Imagawa Ujizane (今川氏真)

Ujizane IMAGAWA was a warlord of Suruga Province. He was the 10th head of the Imagawa clan of Suruga Province, and he was the last head of the Imagawa family as a daimyo (feudal lord).

He took over as the head of the family when his father, Yoshimoto, was killed by Nobunaga ODA at the Battle of Okehazama, but when he was invaded by Shingen TAKEDA and Ieyasu TOKUGAWA he lost, and the Imagawa family was destroyed as a daimyo.

Later, he roamed around various areas, and in the end, he received protection from Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. The Imagawa family survived as a Koke (a distinguished family officially selected by the Edo Shogunate) under the Edo Shogunate.

Succession to the head of the family

He was born in 1538 as the heir between Yoshimoto IMAGAWA and Jokei-in (daughter of Nobutora TAKEDA). In 1554, he married Ujiyasu HOJO's eldest daughter, Hayakawadono, and he contributed to the establishment of Tripartite Alliance of Ko-So-Sun.

He issued documents to Suruga and Totomi starting in 1558. One view states that because Yoshimoto retired he was made into the head of the family, but because Yoshimoto continued to hold administrative and military leadership the passing down of the family leadership was presumably only in form. In 1560, he was assigned to the post of Kazusanosuke. In the same year, Yoshimoto, who invaded Owari Province, was killed by Nobunaga ODA at the Battle of Okehazama, and therefore, he effectively inherited the family leadership and became the 10th head of the Imagawa family.

A flurry of secessions

Many of Imagawa clan's senior vassals and kokujin (countrymen) died at the Battle of Okehazama. Because of this, groups of countrymen and vassals in Mikawa and Totomi Provinces panicked, and the movement to secede from the Imagawa clan spread.

In 1562, Motoyasu MATSUDAIRA (name changed to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA the following year) of Nishi (West) Mikawa formed Kiyosu Alliance with Nobunaga ODA, and he made his position clear to become independent from being a subsidiary of the Imagawa clan. When many of Ieyasu's vassals seceded because of the Ikko Ikki uprising in Mikawa, Ujizane took this opportunity and dispatched his troops to Ushikubo-jo Castle, but he was beaten off. In 1565, Yoshida-jo Castle (Mikawa Province), which was the base in Higashi (East) Mikawa, was fallen and Imagawa clan's forces were expelled from Mikawa.

Uproars and secessions among the vassals and countrymen also spread in Totomi (Onshu Disturbance). In 1562, he made his senior vassal, Yasutomo ASAHINA, kill Naochika II as a punishment because Naochika was suspected of plotting an insurrection. Next, Tsuratatsu IIO of Hamamatsu-jo Castle, who had formed a secret collaboration with Ieyasu, rebelled. Ujizane ordered his senior vassal, Masatoshi MIURA, and others, to attack Hikuma-jo Castle, but was not able to take control of it, and in December, 1565, he killed Tsuratatsu IIO as a punishment when he descended in response to a request to make peace. However, these measures he took failed to bring situations under his control, and instead, they drove his countrymen to Tokugawa's side.

Ujizane was given supervision by his grandmother, Jukeini, and he made an attempt to stabilize his territory by designating Fujinomiya City as an area of Rakuichi-Rakuza (regulation-free market) in April of 1566, and he conducted his policy for industrial development by implementing Tokusei-rei and by exempting by certain duties, but he was unable to stop the decline. He finally ended up pursuing pleasure, and he also ended up encouraging secessions of his own vassals within Suruga because he made a favorite of his vassal, Yoshimasa MIURA (also known as MIURA Uemon no suke Yoshishizu, a kin of Masatoshi MIURA) and left him with all the administrative duties.

