Hyakutake Tomokane


Hyakutake Clan


Hizen Province

Lifespan:  15xx to 3/24 of Tenshō 12 (1584)

Name Changes:  Kanemichi (兼道) → Kanemichi (兼通) → Tomokane

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Shima

Clan:  Toda → Hyakutake

Lord:  Ryūzōji Takanobu

Father:  Toda Kanesada

Siblings:  Tomokane, Kanemasa

Wife:  Inkyū Myōgetsu (Miyohime)

Adopted Children:  Shigekane (natural son of Ishii Tomotsugu)

Hyakutake Tomokane served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  He was a retainer of the Ryūzōji clan and counted among the Four Divine Kings of the Ryūzōji.


The Hyakutake originated from the Genji.  Their original surname was Toda (founded by Toda Nobuyoshi, the grandson of Minamoto no Yoshitaka who was the sixth (or seventh) son of Minamoto no Yoshiie, a bushō from the late Heian period).  His ancestors were bushi in the Kantō and later moved to Hizen Province.  The Hyakutake served as retainers of the Ryūzōji from the era of Tomokane’s father, Toda Kanesada.  Baba Yorichika, a senior retainer of the Shōni, held grievances toward the Ryūzōji as they gained prominence.  He then led a scheme that resulted in the slaughter of many members of the Ryūzōji family.  Kanesada, along with Ryūzōji Kaneie, Ryūzōji Ieyasu, Ryūzōji Yorisumi and others were killed at Gionbara in the Kanzaki District of Hizen.

Tomokane was born as the eldest son of Toda Kanesada, a retainer of the Ryūzōji clan.  Initially, he was called Tanemichi but after receiving one of the characters from the name of the Ryūzōji Shigetomo (later known as Ryūzōji Masaie), changed his name to Tomokane.

As a central figure in the Ryūzōji army, Tomokane made contributions in numerous battles.  His lord, Ryūzōji Takanobu, praised Tomokane for having the military prowess of 100 men and conferred upon him the Hyakutake surname.  Owing to his stature, Tomokane is counted among the Four Divine Kings of the Ryūzōji as well as one of four exceptional bushō under the command of the Ryūzōji referred to as a group after their names as ryōdan-nishima, comprised of Ōmura Danjō, Inuzuka Danjō, Hyakutake Shima-no-kami (Tomokane), and Uwataki Shima-no-kami (Nobushige).

On 3/24 of Tenshō 12 (1584), Tomokane was killed along with Takanobu at the Battle of Okitanawate.


During an attack against Hebaru 親運 in northern Higo, Takanobu learned that Kamachi Shigenami left the encampment from time-to-time to go to Yanagawa.  This reflected poorly on the Saga forces, straining his relationship with Takanobu.  Leaving the encampment at the height of a battle was a serious matter of desertion.  In 1580, Takanobu led 20,000 soldiers to attack Yanagawa Castle.  As one of the foremost strongholds in Kyūshū, the castle was not easily toppled.  The defenders, however, were extraordinarily fatigued so, through the mediation of Tajiri Akitane (the uncle of Shigenami who stood on the side of Takanobu), the two sides settled.  Afterwards, it came to light that Kamachi Tsuranami was conspiring with the Shimazu clan so, in 1581, Takanobu plotted with Nabeshima Naoshige and Tajiri Akitane and, under the pretext of a banquet with a theater event known as sarugaku to celebrate the settlement, lured Shigenami to Hizen and slayed him.  Takanobu then proceeded to slaughter the entire Kamachi family in Yanagawa.  This event is known as the Battle of Yanagawa.  Owing to prior support from Shigenami’s father, Kamachi Akimori, during a period of danger, the Ryūzōji were deeply indebted to the Kamachi clan.

When Tomokane’s wife encouraged him to deploy for battle, Tomokane tearfully replied: “I expect the killing of Shigenami will lead to the decimation of our family.”  In the end, he did not deploy after concluding that the action would not lead to good fortune for himself or the family.  Moreover, Akitane who served with the vanguard forces for Takanobu, later defected for a while from the Ryūzōji clan.

In this story, Tomokane’s wife, Miyohime, is depicted as a strong-willed woman and, in battle against the Ōtomo clan, upon orders of Nabeshima Naoshige, defends the castle.  While carrying a naginata (a polearm with a curved single-edged blade similar to a glaive), she stood at the entrance and commanded the garrison.


After the demise of Tomokane, his adopted son, Hyakutake Shigekane, inherited the headship of the clan.  Following the fall of the Ryūzōji clan, the family served as senior retainers of the Nabeshima clan for generations.  Notable members included Hyakutake Kaneyuki, recognized as a pioneer of Western-style painting in Japan and who, in the mid 1800’s, served as a close associate of Nabeshima Naohiro (the eleventh lord of the Saga domain) and, later, as a secretary of foreign affairs and official in the ministry of agriculture and commerce.  Hyakutake Shunkichi led the first division of the Japanese army for a temporary deployment during the Manchurian Incident in 1931.  From the early Shōwa period, three military men who were siblings including Hyakutake Saburō (navy admiral, grand chamberlain), Hyakutake Gengo (navy admiral), and Hyakutake Haruyoshi (army lieutenant general), in addition to an amateur astronomer named Hyakutake Yūji originated from cadet families of the Hyakutake.