Kitadate Toshinaga

北楯利長

Kitadate Clan

Bushō

Dewa Province

Lifespan:  Tenbun 17 (1548) to 10/20 of Kanei 2 (1625)

Other Names:  Daigaku

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (posthumous)

Clan:  Kitadate

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Dewa-Yamagata

Lord:  Mogami Yoshiaki → Mogami Iechika → Mogami Yoshitoshi

Children:  Sukejirō

Kitadate Toshinaga

Kitadate Toshinaga served as a bushō from the Sengoku to early Edo periods.  He was a retainer of the Mogami clan and served as the lord of Karigawa Castle in the Tagawa District of Dewa Province.  Toshinaga constructed the Great Kitadate Dam to provide water to the Shōnai Plains.

Toshinaga served Mogami Yoshiaki (a daimyō, the eleventh head of the Mogami clan, and the lord of Yamagata Castle).  In 1601, after Yoshiaki defeated Uesugi Kagekatsu and seized three districts in the Shōnai, Toshinaga became the lord of Karigawa Castle in the Tagawa District with a fief of 3,000 koku.  On the land owned by Toshinaga (including Karigawa, Kiyokawa, and Tachiyazawa), the drainage was poor so irrigation facilities were urgently needed.  Consequently, in 1611, Toshinaga made a request to Yoshiaki to build canals to pull water from the Tachiyazawa River (a tributary for the drainage of the Mogami River) to the fields to the north of the Tagawa District.  Anticipating that the construction would be difficult, many opposed the idea but based on the strong advocacy of Niizeki Hisamasa and others, in the third month of 1612, Yoshiaki ordered Toshinaga to commence the work and delegated management of the project to Toshinaga.

For the project, a total of 7,400 laborers were amassed from across the Shōnai region.  In the seventh month, after the completion of over thirty kilometers of dams, Yoshiaki offered high praise to Toshinaga, stating that the accomplishment was a priceless treasure for the Shōnai.  In addition to increasing Toshinaga’s fief by 300 koku, Yoshiaki issued a written guarantee that several tens of thousands of koku that the newly irrigated fields were expected to yield would all be allocated to Toshinaga’s fief.  Upon completion of the dams, 4,200 hectares were opened to cultivation and eighty-eight hamlets founded.  The irrigated fields yielded 30,000 koku, or ten times the initial quantity.  In honor of Toshinaga, this was named the Great Kitadate Dam.

In 1622, after the removal of the Mogami clan from their position, Toshinaga also lost his landholdings.  His son, Sukejirō (Masahisa), was engaged in service by Sakai Tadakatsu, the newly assigned landlord of the Shōnai region.  Sukejirō then changed his surname to Kitadate and received a stipend of 300 koku.  Toshinaga retired with a stipend of 100 koku.

On 10/20 of Kanei 2 (1625), Toshinaga died at the age of seventy-eight.

In 1778, during the middle Edo period, the Sui Shrine was built and Toshinaga was enshrined as a deity at the shrine.  In 1915, he was posthumously awarded the Court title of Junior Fifth Rank.  In 1919, the shrine was moved to the Tateyama Park built upon the remains of Karigawa Castle under the name of the Kitadate Shrine.  There is a statue of Toshinaga at this park.