Kakitsu War (嘉吉の乱)

Kakitsu War is referred to as a series of disturbances occurred in 1441, from when Mitsusuke AKAMATSU, a shugo (provincial constable) of the Harima Province, the Bizen Province, and the Mimasaka Province, assassinated Yoshinori ASHIKAGA, the 6th seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") to when he was defeated and killed by the punitive force of bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) in his own territory, Harima. It is also called the Kakitsu Incident.

In "Kanmon Nikki" (Diary of Imperial Prince Fushimi no miya Sadafusa), the incident and situation on the day of assasination of Yoshinori was recorded. The Akamatsu's circumstances from the Kakitsu War to the recapture of jingi (the sacred treasures) were recorded in "Kakitsuki" that consists of only one volume.

Akamatsu clan
The Akamatsu clan was a jito (manager and lord of manor) in the Harima Province, but Norimura (Enshin) AKAMATSU raised his army to respond Emperor Godaigo's exhortation and contributed greatly to overthrow the Kamakura bakufu. He was appointed to Shugo (provincial military governor) for his achivement. His family boasted a pedigree that taking sides with Takauji ASHIKAGA in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), the clan became a meritorious retainer for foundation of the Muromachi bakufu, then was given the Bizen Province and the Mimasaka Province in addition to the Harima Province, and they became one of Shishiki (Four major feudal lords who worked for Muromachi bakufu).

In 1427, an incident occurred, in which Shogun Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA attempted to confiscate the Harima Province which Mitsusuke took over as head of the family, and to give it to his favorite retainer, Mochisada Akamatsu, then Mitsusuke burned his residense in Kyoto and went back to his own territory. Yoshimochi got angry at Mitsusuke's behavior and tried to conqure him but senior vassals of bakufu went against his idea. Before very long, Mochisada was executed for commiting adultery with a concubine of Shogun and Mitsusuke was pardoned and inherited the position of shugo of three provinces.

When Yoshinori became Shogun after Yoshimochi died, Mitsusuke assumed to the Samurai-dokoro tonin (Governor of the Board of Retainers) and Yoshinori and Mitsusuke preserved relatively good relationship.

Government everyone fears
Yoshimochi died in 1428 without deciding his successor (his legitimate son, Yoshikazu ASHIKAGA, the fifth shogun, died early). As the result of conference of syukuro (a chief vassal of a samurai family), his successor was to be choosen by lot among Yoshimochi's four younger brothers who had entered into priesthood. As the result of drawing lots, Gien, Tendai-zasu (head priest of the Tendai sect), returned to secular life and changed his name to Yoshinobu (changed to Yoshinori later) and assumed the post of the 6th shogun. From these processes, Yoshinori was called as so-called "drawn shogun."

Yoshinori, at first, handled the affairs of state by public discussion of dominant shugo guardian feudal lords but he gradually started to show leadership after the death of Mansai SAMPOIN and Tokihiro YAMANA who were regarded as patriarchs.

Yoshinori planed to consolidate the power of shogun and intervened in the succession to family headship of the Shiba, Hatakeyama, Yamana, Kyogoku, and Togashi clans in a high-handed manner and made those in his mind take over the clan. In the Eikyo War in 1439, he destroyed Mochiuji ASHIKAGA, Kanto-kubo, against whom he had conflicts for a long time. He had also conflicted against Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei, and finally he brought them to his knees, but caused a huge fuss that priests burned the Konpon-chudo Hall and killed themselves.

Among Ashikaga shuguns, Yoshinori had exercised his power on par with the one of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA, the third Shogun, but he was very suspicious, which excessively led authoritarian behaviors, and his purge directed unrelentingly at not only samurai families but also court nobles. Court nobles' diary in those days, recorded lots of names of people who were punished and confiscated their territories for trivial reasons. Some were relegated to a distant island or others were killed. The "Kanmon Nikki" (Diary of Imperial Prince Fushimi no miya Sadafusa)" contains the record that the government by Yoshinori was the "government everyone fears".

