Shinohara Nagafusa


Shinohara Clan


Awa Province

Lifespan:  15xx to 7/16 of Genki 4 (1573)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Shinohara

Lord:  Miyoshi Jikkyū → Miyoshi Nagaharu

Father:  Shinohara Nagamasa

Siblings:  Nagafusa, Sakichibei, Jiton

Wife:  [Second wife] Daughter of Jissei

Children:  Nagashige, daughter (wife of Yasutomi Morisada)

Shinohara Nagafusa served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  Nagafusa was a retainer of the Miyoshi clan and served as the lord of Uezakura Castle in the Oe District of Awa Province.  Nagafusa was born as the son of Shinohara Nagamasa.

Nagafusa was a senior retainer of Miyoshi Jikkyū, the younger brother of Miyoshi Nagayoshi.  After the death in battle of Jikkyū, he supported Jikkyu’s orphan, Miyoshi Nagaharu, bringing together the Miyoshi family in Awa.  Nagafusa was known as a highly capable individual in both political and military arenas, compiling the provincial codes of the Miyoshi clan known as the shinka-seishiki enacted from 1562 and leading Miyoshi army forces from Awa and Sanuki provinces in Shikoku across the Seto Inland Sea on numerous deployments to the Kinai on the main island of Honshū.

Service as a senior retainer of Miyoshi Jikkyū

As the head of the Shinohara clan, Nagafusa was regarded as a confidant of Jikkyū.  In 1553, after Jikkyū killed Hosokawa Mochitaka (the military governor of Awa) and usurped his position, Nagafusa supported Jikkyū.  Under the command of Jikkyū, Nagafusa participated in numerous deployments from the eleventh month of 1554 to the second month of 1555 in Harima Province, from the eighth to twelfth months of 1558 in Settsu and Yamashiro provinces, and, during the Eiroku era (1558 to 1570), in attacks against Kagawa Yukikage of Sanuki Province.

In 1559, Nagafusa married the daughter of Jissei of the Kyōgyō Temple in Tonda in Settsu.  Jissei was the grandson of Rennyo, the eighth high priest of the Hongan Temple.

Beginning in the seventh month of 1561, in battles against Hatakeyama Takamasa and followers of the Negoro Temple, Nagafusa abided by Jikkyū to deploy to Izumi Province, and, at the Battle of Kumeda in the third month of 1562, fought valorously as the commander of the vanguard forces but, owing to a lack of defenders of the main base, his lord, Jikkyū, was killed in action.  Nagafusa gathered his troops and withdrew from the battlefield.  In the fifth month, he served under the command of Jikkyū’s older brother, Miyoshi Nagayoshi, at the Battle of Kyōkō Temple and defeated Takamasa.  After the Battle of Kumeda, Nagafusa underwent the rites of tonsure and adopted the monk’s name of Shūunsai Doboku.

Internal conflict in the Miyoshi family and the Siege of Shigisan Castle

After the death of Jikkyū, his eldest son, Miyoshi Nagaharu, succeeded him as the lord of Awa.  At this time, however, Nagaharu was only eight years old, so Nagafusa, along with his younger brothers, Shinohara Jiton (the lord of Kizu Castle) and Akazawa Sōden (the lord of Banzai Castle) supported Nagaharu.  In the twelfth month of 1564, upon learning of the death of Nagayoshi, Nagafusa traveled to Kyōto and, together with Miyoshi Nagayasu and Matsunaga Hisahide, made plans for future affairs and then returned home.

As internal discord enveloped the main branch of the Miyoshi family in the Kinai, in the sixth month of 1566, Nagafusa backed Ashikaga Yoshihide, mobilized forces from Shikoku in service of Miyoshi Nagaharu and Hosokawa Saneyuki (the son of Hosokawa Mochitaka and older brother of a different father of Nagaharu), and crossed the Seto Inland Sea, landing in the Kinai.  Nagafusa aligned himself with the powerful Miyoshi Group of Three who were members of the Miyoshi clan to oppose Matsunaga Hisahide.  In the ninth month, he captured Koshimizu Castle in the Muko District of Settsu from Kawarabayashi Mikawa-no-kami, an ally of the Matsunaga.  Based from this location, he engaged in battles in Yamato Province and across the region.

