Ujiyasu Hojo (1/2)Sagami lion

Ujiyasu Hojo

Ujiyasu Hojo

Article category
Hojo Ujiyasu (1515-1571)
place of birth
Kanagawa Prefecture
Related castles
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Odawara Castle

In the middle of the Sengoku period, when many feudal lords fought against each other. In eastern Japan, rivals such as Echigo's Uesugi Kenshin, Kai's Takeda Shingen, and Suruga's Yoshimoto Imagawa competed for supremacy. And there is a daimyo in Izu who competed equally with these daimyo, Ujiyasu Hojo. Ujiyasu led the Hojo family, a newly emerging power, and tried to expand its power while focusing on civil administration to stabilize the territory. So this time I would like to take a look at the Kanto hero, Ujiyasu Hojo.

(Later) Who is Mr. Hojo?

The Hojo clan who sent Ujiyasu Hojo in the first place. The Hojo clan, or Gohojo clan, is descended from Ujiyasu's grandfather, Hojo Soun. According to recent research, Hojo Soun is said to be Ise Shinkuro Moritoki (Ise Sozui), who was born into the Bicchu Ise clan, a branch of the Ise clan, a political butler (a position in charge of litigation for the Muromachi shogunate). He worked as a contact person and public official for the 9th Shogun Yoshihisa Ashikaga, but when an internal conflict broke out in the Imagawa family, to which his sister had married, he began traveling back and forth between the capital and the Kanto region to mediate the conflict. Ta. However, one theory says that debt problems made it difficult for him to stay in Kyoto, so he moved to Togoku. He subdued the people of Izu around Kokokuji Castle, and gradually began to cut off the surrounding territory.

Around the time of Ujitsuna Hojo, the eldest son of Ujiyasu Hojo's father, Soun (Shinkuro Ise), his surname changed from the Ise clan to the Hojo clan. It is said that Shinkuro Ise, who came down from Kyoto, was considered a heretic by warriors in the Kanto region, so he changed his surname to resemble the Hojo clan, the regent of the Kamakura shogunate (there are various theories as to the reason for the surname change).

In this way, the branch of the Ise clan that served the shogunate in Kyoto descended to the Kanto region and became the Hojo clan. In modern times, they are also called the Gohojo clan to distinguish them from the Hojo clan, the regent of the Kamakura shogunate.

Family succession from birth

In 1515, Hojo Ujiyasu was born as the eldest son of Hojo Ujitsuna. At this time, the Hojo surname had not yet become established, so the traditional Ise surname was used and he was called Ise Izu Chiyomaru. When he was three years old, Sozui Ise (Soun Hojo) gave him a sword and other weapons, and he was seen as his successor.

At the age of 15, Ujiyasu started using the surname Hojo. His first battle was in 1530, when he fought against Tomoaki Uesugi, the head of the Ogidani Uesugi family, and won a landslide victory.

In 1541, when Ujiyasu was around 25 years old, his father Ujitsuna passed away. As a result, he became the head of the Hojo family. At the time he became the head of this family, the Hojo family controlled Sagami, Izu (present-day Kanagawa Prefecture), and part of Musashi Province. To the west, it is adjacent to the Imagawa family in Suruga and the Takeda family in Kai, and to the east, it is adjacent to the Yamauchi and Uesugi families in Ogidani, both based in the Kanto plain. The emerging force, Ujiyasu Hojo, repeatedly fought battles with these forces.

Kanto during the Muromachi period

Now, the Izu region where Ujiyasu Hojo was born. During the Muromachi period, Takauji Ashikaga, who established the shogunate in the Kanto region, including the Izu region, appointed his fourth son, Motouji Ashikaga, as Kamakura Kubo (known as Kamakura-dono at the time) and entrusted him with the governance of the Kanto region. Motouji's descendants inherited the Kamakura Kubo status from generation to generation, and came to rule 10 countries in the Kanto region (Sagami, Musashi, Awa, Kazusa, Shimousa, Hitachi, Ueno, Shimotsuke, Izu, and Kai).
Furthermore, Kamakura Kubo moved its base from Kamakura to Koga, and came to be called Koga Kubo.

