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A History of the Japanese People by F. Brinkley

Motonari succeeded to all its domains



The province of Omi had special importance as commanding the approaches to Kyoto from the east. Hence it became the scene of much disturbance, in which the Hosokawa, the Kyogoku, the Rokkaku, and the Asai families all took part. Finally, in the middle of the sixteenth century, the Asai gained the ascendancy by obtaining the assistance of the Asakura of Echizen. This latter province, conterminous with the north of Omi, was originally under the control of the Shiba family, but the Asakura subsequently obtained the office of high constable, and acquired a great access of power at the time of the Ikko revolt by driving the turbulent priests from the province. At that era, or a little later, the provinces of Kii, Kawachi, Izumi, and Yamato were all the scenes of fierce fighting, but the pages of history need not be burdened with details of the clash of purely private ambitions.


The Ouchi family was very powerfully situated. Descended from a Korean Crown Prince who migrated to Japan early in the seventh century, its representative, Yoshioki (1477-1528), controlled the southern provinces of the main island--Iwami, Aki, Suwo, and Nagato--as well as the two northern provinces of Kyushu--Chikuzen and Buzen. This was the chieftain who, in 1508, marched to Kyoto at the head of a great army, and

restored the Ashikaga shogun Yoshitane, himself receiving the office of kwanryo. Eleven years later, on his return to the south, he was followed by many nobles from Kyoto, and his chief provincial town, Yamaguchi, on the Shimonoseki Strait, prospered greatly. But his son Yoshitaka proved a weakling, and being defeated by his vassal, Suye Harukata--called also Zenkyo--he committed suicide, having conjured another vassal, Mori Motonari, to avenge him.


The Mori family* had for ancestor the great statesman and legislator of Yoritomo's time, Oye Hiromoto, and its representative, Motonari (1497-1571), had two sons scarcely inferior to himself in strategical ability, Kikkawa Motoharu and Kohayakawa Takakage. A commission having been obtained from Kyoto, Motonari took the field in 1555, and with only three thousand men succeeded, by a daring feat, in shattering Harukata with twenty thousand. Thus far, Mori Motonari had obeyed the behest of his late chief. But thereafter he made no attempt to restore the Ouchi family. On the contrary, he relentlessly prosecuted the campaign against Suye Harukata, with whom was associated Ouchi Yoshinaga, representing the Ouchi house by adoption, until ultimately Yoshinaga committed suicide and, the Ouchi family becoming extinct, Motonari succeeded to all its domains.

*Now represented by Prince Mori.

At that time the province of Izumo, which is conterminous with Iwami along its western frontier, was under the control of the high constable, Amako Tsunehisa (1458-1540), who, profiting by the fall of the great Yamana sept, had obtained possession of the provinces Bingo and Hoki as well as of the Oki Islands. This daimyo was a puissant rival of the Ouchi family, and on the downfall of the latter he soon came into collision with Mori Motonari. Tsunehisa's grandson, Yoshihisa (1545-1610), inherited this feud, which ended with the extinction of the Amako family and the absorption of its domains by the Mori, the latter thus becoming supreme in no less than thirteen provinces of the Sanyo-do and the Sanin-do.

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