Treasures and documents that were sent to a shelter during the Onin War were lost in a fire

The Onin War refers to a battle that started in 1467 and continued for about a decade, fought in Kyoto by the eastern army and western army of military governors. It is recorded in “Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke” (Box Hiragana CHI, No. 19) that Toji Temple sent its treasures and documents to the Daigo-ji Temple (醍醐寺) for shelter in September 1467, shortly after the war started, for the purpose of protecting them from the fires of war. “Nijuikku-kata” (廿一口方) refers to an in-house organization of Toji Temple in medieval times, which consisted of 21 monks. “Hikitsuke” (引付) means minutes of meetings (“Hyojo”) held by such organizations.

Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke web page

Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke web page
Item 19 of Box-chi (Hiragana), “Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke”,dated August 10, 1470

This article reports that Daigo-ji Temple was set on fire on July 20, resulting in a partial loss of the treasures that were sheltered from Toji Temple to Daigo-ji Temple on September 21, 1467.

The photo above shows the minutes of a meeting held by Nijuikku-kata on August 10, 1470. These minutes record that “Migi Kudan-no Ondogu-nado (lit. temple instruments as specified on the right and others)” were moved to the Sanpo-in building of Daigo-ji Temple on September 21, 1467, approximately three years before the meeting, but that most buildings of Daigo-ji Temple were burned in a battle on July 19, 1470.

Toji Temple is believed to have been under the control of the western army during the Onin War. Because the temple was located in a place remote from the war zone, it was never set on fire and remained safe. In contrast, Daigo-ji Temple was attacked by the western army, and the majority of its buildings were burned down except the five-storied pagoda, resulting in the partial loss of treasures and documents that were sent from Toji for shelter. Treasures brought to Daigo-ji Temple to be safe met quite an ironic fate.

This does not mean that people at Toji Temple were totally reassured about the treasures deposited at Daigo-ji Temple. According to articles in “Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke” (Tenchinobu, No. 37), dated April 25 and May 18, 1469, about a year and a half after the evacuation of the treasures, there was a rumor of a planned attack on Daigo-ji Temple by the western army, and meetings were held concerning the authenticity of the rumor and possible routes for returning the deposited treasures to Toji Temple. This indicates that people at Toji Temple considered that there was a risk in storing the treasures at Daigo-ji Temple, and discussed possible routes for having them safely returned. Although Toji Temple apparently paid attention to the state of the war and the management of treasures, for unknown reasons, they did not take action to have the treasures returned.

Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke web page
Item 37 of Box-Tenchinobu, “Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke”, dated April 25, 1469
Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke web page
Item 37 of Box-Tenchinobu, “Nijuikku-kata Hyojo Hikitsuke”, dated May 18, 1469