Makabe Ujimoto

真壁氏幹

Makabe Clan

Bushō

Hitachi Province

Lifespan:  8/2 of Tenbun 19 (1550) to 3/7 of Genna 8 (1622)

Other Names:  Oni-Makabe (nickname – may have been in reference to his father, Makabe Hisamoto)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Aki

Clan:  Makabe (descended from the Kenmu-Taira)

Lord:  Satake Yoshiaki → Satake Yoshishige → Satake Yoshinobu

Father:  Makabe Hisamoto

Siblings:  Ujimoto, Yoshimoto, sister (wife of Kajiwara Masakage), sister (wife of Daijō Kiyomoto)

Adopted Children:  Fusamoto (natural son of Ujimoto’s younger brother, Yoshimoto)

Makabe Ujimoto served as a bushō from the Sengoku to early Edo periods.  He was a retainer of the Satake clan and served as the lord of Makabe Castle in the Makabe District of Hitachi Province.

The Makabe clan was founded in the early Kamakura period by Makabe Nagamoto, the fourth son of Take Naomoto, descended from the Daijō clan which, in turn, descended from Taira no Shigemori, a bushō from the middle Heian period and member of the Kenmu-Taira clan.

In 1550, Ujimoto was born as the son of Makabe Hisamoto, a kokujin, or provincial landowner, in the Makabe District of Hitachi.

During the Eiroku era (1558 to 1570), Ujimoto became the head of the Makabe clan.  Under traditional views, Ujimoto received one of the characters in his name from Hōjō Ujimasa, but there is also a possibility that the character came from Ashikaga Yoshiuji (the fifth Koga kubō) whom Ujimasa supported at the time.

From an early age, Ujimoto served Satake Yoshishige and, together with Kajiwara Masakage (the husband of Ujimoto’s younger sister), served on the front lines of the battle against the Hōjō clan.  Swinging a two-meter-long staff reinforced with metal rivets, he slashed his way through battlefields and, owing to his exceptional skills, the feared bushō received the nickname of Oni-Makabe, or Makabe the Demon.  Ujimoto served in almost all of the primary battles of the Satake clan and was awarded a fief of 4,500 koku in the Makabe and Tsukuba districts of Hitachi.

In the fourth month of 1564, while serving as a retainer of the Satake, Ujimoto requested reinforcements from Uesugi Kenshin for a conflict against Oda Ujiharu known as the Battle of Sannōdō.  Owing to the speed of Kenshin’s forces, by the time that Ujimoto and Satake Yoshiaki arrived, the battle had come to an end.

In 1585 and, again in 1588, a conflict known as the Battle of Fuchū broke-out between Edo Shigemichi and Daijō Kiyomoto.  Ujimoto rushed to support his relative, Kiyomoto.  In particular, for the latter event, after Satake Yoshishige and his son deployed in support of Shigemichi, Ujimoto also fought against Yoshishige.  Despite losing this battle, Ujimoto continued to covertly correspond with Satake Yoshinori to mediate a peace.  As the head of the Makabe clan, he abided by the Satake clan while, with respect to issues having a bearing on his own interests, was also willing to confront the Satake.

In 1590, during the Conquest of Odawara by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Ujimoto obeyed Satake Yoshinobu by deploying and, on 5/27, also met with Hideyoshi.  As a result, even though the Makabe clan were completely folded into the retainers of the Satake, unlike the Edo, the Daijō, the Nukada-Onosaki, and the Nanpō-Sanjūsandate (Kashima), they were not decimated by the Satake.  Thereafter, during the Bunroku Campaign from 1592, Ujimoto and his younger brother, Makabe Yoshimoto, served as members of the Satake army and crossed to the Korean Peninsula.

Ujimoto did not have an heir so he adopted Makabe Fusamoto, the son of Ujimoto’s younger brother, Yoshimoto.  In 1598, Ujimoto transferred the headship of the clan to him.  In the wake of the Battle of Sekigahara, he did not accompany the Satake clan upon their transfer to Akita and remained in Hitachi.

On 3/27 of Genna 8 (1622), Ujimoto died.  He was buried at the Jōrin Temple in Shimodate in Hitachi.

Anecdotes

Ujimoto learned the art of sword-fighting from a sword master and military tactician named Tsukahara Bokuden and engaged in sparring against Saitō Denkibō, the founder of the Tenryū school of swordsmanship.  Later, Ujimoto founded the Kasumi school of staff-fighting.

According to some accounts, he was also called the Buddhist name of Dōmu but, based on the genealogical records of the Makabe family, that name was given to his father, Hisamoto.  Events such as collusion with the Yūki clan through plotting by Mizunoya Zenchū in 1537 (occurring prior to the birth of Ujimoto) and the marriage of Kajiwara Gentazaemon Masakage (the second son of Ōta Sukemasa) to his daughter, along with references to Makabe the Demon and stories of his staff made from oak wood, may have been in reference to his father, Hisamoto, rather than Ujimoto himself.

Although under the command of the Satake clan, Ujimoto also displayed acts of independence as a powerful landowner in Hitachi.  At the Battle of Fuchū, for example, he supported Daijō Kiyomoto and fought against Satake Yoshishige.  Moreover, soon after Oda Nobunaga decimated Takeda Katsuyori, Ujimoto sent his own messenger to Nobunaga whereupon, in a letter dated 4/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Nobunaga expressed his appreciation to Ujimoto through a retainer named Hara Shigemasa.  Ujimoto also sent a letter dated 8/9 of Tenshō 12 (1584) to Yoshishige, alleging that shortcomings by Yoshishige in a settlement with Hōjō Ujimasa to end the Battle of Numajiri resulted in a subsequent attack by Ujimasa against Yura Kunishige and Nagao Akinaga (siblings).