Table of Contents

Chapter Twenty Two The arrival of Hideyoshi and the death of Sōrin



Chapter Twenty Two The arrival of Hideyoshi and the death of Sōrin

Hideyoshi, in the wake of his decision to send Sengoku Hidehisa, Kodera Kanbe`ei, and various underlings in the Shikoku and Chūgoku armies to Bungo and Buzen, announced on the 1st day of the 12th month of Tenshō 14 (1586) that he would lead an army of 250,000 troops from a variety of provinces to subjugate Kyushu, and ordered preparations to that end to begin in earnest. On the 1st day of the 1st month of the following year (Tenshō 15, 1587) the expected departure dates for various forces were finalized. On the 10th day of the 2nd month, Hideyoshi`s younger brother Hidenaga left Yamato gun (大和郡山), and arrived on the shores of Bungo during the 3rd month.(278) Meanwhile Hideyoshi himself left Osaka castle on schedule at the head of his forces on the 1st day of the 3rd month. He travelled to a number of places accompanied by a large number of his retainers, enjoying the local delights on offer. On the 28th day of the 3rd month, Hideyoshi finally arrived at Buzen Kokura, and took his first step onto the soil of Kyushu.(278)   

Hidenaga, who arrived earlier with the vanguard consisting of armies led by Mōri Terumoto and Ukita Hideie, at once set about pursuing the Shimazu, eventually catching up with them at Takajō in Hyuga where they inflicted a punishing defeat on the Shimazu. In a single battle, the Shimazu learned just how powerful the armies of Hideyoshi actually were. On the 18th day of the 4th month, Shimazu Yoshihisa and Yoshihiro retreated to Tonokoori (都於郡) in Hyuga, while Iehisa retreated to Sadowara (佐土原).  Upon arriving at Kokura, Hideyoshi entered the territory of Buzen Umadake castle. With 50,000 troops under his command, he then advanced on Azuki Tanemitsu of Chikuzen, forcing him to surrender. Yūshin of Hikosan mountain also surrendered, however Hideyoshi did not forgive this intransigent monk. From the very outset of the campaign in Kyushu, neither Chikuzen nor Chikugo produced a single regional landlord capable of resisting Hideyoshi.(279)

After departing Chikugo, on the 12th day of the 4th month Hideyoshi arrived in Higo Nankan. From there, he advanced on Taiheiji (太平寺) at Sendai (川内) in Satsuma province, where he took up lodgings in the temple of Taiheiji, making it his main camp. Shimazu Yoshihisa, fearing an onslaught by Hideyoshi`s forces, decided to show his humility by shaving his head and taking the priestly name of Ryūhaku (龍伯). He then visited Hideyoshi at Taiheiji and surrendered to him. Conversely, Yoshihiro, Iehisa, and seven other retainers of the Shimazu also surrendered to Hideyoshi, offering themselves up as hostages. Not only did Hideyoshi accept their surrender, he allowed them to keep their territories in Satsuma, Osumi, and Hyuga provinces, an act of benevelance that finally brought peace to Kyushu.(279)

For the Ōtomo, the reinforcements supplied by Hideyoshi had given them a new lease of life. Many of the regional landlords who had turned against the Ōtomo made an ubrupt about-face upon learning of the arrival of Hidenaga`s army, and re-affirmed their vows of fealty to the Ōtomo. However Yoshimune was in no mood for forgiveness, and set about punishing his traitorous retainers. The son of the Christian landlord and one time toshiyori member of the Ōtomo household, Kutami Sōreki, and a number of other underlings were sentenced to death. Nyūta Sōwa and other prominent retainers, knowing that they would receive no mercy from Yoshimune, fled to the Shimazu in Satsuma. Yoshimune`s brother-in-law (or possibly younger brother-in-law) Kiyota Shigetada escaped with his life, but all of his lands were seized. This in itself was an interesting development vis-à-vis Ōtomo fortunes. Although Bungo had been ruined by invasion, the large amount of territory that Yoshimune seized from traitorous retainers became the basis of a revision of territorial rights, with many lands placed under the direct rule of the Ōtomo family. Rather ironically then, the invasion of Bungo actually ended up increasing the economic and legal powers of the Ōtomo.(279)

Having escaped a complete breakdown in regional control, and with the situation within the province now stabilized beyond what Yoshimune had originally imagined possible, Kodera Kanbe`ei used the occasion to proselytize as vociferously as he could to Yoshimune. The missionaries that had lived in Bungo had all but given up hope of Yoshimune receiving the sacrament. However gradually Yoshimune`s attitude towards Christianity began to soften. Spurred on by Kodera`s sermons, Yoshimune sent a letter to the missionary Pedro Gomez in Yamaguchi, asking that he visit Bungo together with his acolyte João de Torres. From these two priests, Yoshimune received lectures on Christianity and its precepts, about which he had all but forgotten. Eventually, in lieu of the persuasive lessons delivered by Gomez, Yoshimune agreed to undergo baptism together with his entire family at Buzen Myōken castle, the same castle owned by Tahara Chikakata. Yoshimune took the name Constantino, while his wife (Justa), son and heir Yoshinori (Fulcencio), and two daughters (Massima and Sabina) all received baptismal names together with the sacrement. A number of retainers also underwent baptism at this time. The date was the 20th day of the 3rd month of Tenshō 15 (1587).(280)

