Table of Contents
峰岸 純夫(編集)、戦国大名論集 13: 本願寺・一向一揆、吉川弘文館, 東京, 1984 (Minegishi Sumio (Editor) Sengoku Daimyō Series 13: Honganji・Ikkō Ikki, Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, Tokyo, 1984)


峰岸 純夫(編集)、戦国大名論集 13: 本願寺・一向一揆、吉川弘文館, 東京, 1984 (Minegishi Sumio (Editor) Sengoku Daimyō Series 13: Honganji・Ikkō Ikki, Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, Tokyo, 1984)

横尾 國和 「本願寺の坊官下間氏」 Yokō Kunikazu, The Shimotsuma Warrior Monks of Honganji

The essential premise to this chapter states that while a lot of work has been done by professors such as Kasahara Kazuo and Inoue Tetsuo on the formation of the economic and social structure of the Ikkō Ikki, it appears that study into the role of the so-called `bōkan` of Honganji, the Shimotsuma family, still requires more in-depth analysis. Apart from the work of (谷下一夢) and his theses titled 「本願寺の坊官下間について」「真宗史の諸研究」and 「下間頼秀(よりひで)・頼盛(よりもり)兄弟について」「仏教史学 十二-二」, no other scholar has really looked into the background to this family and the role they played for Honganji.

The Shimotsuma family themselves emerged after the defeat of Minamoto no Yorimasa, with one part of that family escaping to Shimotsuma in Hitachi province, and served as samurai to Honganji after the founding of the Shinshū sect. They served in other roles such as the 本廟(ほんみょう)の堂衆、鎰(かぎ、いち)取役、and also collected the 賽銭(さいせん)for the 阿弥陀・御影堂. They also served as the 奏者、殿原、中居、綱所衆, and would leave their own temple, traveling about the temples of the northern countries, and dealt with both the religious and mundane matters of temples in that region by residing in them. Eventually, the Shimotsuma family rose to become Daikan of the 京家領, and were granted the privileged position of dispatching 安堵状(あんとじょう?)to the myriad of temples and shrines under their jurisdiction as 統治者 of regional areas. They carried out the administrative side of matters for Honganji and also endeavored to improve the financial state of the sect, so much so that their influence was unrivalled within the Honganji sect itself.(35)

During the Tenshō years (1573-1591), the defense of Echizen and Kaga against the forces of Oda Nobunaga demanded an emergency response, hence the Shimotsuma went about both provinces organizing a more thorough defensive system for the Monto in that region. In the 2nd year of Eiroku (1559), Honganji received an edict from the court designating them as a residence for the emperor (a Monsekidera 門跡寺). As part of that system, the title of 坊官 was created, thus replacing the previous title of 奏者. Hereafter, members of the Shimotsuma family would serve as 刑部卿家、小進家、and 宮内卿家 for generations. If any messages needed to be exchanged with other families, it would be the Shimotsuma family who would carry out that privilege. The purpose of the study carried out here is to illuminate the transformation of the Shimotsuma during the Tenbun period (1532-1555), and the direction that they went from then on.(36)

In the fourth year of Chōroku (1532), the chaos that enveloped that year provided the impetus for Honganji to create the foundation for the organization of the Monto into `gun` and `kumi` and the strengthening of regulations in regard to the division of religious and secular practices within the Monto. It was a step in the direction of the creation of a `warlord-style` system of administration. However, at this stage it was not always taken for granted that the Monto would act in the manner that Honganji desired. Ever since Rennyo had issued an edict forbidding the practice of invasions of property, it had not had the resounding effect that it was meant to produce. For example, the 「天文日記」「石山本願寺日記―上巻」states that on the 17th day of the 11th month of the 7th year of Tenbun (1538), territory had been invaded and seized by the Monto. Such incidents as these, as well as records of violence enacted by the Monto, follow for the 4th of the 12th month of the 6th year of Tenbun, for the 10th day of the 10th month of the 8th year of Tenbun (1539), again of the 3rd day of the 4th month of the 9th year of Tenbun (1540), on the 9th day of the 10th month of the 12th year of Tenbun (1543) and again on the 14th day of the 11th month, and again on the 22nd day of the 10th month of the 13th year of Tenbun (1544). Records then follow showing that even Daikan dispatched from Honganji itself were unable to bring a halt to the depredations (or 違乱) (as evidenced in the Tenbun diary. Many of these invasions were taking place between October to December, and again in April, although there are of course other incidents during the middle of the year)(36)

