Yoshitaka Ouchi (1/2)The most talented person in western Japan

Yoshitaka Ouchi

Yoshitaka Ouchi

Article category
Yoshitaka Ouchi (1507-1551)
place of birth
Yamaguchi Prefecture
Related castles

The Onin War was a battle between East and West. At this time, the main force of the Western Army was the Ouchi family, the feudal lord of Suo. Furthermore, after the Onin War, Masamoto Hosokawa was in de facto control of the capital. When Masamoto was assassinated, the Ouchi family temporarily took control of Kyoto. Yoshitaka Ouchi was born into such a powerful family. Yoshitaka took control of Kitakyushu from the Chugoku region and became the most powerful ruler in western Japan. This time, we will take a look at Yoshitaka Ouchi, a powerful player in western Japan.

Who is Mr. Suo Ouchi?

The Suo-Ouchi clan, where Yoshitaka Ouchi was born. The origin of the Ouchi clan is different from that of other daimyo and samurai families. Japanese samurai families are generally descendants of the Genpei Fujitachibana or other central nobility, or call themselves such.

For example, Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga's ancestor was a Taira clan.
For example, Tokugawa Ieyasu. Ieyasu's ancestor was Genji.

However, the Ouchi clan was not descended from ``Genpei Totachibana'' but from the son of King Semyong of Baekje. He took the surname ``Tara'' because he docked at Tatarahama in Suo Province (present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture), and that name appears in history in the late Heian period. Furthermore, since he lived in Ouchi Village, Suo Province, his surname changed from Tatara to Ouchi. During the Heian period, he served as an official in Suo Province, but as the era changed to Kamakura, Nanbokucho, and Muromachi, he became the shugo daimyo of Suo Province.

Now, Yoshitaka Ouchi's grandfather Masahiro Ouchi adopted Sozen Yamana's adopted daughter (daughter of Hiroki Yamana), so he fought as the main force of Sozen Yamana's western army during the Onin War. During the battle, both the eastern army's general, Katsumoto Hosokawa, and the western army's general, Sozen Yamana, died and peace was reached, but Masahiro Ouchi continued to fight in Kyoto and left Kyoto through the mediation of Shogun Yoshimasa Ashikaga. As a result, the Onin War ended.

This is Yoshioki Ouchi, the son of Masahiro Ouchi and the father of Yoshitaka Ouchi. Yoshioki went to Kyoto after a period of eternal confusion in which Masamoto Hosokawa was murdered. For a time, they dominated Kyoto and were so powerful that they were even called ``Tenkajin.'' Then came the era of Yoshitaka Ouchi, the son of Yoshioki Ouchi.

Birth of Yoshitaka Ouchi

Yoshitaka Ouchi was born in 1507 as the eldest son of Yoshioki Ouchi, the shugo of the four provinces of Suo, Nagato, Iwami, and Buzen. His childhood name was Kidomaru. This name, Kaedomaru, was given by the names of successive heads of the family, including his father and grandfather. By giving Yoshitaka this name, my father had to clearly indicate that he was the next head of the family when he was born. This is because the Ouchi family often had internal conflicts during the succession of the family head, so it was named because it was necessary to prevent such conflicts.

Around 1520, he received an epithet from the 10th Shogun Yoshitane Ashikaga, celebrated Genpuku, and took the name Yoshitaka.

family inheritance

After completing his Genpuku ceremony, Yoshitaka Ouchi followed his father to the front in Aki Province (present-day Hiroshima Prefecture) in 1524. Together with his senior vassal Suekobo, he attacked Sato Ginzan Castle, which was ruled by the Takeda family, the guardians of Aki Province. This advancement of the Ouchi family stimulated the Amago family in the San'in region to engage in battle. Around the same time, Yoshitaka welcomed Sadako, the daughter of Hidefusa Marikoji, a court noble of Kyoto, as his legal wife.

In 1528, his father Yoshioki Ouchi passed away, and Yoshitaka succeeded to the headship of the family at the age of 22. With the assistance of his senior vassal, Tokobo, the inheritance was carried out without much trouble. Up until this point, Yoshitaka Ouchi's life has been smooth.

Kyushu expedition

In 1530, Yoshitaka Ouchi invaded Kitakyushu. He competed with the Otomo clan of Bungo Province (present-day Oita Prefecture) and the Shōni clan of Chikuzen Province (present-day Fukuoka Prefecture). He subjugated the Matsuura clan of Hizen Province (present-day Saga and Nagasaki Prefecture), secured the Kitakyushu coast, and secured the means of continental trade. However, they experienced a crushing defeat in a counter-attack by Iekane Ryuzoji, a vassal of the Shoni clan, and repeated ups and downs.

