Journal article Open Access
Conlan, Thomas D.
This article seeks to explain the sudden fall of the Ōuchi in 1551. It argues that the Ōuchi, the lords of the West, were established as a powerful force in sixteenth-century Japan, and that their home city of Yamaguchi reflected their wider influence and prosperity. In 1551, however, this came to a sudden end with the suicide of Ōuchi Yoshitaka and the swift fall of the family. This development, which has never been properly explained, stems from an ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to move the emperor to Yamaguchi, and thereby transform the city into Japan's new capital. Opposition from rival warriors, courtiers, and some members of the Ōuchi organization led to the overthrow and death of Yoshitaka, along with the slaughter of all the courtiers who had traveled to Yamaguchi. The resultant turmoil coupled with the death of most of the key participants caused this epochal event to have been largely forgotten.