Lifespan: 8/15 of Tenbun 15 (1546) to 2/3 of Genna 5 (1619)
Lord: Hatakeyama clan → Oda Nobunaga → Maeda Toshiie → Maeda Toshinaga → Maeda Toshitsune → Kaga domain
Bakufu: Muromachi bakufu → Edo bakufu
Father: Chō Tsugutsura
Siblings: Tsunatsura, Sugiyama Norinao, Tsuratatsu, Iikawa Yoshizane, Tsuratsune, Tsuramori
Wife: [Formal] Shin (younger sister of Jinbō Ujiharu)
[Second Wife] (daughter of Chō Tsunatsura)
Children: Yoshitsura, Tsurayori, Inoko (Asaga Saemon’s wife), Kuri (Maeda Toshitsune’s consort), Take (Maeda Naotomo’s wife)
Chō Tsuratatsu served as a bushō during the Sengoku and early Edo periods. Following the elimination of their lords, the Hatakeyama family, almost all members of the Chō family were murdered, but Tsuratatsu survived as a retainer of Oda Nobunaga. After Nobunaga’s demise, he then served Maeda Toshiie, followed by Maeda Toshinaga, on both military and diplomatic fronts. Over his life, he participated in 41 battles.
Tsuratatsu was born on 8/15 of 1546 as the third son of Chō Tsugutsura, a retainer of the Hatakeyama clan in Noto Province. In his youth, he carried the name of Manmatsu, and later Yoshitsura. He became a monk at the Jōren Temple in Kumaki in Noto Province affiliated with the Rinzai sect of Buddhism. As a monk, he adopted the name Shūgyō and became a priest at the Kōon Temple. While retaining the status of a priest, he began to join in battles under the name of his temple, Kōonji.
In the eleventh month of 1569, Yashiro Shunsei opposed the granting of land worth 3,000 kan by Hatakeyama Yoshitaka to Nukui Kagetaka and Miyake Nagamori for their return to service of the Hatakeyama, whereupon Shunsei and his son led 3,000 troops to launch a rebellion. Kōonji, along with the Nukui, the Miyake, and Matsunami Tsuneshige, gathered 4,000 soldiers to defeat and kill Shunsei and his son at the Battle of Niwatoritsuga.
Following an invasion of Noto by forces under Uesugi Kenshin in the fifth month of 1577, on 7/18, Hirako Izumi, Kutsuwada Higo, Karōdo Shikibu, and Itakura Denemon headed toward Anamizu Castle in support of the defenders. Dressed in his priest’s robes, Kōonji led naval forces on a counterattack, achieving a major victory at the Battle of Otsugasaki and garnering 70 heads. After breaking the siege of Anamizu Castle by the Uesugi forces, Tsugutsura took refuge in Nanao Castle, the base of the Hatakeyama, but then came under siege by the Uesugi. On 7/23, Hatakeyama Haruōyama died of illness at the age of five, and the morale of the defenders fell, so Chō Tsunatsura dispatched his younger brother, Kōonj, by sea route to appeal to Oda Nobunaga for reinforcements. Nihonmatsu Yoshiari, the uncle of Hatakeyama Yoshiharu, died of illness on 7/26, inducing the end of the main branch of the Hatakeyama clan. Tsunatsura incited a riot in an effort to undermine the Uesugi. The failure of this tactic made it more likely that Nanao Castle would fall in the ninth month.
Uesugi Kenshin sent Jōjō Masashige, Nagao Yojirō, and Shimazu Awaji to persuade Yusa Tsugumitsu to collude. Tsugumitsu colluded with the Nukui and Miyake to murder fourteen members of the Chō family on 9/15, including Tsugutsura, Tsunatsura, Norinao, Tsuratsune, and Tsuramori. The only survivors were Kōonji and the last child of Tsunatsura known as Kikumatsumaru.
The era of the Oda family
When Kōonji finally arrived with the Oda army in support, the head of the family was already left exposed to the sun on the Kurabe shore in the Ishikawa District. This marked the end of the Hatakeyama family, so Kōonji cast his lot with the Oda to await an opportunity for revenge.
In the eighth month of 1578, Kōonji gathered 500 men and recaptured Anamizu Castle. He joined with Ajisaka Nagazane (a retainer of the Uesugi and the lord of Nanao Castle) and Jinbō Ujiharu (associated with the Oda family) to oppose the Yusa clan, engaging in a series of battles against the rival Yusa in Noto and Etchū provinces. After the Yusa and Nukui expelled the Ajisaka from Nanao Castle, Kōonji approached Shibata Katsuie to join with Maeda Toshiie and Sakuma Morimasa to attack the Yusa and Nukui. The combined forces chased after and succeeded in killing Yusa forces. After Noto was assigned to Maeda Toshiie, Kōonji served along with Doi Chikazane and others in his security detail.
On 1/10 of 1580, Kōonji adopted the name of Tsuratatsu. In the autumn of the same year, Nobunaga recognized his right to the ownership of territory. In 1582, Tsuratatsu joined the Shibata forces in an attack against Uozu Castle. A member of his family, Chō Kagetsura, was associated with the Uesugi so the attackers crushed them.
The era of the Maeda family in Kaga Province
After the coup d’état against Oda Nobunaga in the Honnō Temple Incident in the summer of 1582, Tsuratatsu continued in service as a retainer of Maeda Toshiie. Later that year, he participated in the Battle of Sekidōsan and, based on his contributions, was granted a fief of 31,000 koku in Noto Province.
In 1583, Tsuratatsu served as the rear guard for the Maeda army in the Battle of Shizugatake, during which more than 30 of his retainers died in battle.
In 1584, Tsuratatsu received commendations from Maeda Toshiie for making significant contributions as a member of the reinforcements responding to an attack by Sassa Narimasa against Suemori Castle; however, Tsuratatsu did not actually participate in the Siege of Suemori Castle, but was recognized by Toshiie for fearlessly rushing to the scene after the conflict.
Thereafter, Tsuratatsu joined the Conquest of Odawara and the dispatch of forces to the Korean Peninsula. He also joined in the construction of Fushimi Castle and development projects on the Uji River.
After the death of Toshiie in 1599, he served Maeda Toshinaga, the successor of Toshiie. In the ninth month of 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, he clashed with Niwa Nagashige in Hokuriku, and despite a loss, fought valiantly at the Battle of Asainawate.
In 1606, Tsuratatsu transferred his role as head of the family to his eldest son, Yoshitsura, and retired. After the premature death of Yoshitsura in 1611, Tsuratatsu resumed the role as head of the family, and participated in the Ōsaka Campaign. Owing to his contributions, the Chō family received an increase in their fief to the elevated rank of 33,000 koku.
Tsuratatsu died on 2/3 of 1619 at the age of seventy-four in Tatsuruhama in Noto Province. He was succeeded by his second son, Chō Tsurayori. Thereafter, his descendants served as elders to the Kaga-Maeda family and maintained a fief of 33,000 koku.