Yamada Kyoreki


Yamada Clan


Owari Province

Lifespan:  15xx to 16xx

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Yamada

Lord:  Ishida Mitsunari

Children:  Sukejō, son, Oan (wife of Amenomori Ujiyuki), daughter

Yamada Kyoreki served as a bushō from the Sengoku to early Edo periods.

Known as a skilled calligrapher, Kyoreki provided instruction to a young Matsudaira Motoyasu (later known as Tokugawa Ieyasu) in practice writing with a brush.  Later, he became a retainer of Ishida Mitsunari and maintained a fief of 300 koku in Ōmi Province while residing in Hikone.

In 1600, during the Battle of Sekigahara, Kyoreki deployed as a bushō in the Western Army commanded by the Ishida clan.  After the main division of the Ishida moved to Sekigahara, Kyoreki defended Ōgaki Castle in Mino Province.  According to one account, he fought against Tanaka Yoshimasa.  There is a theory, however, the Yoshimasa did not attack Ōgaki Castle and was at this time in Sawayama Castle.

As the defeat of the Western Army in the main Battle of Sekigahara became imminent, he holed-up in the castle after it was surrounded by Tokugawa forces.  In the castle were Kyoreki’s wife, two sons, and daughters.  Prior to the fall of the castle, a message delivered by arrow from an individual under the command of Tanaka Yoshimasa in the Tokugawa army stated: “It appears the castle will fall tomorrow but you (Yamada Kyoreki) formerly served as the instructor for Ieyasu to practice calligraphy so if you flee we will let you go.”  In response to the offer, that evening, Kyoreki lowered a ladder from the castle wall whereupon Kyoreki and his family crossed the castle moat in a tub and fled.  In the midst of fleeing, his wife gave birth to a daughter.  Thereafter, he turned for assistance to a relative named Amenomori Ujiyasu from Ōmi Province who was a retainer of Yamauchi Kazutoyo.  In 1601, he went to reside in Tosa Province.  His lineal heir, Yamada Sukejō, served Kazutoyo as a member of the umamawari, or cavalry, as a higher-ranking bushi.  The foregoing is a well-known passage from the Oamu-monogatari, an account written in the Edo period by Kyoreki’s daughter in regard to the story of her father during the Battle of Sekigahara.

Ancestors and descendants

The ancestors of the Yamada family originated from the Yamada manor in the Yamada District of Owari Province.  Initially, he served the Oda clan but later became a rōnin, or wandering samurai, and then served Toyotomi Hidetsugu, the kanpaku, or Chief Advisor to the Emperor.

Yamada Heizaemon who joined the main division of the Tosa domain in the Bōshin War at the end of the Edo bakufu was a descendant of Yamada Kyoreki.