Lifespan: 12/25 of Tenshō 12 (1585) to 3/25 of Manji 2 (1659)
Other Names: Yazaemon, Samon, Saemon
Lord: Date Masamune → Date Tadamune → Date Tsunamune
Domain: Retainer of the Sendai domain in Mutsu Province
Father: Katakura Kagetsuna
Mother: Yauchi clan
Wife: [Formal] Shigetsuin (Ayahime – daughter of Haryū Morinao) [Second] Oume (daughter of Sanada Nobushige)
Children: Kisa (wife of Matsumae Yasuhiro)
Adopted Children: Kagenaga (grandchild from a daughter married into another family, natural child of Matsumae Yasuhiro)
Katakura Shigenaga served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods. He was a retainer of the Date family of the Sendai domain of Mutsu Province.
On 12/25 of Tenshō 12 (1584), Shigenaga was born as the son of Katakura Kagetsuna at the Katakura residence in the village of Miya in the Shimonagai manor in the Okitama District of Dewa. Kagetsuna was a retainer of the Date family. Shigenaga served three generations of the Date, including Date Masamune, Tadamune, and Tsunamune. Shigenaga served as the lord of Shiroishi Castle. He inherited the common name of Kojūrō from the head of the Katakura family. His real name was Shigetsuna, but he dropped a character from the name of Tokugawa Ietsuna, the heir to Tokugawa Iemitsu (the third shōgun of the Edo bakufu), and adopted the name of Shigenaga.
His wife was the daughter of Haryū Morinao, and his later wife was Oume (the daughter of Sanada Nobushige).
In 1591, Shigenaga attended his coming-of-age ceremony in which Date Shigezane served in a ceremonial role to crown Shigenaga with a black-lacquered hat worn by nobles and known as an eboshi. At this time, he was known as Shigetsuna. That same year, Shigenaga, together with his lord (Date Masumune) and father (Kagetsuna), went to Fushimi in the capital of Kyōto, remaining there until 1599. During this time, he received a formal coat known as a haori from Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the kanpaku, or Chief Advisor to the Emperor.
In the seventh month of 1600, at the Siege of Shiroishi Castle as an extension of the main Battle of Sekigahara, Shigenaga was ordered to remain behind to defend Watari Castle. Joining his father, Shigenaga engaged in his first battle. In the ninth month of 1601, Shigenaga and his father accompanied Masamune as he went to Fushimi in Kyōto. In the first month of 1602, Shigenaga met with Toyotomi Hideyori and, in the seventh month, with Kobayakawa Hideaki. In 1603, Shigenaga returned to Masamune’s base. At the Siege of Ōsaka that began in 1614, Shigenaga joined the effort in support of Masamune on behalf of Kagetsuna who had fallen ill. Shigenaga killed an enemy general, Gotō Mototsugu, and was widely praised for his contributions in the battle. Shigenaga was scorned by his father for crossing swords with the enemy on the grounds it was an unworthy act in his role as a commander of forces, but, from those around him, he was called Kojūrō the Demon as a famous general who exhibited bravery and intelligence no less than his father.
After the death of his father, Kagetsuna, on 10/14 of Genna 1 (1615), Shigenaga inherited the headship of the clan.
Shigenaga’s formal wife resided in Edo as a hostage but, in the seventh month of 1626, she died in the residence in Edo. When forces engaged in pillaging during the Siege of Ōsaka, it was revealed that Oume, who was serving as a lady attendant, was the third daughter of Sanada Nobushige and became a consort, but then became a second wife of Shigenaga.
In the fourth month of 1636, while his lord, Date Masamune, headed toward Edo for a period of required service to the bakufu, he stayed one night at Shiroishi Castle during which Shigenaga and his adopted son and designated heir, Kagenaga, had an audience with him. This was a final farewell for Masamune, but, at this time, Masamune told Shigenaga that he wanted him to aim for the longevity of the country and to manage well, delegating future affairs to Shigenaga.
On 12/28 of Keian 4 (1651), Date Tadamune, the head of the Date clan, awarded Shigenaga the seat of the first family with respect to their status in the Sendai domain.
Shigenaga died on 3/25 of Manji 2 (1659) at the age of seventy-six. Shigenaga was succeeded by Kagenaga, an adopted grandchild from a daughter married into another family.
When Shigenaga’s mother was carrying him in pregnancy, Date Masamune had just succeeded his father as head of the family in the prior year and did not have a designated heir. As a result, his father, Kagetsuna, intended to immediately suffocate the child after birth on the grounds that the Katakura family could not witness such an auspicious event until after the birth of a son and heir to the Date family. Upon hearing of this plan, Masamune noted that even though Kagetsuna had an opinion, he could not accept that outcome and that he would resent anyone who murdered a child. He then sent a letter to Kagetsuna asking for his assistance out of deference to Masamune’s honor.
Owing to his good looks, there are stories that Kobayakawa Hideaki, who was known for his homosexuality, hovered around Shigenaga or that he had a relationship with his lord, Date Masamune.
Owing to his connection by having the daughter of Sanada Nobushige as his second wife, Shigenaga protected the retainers of Sanada Masayuki and Nobushige (father and son). According to one account, after Nobushige saw Shigenaga’s furious fighting on the battlefield in Ōsaka, he said that for this general, he sent a letter affixed to an arrow into the Katakura encampment to request a wedding proposal to his daughter.
Initially, Oume served as a lady attendant for the Katakura family without knowledge of her origins, and only after Mitsui Buzen (a former retainer of the Sanada clan) visited the Katakura family was it learned that she was the daughter of Sanada Nobushige. Thereafter, Buzen served the Katakura family. Moreover, Nobushige’s second son, Sanada Morinobu (known, at the time, as Daihachi) and his sixth daughter, Oshōbu, came to the Katakura family through their connection with Oume. Morinobu adopted the Katakura surname, but, in the generation of his children, reverted to the Sanada surname. Oshōbu became the wife of Katakura Sadahiro (a nephew of Megohime, the formal wife of Masamune who originated from the Tamura clan.