Kumashiro Katsutoshi


Kumashiro Clan


Hizen Province

Lifespan:  Eishō 8 (1511) to 3/15 of Eiroku 8 (1565)

Other Names:  Shinjirō, Gyōbu-no-shō

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Yamato

Clan:  Kumashiro

Lord:  Shōni Fuyuhisa

Father:  Kumashiro Munemoto

Mother:  Daughter of Jinnai Toshiyo

Siblings:  Soejima Toshimoto, Katsutoshi, Chifu Munetoshi, sister (wife of Itō Izumo-no-kami), Munemitsu

Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Soejima Nobutsugu, [Second] Daughter of Chifu Ukisada, [Consort] Daughter of Egami Nagatane

Children:  Nagayoshi, Taneyoshi, Shūtoshi, Koretoshi, daughter (wife of Takagi Nagato-no-kami), daughter (wife of Nakajima Sōen), daughter (wife of 東新 Jirō), daughter (wife of Ōtsuru Shigetada), Sekiya Shigetoshi, daughter (wife of Magaribuchi Shinsuke), daughter (wife of Yuzuriha Motomitsu)

Kumashiro Katsutoshi served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was a retainer of the Shōni clan in Hizen Province.

The Kumashiro clan are understood to have descended from Takeshiuchi no Sukene, a character from around the fourth century.  The Kumashiro were an offshoot of the Mononobe clan who served as the high priests of the Kōra Grand Shrine.  Later, the Kumashiro became prominent serving in a similar capacity at the shrine.  In the era of Katsutoshi’s father, the family fell into ruin and ended-up in the village of Chifu in Hizen. 

In 1511, Katsutoshi was born as the second son of Kumashiro Munemoto.  From an early age, Katsutoshi was raised by Chiba Okitsune.

Noda Munetoshi, the lord of Mitsuse Castle, requested Katsutoshi to serve as his instructor in the art of swordsmanship, and eventually Katsutoshi had 500 disciples.  The gōzoku, or wealthy families, of Yamauchi (the northern mountainous region encompassing the communities of Kanzaki, Saga, and Ogi) including Mitsuse sought an individual to bring together the Twenty-Six Mountains of Yamauchi (meaning the twenty-six families governing Yamauchi).  Upon the recommendation of Munetoshi, Katsutoshi became the head of this group.  Around 1548, he was called by the Mononobe surname (with the same pronunciation as the Mononobe clan but different characters relating to military affairs).

Conflict with the Ryūzōji clan

In 1545, Shōni Fuyuhisa slaughtered the Ryūzōji family.  Thereafter, Katsutoshi, together with Baba Yorichika, led 500 mounted soldiers to surround Ryūzōji Kaneie, Ryūzōji Ieyasu, and Ryūzōji Yorizumi who were on their way to seek vindication from Fuyuhisa, killing them.  When Tsuchibashi Hidemasu plotted the fall of Ryūzōji Takanobu, Katsutoshi supported an assault on Muranaka Castle (Saga Castle).  In 1553, after Takanobu raised arms from his place of confinement in Yanagawa, Katsutoshi entered Yae Castle held by Yae Muneteru to mount a defense, but was defeated, settled with Takanobu, and returned to his territory in Yamauchi.  In 1555, Katsutoshi came into conflict again with Takanobu, setting fire to various locations in the territory of the Ryūzōji and continuing to resist.  In a bid to eliminate Katsutoshi as an impediment to the Ryūzōji family, a retainer of the Ryūzōji named Ogawa Nobuyasu secretly entered the bathhouse at Katsutoshi’s base at Chifu Castle intending to assassinate him.  At this moment, Katsutoshi was enjoying a banquet when a lady from the castle warned him of an intruder whereupon Katsutoshi said “That type of person must be Ogawa Chikuzen so call him over here.”  They then enjoyed exchanging drinks with one another.

