An Ōuchi Yoshioki letter (1527) and document of praise (1511).
Princeton possesses two documents monogrammed by Ōuchi Yoshioki. One, a document of praise, dating from 1511, recounts the battle at Funaoka, located in northwestern Kyoto, where Yoshioki won a resounding victory. Although the recipient of this letter is unknown, it is one of many documents that survive, revealing that Yoshioki commanded an extensive force which include, among others, the Murakami. A comparison of Yoshioki’s monogram in both documents reveals how his “signature” changed slightly over time.
The letter, written by Ōuchi Yoshioki, is addressed to Murakami Takakatsu, the chief of the Murakami “pirate” bands. As this is an original letter in Yoshioki’s hand, the monogram, it can be ascertained that this letter was written 1527 .Ōuchi Yoshioki praises Murakami Takakatsu for his battle service at Kokubuyama, the site of a castle located currently in Imaharu city, Ehime prefecture, on the island of Shikoku. Yoshioki asks Takakatsu in his position as chief of the Murakami to coordinate his relatives in battle, and fight on his behalf.
According to the Sonpi bunmyaku genealogy, the Murakami, who lived on various islands in the Inland Sea, were a branch family of the Kōno, and often they fought against the Kōno. In the early decades of the sixteenth century, Takakatsu fought for Ōuchi Yoshioki and Hosokawa Takakuni, who was mostly allied with Ōuchi Yoshioki, but they also received documents from Kōno Michinao. The Takakuni record, based on the signature, most likely dates from approximately 1531, and so this represents the oldest document of praise surviving for the Murakami.
Currently most of the original Murakami documents are housed at the Yamaguchi ken monjokan. One scroll, entitled “documents of praise from various houses” contains records from Ōtomo Sōrin, Hosokawa Takakuni and Oda Nobunaga. The Yoshioki letter would normally belong with this scroll, but at some time it was removed and mounted as if to be viewed in a tea ceremony. Most likely this is because Ōuchi Yoshioki’s prestige was great, and also this record, in his hand, explicitly shows that Takakatsu’s branch of the Murakami (the Noshima (能島) were superior to the other branches, the Kurushima (来島) and the Innoshima (因島).
Transcriptions of Princeton’s Ōuchi Yoshioki documents appear in Sengoku ibun Ōuchi shi hen vol. 2 (Tōkyōdō shuppan, 2017) as documents no. 1423, 9.23.Eishō 8  Ōuchi Yoshioki sode han dō kashin rensho hōsho, p. 157 and no. 1976, 11.27  Ōuchi Yoshioki shojō (kirigami), p. 354.
Here, Ōuchi Yoshioki praises Murakami Takakatsu for his victory at Kokubuyama. He then encourages Takakatsu to continue his military service, and consult and lead Murakami relatives in battle. Yoshioki’s monogram is consistent with others written in 1527, thus it is possible to establish the date of this document.
This document of praise, monogrammed by Ōuchi Yoshioki, recounts the 1511 battle of Funaoka. Here, in northwestern Kyoto, Yoshioki, allied with Hosokawa Takakuni, and Ashikaga Yoshitane, attacked the forces of his rivals and won a resounding victory. Many documents survive from this encounter. This document is in a curious style, in that it is monogrammed as would be typical for an order, but the closing language is of an administrative directive (bugyōnin hōsho). The Ōuchi issued documents according to a variety of styles, and this unusual format is found in the documents of the Shinohara house, which survive in volume (maki) 150 of the Hagi han batsu etsu roku. Shinohara Shirō Nagamori mentioned in the text is the likely recipient of this document. Of the two administrators who issued this document, the first is unknown but the second is most likely Noda Mori? (Gosho) (野田護所). Sometime late in the sixteenth or early seventeenth centuries, someone wrote the praises the Tenman and Kasuga deities on the reverse of this document, but the rationale for this is unclear. Likewise, the record is not found with the other Shinohara documents, but came into the possession of the Nakajima family.
For more on how this document was later transcribed and published, please refer to the unit “From Documents to History.”
Kōno ke monjo utsushi.
Four copied documents (utsushi) pertaining to the Kōno house. The originals have been lost, but these high quality copies, dating from the Tokugawa era, recount events of the 1560s, a period of turmoil that erupted after a coup brought the Ōuchi low. The Kōno did not survive them, which is why only copies of their documents, rather than originals, survive. Three of the documents are addressed to Kōno Michinobu, with one written by Ueno Nobutaka and two written by Baisenken Reichō 梅仙軒霊超 , confidants of the Ashikaga shogun. The fourth letter was written by Isshiki Fujinaga, another Ashikaga retainer, and is addressed to Michinobu’s adopted heir Michinao (Ushifukumaru). The first Kōno document still has its cut seal (kirifu) intact, which is extremely rare.