Table of Contents

Chapter Eleven Castle Towns and Territorial Finances



Chapter Eleven Castle Towns and Territorial Finances
The flourishing town of Funai and its perimeter

Ever since the Ōtomo moved to Bungo in the Kamakura period, the centre piece of their rule was the town of Funai (now Oita City). Under the Ritsuryō system, Funai had been the seat of the Kō (国府or provincial office). The residence of the Kō was sited in what is now known as Furugō (古国府). The seal and keys of the kokushi (国司, a provincial governor under the Ritsuryō system) are venerated as holy relics by the shrine of Inyakusha (印鑰社, also known as Daikokusha, 大黒社), which is located in one corner of the 5 chō of Furugō, thereby verifying the existence of imperial magistrates within the Funai area.(118) We have seen how the offices of Chinzai Bugyō and shugo of Bungo province were united under the Ōtomo from Yoshinao onwards, and that from the reign of the third head of the family, Yoriyasu, the Ōtomo were firmly established within Funai. The only problem that remains is that of the location of the shugo office.(118)

It appears that Ōtomo Yoriyasu commissioned some local officials (known as Zaichō Kannin, 在庁官人, or persons below middle rank under the Kō system) to create a map of Bungo province (known as the Bungo Kokuzu Denchō 豊後国図田帳). From the early Muromachi period, Ōtomo Ujitoki and Chikayo (親世) united the offices of the Bungo kokushi together with various positions associated with the Kō (as shown in the Ōtomo Monjo). As such, it is highly likely that the shugo office was either in the same vicinity (or else the same buildings) as the Furugō. Another interesting point emerges when one turns to a part of Uenodai (上野台), Ōita City, known as Takagō (高国府). It appears that this piece of land bore that name from the mid eleventh century (as revealed in the Usa Ōkagami 宇佐大鏡). It was also known as Kachigazuru (勝津留). From Kenchō 6 (1254), the area was a shōen owned by Usa shrine. In the Shiga Monjo, a place by the name of Kachikazuru existed between the shōen of Kasawa (笠和), Enokuma(荏隈), and Hantagō (半太郷), an area which now encompasses the remnants of the former Ōita Industrial High School and an estuary of the Ōita River.(119-120)

According to Watanabe Sumio, the main part of the Kō was located in Furugō, while the residences of officials and the lower eschelons of Kō administration were located in Takagō (apparently either one part of the lower offices, or all of them were moved to Takagō). Thereafter the main Ōtomo family itself would build a residence in Takagō, yet it was only after Kenchō 6 that they came to reside there (as shown in Watanabe Sumio, 豊後国府と守護所 古事類苑月報 四二・古代中世の大分 大分県地方史 七三). If the main office of the Kō was in Furugō, and Inyakusha was located in the vicinity of the Kō, it is possible that various lower eschelon buildings were built within 1.3 kilometers of the Kō. However a number of problems remain unresolved, for did the main residence (or yashiki, 屋敷) of the Ōtomo family shift to Takagō or was it considered to be part of Furugō? Furthermore, one should already see signs of habitation in the Takagō area by shugodai, which would have to have taken place before Yoriyasu`s decision to move the seat of government from Furugō to Takagō.(120)     

As there were a number of sō (惣, or village collective) shrines near Takagō, the Ōtomo family probably had strong ties to the area, hence the reason the lower eschelon offices of the Kō were placed there. It is quite possible that the Kō was moved from Furugō to Uenodai Takagō in order to escape flooding by the Oita River (120) The very fact that the area is called Furugō (or former Kō) lends credibility to this theory.(121)

In the Nambokuchō period, Shiga Chikafusa, a member of a branch family of the Ōtomo, received a `letter of thanks` praising him for his part in a recent conflict. According to the letter, Chikafusa had retreated to Takagō (located in Fuchū (Funai) ) and raised his banner there. Allies of the Ōtomo saw this banner and duly assembled at Takagō, and successfully defended the Fuchū area. Hence to control Fuchū, one had to have the strategic location of Takagō in one`s grasp. However the question still remains of whether the yagata (館, or official residence) of the Ōtomo was located within Takagō.(121)