Defeat and comeback

On 9/5 of Kōji 2 (1556), a large contingent of the Ryūzōji army invaded Yamauchi.  Unable to withstand the assault, Katsutoshi fled for safety to Harada Takatane of Chikuzen Province.  In 1558, Katsutoshi revived an army from Yamauchi and, at dawn on 1/1, attacked the local governor from the Ryūzōji family who was placed in Katsutoshi’s former territory.  Given that it was the first day of the new year, the enemy forces caught off-guard were killed while the attackers seized control of Mitsuse Castle and restored control of Yamauchi.  The residents of Yamauchi where Mitsusue Castle was located were delighted at the return of Katsutoshi.  In the ninth month, he attacked Kasugayama Castle, killing many members of the garrison.  Members of the family of Ogawa Nobuyasu were in Kasugayama Castle.  In an effort to seek revenge for the death of his family, on 10/15, Nobuyasu deployed to Kasugayama.  On the next day, when Katsutoshi was scouting the area, Nobuyasu unexpectedly encountered him in the mountains.  When they engaged in a one-on-one duel, Katsutoshi killed Nobuyasu.  Thereafter, the Ogawa forces following after Nobuyasu clashed with the Saga forces of Takanobu at the Battle of Kanashikitōge.  At this time, Katsutoshi achieved a major victory over Takanobu, killing Ishii Kanekiyo and others while benefiting from the arquebus skills of Ijūin Agonbō, a member of the Ijūin clan of Satsuma Province who was one of Katsutoshi’s attendants.

In the eleventh month, in a bid to dampen the will of Katsutoshi and a retainer named Egami Taketane, the Ryūzōji family plotted to eviscerate the Shōni clan serving as their lords.  Katsutoshi fought against Oda Masamitsu, killing him.  Owing, however, to a violent assault by the Oda forces, Katsutoshi’s army incurred severe losses and was forced to retreat to Mitsuse Castle.  Next, the Ryūzōji forces surrounded the base of the Shōni at Seifukuji Castle.  On 12/3, the two sides initially reconciled but a subsequent attack the following year caused Shōni Fuyuhisa to take his own life.

Battle of Kawakamikyō and demise

In the ninth month of 1561, Takanobu had a messenger deliver a note to Katsutoshi directly challenging him to a final showdown at Kawakami.  Katsutoshi accepted.  On 9/13, Katsutoshi deployed with 7,000 mounted soldiers but, during the ensuing Battle of Kawakamikyō, a betrayal by a member of Katsutoshi’s army led to the death of Katsutoshi’s third son, Kumashiro Shūtoshi, and the collapse of the battalion that Shūtoshi was commanding.  In the resulting chaos on the battlefield, Katsutoshi’s second son, Kumashiro Taneyoshi, was also killed.  While helping Katsutoshi’s eldest son, Kumashiro Nagayoshi, to flee, a retainer of the Katsutoshi named Ebara Iwami-no-kami was captured and executed.  After losing family members in the course of the defeat, Katsutoshi, together with his wife and children, fled to Hasami and became a rōnin, or wandering samurai.  Later, with the assistance of a retainer, Nakamura Iki-no-kami, who remained in Yamauchi, Katsutoshi made a comeback in Yamauchi.  In 1562, through the mediation of Nōmi Nobukage, promises were made for Nagayoshi’s daughter to wed Takanobu’s third son, Ryūzōji Ienobu, in the future, and a settlement was reached.  Katsutoshi retired to a castle in the mountainous area of Hatase.  Three years later, he died of an intestinal illness.

Soon after the death of Katsutoshi, in the fourth month, Nagayoshi’s two children contracted and died of smallpox.  Aware of the misfortunes besetting the Kumashiro clan, Takanobu took advantage of the situation by attacking Chifu Castle and ousting Nagayoshi.  After Nagayoshi affiliated with the Ōtomo clan to repeatedly confront Takanobu, in 1571, he became a retainer of the Ryūzōji, adopted the son of Ogawa Nobutoshi named Ieyoshi, and thereafter his descendants survived as members of the Kawakubo-Nabeshima clan until the end of the Edo period.  Ogawa Nobutoshi may have been the younger brother of Nabeshima Naoshige.


When another retainer of Chiba Okitsune named Ebara Iwami-no-kami had a dream that when he soaked his feet in water, he turned into a dragon (or that he turned into a giant and with the northern mountains as a pillow soaked his feet in the southern sea), he inquired to Katsutoshi whether this was a good or bad omen.  Katsutoshi responded that this was a bad omen but could make it a good omen by selling a hairpin to someone.

Thereafter, he demonstrated military prowess and served valorously in numerous battles, later becoming a retainer of Katsutoshi.

In the second month of 1555, Kumashiro Katsutoshi met with Ryūzōji Takanobu at the Tafuse mansion to make peace.  On this occasion, Takanobu attempted to poison Katsutoshi but, owing to the alertness of a close associate of Katsutoshi named Baba Shirōzaemon, the event ended without incident.  While preparing to return, Katsutoshi mounted Takanobu’s prized horse and sang an improvised song, leaving Takanobu and the others stunned while Katsutoshi departed in high spirits.  The phrase was as follows:


This song was called Nōyasetsu and became so popular that unless sung it was said that a banquet could not be festive.