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Uesugi clan

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The Uesugi kamon.
  • Japanese: 上杉家 (Uesugi-ke)

The Uesugi of eastern Japan (their domain at one point encompassed much of the Kanto region and Echigo province) were descended from Fujiwara Yoshikado, a dajô-daijin in the 9th century, whose descendant Shigefusa adopted the name Uesugi in the 13th century. The Uesugi were related to the Ashikaga clan and became very powerful in the Muromachi Period and for many years provided deputy governors of the Kantô for the Ashikaga. By the opening of the Sengoku Period the Uesugi were represented by two main branches (a third, the Inukake, having died out in the 15th century), the Ogigayatsu-Uesugi and Yamanouchi-Uesugi. These had become open rivals in the mid-15th century and so vied for power in the Kantô. By the start of the 16th century the Ogigayatsu were based at Kawagoe castle in Musashi province while the seat of Yamanouchi power was at Hirai in Kôzuke. The Ogigayatsu had traditionally relied on the Otô family while the Yamanouchi counted the Nagao clan of Echigo province as a pillar of their strength. The surging expansion of the Hôjô into the lower Kantô after 1533 ultimately forced the two branches of the Uesugi to join forces. Kawagoe fell to Hôjô Ujitsuna in 1537 and in 1545 both the Ogigayatsu and the Yamanouchi shared defeat in attempting to regain it. Although this effectively marked the end of the Ogigayatsu as a viable independent power, Uesugi Norimasa of the Yamanouchi branch, whose Hirai castle fell to the Hôjô in 1551, took up with his retainer Nagao Kagetora in Echigo. In 1561, while campaigning against the Hôjô in Sagami province, Kagetora adopted the name Uesugi and the title of Kantô kanrei. By dint of this the Uesugi survived the Sengoku period and became a notable Edo daimyô house, although owing to Uesugi Kagekatsu’s support of Ishida Mitsunari in the Sekigahara Campaign (1600), they were much reduced in power, being moved from their 1.2 million koku domain in Aizu to the 300,000 koku domain of Yonezawa han.


Generals of the Uesugi clan during the Sengoku Period
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