It appears that the main part of the Ōtomo residences during the Sengoku period were located in the middle of what is now known as Ōaza Ueno Oyashiki (御屋敷). The area itself has been urbanized, yet there are steep slopes present causing the land to rise sharply. This is all that remains of the Ōtomo family`s main residence, a point upon which many living in the area agree. To the north-west of the Oyashiki lies `Yatorizaka` (矢取坂), and further on from that is a piece of land known as `Daimonguchi` (大門口). This strongly supports the claim that the area once belonged to the Ōtomo. The `Uenoharu Yakata` (上原館) mentioned in the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku (大友家文書録) probably referred to the residence at Ōaza Ueno.(121)

According to the Gaun Nikken Roku (臥雲日件録), in reference to the residence of Ōtomo Chikashige (大友親繁) for the 4th year of Kyōtoku (1454), it states:
thus leading one to suppose that the residence itself was quite simple. In the Sengoku era, it appears that the residence of the Ōtomo consisted of two floors (as demonstrated by the `Rebellion of the Second Floor` incident). The contemporary `Nenchū Sakuhō Nikki` (年中作法日記) recorded that the residence of the Ōtomo consisted of a Kumonjo (公文所), a Kirokusho (記録所), an Oku no Kura (奥の蔵), a Saikusho (細工所), a Kogaradono (小柄殿), a Niedono (贄殿, or kitchen) and so forth. It also possessed a `guard office` (known as a Tōzamurai or 遠侍) (続大友史料、五、一三八一). The construction of the main residence appears to have resulted in the creation of castle along the contours of the land, and which appears to have been a composite of both private dwellings and public offices.(123-124)

This then brings us to the question of whether the Ōtomo family possessed any castles built specifically for military purposes. The `Chijō Zasshi` (雉城雑誌) makes mention of a `castle in the western mountains` (Nishiyama Jō, or 西山城). However there are two competing theories about the site of this castle. One states that the castle was a fixed residence of the Ōtomo family. The other states that it referred to a piece of land to the west of modern Konpō Hōkaiji temple (法戒寺) and close to the graveyard adjacent to the temple (Ōita Shi shi 大分市史, Vol.1 pg.380). There is a small plain to the rear of Konpō Hōkaiji known as `Nishiyama` which contains a hill. If we accept that this was the site of the `Nishiyama Jō`, then we must agree that no other theory is valid and that the latter explanation is the correct one. However in one corner of the former grounds of the Ōtomo household there stands a memorial stone which reads `site of the Ōtomo residence of Nishiyama castle`, thereby further confusing the issue. The author, despite examining at length contemporary records of the Ōtomo, has (apart from the above reference) been unable to find any other reference to a castle known as Nishiyama.(125-125)

On the other hand, the Ōtomo Kemonjo Roku states that…”初めて当家世々館を府内に構えこれに居す。高崎山に築城して、不慮(危急)の守となす”. This then gives definite proof that from the Nambokuchō era onwards, a castle lay situated on the steep slopes of Takazakiyama. As shall be explained later on, when the Shimazu army invaded the Funai region, Ōtomo Yoshimune, seeing that Funai itself was indefensible, briefly retreated to the castle of Takazakiyama. This too came under threat, whereupon Yoshimune retreated to the castle of Chikuzen Ryūōjō (龍王城). If Takazakiyama castle was meant to be a defensive outpost for use in times of peril, it wasn`t well suited to this purpose and was quite unreliable. The question of Nishiyama castle thus tests the limits of the literary sources, and so we must wait until archelogogical studies reveal more as to its whereabouts.(124-125)

And so, were there any well-sited Ōtomo castles within the Funai region? This question is closely linked to the reason why Sōrin decided to build a castle at Usuki Nyūjima.(126)

During the Edo era, a person by the name of Hinako Tarō (日名子太郎) drew a map which outlined what Funai would have looked like during the Sengoku era (this document is part of the Japanese correspondence of the Jesuits, or イエズス会士日本通信). Funai was centered on the `residence of the Ōtomo`. On the eastern side lay Horiguchi machi (堀口町), Yokomachi (横町か), and Kamiichi machi (上市町). To the west lay Onishi machi (御西町), Nishi Oji machi (西小路町), Kami machi (上町), Naka machi (中町), and Shita machi (下町). In the south were the areas of Sakura machi (桜町), Yanagi machi (柳町), Sakana no Dana (魚の棚), Kobutsuza machi (小物座町), Nokogiri machi (ノコキリ町), Tera Kōji machi (寺小路町), and Kondō machi (今道町). To the north lay Okita machi (御北町), Karabito machi (唐人町), Inari machi (稲荷町), Furukawa machi (古川町), and Imazaike machi (今在家町). In all, there were 41 towns listed as making up the Funai region. However Hinako`s map referenced the `castle town` layout of Funai during the Edo period and did not cite any materials from the period of Ōtomo rule, hence the reliability of the map is questionable. It is very likely that Funai itself was not a conglomeration of so many towns.(126-127)  

