Kitajo Takahiro (北条高広)

Takahiro KITAJO (1517? – 1587?) was a military commander during the Sengoku (Warring States) period in Japan. He served the Nagao clan (Uesugi clan). He was the child of Hiroharu KITAJO (Hiroharu YASUDA); however, it was also said that he was an adopted son and his real father was Takatei KITAJO. He was the father of Kagehiro KITAJO, Takahiro KITAJO (same as his father's name) and a daughter (the wife of Tomonori NUMATA). He was the governor of Tango and Aki provinces.

Birthplace/personalities

The Kitajo clan is in the same family line as the Mori clan of Aki Province, but the Kitajo clan is in the line of heir unlike the Aki Mori clan. Given such a position of pride, the heads of the family in succeeding generations used the Hiro "広" character, which appears in the name of the clan's forebear, Oe no Hiromoto 大江広元. Furthermore, the Yasuda clan was part of the Echigo branch of the Mori household, from which Takahiro's adoptive father Hiroharu hailed and was adopted by Sukehiro KITAJO; accordingly, Hiroharu concurrently held the roles of heads of the Kitajo and Yasuda clans. When Hiroharu died around 1530, the role of the Kitajo family head was inherited by Takahiro, whereas the role of the Yasuda family head passed to Kagemoto YASUDA.

Takahiro was a competent warrior, which was said 'A peerless, brave warrior with twice the ability and the physique of others' (Hokuetsu War Stories). It was said that wherever the Uesugi troops went, their military feats were well known indeed. Yet, he was the hastiest person among the family members, and the head of the clan Kenshin UESUGI was said to have been burdened with many worries. Following the complications outlined above, Kagemoto was antagonistic to Kagemoto of the Yasuda clan, in particular, and it iwas he who reported Takahiro's act of treason to Kenshin.

Trends in the Kenshin period

Takahiro served the Nagao clan, a feudal warlord in Echigo province, then served Tamekage NAGAO and Harukage NAGAO with distinguished war service, but in 1554, shifted sides to that of Shingen TAKEDA of Kai Province who was antagonistic towards the Nagao clan, and rebelled against Kenshin UESUGI at the Kitajo Castle. But in the following year, he capitulated in the face of a counter-offensive from the Nagao forces. Subsequently, he served Kagetora (Kenshin UESUGI) for the second time as an administrator. In 1563, he was commissioned as lord of Umayabashijo Castle in Kozuke Province and was entrusted with political and military matters in the Kanto district. Thus we can assume that Takahiro was an excellent military commander; and now in 1567, he disobeyed Kenshin for the second time by changing his allegiance and siding with Ujiyasu HOJO. However, with the conclusion of the Etsuso Alliance between the Uesugi and Gohojo clans in the following year, Takahiro was able to return to the service of the Uesugi clan thanks to the intercession of Ujimasa HOJO, and from then on served the Uesugi clan as a loyal retainer. Internal conflict erupted within the Numata clan with the murder of Choken, the hustand of Numata clan's daughter, and at the urging of a group of vassals, Choken's father, Akiyasu NUMATA (Mankisai), and Akiyasu's son, Kageyoshi NUMATA, were exiled to Aizu.

The Otate Revolt and the fall

In 1574, he retired to Ogojo Castle and handed over the headship to his eldest son, Kagehiro. When Kenshin died in 1578, he entered the priesthood in Aki Province and adopted the name Yoshibayashi. In the Ontate Revolt, together with his son Kagehiro, he supported Kagetora UESUGI and fought Kagekatsu UESUGI; however, Kitajo-jo Castle and other sites fell, Kagehiro was killed, and he retreated to Katsuyori TAKEDA (it is also said that his real father, Takatei, was killed by Kagekatsu). It is said that afterwards he served Kagekatsu through the mediation of Katsuyori (alternatively, after the downfall of the Takeda clan, he served Kazumasa TAKIGAWA, but after Kazumasa's downfall, he served the Gohojo clan), but details are unknown in regard to his latter years. Besides Kagehiro, he also had another child 'Takahiro KITAJO' having the same name as his own--It is said that Takahiro (the junior) returned to service of the Uesugi clan but failed in regaining the territory lost in Echigo and fell.

Family banner/crest

A single plain Japanese carpenter ant (Camponotus japonicus) motif was used in order to avoid being loud. The family crest is identical to that of the Mori clan: a single line and three stars.