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Second Battle of Azukizaka

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The Battle of Azukizaka was a notable event in a long period of hostilities on the Tokai Coast. The Imagawa family, led at this time by Imagawa Yoshimoto, was gradually extending its influence eastward from Suruga. Following an earlier war with the Shiba family, Totomi was brought firmly into the Imagawa domain, with its neighbor Mikawa naturally a place of great contention. To the east of Mikawa was Owari, and the Oda domain. Oda Nobuhide (father of the famous Nobunaga) was a staunch opponent of the Imagawa, and just as interested in influencing events in Mikawa. Mikawa itself was the home of the Matsudaira family, who found themselves caught between these two forces. By 1548 the Matsudaira had drifted into the Imagawa camp, though hardly without incident, and now stood to join forces with their erstwhile enemies to the west. At this time a certain Toda Yasumitsu betrayed the Matsudaira and declared his support for the Oda. While Yasumitsu's rebellion was quelled, Nobuhide nonetheless led an army of some 4,000 men into Mikawa, his objective being Okazaki - the Matsudaira's capital. The young lord of the Matsudaira, Hirotada, turned to the Imagawa for assistance and agreed to provide his only son as a hostage in return for help from Suruga. The child (the future Tokugawa Ieyasu) was duly dispatched eastward but was intercepted and spirited away by the recently chastised Toda Yasumitsu. Hirotada's son ended up as a hostage of the Oda but if Nobuhide had hoped this would convince Hirotada to change his allegiances, he was to be disappointed. Hirotada brushed off the threats to his son's life (perhaps intuiting that the boy was of more use to Oda alive then dead) and in the end no harm came to him. Meanwhile, Yoshimoto dispatched his talented uncle, the monk-general Taigen Sessai (or Sessai Choro), with an army to sort things out in Mikawa. Nobuhide himself led an army out of Anjo (a Mikawa castle taken from the Matsudaira) and ran right into Sessai's army. Sessai had selected the ground well, and the engagement began in what was essentially an ambush. The fighting was desperate but in the end Nobuhide was defeated and his army sent on its way back to Owari. Sessai thus avenged an earlier reverse suffered by the Imagawa at the same site six years previously. This battle also proved to be Nobuhide's last, for he died the following year. in the aftermath of his death Sessai was to return and retake Anjo - in the process compelling the Oda to give up Hirotada's son. Sessai himself died in 1555 and the next great encounter between the Oda and Imagawa, at Okehazama in 1560, would have a much different outcome.

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