Bizen no Kuni Ju Osafune
Bizen (備前国 -no kuni) was a province
of Japan on the Inland Sea side of Honshu, in what is today the southeastern
part of Okayama Prefecture. Bizen borders Mimasaka, Harima, and Bitchu
provinces. Osafune (長船町 Osafune-cho) was a town located in Oku
Okayama, Japan. From an early time Bizen was one of Japan's main centers for sword smithing. The most famous of all schools of sword making is the Bizen School. The founder of this ha and its greatest smith was Mitsutada. Swords produced by Mitsutada and his succeeding students (including his son, Nagamitsu), were prized in olden times and worn by famous generals and samurai.
In the 3rd month of the 6th year of the Wado era (713), the land of Bizen-no kuni was administratively separated from Mimasaka province (美作国). In that same year, Empress Gemmei's Daijo-kan continued to organize other cadastral (a map showing the boundaries and ownership of land parcels) changes in the provincial map of the Nara period.
Akamatsu Clan In the Muromachi period, Bizen was ruled by the Akamatsu clan from Mimasaka. The Akamatsu clan (赤松氏 Akamatsu-shi) was a family of direct descent from Minamoto no Morifusa, at which they obtained a great level of power by the beginning of the Sengoku period of Feudal Japan. To justify such a claim with evidence, a certain man by the name of Akamatsu Morifusa was able to secure his respective clan power by means of defecting to the side of Ashikaga during Emperor Go-Daigo's Kemmu Restoration -- initially lasting from 1333 - 1336. As this attempt for restoration ended in 1336, the Ashikaga willingly awarded the Akamatsu governorship over Harima province, which they controlled for many years following such a successful movement. Not defecting from the expectations of the Ashikaga Shogunate throughout their control over Harima, and displaying clear traits of both loyalty and trust, the Akamatsu were generously rewarded by the succeeding Ashikaga Yoshimitsu the additional governorship over Bizen, Mimasaka, and one of four head retainer families that provided their members to the Bakufu's Board of Retainers.
As the Akamatsu ambitiously distributed some of their clansmen--such as Akamatsu Mitsusuke--to obtain control over neighboring clans such as the Yamana, Mitsusuke was seen by two consecutive shoguns as a dangerous individual, and they thus made their own respective attempts to have the former ousted from his headship over the Yamana with the favor of replacing him with a person of their liking and trust. Mitsusuke, who at first became a monk, to escape the first attempt, retaliated against the second -- even going to the extent of killing the Shogun in what Mitsusuke called the former's "victory celebration" against the Yuki family. Considering that the Yamana had obtained a new head by the time at which Mitsusuke temporarily retreated from secular life, this respective clan was able to collaborate together with the Hosokawa and Hatakeyama, effectively striking at the power of the Akamatsu with great force. The initial attack being unable to entirely wipe out the Akamatsu, the Akamatsu's power had been none the less depleted dramatically by the latter Sengoku Period, and they thus had little more opportunity then to become a retainer family under the Toyotomi, at which they followed by either being wiped away by the victorious Tokugawa in 1600, or by wisely collaborating with the former, resulting in their survival up until the Edo Period.
Urakami Clan (Descended from Ki no Kosami)By the Sengoku period the Urakami clan had become dominant and settled in Okayama city, in Bizen Province during the 16th century. One major turn of events that took place for the Urakami was through the death of Urakami Norimune following the year of 1502. This led to Matsuda Motokatsu to take the chance to lead a full scale assault on the domain of the Urakami. One major retainer of the Urakami was Ukita Yoshiie, in which he led 300 troops in the attack against the Matsuda clan (the Urakami were allied with the Ukita). The Urakami managed a somewhat balanced course throughout the Sengoku Period following this event.
During the Onin civil war (1468), he sided with Yamana Sozen and was defeated by the Hosokawa. He then went to Kyoto where Akamatsu Masanori, head of the Samurai-dokoro, made him Shoshidai.
Urakami Muramune (Grandson of Norimune)
d.1524 Muramune was a son of Urakami Munesuke. He was originally a vassal of the Akamatsu but rebelled and claimed much of
Sons: Munekage, Masamune (Mimasaka no kami; d.1564?)