Yoshimune`s decision to undergo baptism certainly stemmed from the persuasive efforts of Kodera Kanbe`ei. Yet there may have been other factors at work. For example, the final barrier to Yoshimune`s acceptance of Christianity had been removed following the death of his mother, Sōrin`s former wife, at Usuki prior to the baptismal ceremony. In addition, those senior retainers who in the past had held Yoshimune`s intentions in check had, as a result of the Shimazu`s invasion of Bungo, shown their hand by revolting for which they had been duly punished. There were no other forces at work within the province that could oppose Yoshimune`s will, which left him free to do as he wished. This was probably the most convincing of the arguments in favour of converting to Christianity.(280)

Upon hearing that his son had converted to Christianity, Sōrin was overjoyed, and gave thanks to God for such an event. Many retainers of the Ōtomo, upon being informed of the conversion of their lord, made a decision to adopt Christianity then and there. Among them was the important retainer Shiga Dōki, the same retainer who previously had scolded his grandson Chikayoshi for his affinity with Christianity. However Tahara Chikakata did not waver in his faith, and remained steadfastly Buddhist.(281)

Meanwhile, having subjugated the Shimazu, on the 13th day of the 5th month Hideyoshi affixed his seal to an edict containing fourteen articles related to the administration of Kyushu, which he then showed to Hidenaga. Among those articles dealing directly with the Ōtomo, the first confirmed Yoshimune as ruler over Bungo province. The next declared that all castles belonging to those retainers who had revolted against the Ōtomo during the invasion by the Shimazu were to be destroyed. However Yoshimune was allowed to bestow on his retainers any castle he deemed necessary in order to maintain stability. Shiga Chikayoshi and Saiki Koretada, two retainers who, in the midst of the treason committed by so many other retainers, had never waivered in their loyalty to the Ōtomo were granted a castle each within Hyuga province, while Sōrin himself was granted Hyuga province as a form of revenue for his retirement. Sōrin was also given free reign to choose a castle of his liking. However Sōrin refused the offer, and did not adopt Hyuga as one of the Ōtomo`s territories. It seems that Sōrin, the same person who had once harboured dreams of building a unique city within Hyuga, had completely given up hope of ever realizing such ambitions.(281)

As has been mentioned many times in this study, Sōrin did not possess a healthy constitution. He had been blessed by good fortune and took advantage of it when it appeared, developing his rule through diplomacy and political manuvering. Yet forging a path on the battlefield was not his forte. The disorder that wracked the Ōtomo territories in the wake of defeat in Hyuga, combined with domestic arguments with his wife and Yoshimune over questions of Christianity, had taken a heavy toll on Sōrin`s mind and body. He lost all interest in wanting to continue to rule, and so retired to Tsukumi where he devoted himself to his Christian beliefs. It was clear that his time was coming to an end. In the Nippon Nenpō (yearly record for Japan) entry written by the missionary Laguna for Tenshō 15 (1587), the following picture described Sōrin in his final days…

`King Francisco, our dearly beloved friend, suffered greatly, particularly from the disorder that had befallen Bungo which kept him confined to his castle at Usuki. There he felt that he had grown weak with fatigue, and so decided that he would travel to Tsukumi in order to live out his life in peace. However as Bungo was gripped by turmoil, he was not able to immediately depart. A few days before he was to leave, he came down with a fever, which steadily grew worse following his arrival at Tsukumi. Three days later he was dead (abridged). It is said that while he was ill he did not speak of his family or of his lands, but thought only of God and his soul. He asked for forgiveness for his soul, and to that end put all of his strength into prayer. Just before he died, he humbly gave thanks for his son`s conversion to Christianity, which was just as he had so fervently wished. And so he died in a manner befitting the saints (hereafter abridged)`.(282-283)

It appears that before Sōrin passed away he cast aside any concerns about power or authority and dedicated himself solely to his Christian beliefs. And so his life came to an end at Tsukumi aged 58. The missionaries` yearly record notes Sōrin`s death as having occurred on the 11th day of the 6th month of 1587, or the 6th day of the 5th month of Tenshō 15 by Japanese reckoning, two days before Shimazu Yoshihisa surrendered to Hideyoshi. However the Hōfu Kikigaki (豊府聞書) disputes both the place and date of Sōrin`s death when it states…

`On the 23rd day of the 5th month of Tenshō 15, Sōrin died at the castle of Nyūjima in Usuki`.(283)

This is just the first of a number of sources on the Japanese side, the `Ōtomo Shi Keizu` among them, which claim that Sōrin`s death occurred on the 23rd day of the 5th month. As we saw earlier, on the 13th day of the 5th month Hideyoshi issued his edict granting Hyuga as a form of reparation to Sōrin. Yet the Nippon Nenpō itself says that Sōrin refused the offer. Sōrin must have died after the 13th, therefore the 23rd day of the 5th month is the correct date. Or so one would think. However the missionary record is undoubtedly reliable, seeing as it was written by an eyewitness at the same venue Sōrin`s funeral took place. It is possible that just before the edict was issued Hideyoshi made known his intention to grant Hyuga to Sōrin, which Sōrin refused (a point which has been regarded as having nothing to do with Hideyoshi`s edict). Sōrin subsequently died, a fact that was kept hidden from outsiders by those closest to Sōrin. Hence the author is of the opinion that the thesis stating that Sōrin died at Tsukumi on the 6th day, 5th month is indeed the correct one.(284)

