Motochika Chosokabe painting
Motochika Chosokabe
Personal Information
Born: 1539
Place of Birth: Oko castle, Tosa
Died: July 11, 1599
Cause of Death: Illness
Place of Death: Fushimi, Kyoto
Style name: 長宗我部 元親
Served: Chosokabe
Participation(s): Toyotomi's Invasion of Kyushu

Motochika Chosokabe (長宗我部 元親) was twenty first head of the Chosokabe clan. Motochika is quite know for unifying Shikoku in ten years but just as he was going to invade territory's out of Shikoku he surrendered to Hideyoshi Toyotomi.



Motochika was born at Oko castle in the Nagaoka district of Tosa, the eldest son of Kunichika Chosokabe. Motochika was a quiet youth and his father was said to have fretted about the boy's gentle nature Kunichika's worries evaporated when Motochika later proved himself a skilled and brave warrior during his first battle against the Motoyama clan in 1560, at the Battle of Tonomoto.[1] On the death of his father Motochika transfered his residence to Nagahama and in a series of military campaigns . [2]

Conquest of ShikokuEdit

Following his conquest of Tosa, Motochika turned north and prepared for an invasion of Iyo. The lord of that province was Michinao Kono, a daimyo who had once been driven from his domain by the Utsunomiya clan, returning only with the assistance of the powerful Mouri. It was unlikely that Kono could count on that sort of help again, however-presently the Mouri were embroiled in a war with Nobunaga Oda. Nonetheless, Chosokabe's campaign in Iyo did not go off without a hitch. In 1579, a 7,000-man Chosokabe army, commanded by Chikanobu Hisatake, attacked the strongest fortress in Southern Iyo, Okayama castle, held by Kiyoyoshi Doi . During the ensuing siege of Okayama castle, Chikanobu was shot and killed by an arquebus and his army defeated, though the loss proved little more than an unfortunate delay.[3]

At the Battle of Shimantogawa Motochika Chosokabe increased his hold on Shikoku island by defeating the Ichijo clan.[4]

In 1579 Motochika Chosokabe's retainer, Yorinobu Kumu led 7,000 troops into Iyo province on Shikoku island and attacked Kiyonaga Doi. Kiyonaga crossed Mimaomote river to meet him in a fierce battle on 21 May 1579. Yorinobu was defeated and killed.[5]

Motochika then led 23,000 troops in the Battle of Nakatomigawa against Masayasu Sogo's 5,000 troops. On 27 August 1582 they met across the banks of Nakatomigawa. At noon on the following day the Chosokabe lunched 20,000 troops into the river who engaged the Sogo in fierce hand-to-hand combat fighting. The Sogo were driven back, losing 800 dead, while the Chosokabe suffered casualties of about 600 men.[6]

In the Battle of Hikida Motochika faced the Toyotomi's Hidehisa Sengoku, who he defeated. Hikida was a further stage on the Chosokabe's rise to command all of Shikoku island.[7]

Ichinomiya was the final battle whereby Hideyoshi gained control of Shikoku island from the Chosokabe clan. When Hideyoshi laid siege on Ichinomiya castle, the Chosokabe made a half-hearted attempt to relieve it but surrendered after a 26-day siege. The Chosokabe was allowed to keep Tosa province, while the rest of the island was divided among Hideyoshi Toyotomi's generals.[8]

Toyotomi's Invasion of KyushuEdit

In Bungo province the Shimazu general Tadatomo Niiro besieged Toshimitsu castle and fought of a relieving force, then laid siege to the Otomo capital of Funai. This act of aggression by the Shimazu was Hideyoshi Toyotomi needed to take direction action on Kyushu island. The Otomo were joined by reinforcements from Shikoku island under Hidehisa Sengoku and Motochika Chosokabe. Their orders were to act defensively, until further troops from Hideyoshi himself and the Mouri clan were able to join them in Kyushu. By now half of the invading Shimazu army pulled back to safeguard the their extended lines of communication from Satsuma province. Perhaps because of this reduction in enemy numbers decided to disobey and try again to relieve Toshimitsu. The Shimazu besieging army noted their approach and reduced their efforts to take Toshimitsi, which subsequently fell to a rapid and ferocious attack.[9] Following the fall of Toshimitsu, Motochika Chosokabe proposed a retreat, but his companions insisted on doing battle. They were arranged in two main bodies, Sengoku and Otomo on left and Chosokabe on the right. The Shimazu set up a decoy force led by Hisanori Ijuin, who led an attack across the river and then withdrew which persuaded the allied left wing, whoe vanguard was led by Nagayasu Soko to follow them. They were met by arquebus and arrow fire and the main body of the Shimazu under Tadatomo Niiro, Yoshihiro Shimazu and Iehisa Shimazu then fell upon them. After fierce fighting the Otomo/Sengoku force collapsed back across the river on to it's right wing. Motochika Chosokabe was obliged to signal a retreat during which his son and heir Nobuchika Chosokabe was killed. Following the battle, Otomo fled from Bungo and the province fell to the Shimazu.[10] The siege of Shimoda provides the unusual example of a siege being conducted largely by a navy. Shimoda was a coastal owned by the Hojo and during the siege of Odawara it was besieged by Hideyoshi's fleet under Motochika Chosokabe, Yoshitaka Kuki, Yoshiaki Kato and Ekei Ankokuji, who commanded 14,000 troops. Shimoda was defended by only 600 troops but held out for four months before capitulating.[11]


Motochika passed away on 11 July 1599.[12]






  1. Samurai Archives Chosokabe Motochika, early life
  2. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull pg.33
  3. Samurai Archives Motochika Chosokabe, Unification of Shikoku
  4. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull. pg.227
  5. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull. pg.230
  6. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull. pg.233
  7. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull. pg.233
  8. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull. pg.236
  9. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull. pg.237
  10. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull. pg.237
  11. Samurai Source book, Stephen Turnbull. pg.241
  12. Samurai Archives Chosokabe Motochika, Hideyoshi