Hongō Tadayoshi

北郷忠能

Hongō Clan

Bushō

Hyūga Province

Lifespan:  2/6 of Tenshō 18 (1590) to 2/5 of Kanei 8 (1631)

Other Names:  Nagachiyomaru (childhood), Jirō (common), Sanuki-no-kami

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Hongō

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Satsuma (Miyakonojō landlord)

Lord:  Shimazu Iehisa

Father:  Hongō Tadatora

Mother:  Daughter of Nobe 盛忍

Siblings:  Tadayoshi, Nobe Morisada (younger brother of a different father)

Wife:  [Formal] Daughter of Shimazu Mochihisa

Children:  Okihisa, daughter (formal wife of Hongō Hisanao), Tadasuke, Hisatsune, daughter (wife of Nejime Shigenaga)

Hongō Tadayoshi served as a bushō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  He was the twelfth head of the Hongō clan of Hyūga Province.

In 1590, Tadayoshi was born as the son of Hongō Tadatora, the eleventh head of the Hongō clan.  In his childhood, Tadayoshi was known as Nagachiyomaru.

In 1595, Tadatora died of illness on Geoje Island while on deployment in Korea so Nagachiyomaru inherited the headship of the clan at the age of five.  Owing to his youth, political affairs were managed by his grandfather, Hongō Tokihisa while military affairs were managed by his uncle, Hongō Mitsuhisa.  In 1596, Tokihisa died and Mitsuhisa was serving in Korea so daily affairs were entrusted to the chief retainer named Kosugi Shigeyori.

In 1599, the Ijūin clan (senior retainers of the Shimazu) fought against their lords in an event known as the Shōnai Rebellion.  The Ijūin, through the auspices of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, earlier garnered control of the homeland of the Hongō clan of Miyakonojō so, at this time, the Hongō made strenuous efforts to regain their territory.  In this conflict, the main branch of the Shimazu clan prevailed over the Ijūin so the Hongō were able to recover their homeland of Miyakonojō.  On account of his young age, Tadayoshi did not have any role in the conduct of military affairs which were led by his uncle, Mitsumasa.

In 1605, Tadayoshi sought to strengthen his control over the family by ousting a chief retainer named Hongō Hisamichi.  From around this time, he began to stand on his own and serve as the head of the Hongō family, but came into conflict with elements who backed Mitsuhisa as the next head based on his service in Korea and during the Shōnai Rebellion.  This caused disorder within the family.  In the end, through intervention by the main branch of the Shimazu, the situation was resolved by having Mitsumisa become independent and form a cadet family.  Nevertheless, frequent intervention by the Shimazu from around this time caused friction between the clans.

In 1607, Tadayoshi wed the daughter of Shimazu Michihisa, the lord of the Sadowara domain, the most powerful cadet family of the Shimazu clan.  In 1612, Tadayoshi headed to Edo and, without intermediation through the main branch of the Shimazu, met directly with Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu and received a horse as a gift.

Tadayoshi had a strained relationship with Shimazu Iehisa.  He was sent a letter demanding explanations that included the statement “A lord who does not take care of his retainers does not deserve to stand above them.”  Iehisa himself frequently purged retainers so his position was not convincing.

In 1631, Tadayoshi died of illness at the age of forty-two.  After his demise, the Hongō clan witnessed a succession of lords who died early.  Shimazu Iehisa sent his third son, Hisanao (later known as Hongō Hisanao), to become an adopted son-in-law and designated heir of the clan.  Gradually, the Hongō were suppressed by the main branch of the Shimazu.

Anecdotes

Tadayoshi was known as a master archer.  In the tenth month of 1608, he was praised for an exhibition of long-range archery in front of the Great Buddha at the Hōkō Temple.  He is said to have laid the foundation for the well-known archery industry in Miyakonojō.

There is a story of Tokuda Ōhyōe, the lord of the manor of the Hinatayama township in Satsuma in the early Edo period.  He was known as a very bright individual of small physical stature.  While paying a visit to Tadayoshi for new year’s greetings in 1634, he is said to have choked and died while eating ozōni, or soup with rice cakes.  This incident, however, would have occurred after the death of Tadayoshi in 1631 so must be an error in dates.