Incident at the Yōkyū Event


Asakura Clan



The Incident at the Yōkyū Event (Yōkyūkai-jiken) occurred in the ninth month of 1540 as a political event involving the Muromachi bakufu in regard to a dispute within the Asakura clan.  In the Sengoku period, the bakufu experienced a decline of authority.  Nevertheless, it proved useful for many of the provincial daimyō to maintain relationships with the Ashikaga shōgun as a means to exert control over their territories and to check the movements of their opponents.  Meanwhile, these opponents cultivated their own contacts with the shōgun for the same reasons.  The daimyō forged relationships with the shōgun and acquired information in regard to affairs of the bakufu through mōshitsugi, or intermediaries, between the clans and the bakufu.  Orders issued by the shōgun owing to the influence of these daimyō may or may not have been obeyed depending upon the particular circumstances within individual clans and provinces at any given time.

The Asakura of Echizen and the Takeda of Wakasa were no exceptions.  The clans engaged in long-running territorial disputes, and each endeavored to support rebellious activities within the other clan.  In 1538, Asakura Takakage backed a rebellion against Takeda Nobutoyo (head of the Takeda in Wakasa) by Takeda Nobutaka, the younger cousin of Nobutoyo.  Meanwhile, Nobutoyo joined with members of the Hongan Temple in an attempt to surround the Asakura.  In 1540, Asakura Kagetaka, the younger brother of Takakage, absconded from Kyōto in connection with his own failed attempt to overthrow Takakage.

In the ninth month of 1540, a yōkyūkai, a type of archery tournament using miniature bows and arrows,  was held at the residence of Ise Sadataka, a shitsuji, or director, in the offices of the bakufu in Kyōto.  Yōkyū was a popular pursuit among nobles of the time.  Asakura Takakage attended along with Hongō Mitsuyasu, a member of the naidanshū, or bakufu staff members.  Upon learning of this event, Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun, ordered Sadataka to be banished and Mitsuyasu to commit seppuku, upon which Mitsuyasu fled.  Both men were pardoned the following year, but Mitsuyasu lost his position as a staff member.  Kagetaka was driven out of Kyōto, fleeing to the western region with the assistance of the Takeda from Wakasa.

Several days later, Asakura Takakage donated 50 kan mon as a symbol of his appreciation to Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the shōgun, for not forgiving Kagetaka.  This gift was in addition to 100 kan mon that Yoshiharu had earlier ordered Takakage to help maintain the kinri, or residence of the Emperor.  Takakage also gave 10 kan mon to Ōdachi Harumitsu, a member of the naidanshū.

Harumitsu was the intermediary for the Asakura, while Sadataka served a similar role for the Takeda.  Mitsuyasu was a member of the hōkōshū, or a military official of the bakufu, and landowner in Wakasa Province and had a close relationship with the Takeda of Wakasa. Sadataka and Mitsuyasu represented the interests of the Takeda within the bakufu, while at the same time supporting Kagetaka in order to weaken the influence of the Asakura clan under Takakage.  Meanwhile, Harumitsu acted on behalf of Takakage, and maneuvered to have Kagetaka expelled.  As a result, Yoshiharu did not forgive Kagetaka for rebelling against Takakage in his role as head of the Asakura clan, and temporarily removed those at the top of the mandokoro, or the political office in charge of the households of the kuge.  His verdict was extraordinarily favorable to Takakage, and the Asakura responded by making significant financial donations.

During this period, Kyōto served as a stage for vigorous diplomacy by the provincial daimyō, and also provided an opportunity for opponents of the heads of clans to seek support from influential members of the bakufu in an attempt to gain an advantage. Relationships between the daimyō and the shōgun continued to deteriorate; and, there was a risk that if the shōgun accommodated those seeking to rebel against their lords, then they would learn of the support given to the bakufu by their opponents and would possibly respond with an attack on the bakufu.  In order to avoid this outcome, the daimyō were compelled to maintain stable relations with the shōgun so as to avoid instigating an attack against the bakufu.