Lifespan: Meiō 1 (1492) to 7/9 of Eishō 15 (1518)
Other Names: Sasaki Ujitsuna, Shirō
Rank: bushō, shugo daimyō, sengoku daimyō
Title: Governor of Ōmi
Bakufu: Muromachi – Military governor of Ōmi
Lord: Ashikaga Yoshitane → Ashikaga Yoshiharu
Father: Rokkaku Takayori
Mother: Adopted daughter of Ashikaga Shigeuji
Siblings: Ujitsuna, Sadayori, Ōhara Takayasu, Wada Takamori, Umedo Takazane, Shingen, sister (wife of Imadegawa Suetaka), sister (wife of Kyōgoku Kimune)
Wife: Daughter of Ashikaga Masatomo
Children: Yoshisane, Nikki Yoshimasa
Rokkaku Ujitsuna served as a bushō, shugo daimyō, and sengoku daimyō of southern Ōmi Province during the Sengoku period. Ujitsuna was the thirteenth head of the Rokkaku clan and served as the military governor of Ōmi.
In 1492, Ujitsuna was born as the lineal heir of Rokkaku Takayori, a sengoku daimyō and the twelfth head of the Rokkaku clan.
In 1505, Ujitsuna followed Ashikaga Yoshizumi, the eleventh shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, during a visit to the Imperial palace and was in charge of security at the gate of the residence of the shōgun. During an internal conflict in the Kyōgoku clan of northern Ōmi, Ujitsuna backed Kyōgoku Kimune, sharpening his power.
In 1506, upon the retirement of Takayori, Ujitsuna inherited the headship of the clan. That same year, after Hosokawa Sumiyuki and Hosokawa Sumimoto (adopted sons of Hosokawa Masamoto, the kanrei, or deputy shōgun) came into conflict, Ujitsuna led an army to Kyōto and remained in the capital until 1507. In the sixth month of 1507, Masamoto, was assassinated by supporters of Sumiyuki in an event known as the Lord Hosokawa Incident (Hosokawa-dono no hen). This immediately triggered a succession struggle between his three adopted sons: Sumiyuki, Sumimoto, and Hosokawa Takakuni. On 8/1, Sumiyuki was killed in battle against Sumimoto and Miyoshi Yukinaga. Thereafter, Sumimoto and Takakuni engaged in a prolonged struggle for control of the Hosokawa-Keichō family known as the Conflict between the Hosokawa (Ryō-Hosokawa no ran). This occurred in the context of a broader conflict involving the Ashikaga shōgun family known as the Eishō Disturbance (Eishō no sakuran).
Following the assassination of Masamoto, Ujitsuna returned from Kyōto to Ōmi while Ashikaga Yoshitada (later known as Ashikaga Yoshitane), with the backing of Ōuchi Yoshioki, marched to the capital and resumed his position as the shōgun. In 1511, Ujitsuna presented Yoshitada with a long sword, a chestnut-colored horse, and 3,000 coins, pledging his allegiance to him. Thereafter, the Rokkaku clan vowed loyalty to Yoshitada’s lineage within the Ashikaga shōgun family. Meanwhile, Ujitsuna aimed to expand his power by turning into retainers those members of the hōkōshū (the military organ under the direct control of the shōgun) who had landholdings in Ōmi including many members of the Sasaki family. A drawing from around this time is inscribed with the name of Sasaki Ujitsuna/Sadayori.
During the Ōnin-Bunmei War (1467 to 1477), battles waged in Ōmi caused significant damage. In its aftermath, Ujitsuna promoted redevelopment in Ōmi including with donations for reconstruction of the Eigen Temple (founded by Rokkaku Ujiyori in the Nanbokuchō period) as well as by prohibiting the imposition of extraordinary taxes on shrines and temples. From around 1516, injuries sustained during battles in the capital left him incapacitated. His younger brother, 吉侍者 (later known as Rokkaku Sadayori), while still a monk at the Shōkoku Temple, served as a proxy for Ujitsuna in battle and performed some of his political duties.
According to one source, Ujitsuna by birth had one leg shorter than the other and was of frail health. Although this reference cannot be substantiated, from 1514, his younger brother, Sadayori, issued documents on behalf of the Rokkaku clan. Moreover, references to Ujitsuna last appear in an entry from the eighth month of 1517 to mark the sixth anniversary of the death of his mother reflecting the long illness endured from injuries sustained in battle against the Hosokawa clan.
On 7/9 of Eishō 15 (1518), Ujitsuna died at the age of twenty-seven, preceding in death his father. Sadayori then returned to secular life to inherit the headship of the clan. Under an alternate theory, Ujitsuna was succeeded by his son, Rokkaku Yoshisane, and Sadayori served as his proxy in battle. In 1546, after Yoshisane entered the priesthood, when Ashikaga Yoshiteru was appointed at the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu in Sakamoto in Ōmi, Sadayori, while serving as the military governor of Ōmi, was appointed as the kanreidai, or vice deputy shōgun, in the only known appointment of an official to this position. According to one scholar, this equated to Sadayori becoming the head of the main branch of the clan. There is a counterargument that Ujitsuna transferred headship of the clan to Sadayori as his successor based on the existence of writings from Sadayori appreciating Ikeda Saburōzaemon-no-jō to whom transfer documents, land grants, family precepts, and so forth from Ujitsuna to Sadayori were entrusted.
One of Ujitsuna’s sons succeeded to the headship of the Nikki clan (Nikki Masanaga and Nikki Takanaga) who served as the military governors of Iga Province and adopted the name of Nikki Yoshimasa.
Around this time, neighboring Iga Province was allied with and under the influence of the Rokkaku clan and it is surmised that the Rokkaku governed the province. The Nikki clan served as the military governors of Iga for generations and, during the period of peak prosperity, were prominent members of the Ashikaga family serving as military governors of several provinces including Ise.
After becoming the head of the Nikki clan, Yoshimasa served as a member of the shōbanshū for Ashikaga Yoshiteru (the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) and, later, Ashikaga Yoshiaki (the fifteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu), the personal retinue of the shōgun to host visitors and accompany the shōgun on visits outside.
Yoshimasa’s son, Nikki Terutsuna, received one of the characters in his name from Ashikaga Yoshiteru and, together with Yoshiteru, fought against the Miyoshi clan. He was killed in action, preceding his father in death, but his descendants adopted the surname of Kawabata and became retainers of the Tottori domain in the Edo period.
Yoshimasa and Terutsuna used the surname of Sasaki at the same time as the surname of Nikki so appear to have operated as de facto members of the Rokkaku-Sasaki clan.
One scholar noted that Sadayori was the chief mourner at Ujitsuna’s sixth and twelfth death anniversaries (recognized by Buddhist tradition) indicating that Ujitsuna did not have a son (who otherwise would have served in this role).