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Imagawa Yoshimoto

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Imagawa Yoshimoto, left, facing death at the Battle of Okehazama.

Kanji: 今川 義元

Date(s): 1519-June 12, 1560

Other Known Names: N/A

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Imagawa Clan Mon

 

Imagawa Yoshimoto was a daimyo for the provinces Suruga and Tōtömi and was one of the most powerful leaders in the Tokaido region until his death in 1560. Yoshimoto was known for his diplomatic skills and was a good civic administrator. His appearance is an unusual one, donning the fashion practices of Japanese women during this age. He blackened his teeth and wore makeup. He would meet his end at the Battle of Okehazama in 1560.

He was the third son of Imagawa Ujichika, born in 1519. He was on the path to becoming a Buddhist monk, for he was living and training at Zentokuji Temple from a young age. His destiny changed, however, when his eldest brother, Ujiteru, died after ten years of succeeding their father, resulting in a succession vacuum. Yoshimoto left Zentokuji Temple to fight his two other brothers for control of the clan.

After seizing control of his clan, Imagawa Yoshimoto married Takeda Nobutora’s daughter the following year, creating an alliance with the Takeda clan, which would be beneficial for Takeda Shingen in 1540, who conquered Kai Province with Yoshimoto’s help. After the conquering of Kai, Yoshimoto and Shingen began a campaign against the Hōjō clan in 1544, but when the fighting came to a stalemate, Yoshimoto negotiated a peace treaty at Kitsunebashi.

In 1542, Yoshimoto fought and was defeated by Oda Nobuhide at the Battle of Azukizaka. Even with this defeat, he still managed to bring Tōtōmi and Suruga under his power, and gained Mikawa with the hostage of Tokugawa Ieyasu. During the years leading up to 1560, Yoshimoto took time turning the city of Sunpu into a cultural center and initiated land surveys.

In May 1560, Imagawa Yoshimoto began his march for the capital of Kyōto, which meant invading the land of Owari, Oda Nobunaga’s domain. With numbers being reported of 40,000 (numbers were more around 25,000-26,000 men), Yoshimoto was able to secure many victories. He was eventually stopped and killed when Nobunaga ambushed his encampment at Okehazama on June 12, 1560 by Mori Shinnosuke.