Miyoshi Clan (三好氏)

Miyoshi clan belongs to Shinano Genji (Minamoto clan) and it is the descendants of shugo (a provincial government) Ogasawara clan in Awa Province in Kamakura period. In Muromachi era Miyoshi clan was shugodai (deputy military governor) of Awa Province. In Sengoku period (period of warring states) (Japan) it became a daimyo in the Sengoku period that had the power in and around Kinki region including Awa Province.


The real family name of the clan is Genji (Minamoto clan). It belonged to one of lineages of Seiwa Genji (Minamoto clan), the Shinano Genji (Minamoto clan) that falls into the branch family of Kawachi Genji (Minamoto clan), and it was a branch family of Ogasawara clan. It is said that Miyoshi clan is a branch of the distinguished Ogasawara clan in Shinano Genji. But it is considered that the clan used deceptive name as there are many contradictions in each existing genealogy. The clan is also called Awa Ogasawara clan. The clan moved from Shinano Province into Miyoshi County, Awa Province, where it set its home ground.


In the late period of Kamakura era the name of the clan had been already seen here and there in Awa Province. It was a descendant of Ogasawara clan, which was Awa shugo. In the early period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), the clan acted on the Southern Court (Japan), and there was a period that it conflicted with Hosokawa clan on the Northern Court (Japan). However, with the Southern Court losing ground and Hosokawa clan growing its influence in the bakufu (the Northern Court), the clan surrendered to the bakufu.

Decreasing power in mid course

In Muromachi period, Yukinaga MIYOSHI, who was dubbed a great commander having both wisdom and courage, appeared and served Hosokawa clan, Shogunal Deputy. In the case of the succession dispute in Hosokawa clan, Nagayuki supported Sumimoto HOSOKAWA, who was a child of Awa shugo Hosokawa clan and later adopted by kanrei Masamoto HOSOKAWA. Nagayuki moved from place to place to fight and achieved military exploits, coming to have great influence in Kinki region and Shikoku. But he died a sad death, and so did Sumimoto HOSOKAWA.

After the death of Yukinaga, Motonaga MIYOSHI, the grandson of Yukinaga, supported the young lord Harumoto HOSOKAWA. Motonaga made achievements including helping Harumoto become kanrei, and he ended up being the biggest power in Hosokawa clan. But, being afraid of Motonaga's power as a threat, Harumoto HOSOKAWA accepted the slander from Masanaga MIYOSHI and others who belonged to the Motonaga's clan and were envious of Nagamasa KIZAWA and Motonaga's rise. In 1532, with the help from Ikko sect that hated Motonaga MIYOSHI who was a big patron of Hokke sect Harumoto attacked Motonaga MIYOSHI in Kenpon-ji Temple in Sakai and forced Motonaga to kill himself. Due to the feud, Miyoshi clan declined temporarily.

The golden age

But Nagayoshi MIYOSHI who succeeded Motonaga and was the young bereaved child of him was braver and more resourceful than his father. At first Nagayoshi served Harumoto as his loyal vassal. However, he married a daughter, as a lawful wife, of Naganori YUSA who was the shugodai of Kawachi Province and had a strong influence in Kinki region. He himself extended his influence not only to Awa Province but also to Settsu Province and gathered his strength. In cooperation with his brothers Yoshikata MIYOSHI (Awa), Kazumasa SOGO (Sanuki) and Fuyuyasu ATAGI, he beat the forces of Nagamasa KIZAWA (in the battle of Taihei-ji Temple) and Nagamasa MIYOSHI one after another, both of whom had been his father's enemy. In the end, Nagayoshi established his power which was bigger than his father's in the Hosokawa clan.

In 1549, Nagayoshi started to take revenge for his father's death. With the reinforcement from his father-in-law Naganori YUSA, he supported Ujitsuna HOSOKAWA, the bereaved child of Takakuni HOSOKAWA. Nagayoshi beat Nagamasa MIYOSHI who had been a loyal vassal of Harumoto and supported Harumoto's power in the military side in Enami, Settsu Province (the Battle of Eguchi). Being afraid of Nagayoshi's power, Harumoto ran away to Otsu, and the Harumoto administration collapsed. As a result, Nagayoshi became famous as a daimyo in the Sengoku period. Furthermore, Nagayoshi fought with the shogun Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA and drove him away into Omi Province. And he grew to be a daidaimyo (daimyo having a greater stipend) to govern, in total, nine provinces Kinki region (Settsu, Kawachi, Yamato, Tanba Province, Yamashiro Province, Izumi Province) and Shikoku (Awa, Sanuki Province, Awaji Province), including part of Harima, Iyo and Tosa.

