The Battle of Katsurakawara (桂川原の戦い)

The Battle of Katsurakawara was a battle fought on the riverbed of Katsura-gawa River in the odo-gawa River system in Kyoto Prefecture from the night on March 14 to March 15, 1527. Motomori KOZAI was forced to commit suicide by Takakuni HOSOKAWA who believed a false charge claimed by Tadakata HOSOKAWA. For this reason, Tanemichi HATANO and Kataharu YANAGIMOTO, who were Motomori KOZAI's siblings, led a rebellion against Takakuni HOSOKAWA at Yakamijo Castle as well as at Kannosanjo Castle, and they won the Battle of Katsurakawara with the support of Harumoto HOSOKAWA, who was the provincial constable of Awa Province, and Goro AKAI, who was the master of the Kuroijo Castle. The defeated seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA, Takakuni HOSOKAWA and others fled from Kyoto to Omi Province. This battle served as an opportunity for creation of sakaikubo (head of Sakai-based municipal government). This battle is also known as the Battle of Katsura-gawa River.

The Battle at the Yakamijo and Kannosanjo Castles

Believing false charges, Takakuni HOSOKAWA often forced his own vassals to commit suicide. Tanemichi HATANO, who did not have a favorable view towards this behavior, was informed that his younger brother Motomori KOZAI was forced to kill himself without being sufficiently investigated, and became so furious that he led a rebellion in Tanba Province.

Surprised by this, on November 27, 1526, Takakuni HOSOKAWA sent the army of the supreme commander Tadakata HOSOKAWA to Kannosanjo Castle and sent Shurinosuke KAWARABAYASHI and Danjo IKEDA to Yakamijo Castle to besiege these castles. Skirmishes continued, but Kunisada NAITO, Shugodai (acting Military Governor) of Tanba Province, was sympathetic to Tanemichi HATANO and therefore, on December 8, decided to leave the army that was besieging Kannosanjo Castle. On January 2, 1527, Goro AKAI led an army of 3,000 samurai to attack the army surrounding Kannosanjo Castle from behind and defeated the army, although the army of Goro AKAI also suffered heavy casualties.

Hearing about the other surrounding army losing that battle, the army surrounding Yakamijo Castle ended its siege and retreated on January 3, 1527. During the retreat, Danjo IKEDA, who had been allied with Harumoto HOSOKAWA, led a group of archers in an attack on Shurinosuke KAWARABAYASHI and the others, and the army of Tadakata HOSOKAWA then fled to Kyoto in disorder.

The fall of castles in Settsu Province

Informed by Tanemichi HATANO of the situation, Harumoto HOSOKAWA ordered Katsunaga MIYOSHI and Masanaga MIYOSHI to proceed with their army, entered Sakai from Awa Province, occupied Horijo Castle in Nakajima on January 5, 1527, and saw the new year (according to the old lunar calendar) with it still under their control.

The army of Tanemichi HATANO began their operations, left Tanmba Province, and on February 28, 1527, took control of Nodajo Castle after no longer than seven days of military action. Pretending to leave for Kyoto, Tanemichi HATANO headed south, and took control of Yamazakijo Castle in Yamashiro Province on March 6. Kuninaga YAKUSHIJI, Shugo of Settsu Province, who had been at Yamazakijo Castle fled to Takatsukijo Castle.

A large number of castles Akutagawa-yamajo Castle, Otajo Castle of Settsu Province, Ibarakijo Castle, Aijo Castle, Fukuijo Castle of Settsu Province, and Miyakejo Castle were captured or were forced to surrender by the army.

On March 13, the Hatano and Miyoshi armies joined together at Yamazakijo Castle; on March 14, faced the army of Takakuni HOSOKAWA across the Katsura-gawa River.

The battle

Although Takakuni HOSOKAWA requested a number of feudal lords to deliver reinforcements, only Motomitsu TAKEDA of Wakasa Province responded.

The army of Takakuni HOSOKAWA deployed their main force in a line along the river from Toba to Saginomori leaving no space between soldieres. Shogun Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA established headquarters in Rokujo, which was at a small distance from the river. The army of Motomitsu TAKEDA was deployed as a reserve army in Senshoji along the Katsura-gawa River, which was north of the headquarters.

The battle started at midnight on March 14 with the exchange of arrows across the river.

The following day, March 15, while the army of Takakuni HOSOKAWA anticipated an attack on the main force, the Miyoshi army outmaneuvered them, went across the Katsura-gawa River, and attacked the army of Motomitsu TAKEDA, which was held in reserve in the rear. As a result of the fierce battle, the army of Motomitsu TAKEDA lost eighty soldiers and lost the battle. Seen what happened, Takakuni HOSOKAWA developed a sense of crisis and went to assist the army of Motomitsu TAKEDA, but his younger brother Chief councilor of state Uchimitsu HINO was killed in the battle as were senior and junior Araki who were both elite soldiers.

His horse guards by the number of around ten and common soldiers by the number of around 300 were killed before he withdrew his army. Among the Hatano and Miyoshi allied forces, Katsunaga MIYOSHI received nearly fatal injuries and eighty soldiers were killed; however, the allied forces still won the decisive battle.

After the war

On March 16, following Yoshiharu ASHIKAGA, Takakuni HOSOKAWA fled to Sakamoto. This flight left a significant effect. There had been a number of occasions in which Shogun or Shogunal Deputies escaped from Kyoto; but this time, because even the personnel like members of Council of State or magistrates also escaped, the Kyoto bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) collapsed. This became the reason for the later establishment of the head of the Sakai-based municipal government.

The Hatano and Miyoshi allied forces marched into Kyoto on March 18 and started working on maintaining public order and pacification, and they had to wait for Harumoto HOSOKAWA to enter the capital before they could proceed with these activities.