Before this event took place, on the 17th day of the 4th month of Tenshō 15, Ōmura Sumitada, the daimyō of Buzen and Japan`s first Christian daimyō, died in his residence. On the 19th day of the 6th month, one month after Sōrin passed away, Hideyoshi, fresh from bringing stability to the political situation in Kyushu, suddenly pronounced his famous edict while camped at Hakata expelling all missionaries from Japan. As Sugiyama Hiroshi has suggested, Sōrin may have been fortunate to have passed away when he did, ignorant of the emergence of a trend towards the suppression of Christianity by the ruling power of the land.(284)

Sōrin`s funeral was conducted in accordance with his wishes, that is according to Christian and not Buddhist tradition. At the time Yoshimune was in camp and unable to attend (even temporarily), while for their part the missionaries were either in Yamaguchi or had sought refuge elsewhere, and so it proved quite difficult to gather them together for the funeral. Padre Laguna continues his narrative…

`Three priests (the missionaries Laguna, Rebelo, and Francisco), together with acolytes (João and so forth) assembled as instructed, and performed a moving ceremony. The lack of priests and acolytes was more than compensated by the great number of people who attended the funeral. At the time the heir (Yoshimune) was away embroiled in matters of war and so could not attend. However many lords and those of high rank throughout the land came to pay their respects. Those lords that comprised the burial party carried an opulently decorated coffin on their shoulders, while many flags adorned with the symbol of the cross were raised nearby. Behind the burial party stood Julia and her daughter, followed by many others. The coffin was magnificent and lay on a number of pedestals, around which stood a great many candles decorated with gold (abridged). The burial site befitted a king. And so (Francisco) was buried, amidst the tears and lamentations of the congregation`.(285-286)

It is clear from this description that Sōrin was buried in accordance with Christian rites. However, four months after Sōrin passed away, in the 9th month of the same year, Iun Sōetsu, the Zen priest in residence at Usuki Jurinji, bestowed upon Sōrin the posthumous name of Zuihōin Dono Zuihōin Sōrin Dai Kyoshi when completing his portrait of Sōrin. Regardless of how Sōrin would have responded to such an acolade, as far as Iun was concerned there was honour, if not necessity, in having a posthumous Buddhist name. Furthermore, Sōrin`s grave was probably the first to be dedicated to a Christian, yet it too would be altered according to Buddhist traditions. Sōrin now rests in peace at Tsukumi, the scene of his final days.(286)  

The Ōtomo family after Sōrin`s death

Expedition to the Chōsen peninsula and the removal of the Ōtomo family from power

As we have seen from the previous chapters, from Autumn of Tenshō 14 (1586) through to Spring of the following year, the territory of Bungo, the last remaining province under Ōtomo authority, had been violated by the Shimazu leading to a temporary collapse in Ōtomo rule. However with the support of Hideyoshi, the Ōtomo had begun the painful process of rebuilding their strength, a process that was almost complete by the time Sōrin passed away. However, in a twist of irony, six years later, in the 2nd year of Bunroku (1593) Hideyoshi, the same person who had extended his hand to help the Ōtomo, would confiscate the Ōtomo lands and banish the Ōtomo from power. We will now concern ourselves with the role that the reformed Ōtomo family played in the invasion of the Chōsen peninsula, as well as examining those developments that occurred within Yoshimune`s army in the interim.(287)

Hideyoshi`s invasion of the Chōsen peninsula, or at least the planning behind it, appears to have first begun in Tenshō 15 (1587) in the aftermath of victory over the Shimazu. Having vanquished his foes within Japan, Hideyoshi turned his attention towards east Asia, and dreamt of forming an empire that would span the Asian region. In order to make this audacious plan a reality, his forces would have to subdue and hold onto territory that belonged to China, the so-called `karairi` (唐入り, or `invasion of China`) strategy. As a first step towards achieving this ambition, Hideyoshi knew that he had to invade and conquer Chōsen (Korea) in order to provide a route along which he would then be able to advance into China.(288)

Steadily Hideyoshi`s plan began to take effect. In the 19th year of Tenshō (1591), castles were built at Nagoya, Iki, and Tsushima. In the 1st month of the following year (Tenshō 20), orders were issued to all daimyō houses instructing them to assemble their armies and prepare to embark for the Chōsen peninsula. For seven long years Hideyoshi`s forces would wage war on the peninsula, with fighting eventually petering out in Keichō 3 (1598). The conflict itself, which was marked by ceasefire agreements and resolutions that temporarily stopped hostilities, has been divided up according to the Bunroku years and the later Keichō years. The author intends to provide only the minimum of detail necessary to grasp the role played by Yoshimune and important aspects of his service during the Bunroku years.(288)

