Saionji clan (西園寺氏)

Saionji clan was a Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period), who ruled the western area of Iyo Province. Honsei (original surname) was Fujiwara. The family line corresponded to a branch of the Saionji family, the Kanin line.

Iyo Saionji clan

The Saionji clan in Iyo Province, was a samurai family that dominated the whole area of Uwa County (present vicinity of Seiyo City, Ehime Prefecture) of the southwestern part of Iyo Province, from the Muromachi period to the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States) (Japan).

The Uwajima region became the territory of the Saionji family as almost an usurpation when Kintsune SAIONJI was in the family reign in the mid Kamakura period, and claimed as its shoen (manor in medieval Japan). Amid the agitated situation from the fall of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) to the separation of the Northern and Southern Courts and the chaos caused by the discontinuance of the Saionji family, Kimiyoshi SAIONJI, of a branch family of the Saionji family entered Uwa Country, and put the local clans under his control then began to rule over the territory.

However, in the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States), the family suffered consecutive invasions by the Kono clan of the eastern Iyo Province, the Tosa-Ichijo clan of Tosa Province, the Otomo clan of Bungo Province in Kyushu, and the family's influence gradually declined. In 1584, the then family head, Kinhiro SAIONJI surrendered to the Chosokabe clan, after suffering from Motochika CHOSOKABE's invasion. In 1585, when the Chosokabe clan lost three provinces except for its home base in Tosa Province owing to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's invasion of Shikoku, the Saionji clan surrendered to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, however, Hideyoshi appointed Katsutaka TODA as the new territory lord of Uwa Country. In 1587, Kinhiro was killed by Katsutaka TODA and the Iyo-Saionji clan was perished.

In a military epic "Seiryoki" (volume seven 'Shinmin Kangetu shu' is said to be the oldest agricultural treatises in Japan) which is said to have been written by a retainer of the Iyo Saionji clan, Kiyoyoshi DOI, there is a description on the clan, however, it is said that the description lacks the credibility.

Even today, in a part of Hizuchi-cho, Yawatahama City, situated next to Iyo City, there are households that are supposed to be the descendents of the Saionji clan.