Imperial Prince MuneyoshiMunenaga (宗良親王)

Imperial prince Muneyoshi/Munenaga (1311 - September 14, 1385) was an Imperial family member during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, and was Emperor Godaigo's Prince, who was called Shinanonomiya, Okusanomiya, Kosakanomiya (originating from the Kosaka clan who became the protector). His mother was Tameko NIJO. His Buddhist name was Cloistered Imperial Prince Soncho. His Ikai (Court rank) was the Ippon (First Order of an Imperial Prince) no Nakatsukasa-kyo (Minister of the Ministry of Central Affairs). His real brothers were the Imperial Princes Tameyoshi/Tamenaga, his half brothers were Imperial Princes Moriyoshi/Morinaga, Kaneyoshi/Kanenaga, Noriyoshi/Norinaga (Emperor Gomurakami). Please refer to the section of the Prince of Emperor Godaigo with regard to having two different ways of pronouncing the family name.


Since his mother was from the Nijo school which was a popular poet's family, he was used to being exposed to poems when he was small. He entered the Myoho-in Temple and succeeded to the Priest prince of Myoho-in Temple in 1325. Subsequently he was appointed as the head priest of the Tendai sect of Buddhism in 1330, however he was caught at the Genko Disturbance and banished to Sanuki Province.

He became the head priest of the Tendai sect of Buddhism after his father, Emperor Godaigo was successful with overthrowing the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) and the Kenmu Restoration started, but after the Restoration collapsed and antagonism between the Southern and the Northern Courts became serious, he returned to a secular life and was re-named Muneyoshi, he started taking sides with the Southern Court force of Yoshino in Yamato Province (Nara Prefecture). In 1338 he was ordered by Chikafusa KITABATAKE to go from Ominato in Ise Province (Ise City, Mie Prefecture) to the provincial capital of Mutsu Province (Ryozen-machi, Date-gun, Fukushima Prefecture) together with Imperial Prince Noriyoshi/Norinaga, however their boat was stranded and washed ashore at Totomi Province (west of Shizuoka Prefecture), after that he stayed with the Ii clan, who was the powerful clan of the Iinoya Domain.

In 1340, when Iinoya-jo Castle fell under the attack of KO no Moroyasu and Yoshinaga NIKI,he stayed in Teradomari, Echigo Province (currently Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture), or Hojozu, Ecchu Province (currently Imizu City, Toyama Prefecture); after that, he went to Okawara (currently Oshika-mura, Nagano Prefecture) at the invitation of Takamune KOSAKA (a member of the Mochizuki clan, who were a branch of the Shigeno clan) of Ina County, Shinano Province (currently Nagano Prefecture) in 1344.
Muneyoshi was based in this place for thirty years until 1373, and he was called 'Shinanonomiya.'
According to "Shinyo Wakashu" (Collection of Japanese Poetry) and a private edition of poems, "Rikashu," it became apparent he joined the battles in Kozuke and Musashi Provinces, and even went to Suruga Province (Shizuoka Prefecture) and Kai Province (Yamanashi Prefecture). Okawara was based at Inadani, so going north would bring you, via Hase (one of the death sites mentioned later), to Suwa (home of the Suwa clan), while going south would bring you to Iinoya (home of the Ii clan); given the unfavorable situation they were in, it was an ideal place for the Southern Court, and it was common for samurai of the Southern Court, such as those in the Nitta clan, to escape to this place after losing a battle.

In 1351, when Takauji ASHIKAGA temporally gave up the battle against the Southern Court at Shohei Itto (to unify the Imperial line in the Shohei era), he occupied Kamakura with Yoshioki NITTA. In 1352 he was appointed as the Seii Taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians"), however he could not continue to occupy Kamakura, and he tried to take his power back at Echigo, but finally returned to Okawara again. In 1355 he gathered the army from Shinano Southern Court forces, such as the Suwa clan, the Nishina clan and battled the Military governor of Shinano Province, Nagamoto OGASAWARA at Kikyogahara, however he lost the battle, and returned to Okawara and remained there, to restore the destroyed Southern Court forces in Shinano.

There are only a few written records of the Kikyogahara battle, for example, the Yajima bunsho, and there is no proof whether the battle in fact took place or not.
The only description of 'the battle of Shinano' is found in the Entairyaku (the Diary of Kinkata TOIN) from the basic materials from those days, it is said it is certain there was 'a large scale battle and the story was passed to the city.'
It is also almost certain that the Southern Court lost the battle because there was supporting evidence that the activities of the Southern Court (including that of Tadayoshi ASHIKAGA) calmed down or stopped.

He returned to Yoshino for the first time in 36 years in 1374, but he was still unable to regain political power. He started an edition of the anthology of waka poems from poets of the Southern Court, but after a while he went returned to the priesthood again. The anthology of waka poems Muneyoshi was editing, was a private one, Emperor Chokei ordered him to edit an anthology of poems collected by Imperial Command. This was the "Shinyo Wakashu" which was completed in 1381.

His later years

It was discovered that, in his later years, he once returned to Okawara in 1378, when the selection of the Shinyo Wakashu had almost been completed, but no reliable records remain concerning what he did after he went back to Yoshino in 1381 to pass the Wakashu to Emperor Chokei.

According to an old document titled 'Okusano miya no outa' that was completed in 1550 and kept in Daigo-ji Temple, Kyoto, there was a plausible theory that he died at his long-time base in Okawara, Shinano Province; according to the Nanchojounroku (records handed down since the Southern Court of Japan), however, he died in Ii-jo Castle, Totomi Province, in 1385,. There is another theory of Irinoya Hase of Ii. (He was killed in a battle on a mountain road that runs from Okawara to Suwa in 1385.
There was an Imperial Crest of the Chrysanthemum and Muhoto which included a carving of Imperial Prince Muneyoshi/Munenaga's Buddhist name, the "Cloistered Soncho Imperial Prince," that were found in Hase Village where his body was supposed have been buried.)
Another theory is the Namiai theory (the place his son, Imperial Prince Tadayoshi/Tadanaga died), the Kozuyamada theory, and there are other theories that he died in Echigo or Ecchu. It was said he was no longer alive in 1389.

It is said the Hokyo in Kamasawa, Okawara, Oshika-mura, Nagano Prefecture, was the location of Muneyoshi's grave, and also the cemetery in Iinoya-gu Shirine in Shizuoka Prefecture enshrines Imperial Prince Muneyoshi/Munenaga.


Imperial Prince Okiyoshi/Okinaga and Imperial Prince Tadanaga were the Princes of Muneyoshi. Imperial Prince Okiyoshi/Okinaga's premature death was written about in a poem in "Shinyo Wakashu," and it is said that Imperial Prince Tadayoshi/Tadanaga succeeded to his father's position in the Northern Court and moved from one battle field to another; after that; he was given the surname "GENJI" (founder of the Minamoto clan, he was a descendent of the Emperor Godaigo) and appointed as Seii Taishogun. The descendants above, the Ohashi clan, are the representatives of shrine parishioners of the Ryozen-jinja Shrine (one of the special government shrines of the fifteen shrines of the Kenmu Restoration, which was appointed by Emperor Meiji) that enshrines Akiie KITABATAKE.

[Original Japanese]