This then brings us to matters concerning the population of Funai during the Sengoku era, of which there are numerous records. According to a piece of writing of Francisco Calien (dated for Tenshō 7, or 1579), there were 8,000 houses found within Funai. However this conflicts somewhat with the `Nippon Nenpō` (annual report on Japan, dated for the 9th year of Tenshō) and a record written by Alessandro Valignano titled `Nippon Junsatsu Ki` (日本巡察記, Record of Japanese Pilgrimages, dated for the 11th year of Tenshō). Both of these sources state that at the time, the population of Funai numbered 8,000 inhabitants. Furthermore, in a document written by Gaspar Vilera in the 2nd year of Genki (1571), he states that the number of Christian converts in Funai amounted to some 5,000 people. It is difficult to calculate what percentage of the population this was, yet considering that the population of Funai during the Edo period did not reach 10,000, the previous figure of 8,000 seems to be the most plausible number given.(127) At any rate, Luis Frois mentioned that Chinese traders and wealthy merchants could be found within the town (in the 4th year of Keichō). The Ōtomo Kōhai Ki also states that there was a `person of great wealth` (Daifukujin) by the name of Nakaya Muneyoshi (中屋宗悦) residing in the town. As for the retainers of the Ōtomo family, the `Nippon Nenpō` (or Yearly Record for Japan ) for 10th year of Tenshō (1582) mentions that `this town (Funai) is the centerpiece of Bungo, where the young lord (Yoshimune) and his retainers reside`. This shows us that by this stage the retainers of the Ōtomo had been concentrated within the town. While this indicates something about the authority of the Ōtomo family, it would be unwise to ascribe too much to this single piece of evidence.(128)

Entry into the priesthood and the construction of Usuki castle

In the 5th year of Eiroku (1562), Yoshishige entered the priesthood and took the name `Sōrin` (宗麟). Just before this, he commissioned the construction of Usuki castle which was to become his official residence. There are four competing theories about when Usuki castle was built. One states that it was the 5th year of Eiroku (1562), another the 6th year of Eiroku (1563), yet another the 7th year of Eiroku (1564), and finally another for the 9th year of Eiroku (1566). The Ryōhōki (両豊記) supports the last date (for the 9th year) when it reveals the following:
According to the above passage, construction on the castle began in the 7th year of Eiroku (1562) and was completed in the 9th year.  The 9th year also saw Yoshishige yield his position to his son, Yoshimune and take the tonsure, adopting the name `Sōrin`. However, the Ryōhōki used both the Ōtomo Ki and the Ōtomo Kōhai Ki as references and was not completed until the 6th year of Meiwa (1769). As such, its historical reliability is questionable, especially considering that it is clearly mistaken in ascribing Yoshishige`s retirement to the 9th year of Eiroku.(129)

So we have three questions - when was the castle of Usuki constructed, when did Sōrin take the tonsure, and when did Sōrin hand his position onto his son? As to the question of when Sōrin took the tonsure, the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku records the following on a page for the 5th year of Eiroku (1562):
The record for the following year (6th year of Eiroku, 1563) then states;
Whilst there is another theory ascribing the move to the 7th year of Eiroku, it appears that the decision to construct a castle at Usuki and the move from Funai took place in the 6th year of Eiroku. The Ōtomo Shi Keizu (owned by Jōrakuji temple) says that on the 1st day of the 5th month of the 5th year of Eiroku (1562), Yoshishige took the tonsure and changed his name to Sōrin. It mentions that in the 1st month of the following year (1563) a decision was made to move to Nyūjima castle at Usuki, and that the move was completed in the 6th month of the same year. The Chinzai Yōryaku (鎮西要略) states that the Ōtomo moved to Nyūjima in the 12th month of Eiroku 6, and that Sōrin had taken the tonsure slightly before this. Both the Bungo Kokushi (豊後国志) and the Ōtomo Kōhai Ki mention that Usuki castle was built in Eiroku 6. (130)

