Tsutsui Junkei


Tsutsui Clan

Yamato Province

Tsutsui Junkei

Lifespan:  3/3 of Tenbun 18 (1549) to 8/11 of Tenshō 12 (1584)

Name Changes:  Fujikatsu → Fujimasa → Yōshunbō Junkei

Other Names:  Gon-no-shōsōzu (Buddhist title)

Rank:  bushō, sengoku daimyō

Clan:  Tsutsui

Lord:  Oda Nobunaga → Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Father:  Tsutsui Junshō

Mother: Ōkata-dono (daughter of Yamada Dōan)

Siblings:  Mitsuhide, sister (wife of Ido Yoshihiro), Junkei, sister (wife of Hashio Takaharu), sister (wife of Jimyōji Junkoku)

Wife:  Takahime (daughter of the Kujō family), Matsu (daughter of Fuse Haruyuki), daughter or younger sister of Oda Nobunaga

Adopted Children:  Sadatsugu, Junsai, Jōkei, Yoshiyuki

Tsutsui Junkei served as a bushō and sengoku daimyō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  Prior to entering the priesthood and adopting the name of Junkei, he received one of the characters from the name of Ashikaga Yoshifuji (later known as Yoshiteru, the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu) and used the names of Fujikatsu and Fujimasa.  Junkei was the lord of Tsutsui Castle and, later, the lord of Kōriyama Castle in Yamato Province.

Origins and succession

Junkei was born as the son of Tsutsui Junshō, a sengoku daimyō based in Tsutsui Castle in Yamato.  The Tsutsui clan evolved from influential members of the Ichijō sub-temple on the grounds of the Kōfuku Temple into a bushi (local samurai) family, and, in the era of Junshō, became the most powerful band of bushi in Yamato.  Based at Tsutsui Castle, the family grew in stature to become sengoku daimyō.  His mother, Ōkata-dono, was the daughter of Yamada Dōan.

In 1550, after Junkei’s father died of illness at the age of twenty-eight, Junkei inherited the family at the age of two under the guardianship of his uncle, Tsutsui Junsei.  In this period, the Tsutsui clan, along with the Ochi, the Hashio, and the Tōichi were known as the Four Families of Yamato, and in addition to warrior monks backed by the Kōfuku Temple, held sway over the province.  There was no military governor in Yamato at this time.  Beginning in 1559, a favored retainer of Miyoshi Nagayoshi named Matsunaga Hisahide invaded the province, and, in 1562, Tōichi Tōkatsu (who had been in a cooperative relationship with the Tsutsui) submitted to Hisahide so the Tsutsui faced increasingly tenuous circumstances.  Moreover, in 1564, Junkei’s uncle, Junsei, died.

In the eighth month of 1565, an army led by the Miyoshi Group of Three and Matsunaga Hisamichi (Hisahide’s eldest son) assassinated Ashikaga Yoshiteru (the thirteenth shōgun) in an event known as the Eiroku Incident.  On 11/16, the Miyoshi Group of Three split from Matsunaga Hisahide.  Having suddenly lost his patrons, Hisahide launched a surprise attack against Junkei while Junkei was in a vulnerable situation.  On 11/18, Junkei was ousted from his base in the Siege of Tsutsui Castle.  At this time, forces under his command including Hashio Takaharu and Takada Tōjirō cut ties with Junkei and departed.  After his ouster, Junkei fled to Fuse Castle, the base of a family member named Fuse Sakyō-no-shin.  According to certain historical accounts, he fled to Kawachi Province but this is not authenticated.

Thereafter, under the Fuse clan, Junkei reconstituted his forces and attacked Takada Castle, the base of the Takada clan who had earlier left him.

Battle to retake Tsutsui Castle

In an effort to roll-back his earlier losses, in 1566, Junkei commenced counterattacks against the Matsunaga army and plotted with the Miyoshi Group of Three to retake Tsutsui Castle.  After clashes from 4/11 to 4/21, he isolated Minoshō Castle in the Yamato District and compelled their surrender.  As Junkei and the Miyoshi Group of Three advanced toward Tsutsui Castle, on 5/19, Hisahide passed-through Yamato en route to Kawachi to converge with the allied Hatakeyama and Yusa clans.  In Sakai, a battle ensued between Hisahide and Miyoshi Yoshitsugu.  Junkei aimed to take advantage of the situation by recapturing Tsutsui Castle, whereupon his forces burned down the encampment of the Matsunaga located near the castle.

