Table of Contents
久留島 典子、日本の歴史 第13巻 一揆と戦国大名、講談社、東京、2001年 (Kurushima Noriko, Japanese History Volume 13 Ikki and Sengoku Daimyō, Kōdansha, Tokyo, 2001)


久留島 典子、日本の歴史 第13巻 一揆と戦国大名、講談社、東京、2001年 (Kurushima Noriko, Japanese History Volume 13 Ikki and Sengoku Daimyō, Kōdansha, Tokyo, 2001)

(This particular study is mostly focused on more general aspects of the late fifteenth century and early sixteenth century, but does provide useful information in relation to the development of inter-rivalry between competing factions within the Bakufu)

When one hears the name of `ikki`, the most common image that people form is one of villagers in direct conflict against those in power, yet this particular notion was one that emerged during the early modern period. In truth, `ikki` was a much broader concept. An `ikki` would have a certain target or role in mind, and then would form into an organization or group, which in turn would be referred to as an `ikki`. Thus an `ikki` did not merely consist of peasants nor citizens of towns, yet were also formed from groups of warriors, priests, or shrine officials. Hence an ikki itself could be drawn together from numerous social circles. Their goal may not have been opposition to the ruling classes, but may have occurred in order to seize power for themselves, for there were certainly ikki that emerged during conflicts between members of the ruling classes (at least, according to Katsumata Tetsuo). Hence a union of different warrior houses with the purpose of seizing control of territory for themselves, and in doing so forming an alliance of mutually supporting elements, could also be described as an `ikki`.(008-009)

The fact that these particular ikki often comprised of members of varying classes might strike some as being unusual, or at least against some of the more basic logic behind the formation of supposedly united organizations. Yet even if an ikki were drawn together from a myriad of classes (thus giving the ikki its characteristics), when ties were formed between members this was done in sight of the Buddha and gods, in which vows were declared to both divine figures. In this, one can see how the medieval mindset actually worked. What is interesting to note here is that the figures of Sengoku era daimyo and ikki came to resemble one another in their organizational makeup. In the case of the Sengoku daimyo, they banded together warriors within the intention of having them administer territory – it was, in a sense, an ikki created with the purpose of promoting the status of one member. Hence the ikki were not opposed to the daimyo, but rather the daimyo themselves were absorbed into the process of ikki.(009)

Yet these were not the only aspects of medieval society that acted based upon the groundswell of support against sengoku daimyo and landlords. Both the great unnamed numbers of citizens of villages and towns could unite together and through the use of ikki were about trying to create the basis of a new social system. In the medieval period, those commoners who lived on the same land as one another and had familial ties, in sum, those commoners of the villages and towns, would join together in an ikki. Although the phenomenon of ikki had something of a fixed image as a temporary matter, those groups that formed as a result of a certain incident could become far more permanent (and indeed, this phenomenon wasn`t all that rare). For example, the appearance of an enemy within one`s own territory would lead a group to gather for the purpose of expelling the intruder. This group would most likely be confirmed by the local ruler in question. (011)

After those initial goals had been met, this group would not disappear, but would set about trying to find new targets and problems to resolve. Once this had been achieved, then yet another problem would emerge. Overcoming each new obstacle could be achieved by use of a mutual support system, in sum, through the use of the `village`.
The village, in terms of functions and roles, in addition to engaging in conflict against outsiders, would develop the land around the village. Once the village had been formed, it would not be focused purely on relations with outsiders, but would also be created from a myriad of economic relations and disparaties in class. This particular system was founded around the early medieval period, hence by the Sengoku era it was quite common throughout most regions.(011)

The Ōnin War and the Bunmei Disturbances:

This conflict was initially sparked between the forces of the `western and eastern armies`, which then expanded to include shugo members from numerous provinces –The withdrawal of Ōuchi Masahiro to Suō finally brought a close to the Ōnin conflict, for soon other influential generals from the side of the western army, namely Toki Shigeyori (土岐成頼) and Hatakeyama Yoshimune (畠山義統), set fire to their residences in Kyoto and left the city. Ashikaga Yoshimi, the brother of the previous shōgun Yoshimasa, who had originally called for the gathering of the western army, took the advice of Shigeyori and withdrew to Mino, thus bringing most of the conflict surrounding the Ōnin succession dispute to a close.(013)

