Hirate Masahide

平手政秀

Hirate Clan

Hirate Masahide

Owari Province

Lifespan:  5/10 of Entoku 4 (1492) to 1/13 of Tenbun 22 (1553)

Other Names:  Komachiyomaru (childhood), Kiyohide, Gorōzaemon (common)

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Auditor of the Ministry of Civil Affairs, Secretary of the Bureau of Central Affairs

Clan:  Hirate

Lord:  Oda Nobuhide → Oda Nobunaga

Father:  Hirate Tsunehide

Siblings:  Masahide, Noguchi Masatoshi, Suesada, Nagashige

Children:  Nagamasa (?), Hisahide, Hirohide (?) (Hisahide’s son?), Uehara Juan, Okiyo (wife of Oda Nagamasu)

Hirate Masahide served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He served two generations of lords in the Oda clan – Oda Nobuhide and Oda Nobunaga.  Masahide served as the lord of Shiga Castle in the Kasugai District of Owari Province.

Masahide served as a senior retainer of Oda Nobuhide, primarily in a diplomatic role.  A man of culture, Masahide was well-versed in sadō, or the tea ceremony, and waka, or traditional poetry.  In 1533, during a visit to Owari by a noble named Yamashina Tokitsugu, Masahide was praised.  In the fifth month of 1543, he traveled to Kyōto as a representative of Nobuhide and donated 4,000 kan to the Imperial Court toward renovation costs for the imperial palace.  Masahide also led negotiations with the Imperial Court.

In 1534, after the birth of Oda Nobunaga, Masahide served as his mentor and as an associate chief retainer.  In 1547, he served as a guardian for Nobunaga’s first experience in battle which was done without incident.  In 1548, Masahide facilitated a political resolution to a feud between the Oda and Saitō Dōsan of neighboring Mino Province, arranging for the engagement of Nobunaga and Dōsan’s daughter named Nōhime.  In 1549, at the Fourth Battle of Anjō Castle in Mikawa Province, Masahide led a reinforcement army to aid Oda Nobuhiro but the castle fell to a retainer of the Imagawa named Taigen Sessai.

During a time of turbulence in the Oda clan after the death of Nobuhide, Masahide took his own life on 1/13 of Tenbun 22 (1553).  He was sixty-two years old.

His family temple is known as the Masahide Temple and his memorial was moved to the Peace Park at the cemetery of the Masahide Temple.  The burial mound for his head is at the Tōun Temple in Nakaotai in the Nishi ward of the city of Nagoya.

Reasons for taking his own life

According to the first volume of the authoritative biography of Nobunaga known as the Shinchō-kōki, Masahide had a gradual falling out with Nobunaga and, resentful of Nobunaga’s ill manner, took his own life.  The discord arose after an incident involving Masahide’s eldest son, Gorōemon.  Nobunaga desired Gorōemon’s horse, whereupon Gorōemon told him “As a bushi I need my horse so please allow me to keep it.” Nobunaga then resented Gorōemon for the rejection.

Other theories include that, out of anguish over Nobunaga’s eccentric behavior, Masahide sought to admonish him by taking his own life.  Alternatively, he came into conflict with other members of the clan who backed Nobunaga’s younger brother, Oda Nobuyuki, as the successor to Nobuhide, including Shibata Katsuie who served as the guardian for Nobuyuki and Hayashi Hidesada and Hayashi Michitomo (siblings).

After the death of Masahide, Nobunaga did not change his behavior, but, in the wake of the death of his mentor, Nobunaga built the Masahide Temple in the village of Ogi in the Kasugai District.  He had a monk named Takugen Sōon of the Rinzai sect serve as its founder where he prayed for Masahide’s soul.

Genealogy

According to the Shinchō-kōki, he had three sons with the common names of Gorōemon, Kenmotsu, and Jinzaemon.  Based on genealogical records, his son was Hirate Hisahide and grandson was Hirate Hirohide.  There are assorted views regarding the identities of the three sons cited in the Shinchō-kōki.  Gorōemon may be the common name of an individual named Hirate Nagamasa whose position in the family tree is uncertain, or, if Gorōemon was adopted, then he may be the younger brother, Hirate Masatoshi.

Masahide’s daughter, Unzenin, became the formal wife of Nobunaga’s younger brother, Oda Nagamasu, also known as Yūrakusai.