Hisahide did not head toward Tsutsui Castle, relying upon influential merchants in Sakai, the Notoya and Beniya, to reach a settlement and, on 5/30, disappeared.  Meanwhile, Junkei undertook an earnest effort to retake the castle.  After burning the enemy encampment, he filled-in the exterior moats and, on 6/8, finally achieved his goal.  In the background of Junkei’s retaking of Tsutsui Castle, an advance of forces led by a senior retainer of the Miyoshi family in Awa named Shinohara Nagafusa posed a further threat to Hisahide while he did not have the capacity to direct forces toward Tsutsui Castle.

After recapturing Tsutsui Castle, Junkei visited the Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara.  At this time, with Sōkei as the high priest to administer rites, he entered the priesthood and changed his name from Fujimasa to Yōshunbō Junkei.  His use of the name Junkei formally occurred from this time forward.  In 1567, Junkei joined again with Shinohara Nagafusa and the Miyoshi Group of Three and occupied and fortified a position at the Great Buddha Hall at the Tōdai Temple in Nara to confront Hisahide at Tamon Castle.  On 10/10, Hisahide’s army raided the Tōdai Temple for a final showdown.  Although his forces prevailed, incidental fires from the battle burned down the Great Buddha Hall in the Battle at the Great Buddha Hall of the Tōdai Temple.

Around this time, Oda Nobunaga gained prominence.  In 1568, his army marched upon Kyōto in support of Ashikaga Yoshiaki.  After attempting to oppose Nobunaga, in the ninth month, the Miyoshi Group of Three was expelled from the Kinai area.  Meanwhile, Ashikaga Yoshimi suddenly died before coming to the capital.   After installing Yoshiaki as the fifteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, Nobunaga achieved the pacification of the Kinai.  Matsunaga Hisahide maintained friendly relations with Nobunaga and Yoshiaki.  In contrast, however, Junkei was only focused on eliminating Hisahide, so there was a delay in gathering information.  With Junkei in a weak position, retainers such as Suda Bizen-no-kami cut ties and abandoned him.

Hisahide then became a direct retainer of the bakufu under Yoshiaki and Yamato Province was governed separately.  Hisahide led the Kōriyama-Tatsumi group and marched toward Tsutsui Castle.  Junkei fled for the protection of his uncle, Fukusumi Junkō.  On 10/10, an army of 20,000 soldiers led by Sakuma Nobumori and Hosokawa Fujitaka came in support and both armies began to subjugate Yamato.  Junkei was in Fukusumi Castle, but, in 1570, owing to internal discord following the death of Tōichi Tōkatsu, he attacked and toppled Tōichi Castle.  After recapturing Kubonoshō Castle in Yamato, the base of the Kuboki clan aligned with the Matsunaga, he constructed Tsubaokami Castle in preparation for fighting against Hisahide.

In 1571, Hisahide worked through Takeda Shingen to join forces with Shinohara Nagafusa and Araki Murashige.  From the sixth to eighth months, he attacked the bases of Hatakeyama Akitaka and Wada Korenaga who sided with Ashikaga Yoshiaki.  Yoshiaki responded by deepening his ties with Junkei, arranging for the marriage of his adopted daughter who originally came from the Kujō family.  The Kujō were one of five families known as the sekke, the highest-ranking nobility who were direct descendants of the Fujiwara clan (with the other families being the Konoe, the Ichijō, the Nijō, and the Takatsukasa).  Junkei ordered Ido Yoshihiro to commence the construction of Tatsuichi Castle.  Upon completion of the castle on 7/3, it served as a bridgehead for attacks against the Matsunaga.  The construction is believed to have proceeded quickly owing to economic support provided by Junkei to the locals.  Riding momentum, on 8/4, the allied forces of Matsunaga Hisahide and Matsunaga Hisamichi (father and son) together with Miyoshi Yoshitsugu approached Tatsuichi Castle, turning into a large-scale conflict.  Junkei, however, intercepted the allied forces, inflicting serious losses with 500 killed in action including Hisahide’s nephew and a senior retainer named Takeuchi Hidekatsu.  Owing to this defeat, Hisahide abandoned Tsutsui Castle while Junkei succeeded in its recapture.  This development enabled Junkei to sever the route between Shigisan and Tamonyama castles, placing Hisahide in a weak position.