To expand the above paragraph somewhat further, the Ōnin and Bunmei conflicts were sparked by disputes over succession to the head of households. This included the conflict between Hatakeyama Masanaga and Yoshi(nari) over who was to succeed to the position of Kanrei (管領) after the Hosokawa, a conflict within the Shiba family between Shiba Yoshitoshi and Yoshikado, and a familial dispute within the household of the shōgun itself. These conflicts created a situation by which influential shugo households were forced to join one side or the other, to the detriment of their authority and the stability of the regions. Thus what began as a localized conflict between councilors soon escalated into a region-wide dispute. For example, in the case of the influential myōshu family of the Kobayakawa in Aki province, the main Nuta Kobayakawa branch of the family supported the eastern army, whereas the Takehara Kobayakawa branch announced their support for the western army. Even the second son of Yamana Sōzen, the shugo of Bingo province Yamana Koretoyo, declared that he was supporting the eastern army and joined together with many other myōshu level retainers of Bingo province, thus leading to the development of a long period of conflict in the western part of the Chūgoku region. In Bunmei 7 (1475), the conflict was brought a close (in the west) with the defeat of the Nuta Kobayakawa and the expulsion from Bingo of Koretoyo (是豊), thus leading to the fall of the Chūgoku region to the Ōuchi and the dominance of the western army in that area.(015-16)

Much the same sort of developments were made in provinces as far as Echizen, Kaga, and Yamato. In the case of Echizen, in Bunmei 3 (1471), Asakura Takakage (or Toshikage) switched sides from the western army to the eastern, and in the 6th year of Bunmei, a peace was made with the shugodai of the western army, the Kai family, whereby both families would rule over Echizen instead of the Shiba family. One of the effects of this conflict was the dispute that broke out within the Togashi family in Kaga between Togashi Masachika (of the eastern army) and his brother Yukichiyo (of the western). In the province of Yamato, which had been a scene of conflict from before the Ōnin and Bunmei conflicts, one faction of the Tsutsui family of the eastern army faced off against factions drawn from the Ochi and Furuichi of the western army. This conflict continued unabated.(016)

However in the vicinity of Kyoto, between the years of Bunmei 7~8 the fighting continued as before. In the midst of this, in the 9th month of the 8th year of Bunmei (1476), Yoshimasa sent an order to the Ōuchi family ordering them to desist from waging war, thus setting off events leading to an actual peace. One of the ringleaders of the western army, Hatakeyama Yoshinari, who had been instrumental in provoking conflict, managed to gain the province of Kawachi for himself in the following year in the 9th month and thus withdrew from the conflict. Ōuchi Hirofumi, in the 10th month of the 9th year of Bunmei, was appointed to the position of shugo of the far western provinces of Chūgoku by the shōgun Yoshihisa, thus leading to his departure from the capital. When the Ōnin conflict actually ended is still in some dispute. Whilst the 1st year of Ōnin (1467) is cited as the start of the conflict (stemming from an incident at Kamigoryō Shrine), in Bunmei 5 (1473) the deaths of Hosokawa Katsumoto and Yamana Sōzen allowed the way for arrangements to be made for peace, and as we saw earlier the withdrawal of the mainstays of the western army from Kyoto are generally seen as the catalyst for the end of the war (thereafter continues with some of the more general incidents that followed the end of the Ōnin war (the suppression of Yoshinari, the famine of Kanshō).(016-017)

Table 1. Principle Armies of the East and West during the Ōnin and Bunmei Wars

Western Army Eastern Army





Yamana Sōzen & household

Hatakeyama Yoshinari
Hatakeyama Yoshimune
Shiba Yoshikado

Rokkaku Takayori
Isshiki Yoshinao
Toki Shigenori
Kawano Michiharu
Ōuchi Masahiro

Harima*, Tarima, Inaba, Hakurō, *Ishimi, Mimasaka*, Bizen, Bingo
*Kawachi, *Etchū

*Echizen, *Owari, *Tōtomi
Half of Ōmi province
*Tango, Shima, Ise
*Suō, *Nagato, *Chikuzen, *Buzen, *Aki

Hosokawa Katsumoto & household

Yamana Koretoyo
Hatakeyama Masanaga
Shiba Yoshitoshi ・Yoshihiro
Kyōkyoku Machikiyo & household
Akamatsu Masanori

