Lifespan: Unknown to 8/24 of Eiroku 2 (1559)
Other Names: Sochū (monk’s name), Noda Sakon-no-taifu
Title: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and General of the Left Division; Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Governor of Shimotsuke
Father: Tō Tsunekazu
Siblings: Tsuneyoshi, Sokei
Children: Tsunetaka, daughter (formal wife of Endō Morikazu and, later, Nagai Michitoshi), daughter (formal wife of Itoshiro Genzaburō)
Tō Tsuneyoshi served as a bushō during the Sengoku period. He was the head of the main branch of the Tō family serving as the lord of Shinowaki Castle in the Gujō District of Mino Province.
Wada Gorōzaemon, the son of Endō Taneshige, a maternal relative of the Tō clan, resided in a stronghold in Wada-Aizu in the township of Otara. Once he began to resist the Tō, Tsuneyoshi feared his growing power. In 1540, Tsuneyoshi plotted with Endō Taneyori (Taneshige’s grandfather and the lord Kigoshi Castle) and Taneyori’s younger brother, Endō Morikazu. They then lured Gorōzaemon on the pretext of a consultation in regard to repairs to Shinowaki Castle, whereupon he was killed at the hands of Taneyori and Morikazu. After members of the Wada clan learned of the incident, but before they could hold a war council to discuss retribution for the act, Tsuneyoshi launched a surprise attack and decimated the clan. In the wake of these events, the land in Otara formerly held by Gorōzaemon was allocated to Endō Zenbei.
On 8/25 of 1540 (Tenbun 9), troops under Asakura Takakage of Echizen invaded the territory and forced Itoshiro Genzaburō, the son-in-law of Tsuneyoshi from the village of Itoshiro, to serve as a guide. While guiding the Asakura forces under coercion, Genzaburō sent his younger brother, Hyōgo, to deliver an urgent message to Tsuneyoshi. Tsuneyoshi, upon the counsel of Taneyori and Morikazu, committed to a decisive showdown against Takakage, shoring-up the defenses of Shinowaki Castle. When, on 9/3, the Asakura army mounted an attack, the defenders, from their position in radial-shaped moats, rolled large boulders upon the enemy forces, repelling them. This, however, also caused significant damage to the castle itself. The following year, before repairs were completed to the castle, the Asakura commenced another offensive in Gujō, whereupon Tsuneyoshi sought aid from the Anyō Temple in Ōshima. After amassing approximately 1,000 followers of the temple, he set-up an encampment on the Aburasaka Ridge on the provincial border of Mino and Echizen and, with only these men, halted the invasion by the Asakura forces. In 1541, after suspending the renovation of Shinowaki Castle, Tsuneyoshi decided to build a castle better suited to the defense of Gujō. He then built Tōdoyama Castle on Mount Akadani and assigned his son, Tō Tsunetaka, to its defense.
In 1541, Sumi Sadayasu, the lord of Achiba Castle, defied orders so Tsuneyoshi raised an army to subjugate him, compelling Sadayasu to take his own life. These forces decimated the Sumi clan which had held power in the northern portion of Gujō for many generations.
In 1552, upon orders of Tsuneyoshi, who feared the expanding power of Kawai Shichirō, a member of the Tō clan and the lord of Fukuno Castle. Endō Morikazu then launched a surprise attack against Fukuno Castle and decimated Shichirō’s family. Morikazu, who had been residing in Kigoshi Castle with his older brother, Taneyori, was then granted the former landholdings of the Kawai and constructed Tsuruoyama Castle.
Tō Tsunetaka (Tsuneyoshi’s son) was a treacherous character so Tsuneyoshi arranged for Morikazu to wed his daughter and adopted him as his son-in-law. According to one theory, Tsuneyoshi transferred headship of the clan to Morikazu between 1555 and 1558. Meanwhile, Tsuneyoshi sought to arrange for Tsunetaka to wed the daughter of Endō Taneyori (Morikazu’s older brother) as a means to cement the authority of the Tō over the Endō. Citing the malevolent character of Tsunetaka, Taneyori declined and, instead, wed her to Hatasa Rokurōemon. Resentful of this act, on 8/1 of 1559 (Eiroku 2), when Taneyori came to visit at Tōdoyama Castle on Mount Akadani, Tsunetaka had a retainer named Nagase Naizen shoot him with an arquebus.
At this time, Morikazu, serving as the lord of Kariyasu Castle, had already been pondering the overthrow of the Tō, so he called upon his allies in Gujō to mount an attack to avenge the killing of his brother. According to one theory, Morikazu also gained support from Mitsuki Yoshiyori of Hida Province and, on 8/14 set-up a position atop Mount Hachiman, opposing the Tō from north to south across the Yoshida River. After a ten-day siege, on 8/24, he rescued Taneyori’s son and heir, Endō Tanetoshi, and toppled Tōdoyama Castle, killing Tsuneyoshi and forcibly taking over the headship of the clan from the Tō. In a mortuary tablet at the Hokushin Temple, Tsuneyoshi was taken by Morikazu to the temple where he died on 8/24. This, however, may have been a fabricated account to bolster the authority of the Endō clan. In any case, after these events, Morikazu built Gujō-Hachiman Castle to serve as his main base, developed a town below the castle, and asserted control over the entire Gujō District of Mino.
His son, Tsunetaka, fled for the protection of Uchigashima Gonokami, whose daughter he had earlier wed in 1549. He continued to resist until he died in the collapse of Kaerikumo Castle in the township of Shirakawa in the Ōno District of Hida during the Great Earthquake of Tenshō on 11/29 of Tenshō 13 (1586).