Service to Oda Nobunaga

On 10/25 of Genki 2 (1571), Junkei, through the offices of Akechi Mitsuhide, pledged to service of Nobunaga.  Meanwhile, Hisahide, via Sakuma Nobumori, also pledged to serve Nobunaga.  On 11/1 of the same year, Junkei and Hisahide, through the intermediation of Mitsuhide and Nobumori, reconciled with one another.  Eventually, Hisahide colluded with Ashikaga Yoshiaki based on their shared enmity toward Nobunaga and joined the encirclement campaign against Nobunaga, but Junkei invited Hisahide and Hisamichi to Kitakōji Castle for entertainment including traditional theater known as sarugaku, maintaining outwardly smooth relations for a period.

In the fourth month of 1572, Hisahide made clear his intention to rebel against Nobunaga, and, together with Miyoshi Yoshitsugu and the Miyoshi Group of Three, raised arms.  In the fourth month of 1573, Takeda Shingen died of illness and, in the seventh month, after a defeat at the Siege of Makishima Castle, Yoshiaki was ousted from Kyōto.  After providing Yoshiaki refuge, in the eleventh month, Yoshitsugu was eliminated at the Battle of Wakae Castle.  In the twelfth month, Hisahide was surrounded at Tamonyama Castle and proposed a reconciliation, surrendering on the condition that he vacate the castle.  On 12/26, he departed from Tamonyama Castle.  Around this time, Junkei had aligned with Nobunaga and toppled Kisabe Castle (also known as Katano Castle) in Kawachi in a stategic location connecting Kyōto, Nara, and Settsu Province.  In the first month of 1574, Hisahide visited Gifu Castle.  That same month, Junkei visited Gifu and met with Nobunaga.  On 3/23, as evidence of his allegiance, he tendered his mother as a hostage.

Thereafter, Junkei participated in battles under the command of Nobunaga.  On 2/27 of Tenshō 3 (1575), Junkei received either Nobunaga’s daughter or younger sister as his wife.  In the third month of the same year, after Harada Naomasa (also known as Ban Naomasa) was appointed as the military governor of Yamato, Junkei served as a yoriki, or security officer.  In the fifth month of the same year, at the Battle of Nagashino, he supplied a unit of fifty arquebusiers.  In the eighth month, for the attack against the Echizen Ikkō-ikki, he participated in a unit among the forces from Yamato led by Harada Naomasa.  In the fourth month of 1576, Naomasa was killed during an attack on the Mitsudera fortress in a battle against followers of the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple.

On 5/10 of Tenshō 4 (1576), Nobunaga sent Akechi Mitsuhide and Manmi Shigemoto (also known as Senchiyo) as messengers to assign governance of Yamato to Junkei.  At the same time, he appointed Juneki to serve as a yoriki, or security officer, for Mitsuhide.  On 5/22, Junkei’s mother who had served as a hostage returned to Yamato.  Allowing her return was a means of giving thanks after Junkei visited Azuchi Castle during its construction to meet with Nobunaga and presented him with two long swords, permissions, and cloth, while receiving silk and a horse in return.  On 5/30, Mitsuhide became severely ill at an encampment for battles against the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple, so Junkei had seven monks at the Ichijō Temple pray for his recovery.

In 1577, Junkei, together with other generals, suppressed a rebellion by the Saika group in an event known as the Kishū Expedition.  In the tenth month of 1577, after Hisahide raised arms a second time against Nobunaga, Junkei served in the vanguard forces at the Siege of Shigisan Castle.  At the outset, he toppled Kataoka Castle, followed by a mass assault against Shigisan Castle.  On 10/10, the castle finally fell, while Hisahide and Hisamichi killed themselves.  In a final act of defiance, prior to taking his life, Hisahide was said to have smashed a precious tea kettle known as the kotenmyō-hiragumo that was coveted by Nobunaga.  With respect to the fall of Shigisan Castle, Hisahide sent a retainer named Mori Yoshihisa to request reinforcements from the Hongan Temple, but, after departing the castle, Yoshihisa betrayed him by going directly to Junkei’s encampment to inform him of the situation inside the castle and then to lead a battalion of arquebusiers to take-up a position in opposition to the defenders.

Hisahide’s remains were gathered by Junkei and carefully buried at the Daruma Temple.  According to another source, Hisahide was buried by Irie Daigorō.

