Kawakami Tadakata

川上忠堅

Kawakami Clan

Bushō

Satsuma Province

Lifespan:  Eiroku 1 (1558) to Tenshō 14 (1586)

Other Names:  Hisakata, Sukeshichi (common)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Assistant Master of the Eastern Capital Office (Sakyō-no-suke)

Clan:  Kawakami

Lord:  Shimazu Yoshihisa

Father:  Kawakami Tadatomo

Mother:  Daughter of 春成 Hisamasa

Siblings:  Tadakata, Tadae, Hisatomo

Wife:  [Formal]  Daughter of Sonoda Sanesuke

Children:  Hisashige

Kawakami Tadakata served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  He was a retainer of the Shimazu clan of Satsuma Province.

In 1558, Tadakata was born as the son of Kawakami Tadatomo.

Together with his father, Tadakata served Shimazu Yoshihisa, a sengoku daimyō and sixteenth head of the Shimazu clan.  In 1584, at the Battle of Okitanawate, Tadakata participated under the command Shimazu Iehisa (a younger brother of Yoshihisa).  During this conflict, Tadakata took the head of the commanding general of the enemy army, Ryūzōji Takanobu, during a failed attempt by Takanobu to escape.  On this occasion, Tadakata brought back as the spoils of war the short-sword of Takanobu.  Thereafter, Tadakata continued to serve meritoriously as a capable bushō in the Shimazu army.

In 1586, Tadakata followed Shimazu Yoshihiro into battle against Tsukushi Hirokado, a daimyō based at Katsu-no-o Castle in Hizen Province.  At this time, Tadakata responded to a challenge from Hirokado’s younger brother, Tsukushi Harukado, to engage in a one-on-one duel.  After a strenuous fight, Tadakata killed Harukado, but Tadakata also incurred injuries to his arm that resulted in his later death.  In these duels, it was not uncommon for both combatants to die as a result of their injuries.  He was twenty-nine years old.  As a rare duel between commanding generals that resulted in the deaths of both participants, fictitious stories were later crafted by which opponents exchanged waka, or classical poetry, to determine a victor instead.

Takanobu’s short-sword was inherited by Tadakata’s descendants, carefully kept in a box on which it is written “divine spirit” in black ink.  To console his spirit, Takanobu was designated an ujigami, or guardian god, in the Shintō religion.  In 2008, the descendants of Tadakata donated the short-sword to Saga Prefecture and, in 2009, it was first displayed publicly at the Saga Prefectural Museum.