Amakasu Kagetsugu


Amakasu Clan


Echigo Province

Lifespan:  Tenbun 19 (1550) to 5/12 of Keichō 16 (1611)

Name Changes:  Kiyonaga → Kagetsugu → Kiyonaga

Other Names:  Tōemon

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Tosaka → Amakasu

Lord:  Uesugi Kenshin → Uesugi Kagekatsu

Father:  Tosaka Kiyotaka

Children:  Yoshitsugu, Nobutsuna, Nagatsugu

Amakasu Kagetsugu served as a bushō from the Sengoku to early Edo period.  He was a retainer of the Uesugi clan of Echigo Province.

In addition to his contributions in battle, Kagetsugu demonstrated prowess in military strategy and tactics and was counted among the Twenty-Five Bushō of the Uesugi – a select group of highly regarded bushō from among the Uesugi army.

Kagetsugu was born as the son of Tosaka Kaga-no-kami Kiyotaka, a hereditary retainer of the Ueda-Nagao family.  In 1577, upon the direction of Uesugi Kenshin, he succeeded to the family name of Amakasu Tsuguyoshi after his death in battle and adopted the name of Tōemon Kiyonaga.  Later, he received one of the characters from the name of Uesugi Kagekatsu and changed his name to Kagetsugu.  In his later years, he changed his name to Kiyonaga.

In 1575, he was appointed by Kagekatsu as the lord of Gomadō Castle in Mutsu Province, and, in 1583, as the lord of Gosen Castle.  In 1593, Kagetsugu became the chamberlain of Shōnai-Sakata Castle and, in 1598, he accompanied the transfer of his lord to Aizu and served as the chamberlain of Shiroishi Castle with a fief of 20,000 koku.

In 1600, he strengthened his defenses against the Conquest of Aizu led by Tokugawa Ieyasu.  According to the genealogical records of the Uesugi family, when Kagetsugu was in Aizu upon orders of Kagekatsu, on 7/24, Shiroishi Castle was captured by Date Masamune.  In 1601, after transfer to Yonezawa, he managed a fief of 6,600 koku.  In 1606, Kagetsugu served as the supervisor for construction of the Sakata gate and received clothing and silver pieces from the shōgun family.  According to a military chronicle, owing to the sudden death of his wife, Kagetsugu returned to Aizu and Shiroishi Castle was lost during his absence.  Kagekatsu was upset and nearly imposed a penalty of death.  Thereafter, he was treated coldly by Kagekatsu and demoted to serve under the command of Naoe Kanetsugu.  This account, however, has not been authenticated from primary sources.

Kagekatsu died on 5/12 of Keichō 16 (1611).  According to an account of the ancestors of the Amakasu family written in 1633, he took his own life and the fief of 6,600 koku was relinquished but the circumstances are unknown.  In 1624, after the death of Kagekatsu, his children were permitted by Uesugi Sadakatsu (the next lord of the domain) to return to the service of the Uesugi family for a stipend of 200 koku.  On 12/18 of Kanei 5 (1629), he and his family were beheaded at Hokusanbara in Yonezawa.

Anecdotes and Character

In 2007, among 187 Christian martyrs in Japan, an individual named Uemon Nobutsuna (baptismal name of Luís) was beatified (recognized by the Catholic Church of entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his name).  This individual is regarded as the second son of Kagetsugu.

In military accounts, Ieyasu highly praised Kagetsugu and, after learning that he was treated coldly by Kagekatsu, attempted to grant him a fief of 20,000 koku but Kagetsugu declined while saying: “Lord Kagekatsu’s anger is my responsibility and whatever punishment I receive is just.  I have served the Uesugi family for a long time and therefore cannot serve on behalf of two lords.”  A chagrined Ieyasu responded: “I wanted him under my command because he is that type of person.”