Imagawa Yoshimoto (今川 義元, 1519 – June 12, 1560) was a Japanese daimyō (feudal lord) of the Sengoku period. Based in Suruga Province, he was known as The number one Daimyō in the Tōkaidō (海道一の弓取り, Kaidō-ichi no Yumitori);[1] he was one of the three daimyō that dominated the Tōkaidō region. He died in 1560 while marching to Kyoto to become Shogun. He was killed in the village of Dengakuhazama in Okehazama by Oda Nobunaga.[2]

Imagawa Yoshimoto
今川 義元
Head of Imagawa clan
In office
Preceded byImagawa Ujiteru
Succeeded byImagawa Ujizane
Personal details

Sunpu, Suruga Province, Japan
DiedJune 12, 1560(1560-06-12) (aged 40–41)
Dengakuhazama, Owari Province, Japan
Children5, including Imagawa Ujizane
RelativesImagawa Ujiteru (brother)
Hōjō Ujiyasu (brother-in-law)
Takeda Shingen (brother-in-law)
Lady Hayakawa (niece and daughter-in-law)
Military service
Allegiance Imagawa clan
Unit Imagawa clan
CommandsSunpu Castle
Battles/warsHanagura Disturbance (1536)
Battle of Azukizaka (1542)
Battle of Azukizaka (1548)
Battle of Muraki Castle (1554)
Battle of Okehazama (1560) 
Japanese name
Kanji今川 義元
Hiraganaいまがわ よしもと

Early life and succession edit

Yoshimoto was born as in 1519, the third son of Imagawa Ujichika[3] of the Imagawa clan, which claimed descent from Emperor Seiwa (850–880). His childhood name was Yosakimaru (芳菊丸). His family branched from Minamoto clan by the Ashikaga clan. As he was not the eldest son, he was not an heir to his father's lordship. As a result, the young boy was sent to a temple where his name was changed to Baigaku Shōhō (梅岳承芳) or Sengaku Shōhō (栴岳承芳).

In 1536, his older brother Ujiteru died suddenly, unleashing successional disputes. His elder half-brother, Genkō Etan (玄広恵探), tried to seize the lordship, but the clan split into two factions. Yoshimoto's faction argued he was the rightful heir because Yoshimoto's mother (Jukei-ni) was the consort of Ujichika. Genkō Etan's faction disputed this based on Genkō's seniority, and that his mother was a member of the Kushima family. However, with the assistance of Hojo Ujitsuna of Sagami province and support of Takeda Nobutora of Kai province, the Genkō faction was eliminated in the Hanagura Disturbance (花倉の乱, Hanagura-no-ran).[4] Baigaku Shōhō changed his name to Yoshimoto at this point and succeeded the clan.[4]

Imagawa Campaigns edit

After Yoshimoto succeeded to family headship, he married the sister of Takeda Shingen of Kai.[2] This allowed Yoshimoto to cement an alliance with the Takeda when he helped Shingen imprison his father, Takeda Nobutora, in 1540.[5] Soon after, the Later Hōjō clan invaded into the Suruga province but Yoshimoto defeated the Hōjō's force.[2]

In 1542, Yoshimoto began his advance into Mikawa Province, in an effort to fight the growing influence of Oda Nobuhide in that region, but was defeated in the 1542 Battle of Azukizaka.

Later in 1548, Yoshimoto defeated Nobuhide in the Second Battle of Azukizaka and continued to expand his territory until 1560. In campaigns over the course of the ensuing decades, Yoshimoto wrested control over the Suruga, Totomi, and Mikawa provinces.[6]

In 1552, Shingen's son, Takeda Yoshinobu, married Yoshimoto's daughter. Yoshimoto and the Hōjō clan reached a peace agreement in 1554 with the marriage of Yoshimoto's son, Imagawa Ujizane, to the daughter of Hōjō Ujiyasu, Lady Hayakawa.

In 1554, the Imagawa clan came to the west and built the Muraki Castle in the southeast of Owari, besieging Mizuno Nobumoto (uncle of Tokugawa Ieyasu) in his castle of Ogawa, who defected from the Imagawa in favor of an alliance with Oda Nobunaga.