In terms of military duties, Yoshimune (among others) provided funds for the construction of Nagoya castle. As for the requisition of troops, both the Hoan Taikōki (甫庵太閤記) and the Chōsenjin Gunyaku no Sadame (朝鮮陣軍役之定) reveal that each daimyō within Shikoku and Kyushu was instructed to provide 10,000 koku of rice for every 600 soldiers, while the rate for Chūgoku and Kii peninsula daimyō stood at 500 soldiers, 400 for the daimyō of the five provinces of the Kinai region, and only 200 for daimyō from Echigo and Dewa. This system divided the country into seven blocks, with those daimyō from Kyushu bearing the heaviest burden on account of their proximity to the Chōsen peninsula. The historical record of the Mōri Ke Monjo (毛利家文書) almost entirely agrees with the above sources when it says that…”A large number of people have travelled over to Korei”, thereby confirmining the accuracy of these sources. The Chōsenjin Gunyaku no Sadame tells us that the entire force was divided up into nine separate divisions arranged from first to ninth, which would make a total of 158,700 troops. For his part, Ōtomo Yoshimune provided 6,000 troops, while Kuroda Nagamasa, the lord of Buzen Nakatsu castle and son of Kodera Kanbe`ei, provided 5,000 troops, bringing their combined forces to a total of 11,000 troops. This formed the third division of the expeditionary force. Nagamasa was placed in charge of the division, with Yoshimune acting as his deputy.(288-289)

The Bungo Koku Kenchi Mokuroku (豊後国検地目録), a cadastral survey of those lands within Bungo province, records that in the 8th month of Tenshō 19 (1591), just before his division was set to embark for the Chōsen peninsula, Yoshimune`s total land revenue came to 236,020 koku (42 million, 575 thousand, 647.8 litres of rice), 2 tō (36.078 litres), and 2 shō (3.6078 litres). If each daimyō within Kyushu was expected to provide 10,000 koku per 600 soldiers, then Yoshimune should have been able to assemble 14,161 troops himself. While it is true that many other daimyō fielded far fewer troops than they were capable of producing for the invasion, the fact that Yoshimune only provided 6,000 troops is particularly revealing.(289)

Despite the fact that an invasion of a foreign country was about to get underway, the number of troops calculated to be sent to the continent came out at just under 160,000, far less than the 250,000 troops that had been mobilized to subjugate the Shimazu. Moreover, it appears highly likely that the actual number of troops that ended up in the Chōsen peninsula were even less than the initial forecast. When one combines the lack of troops on the part of Yoshimune together with the fact that he was placed under the command of Nagamasa, this gives us an indication of what type of value Hideyoshi placed in Yoshimune`s army. Furthermore, while Yoshimune was in camp he was ordered to send his wife as a hostage to Hideyoshi. Harsh terms were already being set in place which bring to mind the later removal of the Ōtomo.(289)

In the 1st month of the 1st year of Bunroku (1592), Yoshimune ordered Nagatomi Shigenami to make all the necessary arrangements `in men and equipment for the sea crossing`. On the 21st day of the 2nd month, he formally handed over the administrative reigns of his government to his heir, Yoshinori, and ordered him to remain in residence at Ieshima in Ōita gun, making it his base. He then ordered three of his closest retainers, Settsu Gyōbu Shō, Sōda Shima Nyūdō (寒田志摩入道), and Ohara Umanosuke (小原右馬助) to act as advisors over all matters pertaining to the province and to Yoshinori. For his wife, he ordered the now aged Shiga Dōki and others to serve as her attendants (from the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku).(290)

The `Bungo Jichaku Tō Ki` (豊後侍着到記, which forms part of the Nagatomi Monjo collection) records that the most prominent retainers to accompany Yoshimune were his brothers, Chikaie and Chikamori. The fact that Chikaie was present in camp, despite the role he had played in providing aid to the Shimazu during their invasion of Bungo, means that he must have somehow managed to negotiate his way back into his brother`s graces and received permission to join the expedition. Yoshimune was also joined by Shiga Chikayoshi, Saiki Koresada, and Yoshihiro Muneyuki among many other retainers. When one looks at their place of origin, most of them came from Hida gun, followed by Kusu, Ōita, Ōno, and Hayami gun in that order.(290)

As so on the 12th day of the 3rd month Yoshimune departed Bungo and headed for Nagoya, halting briefly at the new castle. In the following month he accompanied Nagamasa from Nagoya to Iki, before making landfall at Pusan. Fifteen days later both Nagamasa and Yoshimune arrived at the capital of Kanjō (the Japanese reading of the characters for Seoul). This occured only a few days after Konishi Yukinaga and Katō Kiyomasa had entered the city. After taking control of Kanjō, the leaders of the Japanese army then decided to divide their forces into nine separate divisions and have each division travel along one of the eight main roads of the Chōsen peninsula. Nagamasa and Yoshimune, as leaders of the third division, were given the task of securing and advancing along the Yellow Sea road. However, by this time the Chōsen forces had reorganized themselves and regained something of their fighting spirit. They were aided in this by the appearance of reinforcements from Ming China, which provided added strength to the Chōsen army.(290)

