Katō Masakata


Katō Clan

Katō Masakata

Higo Province

Lifespan:  Tenshō 8 (1580) to 9/23 of Keian 1 (1648)

Other Names:  Seiroku (childhood), Seizaemon (common), Kataoka Fūan (monk’s name)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Secretary of the Bureau of Cavalry of the Right Division

Clan:  Katō

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Kumamoto

Lord:  Katō Kiyomasa → Katō Tadahiro

Father:  Katō Yoshishige

Siblings:  Shigemasa, Masakata

Wife:  Daughter of Akizuki Tanezane

Katō Masakata served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.

In 1580, Masakata was born as the son of Katō Yoshishige, a retainer of the Katō clan in the Kumamoto domain in Higo Province.  His older brother died in battle so his cousin, Katō Shigeyasu, inherited the headship of the clan.  

Around the middle of the Keichō era (1596 to 1615), Masakata succeeded Shigeyasu as the chamberlain of Uchinomaki Castle in the Kumamoto domain.  In 1611, his lord, Katō Kiyomasa, died and was succeeded by his son, Katō Tadahiro.  In 1612, the Edo bakufu appointed Masakata as the chamberlain of Mugishima Castle.  Later, he came into conflict with Katō Masatsugu, another chief retainer.  In an event known as the Ushikata-Umakata Disturbance, the faction supporting Masakata engaged in a power-struggle with the faction backing Masatsugu for political leadership of the domain.  In 1618, based on a decision by Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu, Masatsugu’s faction lost while Masakata consolidated power in the domain.

In 1619, Mugishima Castle was destroyed in a major earthquake.  Upon orders of Katō Tadahiro, the lord of the domain, Masakata commenced the construction of Matsue Castle.  By building the Hagiwara and Maekawa dams, he harnessed the Kuma River running below the castle and through the surrounding village for irrigation projects.  In 1622, upon the completion of Matsue Castle, Masakata assumed the roles of chief retainer and chamberlain.

In 1632, Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shōgun of the Edo bakufu, reproached Tadahiro and removed the Katō family from their position.  Tadahiro received this news at the Ikegami-Honmon Temple while en route for mandatory service to the bakufu in Edo.  This was the result of misconduct by Tadahiro’s eldest son, Katō Mitsuhiro, after he fabricated a jointly sealed covenant for a rebellion with the names and seals of numerous daimyō for amusement.  This caused sparks in other families as well, so Mitsuhiro’s standing as the son of the lord of a domain engaging in acts apt to stir a rebellion was severely questioned.  Thereafter, Tadahiro was transferred to Dewa Province and granted a small fief of 10,000 koku to spend the remainder of his life.  Mitsuhiro was turned-over to the custody of Kanamori Shigeyori, the lord of the Hida-Takayama domain, but died of illness the next year.

Meanwhile, as a retainer of Tadahiro, Masakata lived in seclusion in the Honkoku Temple in Kyōto and adopted the name of Kataoka Fūan.  Together with a former retainer and poet named Nishiyama Sōin, he composed renga, or linked-verse poetry.  Later, he opened a trading market in Ōsaka and earned huge profits.  This became known as the Fūan Market.

In 1644, Masakata was assigned to the custody of the Asano family of the Hiroshima domain.  In 1648, he died in Hiroshima at the age of sixty-nine.  His grave is at the Myōfū Temple in the city of Hiroshima.