On the other hand, the Shiryō Sōran (史料綜覧) says that the move to Usuki castle took place on the 1st day of the 5th month of Eiroku 5, and that Sōrin took the tonsure on the same day. Both Professors Takita Manabu (増訂編年大友史料、別巻上、六一ページ) and Watanabe Sumio (大分県の歴史、一一六ページ) support this theory, as does Murakami Naojirō (村上直次郎) (耶蘇(やす)会日本通信豊後篇、下、二〇ページ). Recently, Akutagawa Tatsuo (芥川龍男) has put forward a hypothesis which says that Sōrin took the tonsure in the 5th year of Eiroku, and then moved to Nyūjima castle in the following year (豊後大友氏, 一八五ページ).(130)

Thus there are a number of different hypotheses concerning the construction date of Usuki castle and the timing of Sōrin`s taking the tonsure. Some believe that both events took place concurrently, while others believe that the decision to take the tonsure was made first, followed by the move to the castle. At present, there are no direct historical records in existence that clearly state when the decision to build the castle was taken. All we do know is that Sōrin definitely took the tonsure in the 5th year of Eiroku. The predominant view is that Yoshishige changed his name to Sōrin on the 1st day of the 5th month of Eiroku 5. However a document (the Yokodate Komonjo) dated for the 13th day of the 6th month of Eiroku 5 makes mention of the shugo of Chikuzen, Yoshishige, and says that the lands of Sūfukuji (崇福寺)and its affiliated temples were not to be absorbed by the shugo, that the scripture tower of Sūfukuji was to be rebuilt, and that the shugo was to hasten in order to make the temple inhabitable.(130-131)

The first piece of evidence that uses the title Sōrin is a `letter of thanks` issued by `Sōrin` to the (Hayami gun) Yamaga gō Tōsai Ikki Chū and dated for the 16th day of the 5th month of Eiroku 6. Therefore we can presume that Yoshishige began to be known by the name Sōrin after the 13th day of the 6th month of Eiroku 5 and before the 16th day of the 5th month of Eiroku 6. A document written by Betsugi Dōsetsu (part of the Gojō Monjo) further clarifies this point (132)

七月七日                     道雪(花押)
(鑑量 あきかず)
五条殿御宿所 (原漢文)(132)

According to the above document, sent from important Ōtomo retainer Betsugi Dōsetsu to Gojō Akikazu, Dōsetsu had taken the tonsure in imitation of his lord. This act of loyalty had so impressed Sōrin that he granted Dōsetsu an uchikake (a form of garment worn by the imperial court). The date given for the issue of the document is the 7th day of the 7th month (presumably of Eiroku 5). Yoshishige had only just taken the tonsure, which means he must have performed the ceremony some time around the end of the 6th month of the same year. As for why Sōrin had decided to enter the priesthood, we have already seen in a Jesuit missive dated for the 11th year of Tenshō that Sōrin was of a sickly constitution. For many months (during the Eiroku period) he had issued no orders nor letters, a situation that was most unusual. It therefore seems reasonable to suggest that at the time Sōrin was afflicted by a serious illness, and that this may have been the reason for his decision to shave his head and adopt a priestly name. This supposition is supported by a comment in the Ōtomo Ki which states…
It seems that a number of Sōrin`s retainers followed him into the priesthood, for in addition to Dōsetsu, Gojō Akikazu and Yoshioka Nagamasu (吉岡長増, thereafter known as Shūkan or 宗歓) plus many others all adopted priestly names (外山 大友義鎮の入道と府内・臼杵 九州大学九州文化史研究所紀要 二〇) (133)

What about the time frame for the building of Nyūjima castle? Padre Gaspar Vilera, writing just before the Eiroku era in Kōji 3 (1557), mentioned a revolt carried out in the 5th month of the previous year by Saiki Korenori (惟教) and Ohara Akimoto, in which he says that…
He further went on to state:
In a letter attributed to Belchior Nũnez dated for the 3rd year of Kōji, it says
According to this evidence, Vilera was located 5 leagues from Funai, while Nũnez was seven leagues. What both of these accounts appear to be referring to is Usuki Nyūjima. In the two records for the 2nd year of Kōji, they mention a `mountain` and `an island like a castle`, while the account for the 3rd year again mentions a `castle`. What this all means is that there was a castle in existence at Nyūjima around the 2nd year of Kōji, and that it was used as a place of refuge by Yoshishige.(134)

