Eikyo War (永享の乱)

The Eikyo War (Eikyo no ran) is a war which occurred in the Kanto region (regions surrounding Tokyo) in 1437. It is an incident or a war which originated from confrontation between Mochiuji ASHIKAGA, Kamakura Kubo (Governor-general of the Kanto region) and Norizane UESUGI, Kanto Kanrei (a shogunal deputy for the Kanto region), and for which Yoshinori ASHIKAGA, the sixth shogun of the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), ordered to suppress Mochiuji.

Schema of confrontation

The Muromachi bakufu had established the Kamakura Government to rule the Kanto regions in the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties (Japan). Although the Kamakura Government was led by Kamakura Kubo who came from the Ashikaga family and its assistant Kanto Kanrei who came from the Uesugi family, Kamakura Kubo and Kanto Kanrei were often confronted each other partly because an appointive power of Kanto Kanrei was handled by the bakufu.

Confrontation between the bakufu and Mochiuji

In 1416 during the days of the fourth Shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA, the War of Zenshu UESUGI occurred, where the former Kanto Kanrei Zenshu Uesugi (Zenshu) raised an army against Mochiuji ASHIKAGA, the fourth Kamakura Kubo. Although the war itself was suppressed in corporation with the bakufu, Mochiuji's self-willed behaviors became prominent after the war - on the pretext of hunting down of stragglers, he purged Mochitsuna UTSUNOMIYA and others of Kyoto-fuchishu (Kanto samurais who were directly engaged by bakufu, not by the Kamakura Government) and subjugated the Satake clan who were supported by the bakufu - thus the bakufu and the Kamakura Government became a confrontational relationship. After Yoshimochi's death his younger brother Yoshinori assumed shogun, but Mochiuji opposed to this and took disobedient attitudes toward the bakufu, for example, Mochiuji continued to use Shocho era even after the name of the era had been changed from 'Shocho' to 'Eikyo'. Besides, Mochiuji was also confronted with Norizane UESUGI, Kanto Kanrei, and strengthened his dictatorial color including giving important positions to Sadayori UESUGI and Norinao UESUGI, branch families of the Uesugi clan, and Naokane ISSHIKI, his great vassal.

Confrontation between Mochiuji and Norizane

When Mochiuji began his military action in 1435, Norizane UESUGI who had assumed Kanto Kanrei in 1419 stopped Mochiuji, and his relationship with Mochiuji became tense. As a rumor that Mochiuji would assassinate Norizane spread in 1437, Norizane ran away from Kamakura to Fujisawa of the Sagami Province. The both sides reached a settlement as Mochiuji compromised, but they were confronted again in July, 1438, when Mochiuji celebrated coming of age of his legitimate son 賢王丸 without permission of the bakufu, and Norizane fled to Hirai-jo Castle of the Kozuke Province (Gunma Prefecture), a province occupied by a territorial lord, between August and September of the same year. Mochiuji not only gave a troop to Naokane ISSHIKI, his trusted vassal, to dispatch for hunting down and killing Norizane, but also he himself built a base of operations in Fuchu Koan-ji Temple of the Musashi Province (Fuchu City, Tokyo Megalopolis). Norizane asked the bakufu for help.

In the bakufu the sixth shogun Yoshinori ordered Mitsunao ASHIKAGA of Sasagawa Gosho (an administrative organization for governing the Tohoku regions, settled by the Kamakura bakufu in the Muromachi period: it also refers to its head Mitsunao ASHIKAGA.) and Noritada IMAGAWA, shugo (a provincial constable) of the Suruga Province, to help Norizane and also dispatched the bakufu army including Zenshu's sons, Mochifusa UESUGI and Noritomo UESUGI. On this occasion, Yoshinori asked Emperor Gohanazono, making use of authority of the imperial court, for Jibatsu Rinji (a written document for imperial edicts to hunt down and kill emperor's enemies) and the Imperial standard for the first time since the days of the third shogun Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA.

Mochiuji's defeat

On October 25, the Imagawa side defeated Mochiuji' troops and crossed over Mt. Ashigara, while Mochifusa UESUGI also beat the camp settled in Hakone. On October 31, Norizane also went into battle from Hirai-jo Castle and defeated the Isshiki troops. In addition, Tokitaka MIURA who had defended Kamakura as a caretaker deserted the service and withdrew to attack Kamakura, changing sides. Mochiuji, falling into an unfavorable situation and many of his troops running away, withdrew into Ebina City of the Sagami Province and was further going to flee to Kamakura. As the Mochiuji's party encountered troops of 忠政 NAGAO and Kagenaka NAGAO, main retainers of Norizane on their way, Mochiuji took an oath of allegiance to the bakufu and they entered Yoan-ji Temple of Kamakura altogether. On November 21, Mochiuji entered Shomyo-ji Temple (Yokohama City) and became a priest. Mochiuji's trusted vassals including Naokane ISSHIKI were attacked by the bakufu troops in Shomyo-ji Temple and committed suicide. Mochiuji was moved to Yoan-ji Temple and confined by the bakufu troops.

Although Norizane asked for Mochiuji's life and assumption of his legitimate son Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA to Kanto Kubo, Yoshinori did not accept it and ordered to hunt down and kill him. On April 2, 1439, Norizane attacked Yoan-ji Temple against his will, where Mochiuji, Mitsusada ASHIKAGA (Inamura Gosho [an administrative organization for governing the Tohoku regions, settled by the Kamakura bakufu in the Muromachi period: it also refers to its head Mitsusada ASHIKAGA.]) and others committed suicide, while Yoshihisa committed suicide in Kamakura Hokoku-ji Temple (Kamakura City).

Thereafter

Norizane became a priest along with his children after the war to retire from government affairs, while his younger brother Kiyokata UESUGI (Kiyokata JOJO) became an acting Kanto Kanrei. As some of the Mochiuji's children escaped from the calamity, the next year, in 1440, the Yuki War occurred, in which Ujitomo YUKI raised an army under Mochiuji's bereaved children.

Details of the Eikyo War are described in the "Eikyo Ki" (Eikyo Chronicle).