His Downfall

Shingen TAKEDA of Kai Province saw the decline of the Imagawa clan, and he planned to advance south to Suruga Province. Yoshinobu TAKEDA, who was a Shingen's heir as well as a husband of Ujizane's younger sister, Reisho-in, opposed this, but in 1565, Shingen incarcerated Yoshinobu for the crime of treason, disinherited him, and annulled the marriage alliance. Because of this, Imagawa clan was put in a diplomatically disadvantaged position. Ujizane fought back by forming an alliance with Kenshin UESUGI of Echigo Province, and with Ujiyasu HOJO of Sagami Province, he blocked the flow of goods into Kai Province at checkpoints, but Shingen also fought back by forming alliances with Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and Nobunaga ODA, and therefore, this did not bring about anything definitive.

In December of 1568, Shingen began his invasion into Suruga. Ujizane headed to Seiken-ji Temple of Okitsu in order to ambush the Takeda army at Satta Pass, however, because 21 influential countrymen such as Nobuteru SENA, Ujimoto KATSURAYAMA, Masasada ASAHINA and Yoshikane MIURA were communicating with Shingen, the Imagawa army faced a debacle and Sumpu was quickly occupied on December 13th. Ujizane fled to Kakegawa-jo Castle in Totomi Province, which was the residential castle of Yasutomo ASAHINA, but Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who was promised a share of Imagawa territory by Shingen, also invaded Totomi, and the majority of the territory was conquered. On December 27, Kakegawa-jo Castle was surrounded by the Tokugawa army, but senior vassals headed by Yasutomo and others struggled for almost half a year in a defensive battle in which they confined themselves within the castle.

Hayakawadono's father, Ujiyasu HOJO, sent a relief army that lined up at Satta Pass. The Hojo army with superior military power was dominating the battle, but it was insufficient to obliterate the Takeda army, and the battle situation stalled. As the battle in which the Tokugawa army surrounded Kakegawa prolonged, Shingen violated the agreement and increased oppression on Totomi, and Ieyasu sought to make peace with Ujizane. On May 17, 1569, Ujizane surrendered Kakegawa-jo Castle in exchange for sparing the lives of his senior vassals. At this time, a pact was formed among Ujizane IMAGAWA, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and Ujiyasu HOJO that would reinstall Ujizane as the lord of Suruga Province after Shingen TAKEDA's forces were expelled from Suruga.

However, this pact was not fulfilled in the end, and because neither Ujizane nor his descendants returned to the position as the lord, and in general, this surrender of Kakegawa-jo Castle is interpreted as the downfall (loss of sovereignty) of the Imagawa clan as a warlord.


After the surrender of Kakegawa-jo Castle Ujizane relied on Go-Hojo clan, which was Ujizane's wife's family, and he entered into Izu Province Tokura-jo Castle (Izu Province) (later moved to Odawara). On May 23, 1569, Ujizane adopted Kokuo-Maru (later Ujinao HOJO), a son of Ujimasa HOJO, and he promised to pass down Suruga to Kokuo-Maru after he became of age (at this point, Norimochi IMAGAWA, Ujizane's heir, was not yet born). Furthermore, he sent a messenger to Kenshin UESUGI with an aim to form a coalition against the Takeda clan, and he formed the Imagawa, Hojo and Uesugi alliance (the Etsu-So Alliance, or the Echigo and Sagami Alliance). In Suruga, activities by Imagawa forces still remained, such as Masatsuna OKABE temporarily recapturing Sumpu and Shigezane OHARA of Hanazawa-jo Castle continuing to resist the Takeda clan, and there even was a dispatching of troops from the Hojo clan in a campaign to support the Imagawa family. However, the Hojo army lost in the Battle at Kanbara-jo Castle, and the long-time vassals of the Imagawa clan also lost one battle after another against the Takeda clan due to attacks and conspiracies, and Ujizane was not able to regain control over Suruga.