Meanwhile preparations within the Japanese army were progressing as planned. In the 5th month of 1592 Konishi Yukinaga, Kuroda Nagamasa, and Ōtomo Yoshimune set out from Kanjō for Pyongyang along the Yellow Sea road at the head of their respective forces. By the 6th month Yukinaga`s forces had arrived at the southern bank of the Taedong river, followed by Nagamasa and Yoshimune, who then combined their forces with those of Yukinaga. They defeated the Chōsen army on the northern side of the river, and on the 15th day of the same month, Yukinaga marched into Pyongyang belatedly followed by Nagamasa and Yoshimune. After entering Pyongyang, Nagamasa and Yoshimune broke off from Yukinaga and marched their forces back towards the Yellow Sea road.(291)

In the 7th month a number of Japanese generals, Ishida Mitsunari, Ōtani Yoshitsugu, and Mashida Nagamori among them, gathered at Kanjō and held discussions regarding the next phase in the campaign. Ukita Hideie spoke up, stating that as the lines of supply were overstretched, and as they were expecting more reinforcements to arrive from Ming China, it seemed better to fortify themselves in order to resist attacks by the Chōsen and Ming armies with Kanjō serving as the centrepiece in their defensive system. However Yukinaga, who had advocated waging war on the peninsula, would not countenance such a plan, instead placing his army far away on the Moranbong plateau near Pyongyang. In this he was joined by Yoshimune and Kobayakawa Hidekane, who made camp at Moranbong after constructing temporary fortifications (according to the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku).(291)

While such events were unfolding, the commander of the Ming army, Shen Wei Jing (沈惟敬) approached Yukinaga in an attempt to gain Yukinaga`s consent to a cease-fire. Yukinaga agreed to the terms of the cease-fire without realizing the true purpose behind the offer of peace. Shen intended to buy time while he waited for the Yalu river to freeze over, which would then make it easier for him to launch a counter-attack against the Japanese forces. Unaware that such a plan was underway, the Japanese commanders relaxed their guard, assuming that no warfare would take place in the wake of the cease-fire. It came as quite a shock then for Yukinaga and his commanders to suddenly find a general by the name of Li Ru Song (季如松) leading the Ming army of 200,000 troops across the river to attack them at Pyongyang. This took place in the 1st month of Bunroku 2 (1593). Finding himself in a perilous situation, Yukinaga called for reinforcements from Yoshimune. Yet Yoshimune not only failed to provide the requisite troops, his forces withdrew and retreated in the direction of Nagamasa`s camp thereby leaving the line of battle. Yukinaga, caught in a hard-fought struggle, was outraged by Yoshimune`s conduct, and said as much in a letter later written to Hideyoshi. Upon hearing of Yoshimune`s behaviour during the battle, Hideyoshi too flew into a rage, and then and there decided to remove Yoshimune as both the commander and shugo of Bungo province.(292) He sent both Fukushima Umanosuke Nagataka and Kumagai Kuranosuke Naomori as messengers to the Chōsen peninsula, where they met Yoshimune. After subjecting Yoshimune to intense questioning, the two messengers revealed the punishment that Yoshimune would face.(292)

The particulars behind the sentence passed against Yoshimune were laid out in the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku in the following manner…

“Upon learning of the attack by the Ming army, Yukinaga dispatched messengers to Yoshimune, Nagamasa, and Hidekane. However both Nagamasa and Hidekane had a shortage of troops and could not respond to the demand for reinforcements. (At the time) Yoshimune journeyed from his own camp to that of Nagamasa`s in order to discuss military matters. While he was absent from camp, Shiga Chikayoshi, the commander placed in charge of the Ōtomo forces, learnt of the large-scale attack launched by the Ming. He returned to the Ōtomo camp and told those gathered there that Yukinaga was probably already dead and that they should retreat. However Yoshihiro Muneyuki attempted to remonstrate with Chikayoshi, saying that it would be foolish of them to retreat before they had seen the enemy battle flags. Chikayoshi did not listen to such council and continued to repeat his claim that if the Ōtomo forces fought in their current defensive position, they would suffer great losses which would ultimately be for nought. In the end the decision was taken to withdraw the army without waiting for orders from Yoshimune to do so. They did not think of providing any reinforcements for Yukinaga`s army, which later earned the ire of both Yukinaga and Hideyoshi”. (292-293)

This source tells us that Yoshimune himself was not responsible for the retreat of the Ōtomo army, and insists that Chikayoshi was behind the decision to withdraw, thereby exonerating Yoshimune and lamenting the fate that befell the Ōtomo family. Chikayoshi was a Christian, and together with Saiki Koresada had successfully resisted the Shimazu armies when they invaded Bungo. While other retainers revolted against the Ōtomo, Chikayoshi and Koresada remained firm in their loyalty and continued to harass the Shimazu armies. Yet regardless of whether or not Chikayoshi called for retreat for strategic reasons, times had changed and Chikayoshi had advocated retreat, thereby leaving him to be cast as the villain ultimately responsible for the confiscation of the Ōtomo territories.(293)  