Assasination of the shogun
Mitsusuke AKAMATSU who was treated as the greatest patriarch of bakufu at that time had gotten on the wrong side of Yoshinori, and in 1437, there was a rumor circulating that his territoies in the provinces of Harima and Mimasaka were going to be confiscated. Yoshinori favored Sadamura AKAMATSU, a branch family of the Akamatsu clan, and confiscated the territory of Yoshimasa AKAMATSU (younger brother of Mitsusuke) in the Settsu Province and gave it to Sadamura in April, 1440.

In June of the same year, Yoshitsura ISSHIKI and Mochiyori TOKI who had gone into battle to the Yamato Province were killed as criminals by Yoshinori' order. People started to gossip that next purge target was Mitsusuke who was on bad terms with Yoshinori, so Mitsusuke retired.

In April, 1441, Yuki-jo Castle fell (Yuki War), where Ujitomo YUKI who helped An'omaru and Shun'omaru brothers, the bereaved children of Mochiuji, and raised the army in Kanto and held up in the castle more than a year. Captured An'omaru and Shun'omaru were decapitated in Tarui-juku of the Mino Province on the way being escorted. Earlier in April, Gisho DAIKAKUJI, younger brother of Yoshinori, who ran away and raised his army in the Yamato Province and was defeated and run away to the Hyuga Provinc, was also killed by the Shimazu clan and, as a result, immediate enemies of Yoshinori were all gone.

On July 15th, Noriie TOGASHI ran away after being under pressure of intervention of family succession from Yoshinori. On 20th, Mochisuke KIRA ran away.

On July 21st, Mitsusuke invited Yoshinori to his residence in Nishinotoin to show wild ducks in his residence' pond and Matsuhayashi (Akamatsu-hayashi: traditional Akamatsu clan's Noh performance) as a celebration of the triumph of the Yuki War. According to "Kakitsuki," it is said that he invited him saying "Many wild ducks hatched so please come and look at them swimming in our pond."

Daimyos (Japanese feudal lord) who accompanied Yoshinori to this feast (a drinking party) were Mochiyuki HOSOKAWA, Mochinaga HATAKEYAMA, Mochitoyo YAMANA, Norichika ISSHIKI, Mochitsune HOSOKAWA, Mochiyo OUCHI, Takakazu KYOGOKU, Hirotaka YAMANA, Mochiharu HOSOKAWA, and Sadamura AKAMATSU, all those who took over as head of the family through intervention by Yoshinori. In addition to them, a court noble, Sanemasa OGIMACHISANJO (elder brother of Inshi SANJO, Yoshinori's lawful wife) also accompanied him.

When they were enjoying sarugaku (form of theatre popular), suddenly horses were let loose and big noises were heard just like all the gates of the residence were closed. Yoshinori, a hot-tempered person, asked in a loud voice "What the matter?" but Sanemasa SANJO who had a seat next to him answered lightheartedly, "It must be a peal of thunder." Just after that, shoji (a paper sliding door) were opened and armored warriors burst into the place for feast and Yukihide AZUMI, the bravest and strongest man in the Akamatsu clan, drew a sword hardened Chigusa-tetsu (special iron for sword) in the Harima Province and cut Yoshinori's head off.

The place for feast turned a pool of blood and many of whole shugo daimyo (shugo, which were Japanese provincial military governors, that became daimyo, which were Japanese feudal lords) ran about trying to escape in confusion rather than avenging shogun's death. Terutaka YAMANA fought back but was put to the sword on the spot. Mochiharu HOSOKAWA was chopped off his arm and Takakazu KYOGOKU and Mochiyo OUCHI were also mortally injured. Sanemasa SANJO, a court noble, boldly hold the sword that was presented to the shogun from the Akamatsu clan and fought back, but was slashed and fell down. Foot soldiers who were guarding the shogun in the garden and warriors of the Akamatus clan started fighting with swords and the residence transformed into a battlefield with territorial lords who climbed a wall trying to escape.

The dust settled only after a vassal of the Akamatsu clan announced that their ture purpose was to attack the shogun and had no intention to harm others, so territorial lords carried injured people out and made their exit.

