The ŌNIN WAR (応仁の乱, ŌNIN NO RAN) was a civil war that
lasted from 1467 to 1477, during the
Muromachi period in
The war initiated the Sengoku period , "the Warring States period". This period was a long, drawn-out struggle for domination by individual daimyo, resulting in a mass power-struggle between the various houses to dominate the whole of Japan.
* 1 Origin * 2 Battles
* 3 Aftermath
* 4 Ōnin Ki * 5 Chronology * 6 See also * 7 Notes * 8 References
The Ōnin conflict began as a controversy over who would succeed Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa . In 1464, Yoshimasa had no heir. He persuaded his younger brother, Ashikaga Yoshimi , to abandon the life of a monk, and named him heir. In 1465, the unanticipated birth of a son to Yoshimasa put these plans in question. The infant, Yoshihisa , caused friction between the Shogun, Yoshimi, and Hosokawa against Tomiko , the wife of Yoshimasa and mother of Yoshihisa, and Yamana. :220
Hosokawa had always worked closely with the Shogun's brother Ashikaga Yoshimi, and supported his claim to the shogunate. Yamana took this as an opportunity to oppose Hosokawa further, supporting the child as heir to the Shogunate. War broke out in the city of Kyoto. This was regarded by the Ashikaga Shogun as an act of rebellion, and thus the Ashikaga and their supporters were forced to try to stop it. The Ashikaga tried to prevent the outbreak of war over the next heir, but the situation escalated into a war that designated the leader of the victorious party as the next shogun. In 1467 the uncertainty had caused a split amongst the warrior clans, and the succession dispute became a pretext for a struggle for military supremacy. In the end, there was no clear-cut winner. The complex array of factional armies simply fought themselves into exhaustion.
Hosokawa's Eastern Army of about 85,000 and Yamana's Western Army of
about 80,000 were almost evenly matched when mobilized near Kyoto. The
fighting started in March when a Hosokawa mansion was burned. Then in
May 1467, a Yamana mansion was attacked. In July, according to Sansom,
Yoshimasa appointed Hosokawa commanding general in an attempt to
"chastise the rebel" Yamana. Sansom states "heavy fighting continued
throughout July" and "several hundred large buildings were destroyed,
and destruction continued day after day." Hosokawa was soon cornered
in the northeast portion of
Hosokawa attempted an attack on New Years Day, and then again in April, but for the most part "the two armies now remained glaring at one another month after month." A central trench ten feet deep and twenty feet wide separated the two armies. Several monasteries were burned, including the Tenryū-ji . Finally, Yoshimi went to the side of Yamana, forcing the Shogun to name his son Yoshihisa as his heir in 1469. In a strange switch of allegiances, the war became one of brother against brother. The Emperor Go-Tsuchimikado stripped "Yoshimi of his court ranks" and declared him a rebel. :226–227
Yamana Sōzen and
Hosokawa Katsumoto died in 1473, and even
then, the war continued on, neither side figuring out how to end the
war. However, eventually the
Yamana clan lost heart as the label of
"rebel" was at last having some effect.
Ōuchi Masahiro , one of the
Yamana generals, eventually burnt down his section of
By 1477, ten years after the fighting had begun,
During this whole ordeal, the shogun was not instrumental in
alleviating the situation. While
Ōnin War, and the shogun's complacent attitude towards it,
"sanctioned" private wars and skirmishes between the other daimyōs.
No part of
The Ikki would form and appear throughout other parts of Japan, such
Kaga Province , where a sect of the
The Ikkō-ikki and the Yamashiro-ikki part of the general outbreak of civil war. Sansom states some refer to this as gekokujō (roughly "the low oppress the high"), or a "disturbed social order". Sansom further states, "The frequent risings of the fifteenth century were expressions of popular discontent in which peasants took part". :235
After the Ōnin War, the Ashikaga bakufu completely fell apart; for all practical purposes, the Hosokawa family was in charge and the Ashikaga shoguns became their puppets. When Yoshimi's son Yoshitane was made shogun in 1490, the Hosokawa Kanrei (deputy) soon put him to flight in 1493 and declared another Ashikaga, Yoshizumi, to be shogun . In 1499, Yoshitane arrived at Yamaguchi, the capital of the Ōuchi, and this powerful family threw its military support behind Yoshitane.