However the Ōtomo Kōhai Ki puts things somewhat differently…
“At the time Yoshimune was absent at Nagamasa`s camp. Shiga Chikayoshi, together with Saiki, Tahara and other important retainers were also absent. Two ashigaru generals, Tomihisa (Raisaku) Uei`mon no Jō and Ueno Yabei, took it upon themselves to order the Ōtomo army to retreat, leading to the disapproval expressed from Yukinaga through to Hideyoshi”.(294)

This source joins the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku in attempting to shield Yoshimune from any blame for the defeat. The Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku, which depicts Shiga Chikayoshi as a fool, seems to have been written by a person jealous of the role Chikayoshi played during the Shimazu`s invasion of Bungo. Ultimately, the responsibility for the retreat of the Ōtomo forces lay with Yoshimune, regardless of the internal situation in the Ōtomo camp.(294) However if Yukinaga also demanded support from Nagamasa and Hidekane yet received support from neither, then on this point they were in exactly the same position as Yoshimune. The fact that Yoshimune was the only one to suffer the confiscation of his territory seems quite unjust. If one were to point out where each participant differed, then that would be Yoshimune`s leaving the battle line and subsequent retreat. If so, then the confiscation of Yoshimune`s lands appears to have come about as a result of the way Yukinaga made his report to Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi probably intended all along to have Yoshimune removed as shugo, and this sole incident provided him with opportunity to do so. On this point, a letter dated for the 1st day of the 5th month of Bunroku 2 (1593) ordering Yoshimune to relinquish his position under Hideyoshi`s personal seal states the following…(294-295)  


In the 14th year of Tenshō (1586) during the Shimazu invasion of Bungo, not only did Yoshimune fail to put up an adequate resistance, he abandoned his province and fled to the distant castles of Buzen Myōken and Ryūō. Hence his absconding from battle was not confined to the recent example on the Chōsen peninsula, but had a precedent in Japan. Hideyoshi had been considering removing Yoshimune from power, yet had hesitated to do so out of respect to a family that had been rulers of Bungo since the time of Minamoto no Yoritomo. However since Sōrin`s death, Hideyoshi, who had an brief affinity for Sōrin, had witnessed Sōrin`s foolish son twice fail to provide support when it was needed most, which was the final clinchpin in Hideyoshi`s decision to rid himself of Yoshimune. In the above letter, it seems that Hideyoshi added the phrase `coward of Bungo`, damning Yoshimune and his behaviour.(296)

And so, on the 1st day of the 5th month of Bunroku 2 (1593) Yoshimune was removed as head of the last of the Ōtomo territories. Although he avoided execution, in a ironic twist of fate the lands and revenue that the Ōtomo had enjoyed were placed under the control of the Ōtomo`s long-standing rival Mōri Terumoto, as was Yoshimune himself. Yoshimune was then sent to the temple of Honkokuji (本国寺) in Yamaguchi during the 5th month, where he shaved his head and changed his name to Sōgan (宗巌), before being given the title of Chūan (中庵). A few months later, in the 7th month, Yoshimune`s wife was sent from Kyoto to join her husband at Yamaguchi. The heir to the Ōtomo family, Yoshinori, escaped his father`s fate by being designated a `person of promise`. He was given a retinue of 500 troops and placed under the command of Katō Kiyomasa.(296)

As for those retainers that had accompanied Yoshimune to the Chōsen peninsula, they were divided up amongst the various daimyō families of Ikoma Chikanori, Hōsuga Iemasa, Kuroda Nagamasa (son of Kuroda Yoshitaka), Fukushima Masanori, Toda Minbu, Tachibana Muneshige (the adopted son of Betsugi Dōsetsu), and Mōri Yoshinari. However many fudai retainers of the Ōtomo household, unhappy with this turn of events, feigned illness and left the front line to return to their properties.(296) Thereafter, in the 8th month of Bunroku 3 (1594), Yoshimune was again ordered to move, this time from Yamaguchi to Mitō (in Hitachi province) and the territory of Satake Yoshinobu (佐竹義宣), making the journey to the east during the following 9th month. Meanwhile Yoshinori, having served under Katō Kiyomasa, was transferred to the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu, after which he took up itinerant lodgings at Edo Ushigome in sight of Edo castle.(296-297)

As for the reason for Yoshimune`s transfer from Yamaguchi to Mitō, it seems that the Toyotomi government wanted to move the Ōtomo as far from Bungo as they could and sever any remaining links that the family might have with their former retainers in the west. A small number of attendants were allowed to accompany Yoshimune on his journey, while the majority of his other attendants were dispersed. Some of the remaining attendants said their farewells to Yoshimune when the retinue halted at Amagasaki and Kyoto, and lamented the fact that all that was left of the Ōtomo was their name. Thus did 400 years of Ōtomo rule, largely centered on Bungo and stretching back to the early Kamakura period, come to an end.(297)

