Table of Contents

Toyama Mikio, Ōtomo Sōrin, Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, Tōkyō, 1975 (reprinted 2006)




Toyama Mikio, Ōtomo Sōrin, Yoshikawa Kōbunkan, Tōkyō, 1975 (reprinted 2006)

The images that most of us hold in relation to Sengoku daimyō are, for the most part, stereotyped, devoid of much originality, and focused on characters that are at once belligerent and brave, and who apparently possess almost super-human qualities. It suffices to say that such images were forged during the Edo period and have continued on until today. While many are interested in the various battles and conflicts waged between Sengoku daimyō, more fundamental questions concerning how daimyō stabilized their rule and the social and economic foundations of such rule do not appear to garner quite the same levels of enthusiasm .(1)

The person whom this manuscript takes as its principal character, Ōtomo Sōrin, is certainly well-known in his role as a Sengoku daimyō from Bungo province, and the tendency to look upon him in the same manner as those daimyō described above – heroic, magnanimous, and blessed by fortune – is in no way exceptional. Yet I feel there has been too strong an emphasis on his role as a `Christian daimyō` in the wake of his conversion to Christianity. What we must not forget is that regardless of Sōrin`s status as a Christian, he was first and foremost a Sengoku daimyō who controlled both regions and the people residing within them.(1) Hence although Sōrin has been the subject of many biographies up until now, I have endeavoured to examine Sōrin`s life by concentrating on his role as a Sengoku daimyō.(2)

Sōrin`s life was in many ways replete with stirring events and changes in fortune. He possessed a character that captures one`s attention, becoming an almost ideal subject for a biography. In this manuscript, I have laid out a number of key questions in regard to Sōrin that form the central tenet of my thesis, while also examining Sōrin`s multifaceted character and actions from a number of viewpoints in an effort to produce as comprehensive an image of Sōrin as I possibly can.(2)

As for the name `Sōrin`, this was a priestly name adopted either late in the 6th month or early in the 7th month of the 5th year of Eiroku (1562). Until this time Sōrin was known by the common name of Yoshishige. This manuscript has attempted to keep usage of either name separate, although occasionally there are lapses within the narrative from one name to the other. Furthermore, Sōrin`s heir Yoshimune, and Yoshimune`s son Yoshinori also possessed other names, however for the sake of uniformity I had decided to use only those names by which they are commonly known. I would like to ask for the reader`s understanding on this point.

This manuscript can be said to have come about as a result of my own modest research, and from encouragement and support received from tutors, senior colleagues and associates, and many other scholars dedicated to the study of the Ōtomo. I intend to continue to systematically apply my research to the study of the Ōtomo in their entirety, and hope to provide my own point of view in relation to warrior society as it existed in our country during the medieval period.(3)

I would also like to express my sincerest thanks to Professors Toyoda Takeshi and Seno Seiichirō, to whom I am directly indebted for their assistance in getting this manuscript published. Furthermore, many students at my workplace within Nagasaki University assisted in procuring photographs and proofreading drafts. To them I am truly grateful.

12th of November, 1974 (Shōwa 49)

Toyama Mikio
© Greg Pampling. This page was modified in February 2012