In 1558, Yoshimoto sent Matsudaira Motoyasu to attack Terabe Castle, but were driven off by reinforcements sent by Oda Nobunaga. Later, Yoshimoto left the clan's political affairs in Ujizane's hands, in order to focus on dealing with the advance westward into Mikawa and Owari.

Death edit

Imagawa Yoshimoto's grave at Okehazama

In the summer of 1560, after forming a three-way alliance with the Takeda and the Hōjō, Yoshimoto headed out to the capital with Matsudaira Motoyasu (later known as 'Tokugawa Ieyasu') of Mikawa in the vanguard.[7] Despite having a strong force of 25,000,[7] Yoshimoto deliberately announced that he had 40,000 troops. While this statement put fear in many factions, Oda Nobunaga was not dissuaded. (Some historical sources support the claim of 40,000.[8])

After capturing several castles from the Oda clan, Yoshimoto's army let its guard down, celebrating with song and sake. However, Oda Nobunaga launched a surprise attack with his army of 3,000[9] following a downpour and defeated Yoshimoto's army.[10] Two Oda samurai (Mōri Shinsuke and Hattori Koheita) ambushed killed Yoshimoto in the village of Dengakuhazama.[5]: 37–39 [11]

Ujizane succeeded to family headship after Yoshimoto's death,[12] but the Imagawa clan fell from power. Ujizane was later summoned by Tokugawa Ieyasu and became a kōke in the administration of the Tokugawa clan. Yoshimoto's niece was Lady Tsukiyama, the wife of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Yoshimoto has several graves; his body itself is buried at Daisei-ji, a temple in the city of Toyokawa in modern Aichi Prefecture.

Notable retainers edit

Family edit

Preceded by 11th Suruga-Imagawa family head
Succeeded by

Appearances in popular fiction edit

See People of the Sengoku period in popular culture.

He is a playable character in Pokémon Conquest (Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition in Japan), with his partner Pokémon being Pineco and Forretress.[13]

In the Samurai Warriors series, Yoshimoto is represented as a foolish old-fashioned nobleman. His weapon is a kemari which is inspired by his son, Ujizane's historical obsession towards kemari. In Samurai Warriors 5, however, where he fights with a warhammer and his ancestral katana Samonji, he is instead portrayed as an arrogant but effective leader who is a persistent threat to the young Oda Nobunaga, even defeating him in combat in one battle and forcing the Oda army to withdraw, before his eventual defeat at Okehazama.

A female version of Yoshimoto appears in anime The Ambition of Oda Nobuna. In this version, instead of dying Yoshimoto is spared and later installed as a figurehead Shōgun to legitimize Nobuna's claim to Kyoto.

In Sengoku Basara game and anime series, he was shown to be a weak leader, using his vassals as decoys while trying to retreat. In anime version, he was killed by Oda Nobunaga.

References edit

  1. ^ "織田信長「桶狭間の戦い」前夜に見せていた奇策". Tōyō Keizai Online. 4 November 2020. Retrieved June 21, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "日本大百科全書(ニッポニカ)「今川義元」の解説". Kotobank. Retrieved 15 December 2021.
  3. ^ Naramoto Michael, Nihon no kassen: Monoshiri jiten. (Tokyo: Shufu-to-seikatsusha, 1992), p. 259.
  4. ^ a b (in Japanese) "Suruga Imagawa-shi" on (12 July 2008)
  5. ^ a b Turnbull, Stephen (1987). Battles of the Samurai. Arms and Armour Press. pp. 43–44. ISBN 0853688265.
  6. ^ Nihonshi yōgoshū B (Tokyo: Yamakawa shuppansha, 2000), p. 122.
  7. ^ a b Naramoto, p. 254.
  8. ^ Frank Brinkley, A History of the Japanese People. (New York: Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 1915.), p. 784.
  9. ^ Nihonshi yōgoshū B, p. 122.
  10. ^ Naramoto, pp. 258–59.
  11. ^ "1560: The Spring Thunderstorm," [dead link]
  12. ^ Naramoto, p. 259.
  13. ^ "Yoshimoto + Pineco – Pokemon Conquest characters". Pokemon. Retrieved 2012-06-17.

External links edit