Togashi Masachika
Takeda Nobunori
Kawano Norimichi
Ōuchi Noriyuki
Shoni Yoritada
Ōtomo Chikashige

Tamba, Settsu, Tosa, Sanuki, Izumi, Awaji, Awa, *Mikawa, Bichū,
Bingo, Aki
*Kii, *Kawachi, *Etchū
*Echizen, *Tōtomi,
Half of Ōmi Province, *Hida, Izumo, Oki
*Harima, *Mimasaka, *Bizen
Wakasa, *Aki, *Tango
*Suō, *Nagato
*Chikuzen, *Hizen
*Buzen, Chikugo, Bungo

*Denotes a province where the position of shugo was disputed. (016)

The Yamashiro Kuni Ikki:

One part of the aftermath of the Ōnin and Bunmei wars that deserves particular attention involves the occurrence of `ikki` throughout many gun and koku. Ever since the tsuchi ikki of the 1st year of Shōchō (1428), the peasantry had been involved in active efforts to rid themselves of debts and to reclaim land. They would demand the issue of a `tokusei` and rise up in revolt. This phenomenon was seen throughout the Kinai region, and reached its peak during the first half of the fifteenth century. For example, in the aftermath of the Kanshō famine, in the first 10 years of the Bunmei era, there were five of these large-scale tsuchi ikki. However, after the Ōnin and Bunmei wars, this sort of ikki died down, whereas a much more abstract ikki rose to replace it – the Yamashiro kuni ikki.(025)

From Autumn through to winter of Bunmei 17 (1485) in the southern part of Yamashiro, conflict continued unabated between the forces of Hatakeyama Masanaga and Yoshinari. In December of that year, the `kokujin` of Yamashiro formed a group from amongst the various organizations of peasantry and demanded that both armies withdraw from Yamashiro province. This particular incident was recorded by the Monsu (門主), the scribe to the Monseki temple of Daijōin (belonging to Yamato Kōfukuji), who went by the name of Jinson and his `大乗院寺社雑事記`, and was also described by the aristocrat Sanjō Nishi Sanetaka in the 実隆公記 as a `kuni ikki`. A `kokujin` was a title conferred on a principle landowner and was also referred to as a kunishū, although at the time the kunishū (国衆) of Yamashiro consisted of the `kumon` (公文) and `geshi` (下司) serving as shōen officials. Politically many of them were hikan of the Hosokawa family serving the Hatakeyama.(025)

However this particular kuni ikki swore that they were united and demanded that both armies leave the province, that they restore the original territory of the shōen (the honjōryō (本所領) and that they cease building any new toll gates. The call for the reinstatement of shōen lands was not a demand for a new set of social rules, but rather a return to the former rules that had governed the shōen. After they had forced both armies to retire from the province with promises that they would not return, in the following year a meeting was called as Byōdōin in which the `laws and proscriptions for the province` were expanded, and where the kokujin declared that they were now responsible for a `sōkoku`. Half of all tithes were to become the revenue of the kokujin in the form of hanzei, and monies and expenses required in order for both armies to withdraw were paid in full.

The representative organization of the sōkoku, the Tsukigyōji (月行事) was set in place, with all essential matters decided by a meeting of kokujin in order to ensure stability.   This particular system lasted for eight years, yet the amount of tithes that weren`t being paid (as payment of them had been banned under the laws and proscriptions of the province) increased, which led to a disparity in wealth within the sōkoku. As a result of the change of government (the Meiō no Seihen) in the 2nd year of Meiō (1493), the Ise family, in league with Hosokawa Keichō family (京兆家), moved to strengthen the position of the shugo over Yamashiro province. The kokujin were divided about this development, which subsequently allowed for the acceptance by some kokujin of an order from the Ise. Those who opposed this moved were eliminated, thus soldiers of the Ise, together with those of the myōshu Furuichi of Yamato invaded southern Yamashiro and thus overthrew the kuni ikki (according to Kurokawa Naonori).(026)

The Yamashiro kuni ikki was soon followed by other examples. In the first year of Chōkyō (1487) and again in Meiō 7 (1498), the gun of Otokuni in Yamashiro was witness to other kokujin inspired ikki. The kokujin conspired together, paid off any nearby armies, worked to prevent the intrusion of any other forces into the gun, and made demands for the removal of all taxes over the gun. This `Otokuni gun ikki` was formed based on the everyday meeting of the kokujin status members of the gun.

