Murakami Yoshikiyo



Sengoku Daimyō

Shinano Province

Lifespan:  3/11 of Bunki 1 (1501) to 1/1 of Genki 4 (1573)

Rank:  bushō, sengoku daimyō

Title:  Provisional Assistant Master of the Western Capital Office, Governor of Sado, Lieutenant of the Outer Palace Guards of the Left Division, Governor of Suō, Director of the Imperial Cavalry of the Left Division, Governor of Shinano, Vice Minister of Military Affairs, Major General of Imperial Guards of the Left Division, Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Junior Fourth Rank (Lower), Senior Fourth Rank (Upper)

Clan:  Shinano-Murakami

Lord:  Independent daimyō → Uesugi Kenshin

Father:  Murakami Akikuni

Mother:  Daughter of Shiba Yoshihiro

Wife:  [Formal] Daughter of Ogasawara Nagamune, [Consort] Ofune (daughter of Takanashi Sumiyori)

Children:  Yoshitoshi, Yoshikatsu, Yoshiteru, Yoshikuni, Kunikiyo (Yamaura Kagekuni), daughter (wife of Murakami Yoshimitsu), daughter (wife of Uchiyama Kiyomune), daughter (wife of Murakami Yoshifusa), daughter (wife of Takanashi Yoriharu), daughter (wife of Aida Kiyoyuki), daughter (wife of Yashiro Masakuni)

Murakami Yoshikiyo served as a bushō and sengoku daimyō of northern Shinano Province during the Sengoku period.

The Murakami clan was founded by Minamoto no Yorikiyo, an illegitimate son of Minamoto no Yorinobu, the first head of the Kawachi-Genji, a branch of the Seiwa-Genji.  The family were followers of the Shingon sect of Buddhism.  From the era of Murakami Yoshikuni, the clan wielded influence from eastern to northern Shinano.

Yoshikiyo was the lord of Katsurao Castle in the Hanishina District of Shinano.  He repelled invasions by Takeda Harunobu (Shingen) on two occasions.  When Yoshikiyo inherited the headship of the clan, he brought under his command an area from eastern to northern Shinano encompassing the Saku, Hanishina, Chiisagata, Minochi, and Takai districts, serving as the head of the Murakami clan during its peak years of prosperity.  Yoshikiyo was the final head of the Murakami clan to serve in the role as a sengoku daimyō.

Early period

On 3/11 of Bunki 1 (1501), Yoshikiyo was born as the son of Murakami Akikuni at Katsurao Castle in the Hanishina District of Shinano.

On 3/15 of Eishō 12 (1515), Yoshikiyo attended his coming-of-age ceremony and was conferred the title of Provisional Assistant Master of the Western Capital Office and adopted the name of Yoshikiyo.  Around this time, the Ogawa clan who were under the command of his father, Akikuni, betrayed the clan so Akikuni ordered the neighboring Kōsaka and Ōhigata clans to eliminate the Ogawa, but other actions that he took are unclear so the movements of Yoshikiyo around the time that he inherited the clan are uncertain.

In the third month of 1516, Yoshikiyo was conferred the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and appointed Governor of Sado.

In 1517, Akikuni transferred control of Katsuro Castle to Yoshikiyo.  Akikuni died of illness in 1520, whereupon Yoshikiyo succeeded him as the head of the clan.  There is also a theory that Akikuni died later in 1526.

In the tenth month of 1521, Yoshikiyo was promoted to the official rank of Junior Fourth Rank (Lower) and appointed Assistant Captain of Imperial Guards of the Left Division.  In the first month of 1527, he became the Major General of Imperial Guards of the Left Division.  In the first month of 1536, he was promoted to the title of Senior Fourth Rank (Upper).

During this period, in northern Shinano, the Murakami family quarreled with the Inoue clan (who had close ties to the Echigo-Nagao clan) and the Takanashi clan of the Minochi District.  In eastern Shinano, the Murakami pressured the Unno clan of the Chiisagata District who served as a rear guard of the Yamauchi-Uesugi (the deputy shōgun family of the Kantō).  The Murakami subdued the Ōi clan of the Saku District who were the deputy military governors of Shinano and engaged in continued fighting against the Takeda clan of neighboring Kai Province.  Yoshikiyo lost control of the Saku District to the Takeda.


In the fifth month of 1541, Yoshikiyo joined with Takeda Nobutora and Suwa Yorishige and, at the Battle of Unnotaira, expelled the Shigeno families (the Unno, the Nezu, and the Mochizuki) including Unno Munetsuna and Sanada Yukitsuna from Shinano and seized control of the Chiisagata District.  Soon thereafter, Nobutora was ousted in a coup d’état by his eldest son, Harunobu.

