Hongō Mitsuhisa

北郷三久

Hongō Clan

Bushō

Hyūga Province

Lifespan:  3/10 of Tenshō 1 (1573) to 4/19 of Genna 6 (1620)

Other Names:  堯千代 (childhood), Tsurumaru, Sōjirō, Sakuzaemon

Rank:  bushō

Title:  Governor of Sado, Governor of Kaga

Clan:  Hongō

Father:  Hongō Tokihisa

Mother:  Daughter of Hongō Tadataka

Siblings:  Sukehisa, Tadatora, Mitsuhisa, Hisamura, Tadayori

Wife:  [Formal] Daughter of Ijūin Tadamune, [Second] Daughter of Uwai Satokane, [Second] Hanaya-fujin (daughter of Shimazu Toshihisa)

Children:  Hisaka

Hongō Mitsuhisa served as a bushō during the Sengoku period in Hyūga and Satsuma provinces.  Mitsuhisa served as the landlord of Hirasa.

In 1573, Mitsuhisa was born as the third son of Hongō Tokihisa, the tenth head of the Hongō clan in Miyakonojō in Hyūga Province.  Mitsuhisa was the younger brother of Hongō Tadatora, the eleventh head of the clan, but founded a cadet family, becoming the first head of the Hirasa-Hongō clan.  His mother, the daughter of Hongō Tadataka, was the former wife of Shimazu Yoshihiro and bore a daughter named Oyaji.  She became the later wife of Tokihisa so Mitsuhisa and Oyaji were siblings of the same mother and different fathers.

As a member of the Hongō clan serving as powerful retainers of the Shimazu, Mitsuhisa served under the Shimazu in the Conquest of Odawara and the Bunroku-Keichō Campaign on the Korean Peninsula.  In 1594, upon orders of Tadatora, he controlled Mitsumata.  In the tenth month, Tadatora died of illness on Geoje Island in Korea.  The former head of the clan, Hongō Tokihisa, was of advanced age while Tadatora’s lineal heir, Nagachiyomaru (later known as Hongō Tadayoshi), was only five years old.  Consequently, Shimazu Yoshihisa and Shimazu Yoshihiro jointly signed orders for Mitsumasa to serve as the provisional head of the Hongō clan until Nagachiyomaru reached the age of seventeen.  

In 1595, upon orders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, landholdings were exchanged among members of the Shimazu family.  The main branch of the Hongō were transferred from their homeland of Miyakonojō to Kedōin, while Mitsuhisa was moved from Mitsumata to Hirasa.  Miyakonojō became the territory of Ijūin Tadamune.  The Hongō clan had continuously held the Miyakonojō area from the time that it was granted by Ashikaga Takauji, the founder of the Ashikaga shōgun family and first head of the Muromachi bakufu.  After its loss, the return of this land was the dearest wish of members of the Hongō clan.

In 1596, Mitsuhisa obeyed Shimazu Yoshihiro and sailed to the Korean Peninsula to engage in a series of battles.  In particular, at the Battle of Sacheon, Mitsuhisa’s forces took the heads of 4,146 enemy soldiers.

After Mitsuhisa returned from Korea, in 1599, the Ijūin launched the Shōnai Rebellion against the Shimazu, marking the most significant disturbance in the Shimazu clan. This provided an opportunity for the Hongō to return to Miyakonojō. Mitsuhisa obeyed Shimazu Tadatsune by supporting Nagachiyomaru and rallying the family to fight against Ijūin Tadazane.  For their efforts, Tadatsune issued a letter of commendation to the Hongō clan.  Owing to intervention by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the conflict came to an end and the Ijūin were moved to Ei in the southern part of Satsuma while the Hongō achieved their objective of returning to Miyakonojō.  After the Shōnai Rebellion, Mitsuhisa did not return to Miyakonojō and instead held territory in Hirasa.  In 1620, he died at the age of forty-eight.

Later, the main branch of the Hongō in Miyakonojō, upon orders of the Shimazu, reverted to the Shimazu surname but the Hirasa-Hongō preserved their family name and continued as senior retainers of the Shimazu clan.

A retainer of Mitsuhisa named Saisho Atsutomo was baptized after issuance of orders from the Toyotomi administration banning the practice of Christianity.  Mitsuhisa ordered him to disavow the religion, but Atsutomo did not obey and was executed, making him the first religious martyr in Satsuma Province.