On the other hand, the Kaga Chōkyō ikki was a provincial wide ikki, and thus could be described as a kuni ikki. In 1488, starting in Kaga but soon spreading to Noto and Etchū, this ikki brought down the position of the shugo Togashi Masachika. This particular revolt was centered on the activities of the Monto of Honganji, however the ikki in itself was not exclusively the domain of the Honganji Monto.
The entire framework of ikki based upon a province or a gun meant that the kokujin would need to form an alliance with the local jizamurai and peasantry in order to act as a political body. It was a phenomenon that continued to develop after the Ōnin and Bunmei wars. Whilst division and strife continued to affect those higher up on the social scale, the kokushū gathered together to stake their claims on land and influence in their region.(027)

Structure of the villages and class system:

We have seen how the village became the centre of a predominant numbers of maps, and whilst those who ran the affairs of the village were generally known as `satajin`, there were two types of village representatives who varied slightly in character. The first was an upper level peasant who based his authority in the village. He would then unite with other peasants to be a myōshu, representing the interests of the village. A specific example of this were the Bantō of Yamada mura of Hineno shōen (日根野).
On the other hand, one further representative of the villages acted on a larger scale, and was principally in charge of a single shōen or gō. They would not reside in a single village, but through their hikan status with a samurai family, they would possess political and economic ties that transcended the village itself. They were the kokujin (or kunishū). A specific example of their activity can be derived from the fact that they were the `satajin` referred to in relation to the shōen close to Kyoto.(084)

The Bantō of Yamada mura were influential peasants who bore surnames such as Wakazaki and Inakura, and were described as `satajin` by the shōen owner. On the Hineno shōen, in order for requests to the villagers to be carried out, correspondence was addressed to the Bantō Hyakushō Chū. Whereas other villagers might receive letters addressed to the `myōshu or hyakushō`, thus designating the internal division of status, Bantō and hyakushō were most likely meant to be equivalents for these titles.
Furthermore, in the division of status between villagers on shōen estates, there were also `jian (寺庵) , or temples within the villages administered by priests. Although there were differences in denomination and in roles (stemming from the divisions between secular and religious duties), the priest had a status equivalent to that of the myōshu class and formed part of the leadership of the village. This triumvirate of jian, myōshu (Bantō) and hyakushō thus made up the fundamental elements of the class system within the shōen estates.(084)  

There was one other representative of the village system. For example, in the case of the satajin of the shōen of Kyoto, those representatives of the region of Nishioka were quite obviously warriors. As a group they had served as the Gokenin of the Bakufu, yet at the same time there were many among them who were hikan of either the Hosokawa or the Ise. On the estate of Kadono gun Kawashima shōen (in the vicinity of Nishioka), there resided the Kawashima (革嶋) family, who from the mid-fifteenth century onwards had served as the hikan to the Ise family. They were described as being of `kokushū` status, and were obviously separate to the `myōshu hyakushō chū` of other shōen. It would be more accurate to describe them as a type of major landowner, controlling the peasantry and all else within that estate.(085)

Yet in the midst of this situation, who was responsible for matters pertaining to tithes and negotiations with those powers residing outside of the shōen? In the case of Kuse shōen (久世), a group of samurai (or samurai-shū, as they were known) worked together in the cause of their estate. They were referred to as `satajin` by the owner of the estate Tōji, as `satajin`, and in the Muromachi period they would have been known as a `toshiyori shū` or an `otona` shū. They thus belonged to the `myōshu hyakushō chū` class of warrior. On the estate of Kami Kuse, those samurai shū who had the surname of Tonokura, Wada, and Koikawa had originally served on other estates as myōshu. Throughout the Muromachi period, in the midst of their villages, these samurai had gradually accumulated power around themselves. By forming a group of followers who all had the same surname as themselves, they began to resemble samurai in their ability to secure power.

Upon their progress into Kyoto, they became the hikan of a number of more influential samurai families. By taking on indentured servants (or genin) in their service, they could expect to broaden the amount of territory under their control, and thus reap the benefits of the many lands under their control.(085)

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© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in December 2011