"Kanmon Nikki" (Diary of Imperial Prince Fushimi no miya Sadafusa) recorded that the shogun had tried to destroy the Akamatus clan but was exposed about the conspiracy and was killed the wrong way around. He got what he deserved. There were no precedent for such lost of shogun's life for nothing since ancient times.

Course of the war
Territorial lords including Mochiyuki HOSOKAWA, kanrei (shogunal deputy), got away and back to their residences and closed its gate and shut themselves away. They thought that the Akamatsu clan set off such a big thing because some daimyos must had helped them and carefully observed subsequent developments.

Actually, the shogun assassination was the Akamatsu clan's lone work. Mitsusuke and people in the Akamatsu clan expected that pursuers of the shogun would come to attack them immediately and they were determined to commit suicide in the residence. However, there were no sign of the army of bakufu even in the evening, so they deciced to go back to their territory and wait to fight, so they hold up shogun's head on a spear point and left Kyoto proudly, drawing up in line after setting fire to the residence. No daimyo blocked this.

The bakufu that lost Yoshinori, an absolute ruler, came to a standstill as the kanrei, Mochiyuki HOSOKAWA, lacked leadership. People made a mock of Mochiyuki's cowardliness because he tried to run away first without fighting back when the shogun was killed even though he was in the position of kanrei, and it was rumored that Mochiyuki was in conspiracy with Mitsusuke.

Next day, on 22nd, Mochiyuki finally held a consultation meeting and decided to make Senyachamaru (Yoshikatsu ASHIKAGA), Yoshinori's legitimate child, next shogun. Responses by bakufu, however, confused and the punitive force to attack the Akamatsu clan was not easily organized.

It can also be viewed that these confusions of bakufu's response were the result of Yoshinori's policy of direct rule of shogun. That is, due to the existence of the shogun who had strong leadership, vassals of the shogun under kanrei had no opportunity to show their leadership in an emergency. In fact, if Mitsusuke AKAMATSU was made to stand down from the shogunate government, the direct rule of shogun could had almost been established.

Mitsusuke who went back to his home base of Sakamoto-jo Castle in Harima Province found out Yoshitaka ASHIKAGA, a grandchild of Tadafuyu ASHIKAGA (illegitimate child of Takauji ASHIKAGA, adopted child of Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA) and backed him up, and strengthened his own territory's defense under the legitimate reason and tried to fight back to bakufu.

On July 27th, Shinzui KIKEI visited Sakamoto-jo Castle and required Mitsusuke to give back Yoshinori's head. Mitsusuke gave back the head quite readily. Shinzui brought the head back to Kyoto and the funeral ceremony for Yoshinori was held at Toji-in Temple on the 6th.

After that, a punitive force to invade Harima, Bizen, and Mimasaka was decided, which consisted of a major army of Mochitsune HOSOKAWA, Sadamura AKAMATSU, and Mitsumasa AKAMATSU from Settsu Province and the Yanama family including Mochitoyo YAMANA from Tajima Province and Hoki Province. The major army set out on August 6th, but the practical supreme commander, Samurai-dokoro tonin, Mochitoyo YAMANA, was long start off Kyoto. During that time, soldiers under Mochitoyo attacked doso (underground warehouse) and pawnshops in the capital and robbed properties calling it as a "battle array." There was such an incident that Mochiyuki HOSOKAWA, kanrei, got angry at these conducts and several days later, Mochitoyo finally expressed an apology.

Early in August, Norikiyo YAMANA invaded to the Mimasaka Province from the Hoki Province. The local lords in the Mimasaka Province did not fight back much and the province was conquered by the Yamana army.

The major army such as Mochitsune HOSOKAWA and Sadamura AKAMATSU advanced to Nishinomiya, the Settsu Province. On 20th, Noriyasu AKAMATSU started a night attack against the army of bakufu but a doshi-uchi (internecine strife) took place and retreated (Kuragosho war). The major army had little will to fight and stopped their military advance as Mochitoyo YAMANA at Tajimaguchi did not march.

