Onin War (1467–1477)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Rival shogun clans
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Kyoto and environs
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Succession to the
OUTCOME: The issues of succession remained unresolved
throughout the long and ruinous war.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
A feudal dispute erupted into chaotic warfare in western
Japan. Yoshimasa (1435–90), the Ashikaga shogun (mili-
tary overlord), retired in 1467, triggering a dispute over
succession to his shogunate. Rival families started a fullscale
war in and about Kyoto, which was largely destroyed
in the conflict. Even though the leaders of the
warring factions, Yamana Mochitoyo (1404–73) and Hosokawa
Katsumoto (c. 1430–73), both died in 1473, their
partisans continued to fight, ultimately bringing some
dozen major military families into the fray and laying
waste to the entire region around Kyoto. The Onin War
produced nothing but general ruin and failed to resolve
the succession to the shogunate.
See also JAPANESE CIVIL WARS (1450–1550).
Further reading: Thomas Keirstead, The Geography of
Power in Medieval Japan (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University
Press, 1992); H. Paul Valery, The Onin War (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1966).