etan, Shōji Senjō, Yoshimoto, Ujitoyo, sister (wife of Kira Yoshitaka), Zuikei-in (wife of Hōjō Ujiyasu), sister (wife of Matsudaira Chikayoshi, later, wife of Udono Nagamochi), sister (wife of Naka-no-mikado Nobutsuna), sister (wife of Sena Ujitoshi), sister (wife of Sekiguchi Chikanaga), sister (wife of Ōtani Yoshihide)

Imagawa Ujichika served as a bushō, shugo daimyō, and sengoku daimyō during the Sengoku period.  He was the ninth head of the Imagawa clan of Suruga Province and served as the military governor of Suruga and Tōtōmi Province.  


When his father, Imagawa Yoshitada, allied with the Eastern Army and went to Kyōto, Yoshitada is deemed to have wed Ujichika’s mother, Kitagawa-dono.  She was the older sister of Ise Shinkurō Moritoki (later known as Hōjō Sōun).  She was previously considered to have been a consort from around the time that Shinkurō was a lowly rōnin, or wandering samurai.  Based on more recent research, Kitagawa-dono is regarded as his formal wife in view of the status of the Kitagawa family as members of the prominent Ise clan (who, in turn, served as directors of the mandokoro, the organ with authority to adjudicate claims over land or finances for the Muromachi bakufu), and were members of the mōshitsugishū serving as intermediaries for communications between daimyō and the shōgun.

In 1473, Ujichika was born as the son of Kitagawa-dono.  The fact that Kitagawa-dono was the older sister of Moritoki had a significant influence on the life of Ujichika.

Succession struggle

In the fourth month of 1476, her husband, Yoshitada, attacked kunishū, or provincial landowners, in Tōtōmi Province including Yokochi Shirōbei at Kinsu (Yokochi) Castle and Katsumata Suri-no-suke at Katsumata Castle.  While returning to Suruga, at the Battle of Shiokaizaka, Yoshitada was attacked and killed by remnants of these clans after being struck by a stray arrow while commanding troops from atop his horse.  At this time, Tatsuōmaru (Ujichika’s childhood name) was still only around five years old so retainers including the Miura and Asahina clans backed Oshika Norimitsu (the son of Oshika Noriyori, a cousin of Yoshitada), triggering a succession struggle.  The faction supporting Tatsuōmaru engaged in a series of battles against the faction backing Norimitsu.  Meanwhile, the Yokochi and Katsumata clans who were responsible for the death in battle of Yoshitada colluded with the Shiba clan and served Shiba Yoshisuke (later known as Shiba Yoshihiro) the military governor of Tōtōmi formally appointed by the bakufu.  By obstructing them, Yoshitada was viewed as a rebel toward the bakufu so rather than have his orphan, Tatsuōmaru, succeed to the headship of the clan, there was a possibility that he would be eliminated as a family member of a rebel.  Consequently, Kitagawa-dono took Tatsuōmaru and fled for the protection of Hasegawa Masanobu, a wealthy landowner serving as the lord of Kogawa Castle.

Uesugi Masanori, a deputy of Ashikaga Masatomo (the Horigoe kubō), and Ōta Dōkan, the head of house affairs of the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi family, led forces to occupy Suruga and then intervened in the succession struggle in the Imagawa clan.  Fearing that the authority of the deputy shōgun of the Kantō would extend to Suruga, the bakufu dispatched Tatsuōmaru’s uncle, Ise Shinkurō (Moritoki), to mediate between the factions.  These efforts yielded an agreement whereby Oshika Norimitsu would serve as the guardian of Tatsuōmaru to represent the clan.  Around the time that Shinkurō is surmised to have been a lowly rōnin, or wandering samurai, this was regarded as the first step in the rise of the brilliant strategist later known as Hōjō Sōun.  Based on recent research, this is determined to have been Ise Moritoki, a member of the Ise clan and direct retainer of the bakufu who, upon the wishes of the bakufu, traveled from the capital to Suruga to mediate an internal dispute of the Imagawa family.  As a proxy for the head of the clan, Norimitsu entered the Imagawa (Sunpu) mansion although the details of his service as the proxy of the head of the clan are sparse.  Meanwhile, Tatsuōmaru and his mother, Kitagawa-dono, moved to the residence of the Saitō clan at Mariko Castle in Suruga.  In 1479, Moritoki petitioned the bakufu and obtained an official letter in the name of the prior shōgun, Ashikaga Yoshimasa, authorizing Tatsuōmaru as the successor to the Imagawa clan.