In 1534, he arranged for Iekane Ryuzoji to secede from the Shoni clan, thereby weakening the Shoni clan. On the other hand, he attacked Yoshinaga Shibukawa, the Kyushu tandai of northern Hizen, and drove the Shibukawa clan to extinction.

In 1536, Yoshitaka Ouchi was appointed Dazai Daini, the supreme leader of Dazaifu, and was given the right to conquer Kitakyushu. Together with the Ryuzoji family, he defeated the Shoni family in the battle at Hizen Taku Castle and almost completed the subjugation of the Kitakyushu region.

Battle of Yoshida Koriyama Castle and Gassan Toda Castle

In 1539, Tokobo, who had been assisting Yoshitaka Ouchi since his father's generation, died of illness. The Sue clan was a member of the Migita clan, a branch of the Ouchi clan, and was a senior vassal of the Fudai, whose surname was Tatara, the ancestor of the Ouchi clan. After Tokobo's death, the Sue family was succeeded by his son, Harukata Sue.

Now, it is Tenbun 9 (1540). The Amago family, which had flourished in the San'in region, invaded Aki Province. They attacked Yoshida Koriyama Castle, the residence of Mori Motonari, who belonged to the Ouchi clan. Yoshitaka sends reinforcements with Sue Harukatsu as the commander-in-chief and repulses them. (Battle of Yoshida Koriyama Castle)

The following year, in the 10th year of Tenbun (1541), the Aki Takeda family, the guardian of Aki Province, was destroyed and Aki Province was brought under control.
In the same year, Tsunehisa Amago, who had brought the Amago family to great heights, passed away. Yoshitaka Ouchi saw this as a good opportunity to conquer the Amago clan, and in 1542 he personally went on an expedition to Izumo Province and laid siege to Gassan-Tomida Castle, the residence of the Amago clan. However, his subordinates, the locals, turned over and suffered a crushing defeat. (Battle of Gassan Tomita Castle)

Bunji system

The Battle of Gassan-Tomida Castle, presided over by Yoshitaka Ouchi, ended in a crushing defeat. Moreover, in this battle, he lost his favorite adopted heir, Harumochi Ouchi (the son of Yoshitaka Ouchi's sister who was married to the Ichijo clan in Tosa Province), and lost his motivation. Yoshitaka lost interest in overseas expeditions and gradually began to focus on domestic politics and cultural promotion. He will prioritize domestic politics by emphasizing Taketo Sagara and others who are devoted to domestic affairs. However, Yoshitaka's attitude aroused dissatisfaction with Mudan factions such as Takafusa Sue and Okimori Naito. Yoshitaka prioritized cultural promotion and domestic politics at every turn.

In Tenbun 16 (1547), Yoshitaka Ouchi dispatched the last missionary ship. In 1550, he visited Francisco Xavier, who came to Yamaguchi. At this time, Xavier criticized Yoshitaka's protection of Buddhism and did not allow him to proselytize. Xavier leaves for Kinai.

In the same year, there were rumors that Sue, Naito, and others were planning a rebellion. Yoshitaka led the Ouchi army and barricaded himself in the mansion for a time. Although the rebellion at this time ended up being a rumor, there was a time when Sue Harukata was already considering abolishing Yoshitaka Ouchi and installing a new head of the family.

In 1551, Yoshitaka visited Xavier again. At this time, Xavier reflected on his previous actions and sent gifts, so he gave permission for missionary work and gave him Daidoji Temple as a base.

The Daineiji Incident and Yoshitaka's death

In the 20th year of Tenbun (1551), members of the Mudan faction, including Su Haruken, who had a bad relationship with Yoshitaka Ouchi, started a rebellion, claiming that they had accepted the wishes of the Imperial Court. Naito Okimori, a senior vassal, also tolerated this and did not help Yoshitaka.

Yoshitaka Ouchi's article continues

Tomoyo Hazuki
Writer(Writer)I have loved history and geography since my student days, and have enjoyed visiting historical sites, temples and shrines, and researching ancient documents. He is especially strong in medieval Japanese history and European history in world history, and has read a wide range of things, including primary sources and historical entertainment novels. There are so many favorite military commanders and castles that I can't name them, but I especially like Hisashi Matsunaga and Mitsuhide Akechi, and when it comes to castles, I like Hikone Castle and Fushimi Castle. Once you start talking about the lives of warlords and the history of castles, there's a side of you that can't stop talking about them.
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