Gotō Takaakira


Gotō Clan


Hizen Province

Lifespan:  Third month of Tenbun 3 (1534) to 8/2 of Tenshō 11 (1583)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Ōmura → Gotō

Father:  Ōmura Sumisaki

Adoptive Father:  Gotō Sumiakira

Siblings:  Takaakira, Ōmura Sumitada

Children:  Haruaki, Tsuchiichi (wife of Gotō Ienobu)

Adopted Children:  Koreaki, Ienobu

Gotō Takaakira served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  He was the nineteenth head of the Hizen-Gotō clan (the lord of Takeo).

The Hizen-Gotō were descendants of Fujiwara no Toshihito, a noble and bushō from the early Heian period.  Based on contributions in the Zenkunen Campaign in Hiraizumi in the Tōhoku region, the family was granted the land in Takeo and, beginning in the latter part of the Heian period, became a landowner in Takeo for generations.

Adoption by the Gotō clan

Takaakira was an illegitimate son of Ōmura Sumisaki, but after Ōmura Sumitada (the natural son of Arima Haruzumi and adopted son of Sumisaki) inherited the Ōmura clan, in 1545, Takaakira was adopted by Gotō Sumiakira.  Among the band of retainers of the Ōmura clan, a movement to oppose Sumitada served as the catalyst for the ouster of Takaakira who originally was intended to inherit the family.  Moreover, Sumitada’s conversion to Christianity led to support from numerous retainers who were on friendly terms with Takaakira, triggering frequent conflict between Takaakira and Sumitada.  As stated in the History of Japan written by Luís Fróis a Jesuit missionary from Portugal residing in Japan, acting in the capacity as “Lord Gotō,” Takaakira was often in a position at odds with the Ōmura clan.

In 1560, Takaakira did not have a natural son at the time so he adopted Gotō Koreaki from Matsura Takanobu, the lord of Hirado Castle in the Matsura District of Hizen Province.

Conflict with the Ōmura, the Arima, and the Ryūzōji clans

Takaakira assigned a cousin named Shibue Takashi, the former lord of the Nagashima-no-shō manor, to protect Shiomi Castle.  In the ninth month of 1560, forces led by Arima Haruzumi attacked and toppled the castle whereupon Takaakira immediately deployed and recaptured it.  Fearing the wrath of Takaakira, Takashi fled to Higo Province.  In the twelfth month, Takaakira attacked Suko Castle but lost.

In 1561, he attacked Shiyota, forcing the surrender of its lord, Hara Naokage.  In 1562, Takaakira sent a secret communication to Ōtomo Yoshishige and, in the following year, formed an alliance.

In the seventh month of 1563, Takaakira coordinated with retainers of the Ōmura familt to launch a coup d’état and deployed in an effort to pacify the Ōmura clan, but was defeated at the Battle of Nodake.  He then sent troops to the island of Hario to topple Sashikata Castle and to add the villages of Sasebo, Hiu, Haiki, and Hariojima to his territory.  On 7/27 of Eiroku 6 (1563), Ōmura Sumitada, together with Hario Iga-no-kami (the magistrate for the Yokose Inlet) who acted in concert with Takaakira, burned down the harbor to the Yokose Inlet that had been given to Portugal in the preceding year.

Also in the seventh month of 1563, Ryūzōji Takanobu approached Kitagata in central Hizen alongside Takeo so Takaakira settled with Takanobu.  In the eighth month, per the terms of the settlement, Takaakira, along with the Ryūzōji forces in the vanguard, attacked Hirai Tsuneharu at Suko Castle but failed in their effort.  Instead, Takaakira received Tsuneharu’s daughter as the wife of his heir, Koreaki, and entered into an alliance.  In the second month of 1564, Takanobu attacked Suko Castle again, but, based on his alliance with Tsuneharu, Takaakira attacked the Ryūzōji army and, in the end, there was no decisive victor in this clash.

In the third month of 1564, Takaakira acted in concert with the Matsura clan of Hirado and the Saigō clan of Isahaya to attack and topple Sonogi Castle on the side of the Ōmura clan.  In the eighth month, Takaakira repelled the allied forces of the Arima and Ōmura approaching Sonogi Castle.  The Arima army approached Shiyota from the direction of Kashima on the side of the Ariake Sea, but he repelled these forces as well.  In the seventh month of 1566, Takaakira deployed to Ōmura and attacked Ōmura Sumitada but failed.

In the fourth month of 1570, Takaakira cooperated in an attack by Ōtomo Yoshishige (Sōrin) against Ryūzōji Takanobu at Saga Castle (also known as Saga-Ryūzōji or Muranaka Castle) and joined an encirclement from the west. Other clans subordinate to the Ōtomo including the Arima, the Ōmura, the Saigō, and the Hirai also joined in the siege.  A total of as many as 60,000 to 80,000 troops laid siege against 5,000 troops on the side of the Ryūzōji.  Defeat of the Ryūzōji appeared inevitable but, owing to a surprise attack led by Nabeshima Nobuo (later known as Nabeshima Shigenari), the Ōtomo forces retreated in defeat in an event known as the Battle of Imayama.

In the seventh month of 1572, acting in concert with the Matsura clan of Hirado and the Saigō clan of Isahaya, Takaakira led an army of 1,500 soldiers to lay siege to the main base of Ōmura Sumitada at Sanjō Castle in the Sonogi District of Hizen.  In the castle, there were only seven mounted soldiers (officer-class bushō) along with approximately 80 non-combatants.  Despite this nominal presence, somehow Sumitada managed to defend the site so that Takaakira was unable to oust him.

Coming under the command of the Ryūzōji clan

After the Battle of Imayama, on numerous occasions (in 1571, 1573, and 1574), Takaakira fought against the Ryūzōji clan in Taku and in Kitagata in central Hizen near Takeo.  However, in the sixth month of 1574, his adopted son, Gotō Koreaki, rebelled, so Takaakira was compelled to seek the assistance Ryūzōji Takanobu to defeat Koreaki.  Consequently, Takaakira tendered his own son, Gotō Haruaki, as a hostage to Takanobu.

Nevertheless, in the eighth month of 1575, the peace with Takanobu was quickly broken.  In the third month of 1576, Takanobu approached the home base of Takaakira at Tsukazaki Castle and set fire to the property.  In the second month of 1577, Takaakira and Takanobu reconciled for a second time, but, as a condition of this settlement, Takaakira tendered his own son, Haruaki (later known as Hitoshi of the Ryūzōji family) for adoption by Takanobu in exchange for having Takanobu’s third son, Ienobu, wed Takaakira’s daughter (Tsuchiichi) and be adopted by Takaakira.  In other words, Takakira had to subordinate his family to the Ryūzōji under Takanobu owing to their expanding power.

In 1577 and 1578, Takaakira and Ienobu followed orders of Takanobu to deploy to Ōmura whereupon, in the seventh month of 1578, Sumitada finally surrendered to Takanobu.  Takaakira died in 1583.  The following year, Takanobu was killed in action at the Battle of Okitanawate.

Five years after his demise, in 1588, a wooden statue was made and displayed in the Kimyō Temple in Takeo.  The statue was restored to its original appearance in 2010.