In 1507, the
Hosokawa Masamoto was assassinated and in 1508,
The Hosokawa family would control the shogunate until 1558 when they
were betrayed by a vassal family, the Miyoshi . The powerful Ōuchi
were also destroyed by a vassal,
By the end of the Warring States Period only a dozen or so warlord families still remained standing. But the most important development to come out of the Ōnin War was the ceaseless civil war that ignited outside the capital city. :235 Hosokawa tried to foment civil strife in the Ōuchi domains, for instance, and this civil strife would eventually force Ōuchi to submit and leave. From the close of the Ōnin War, this type of civil strife, either vassals striving to conquer their daimyo or succession disputes drawing in outside daimyo, was endemic all throughout Japan.
Scholars disagree on the appropriateness of the term "Warring States
period " (which is the Chinese term borrowed by the Japanese in
calling this period "sengoku jidai "). Many argue that since
The cost for the individual daimyo was tremendous, and a century of conflict would so weaken the bulk of Japanese warlords, that the three great figures of Japanese unification, beginning with Oda Nobunaga , would find it easier to militarily assert a single, unified military government.
The Ōnin Ki :220 (応仁記) is a document written sometime from the end of the 15th century to the middle of the 16th century (i.e. some 20 to 80 years after the conflict), which describes the causes and effects of the Ōnin War. It illustrates in detail the strategies involved in the fighting, and its chief instigators, Yamana Sōzen and Hosokawa Katsumoto .
Though it is classified as a work of historical military fiction (軍記物語), because of the time in which it was written, it is entirely possible that the author is relating a first person account of the conflagration. Though its author is unknown, his beliefs and philosophies are apparent throughout the text, as he relates the apparent futility of the war and the destruction it wrought on the capital. It remains an important work in part due to its departure from somewhat cut-and-dried depictions of the numerous battles, instead adding accounts of how the Onin War affected the city and its citizens:
"The flowery capital which we thought would last forever to our surprise is to become a lair of wolves and foxes. :225–226 Even the North Field of Toji has fallen to ash ... Lamenting the plight of the many fallen acolytes, Ii-o Hikorokusaemon-No-Jou read a passage:
Nare ya shiru Miyako wa nobe no Yu-hibari Agaru wo mite mo Ochiru na-mida wa
Now the city that you knew Has become an empty moor, From which the evening skylark rises While your tears fall. :226"
The origins of the Ōnin conflict are manifold. To say that the war began with a quarrel between angry warlords is too simplistic. The initial phase of this decade-long struggle "was only a spark which set fire to a broader conflagration." Without fully anticipating the consequences, the Kamakura government had loosened the restraints of tradition in Japanese society, which meant that "new energies were released, new classes were formed, and new wealth was created." As the shogunate's powerful figures competed for influence in Kyoto, the leading families in the provinces were amassing resources and growing more independent of centralized controls.
Ashikaga Yoshimasa becomes Shogun.
Hosokawa Katsumoto becomes
WARFARE BEGINS :218
* 1467 Outbreak of the Ōnin War. Yamana is declared a rebel. In November, the Shōkoku-ji (相国寺 (ja)) is destroyed. * 1468 Yoshimi goes over to Yamana 's side. * 1469 Yoshimasa names Yoshihisa his heir. * 1471 Ikkō-ikki Buddhist sect gains strength in the North. Asakura Toshikage becomes Constable (shugo ) of Echizen . :247–250 * 1473 Yamana and Hosokawa die. Yoshimasa retires. * 1477 Ōuchi clan leaves Kyoto. End of the Ōnin War.
* 1485 Agrarian uprisings in Yamashiro.
* 1489 Yoshihisa dies.
* 1490 Yoshimasa dies.