Akamatsu Masanori (赤松政則)

Masanori AKAMATSU was a busho (Japanese military commander) lived in the late Muromachi period, and also a shugo daimyo (a feudal lord of provincial military governors) and a Warring lord of Harima Province.

In his boyhood

He was born of Tokikatsu AKAMATSU (later Shoson AKAMATSU) who was a son of Yoshimasa AKAMATSU, a younger brother of Mitsusuke AKAMATSU in 1455. The Akamatsu clan had fallen by the attack from the army of bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) since Mitsusuke AKAMATSU murdered the 6th shogun of Muromachi bakufu Yoshinori ASHIKAGA, which called Kakitsu War in 1441. As a result, his father Tokikatsu and he were brought up at the Kennin-ji Temple in Kyoto.

The Choroku Incident

Masanori, a member of the Akamatsu family, was allowed the succession to the head position in a family in October with his achievement that he recovered a sacred jewel from Gonan-cho (Second Southern Court) through the good offices of the Akamatsu family's old retainers such as Taro IWAMI, Tatewaki NYUYA and Yoshimitsu KOZUKI in 1458 and then Masanori began to revive the Akamatsu family as a shugo daimyo in a half of Kaga Province.

The Onin War

He celebrated his coming of age in 1465. When the Bunsho Coup that the 8th shogun Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA's trusted vassals such as Sadachika ISE and a Zen monk Shinzui KIKEI were ousted from the political world by Katsumoto HOSOKAWA broke out in 1466, Masanori also lost his position. But he made a comeback to the political world by Katsumoto's support. By taking sides with the Eastern Camp (Katsumoto HOSOKAWA's side) at the Onin War started from 1467, he recovered Harima, Bizen and Mimasaka Province which used to be the former territories of the Akamatsu clan. He was appointed to Samurai-dokoro tonin (Governor of the Board of Retainers) in 1471.

The confrontation with the Yamana clan.

But he recovered the power in Sanyo (Inland Sea provinces) including Harima Province, which brought about an antagonism and a struggle to his old enemy Masatoyo YAMANA wielding the influence in Sanin (mountain provinces behind the Sanyo or Inland Sea provinces) and its struggle went on after the conclusion of the Onin War. Although he was asked for relief to Fukuoka-jo Castle from Norimune URAGAMI in 1483, he had been particular about the attack on Tajima which was the main domain of the Yamana clan and he was completely defeated at Mayumi-toge Pass while sending the reinforcement so that on the contrary Fukuoka-jo Castle fell by a pursuit to Harima Province. The senior vassals such as Norimune URAGAMI and Norimoto KODERA assumed control for a while and Masanori ran away to Sakai because of its error. Although Norimune showed the movement of split by supporting a member of the family Suminori ARIMA, he was reconciled with Masanori through the intermediation of Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA as he fell into an awful predicament by the attack of the Yamana clan agitated for this internal conflict. The offensive and defensive battle continued for 5 years, and then the forces of the Yamana clan was expelled to build the territory-ruling order in 1488.

He became a Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank).

After he went through many merits, for example, he served under the 9th shogun Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA and the 10th shobun Yoshitane ASHIKAGA and served in a war as a military commissioner, he married Masamoto HOSOKAWA's younger sister Toshoin at Sakai camp. Toshoin returned to secular life from a nun of Ryoan-ji Temple. She was over 30 years old at this time and famous as a bad-looking. A rakushu (a satirical poem) said 'a person supposed to be a heavenly beings is like an onigawara (an example of a rugged and ugly face), descent from heaven to Sakaino-ura Bay' was posted in Kyoto at this marriage. He was conferred a Jusani in 1494.

He died of disease at Choen-ji Temple in Sakata, Kasai County, Harima Province on June 15, 1496. The age at death was 42.

Since his son Murahide AKAMATSU was an illegitimate child, an adopted child from the Shichijo family Yoshimura AKAMATSU succeeded. There is a possession of his portraits at Rokudo Chinno-ji Temple.

Personal Profile and Anecdotes

Masanori was the first person to be conferred the Third Rank in samurai family except seii taishogun (literally, "great general who subdues the barbarians") the Ashikaga clan.

While he encouraged a Noh play and Sarugaku (one of the Japanese traditional performing arts spread in Heian period), which made his name as a cultured person of the first rank, he had raised the whole family's hostility to make a Sarugaku-si Actor his vassal.

He was also a sword craftsman of the first rank, which was rather unusual for the feudal lords, and studied under a master craftsman Munemitsu OSAFUNE and left some excellent swords for coming generations. Most of them were given to his vassals.

[Original Japanese]