In the second month of 1568, Nagafusa participated in a grand banquet believed to have been a celebratory gathering for the ascendancy by Ashikaga Yoshihide to the role of the fourteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.  Together with the Miyoshi Group of Three, he toppled Shigisan Castle defended by Hosokawa Fujikata, an ally of the Matsunaga, in an event known as the Siege of Shigisan Castle.  Despite the alienation of Miyoshi Yoshitsugu (the head of the main branch of the Miyoshi), battles against Hisahide headed in a favorable direction.

According to the accounts of Luís Fróis, a Portuguese missionary residing in Japan during this period, around this time, Nagafusa had acquired more authority than the Miyoshi Group of Three.  He further noted that lord Shinohara was the only one capable of asserting control over them, wielding absolute power in Awa.  Indeed, Nagafusa took over Awa and Sanuki provinces, and, in the wake of Nagayoshi’s death, supported the Miyoshi family while it was in a period of decline.

March upon the capital by Oda Nobunaga and the Battle of Noda and Fukushima Castles

On 9/7 of Eiroku 11 (1568), Oda Nobunaga departed Gifu Castle in a march to Kyōto to install Ashikaga Yoshiaki as the fifteenth shōgun.  On 9/12, Kannonji Castle in Ōmi defended by Rokkaku Yoshikata was toppled in the Siege of Kannonji Castle.  On 9/25, after the Oda army advanced to Ōtsu, the forces led by Nagafusa and the Miyoshi Group of Three collapsed.  On 9/29, after an earlier retreat to Shōryūji Castle in Yamato, Iwanari Tomomichi surrendered.  On 9/30, Hosokawa Akimoto and Miyoshi Nagayasu abandoned Akutagawayama Castle in Settsu on 9/30 and, on 10/2, Nagafusa fled from Koshimizu Castle to Awa.  On 10/20, Ashikaga Yoshihide died of illness in Awa, while Matsunaga Hisahide and Miyoshi Yoshitsugu pledged allegiance to Nobunaga.  On 11/10, Nagafusa was subject to an attempted assassination.

In Awa, Nagafusa embarked on preparations to oppose Nobunaga.  In the first month of 1569, the Miyoshi Group of Three landed in Izumi Province, attacking Yoshiaki at the Honkoku Temple.  The aggressors were defeated by Hosokawa Fujitaka and Miyoshi Yoshitsugu, supported by reinforcements from Settsu led by Itami Chikaoki, Ikeda Katsumasa, and Araki Murashige, forcing them to flee back to Awa again.  This event is known as the Honkoku Temple Incident.

In the sixth month of 1570, Murashige colluded with Miyoshi Nagayasu to oust Katsumasa.  On 7/21, Miyoshi Yasunaga and the Miyoshi Group of Three landed again in Nakajima in Settsu and constructed Noda and Fukushima castles.  In the eighth month, Nobunaga led an expedition to Settsu to eliminate the Group of Three, and, on 8/26, attacked Noda and Fukushima castles.  Owing to the participation of adherents from the Ishiyama-Hongan Temple on 9/13, the Group of Three was able to withstand the attacks by the Oda forces.

Meanwhile, the combined forces of Azai Nagamasa and Asakura Yoshikage marched south from the western shores of Lake Biwa, attacking and killing Mori Yoshinari (a senior retainer of Nobunaga) and Oda Nobuharu in the Siege of Usayama Castle.  Concerned that the Azai and Asakura army would invade the capital, on 9/23, he abandoned the effort to subdue the Group of Three and commenced a withdrawal from Settsu after the Battle of Noda and Fukushima Castles.  The forces pulled back to Ōmi Province, leading to the Shiga Campaign, a prolonged conflict against the Azai and Asakura army who were based at the Enryaku Temple on Mount Hiei.