Finally, Mochitoyo YAMANA left Kyoto for the Tajima Province on August 23.

On August 26th, Mochiyuki petitioned the Emperor for Jibatsu Rinji (a written document for imperial edicts to hunt down and kill emperor's enemies) to suppress the Akamatsu clan and Emperor GoHanazono gave it to him. It is said that some court nobles sympathized with Mitsusuke or that there was a counterargument that the Akamatsu clan was not the Emperor's enemy but the incident was a private warfare between samurai families. Kiyomichi KOGA of the Murakami-Genji (the Minamoto clan descended from Emperor Murakami) took advantage of the opportunity to get back the position of Genji no choja (chief of the Minamoto clan) that was superseded in the age of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA but bakufu could not come up with any policies (Kiyomichi was appointed Genji no choja on November 2nd (in the old lunar calendar) ("Kugyobunin" (directory of court nobles)).

On September 13, the major army in the Settsu Province made an advance and Mochitsune HOSOKAWA and Sadamura AKAMATSU attacked from land route and Mochichika Hosokawa attacked the Noriyasu's camp at Shioya (present-day Kobe City) from sea route. Noriyasu abandoned the camp and retreated to Kanizaka and the major army finally could enter the Harima Province. On 18th, Noriyasu counterattacked and both armies fought fiercely. On 19th, the army of bakufu attacked the camp at Kanizaka in a heavy rain. Noriyasu fought up against the army of bakufu but received the message (it was a disinformation) that Tajimaguchi was burst through, and he lost his will to fight and retreated to Sakamoto-jo Castle.
(The Battle of Hitomaruzuka)

Around the middle of September, Mochitoyo YAMANA pushed into Mayumi Pass, a border between Tajima and Harima Provinces, with his 4,500 horsemen and engaged in fierce battles for several days against Yoshimasa Akamatsu who was defending in those area. On 22nd, Mochitoyo burst through Mayumi Pass and advanced toward Sakamoto-jo Castle chasing Yoshimasa who was falling back. On 24th, both armies fought the final battle at Taharaguchi and Yoshimasa fought up against the enemy but took to flight running out of stream.

On September 25th, Mochitoyo's troops arrived at Sakamoto-jo Castle and joined the major army of Mochitsune and besieged the castle. Sakamoto-jo Castle, being a shugosho (provincial administration), was not robust enough as a place of fort and on 27th, Mitsusuke abandoned the castle and moved to Shiroyama-jo Castle (present-day Tatsuno City, Hyogo Prefecture).

The Akamatsu family took refuge in Shiroyama-jo Castle but was besieged by a big army of the Yamana family. On October 3rd, Yoshimasa ran away and surrendered to the army of bakufu and many of local lords in the Harima Province turned their back on the Akamatsu clan and ran way. On 4th, the army of bakufu started a full-scale attack and Mitsusuke who prepared to meet his fate got Noriyasu and Norishige Akamatsu, his younger brother, out and committed suicide by disembowelment.

After the war
Mochitoyo YAMANA was appointed shugoshiki (military governor) of the Harima Province for his achievement of destroying Mitsusuke, and the Bizen Province was given to Noriyuki YAMANA, the Mimasaka Province to Norikiyo YAMANA. The Yamana clan that had lost much of their power by being defeated in the Meitoku War in the age of Yoshimitsu ASHIKAGA recovered their position and competed their power with the kanrei, the Hosokawa clan.

Noriyasu who escaped from the castle asked Akimasa KITABATAKE, his father in law, for help but was rejected and committed suicide, and Yoshitaka who Mitsusuke backed up was also killed. Yoshimasa, Mitsusuke's younger brother, and Norishige were also killed several years later.

The Akamatsu clan was deprived of all positions of shugoshiki and went to ruin. In 1457, surviving retainers of the Akamatsu clan regained the sacred jewel, one of the Three Sacred Treasures of the Imperial Family, and thanks to this achievement, the clan could be restored in the generation of Masanori AKAMATSU (grandchild of Yoshimasa) in the age of Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA (the Choroku Incident).