A further piece of evidence is provided by the Eikō Monjo (永弘文書), which states


This evidence reveals that on the 21st day of the 5th month of Kōji 3 (1557), Nyūjima castle was destroyed by fire. In the Sada Monjo (佐田文書) dated for the 25th day of the 5th month of Kōji 3, it mentions a Hōsho (official order) issued on behalf of the Ōtomo Kahanshū, on the occasion of `a fire throughout the lord`s quarters`. Just five days after the fire, orders were being given to begin reconstruction. What this suggests is that Nyūjima was not simply a `mountain`, but a building of some magnitude.(135)

Is it possible to suppose, then, that those records written during the Edo period regarding the construction carried out in the Eiroku years were in fact referring to the re-construction of Nyūjima? At a time when retainers were revolting, and the threat of war with the Mōri was an ever-present concern, a place of refuge such as Nyūjima would have been of vital importance. However in the predominant records of the Ōtomo family (written, as stated above, during the Edo period), the earliest year given for the construction of Nyūjima castle is Eiroku 5 (1562) while the latest is Eiroku 9 (1566). If Nyūjima had been burnt down in Kōji 3 (1557), this means that the site underwent repairs from anywhere between five to nine years (depending on which source one believes). Considering the situation faced by the Ōtomo at the time, and if re-construction began immediately after the fire, it seems to have taken an inordinately long time until repairs were finally completed.(135)

Sōrin came to reside in Nyūjima after the repairs had finished. Hence if we allow for the timeframe in which Sōrin is said to have started living at Nyūjima, the repairs to the castle must have finished before that date. Let us now take a look at those historical resources related to Sōrin`s residency at Nyūjima. The first comes from a letter written by Cosmo de Torres on the 29th day of the 8th month of Eiroku 4 (1561), which says…

我等の国王(義鎮)ここに居り、北緯三十三度半、この島の北方の少しく東に寄りたる所に在り。(It is here that the King of this land (Yoshishige) resides, on a northern latitude of 33.5 degrees, in a place a little to the east of the northern part of this island).

For Murakami Naojirō, who ascribes to the theory that Sōrin moved to Usuki in Eiroku 5, he believes that the building found at Usuki was in fact `Funai`. Despite the fact that the site of Usuki was not exactly `on a northern latitude of 33.5 degrees`, it was on an `island`, and therefore Torres must have been talking about Nyūjima. By the eighth month of Eiroku 4, Yoshishige must have been in residence at Nyūjima, and repairs to the castle must have finished before then. As such, Yoshishige`s entry into the priesthood and his move to Usuki Nyūjima are separate issues unrelated to one another. Those records dating from the Edo period that combine the two events, and other such explanations, can therefore be ignored.(136)

The Jesuit Alessandro Valignano, in his `Record of Japanese Pilgrimages` (日本巡察記) stated that in reference to the repaired Nyūjima castle, it was:

豊後国中で最も堅固 (the most robust of all the castles in Bungo province)

In the yearly records of the Jesuit society for Tenshō 10 (天正十年年報), Nyūjima was described in the following manner:

臼杵の城は三方は海に囲まれ、天然と人工によって甚だ堅固なる位置にあり、攻め難き所である (136) (The castle at Usuki is surrounded on three sides by the sea. The forces of man and nature have fortified it well, and thus it is difficult to assault).

Again, in a letter addressed to the head signor of the Society of Jesus concerning matters in Japan and China (in the seventeenth and eighteenth years of Tenshō), Nyūjima was described as thus:
What this reveals is that Nyūjima was a well-designed castle, very different to the defensively weak castle at Funai. Further proof of this statement lies in the fact that in later years, during the invasion of Bungo by armies of the Shimazu, the Shimazu had a particularly hard time in their assault on Nyūjima. The above record went on to state that in one corner of the castle, there was a 「日本の聖堂中最も多くの経費を要した立派なノビシァド(修練院)and that overall the castle was 「非常に豪華で贅沢を極めた(建造物)(天正十七・十八年に関する日本及び中国についてのイエズス会総長宛某書簡) (136-137)

