Yokota Muraaki


Yokota Clan


Hōki Province

Lifespan:  Tenbun 21 (1552) (?) to 11/14 of Keichō 8 (1603)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Yokota (a member of the Miyoshi clan, a branch of the Ogasawara clan of the Seiwa-Genji)

Bakufu: Edo

Lord:  Miyoshi Yasunaga → Miyoshi Yasutoshi → Nakamura Kazuuji → Nakamura Kazutada

Wife:  Younger sister of Nakamura Kazuuji

Children:  Shumenosuke

Yokota Muraaki served as a bushō from the Sengoku to early Edo periods.  He was the chief retainer of the Yonago domain of Hōki Province.  He is considered to be the same individual as Yokota Muneaki, a retainer of the Miyoshi clan.  He had the common name of Naizen.

Although details remain uncertain, he is regarded to have been born to a family who were members of the Miyoshi clan of Awa Province in Shikoku.  On this basis, he was a nephew of Miyoshi Yasunaga, the lord of Iwakura Castle in Awa.  For a long time, he served Yasunaga as a deputy to Yasunaga’s eldest son, Miyoshi Tokutarō (Yasutoshi).  Thereafter, following decimation of the Miyoshi clan, in 1583, he was engaged by Nakamura Kazuuji who was appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi to serve as the lord of Kishiwada Castle.  Muraaki wed the younger sister of Kazuuji, becoming a close member of the family.  In 1590, he accompanied Kazuuji after Kazuuji became the lord of Sunpu Castle.  In Shizuoka, he managed the conduct of land surveys, the development of road networks, and public works measures.

Appointment as the guardian of Nakamura Kazutada

After the death of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the eighth month of 1598, rival factions formed among those who were either for or against supporting Tokugawa Ieyasu.  Nakamura Kazuuji had served as one of a group of three senior retainers known as the sanchūrō, or Three Intermediaries, who were tasked with mediating differences between the two other groups of senior leaders in the Toyotomi administration known as the gotairō, or Council of Five Elders, and the gobugyō, or Five Commissioners.  After Kazuuji fell ill with a serious illness, he consulted with Muraaki in regard to the future of Kazuuji’s eldest son, Nakamura Kazutada, and the Nakamura family at large.  Muraaki was an uncle of Kazutada.  Muraaki then met with Tokugawa Ieyasu at Muraaki’s residence below Sunpu Castle to discuss the situation and, on that occasion, decided to join the Eastern Army under the leadership of Ieyasu.  On 7/17 of Keichō 5 (1600), Kazuuji, however, died of his illness just less than two months before the Battle of Sekigahara, having occurred on 9/15 of Keichō 5 (1600).

After the Battle of Sekigahara, in the eleventh month of 1600, Ieyasu followed-up on the meeting with Muraaki, awarding Hōki Province to Kazutada at the age of eleven.  Kazutada was transferred to Yonago with a fief of 175,000 koku.  Furthermore, Kazutada was appointed as the Governor of Hōki and became a kokushu, or daimyō with a designation that he controlled one or more provinces.  Owing to Kazutada’s youth, Ieyasu appointed Muraaki to accompany Kazutada as his guardian and chief retainer, awarding him a fief of 6,000 koku.

Muraaki, acting on behalf of the inexperienced Kazutada, managed affairs of the domain.  His contributions were numerous.  On behalf of Kazutada, Muraaki constructed Yonago Castle with a five-story tower.  An ancillary citadel was christened naizen-maru after his name.  Muraaki also built the Kannō Temple in Yonago for Kazutada.  Other activities included the conduct of a land survey of Hōki Province.  To build the town of Yonago below the castle, he relocated citizens from throughout the domain in groups by settlement, constructing new blocks of residences for designated occupations in an area referred to as the Eighteen Villages of Yonago.  He also constructed a canal system, directing water from the Kamo River to flow to the outer moats of Yonago Castle connecting to Lake Nakaumi.  This enabled merchants and craftsmen to transport a large volume of goods, serving as the foundation for the larger municipality of Yonago.

Yokota Disturbance

Jealous of Muraaki’s talents, close retainers of Kazutada, namely, Yasui Seiichirō and Amano Munetsuka, plotted to remove Muraaki as a means to raise their own stature in the family.  The pair proceeded to mislead Kazutada to sow confusion.  On 11/14 of Keichō 8 (1603), Kazutada then used an auspicious event with his formal wife, Jōmyōin, as a pretext to reproach and kill Muraaki.  Muraaki’s son (or according to one theory, his younger brother), Shumenosuke, along with Yagyū Muneaki and others, holed-up in Iiyama Castle, but Kazutada requested help from Horio Yoshiharu, the head of the Matsue domain of neighboring Izumo Province, and subdued them.  Miyoshi Yoshiaki, the son of Miyoshi Yoshisuke and grandson of Miyoshi Nagayoshi (a relative of Muraaki) along with members of the Yokota family were killed.

At the time that Kazutada killed Muraaki, Kazutada was fourteen while Muraaki was fifty-two years old.

After receiving news of the incident, Ieyasu was enraged at the killing of Muraaki who Ieyasu himself had appointed.  Without further investigation, the ringleaders, Seiichirō and Munetsuka, were immediately sentenced to commit seppuku by the Edo bakufu.  Further, Michigami Chōbei and Michigami Chōeimon, as close retainers of Kazutada, were also sentenced to commit seppuku for failing to prevent the incident.  Kazutada was confined to the Shinagawa post station (one of the 53 stations along the Tōkaidō).  Tormented by having killed his chief retainer and the subject of gossip around town, Kazutada died suddenly at the age of twenty.

Earlier religious pursuits

When Muraaki was around twenty years old, he accompanied Miyoshi Yasutoshi, the son of Miyoshi Yasunaga, and, from 1/13 to the second month of Tenshō 1 (1573),  attended sermons for higan, a Buddhist holiday exclusively celebrated during the Spring and Autumnal Equinox, at the Myōkoku Temple in Izumi Province.  The sermons were given by priest Nichikō, of the Busshin Sub-temple and founder of the Myōkoku Temple and Muraaki became an ardent follower of the Nichiren sect.  Below Yonago Castle, he met Zuioin Nittei, founder of the Myōkō Temple and an uncle of priest Nichikō.  Thereafter, he established cordial relationships, donating saké cups and land with a value of 100 koku to the temple and treated as an alms-giver for the founding of the temple.  Owing to these relationships, Muraaki was buried at the Myōkō Temple in Yonago where are kept the saké cups from Muraaki, his portrait, and an ancestral tablet.