Naruse Masatake


Naruse Clan


Mikawa Province

Lifespan:  Tenshō 13 (1585) to 11/27 of Genna 1 (1616)

Other Names:  Kiyoyoshi (common)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Governor of Bungo

Clan:  Naruse

Bakufu:  Edo – commander of hanabatakeban (koshōkumi)

Lord:  Tokugawa Hidetada

Father:  Naruse Masakazu

Mother:  Member of the Yamagami clan

Siblings:  Masanari, Yoshimasa, Masatake, sister (wife of Kusakabe Muneyoshi), Masakatsu, Masanori, sister (wife of Tsuzuki Kazunari), sister (wife of Kanemaru Jibuzaemon)

Wife: [Formal] Adopted daughter of Yamaguchi Shigemasa, [Second] (Osen, second daughter of Itō Suketake)

Children:  Itō Sukemasa, daughter (wife of Kanemori Shigekatsu), Itō Sukeaki 

Naruse Masatake served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was a retainer of the Tokugawa clan.

In 1585, Masatake was born as the son of Naruse Masakazu, a retainer of the Tokugawa.

From around the age of six, Masatake became a servant of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu.  Later, he was promoted to be commander of the hanabatakeban, later known as the koshōkumi, an elite cavalry unit, and received a stipend of 5,000 koku.  At this time, in addition to Masatake, there were five commanders of cavalry units including Mizuno Tadamoto, Kusakabe Masafuyu, Inoue Masanari, Itakura Shigemune, and Ōkubo Noritaka.  

In 1605, upon a proclamation by Tokugawa Hidetada, Masatake was chosen from among twelve guards to be invested with the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower).  From around 1611, he began to serve as a messenger between Hidetada in Edo and Ieyasu in Sunpu.

On 10/16 of Keichō 19 (1614), Masatake delivered secret orders from Ieyasu who was on a sojourn in Okazaki to Hidetada.  Immediately thereafter, official notice was given of an attack on Ōsaka.  Masatake led the soldiers in his unit on a deployment to Ōsaka.  At the Winter Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka, Masatake was ordered by Ieyasu to lure away Gotō Mototsugu.  He succeeded in leading Mototsugu to Ieyasu’s encampment, but Ieyasu himself did not respond so Masatake could not persuade him to join them.  At the Summer Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka, he was charged by a battalion led by Sanada Nobushige, and, as the hatamoto scattered, he fought valiantly along with the soldiers in his unit.

In 1620, Masatake accompanied Hidetada during a visit to the Imperial palace.  Later that year, he was transferred to the custody of Andō Shigenobu.  He was then ordered to commit seppuku at the Kichijō Temple.  His nephew, Naruse Yukinari, the lord of the Kurihara domain, served as the kaishaku.  This is an individual standing behind the person committing seppuku who is tasked with decapitating the victim with a swift strike of the sword to mitigate the agony of an otherwise slow demise.  The reason why Masatake was ordered to take his own life is uncertain.  According to one account, this was punishment for an affair that he had with a court lady who served the empress at the palace.  Another theory is that the punishment was given because he failed to heed repeated warnings against a homosexual relationship with a member of the koshōkumi named Oyama Yoshihisa (or Oyama Nagato-no-kami Yoshihisa).

Mystery concerning the act of seppuku

There are assorted theories concerning the reason for Masatake to commit seppuku.  These include that he was purged by (i) the Honda faction owing to complicity in an incident involving Ōkubo Nagayasu because he was a member of the Ōkubo faction, or (ii) the Kasuga-no-tsubone and Tenkai faction backing Tokugawa Iemitsu because, as a member of the Oeyo faction, he supported Tokugawa Kunimatsu (Tadanaga) to become the third shōgun.  Alternatively, it occurred because, during the Siege of Ōsaka, he assisted the escape of supporters of the rebellion by carrying out secret orders from Oeyo.  The circumstances, however, are uncertain.

After his demise, his wife, Osen, and young children turned for support to her original family, the Obi-Itō family of Hyūga Province.  His eldest son, Naruse Sukemasa  (Toranosuke) continued to maintain ties with close associates of his father including Ii Naotaka, Doi Toshikatsu, and Andō Shigenobu, along with cousins including Naruse Masatora and Naruse Yukinari.  He offered his services but did not receive an invitation so changed his name to Itō Naizen Sukemasa and spent the remainder of his life in despair in the Matsu citadel at Obi Castle.


Sukemasa’s second son, Sukekatsu, honored the wishes of his father, adopting the name of Naruse Iori and requesting to serve in the bakukaku, the highest organ in the Edo bakufu.  Through the efforts of Naruse Masatora, he temporarily served the Owari domain, but, owing to the consequences of the Furisode Fire in 1657 that burned down a majority of Edo, he moved to work at the main base of the domain, causing the prospects of service in the bakukaku to recede.  In the Owari domain, he was granted landholdings in the homeland of the Naruse clan in the Naruse township in the Asuke manor in the village of Takahama in Mikawa Province.  He then served as a yoriki, or security officer, in Inuyama-Naruse, under the name of Takahama Yajiemon.

A lineal descendant of Takahama Yajiemon named Naruse Masanori, counted among fourteen valorous soldiers, was executed for complicity in the Aoyamaba Incident in 1868 that occurred in the Owari domain at the end of the Edo period.

Itō 正美, the third son of Itō Sukemasa who received the Itō surname founded the Mondo family which was one of three families who were members of the Obi-Itō family.  Similarly, Itō Sukeaki, the second son of Masatake who received the Itō surname founded the Tosho family.  Therefore, Masatake’s sons founded two of the three families who were members of the Obi-Itō clan.

Based on the familial connection between the original home of Osen in the city of Nichinan in Miyazaki Prefecture and the area previously governed by Naruse Masanari (the older brother of Masatake) in the city of Inuyama in Aichi Prefecture, these two communities are sister cities.