The yearly record of the Jesuit society for Tenshō 9 also had the following to say about Nyūjima castle:
Apparently Sōrin`s son Yoshimune accompanied him to Nyūjima upon completion of repairs to the castle. Yoshimune would later take up residence in Funai whilst Yoshishige remained at Usuki. The record of events given in the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku and other such sources are therefore mistaken, for Yoshishige was accompanied by his son upon his move to Usuki. What the record also reveals is that Usuki had both an administrative and military function, and that the main focus of Ōtomo rule had shifted from Funai to Usuki. However, after Yoshimune`s succession to the head of the Ōtomo household (in the 4th year of Tenshō), the centre of Ōtomo government would shift back to Funai following Yoshimune`s return to the former seat of Ōtomo authority in the 6th year of Tenshō (a fact that is shown in the above record, which states that three years have passed since Yoshimune returned to Funai).(138)  

On the other hand, after Sōrin had relinquished his position as head of the household, in the 10th year of Tenshō (1582) he decided to move to a spot near Tsukumi (apparently it would be `a place in which to spend his old age`). His son Yoshimune then moved to Usuki, establishing his seat of government there. According to the yearly record for Tenshō 12 (天正十二年年報) it said:
Luis Frois also mentions visiting Yoshimune and his mother at Usuki in Tenshō 14 (1586). Hence we can infer from this evidence that Yoshimune had moved to Usuki by the 12th year of Tenshō (at the very latest). (138)

However Yoshimune did not completely abandon Funai. In the annual record for Tenshō 13 it says:


Hence although Usuki remained the central part of Yoshimune`s government, he occasionally resided at Funai and there discussed matters of state with his father, `members of government` (shissei, 執政, which may have referred to toshiyori councillors) and members of the `Kunishu` (国守, which probably referred to the Kunishū, or 国衆). We have seen how the motivation for the construction of Nyūjima castle during the Kōji years stemmed from a desire to have a place of sanctuary should a retainer (or retainers) of the Ōtomo choose to rebel. Or else, as mentioned in the letter sent to the head signor of the Society of Jesus, Nyūjima castle was built separate from the surrounding town, thus revealing that the town of Usuki was not centered on the castle. In all likelihood, the retainers of the Ōtomo probably lived around Funai and various designated sites, while the main branch of the Ōtomo family resided solely at Usuki. What all this suggests is that important matters of state - judicial, administrative, and military - were conducted as before at Funai.(138-139)

When the Shimazu invaded Bungo in the 15th year of Tenshō (1587), Sōrin fled to Nyūjima from his residence at Tsukumi, yet he received very little by way of protection from his retainers. At the time, there were no soldiers on guard at Nyūjima castle, and most of the evacuees in the castle were Christian women and children. Sōrin did not take command of any troops in Usuki while holed up in the castle, instead devoting his time to saving commoners (couples, young children etc). Fortunately the castle did not fall (as outlined in the yearly record for Tenshō 15). Nyūjima was not `strongly fortified` as a result of defence by retainers, but was a fortress whose natural defences had been enhanced by the skilled work of craftsmen (as indicated in the yearly record for Tenshō 13).(140)

As for the reason why no retainers accompanied Sōrin to Nyūjima, this may have been because Nyūjima functioned as a `retirement` abode, or so the Hōchiku Ranki (豊筑乱記) would have us believe when it states:
This entry led to the emergence of a theory which stated that upon receiving the tonsure, Sōrin went into retirement and moved to Usuki Nyūjima. This presents a dichotomy. On the one hand, Sōrin is credited with taking a proactive role in moving from Funai to Usuki, while on the other hand he appears to have only sought to withdraw to Tsukumi (and then move to Usuki). The former theory advocates a strong strategic move by Sōrin, while the latter suggests a more peaceful (or passive) motive behind his relocation.(140)

Nevertheless, many retainers of the Ōtomo remained in Funai or were positioned in other administrative centres. Only the Ōtomo family itself appears to have moved backwards and forwards between Usuki and Funai, a process that was made inevitable by the fact that Funai (seemingly) lacked suitable terrain on which to build a strong castle. The original decision to build a residence at Funai had been made in the early Kamakura era, an act which combined the authority of the Ōtomo family with the seat of the office of the shugo (守護所) under the extant legal system. This arrangement had proven useful for a while, yet it was antiquated by the Sengoku era. As such, despite there being a pressing need for a new residence replete with adequate defences, no such ground could be found at Funai. Hence after much anguish and debate, a decision was made to use available land at Usuki, an unfortunate consequence of which was the periodic movement that the Ōtomo were forced to make between Funai and Usuki. One cannot imagine just how negative an effect all of this movement had upon the rule exercised by the Ōtomo. Furthermore, when Yoshimune later received orders from Toyotomi Hideyoshi to depart for the Chōsen peninsula, Yoshimune`s son Yoshinori (義乗) was obliged to remain at Iejima (家島, also known as Tsuruzaki, 鶴崎). In the 2nd month of the 20th year of Tenshō (1592), Tsuruzaki became a new castle town, with retainers forced to reside within its confines.(140-141)

