Uesugi used to be a retainer of the Ashikaga (Mouchiuji), the Kanto-Kanrei (Viceroy of the East). He betrays Mouchiuji and fights against him in the Battle of Yuuki. When the Ashikaga Nariuji tried to be independant from the shogunate empire of Kyoto, Uesugi Ougigayatsu Mochitomo (Sadamasa's father) attacks him. Sadamasa then takes the Kanto-Kanrei posistion, and rules from Kamakura (the office of the Viceroy was here).
Now the lords of the Kanto were divided. Nariuji's was anti-Uesugi, versus the pro-Uesugi side. The Nerima clan of Toshima county, Musashi provice, sided with Ashikaga Nariuji. In 1477, Uesugi attacked and nearly wiped the clan out. Inuyama Dousetsu's father, Dousaku Sadatomo, was the head of the Nerima clan. He was killed, and for this, Dousetsu swears revenge.
Three times Dousetsu tries to kill Ougigayatsu Sadamasa. We only see one attempt, in Spirits. He fails. Because of these assassination attempts, and because he's a surviving Nerima, Dousetsu is hated by Uesugi Sadamasa.
When Sadamasa learns of Dousetsu's retainership to the Satomi house, he decides to attack the Satomi, and loot Awa in the process. The climax of the Hakkenden novles is the Satomi-Uesugi wars, which literally sweeps the whole Kanto into battle.
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