Years later, although Tatsuōmaru reached the age of fifteen and became an adult, Norimitsu did not attempt to transfer the headship of the clan to him.  Instead, he took steps to suppress Tatsuōmaru and forcibly claim the role for himself.  In 1487, Kitagawa-dono and Tatsuōmaru requested help from Moritoki who was serving Ashikaga Yoshihisa, the ninth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu in Kyōto.  Moritoki then went to Suruga again.  In the eleventh month, Moritoki gathered soldiers at Ishiwaki Castle to storm the Imagawa mansion. Norimitsu then took his own life without a fight.  Norimitsu had depended upon Ōta Dōkan for defense, but Dōkan was earlier killed by Uesugi Sadamasa.  Ashikaga Masatomo, the Horigoe kubō, appears to have switched his position to support Tatsuōmaru in view of his relationship with the bakufu.

Under traditional theory, Tatsuōmaru entered the Imagawa mansion, attended his coming-of-age ceremony, and adopted the name of Ujichika (with the character “uji” from the Ashikaga clan, the head house of the Imagawa) and then became the head of the Imagawa clan.  There are, however, two issues with this theory.  First, according to the genealogy of the Imagawa family, it is surmised that after succeeding to the headship of the clan, he continued to reside for a while in Mariko Castle where he lived prior to the attack on Norimitsu.  Second, in military families, the coming-of-age ceremonies were traditionally held around the age of fifteen.  In the case of Ujichika, he continued to use his childhood name of Tatsuōmaru until 1491 (when he was either nineteen or twenty-one years old).  Thereafter, until the ninth month of 1494, he issued documents under a black seal.  In 1495, he first used a seal under the name of Ujichika.  With respect to the first issue, one scholar surmised that, in parallel with the conduct of external battles, Ujichika pacified Suruga around 1495 upon which he then moved his main base to the Imagawa mansion.  With respect to the second issue, there is a theory that he attended his coming-of-age ceremony prior to 1495.  According to a variant of the historical account of the Imagawa, Ashikaga Masatomo, the Horigoe kubō, aware of the decimation of the Koga kubō, adopted the name of Ujimitsu and gave Tatsuōmaru the name of Ujichika.  After Masatomo died in 1491, relations deteriorated between the Horigoe kubō and Imagawa clan.  Meanwhile, while temporarily aiming to improve relations with the Koga kubō, there was a need to conceal the coming-of-age ceremony and granting of the name Ujichika.  In the end, the Horigoe kubō collapsed and attempts to improve relations with the Koga kubō failed so he then called himself Ujichika in public.  One scholar refutes this theory on the grounds there are no sources to substantiate the granting of the name by Masatomo.  Although it is unusual to not attend a coming-of-age ceremony and receive a name after surpassing the age of twenty, it is surmised that, along with the issue regarding Ujichika’s entry into the Imagawa mansion, these shoud be considered as domestic issues.

Prior to this time, in the tenth month, Tatsuōmaru issued his first document with a seal as a daimyō.  Later, he issued documents with an ordinary seal.  In view of the preceding issues, from 1487 to 1494, it is surmised that Ujichika may not have been able to attend a coming-of-age ceremony so did not have an ordinary seal during this period.

Having contributed to the succession by Tatsuōmaru to the headship of the clan, Moritoki was awarded twelve townships in the lower region of Fuji and the Kōkokuji Castle.  He appears to have been accorded a status similar to the families comprising the go-ikke as described below.  One scholar surmised that Moritoki entered Kōkokuji Castle because, in the course of pacifying the province, the governance of the Imagawa extended to the eastern portions of Suruga that were previously under the influence of the Horigoe kubō and the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi family.

