Lifespan: Eishō 10 (1513) to 9/1 of Tenbun 20 (1551)
Name Changes: Gorō → Takasuke → Takatoyo
Other Names: Gorōzaemon, Taifu-no-hōgan
Title: Senior Fifth Rank (Lower), Second Lieutenant of Outer Palace Guards of the Left Division
Clan: Reizei (descended from the Tatara branch of the Ōuchi)
Lord: Ōuchi Yoshioki → Ōuchi Yoshitaka
Father: Reizei Okitoyo
Siblings: Takatoyo, Yoshiyasu Toyohide
Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Hiraga Hiroyasu
Children: Mototoyo, Motomitsu, daughter (wife of Sufu Motokane)
Reizei Takatoyo served as a bushō during the Sengoku period. He was a retainer of the Ōuchi clan.
The Reizei were originally the Tatara clan, a branch of the Ōuchi clan. Takatoyo’s father, Reizei Okitoyo, adopted the surname of his wife (from the Reizei family) and thereafter they were known as the Reizei clan.
In 1513, Takatoyo was born as the son of Reizei Okitoyo. His formal wife was the daughter of Hiraga Hiroyasu.
From an early age, Takatoyo served Ōuchi Yoshioki, the sengoku daimyō of Suō Province. After the death of Yoshioki, he served Yoshioki’s son, Ōuchi Yoshitaka. Initially, he received one of the characters from the name of Yoshitaka and adopted the name of Takasuke. Later, he used one of the characters from the name of his own father and adopted the name of Takatoyo. Takatoyo led the Ōuchi navy and, in 1527, advanced into Aki Province to engage in battle at Nihojima and Kō castles.
In 1541, he became the lord of Satō-Kanayama Castle, the base of the Aki-Takeda clan. In 1542, he followed Yoshitaka in an expedition against the Amago clan of Izumo Province. After laying siege to Gassantoda Castle, the Ōuchi were betrayed by kokujin, or provincial landowners, forcing them to withdraw all of their forces. This is known as the Siege of Gassantoda Castle. Takatoyo made arrangements for a vessel for the adopted son of Yoshitaka, Ōuchi Harutoki, but Harutoki drowned during the retreat. The next year, Takatoyo advanced into Iyo Province. Takatoyo joined Shiroi Fusatane (a kokujin from Aki and father of Shiroi Katatane) to attack 平智島 in the second month of 1546 and 中途島 in the fifth month of 1547.
After the defeat in the Siege of Gassantoda Castle, his lord, Yoshitaka, turned his attention toward the literary arts while the Ōuchi clan split into two factions: a pro-civilian faction led by Sagara Taketō, and a pro-military faction led by Sue Takafusa (later known as Sue Harukata), triggering conflict within the clan. After the conflict deepened, Takatoyo made efforts to avoid the outbreak of hostilities by mediating between the factions, but it proved to be to no avail. After rumors spread in Yamaguchi of a rebellion by Takafusa, he advised Yoshitaka to murder him but Yoshitaka chose not to respond.
In 1551, Takafusa finally rose to action. After meticulous efforts by Takafusa to lay the groundwork, very few people other than those associated with the pro-civilian faction supported Yoshitaka. Yoshitaka fled Yamaguchi and sought assistance from Yoshimi Masayori of Iwami Province but owing to strong winds could not launch his vessel and, instead, sought refuge at the Tainei Temple in Nagato Province. The Sue army then surrounded the Tainei Temple, compelling him to take his own life. Takatoyo served as the kaishaku, or the individual designated to decapitate a person in the course of seppuku to alleviate the agony. After performing this role, Takatoyo charged the Sue army, striking fear in his opponents. After setting a fire, he entered the scripture room, composed a death poem, committed seppuku by cutting himself crosswise before dying.
These events resulting in the demise of Yoshitaka as well as Takatoyo are known as the Tainei Temple Incident. The hillside road leading to the scripture room in which Takatoyo spent his final moments was thereafter called the Reizei Hill.
Character and Descendants
In addition to his bravery, Takatoyo was known for his skill in composing waka, or traditional Japanese poetry. He was revered for his acts as a loyal retainer.
His son, Reizei Mototoyo, served the Mōri clan and became the chamberlain of Moji Castle. In 1562, he was killed in an attack by the Ōtomo army. Mototoyo was succeeded by his younger brother, Reizei Motomitsu, who served as a naval commander. In 1598, during the Bunroku Campaign, he was killed at the First Siege of Ulsan in Korea.
The vestiges of the Reizei residence in Shūtō in the city of Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture are deemed to have been the site of Takatoyo’s home.