The Kanto Kanrei assisted the Kamakura Kubo. Kanto Kanrei came to be inherited by the Uesugi family. With each generation, the Kamakura Kubo came into conflict with the Muromachi Shogunate, and also with the Uesugi family, Kanto Kanrei, who were supposed to be assisting them, so they gradually lost power.

The Uesugi family of the Kanto Kanrei branched off from its direct line, the Ogidani Uesugi family, and expanded its influence to the southern Kanto region. On the other hand, the direct line of the Uesugi family settled in Yamauchi, Kamakura, and thus became the Yamauchi Uesugi family.

Norizane Uesugi of the Yamauchi Uesugi family views the emerging power of the Hojo family as dangerous. After being repeatedly invaded by the Hojo family, he considered making peace with the Ogidani Uesugi family, which had split internally, and dealing with the Hojo family.

Kawagoe night battle

In 1545, Hojo Ujiyasu was at war with Imagawa Yoshimoto of Suruga (present-day Shizuoka Prefecture), his neighbor to the west. Imagawa received a proposal for reconciliation, but Ujiyasu refused. Yoshimoto Imagawa then collaborated with Norimasa Yamauchi Uesugi, the Kanto Kanrei located to the east of the Hojo family, and planned to oppress the Hojo family from the east and west.

First, the Imagawa family invaded the Hojo family from the west. Ujiyasu hurriedly rushed to the west to deal with Imagawa.
Then, a large army centered around Yamauchi and Ogidani Uesugi in the Kanto region invaded from the east. The Kanto army led by Yamauchi Uesugi surrounded Kawagoe Castle, which was guarded by his brother-in-law Tsunari Hojo.

Ujiyasu Hojo was attacked from the east and west and fell into a desperate crisis. Ujiyasu sought a solution to the situation here. First, we will move to resolve the issue of the Imagawa family on the west side. He asked the Takeda family of Kai to intervene, and by ceding some of their territory, he was able to make peace with the Imagawa family.

Although the problems of the Imagawa family on the west side had been resolved, the problems on the east side continued to worsen. The Yamauchi Uesugi clan, which is besieging Kawagoe Castle, calls out to other feudal lords in the Kanto region to form an allied army. Even the feudal lords who had previously cooperated with Hojo joined the Allied Forces, and the number of Allied soldiers increased to 80,000. Surrounded by 80,000 allied troops, Kawagoe Castle withstood for about half a year.

After making peace with the Imagawa family, Ujiyasu heads to Kawagoe Castle, which is under siege. However, the Hojo family's army was only about 10,000 strong.
This is the difference in military strength. The allied forces surrounding the castle prided themselves on the fact that they were a large army. There, Ujiyasu proposes peace to the allied forces surrounding the castle, catching them off guard. The following year, Tenbun 15 (1546).

Ujiyasu conducted a night attack on the allied forces in coordination with those inside Kawagoe Castle. The Allied forces, who were just about to make peace, let their guard down and collapsed due to a night attack by the Hojo army. 10,000 defeated an army of 80,000. After this victory, Ujiyasu began to make a comeback in the Kanto Plain.

This battle of Ujiyasu Hojo was called the ``Night Battle of Kawagoe'' and was cited as a rare example of a small army defeating a large army. It is listed as one of Japan's three greatest surprise attacks (Japan's three greatest night battles), along with Mori Motonari's Battle of Itsukushima and Oda Nobunaga's Battle of Okehazama.

From the Kanto offensive to the Kososhun Triple Alliance

Hojo Ujiyasu was surrounded by enemies and overcame the crisis with a surprise attack during the night battle of Kawagoe. Once the crisis was over, Ujiyasu tried to make a comeback in the eastern Kanto region.

Ujiyasu Hojo'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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