Imagawa Yoshitada (今川義忠)

Yoshitada IMAGAWA was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period (period of warring states). He was a shugo daimyo (shugo, which were Japanese provincial military governors, that became daimyo, which were Japanese feudal lords). His original surname was the Minamoto clan. He was from the Imagawa clan which was a branch family of the Kira clan, a family of the Ashikaga clan which was originated by MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni. MINAMOTO no Yoshikuni was the son of MINAMOTO no Yoshiie who was Chinju-fu shogun (commander-in-chief of the defence of the north) and the head of the Kawachi-Genji, a family line of the Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan originated from Emperor Seiwa). Yoshitada was the sixth family head of the Imagawa clan based in Suruga Province.

In 1441, he went to Owari Province leading 1,000 horse soldiers, to fight in the Kakitsu War as a representative for his father, Noritada (it is written in the "Imagawa-ki," that Norimasa IMAGAWA went to the Kakitsu War, but Tetsuo OWADA, a professor at Shizuoka University, maintains that Norimasa died in 1433 and Yoshitada was the one who fought in the war).

During the Kyotoku War, the Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) told the Imagawa clan to suppress Shigeuji ASHIKAGA, Kanto kubo, in 1454. Yoshitada, again as a representative for his father Noritada, went to war, and attacked Kamakura City successfully enough to receive the letter of commendation from the seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians").

In 1461, he took over the post of shugo (provincial constable) of Suruga Province, when his father Noritada became dangerously ill. After he inherited the family estate, he started to support Masatomo ASHIKAGA, Horigoe kubo, on the request of Shogun Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA. Yoshitada, along with Nobumasa TAKEDA in Kai Province, was told to suppress Shigeuji ASHIKAGA, Koga kubo, in 1466.

The Imagawa clan was appointed as shugo not only at home in Suruga Province but also in Totomi Province. After 1419, however, Totomi Province became under control of the Shiba clan. On top of that, the territory in Totomi Province which belonged to a branch family of Ryoshun IMAGAWA, was taken by local samurai who was a vassal for the Shiba clan, when Norimasa IMAGAWA was killed for the charge of rebellion. Thus the confrontation between the Imagawa clan and the Shiba clan became more obvious.

When the Onin War happened in 1467, Yoshitada went to Kyoto along with 1,000 horse soldiers, after he consulted Masatomo ASHIKAGA, Horigoe kubo. Sozen YAMANA tried to bring Yoshitada into the western camp, but Yoshitada, saying that he intended to guard the Shogun, went to Hana no gosho (residence of Shogun in Kyoto) which was seized by the eastern camp, to be a member of the eastern camp. It seemed as if he sided with the eastern camp because his opponent Yoshikado SHIBA, shugo of Totomi Province, sided with the western camp.

It is assumed that he got married with Kitagawa-dono, the sister of Shinkuro ISE (Soun HOJO) during his stay in Kyoto. According to a long-held belief, Shinkuro was a suronin (master-less samurai) and his sister Kitagawa-dono was considered to be a concubine. However the latest research shows that Shinkuro was likely to be Moritoki ISE, Shogun's vassal from the Ise clan (a family of pedigree serving as stewards of the bakufu mandokoro [the administrative board]) in Bitchu. Yoshitada frequently visited Sadachika ISE, mandokoro shitsuji (chief of mandokoro) during his stay in Kyoto, and Morisada ISE, Moritoki's father, was working as a messenger for the Imagawa family. This led to the marriage between Yoshitada and Kitagawa-dono, so it is more reasonable to consider that she was Yoshitada's lawful wife. In 1473, their legitimate child, Tatsuomaru (Ujichika) was born.

Yoshitada, on the request of Katsumoto HOSOKAWA, went back to Suruga Province to disturb the province occupied by Yoshikado SHIBA of Tokaido, in 1468. Then he actively tried to make a foray into Totomi Province, fighting the Shiba clan or other local lords.

A member of the eastern camp, Shigeyuki HOSOKAWA, shugo of Mikawa Province, was attacked by Myochin SAITO, shugodai (deputy military governor) of Mino Province, in 1473, and Yoshitada was ordered by the Shogun to go to Mikawa Province to join battle. The Shogun consigned the territory for army provisions, but this caused a conflict between Yoshitada and other members of the eastern camp, such as Yoshisuke (Yoshinaga) SHIBA, shugo of Owari Province (opposed to Yoshikado SHIBA of the western camp) and the Komi clan and the Kano clan who were local lords of Totomi Province and vassals of Yoshizane KIRA from Mikawa Province. Yoshitada fought and destroyed them. Consequently he had to oppose Yoshisuke (Yoshinaga) SHIBA and Shigeyuki HOSOKAWA, who were both members of the eastern camp. Against Yoshitada, the eastern camp made Toshimitsu KAI, the senior vassal of Yoshikado SHIBA (western camp), switch sides and appointed Toshimitsu as shugodai of Totomi Province in 1475. Totomi Province turned politically unstable. Yoshitada went to Totomi Province to fight against the local lords working for Yoshisuke (Yoshinaga) SHIBA.

In 1476, the local lords of Totomi Province, Hidekuni YOKOCHI and Katsumata Shuri no suke (勝間田修理亮) colluded with the Shiba clan and renovated Mitsuke-jo Castle to fight against Yoshitada. Yoshitada led 500 horse soldiers to besiege Yokochi-jo Castle as well as Katsumata-jo Castle, and killed both. On the way back, he was caught in the uprising by the Yokochi and Katsumata clan remnants at Shiokaizaka, Ogasa County, Totomi Province (present-day Kikugawa City, Shizuoka Prefecture) at night. Yoshitada spearheaded on the horse, but was killed by a stray arrow.

His untimely death left Tatsuomaru who was only six years old. Norimitsu OSHIKA from the Imagawa family demanded to take over the family estate of the Imagawa clan, and the internal conflict arose. Kitagawa-dono's brother Moritoki ISE, a messenger of the bakufu, went to Suruga Province as a mediator. Then the relationship between Moritoki and the Imagawa clan became closer, which later triggered Moritoki's foray into the Kanto region and the birth of the Gohojo clan.