Misawa clan (三沢氏)

Misawa clan (which is read Misawa-shi or Misawa-uji) was a clan acting as estate steward in Iijima District, Shinano Province, which were the descendants of Shinano-Genji (Minamoto clan). Izumo Misawa clan was the head family, while other clans were all branch families.

Place of origin and lineage

Misawa clan, a kokujin ryoshu (local samurai lords) of Izumo Province, was reportedly oriignated from the Kiso line descended from Yoshinaka KISO of Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto Clan), or the Iijima line descded from MINAMOTO no Mitsuyoshi who was also from Seiwa-Genji. The opinion supporting Kiso line states that the founder of Misawa clan was KISO Tamenaka, a grandson of KISO Yoshinaka. In contrast, according to the historical data reserved by Misawa family, who was retained by Chofu Domain, the founder of Misawa clan was Tamekuni IIJIMA whose main domain was Iijima, Ina county, Shinano Province and who was descded from MINAMOTO no Mitsuyoshi of the same Seiwa-Genji.

Izumo Misawa clan

Tamemitsu MISAWA was awarded the Misawa manor in Izumo Province after his distinguished military service in the Jokyu War in 1221. In 1302, Tamenaga (also known as Tamenaka) MISAWA often visited this manor through Shikano-cho, Inaba Province, and started iron manufacturing by means of 'no-tatara-seitetsu' (iron manufacturing method) using high quality iron sand which could be obtained in the area. He became so powerful by iron manufacturing and exploiting nearby fields and mountains, that he constructed Yogaisan Mizawa-jo (Mizawa Castle on Mt. Yogaisan) on Mt. Kamokura, later renamed to Mt. Yogaisan, in 1305, a place of strategic point which commanded a panoramic view of Nita county and also the Shimane Peninsula. At the same time, Tamenaga moved his residence from Shinano to this place, after which he changed his family name to MISAWA. This marked the beginning of the Izumo Misawa clan. If it is presumed that the Kiso line was the origin of the Misawa clan, the beginning of the Izumo Misawa clan is considered to be Tamenaka MISAWA's entrance into MISAWA and proclamation of MISAWA as his clan's name.

During the Muromachi period, the Misawa clan became affiliated with the Yamana clan, then ruler of Izumo Province, and accompanied Mitsuyuki YAMANA, who was a provincial constable of Izumo Province, to fight in the Meitoku War in 1391. Tametada MISAWA, the head of Misawa clan, died in battle during the Meitoku War. Late in the Muromachi period, the Misawa clan achieved considerable growth as local samurai of Izumo Province under a new provincial constable, the Kyogoku clan.

During the period of warring states, the provincial constable Kyogoku clan was taken over its manor by the Amago clan which clashed with the Misawa clan by playing an active and central role in deporting Tsunehisa AMAGO. In 1488, Tamekuni MISAWA was defeated by Tsunehisa AMAGO and came under the control of the Amago clan. Since Tamekuni joined and sided with an ally in a rebellion against the Amago clan, which was led by Okihisa ENYA, the third son of Tsunehisa AMAGO, Tamekuni's Fujigasejo Castle was again attacked by Tsunehisa AMAGO in 1531 and Tamekuni MISAWA and his followers were held captive. This was a scheme by Tameyuki MISAWA, the head of MISAWA clan, who tried to contain the independent movements by his elder and younger sons. After this, Tameyuki MISAWA continued to submit to the Amago clan, and participated in the Battle of Yoshida Koriyamajo Castle in 1540, where he died in a Battle at Aoyama Borrow Pit.

Tamekiyo MISAWA, a successor of Tameyuki MISAWA, was subordinate to the Ouchi clan, but, in the Battle of Gassan Todajo Castle, the Misawa and Yoshikawa clans jointly defected to the enemy, the Amago clan, and contributed to the defeat of Ouchi. Nevertheless, the Misawa clan maintained its strong independence, as seen in the rejection to offer military services to the Amago clan, which induced fighting between the two clans. Haruhisa AMAGO controlled the Misawa clan with an attitude which was much tougher than Tsunehisa, by bringing the Yokota manor, the areas where iron sand could be obtained, and tatara iron making sites, under his direct control after marrying off his daughter to Tamekiyo MISAWA with the intention of winning the Misawa clan over to his side.

When Motonari MORI launched a full-scale invasion into Izumo after completely conquering the Provinces of Suo and Nagato, which had been domains of the Ouchi clan, in1561, the Misawa, Akana and Mitoya clans surrendered to Mori clan. Upon Mori's further invasion into Izumo, the Misawa clan acted as the main force behind the Mori army. After the fall of the Amago clan, Yukimori YAMANAKA and Katsuhisa AMAGO organized an army to invade Izumo for the restoration of the Amago clan, which raised the morale among the old Amago retainers and induced local land lords and local ruling families to join the restoration army. Under such circumstances, Tamekiyo MISAWA consistently followed the Mori clan and played an active role in repelling the Amago restoration army.

In 1589 after Tamekiyo died, his son Tametora MISAWA was placed under confinement through a plot of Terumoto MORI. Later, he was released from confinement and allowed a domain of ten thousand koku in 古帳, Asa-gun (Asa county,) Nagato Province. This dramatic confinement was designed by the Mori clan to increase its pressure on the retainers of the old Amago clan and strengthen its lordship over Izumo Province, such that Hisasuke MITOYA who had been a member of the old Amago's retainer group also suffered exile in the same manner as those of the Misawa clan. Tametora MISAWA might have suffered less than the Mitoya clan only because he was not exiled due to his talent being appreciated by Mori clan.

The next year, Tametora joined Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI to go on an expedition against Odawara, and also took an active part as a member of Mori's force in the Bunroku-Keicho War.

In the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, he took charge in the defense of Akamagaseki. After being defeated in the Battle of Sekigahara, Tametora MISAWA took a post as chief retainer of Chofu Domain, while the Misawa clan continued to exist as statesmen of the Chofu Domain during the Edo period.

Mutsu Misawa clan

Tamemoto MISAWA, a son of Tametora MISAWA, vanished from the Chofu Domain to be retained by the Date clan of Sendai Domain. Kiyonaga MISAWA, a son of Tamemoto, was treated as a senior vassal because his daughter Hatsuko became a concubine of Tsunamune DATE, the head of the Date Domain, who had no legal wife (Hatsuko was the real mother of Tsunamura DATE). Tsunamura, Murayori, and Muneyoshi DATE were born to Tsunamune DATE and Hatsuko MISAWA.

The Misawa clan was related by blood to the Iwaki clan of the Kameda Domain and the Date clan of the Uwajima Domain, while matrilineal descendants of the Izumo Misawa clan also thrived in Oshu (Northern Honshu, the region encompassing Mutsu and Dewa Provinces).

Inaba Misawa clan

Tametomo MISAWA, a son of Tametora MISAWA, founded the Inaba Misawa clan when he served the Ikeda clan of the Tottori Domain.