Hojo Ujikuni (北条氏邦)

Ujikuni HOJO (alternatively Ujikuni FUJITA) was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the Sengoku period (period of warring states). He was the fourth son of Ujiyasu HOJO. He was a younger brother of Ujimasa HOJO and Ujiteru HOJO. He became an adopted son-in-low of Yasukuni FUJITA to inherit reigns of the family. He announced himself as Fujita Awa no kami (Ujikuni FUJITA). No record has been found in which he proclaimed himself as Ujikuni HOJO. His job grade was Awa no kami (Governor of Awa Province). There are different theories regarding his birthday. Ujikuni had four children, Togokumaru, Kamemaru, Kofukumaru and Uneme; Togokumaru died at an early age, and the two of them was still in their childhood. Therefore, he adopted Naosada HOJO (or Ujisada HOJO), the sixth son of his older brother Ujimasa.

Thanks to his excellence at military prowess and governance like his older brother Ujiteru, he was put in charge of military affairs for Kozuke Province that was the forefront of northern Kanto area. He moved from place to place for fight including the Battle of Mimasetoge against Shingen TAKEDA, and accomplished several military exploits. Also, he remarkably contributed to the expansion of the territory. In the Battle of Kanna-gawa River after the Honno-ji Incident, he assisted the family head Ujinao and put Kazumasu TAKIGAWA to rout.

Ujikuni was a person concerned with the Nagurumi Incident (he was a commander of Kuninori INOMATA who was a keeper of Numata-jo Castle) that led to the fall of the Hojo clan due to his indiscreetness. His character is sometimes regarded as impulsive due to the fact that he premeditatedly murdered the member of the Fujita family of which he inherited the reigns. Ujikuni's younger brother-in-law Nobuyoshi FUJITA served Katsuyori TAKEDA and Kagekatsu UESUGI to become hostile to the Hojo clan.

When the Otate War which was a succession dispute of the Uesugi clan broke out in June 1578, Ujikuni departed for the front of Echigo together with Ujiteru to assist Kagetora UESUGI as a representative of his older brother Ujimasa who responded to the requirement of reinforcement by a younger brother Kagetora.

In the Siege of Odawara by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI in 1590, Ujikuni insisted large-scale open battle, opposing to keep to Odawara-jo Castle. However, his claim was not accepted; he resisted keeping to his residential castle, Hachigata-jo Castle. Nevertheless, he surrendered being offended by a vast army led by Toshiie MAEDA and the like.

After the Siege of Odawara, he escaped death on the condition of taking the tonsure thanks to the plea for sparing a life by Toshiie; he obtained enfeoffment of 1000 koku in Tsumugi, Noto Province (current Nanao). In 1597, he died of illness at the age of 57 in Kanazawa, Kaga Province. After the cremation of his body in Kanazawa, his remains were transferred to Shoryu-ji Temple in Musashi Province. At that time, the line formed by the attendants assembled to the great Buddhist memorial service was so long that it crossed a mountain; that reminded people of Ujikuni's power and popularity in life. Ujikuni's wife Daifuku Gozen remained in Hachigata. It is said she died from a disease or killed herself on June 9, 1593.

Ujikuni's youngest son who was a Kasshiki (postulant) at Daitoku-ji Temple in Murasakino, Kyoto returned to secular life and referred to himself as Shozaburo to inherit enfeoffment of Ujikuni. Then, Shozaburo took a daughter of Toshimasu MAEDA who was a vassal and a relative of the Maeda family as his wife. After his son Tomonosuke, there was no heir and the family became extinct.

Ujikuni's adopted son Naosada was confined to Mt. Koya together with his father-in-law and the like after the surrender of Odawara-jo Castle to the enemy. After the confinement, Naosada served to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. Then he was appointed to a vassal of the Kishu (Kii Province) Tokugawa family. From the period of Naosada's son Ujitoki HOJO, the family had served to the Kishu Tokugawa family. Ujitoki's son Ujitsune, his adopted son Ujinari and 氏賢 can be identified.

In addition to Ujikuni's fame as a warrior, he was eager to activate industries such as sericulture and forestry, and left significant achievements. In this era, a key industry of Japan except agriculture was a production of raw silk thread. Ujikuni exerted himself to make sericulture a key industry in northern Musashi Province and Kozuke Province, and built up a major foothold of raw silk thread production.

His achievements in the past can be commemorated in Hachigata-jo Castle History Museum.

[Original Japanese]