The Imagawa clan was founded in the Kamakura period by Imagawa Kuniuji, the second son of Kira Nagauji, a grandson of Ashikaga Yoshikage descended from the Seiwa-Genji.  Under a broad definition of the term go-ikka, the Imagawa were counted among a group of thirty-four clans of high social rank based on their lineal relationship to the ruling Ashikaga family.  Owing to this lineage, members of the Imagawa clan performed important roles in the bakufu, and given that Ujichika did not have a brother, he received support from family members and on occasion had them perform some of his responsibilities on his behalf.  In 1513, a diary kept by Reizei Tamehiro (a noble and poet who visited Sunpu) noted six individuals including: Imagawa Minbu-no-shō (surmised to be Magogorō, the nephew of Oshika Norimitsu), Sena Gengorō (Sena Ujisada), Katsurayama Hachirō (Katsurayama Ujihiro), Sekiguchi Gyōbu-shōyū (Sekiguchi Ujikane), the Niino (the Tōtōmi-Niino), and Nagoya Shingorō (the Imagawa-Nagoya clan).  His mother’s uncle, Ise Moritoki, is also surmised to be among this group.

Achievements as head of the Imagawa clan

In 1491, after the death of Ashikaga Masatomo, the Horigoe kubō, died, an internal conflict erupted within the administration of the Horigoe kubō.  Ise Moritoki who had for a while returned to Kyōto then departed the capital and went to Suruga.

In 1492, in Kai Province, Takeda Nobumasa, the military governor, was ousted from his position as head of the clan by his lineal heir, Takeda Nobutsuna.  Thereafter, Nobumasa and Anayama Nobutō backed Nobumasa’s second son, Aburakawa Nobuyoshi, and fought against Nobutsuna.  Ujichika, together with Suwa Yorimitsu, sought to help Nobumasa so he deployed to Kai.  Later, the Anayama clan promised to be subordinate to Ujichika.  In the background of the political developments in the Takeda clan and intervention by the Imagawa and Suwa clans, there is a theory that Ujichika was involved in the internal conflict of the Horigoe kubō after the demise of Ashikaga Masatomo.

Amidst a continuation of the conflict besetting the Horigoe kubō, in 1493, upon orders of Ashikaga Yoshizumi, the eleventh shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, Ise Sōzui (having changed his name from Moritoki after entering the priesthood) eliminated Ashikaga Chachamaru (his older brother of a different mother who murdered Yoshizumi’s natural mother and younger brother) and took control of Izu Province.  Ujichika dispatched troops to Sōzui for support.  This action was linked to the Meiō Political Incident, a coup d’ètat orchestrated by Hosokawa Masamoto (the deputy shōgun) in the fourth month of 1493 to oust Ashikaga Yoshiki (Yoshitane), the tenth shōgun, and replace him with Ashikaga Yoshitō (Yoshizumi).  Ise Sadamune, the head of the mandokoro (the organ of the bakufu in charge of claims regarding finances or territory), was the older cousin of Sōzui and during the coup, cooperated with Hosokawa Masamoto and backed Yoshizumi.  Thereafter, Ujichika and Sōzui, through close cooperation, expanded the territory under their governance.

The Imagawa originally served as the military governors of neighboring Tōtōmi Province for generations but this role was later seized by the Shiba clan.  Reclaiming Tōtōmi became an earnest desire of the Imagawa and Ujichika’s father, Yoshitada, was killed in battle in Tōtōmi.  As the head of the clan, Ujichika also actively sought to advance into Tōtōmi and came into conflict with Shiba Yoshihiro, the military governor of Tōtōmi.

Beginning around 1494, Sōzui led soldiers to invade Tōtōmi and brought territory to the central portion of the province under the control of the Imagawa.  Sōzui continued to lead troops and, during the Bunki era (1501 to 1504), attacked the Matsudaira clan at Iwazu Castle in Mikawa Province, decimated Makino Kohaku, and subordinated Okudaira Sadamasa.  Around this same time, he deployed to the Tsuru District in Kai to fight against the Oyamada clan (landowners in the district) and the Takeda clan serving as the military governors of Kai.  Meanwhile, Ujichika cooperated with the advance in the Kantō by Sōzui.  He intervened in the Chōkyō War, allying with the Ōgigayatsu-Uesugi family to battle against the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family.  In 1504, at the Battle of Tachikawa-no-hara in Musashi Province, Ujichika deployed with Sōzui and defeated Uesugi Akisada, the deputy shōgun of the Kantō.