Following the demise of Hisahide and Hisamichi, in 1578, Yamato was pacified.  That same year, upon orders of Nobunaga, Ryūōzan Castle was destroyed.  In the fourth month, Junkei participated in the invasion of Harima.  In the sixth month, he attacked Kanki Castle defended by Kanki Yorisada.  After returning in the tenth month to his home province, he subjugated the followers of the Ikkō sect from Yoshino who acted in concert with the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple.  In 1579, Junkei joined in the Siege of Arioka Castle following a rebellion against Nobunaga by Araki Murashige.

In 1580, when Junkei planned to transfer from his base at Tsutsui Castle to Kōriyama Castle, in the eighth month, Nobunaga issued an order to destroy castles other than bases.  Junkei destroyed Tsutsui Castle and outlying castles and moved to the newly built Kōriyama Castle.  The reason for transferring from Tsutsui to Kōriyama Castle owed to the location of Tsutsui in a lowland area susceptible to flooding.  On 9/8 of the same year, Nobunaga ordered Junkei to conduct a land survey of all of Yamato, and, by the twelfth month, dispatched Akechi Mitsuhide and Takigawa Kazumasu to have the orders implemented.  On 10/28, individuals under the command of the Tsutsui family who were formerly servile to Hisahide, including Kaijū, Oka Yajirō, Daibuku, and Takada Tōjirō were executed upon orders of Mitsuhide for having once rebelled against Nobunaga.  In a sealed certificate dated 11/7, Nobunaga delegated Yamato Province to the Tsutsui family along with the annoucement to enter Kōriyama Castle.  On 6/3 of Tenshō 9 (1581), he killed Handa Hidetō with whom he had previous discord.  On 6/15, he was granted his territory.

At the Tenshō Iga Disturbance, Junkei joined other bushō to serve Oda Nobukatsu.  On 9/3, as the forces advanced from Yamato to Iga, he directed a division of 3,700 troops and, together with Gamō Ujisato, set-up a base in the foothills of Mount Hiji.  After a nighttime attack by forces from Iga, one-half of the soldiers were lost.  At this time, a retainer named Kikugawa Seikurō who was knowledgeable of the local geography rescued Junkei from his precarious situation in an event known as the Siege of Hijiyama Castle.

After the Honnō Temple Incident

On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Oda Nobunaga died in a dramatic coup d’état launched by one of his senior retainers, Akechi Mitsuhide, known as the Honnō Temple Incident.  Junkei summoned his senior retainers and family members including Fukusumi Junkō, Fuse Sakyō-no-shin, Tsutsui Junkoku, Hashio Takaharu, Shima Kiyooki (Sakon), Matsukura Shigenobu for a military council.  In addition to be relatives, Junkei served as a yoriki for Mitsuhide and came under the command of Nobunuga through the offices of Mitsuhide.  Among the many military staff in the Oda army, Junkei had a close relationship with Mitsuhide who also was one of the few cultured individuals.  Therefore, after the coup d’état, Mitsuhide requested Junkei to ally with him.

Junkei dispatched troops to set-up a position near Tatsuichi.  Although he did not actively move forward, he did support Mitsuhide by sending troops to Ōmi.  After further councils, he devised a plan to direct the army once to Kawachi Province, but then accumulated food provisions to prepare for holding Kōriyama Castle.  On 6/10, he he had a pledge written for allegiance to Hashiba Hideyoshi.  That same day, a retainer named Fujita Yukimasa visited Junkei at Kōriyama Castle and urged him to send forces to Mitsuhide, but Junkei turned him away.  Groundless rumors then circulated beginning with a story that Junkei had committed seppuku at Kōriyama on 6/11.

Based on a close relationship with Junkei who served as one of his security officers, Mitsuhide expected that Junkei would supply forces.  To control Kawachi, he established a formation at Horagatōge and observed Junkei’s movements.  Aware that he was under watch, Junkei likely interpreted the formation on Horagatōge as a means to threaten him or keep him in check.  In later eras, the reason for Mitsuhide’s deployment to Horagatōge was distorted such that Junkei was there to observe the battle between Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi, giving rise to a legend exemplifying the principle of opportunism (i.e., Junkei waiting to see who would prevail before choosing sides).

