Lifespan: Eishō (15xx) to Tenshō (15xx)
Title: Director of the Imperial Cavalry of the Right Division
Clan: Buzen-Chōno → Tabaru (main branch)
Lord: Ōtomo Sōrin → Ōtomo Yoshimune
Father: Chōno Sukemori (?)
Adoptive Father: Tawara Chikahiro
Siblings: Chōno Nagamori, Chikatsura
Wife: [Formal] Second daughter of Tawara Chikahiro
Adopted Children: Tawara Chikaie (second natural son of Ōtomo Sōrin)
Tabaru Chikatsura served as a bushō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods. Chikatsura was the head of the Tabaru clan, an illegitimate branch of the Ōtomo clan of Bungo Province in northern Kyūshū. Chikatsura was a retainer of the Ōtomo.
The Tabaru were founded by Ōtomo Yasuhiro, an illegitimate son of Ōtomo Yoshinao, the first head of the Ōtomo clan in the early thirteenth century. Together with the Shiga and Takuma clans, the Tabaru were known as one of the three branches of the Ōtomo.
Chikatsura may have been the second son of Chōno Sukemori, a member of the Buzen-Chōno clan. He became the adopted son-in-law of Tawara Chikahiro, a retainer of the Ōtomo clan, and inherited the Tabaru clan.
In 1578, Chikatsura, along with Tawara Chikakata (later known as Tawara Jōnin), served in an expedition to Hyūga Province, but, that same year, suffered a defeat at the Battle of Mimikawa and retreated.
In the ninth month of 1579, after the death of his adoptive father, Chikahiro, Chikatsura revolted against the main branch of the Ōtomo family. A key reason for this was the expansion of power within the family by Jōnin who was adored by Ōtomo Sōrin, a sengoku daimyō and the twenty-first head of the Ōtomo clan. When Sōrin returned landholdings in Kunisaki and Aki previously seized from Chikahiro, Sōrin plotted with Jōnin to send his second son, Ōtomo Chikaie, to the main branch of the Tawara to become the successor to Chikahiro. Meanwhile, Chikahiro died of illness before expressing an opinion in regard to this plan. When, after Chikahiro’s demise, Chikatsura learned of the plot, he launched the revolt.
Chikatsura commanded ships to attack the base of the Ōtomo at Funai but, owing to a storm, could not make a landing in Funai and pulled back. Soon thereafter, Takita Shōtetsu also launched a rebellion. When forces from both groups of rebels stormed Funai, defeat for the Ōtomo was inevitable and the situation descended into chaos. This prompted Sōrin to seek a mediation so he ordered his designated heir, Ōtomo Yoshimune, to engage in settlement activities. These efforts, however, failed. Chikatsura maintained his opposition to the Ōtomo and, from his bases at Aki and Kurakake castles, engaged in operations to intercept and attack the Ōtomo army. He established the base at Kurakage in anticipation of support from the Akizuki clan of Chikugo, the Chōno clan of Buzen, and the Mōri clan of Aki.
Around this time, within the Ōtomo clan, a senior retainer named Tachibana Dōsetsu and others became concerned in regard to the leadership capabilities of their lord, Yoshimune, whereupon they appealed for Yoshimune to retire and for his close associates to be ousted, followed by the return of Sōrin as head of the clan. While Sōrin did not agree to have Yoshimune retire, a consensus was reached whereby Sōrin would serve as his guardian so the Ōtomo could finally deal with the revolt by Chikatsura. In the second month, Sōrin took command of the Ōtomo army, assigned a retainer named Shibata Reinō to Ōtomo Chikaie, and stationed them at Odomure Castle while having Yoshimune deploy to the Hayami District. Sōrin himself deployed to Tsujima in the Hinode manor as a base from which to command the entire army.
In the seventh month of 1580, attacks commenced against Aki Castle. Despite efforts by forces under Yoshimune and Chikaie, the garrison fiercely defended the castle, causing the assault to stall. Moreover, Aki Castle was being provisioned by sea route so, in the eighth month, Sōrin sought to block these deliveries by calling upon the Murakami navy for support.
In response, Chikatsura ordered a senior retainer, Nyohōji Chikanami, to request support from Mōri Terumoto and Kobayakawa Takakage of Aki Province. After garnering a commitment from the Mōri, Nyohōji Chikanami (father and son) succeeded in negotiations and then adopted the Tawara surname.
Around the end of the eighth month, however, naval vessels from the Mōri attempting to land in Aki in the Higashi-kunisaki District were repelled in an attack by the Ōtomo navy under the command of Wakabayashi Shigeoki. In the ninth month, after the fall of Aki Castle, members of the Kii and Chōno clans (provincial landowners in Buzen) headed toward Kurakake Castle for support, but were defeated by forces led by Tawara Chikakata and Sada Shigeoki. Isolated and without support, Kurakake Castle was toppled in an all-out assault by the Ōtomo army in the tenth month. Akizuki Tanezane dispatched reinforcements to Bungo but, after hearing news of the fall of Kurakake Castle, retreated.
There are assorted theories regarding the end of his life, including that he killed himself at the time that Kurakake Castle fell, he fled through the assistance of Akizuki Tanezane, or that he was murdered while fleeing by members of the Tokieda clan in the Usa District. In fact, Ōtomo Yoshimune could not confirm Chikatsura’s death so ordered an investigation on the assumption that he fled.
At this time, Chikatsura is surmised to have been in his latter teens, and the revolt appears to have been desired not only by Chikatsura, but all of the other members of the main branch of the Tabaru. At the height of the battle, Chikatsura’s wife reportedly died of illness at Kurakake Castle.
As a result of this battle, Ōtomo Chikaie entered the main branch of the Tabaru family and adopted the name of Tabaru Chikaie.