Kasuga Akikuni (春日顕国)

Akikuni KASUGA (year of birth unknown - April 21, 1344) was a noble during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan). He belonged to the Minamoto clan. He was a member of the Kasuga family, which was a branch of Murakami-Genji (Minamoto clan). Akikuni is believed to be a son of MINAMOTO no Akiyuki, who held the senior third rank at court. Akikuni held two official positions, Sakone no chujo (Middle Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) and jiju (Chamberlain). He was called "Middle Captain Kasuga" and "Jiju Kasuga." His personal name was Akitoki. As one of the military commanders of the Southern Court faction, he fought in several battles under Chikafusa KITABATAKE and Akiie KITABATAKE.

Career

Akikuni followed Akiie KITABATAKE, who was both the governor of Mutsu Province and the Chinju-fu shogun (Commander-in-Chief of the Defense of the North), into the eastern provinces, fighting for the Southern Court in various battles there. In 1335, Akikuni and Sadatsuna TADA assaulted Koyama-jo Castle on orders from Akiie. Koyama-jo Castle was functioning as the base of operations for the Koyama clan, who were allied with the (enemy) Ashikaga faction.

On December 29, Akikuni captured Motegi-jo Castle which had belonged to the Northern Court. But Akikuni and the Southern Court forces were constantly gaining and losing the upper hand in the war, switching back and forth between going on the attack and falling back onto the defense, as for example when Tomosada MOTEGI, the lord of Motegi-jo Castle, managed to recapture the castle.

After Akiie's death, Akikuni became a direct subordinate of Chikafusa, Akiie's father. Akikuni occupied Hitachi Province's Oda-jo Castle, which belonged to Haruhisa ODA, and became one of Chikafusa's staff officers. At that time, the Southern Court faction supporters in Hitachi Province included the court noble Tsuneyasu HIROHASHI, Hitachi Heishi (Taira clan) family members like Takamoto DAIJO and Nobumasa NAGAOKA, as well as Masaie KUSUNOKI--the local governor appointed by Masashige KUSUNOKI--and his followers among the Naka clan, such as Michitoki NAKA, and among the Kawanobe clan; they were based out of Urizura-jo Castle, located in Naka county in northern Hitachi.

From here, they were fighting against the Satake clan and the others of the Northern Court faction. Akikuni KASUGA confronted the Utsunomiya clan of Shimotsuke Province. In 1336, the Southern-Court Army under the control of Akikuni KASUGA and Masaie KUSUNOKI fought the Northern-Court Army under the control of Yoshiharu SATAKE. In February, 1339, the Southern Court army invaded Shimotsuke Province and captured Yagioka-jo Castle, where the Kito Mashiko clan--supporters of the Utsunomiya clan--had established their base, also taking Mashikoko-jo Castle, Kaminokawa-jo Castle and Minowa-jo Castle. In 1341, the Southern Court army captured Tobiyama-jo Castle, which was the base for the the Seito Haga clan (who were descended from the Kiyohara clan), who were also Utsunomiya clan supporters, and thus annihilated both of the enemy's flanks. In Hitachi Province, they also captured Chugun-jo Castle, which they temporarily used as a base of operations, but it was later retaken by the Northern Court army. In the same year, however, KO no Morofuyu, a vassal of the Ashikaga clan, had successfully managed to split the Southern Court army, which led one of its most powerful warriors, Haruhisa ODA, to switch sides and join the Northern Court faction. Chikafusa shifted his headquarters to Seki-jo Castle, where Munesuke SEKI and Munemasa SEKI of the Southern Court army were based, while Akikuni KASUGA, in service to Imperial Prince Okiyoshi, moved to Daiho-jo Castle, where the Shimozuma clan, a family belonging to the Oyama clan, was based. Thereafter, Seki-jo Castle and Daiho-jo Castle became the headquarters for the Southern Court army in the Kanto region. But in 1343, Daiho-jo Castle and Seki-jo Castle were both captured by the enemy. Chikafusa KITABATAKE returned to Yoshino (where the Southern Court was located), but Akikuni remained in the Kanto, trying to raise another army. On April 21, 1344, Akikuni and several of his nephews and other clan members were captured by Northern Court forces and executed. Akikuni's body was sent to Kyoto.