Hojo Tsunashige (北条綱成)

Tsunashige HOJO (1515 - 1587, his given name can be alternatively pronounced as Tsunanari) was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the Sengoku period (period of warring states), and a vassal of the Gohojo clan. It is considered that his father was Masashige KUSHIMA, a vassal of the Imagawa clan. Tsunashige's childhood name was Katsuchiyo.


Before the Service to the Hojo Clan
Many of the Kushima family including his father Masashige killed by Toratane HARA from the Takeda clan in the Battle of Iidagawara in 1521, then Tsunashige escaped to Odawara accompanied by his vassals to be protected by Ujitsuna HOJO, and began to serve him as kinju (attendant). There is an another theory that Tsunashige's father was killed because he supported a younger paternal brother of Yoshimoto IMAGAWA, Ryoshin IMAGAWA (Genko Etan), in the Hanakura War which was an internal conflict of the Imagawa family; he then fled to Ujitsuna.

Ujitsuna HOJO liked Tsunashige very much, and let Tsunashige marry his daughter to welcome him into the Hojo family and give him the name of Hojo. His Nanori (announcement of one's name) is the combination of 'Tsuna' of Ujitsuna and 'Shige' of Masashige KUSHIMA. This implies Ujitsuna HOJO greatly valued Tsunashige. He came to be entrusted as a conservator of Tamemasa HOJO, the son of Ujitsuna; after Tamemasa died in 1542, Tsunashige became the third lord of Tamanawa-jo Castle.

Worrier of 'Jio-Hachiman' (God of worriers with yellow flags)
From 1537, he began to fight against the Uesugi clan and moved from place to place to fight. Among 'Go-Sonae' (the five main vassals) of the Hojo clan, he was appointed as 'Ki-Sonae' (yellow vassal). After the death of Ujitsuna and the succession of the reigns of the family by Ujiyasu HOJO in 1541, the Hojo clan's trust on him remained unchanged. In the Battle of Kawagoe-jo Castle in 1546, he accomplished a meritorious service in which he persisted in the tact of holding the castle for about half a year, which became the cause of the Hojo army's triumph. It is considered that he was concurrently appointed as a lord of Kawagoe-jo Castle due to this achievement. After that, he flourished in the Konodai Battle against Yoshitaka SATOMI and the Battle of Fukazawa-jo Castle in Suruga Province against Shingen TAKEDA. When Ujiyasu died from a disease in October 1571, Tsunashige ceded the reigns of his family to his son Ujishige HOJO to retire. He was tonsured and referred to himself as Kazusa-nyudo Dokan. On June 11, 1587, he died from a disease at the age of 73.

Personal Profile and Anecdotes

From his early years, Tsunashige was excellent at military prowess; he never failed to purify his body to pray for a victory to Hachiman Daibosatsu (great bodhisattva) on 15th of every month. In the battle, he always showed his incomparable strength in the van of the Hojo army with battle flags colored in pale brown. From the color of the flags, he was honored as 'Jio-Hachiman' (God of worriers with yellow flags). His name was known as an invincible army to his neighbors.

There was even a move that he was mentioned as a head of the Hojo family instead of Ujiyasu HOJO who had poor reputations in his boyhood.

The 'Jio-Hachiman' battle flags of Tsunashige HOJO is currently existing in Sanada Clan Museum in Matsushiro-cho, Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture. This item was left in Suruga Fukazawa-jo Castle he defended, when he surrendered the castle to Shingen TAKEDA and went off to Odawara in 1571; at that time, the Takeda clan and the Gohojo clan conflicted each other.
It is considered that Shingen provided the flag to the son of his vassal Yukitaka SANADA, Genjiro (Masateru SANADA), wishing Genjiro to 'follow the military prowess of Saemon no taifu (Tsunashige HOJO).'

Tsunashige had a strong trust from Ujiyasu; it is said he was given the plenary power of diplomacy and military as a representative of Ujiyasu.

Tsunashige was always brave in the battlefields. Especially in the open battle, he was always at the forefront in spite of his being taisho (general) and made a sortie, crying 'Katta!' (I won). Even the Takeda army was afraid of his military braveness. In the Battle of Fukazawa-jo Castle, the Takeda army had a hard battle against Tsunashige in spite of overwhelming difference of the military power.

[Original Japanese]