In 1548, Yoshikiyo was subject to attack by the Takeda army under Harunobu.  At the Battle of Uedahara, the Murakami repelled the Takeda forces after their invasion of the Chiisagata District.  In this battle, Yoshikiyo killed a retainer of the Takeda named Hajikano Denemon. Itagaki Nobukata, the district governor of Suwa for the Takeda, was felled by a spear wielded by Annaka Ittōta and then killed by Jōjō Oribe.  Other retainers of the Takeda lost in the battle included Amari Torayasu and Saima Kawachi-no-kami.

In 1550, while Yoshikiyo was absent from his base to fight against Takanashi Masayori, Harunobu launched an assault against the stronghold of Toishi Castle in the Chiisagata District.  Yoshikiyo settled with the Takanashi and rushed back to the scene.  After determining that he was in a disadvantageous position, Harunobu commenced a retreat but was pursued by the Murakami forces in an event known as the Collapse at Toishi.  In this conflict, the Takeda army lost approximately 1,000 soldiers including Yokota Takatoshi, the commander of the ashigaru, or foot soldiers, in addition to Watanabe Unshū.  The Murakami lost a total of 193 soldiers.

Exile in Echigo Province

In the wake of the Battle of Unnotaira, Sanada Yukitsuna went into exile in Kōzuke Province, but, after Hareunobu succeeded Nobutora as the head of the Kai-Takeda clan, he entered into service for the Takeda.  In the process of switching sides, he cleaved-off some other bushō from the Murakami forces.  As a result, in 1551, Toishi Castle was captured by Yukitsuna through collusion with the commander of the ashigaru at Toishi, Yazawa Yoritsuna (Yukitsuna’s younger brother).  This led to sudden drop in Yoshikiyo’s influence.  In 1552, at the Battle of Tokida, Yoshikiyo achieved a victory but was unable to address the instability among his retainers.

In 1553, a gōzoku, or wealthy landowner, named Ōsuga Kyūbei-no-jō rebelled while bushō from other clans including the Yashiro, the Ishikawa, and the Muroga surrendered to the Takeda so, on 4/9, Yoshikiyo temporarily fled from Katsurao Castle.  After regrouping his forces, he succeeded in taking back the castle on 4/22.  Harunobu pulled back to Fukashi Castle (also known as Matsumoto Castle) and, on 5/11, returned to his base in Kōfu.  On 7/25, Harunobu departed from Kōfu at the head of a large army, leading to the capture of Hikaru, Uenoyama, and Kariyahara castles.

In the eighth month of 1553, Yoshikiyo abandoned Katsurao Castle and, through the assistance of Nagao Kagetora (Uesugi Kenshin), fled for protection to Echigo Province.  Owing to the downfall of the Murakami clan who had operated as an independent power in northern Shinano, the authority of the Takeda clan extended to the plains known as the Zenkōjidaira near Kasugayama Castle, the base of the Nagao clan in Echigo.

Meanwhile, Yoshikiyo became the lord of Nechi Castle in Echigo and, together with his eldest son, Murakami Kunikiyo, served as a retainer of the Uesugi clan.  Kunikiyo was adopted by Uesugi Kenshin, acquiring the surname of Yamaura.  He was awarded the status of second rank in the Uesugi family.

At the Fourth Battle of Kawanakajima, Yoshikiyo joined Takanashi Masayori and Suda Mitsuchika to defend the Amenomiya Crossing.

It is not certain who killed Takeda Nobushige (the younger brother of Takeda Harunobu), but his grave is at the Tenkyū Temple.  Although he was killed in action and his head taken by the Uesugi, his retainers pursued the Uesugi, recovered the head, and brother it to Komoro so it is said that the grave at the Tenkyū Temple was only for his body.


On 1/1 of Genki 4 (1573), Yoshikiyo died of illness at Nechi Castle at the age of seventy-three.  This was approximately five months before the death of his arch-rival, Takeda Shingen.  He was said to have been buried at Hitaki Temple but the grave is also said to be at the Anfuku Temple in Negoya.  There is also a theory that it is in Akazawa in the Uonuma District.

In 1582, Takeda Katsuyori took his own life and the Kai-Takeda clan was eliminated.  On 8/5 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Yoshikiyo’s eldest son, Yamaura Kunikiyo, was appointed to serve as the chamberlain of Kaizu Castle (later known as Matsushiro Castle) and the Murakami clan returned to their former territory.