Division of territory and a failed attempt at restoration

In the wake of the removal of the Ōtomo, Bungo became one of the personal fiefdoms of Hideyoshi in the 6th month of Bunroku 2 (1593). The Toyotomi retainers Yamaguchi Genbanin Munenaga (山口玄藩允宗永, lord of Daishōji castle in Kaga province) and Miyabe Zenshōbō Katsutoshi (宮部善祥坊桂俊, lord of Tottori castle in Inaba province) were appointed as administrators to the fief, where they carried out a cadastral survey as part of Hideyoshi`s nation-wide land survey (known as the Taiko Kenchi). While matters related to the survey were underway, many peasants, fearing the new set of regulations and measures that might be imposed upon them, chose to abscond, fleeing their villages for other provinces and the mountains. In order to put a halt to this, Hideyoshi issued a decree ordering peasants to return to their farms, and made it very clear that those who chose to ignore this decree and refused to return would be dealt with very harshly (according to the Takahashi Monjo and other documents).(297-298)

Following the cadastral survey of Bunroku 2 (1593), the previous income of Bungo, calculated at 236,020 koku, 2 tō, and 2 shō in Tenshō 19 (1591) was revised by some 140,000 koku to 376,020 koku. In the 3rd year of Bunroku (1594), Bungo was divided up into smaller units of territory (known as kohan, or 小藩). This was ostensibly a measure to prevent the re-emergence of the Ōtomo by ensuring that a system of mutual containment kept each territory in check.(298) Bungo was now split into seven territories - the territory of Funai (valued at 13,000 koku) went to Hayakawa Nagatoshi, the territory of Oka (valued at 66,000 koku) went to Nakagawa Hidenari, Usuki (valued at 60,000 koku) went to Fukuhara Naotaka, Aki (15,000 koku) went to Kumagai Naonobu, Tomiku went to Kakei Jun, Takata (15,000 koku) went to Takenaka Shigetoshi, while the land around Hida (20,000 koku) went to Mōri Takamasa. There is a theory that claims that Takamasa was awarded the territory of Hida as early as Tenshō 15 (1587), however this still remains a matter of some debate. What is known, however, is that before relinquishing the Ōtomo`s hold over Bungo, Hideyoshi made the strategic decision to award Tahara Chikakata and Munakata Shigemune 3,000 and 2,000 koku respectively, and then placed them under the banner of Nakagawa Hidenari (according to the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku). It goes without saying that these newly appointed daimyō provided the military might around which the Toyotomi government solidified its rule.(298)

As such, it comes as no surprise to discover that a majority of these daimyō came from either the Kinai region or the central provinces of Mino and Owari (areas with close ties to the Toyotomi). In the transfer of power from the Toyotomi to the Tokugawa that occurred following the battle of Sekigahara (1600), two or three of the territories mentioned above were transferred to different rulers, but the overall system of land division essentially remained unchanged from the model created following the removal of the Ōtomo.(298)

In the 3rd year of Keichō (1598), Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the supreme powerholder within the nation and the man who had brought about the downfall of the Ōtomo, died at Osaka. In the intercalculary 3rd month of the following year (Keichō 4, 1599), Yoshimune was granted a provisional pardon by the Toyotomi government, and was allowed to visit his son Yoshinori at Edo. Thereafter Yoshimune journeyed to Kyoto accompanied by a concubine of the Itō family and their son, Masateru (正照), lodging at the temple of Honnōji (according to the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku). The pardon extended to Yoshimune was probably the result of Tokugawa Ieyasu`s political manuvering. As far as Ieyasu was concerned, Yoshinori, the man whom he had appointed as a retainer to his own heir, Yoshitada, could be used as a sort of `hostage` in order to convince Yoshimune to join Ieyasu`s forces for the coming conflict against Toyotomi Hideyori and his vassal Ishida Mitsunari, or so it is thought. Yoshimune might also have harboured his own plans vis-a-vis joining the Tokugawa forces, for this could bring about a reversal of fortune for his house. Hence both sides forged an alliance that would promise mutual benefits, a relationship described in the sources as demonstrating `an affinity for all things` shared between the two houses (according to the Ōtomo Ke Monjo Roku). Of course, Hideyori also attempted to woo Yoshimune to join his forces, yet it seems that in the conspirational stakes, Ieyasu had been one step ahead.(298-299)

In the 5th year of Keichō (1600), events that would lead to the battle of Sekigahara began in earnest. However, Yoshimune, instead of heading Ieyasu`s call to raise troops for the coming conflict, suddenly had a change of heart and pledged his forces to the western army of Ishida Mitsunari. As to why he made such a decision, no evidence exists detailing the course that led Yoshimune to change sides, although one theory claims that his concubine and their son, Masateru, were kidnapped by Hideyori thereby forcing Yoshimune`s hand.  As will soon be discussed, if Yoshimune refused Yoshihiro Muneyuki`s council and actively attempted to act for the western army, then clearly his turn towards the west was in accordance with his own wishes. Nonetheless, what is indisputable in the process that led to Yoshimune`s decision was the involvement of Mōri Terumoto. Yoshimune entered the service of the western army under Suo Ōbatake, one of the commanders serving under Mōri Terumoto. With a number of warships and an arquebusier command consisting of 100 or so troops, Yoshimune made preparations to sail for Bungo. However, it was just at this time that Yoshihiro Muneyuki, one of the Ōtomo`s former retainers now temporarily serving under Tachibana Muneshige, arrived at the port of Suo Kamigaseki from Kokura intending to travel on to Edo in order to meet Yoshinori. Muneshige, learning that Yoshimune was in the vicinity, journeyed to meet him, where he was told of Yoshimune`s intention to act on behalf of the western army. After listening to all of the details laid out by Yoshimune, Muneshige pleaded with his lord to change his mind and ally himself with the eastern army, yet to no avail.(300)