On 9/19, Nagafusa received from Kennyo (the eleventh high priest of the Hongan Temple) a letter proposing an alliance.  On 9/27, Nagafusa led forces from Awa and Sanuki, landing in the Hyōgo Inlet, killing Kawarabayashi Mikawa-no-kami, the lord of Kawarabayashi and Koshimizu castles.  On 10/1, the forces entered Noda and Fukushima castles, then advancing toward Yamashiro.  On 11/21, however, through intervention by Matsunaga Hisahide on behalf of the Oda, Nagafusa exchanged hostages with Hisahide and reached a settlement.

Sieges of Motobuto, Takaya, and Takatsuki castles

In 1570, Nagafusa arranged for the marriage of his daughter to Yasutomi Morisada of Sanuki Province.  Around the first half of 1571, Nagafusa had Sangawa Motochika transfer four neighborhoods in the Ōchi District to Morisada, strengthening Nagafusa’s foundation in the eastern portion of Sanuki.  In the fifth month of 1571, Nagafusa responded to a request from Uragami Munekage (under pressure from the Mōri clan aligned with Nobunaga) and landed in Kojima, an island in the Seto Inland Sea that was a part of Bizen Province serving as an important transit point between the main islands of Shikoku and Honshū.  Nagafusa defeated Awaya Narikata (under the command of Kobayakawa Takakage – the third son of Mōri Motonari) in the Battle of Motobuto Castle.

On 6/11 of Genki 2 (1571), Nagafusa led forces from Awa and Sanuki to land again in the Kinai.  The army attacked Hatakeyama Akitaka, a brother-in-law of Nobunaga and the lord of Takaya Castle in Kawachi Province.  At the end of the eighth month, Araki Murashige and Ikeda Tomomasa of Settsu Province attacked Ibaraki Shigetomo, Itami Chikaoki (one of three military governors of Settsu), and Wada Koremasa (one of three military governors of Settsu) who were allied with Ashikaga Yoshiaki.  This resulted in the killing of Shigetomo and Koremasa.  Next, the Ikeda forces assaulted and toppled Ibaraki and Kōriyama castles, and then surrounded Takatsuki Castle where Wada Korenaga (Koremasa’s son) was holed-up.  Matsunaga Hisahide and Matsunaga Hisamichi (father and son) and Miyoshi Yoshitsugu joined the besieging army.  According to the accounts of Luís Fróis, over a period of two days and two nights, the town below Takatsuki Castle was destroyed by fire.  On 9/9, Nobunaga dispatched Sakuma Nobumori and, on 9/24, Yoshiaki dispatched Akechi Mitsuhide to pursue a settlement, whereupon Murashige and the other soldiers pulled back.  This event is known as the Battle of Shiraikawara.

Nagafusa was the most capable figure in the Miyoshi family, excelling in both military and political affairs, which over time generated envy among certain of his retainers.

Siege of Uezakura Castle and elimination of the Shinohara clan

Koshōshō was described as a stunning woman.  She was a consort of Hosokawa Mochitaka, but, while Mochitaka was still alive, she was in an illicit relationship with Miyoshi Jikkyū, later becoming his wife and bearing two children, Miyoshi Nagaharu and Sogō Masayasu.  From around the time that Nagafusa returned to Awa, Koshōshō was involved in another illicit relationship with Shinohara Jiton (Nagafusa’s younger brother) who was supporting the Miyoshi clan.  Nagafusa remonstrated Jiton for the affair with Koshōshō and straightened-out the matter.  Perhaps out of frustration with the situation, Nagafusa confined himself to Uezakura Castle.  This, however, invited a betrayal and, believing that Nagafusa may rebel, Nagaharu gathered soldiers to subjugate Nagafusa.

In the fifth month of 1573, Nagafusa was attacked by Nagaharu and Saneyuki at his base at Uezakura Castle in an event known as the Siege of Uezakura Castle.  Following efforts to resist, he took his own life in the seventh month.   His son, Shinohara Nagashige, died in a failed surprise attack on the base of Sogō Masayasu. Slander by Shinohara Jiton of Nagafusa to Nagaharu served as a catalyst for the attack.  Around this time, Sogō Masayasu may have started to collude with the Oda clan via Matsura Nobuteru of Izumi Province.

