Akashi Takenori

明石全登

Akashi Clan

Akashi Takenori

Bizen Province

Lifespan:  Unknown to Genna 4 (1618) (?)

Rank:  bushō

Titles: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower); Captain of the Imperial Guards of the Left Division

Clan:  Bizen-Akashi

Lord:  Uragami Munekage → Ukita Naoie → Ukita Hideie (Toyotomi Hideyoshi) → Toyotomi Hideyori

Father:  Akashi Yukikatsu

Mother:  Monika (younger half-sister of Ukita Naoie)

Siblings:  Takenori, sister (wife of Iga Iehisa), Takenobu(?)

Wife:  [Formal] Daughter of Ukita Naoie

Children:  Kosaburō, Kageyuki, Naiki, Katarina (wife of Oka Hirauchi), Rejina (wife of Miyoshi Naomasa)

Akashi Takenori served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  Takenori was also known under the name of Kamon.  A devout Christian, he allowed a missionary to stay at his residence under his protection.

Takenori was born around 1569 as the son of Akashi Yukikatsu, the lord of Hogi Castle in Bizen Province.  The Bizen-Akashi clan (and the Mimasaka-Akashi) were descendants of the Akamatsu clan (specifically, Akamatsu Sadanori, the second son of Akamatsu Norimura, a shugo daimyō).  The family was known for operating copper mines and serving as technicians.

Yukikatsu was a retainer of Uragami Munekage, lord of Tenjinyama Castle.  Upon the demise of the Uragami clan in the autumn of 1575, he switched his allegiance to Ukita Naoie, and thereafter, served the Ukita clan.  Together with his younger brother, Kageyuki, Yukikatsu served under Naoie and Naoie’s son, Ukita Hideie.  In 1588, Yukikatsu was awarded the title of shodaibu (Junior Fifth Rank (Lower)) and a fief of 40,000 koku.  As the eldest son, Takenori was the designated heir and succeeded his father prior to the spring of 1597 while his father was still living.  He became the lord of Ōmata Castle in the Wake District and elder of the family, but did not manage the affairs of their domain.

In 1599, an internal conflict known as the Ukita Disturbance erupted.  After the killing of Osafune Tsunanao, who was serving as the head of family affairs, four senior retainers involved in the plot (Togawa Michiyasu, Ukita Akiie (later known as Sakazaki Naomori), Oka Sadatsuna, and Hanabusa Masanori) fled, so Takenori succeeded Tsunanao as the head of family affairs.  In the beginning, he had a fief of 33,110 koku.  As a direct retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (the taiko, or regent, and father-in-law of Hideie), he received additional territory for a fief totaling 100,000 koku.

In 1600, when Ishida Mitsunari raised arms against Tokugawa Ieyasu, Takenori deployed upon orders of Ukita Hideie.  He joined the western army fighting on behalf of Mitsunari in an attack on Fushimi Castle during the summer.  This event, known as the Battle of Fushimi Castle, served as a prelude to the Battle of Sekigahara.  In the autumn, at the Battle of Kuisegawa,  Takenori commanded a vanguard division of 8,000 out of a total of 17,000 Ukita forces.  In the early stages, the Ukita advance forces trapped Nakamura Kazushige and Arima Toyouji and fought valiantly against Fukushima Masanori, but, in the end, lost the battle owing to betrayal by Kobayakawa Hideaki.  Takenori admonished his lord, Hideie, not to make a final charge to die in honor, and instead to retreat to Ōsaka Castle, whereupon Takenori served in the rear guard.  There are records that he encountered Kuroda Nagamasa, a senior commander of the eastern army, during the retreat.  After the battle, Takenori withdrew to Okayama Castle, but it had already been destroyed, and he could not communicate with Hideie either, so he absconded.

Following the collapse of the Ukita clan, Takenori became a rōnin, or wandering samurai.  He was given protection by Kuroda Yoshitaka, a Christian daimyō who whose mother was a member of the Akashi family.  In particular, Yoshitaka’s younger brother, Kuroda Naoyuki, also a devout Christian, sheltered Takenori.  After the death of Yoshitaka, his son, Kuroda Nagamasa, prohibited the practice of Christianity, causing Takenori to seek help from Tanaka Tadamasa of the Yanagigawa domain.  There are various theories concerning Takenori’s whereabouts during this time.

In 1614, at the Siege of Ōsaka, owing to issues concerning his Christian faith, Takenori participated on the side of the Toyotomi.  In the Summer Campaign in 1615, he first joined the Battle of Dōmyōji.  Gotō Mototsugu charged forward and died in battle, but the clashes between Takenori’s unit and enemy forces led by Mizuno Katsunari, Jinbō Sukeshige, and Date Masamune descended into chaos, causing mistaken killings between the allied forces of Masamune and Sukeshige.  Takenori himself sustained injuries.  At the Battle of Tennōji-Okayama, Takenori paired with Ogura Yukiharu, a former retainer of Gamō Ujisato, to lead a suicide corps of over 300 men with the aim of plunging into the main camp of Ieyasu. However, at the entrance to the Tennō Temple, once they learned that their allies had been decimated, they men broke through an encirclement by forces under Mizuno Katsunari, Matsudaira Tadanao, Honda Tadamasa, and Tōdō Takatora and escaped to the battlefield.

Thereafter, Takenori’s whereabouts are unknown.  According to some sources, he died in this battle.  Ishikawa Tadafusa killed him and grabbed his short sword.  The sword had been a present from Toyotomi Hideyori and came from a reknowned swordsmith near Kyōto called Awataguchi Yoshimitsu.  Meanwhile, a retainer of Mizuno Katsunari named Teizō Emon took his head.  There are many other stories that he fled including with his eldest son to Kyūshū, or that he went overseas.  If he had traveled overseas, it would likely have been noted in the recordings of the Jesuits, but there is no record of him, so unlikely that actually occurred.