Out of loyalty to his former lord, Muneshige now decided to align himself with Yoshimune and would act as one of his commanders in the field. Spurred on by this piece of good news, and sensing the time was right to attempt to win back the former Ōtomo territories, Yoshimune and his army departed Suo and made landfall at Tateishi (立石) in Hayami gun. On the 12th day of the 8th month of Keichō 5 (1600), Yoshimune`s army lay siege to the castle of Kitsuki (木付城). At the time Hayami gun was part of the land holdings of Hosokawa Tadaoki, lord of Kokura castle and aligned with the eastern army. His vassals Matsui and Ariyoshi were charged with the defence of Kitsuki castle. It was Matsui who sent word of Yoshimune`s attack on Kitsuki to Kuroda Yoshitaka in Chikuzen. The message arrived while Yoshitaka was engaged in attacking Kumagai Naonobu`s residence of Aki castle, Yoshitaka of course belonging to the eastern army while the Kumagai were allied to the west. Aki castle itself was being defended by Kumagai Nakayoshi in place of his father, however after hearing of the attack on Kitsuki, Yoshitaka decided that matters were more pressing on the coast and so sent reinforcements to aid Kitsuki and its defenders. One of these reinforcements was Fuwa Hiko Saei`mon (不破彦左衛門), a vassal of the lord of Funai castle, Takenaka Shigetoshi. These reinforcements set themselves up on the mountain of Jissōji (実相寺).(302)

Just before these events took place, two vassals of the Nakagawa lords of Oka castle, Tahara Shōnin and Munakata Kamon Shigetsugu (宗像掃部鎮次), stole the Nakagawa seal and used it to raise troops to assist Yoshimune. They successfully mustered around 20 to 30 troops which were then added to Yoshimune`s force. Realizing that reinforcements from the eastern army might encircle him, Yoshimune, together with 400 of his troops, moved off in the direction of Ishigakibaru above the village of Beppu.  Through his own espionage, Kuroda Yoshitaka discovered that the seal of the Nakagawa family was within the Ōtomo camp, leading him to mistakenly assume that the Nakagawa had betrayed the eastern army and were now aligned with the west. He relayed the content of his concerns in a letter addressed to Ieyasu. Subsequently the Nakagawa took pains to prove their loyalty to the Tokugawa, and took part in the bitter attack on Ōta Kazuyoshi at Usuki, Kazuyoshi being one of the last of Ishida Mitsunari`s supporters.(302)

In the meantime the armies of the Ōtomo and Kuroda clashed at Ishigakibaru. This battle saw the loss of many supporters of the Ōtomo, including Yoshihiro Muneyuki. Knowing that his army had been defeated, Yoshimune prepared himself to commit suicide, yet was stopped by Tahara Shōnin (as detailed in the Ōtomo Yoshimune Kōgun Ki, or 大友義統公軍記). Kuroda Yoshitaka, after taking Yoshimune prisoner, dissolved the remaining Ōtomo force and sent Yoshimune to Ieyasu. After receiving the prisoner, Ieyasu had Yoshimune transported to the territory of Akita Mitsuyoshi in the province of Dewa where he was kept under guard. When Mitsuyoshi was subsequently transferred to Shishido in Hitachi province, Yoshimune accompanied him. Yoshimune subsequently passed away at Shishido on the 19th day of the 7th month of Keichō 10 (1605).(302)

From what we know of Sōrin`s female offspring, his eldest daughter married into the Kiyoda family, and subsequently converted to Christianity, taking the name Magdalena. She married at the age of thirty, yet threats made against her forced her to flee to Nagasaki where she was kept under close observation. In the 4th year of Kanei (1627), she was sentenced to death for her beliefs and burned at the stake (according to the record of Leon Varges in the Nippon Kirishitan Shū Monshi, or 日本切支丹宗門史). Thereafter the family of the Ōtomo continued under the designation of `kōke`, or `illustrious family`. A kōke was a position synonymous with councillors or `toshiyori` and was one rank down from a daimyō. Those who served as kōke were responsible for the rites and ceremonies conducted on behalf of the bakufu. Members of the Takeda, Hatakeyama, and Sagara families, all of which were well-renowned, continued to exist in this capacity. Since these families were descended from former vassals of Minamoto no Yoritomo, as far as the bakufu were concerned it would not do to see them eliminated altogether.(302-303)

As for the Ōtomo themselves, Masateru went on to found his own branch of the family. They abandoned the Ōtomo name, replacing it with Matsuno (松野), and served as minor officials within the Kumamoto district of Higo province (a province under the control of the Hosokawa family). The origins of the adoption of the name `Matsuno` apparently lay in a pun which said that members of that family `waited` (or `matsuno`) for opportunities to appear, and thus the name stuck. This then was the fate that befell the Ōtomo family following the death of Sōrin. Many former Ōtomo retainers either became rōnin (masterless samurai), pledged themselves to new lords, or returned to farm the land.(303)

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© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in February 2012