Yagyu Ieyoshi (柳生家厳)

Ieyoshi YAGYU (1497-1585) was a busho (Japanese military commander) based in Yamato Province. It is said that he was an owner of Yagyu no sho, the lord of Yamato Yagyu-jo Castle. He was a father of Muneyoshi YAGYU. It is said that his family descended from the Sugawara clan, but there are a lot of suspicious records about it (it is also considered that the Yagyu was the same family of the Akamatsu clan in Harima Province).

The Yagyu clan was the powerful local clan relating to ninja like the Hattori clan in Iga Province. They produced a lot of Kengo (great swordsmen) and called themselves a family of the Sugawara clan. Afterward, in the Japanese history, the Yagyu clan appeared in the end of Kamakura period and Kenmu Restoration (the new government) organized by the Emperor Godaigo. At the event of the Genko Incident, Nagayoshi YAGYU rescued the Emperor Godaigo who confined himself to Mt. Kasagi (Kyoto Prefecture), therefore, his land was confiscated by the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by Shogun). After the fall of the government, Yagyuso was returned to his own younger brother, Gensen NAKANOBO, who was a priest of Kasagi-dera Temple as a reward. After that, the Yagyu clan survived the disturbance of Northern and Southern Dynasties and then, settled as the local lord of Yagyu. After the Eikyo War broke out in 1429, things were in quite a commotion in Yamato Province.

The Yagyu family was formed for generations in this way, but in the Sengoku period (period of warring states), they came to the turning point. The Muromachi bakufu declined due to the Onin War, which affected Ieyoshi, the head of the Yagyu family. In 1536, Nagamasa KIZAWA, a chief retainer of the Hatakeyama clan and shugodai (deputy military governor) of half of Kawachi Province and five counties of Yamashiro Province built a castle on the Mt. Shigi and conceived a plot to conquer Yamato Province. Ieyoshi followed Nagamasa and fought against the Tsutsui clan and the Niki clan. But Nagamasa KIZAWA was in opposition to Kanrei (shogun's deputy), Motoharu HOSOKAWA and Nagayoshi MIYOSHI and in 1542, he was defeated and killed in the battle of Kawachi Taihei-ji Temple. Junsho TSUTSUI captured the remnants of the Kizawa clan one after another and conquered the castle of the Yagyu clan, Koyagyu-jo Castle. Ieyoshi surrendered to the Tsutsui clan and served as a vassal to continue the family name. After that, when Hisahide MATSUNAGA, a chief retainer of Nagayoshi MIYOSHI, advanced on Yamato Province, Ieyoshi turned to Hisahide MATSUNAGA and played an active role to capture Yamato.

Around this time, Ieyoshi's son, Sogon met the founder of Shinkage-ryu, KAMIIZUMI Ise no kami (Governor of Ise Province) Hidetsuna and had him as his teacher.

Then, when Nagayoshi MIYOSHI died, the Miyoshi clan which was opposition to Hisahide MATSUNAGA and Junsho TSUTSUI came into conflict and battles broke out. Ieyoshi sided with Hisahide and Daibutsu-den Hall of Todai-ji Temple burned down at this time. Also, when Hisahide MATSUNAGA surrendered to Nobunaga ODA and advanced on Yamato Province, he sided with Hisahide and fought against Junkei TSUTSUI.. After that, the Tsutsui clan surrendered to Nobunaga and the wars in Yamato were quelled. Right after this, Ieyoshi transferred the headship of the family to Sogon and retired.

Incidentally, his son, Sogen YAGYU was born when Ieyoshi was 31 years old. At this time, he was in the prime of life, but there is no record about how he was doing.