Susukida Kanesuke

薄田兼相

Susukida Clan

Susukida Kanesuke

Susukida Kanesuke served as a bushō from the Sengoku to early Edo periods.  He had the common name of Hayato-no-shō.  Kanesuke served Toyotomi Hideyori.  He is regarded to be the same individual as Iwami Jūtarō, a martial artist known in legends for vengeance and the eradication of monsters.

There are few details known in regard to the first half of his life, including his provincial origins.  His younger sister was the wife of Hotta Kazutsugu.

He served the Toyotomi clan and governed a fief of 3,000 koku as a member of the umamawari, or mounted soldiers, for Hideyoshi.  His fief was later increased to 5,000 koku.  His name appears among those engaged in construction of the Imperial Palace in 1611.

In 1614, Kanesuke participated in the Siege of Ōsaka.  In the Winter Campaign, he led a group of rōnin, or wandering samurai, to defend Bakurō-ga-buchi fortress but, during the Battle of Bakurōbuchi, he committed the blunder of passing through a brothel district just as the fortress fell to the Tokugawa forces.  He was subject to ridicule from allies as a “daidai-musha.”  A daidai is a bitter orange that is only useful as a decoration at new year’s, meaning that he gave a false impression as a warrior.  This was said to be on the same level as when Ōno Harutane was scorned for failing to account for inclement weather that destroyed the navy and led to an overwhelming loss at the Battle of Noda and Fukushima Castles.

In 1615, at the Battle of Dōmyōji during the Summer Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka, owing to fog, trailing forces including Kanesuke, Akashi Takenori, and Sanada Nobushige (Yukimura) arrived more than eight hours late to join the vanguard forces led by Gotō Mototsugu.  In the meantime, the vanguard clashed with an infantry division led by Katakura Shigenaga (a retainer of Date Masamune) that fielded more than ten times as many troops.  Mototsugu came down from his base on Mount Komatsu and attempted to press the attack, but was killed in action.  Kanesuke then took over as commander of the forces, but, despite killing multiple enemy forces, died in battle.  While not certain, there are theories that he was killed by Kawamura Shigenaga (a retainer of Mizuno Katsunari), forces under Honda Tadamasa, or forces under Katakura Shigenaga.

His memorial built by members of the Asano family in Habiki in Ōsaka Prefecture is designated as a cultural asset.

Kanesuke was known as an intrepid warrior, and he founded the Kanesuke style of jujitsu and empty-handed sword-fighting techniques.

Anecdotes

There is a well-known theory that his ancestor was Iwami Jūtarō.  On that premise, he was born as the second son of Iwami Jūzaemon, an instructor of swordsmanship to Kobayakawa Takakage.  His father, however, was murdered by a counterpart named Hirose Gunzō so Kanesuke traveled to various locations seeking vengeance.  This gave rise to many stories of bravery while on his quest such as the elimination of ghosts.  In 1590, he finally killed Gunzō in Ama-no-hashidate.  Thereafter, he was adopted by his uncle, Susukida Shichizaemon.