Kumagai Naotsune (熊谷直経)

Naotsune KUMAGAI (11283 - 1365) was a Gokenin (shogunal retainer)/Samurai during the period between the end of the Kamakura period and the Northern and Southern Courts period (Japan).
The lord of the Honjo-line KUMAGAI clan in Aki Province
He served the government as Owari no kami (the administrator of Owari Province). His father was Naomitsu KUMAGAI and Naotsune was the second son. His children included Naoaki KUMAGAI. Nobunao KUMAGAI was his adapted child. Naotsugu KUMAGAI was his older brother. His wife was a daughter of Naomura KUMAGAI, a family of the same line as Naotsune.

The lord of the Honjo-line KUMAGAYA clan which was weakened.

Both Naotsune and his older brother, Naotsugu KUMAGAI, succeeded the Shoryo (territory) from their father, Naomitsu, after Naomitsu divided the shoryo into two in 1308. His father, Naomitsu, died from an illness in 1319 and his half older brother, Naotsugu also died in 1322; thus he succeeded the family estate. Naotsune belonged to the Soke (head family) of the KUMAGAI clan; however, by the time Naotsune succeeded the family estate, the KUMAGAI clan had been split and its power had been dispersed into each branch family. Therefore, even though Naotsune's family was the head family, he did not have the power to control branch families. However, he possessed a part of the Chigyo (right to control a territory) in Kumagaikyo in Musashi Province. Around this time, the most powerful KUMAGAI clan living in Aki Province was the Shinjo-line KUMAGAI clan.

The Genko War and Naotsune

Masashige KUSUNOKI gathered troops and shut himself in the Chihaya-jo Castle in 1333.
Naotsune, ordered from the Kamakura bakufu, joined the force to attack the Chihaya-jo Castle together with other samurai from western provinces
In February of the same year, he participated in two battles at the front. He fought furiously in these battles by attacking the Chihaya-jo Castle through the Ote-mon Gate with families and retainers and defeated enemy soldiers around the Ote-mon Gate even though he suffered serious injuries including 4 serious wounds and 18 less serious wounds. Nevertheless, there was no advancement in the war situation; thus, the force to attack the Chihaya-jo Castle was collapsed. Later, he joined the force led by Takauji ASHIKAGA and received the order from Takasada SHIJO, an envoy of Imperial Prince Moriyoshi. Moreover, Takauji ASHIKAGA took over the Rokuhara Tandai (the office of shogunal deputy in Kyoto placed by the Kamakura shogunate) and Yoshisada NITTA and others took over the control of Kamakura; thus the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) fell.

Kenmu Restoration and the battle against the Shinjo-line Kumagaya clan

Even though the Kenmu Restoration had begun, samurai were treated as spies of the Kuge (Court noble) and they ended up being placed in an unfavorable circumstance. Naotsune's territory was almost confiscated as the land belonged to a traitor; however, he recovered half of his territory after an appeal. Japan was filled with samurai feeling dissatisfaction toward the government which treated samurai unfairly and Takauji ASHIKAGA finally gathered troops in Kamakura. Nobutake TAKEDA, the Shugo (governor) of Aki province symphasized with Takauji and raised an army in December of the same year. Powerful Gozoku (local ruling families) in Aki province such as Motoharu MORI and Sadatsune YOSHIKAWA, feeling dissatisfaction toward the Imperial Court controlled by Emperor Godaigo, also joined Takauji. Naotsune after recovering from his injury joined the ASHIKAGA force and began advancing toward Kyoto for the attack. However, branch families of Naotsune such as Rengaku KUMAGAI, his child, Naomura KUMAGAI, and his nephew, Naozumi KUMAGAI, joined the Southern Court (Japan) force and shut themselves in the Yano-jo Castle in order to stop the ASHIKAGA force from going to Tokyo. Finally, the offensive and defensive battle of the Yano-jo Castle began on December 23 of the same year between the Southern Court force and the force of Takauji ASHIKAGA, led by Nobutake TAKEDA. Shutting himself in the Yano-jo Castle, built strongly utilizing a natural fortress, Renkaku with his small force furiously fought against the outnumbering TAKEDA force and killed many enemies including Shihei YOSHIKAWA and injured many others. However, the Yano-jo Castle finally fell after four days of the battle to hold the castle. Clan members including Rangaku KUMAGAI were all killed.

Hunting down and killing Yoshisada NITTA

After defeating the Rengaku family, the ASHIKAGA force travelled up to the East, joined the main force of Takauji ASHIKAGA, and started to guard Kyoto in January of the same year. However, in the following month, the ASHIKAGA force was forced to be routed by Akiie KITABATAKE who travelled to the South from Mutsu Province. Takauji ASHIKAGA restoring their power in Kyushu region begun invading Kyoto again. In April of the same year, Takauji defeated Masashige KUSUNOKI and Yoshisada NITTA in the Battle of Minato-gawa River and entered the capital in June. Naotsune participated in these series of battles in which the ASHIKAGA force was involved. In 1338, Naotsune left the capital with Yorisada TOKI in order to defeat Yoshisada NITTA who was controlling Echizen Province and Yoshisada was killed in Fujishima in July of the same year.

Naotsune regained the right as the Soryo (heir) of the KUMAGAI clan.

Later, after returning from the capital, Naotsune built the Miiritakamatsu-jo Castle in 1347 on Mt. Takamatsu, an important point looking down the town of Kabe, (it is also said that he chased away the NIKAIDO clan, the lord of the Miiritakamatsu-jo castle at the time) and lived there. Moreover, he cleverly combined territories, which had been devided, into a head family using the authority of the Bakufu. By establishment of the head family, the foundation of the KUMAGAI clan to accomplish his ambition during the Sengoku period (period of warring states) was completed.

In 1349, an ilegitimate child, Naoaki, was born when Naotsune was 67. Naotsune had adapted a child before Naoaki was born; therefore, he abandoned the adapted child and made Naoaki his heir.

In 1365, he transferred the family estate to Naoaki KUMAGAI, a legitimate child, retired, and died in the same year.

His children

His biological children
Naoaki KUMAGAI (a legitimate child of Naotsune)
Adapted children
Nobunao KUMAGAI (the adapted child of Naotsune) (born in Kumagayakyo, Musashi Province)
Daughters
Toratsuru (a wife of Nobunao KUMAGAI)
Toramatsu
Otsutora