Around 1505, Ujichika wed the daughter of Naka-no-mikado Nobutane.  She was later known as Jukeini.  From this time, Ujichika used the title of Shuri-no-daibu.  During the period from 1506 to 1508, the Imagawa army led by Sōzui invaded Mikawa and fought against Matsudaira Nagachika.  Although the invading forces were defeated in Idano below Iwazu Castle, in the end, the Iwazu-Matsudaira family deteriorated while the Anjō-Matsudaira family of Nagachika gained prominence.

From 1509 onward, Sōzui ceased his service as a bushō of the Imagawa family.  Around this time, it appears that Sōzui became politically independent of the Imagawa and focused his efforts on advancing in the Kantō.  At least until around 1512, Sōzui visited Sunpu and was involved in the exile to Suruga of Nagao Kageharu from the Tsuru District of Kai that same year.  Consequently, it is surmised that the relationship between Sōzui and the Imagawa family continued thereafter.

In the early Eishō era (1504 to 1521), Hosokawa Masamoto (who served as the guardian of Ashikaga Yoshizumi) aimed to form an alliance with Shiba Yoshihiro and Uesugi Akisada, whereupon Ujichika and Sōzui gradually began to distance themselves from Yoshizumi with the intention of forming a relationship with Ashikaga Yoshiki (later known as Ashikaga Yoshitane), the prior shōgun earlier deposed by Masamoto in the Meiō Political Incident in 1493.  In 1507, Masamoto was assassinated in a plot by one of his adopted sons, Hosokawa Sumiyuki.  This event is known as the Lord Hosokawa Incident.

In 1508, after Yoshizumi was usurped from his position as shōgun by Yoshitane, Ujichika was formally appointed by the bakufu and the shōgun family as the shugo, or military governor, of Tōtōmi, providing legitimacy for his governance of the province.  In 1511, when Shiba Yoshitatsu, the military governor of Owari Province, assaulted Osakabe Castle (aligned with the Imagawa), Ujichika deployed to repel them.  Yoshitatsu, however, continued the attacks, intensifying the battle against the Shiba clan in Tōtōmi.

In 1515, Ujichika allied with Ōi Nobutatsu, a kokujin, or provincial landowner, in the western portion of Kai, to oppose Takeda Nobutora.  He then temporarily occupied Katsuyama Castle alongside the Nakamichi-ōkan, a road linking Kai and Suruga provinces.  Taking advantage of this opening, in the third month of 1516, Ōkōchi Sadatsuna, a retainer of the Kira clan of Mikawa, raised arms again and occupied Hikuma Castle.  Shiba Yoshitatsu rushed from Owari to join the forces holed-up in Hikuma Castle.

In 1517, Nobutatsu surrendered to Nonbutora while Ujichika reconciled with Nobutora and deployed to Tōtōmi.  In the sixth month, he commenced an assault against Hikuma Castle.  Sadatsuna and the garrison stiffly resisted the besieging forces and did not waver when their supply lines were severed.  Nevertheless, after miners from the Umegashima gold mine severed the water supply to the castle well, the defenders were forced to capitulate.  On 8/19, the castle fell and Sadatsuna and his brother, Komi Michitsuna, took their own lives.  Shiba Yoshitatsu entered the priesthood and was sent to Owari while the Imagawa clan finally acquired control of Tōtōmi.  As a cadet family of the Kira clan, the Imagawa were of a lower social rank.  Later, the Imagawa sought a reconciliation with the Kira by having Ujichika’s eldest daughter, Tokuzōin, wed Kira Yoshitaka.

Thereafter, in Ujichika’s later years, until the formation of an alliance between the Takeda of Kai and the Imagawa of Suruga, he invaded Kai on numerous occasions in the course of ongoing conflict with the Takeda clan.

From 1518, Ujichika conducted land surveys to solidify his governance of the newly acquired territory of Tōtōmi.  He then generated revenues through exploitation of the Umegashima gold mines in the Abe District of Suruga.