In the midst of these infractions by the Monto, what was the position taken by the Shimotsuma? According to the 「私心記」「石山本願寺日記 下巻」、on the 14th day of the 9th month of the 4th year of Tenbun (1535), it mentions the departure of both brothers from their temple precinct . Both brothers, who would become involved in the disputes of the Chōroku era, were the legitimate sons of Shimotsuma Tango Yori(玄), 「下間家系図」. However, the Tenbun Nikki dated for the 9th day of the 5th month of the 6th year (1537) states that both brothers were to receive punishment as a result of transgressions, a startling fact when one considers this came from Honganji. The reason for this order lay in the fact that while Honganji had welcomed the ambitious Kokujin Monto and priesthood in Kaga, they feared that other daimyo houses would come to see the activities of the Monto has a step towards political rivalry by Honganji (through their forced seizure of territory). As a result of putting the blame for the Tenbun Ikkō Ikki on the Shimotsuma brothers within the Kinai region, (37) Honganji was able to avoid any direct threat to its interests.

To summarize the main points of the argument put forward by the author, the Shimotsuma brothers Yorihide and Yorimori, who had left (or been expelled) from their temple in the fourth year of Tenbun (1535) and who had received a sentence of capital punishment from Honganji in the sixth year of Tenbun (1537), had forfeited their position at the head of the Shimotsuma family and been replaced by their uncle Yorinori. For those members of the Kokujin Monto and priests who harbored ambitions for the creation of their own territory, this event had a lot of significance. This is because unlike both Yorihide and Yorimori, who had allied themselves to the cause of the Monto, Yorinori carried out Honganji`s wishes to the letter, taking an opposite stance against the incursions and disruptions caused by the Monto.(49)

In the background to this event, Honganji had been maneuvering as it feared the consequences of having a political rival emerge from among the daimyo class. In this sense, it was probably considering the rivalry that emerged within the Hosokawa family between Hosokawa Takakuni and Harumoto. The mother of Yori玄, who had fathered Yorihide and Yorimori, was descended from the Nagashio family 長塩 who served as the `hikan` to Hosokawa Takakuni. Yorinori, who had replaced this line, was descended from the Ibaragi family who served as hikan to Hosokawa Harumoto. The Shimotsuma family, since the era of 玄英, had been tied through marriages to the hikan of the 京極家 and the hikan of the Hosokawa household, and had been inadvertently tied to the shogunate through a series of political marriages to shogunate officials. As far as Honganji were concerned, the Shimotsuma had important value in their usefulness as a political tool.

Honganji, since the demise of the political power of Hosokawa Takakuni, wanted to be tied to Hosokawa Harumoto through a `parental` relationship, and thus allowed the return of Yorinori who had been forced to flee from Honganji for a brief period stemming from his rivalry with the family line of Yori玄. As a result of the return of Yorinori (with his Ibaragi lineage), political relations with Hosokawa Harumoto progressed along a more fortuitous route, and showed their intention to abide by the rule of Harumoto. (49)

On the other hand, those Kokujin Monto and priests who wanted to create their own territory continued to support the descendents of Yori玄 and his ties to the political power of Hosokawa Takakuni, hence the responsibility for the outbreak of the Ikkō Ikki in the Kinai weighed upon the shoulders of the Yori玄 branch of the Shimotsuma family, and thus they were expelled from Honganji. Thus during the first half of the Tenbun era, Honganji had used a factional dispute that emerged within the Shimotsuma family itself to its advantage, and thus strengthened their relations with the government of Hosokawa Harumoto. (50)

© Greg Pampling. This page was modified on 2011