In the end, when, on 6/13, Mitsuhide fled in defeat after the Battle of Yamazaki, he was killed by locals while on the run.  With respect to the rebellion, Mitsuhide anticipated that daimyō of the Oda in the Kinai area who could offer support would ally with him, but in the absence of Junkei (with a fief of 180,000 koku which, combined with yoriki in Yamato, totaled 450,000 koku) and Hosokawa Yūsai (with had a fief of 120,000 koku) proved fatal in terms of military power.

On 6/14, Junkei departed Yamato and headed toward Daigo in Kyōto.  When meeting with Hashiba Hideyoshi, Juneki was criticized for being late to a deployment.  This censure triggered health issues while led to rumors acorss Nara that left the citizens anxious.  On 6/27, the Kiyosu Conference was held to choose the successor to Oda Nobunaga as the head of the Oda clan.  Junkei, along with other ordinary bushō, stood by to await the decision.  On 7/11, as evidence of his allegiance to Hideyoshi, he tendered his adopted son, Tsutsui Sadatsugu, as a hostage.  There are also theories that Sadatsugu was his nephew or younger cousin.

After the death of Mitsuhide, Junkei became a retainer of Hideyoshi and received recognition of the rights to his territory in Yamato.  Beginning around 1584, he lay in bed with stomach ailments, but was urged to deploy to the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute and, despite his illness, fought in Ise and Mino provinces.  After returning to Yamato, before long, he died of illness at the age of thirty-six.  He was succeeded by Sadatsugu as head of the family.

After the death of Junkei

After the death of Junkei, a retainer named Shima Sakon did not get along well with Junkei’s successor, Tsutsui Sadatsugu, so he separated from the family, later becoming a retainer of Ishida Mitsunari and participating in the Battle of Sekigahara on behalf of the Western Army.

On 8/18 of Tenshō 13 (1585), after the death of Junkei, the Tsutsui family was transferred by Hideyoshi to Ueno in Iga Province with a fief of 200,000 koku.  Sadatsugu joined the mobilization to subdue the Uesugi who supported the Tokugawa.  He the returned after receving a report that while under attack at Ueno Castle, Tsutsui Genba-no-jō (who was guarding the castle while others were away), opened the castle without fighting and absconded.  Although he recovered the castle, he could not participate in the Battle of Sekigahara, so, after the war, he did not receive an increase to his fief.

Thereafter, Sadatsugu paid a visit to Toyotomi Hideyori to offer a new year’s greeting but, the family split between the Tokugawa and Toyotomi factions.  On 12/23 of Keichō 11 (1606), Ueno Castle was ravaged by fire, and, issues surrounding its reconstruction reignited the conflicts between the factions.  In 1608, at the Tsutsui Disturbance, a senior retainer named Naka-no-bō Hidesuke appealed to Ieyasu in regard to the poor governance of his lord, Sadatsugu, and fatigue from his deer hunting.  Sadatsugu was then removed from his position and, together with his eldest son, Tsutsui Juntei, were turned-over to the Iwaki-Taira domain in Mutsu Province.  After a period of incarceration, on 3/5 of 1615, were obliged to commit seppuku, drawing to an end the Tsutsui family.  Ueno in Iga was a strategic location to contain the Toyotomi family.  From the perspective of Ieyasu, he may have removed Sadatsugu owing to Sadatsugu’s uncertain relationship with the Toyotomi in addition to distrust of Sadatsugu himself.


Junkei was a cultured individual with an interest in the tea ceremony, yōkyoku (the vocal section of the music associated with classical drama as sung by the chorus), and tanka poetry.  Owing to his own experience as a monk, he held a deep interest in the Buddhist faith and generously protected the temples.  In 1580, however, after confiscating a temple bell to melt down for the production of arquebuses, the Kōfuku Temple ordered his punishment so, during the period that he served Nobunaga, he was not always protective of their interests.


While the Tsutsui were extinguished as a daimyō family, there were many collateral families among the descendants.  Junkei’s adopted son, Jōkei, had a younger brother named Tsutsui Junsai (the second son of Fukusumi Junkō) who served as a hatamoto for Tokugawa Ieyasu and owned a fief of 1,000 koku.  The family name continued until the end of the Edo bakufu.   At the end of the bakufu, a descendant named Tsutsui Masayoshi conducted negotiations for the Treaty of Shimoda (1855) initiating official relations between Russia and Japan.  He originated from the Kuze clan and, as an adoptee, inherited the Tsutsui clan.