In October, 1571, when Ujiyasu HOJO died, Ujimasa HOJO who succeeded after him changed his direction and made peace with the Takeda clan. From then, Ujizane left Sagami Province and became under the protection of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. It can be considered that he relied on the terms of peace formed upon surrendering Kakegawa-jo Castle, but protecting the former provincial lord also gave Ieyasu an excuse for invading Suruga. It is recorded in "Shincho Koki" (Account of Lord Nobunaga) that on May 16, 1575, he had a conference with Nobunaga ODA, who was his father's foe as well as Ieyasu TOKUGAWA's ally, at Sokoku-ji Temple, and on the 20th of the same month, he showed a game of kemari (a type of football played by courtiers in ancient Japan) with court nobles in front of Nobunaga. Also, in this year, he joined the army in the Battle of Nagashino. It is said that at one point he was entrusted with Suwahara-jo Castle in Totomi Province (formerly, Suwahara-jo Castle, Shimada City, Shizuoka Prefecture), which would be one of the bases upon Ieyasu's fight against Katsuyori TAKEDA. However, in the end, he gave up returning to Suruga (it is also said that he was removed from the position of the lord of the castle) and settled in Kyoto. Later, he underwent tonsure and took a priestly name of Sogin.

After that, it can be seen from "Tokitsune-kyo ki" (Lord Tokitsune's Diary), diary of Tokitsune YAMASHINA, with whom he formed friendship, that he received Ieyasu TOKUGAWA's assistance and socialized with intellectuals such as court nobles who were old acquaintances and relatives, and he attended renga poetry gatherings.

His Later Years

In 1600, after the Battle of Sekigahara, he moved to Edo because he, his grandson, Naofusa IMAGAWA, and his second son, Takahisa SHINAGAWA (Ieyasu notified that 'the use of family name Imagawa should be limited to the head family,' therefore, family members other than the head Imagawa family used the name 'Shinagawa'), all served Hidetada TOKUGAWA and became direct retainers of Edo Shogunate (the heir, Norimochi IMAGAWA died young of an illness).

In 1614, he passed away at the mansion of Takahisa SHINAGAWA in Shinagawa, Edo. He was 77 years old.

The funeral was conducted by Ujizane's younger brother, Ichigetsu Chotoku, at Bansho-in Temple, and he was buried at Bansho-in Temple, but later, his grave was moved to Hoju-san Kanzen-ji Temple located at 2-chome, Imagawa, Suginami Ward, Tokyo Prefecture, along with the grave of his wife, Zoshun-in Hayakawadono.


The official wife, Hayakawadono who was the eldest daughter of Ujiyasu HOJO, stayed with Ujizane even after his downfall, and she was by his side until she died in 1613.

As an Intellectual

Ujizane was skilled in the practical arts such as waka poetry, renga poetry and kemari, and he was highly regarded as an intellectual.

Waka Poetry

It is said that he studied under Gon-Dainagon Tamekazu REIZE and others, and over 1000 pieces of poems still remain to this day. Moreover, his name also appears in "Shugai Sanjuroku Kasen" (36 Poems Outside of the Collection) selected by Emperor Gomizuo. All of Ujizane's work is recorded in "Imagawa clan and Kanzen-ji Temple" edited by Kanzen-ji Shi Hensan Kanko Iinkai (Publication Committee on Editing of the History of Kanzen-ji Temple).


It is said that he was taught by Masatsuna ASUKAI of the Asukai family.


It is said that he learned the Kashima Shinto-ryu School from Bokuden TSUKAHARA. It is said that the Imagawa School of swordsmanship was founded by Ujizane.

His Reputation After His Death

In "Koyo Gunkan," which was established during the early Edo Period, he is described as a valiant person with some selfishness, and it criticizes the appointment of untrustworthy vassal, such as Yoshimasa MIURA, to an important position.

Just as Sadanobu MATSUDAIRA admonishes in "Shizukanaru Amari," which he authored, by citing Ujizane IMAGAWA's waka poems along with the tea ceremony of Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA and the learning of Yoshitaka OUCHI, in the documents written after the mid-Edo Period Ujizane is often described as an inept lord who destroyed his province by spending too much time in 'weak culture' such as waka poetry and kemari, and this image often persists in portraying his character in today's historical novels and period dramas.

[Original Japanese]