Lifespan: Tenbun 13 (1544) to 6/14 of Keichō 14 (1609)
Title: Assistant Vice Minister of Popular Affairs, Governor of Echizen
Lord: Shimazu Takahisa → Shimazu Yoshihisa → Shimazu Yoshihiro → Shimazu Iehisa
Father: Yamada Arinori
Mother: Daughter of Machida Tadatoki
Wife: Daughter of Machida Tadatoyo, daughter of Sekiya Seiemon
Children: Arinaga, Arisada, Aritaka
Yamada Arinobu served as a bushō from the Sengoku period to the early Edo period. He was a retainer of the Shimazu clan. His common name was Shinsuke.
The Satsuma-Yamada clan originated from the Taira clan. Musashi Shikibu-shōyū Aritsura, the son of Musashi Arikuni, went to Satsuma Province during the Bunji era (1185 to 1190) and adopted the surname of Yamada based on the place name of Yamada in the Hioki District.
From his youth, Arinobu served at the side of Shimazu Takahisa followed by Takahisa’s son and successor, Shimazu Yoshihisa. Arinobu served as the steward of Miyano Castle and Kumano Castle. In 1568, he became the chief retainer of the Shimazu clan. In 1575, he served as a shooter in an dog chasing event known as inuōmono, and, in 1576, he served as the carrier of Yoshihisa’s long sword during the attack on Takahara Castle in Hyūga Province.
In 1577, after the Shimazu clan ousted members of the Itō clan from Hyūga to Bungo, in the second month of 1578, Arinobu was appointed as the lord of Taka Castle (also known as Niiroin Castle). Later that year, Ōtomo Sōrin led an army of 60,000 soldiers south and laid siege to Taka Castle. Arinobu commanded a small garrison of only 300 soldiers at the castle. Shimazu Iehisa, Yoshitoshi Tadazumi, Kamata Masachika, and Hishijima Kunisada rushed to the aid of the defenders with over 3,000 soldiers to halt the advance of the Ōtomo, leading to a major victory for the Shimazu forces at the Battle of Mimikawa. In 1585, Arinobu contributed at the attack on Horikiri Castle in Chikugo Province and, in 1586, in the subjugation of Tsukushi Hirokado.
In 1586, during the Conquest of Kyūshū by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, as the army led by Toyotomi Hidenaga headed south toward Hyūga, once again, Arinobu holed-up with only 300 soldiers in Taka Castle and withstood a siege by the Toyotomi army. Despite a loss by the main division of the Shimazu army to the Toyotomi army at the Battle of Nejirozaka, Arinobu demonstrated his loyalty toward Yoshihisa by continuing to reject petitions to surrender. He was finally persuaded by Yoshihisa to tender his son, Yamada Arinaga, as a hostage and surrender. Around 1588, owing to these contributions, Arinobu was appointed by Yoshihisa to serve as a member of his council of elders and awarded a fief of 1,000 koku, later increased to 1,500 koku.
In 1609, after Yoshihisa fell ill, Arinobu prayed to the deity that he sacrifice himself in lieu of his lord, and died of illness that same year. After his death, Yoshihisa burned incense in front of Arinobu’s coffin, lamenting the loss of his retainer.