In one account dated 4/19, Matsura Hizen-no-kami informed Nobunaga and Shibata Katsuie that he received a request from Sogō (no first name) to support an attack on Wakae Castle in Kawachi.  An offer was then made so that if Sogō immediately attacked Wakae Castle, he would receive the fief of Miyoshi Yoshitsugu comprising one-half of Kawachi and Kakenokōri in Settsu.  Moreover, even if the castle could not be captured on the first attempt, they would build an outlying base and if the attack eventually succeeded, he would receive one-half of Kawachi.  However, among the Matsura clan serving as the intermediaries was a natural son of Sogō Kazumasa (Matsura Magohachirō, the lord of Kishiwada Castle).  There is a possibility that the Sogō individual referred to in the letter was someone other than Masayasu.  In any event, Miyoshi Nagaharu and Masayasu, as siblings, continued to oppose the Oda.  There is also a theory that this led to the ouster of Nagafusa from the Awa-Miyoshi family after he had led the opposition to the Oda.

Nagafusa’s wife and children including his second son (Shinjirō), and third son (Yoshifusa) sought refuge at his wife’s original home at the Kyōgyō Temple, and then fled for their safety to Kii Province.  Later, they served as stewards of Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  Shinjirō returned to Awa and built a memorial to his father and older brother.

Based on the account of Onijima Michitomo who, at the age of eighteen in 1582, served Sogō Masayasu, Nagafusa said that even if he died, Nagaharu would control Awa for the next five years, while someone else would control the province thereafter.  Moreover, Nagafusa cast a long shadow so, it was aid that even after taking his own life, persons in Sanuki and Iyo provinces saw his figure.  Following the demise of Nagafusa, Uezakura Castle was abandoned.  Owing to his contributions in subduing Nagafusa, Kawashima Koretada was awarded a fief and built Kawashima Castle.

Religious affiliations

Luís Fróis, a Portuguese missionary residing in Japan during this period, considered Nagafusa as an individual who understood Christianity and that he wielded considerable authority, calling him the most powerful lord in Awa and a potent bushi.  According to Fróis, Nagafusa’s authority and power exceeded the Miyoshi Group of Three, and was in a position to direct their activities as well.  As noted by Fróis, Nagafusa was viewed favorably by the missionaries.  Nagafusa did not convert to Christianity, but understood the religion well and acted to protect their interests.  When a Christian bushi named Sanga Yoriteru (Shirai Hōki-no-kami) requested the Miyoshi Group of Three and Nagafusa to protect the Christians, Nagafusa showed understanding, stating that it was a logical position.

After Fróis was ousted from Kyōto by Matsunaga Hisahide, Nagafusa endeavored to gain permission for Fróis to return to the capital.  Nagafusa repeatedly petitioned Miyoshi Yoshitsugu (his lord and the head of the main branch of the Miyoshi family) to enable the return of Fróis to Kyōto, and discussed the matter on numerous occasions with the Miyoshi Group of Three.  Among his bushi subordinates was a Christian named Takeda Ichidayū who may have influenced Nagafusa’s tolerance of the Christian faith.  Listening to the opinion of Ichidayū, he treated the missionaries with kindness and respect, and, via Ichidayū, sent numerous letters to the Imperial Court to appeal for the protection of Christians.  In the diary of one Court lady, Nagafusa, Miyoshi Nagayasu, and Miyoshi Masayasu appealed to the Imperial Court in regard to the missionaries but the Court did not provide recognition of the request.

Nagafusa’s widow was the daughter of Jissei of the Kyōgyō Temple in Tonda in Settsu Province.  Jissei was the eldest son of Rengei, the eighth son of Rennyo, the eighth high priest of the Hongan Temple, so he maintained a close relationship with the Hongan Temple.  At the Siege of Uezakura Castle, however, the Saika group (adherents of the Hongan Temple from Ise Province) joined Miyoshi Nagaharu to attack Nagafusa, taking away Jissei’s daughter and her sons residing with her at the time.  Owing to their mercenary nature, in addition to members of the Jōdo Shinshū sect, the Saika group included followers of other sects.  The consequences of this diversity resulted in the group making certain policy decisions that were not necessarily to the benefit of the monks from the Jōdo Shinshū sect.