After taking this latter development into account, one cannot help feeling that the movement between Funai and Usuki was a result of an arbitrary decision. Moreover, as it appears that there was adequate territory within the Funai region for the construction of a castle, one is forced to conclude that, when it came to matters of state, Sōrin was far too whimsical. Further proof of this is demonstrated by the fact that Sōrin, in the course of his life, would have more than 10 personal seals and any number of other official stamps. When one considers the extraordinary circumstances that led the Ōtomo to journey back and forth between Funai and Usuki, one really must question whether Sōrin and Yoshimune exercised sound judgement as rulers.(141)

There is one more thing that remains to be said about the question of the move to Usuki castle, the taking of the tonsure, and the period in which Sōrin gave up his rulership, particularly in regard to the many competing theories around the latter event. Firstly, both the Ryōhō Ki and the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku (hereafter referred to by the designation `A`) state that Sōrin relinquished his role on the 11th day of the 1st month of Tenshō 7 (1579), with the Ryōhō Ki insisting that this decision was taken in the wake of defeat suffered in the province of Hyuga. Professor Takita Manabu ascribes to this view in his work titled Zohei Hennen Ōtomo Shiryō (増訂編年大友史料、二三、一四二). However, the Ryōhō Ki also says that Sōrin retired in the spring of Eiroku 9 (1566) (hereafter referred to by the designation `B`). The Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku again gives a different date for Sorin`s departure, saying that it took place in the winter of Tenshō 6 (1578) (hereafter referred to by the designation `C`). The fact that these sources have different interpretations of events suggests that they were compiled by different authors. Furthermore, the Shiryō Sōran (史料綜覧) tells us that Sōrin relinquished his position on the 28th day of the 12th month of the 1st year of Tenshō (1573), a theory which Professor Watanabe Sumio believes to be true (see 大分県の歴史、一二九ページ).(142)

These, then, constitute the four pieces of evidence regarding Sōrin`s retirement. The earliest, `B`, gives the year of retirement as Eiroku 9. If so, Yoshimune would have only been 9 years old and conflict with the Mōri would have been at its height, hence it is unlikely that Sōrin would have chosen such a time to give up his position. The date given in the Shiryō Sōran appears to have been based on a letter written by Sōrin to Yokodake Yajurō on the 28th day of the 12th month of an unknown year. Rather than choosing the occasion to announce his decision to retire in favour of Yoshimune, the letter merely details the dispatch of some celebratory gifts from the Ōtomo to the Yokodake, and thus is little more than a record of this event. This leaves us with theories `A` and `C`. Before exploring these accounts, the author would like to turn to a record of Francisco Cabral dated for the 17th day of the 8th month of Tenshō 4 (1576) the content of which is as below;


What this reveals is that by this time, Yoshimune was already installed as head of the Ōtomo family. In another record written by Luis Frois and dated for the 16th day of the 9th month of Tenshō 6, it states;
This record, together with that of Cabral, both agree that the time of the handover was Tenshō 4. The `Gojō Monjo` also records the following;

二月十八日                      宗麟(朱印)(143)
五条殿                        `(原漢文)

This record has linked to celebrations on the occasion of Yoshimune`s accession to head of the Ōtomo household. As such, out of the four theories regarding the period of time in which Sōrin retired in favour of Yoshimune, it appears that the most plausible theory involves a period of time from between the first month of Tenshō 4 to the 18th day of the 2nd month of the same year. (144)

Therefore the responsibility for the devasting loss suffered by the Ōtomo (which would spell its downfall) at the battle of Mimigawa in the 11th month of Tenshō 6 lay with Yoshimune and not with Sōrin. What is more, in Tenshō 7 both Yoshimune and senior retainers of the Ōtomo clan made an impassioned plea with Sōrin to return to government in order to halt the disintegration of Ōtomo authority over its territories, which was grudgingly accepted (according to Francisco Galien, in a letter dated to the 22nd day of the 11 month of Tenshō 7).(144)