Urakami Munekage (Son of Muramune)
Munekage was the son of Urakami Muramune. He nominally held much of
Ukita Clan The Urakami were supplanted by the Ukita clan, and Ukita Hideie
was one of the regents Toyotomi Hideyoshi appointed for his son. The Ukita
of Bizen Province were
descended from Kojima Takanori, who was himself
descended from the venerable Miyake family of
Son of Norinaga
When Go-Daigo had to flee before the army of the Hojo (1331), Takanori levied troops and fought for the cause of the southern dynasty. He served afterwards under the orders of Nitta Yoshisada and fought in Harima against Akamatsu Norimura. He is often spoken of by the name of Bingo Saburo. The best known incident of his life is that of his writing on a tree a Chinese poem to console and encourage Go-Daigo on his way to exile.
Ukita Hisaie (Son of Muneie)
Ukita Yoshiie (Son of Hisaie)
Izumi no kami, Heizaemon no jô
Yoshiie was vassal of Urakami Muramune, daimyo of Mimasaka. In 1502 Urakami Norimune died of illness and Matsuda Motokatsu attempted to take advantage of his passing through attacks on the Urakami domain. That winter Yoshiie was part of an Urakami army that crossed the
Sons: Shirô (d.1523), Okiie
Okiie was the eldest son of Ukita Yoshiie and succeeded his father in 1524. Lord of Toishi Castle in
Sons: Naoie, Haruie (Kwatchi no kami), Tadaie
Lord of Bizen
Izumi no kami
Naoie was the son of Ukita Okiie. He began his career in 1543 when, around the age of 14, he became a vassal of Urakami Munekage. Naoie's father had displeased Munekage and was executed. Son Naoie was spared and in 1545 received a small fort with a 30-man garrison. The Ukita began an unlikely but inexorable climb to local power. Naoie expanded his lands through both conquest and alliance, all the while careful to maintain a cover of loyalty to the Urakami. By 1568 Naoie had destroyed the Matsuda and now turned on the Urakami. Naoie was the most powerful of the Urakami's vassals, many of whom were becoming openly rebellious or simply apathetic. In 1573 Naoie ordered Okayama rebuilt and made into his capital, from which he plotted the final downfall of the Urakami. When an internal dispute broke out at Tenjinyama, the Ukita attacked and removed the Urakami from power, bringing all of Bizen under his banner. Naoie went on to struggle with the Akamatsu of Harima and the Miyoshi of Shikoku while expanding his authority into Mimasaka and Bitchu. He entered into an alliance with Môri Terumoto and as a result was able to add half of Bitchû to his holdings. By this point he was the most powerful lord in Bizen and had openly defied the Urakami in 1575, fighting a string of engagements with their retainers that year. By 1577 he was powerful enough to bring down the seat of the Urakami's power - Tenjinyama. Soon after, he clashed with Oda forces in Harima (1579) before signing a treaty with Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi. Naoie sent his son Hideie as a hostage to Hideyoshi and in return was confirmed as lord of Bizen, as well as a fair amount of Mimasaka.
Naoie’s senior retainers included the following men: Ukita Tadaie (Naoie’s brother), Hanabusa Masayuki (Sukebei), Osafune Kii no Kami Sadachika, Togawa Higo no Kami Hideyasu, and Oka Echizen no Kami Toshikatsu.
Ukita Haruie (Son of Okiie)
Ukita Tadaie (Son of Okiie)
Dewa no kami
Tadaie was a younger brother of Ukita Naoie and assisted his elder brother in all his campaigns. He was active in Toyotomi Hideyoshi's campaign in
Son: Narimasa (d.1616)
Lord of Bizen
Hideie was a son of Ukita Naoie and was largely raised by Toyotomi Hideyoshi as something of a protegé. His position as lord of the Ukita had earlier been confirmed by Oda Nobunaga. He received the title of Chûnagon in 1594 and acted as a chief field commander in the 2nd Korean Campaign. He served as one of the five regents (Go-tairo) following Hideyoshi's death in 1598 and from
After Kobayakawa Hideaki helped Tokugawa Ieyasu to win the Battle of Sekigahara over Ukita and others, he was granted Ukita's domains in Bizen and Mimasaka.
Bizen passed through a variety of hands during the Edo period before being incorporated into the modern prefecture system.