And as he went up to Kyoto and declared his supreme power over Japan, he was called the first tenkabito (person becoming the ruler of the country) and tried to establish the Miyoshi administration. But, facing strong resistance from the old power, Nagayoshi stopped fighting with Yoshiteru, the shogun. And he supported Yoshiteru, and moved into the system to govern by Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA - Ujitsuna HOSOKAWA - Nagayoshi MIYOSHI in order. Despite the system, Nagayoshi held the real power, and Yoshiteru as well as Ujitsuna was only his puppet. This period was the golden age of Miyoshi clan.

Prosperity and falling

Nagayoshi was a man of elegance and taste who loved renga (linked verse), favored Zen and enjoyed reading classics including Tale of Genji. He showed tolerant attitude toward Christians and allowed various religions such as Buddhism (all sects), Shinto and Christianity. Because of his attitude confrontation inside Buddhists (between Hokke sect and Ikko sect) calmed down. And he posted his capable brothers in various places to administer his extended power. He restored the tattered capital Kyoto that had been destroyed by the battles since Onin War. He acted energetically and made achievements including developing the town of Sakai City as a big trading port.

However, the resistance from the old power did not stop, and Takamasa HATAKEYAMA, one of sankanrei (three families in the post of kanrei, or shogunal deputy) and Yoshikata ROKKAKU, the hankoku shugo (military governor in charge of the half area of the province) and male cousin of Harumoto HOSOKAWA raised rebellion against Miyoshi. With the struggle with them, Nagayoshi lost his brother Yoshikata MIYOSHI in the battle of Kumeda (present Kishiwada City). He survived his younger brothers (Kazumasa SOGO, Fuyuyasu ATAGI), and he himself died at the age of 41. After the death of Nagayoshi, the adopted child Yoshitsugu MIYOSHI, who was from the Miyoshi clan, succeeded. But as he was so young, Hisahide MATSUNAGA, the karo (chief retainer) and Miyoshi sanninshu (three chief retainers of the Miyoshi clan) took the actual power, and Yoshitsugu was just their puppet. With the successive deaths of Nagayoshi and his younger brothers and as the result of Hisahide and sanninshu bickering over the leadership, Miyoshi clan extremely declined in strength.

The way to the fall

The clan supported the 14th shogun Yoshihide ASHIKAGA from the home ground of Awa. But in 1586 when Nobunaga ODA entered the capital Kyoto under the 15th shogun Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, Miyoshi clan did not have the strength to hold out against Oda clan. Miyoshi clan challenged Oda to a decisive battle but lost easily, and some of the clan fled to their home ground Awa, and others had to go on as the vassals of Nobunaga. Later when the shogun Yoshiaki conflicted with Nobunaga and the anti-Nobunaga network was laid, Yoshitsugu and sanninshu took Yoshiaki's side and conflicted with Nobunaga. However, they did not have the strength to hold out against the Oda clan's powerful military power. In 1573, when he was attacked by Nobumori SAKUMA, one of the Nobunaga's vassals, Yoshitsugu killed himself and the head family of Miyoshi clan died out. But in Awa Province in Shikoku, Nagaharu MIYOSHI who had succeeded Yoshikata MIYOSHI and his real brother Masayasu SOGO still exerted their influence in eastern part of Shikoku. However, after Nagaharu killed his loyal vassal Nagafusa SHINOHARA, believing the slanders, the vassals of Nagaharu became anxious and defected from Miyoshi clan. Later Nagaharu was killed by his vassal acquainted with Motochika CHOSOKABE in Tosa Province. It is not an exaggeration to say that Miyoshi clan as a Sengoku daimyo died out by this incident.


But Yasunaga MIYOSHI, a survivor of Miyoshi clan, became Nobunaga's vassal and was given a territory in the part of Kawachi. Masayasu SOGO who was also a survivor served Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI and was given a territory in Sanuki Province, trying to continue his family. Yasunaga, the former, was unaccounted for after Honnoji Incident, and Masayasu, the latter, died in the battle of Hetsu-gawa and was forfeited his rank of samurai and properties.

And in 1615, Masahide SOGO who was the bereaved child of Masayasu and Masayasu MIYOSHI who was the only survivor among Miyoshi sanninshu died in the (Winter and Summer) Sieges of Osaka, and by this the chance of Miyoshi clan's resurgence disappeared. But Masakatsu MIYOSHI survived by serving Tokugawa clan, and some others survived by serving other daimyo.

In addition, Yoshikane MIYOSHI and Yoshishige MIYOSHI, who were an eldest legitimate son and second son respectively of Yoshitsugu MIYOSHI who belonged to the main lineage of Miyoshi clan fled to Ibuki Island in Sanuki Province and both settled there. During the period of the rule by Ikoma clan, Yoshikiyo MIYOSHI, the grandson of Yoshikane was given the endorsement of Administrative Board from Ikoma clan, and after that it is said that the family named Sakuemon successively. At Ibuki-Hachiman-jinja Shrine in Ibuki Island there still exists an ema (votive horse tablet) depicting the scene of Yoshikane and his vassals with reduced 80 horses by gunshots getting to Ibuki Island and offering the seimon (covenant) to the shrine.

[Original Japanese]