As to the reasons why the period of succession in the Ōtomo household remains so unclear, the foremost reason lies with the fact that the Muromachi Bakufu had lost all authority, hence there were no formal measures in place to acknowledge accessions by members of regional households to the position of shugo. The second reason involves Sōrin, who, well aware of his son`s administrative deficiencies, may have feared the news of his retirement spreading to other provinces. It may be that Sōrin held power in his hands while Yoshimune observed as a kind of `understudy`, or else Sōrin acted as an advisor to Yoshimune. The fact that many historical documents from this era are signed in either Sōrin`s or Yoshimune`s name prevents us from clearly understanding what the state of rule was at the time. As such, it should come as no surprise that the Edo period saw a number of different theories (on succession) rise to the fore.(144-145) 

As a link to the two to three pieces of information already given, after Sōrin relinquished the position of shugo to Yoshimune, he had his second son, Chikaie (親家) take the tonsure and then experimented by attempting to place him in the temple of Jurinji (寿林寺) located in Usuki. When Chikaie resisted this move, Sōrin had him convert to Christianity, and then installed him in Usuki to act as a permanent guard against any plots aimed at Yoshimune. One can say that it was only natural that Sōrin would implement such a measure, particularly since he had undergone the bitter experience of the `Rebellion of the Second Floor`.(145)

And so, as to the population of the various towns that made up Usuki, things are not as clear as they are for Funai. However, the Tenshō Jūroku Nen Sangūchō (天正十六年参宮帳) (後藤家旧蔵文書) records the name and abode of people who made a pilgrimage to Ise Shrine between the 16th and 19th years of the Tenshō era. It reveals the following with regard to the names of some of Usuki`s towns and its inhabitants;
しばお          臼杵右京進  ひら(平)川孫三郎
よこはま    宗理右衛門 臼杵右京丞 塩月主計頭 佐藤善五郎 清松勘助(以下略)
かいそい町   川村三郎 石井弥七郎 矢野新二郎 岩崎又二郎 孫左衛門(以下略)(145)
唐人町  吉衛門尉 善左衛門尉 新左衛門尉 又右衛門尉 林唐山 計屋与三左衛門 くそく(具足)屋善左衛門 二奇(じこう)(以下略)
よこ(横)町   竹内雅楽助 かけや(掛屋)林清左衛門 かけや(掛屋)金山左京助(以下略)
市   彦左衛門尉 甚五郎 高崎甚助(以下略)
はま(浜)の町  彦四郎 源三郎
かゝみ村  染屋弥四郎
ほそ村   姫野大覚
未詳    一尺屋丸尾左馬助 一尺屋井深与一 寺島大学助(以下略)(146)

According to this source, Usuki consisted of the Shibao, Hosomura, and Kagamimura areas (which made up the Usuki shōen estate), and was divided up into the towns of Yokohama, Kaisoi, Tōjin, Yoko, Ichi, Hama, and Gionsu. Amidst these different towns, the `Tōjin` section was a specially designated area for Chinese workers. When one considers the nature of the `Sangūchō` (with its emphasis on pilgrimages to Ise Shrine) there is slim chance that Chinese names were included in the record. Nonetheless, the appearance of names such as Rintōzan (林唐山) and Jikō (二奇) do suggest Chinese origins, and may indeed have been Chinese. While the towns named above are by no means a comprehensive list of all the towns included in Usuki, it does seem that there were no specially designated areas in the castle town set aside for warrior households. As we saw earlier, apart from Funai, the Ōtomo did not possess the means to force retainers to live in close proximity to them, and thus their retainers did not move from their respective estates. When we look at the inhabitants of the towns, there were certainly warriors and priests, yet there were also many people of lower social status who did not possess a surname. Furthermore, the prevalence of names including such trades as `clothesmaker`, `metallurgist`, `brewer`, `dyer`, and `goods maker` shows us that there were tradesmen and other merchants present in the towns.(146-147)

This then brings us to the end of our discussion on the town of Usuki. As the previous pages have shown, we have focused on the debate surrounding Sōrin`s move to Nyūjima castle and his entry into the priesthood, as well as his decision to retire from his position as head of the Ōtomo clan.(147)

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© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in February 2012