Akechi Mitsuharu (明智光春)

Mitsuharu AKECHI (c. 1537 - 1582) was a busho (Japanese military commander) who lived in the Azuchi-Momoyama period. He was a vassal of Mitsuhide AKECHI. He was the lord of Fukuchiyama-jo Castle. His father was Mitsuyasu AKECHI, who was an uncle of Mitsuhide. Mitsuharu's childhood name was Iwachiyo. His common name was Samanosuke, and he also changed his name to Mitsutoshi. This is a person who appears only in stories such as "Akechi Gunki" (biography of Mitsuhide AKECHI). He might be modeled on someone; whether he existed in reality or not is uncertain.

Brief Personal History

Although he was following his father, Mitsuyasu, who was residing in Akechi-jo Castle as a koken (guardian) of Mitsuhide, the Castle fell in 1556 when it was attacked by Yoshitatsu SAITO for siding with Dosan SAITO, who lost the fight to Yoshitatsu SAITO. His father then commit suicide, but Mitsuharu escaped from the Castle with Mitsuhide and others and lost his master.

When Mitsuhide started serving Nobunaga ODA, Mitsuharu, following Mitsuhide, fought battles in various places and distinguished himself with military exploits, which led him to be granted 50,000 koku at Tanba Province. Although the second daughter of Mitsuhide had married Muratsugu ARAKI, who was a legitimate son of Murashige ARAKI, she is said to have got divorced when Murashige raised a rebellion and to have remarried Mitsuharu.

In the Honnoji Incident of 1582, in which Mitsuhide attacked Nobunaga ODA, Mitsuharu spearheaded the attack on Honno-ji Temple in Kyoto. After that, he defended Azuchi-jo Castle, but when Mitsuhide was killed in the Battle of Yamasaki against Hideyoshi HASHIBA, Mitsuharu is said to have moved to Sakamoto-jo Castle and killed himself.

According to the legend "Akechi Samanosuke no Kosui Watari" (Samanosuke AKECHI's Crossing of Lake), when he moved to Sakamoto-jo Castle, he avoided the roads occupied by the soldiers of Hideyoshi, and instead crossed Lake Biwa on horseback.

The sword he is said to have carried remains as 'Akechi Koshirae' (Akechi's mounting). Although the body of the blade is simple with no inscription, it is considered to be a rare and valuable historical material that conveys a form of Uchigatana for actual use of this period.

Personal Profile

Although records tell that Mitsuharu was a younger cousin of Mitsuhide AKECHI, announcement as 'Mitsuharu' has not been found in historical records. There is a theory that he was a figure created from stories mixed with those of Hidemitsu AKECHI, whose existence has been confirmed from historical records.