Akai Naomasa (赤井直正)

Naomasa AKAI, 1529 - April 25, 1578, was a member of the Gozoku (local ruling family) in Tanba Province in the Sengoku period (period of warring states). He was commonly known as Akuemon. He was the second son of Tokie AKAI. His son was Naoyoshi AKAI. As a substantial leader of Akai clan, he wielded his power in Tanba area centering around Hikami District. He once served Nobunaga ODA, but soon betrayed him; he conflicted with Mitsuhide AKECHI, who was sent by Nobunaga.

Birth Place

According to Kansei Choshu Shokafu, it is said that the Akai clan is descended from the Ashida clan of Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan), the line of MINAMOTO no Yorisue, who was a son of MINAMOTO no Yorinobu, Kawachi-Genji from Shinano Province. However, it is said that he was deported to Tanba for some reason; however, this could be a false name. Since there is a place called Ashida in Hikami-gun, Tanba Province, the Akai clan must have been Gozoku residing in Hikami District from the beginning. The full-scale activities of the Akai clan began, when Kuro Tameie was given by his father, Hachiro Ienori, three districts, Hikami-gun, Amata-gun and Ikaruga-gun; while he lived in Akai in 1215.

Time in Ogino Clan

When Iekiyo AKAI, Naomasa's elder brother, was the leader of the Akai clan, it grew to have the power to govern almost the entire region. Since Naomasa was the second son, he was adopted into the Ogino family, a kin to the Akai clan and based at Kuroi Castle (Kasuga-cho, Tanba City, Hyogo Prefecture) and used the name of Ogino. Later, while he was still young, he killed Iyo no kami OGINO, his father-in-law, and took Kuroi Castle (1554). There are various opinions on the origins of his common name, Akuemon; some say that it came from this incident, and others say that he called himself with this name. Due to his courage they were afraid of calling him 'Red ogre of Tanba' and he was ranked with the 'Blue ogre'; along with Norinari MOMII of Momii Castle in Taki-gun (Sasayama City, Hyogo Prefecture). He took the daughter of Motohide HATANO as his legal wife but lost her and, later, took the younger sister of Sakihisa KONOE, former chief adviser to the Emperor, as his legal wife. He had a daughter from her.

As Guardian of Akai Clan

In 1557, his elder brother, Iekiyo died because of a wound from a battle with Nagayori MATSUNAGA, and Naomasa led the Akai family by acting as guardian for his young nephew, Tadaie AKAI while Naomasa himself lived in Kuroi Castle. Therefore, Naomasa is usually known by his family name, Akai.

He endeavored to expand their power through actions like the overthrow of Naomasa ARAKI in Amada-gun.

In 1565, he succeeded in attacking and overthrowing Nagayori MATSUNAGA (name of Nagayori MATSUNAGA after inheriting Naito clan), who was a desire for revenge for the death of his elder brother taking advantage of the confusion after the death of Chokei MIYOSHI.

Battles with the Oda Clan

In 1570, he surrendered to Nobunaga ODA with the head of the family, Tadaie, and he received assurance that he could retain the three districts in his territories.

However, when the Yamana clan attacked Hikami-gun, he defeated them and occupied Konosumiyama Castle and Takeda Castle, which were the base castles for the Yamana clan. Since the Yamana clan asked Nobunaga for help, the occupation of those castles led to Nobunaga's attack on Tanba.

In 1575, Nobunaga ordered Mitsuhide AKECHI to attack Tanba. The attack was launched to suppress Naomasa AKAI. Naomasa fought by holding up in Kuroi Castile. Mitsuhide was routed because Hideharu HATANO in Yagami Castle sent for support from Naomasa.

Tanba subsequently suffered an onslaight from Nobunaga ODA, who had secured control of Kinai (area near Kyoto) centered on Kyoto, however, the Akai clan including Naomasa continued to resist in tandem with the Hatano clan, and, succeeded in repulsing Oda's army, which was led by Mitsuhide AKECHI, several times.

When Naomasa battled against Mitsuhide AKECHI, he managed to surround Mitsuhide's army, and it is said that Mitsuhide gave up all hope to live.

Naomasa's Death and the Suppression of Tanba

In 1578, however, Naomasa died due to illness. His son, Naoyoshi AKAI, was nine years old at that time. Naoyoshi's uncle, Yukiie AKAI took over supreme command, but the Akai family lost morale due to Naomasa's death; this aided in the suppression of Tanba by the Oda clan. Later, Naoyoshi became a retainer of Takatora TODO.

Immediately before his death, he was impressed by the behavior of Yasuharu WAKISAKA, who visited him alone to urge his surrender, and he also presented a scabbard of a spear made with hide of Mustelidae (martens) to Yasuharu. Yasuharu brought it back to his home, and its is said that the marten's hide has since become the family treasure of the Wakisaka family; however, the veracity of this claim is unclear.

In October 1577, Mitsuhide built Kameyama Castle and secured a strong foothold in Tanba.

Since the suppression of the Gozoku in the Kameoka basin appears to have concluded in 1578, in November Mitsuhide overthrew the 'Blue ogre' Ecchu no kami (Governor of Ecchu Province) Norinari MOMI, who defended the entrance to Taki-gun.

The start of 1579 saw an increase in the pace of the suppression in tandem with Tajima. In July the Yuto clan in Kitakuwada-gun surrendered, in August the Hatano clan in Taki-gun surrendered along with the Shiomi clan in Amata-gun and the Akai clan in Hikami-gun surrendered in September.

Yukiie AKAI, Naomasa's younger brother, married the granddaughter of Motonori ADACHI as his second wife in Miyata, Tanba Province and had a son, Hisamoto ADACHI, then Akai died in 1606 at the age of 70. After his father's death, Hisamoto relied on Tokinao AKAI, his father's younger brother and a Hatamoto (direct retainer of the shogun) with 1,500 koku, and Hisamoto was brought up in Inukai-mura, Uchi-gun, Yamato Province. Hisamoto married the daughter of Tadayasu AKAI, the head of the Akai family, and changed his family name to ADACHI.