Kida Magobei served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama period. He was a retainer of Katō Kiyomasa.
Magobei is well-known under the name of Keyamura Rokusuke. The line between historical facts and legends regarding his life is uncertain.
According to popular views, Magobei is counted among the Sixteen Generals of the Katō and held a fief of over 900 koku.
During the Bunroku-Keichō Campaign, Magobei led a unit of forty arquebusiers under the command of Shimokawa Matazaemon of the third division. On the battlefield, he was associated with the elite cavalry known as horoshū for the yellow canopies that flew behind them while riding their horses to deflect arrows or other objects hurled at them. During an invasion by the Katō army against the Uriankhai people of Mongolia, he competed against Morimoto Gidayū (Morimoto Kazuhisa) to be the first to enter the battle but was killed. These events were detailed in an account written by Kazuhisa’s son, Morimoto Kazutomo.
After Magobei was killed by the Uriankhai people, Kiyomasa looked for his family members to ensure the name of Magobei was maintained by the family. That became the name of his younger brother, Kida Magobei Genba. Thereafter, he adopted the name of Kida Genba Masakatsu. Under Kiyomasa, he participated in the construction of Kumamoto Castle and was able to demonstrate his exceptional talents.
After the Katō family was removed from their position, Magobei was solicited by the Kishū-Tokugawa and Wakasa-Sakai families to serve as a lieutenant general but refused the offers and, for a while, became a rōnin, or wandering samurai. Three years later, he was engaged as the head of chief retainers of the Aoyama clan of the Amagaski domain. After his service, the bakufu ordered the Aoyama clan to send Genba to construct stone walls for the Nikkō-Tōshō Shrine. Members of Genba’s family, together with the Aoyama family, went to Shinshū-Iiyama, Miyazu, and Gujō-Hachiman, followed by Tsugaru.
One other younger brother, Kida Kakuemon, served the Hosokawa clan of the Nakatsu domain. Thereafter, together with the Hosokawa family, he headed toward Higo. Kakuemon’s descendants spread out across Kyūshū whereas the descendants of Genba settled from Amagasaki in Hyōgo across the Kansai region and from Aomori to the Tōhoku region.
Legends of Keyamura Rokusuke
Military chronicles from the Edo period indicate the prior name of Kida Magobei Muneharu as Keyamura Rokusuke. There is a story in which he assisted a woman seeking revenge. During the Tenmei era (1782 to 1788), this story was popularized through bunraku, or traditional puppet theater. Later, the story was performed in kabuki theater as well and, during the Tenshō period, the subject of film.
Nongae was born in Jeolla during the Joseon Dynasty. She was born into the Sinan Joo clan. A popular legend in Korea tells the story of her sacrificial assassination of the Japanese general Keyamura Rokusuke. Nongae became a mistress of Choi Gyeong-hwi of the Haeju Choi clan. During the Bunroku Campaign, the Japanese forces succeeded in their invasion of Suyeong Fortress (now near Jinju), an event known as the Second Siege of Jinju. To celebrate the victory, soldiers forced all the kisaeng (courtesans) to serve them at the Choseokru Pavilion on a cliff that overlooked the Nam River in Jinju. Nongae was called to entertain the victorious Japanese generals alongside the other kisaeng. Nongae walked to a steep rock jutting out of the Nam River that prevented the soldiers from joining her out of fear of falling into the river. Nongae challenged the Japanese general, Keyamura Rokusuke, to join her. The general attempted to lure Nongae away from the rock, but she eventually led him to the cliff-side, where she embraced him, clasped her fingers with rings that locked her around him, and cast herself along with the general into the river, killing them both.
There are graves for Kida Magobei (Keyamura Rokusuke) in the village of Keyamura in the town of Yamakuni in the city of Nakatsu in Oita Prefecture and in the town of Soeda in Fukuoka Prefecture. By virtue of placing his hair in these graves while leaving these locations, it is surmised these were memorials to himself made during his lifetime. Minomushi Sanjin (Toki Gengo, a bushi from Mino), a traveling artist at the end of the Edo period, visited these locations in 1864. In his diary, there is a picture of a gorintō, or five-part gravestone representing earth, water, fire, wind and heaven, representing the grave of Tsukimura Rokusuke.
In the area near his grave stood an old-style home with the family name of Kito that was destroyed during a typhoon in 1991. Prior to the Meiji period, this family adopted the surname of Kida.
According to an account of Keyamura Rokusuke from 1716 (the only known account from the Keyamura settlement), he died in this location at the age of sixty-two.
It is possible that he was a fabrication after becoming famous as a character in kabuki theater but the name of Kida Magobei appears in a letter from Katō Kiyomasa providing evidence of his existence.
There is a shrine called Rokusuke shrine in Nagoya in the city of Karatsu in Saga Prefecture.
There is a story that he engaged in a sumō wrestling match against a man of enormous strength known as Kimura Matazō.
After being killed on the Korean Peninsula, Kida Magobei Muneharu’s body was pickled and transported back to Nagoya. The Rokusuke shrine was built as the site for his burial. At this shrine, he is worshiped as the diety of feet. Kida Magobei Muneharu is also worshiped as a diety at the Kita Shrine in Nagoya.