Kira Yoshifuji (吉良義藤)

Yoshifuji KIRA (dates of birth and death unknown) was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the Muromachi period. He was a son of Mochisuke KIRA. He was a head of Tojo-jo Castle. He was the fifth head of the latter Tojokira clan (Shimokira). He took the position of Uhyoe no suke (assistant captain of the Right Division of Middle Palace Guards) and Uhyoe no kami (Captain of the Right Division of Middle Palace Guards). His brothers were Toshiyasu and Tadato and both of them entered the Buddhist priesthood. His wife was a daughter of Sozen YAMANA. His son was Mochikiyo KIRA.

In January 17, 1460, when Muromachi bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) held a Buddhist memorial service for the thirty-two anniversary of Yoshimochi ASHIKAGA's death and asked daimyo (feudal lords) for donation, Yoshifuji offered 10 kanmon (1,000 kanmon=10,000 yen) ("Inryoken Nichiroku"[Dietary Life of Zen Priests]).

In June 1465, the family of bakufu-hoko-shu (servants for bakufu) in the south of Nukata-gun, Mikawa Province and hikan (bureaucrats in lower class) of the Ashikaga clan rose in revolt and built their fortress in a key position of Tokai-do Road, Iguchi (Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture). They plundered tribute rice being carried to Kyoto pretending that they had a command from Kamakura kubo (Governor-general of the Kanto region) (uprising in Nukata-gun). In the end, the army of Nobumitsu MATSUDAIRA and Munemitsu TODA, hikan (bureaucrats) for Sadachika ISE, a steward of the Bakufu Mandokoro defeated the ringleaders of the uprising and conquered it. However, Yoshifuji's grandfather, Mochinaga KIRA ran away after Yuki War, because there was a rumor that he was close to Mochiuji ASHIKAGA, Kamakura Kubo, which showed that the latter Tojokira clan traditionally sided with the Kamakura Government (a regional government installed in Kamakura by the Ashikaga Shogunate but the relationship between the Ashikaga Shogunate and this regional government deteriorated later). There was a possibility that Yoshifuji helped the uprising because Shigeuji ASHIKAGA, Koga kubo, a branch family of the Ashikaga clan that was in charge of the Kamakura Government, might have asked Yoshifuji to help the uprising.

When Tomiko HINO, wife of the Shogun Yoshimasa ASHIKAGA gave birth to Yoshihisa ASHIKAGA in December 20, 1465, Yoshifuji visited the Shogun's place and presented one sword with a congratulatory address. In addition, the next day, he visited the residence of Sadachika ISE with Yoshizane KIRA, the head of the Saijokira clan and expressed his gratitude for his acting as a middleman to Shogun ("Chikamoto Nikki" [Chikamoto's diary]).

In February, 1467, when Onin War broke out, Yoshifuji sided with the West Camp headed by his father-in-law, Sozen YAMANA. It was likely that he got a head start and went to Mikawa Province ahead of Yoshizane KIRA who sided with the East Camp and then, started to attack on the territory of the Saijokira clan. On June 28, 1467, Yoshizane started to go down south to Mikawa Province slightly later than Yoshifuji ("Daijoin jisha zojiki" [Miscellaneous Records of the Daijo Temple and Shrine]).

There was no historical material about how the East and West Camps of KIRA clan fought in the battle in Mikawa Province, so, how they fought has been unknown. Only "Mikawa gunki" (military records of Mikawa Province compiled in 1853) reports on the battle, but the book is not reliable having many inaccurate descriptions in it. It was likely that Yoshizane KIRA, the Saijokira clan, stayed in Mikawa Province until around 1479, and then around September in the same year he went to Kyoto. That was probably because Yoshinao ISSHIKI who belonged to the West Camp, where the Tojokira clan also belonged, was prevailing in the Mikawa Province (in 1478, Yoshinao ISSHIKI finally issued the document that expressed he abandoned Mikawa Province and retreated).

As for Yoshifuji's last moments, "Nishio choshi" (the history of Nishio cho) said that he attacked on the territory of the Saijokira clan, but he sustained counterattacks by Yoshizane and was defeated, and then ran away to the Kyoto-Osaka area and vanished. On the other hand, "Mikawa gunki" mentioned that he became reconciled with the Saijokira clan and later in life, he had a child (Mochikiyo) and soon, he died. Yoshiharu MATSUDAIRA of the Aono Matsudaira clan acted as a guardian for little Mochikiyo.

There is no record in any historical materials in that period that a big battle broke out and Yoshifuji had to run away. If Yoshifuji had suffered a rout, there must have been traces of the battle in Tojo-jo Castle which must have been attacked. It can be said that although there were several battles, there was no battle that was large enough that the head of the clan had to run away and following the reconciliation of the East camp and the West camp in Kyoto (1477), Yoshifuji of the Tojokira clan and Yoshizane of the Saijokira clan also reconciled. The part of the story indicating that the Matsudaira clan acted as a guardian for little Mochikiyo was not reliable, but in broad outline, his life may end as the story of "Mikawa gunki" suggested.

Yoshifuji's age at death was unknown. His homyo (a posthumous Buddhist name) was kamezojiden.

[Original Japanese]