Owing to his marriage to Jukeini who came from a family of nobility, Ujichika deepened his ties in the capital and elements of the culture of Kyōto were brought in to Sunpu.  Ujichika particularly enjoyed waka and renga.  In his later years, he was afflicted with paralysis and bed-ridden so Jukeini assisted with the conduct of political affairs.  In the fourth month of 1526, two months prior to his demise, a set of provincial laws representative of the Sengoku period known as the Imagawa kana mokuroku were enacted.  His lineal heir, Imagawa Ujiteru, had not matured at this time so the code was aimed to suppress conflict among his retainers.

Based on the implementation of land surveys and the enactment of provincial laws, in the era of Ujichika, the Imagawa clan ascended from the status of shugo daimyō to sengoku daimyō.

On 6/23 of Daiei 6 (1526), Ujichika passed-away at the Imagawa mansion in Sunpu.  His memorial service at the Zōzen Temple was hosted by Ujiteru and attended by 7,000 monks.  Ujiteru also read a saibun which is an address to the Buddhist deities for the repose of his father’s soul.  The ropes for the coffin were held by Sengaku Shōhō (later known as Imagawa Yoshimoto) of the Zentoku Temple and mortuary tablet by Genkō Etan of Hanakura for the conduct of services according to the most sacred rites in the Sōtō sect.

Historical records of the Zenzōji Temple and the Imagawa family contain details of the funeral.

Religious affiliations

For generations, the heads of the Imagawa clan affiliated with the Rinzai sect of Buddhism but Ujichika favored the Sōtō sect.  After being ousted in his youth by Oshika Norimitsu, Tatsuōmaru (Ujichika) was protected by Hasegawa Masanobu at Kogawa Castle.  Masanobu was a guardian of Kenchū Hantetsu, a disciple of Sūshi Shōtai who founded the Sekiun Temple.  Ujichika deeply respected Kenchū and Shinnō Shōin from the same temple so actively sought to protect the Sōtō sect.

Ujichika also endeavored to protect the Zentoku Temple affiliated with the Rinzai sect which was worshiped by generations of the Imagawa.  After the death of Mokudō Jushō who had served as the abbot at this temple for a long time, Ujichika invited Kinkei Shōshun and had him take care of his son, Hōkikumaru (later Imagawa Yoshimoto).  Notwithstanding Ujichika’s continuing ties to the Rinzai sect via the Zentoku Temple, the monks who performed the key roles at Ujichika’s memorial service were primarily associated with disciples of Sūshi Shōtai, an abbot in the Muromachi period at the Tōshō Temple affiliated with the Sōtō sect in Tōtōmi.

After the demise of Ujichika, his lineal heir (Imagawa Ujiteru) and Jukeini consulted with Taigen Sessai, a disciple of Kinkei Shōshun, and by having Yoshimoto return to secular life after being a monk of the Rinzai sect and inherit the headship of the clan, the Rinzai sect was favored again.  Nevertheless, followers of the Sōtō sect in the territory of the Imagawa could not be dismissed.

Theories regarding birth order of children

Under traditional views, the birth order of Ujichika’s son was understood as Ujiteru, Hikogorō, Genkō Etan, and Sengaku Shōhō (Yoshimoto).  More recently, this has been the subject of alternate views.  For example, one scholar asserted the order as Ujiteru, Genkō Etan, Hikogorō, and Sengaku Shōhō, while another proposed the order to be Ujiteru, Genkō Etan, Sengaku Shōhō, and Hikogorō.  It is further asserted that Imagawa Ujitoyo and Shōji Senjō do not appear in genealogies of the Imagawa clan from the early Edo period so were not in fact children of Ujichika, although they may have originated from members of the Imagawa clan.  Ujichika’s daughters are confirmed to be Tokuzōin (the wife of Kira Yoshitaka), the wife of Naka-no-mikado Nobutsuna, Zuikei-in (the wife of Hōjō Ujiyasu), and the wife of Sena Ujitoshi.  The view that the wife of Sekiguchi Ujihiro (the younger brother of Ujitoshi) was married to the younger sister of Yoshimoto is deemed erroneous and instead her husband was Ujitoshi.  Meanwhile, although there are references in one genealogy to Ujichika’s daughters as the wives of Ogasawara Haruyoshi and of Udono Nagamochi, these do not appear in an older genealogy so cannot be confirmed.