Horio Yoshiharu


Horio Clan

Horio Yoshiharu

Owari Province

Guiding Hideyoshi to Inabayama Castle

Wrestling with a Boar

Lifespan:  Tenbun 12 (1543) to 6/17 of Keichō 16 (1611)

Rank:  bushō; daimyō

Titles:  Senior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Head of Security

Clan:  Horio

Lord:  Oda Nobunaga → Toyotomi Hideyoshi → Toyotomi Hideyori → Tokugawa Ieyasu → Tokugawa Hidetada

Father:  Horio Yasuharu

Siblings:  Yoshiharu, Ujimitsu

Wife:  [Formal]  Ōkata-dono (Tsuda clan)

Children:  Kinsuke, Tadauji, daughter (wife of Ishikawa Tadafusa), daughter (wife of Horio Inaba), daughter (wife of Nonomura Kawachi), daughter (wife of Ikeda Bitchū-no-kami), daughter (wife of Hirai Gonzaemon), daughter (wife of Gamō Higoemon)

Horio Yoshiharu served as a bushō and daimyō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  Yoshiharu held the position of a sanchūrō, one of three senior retainers of the Toyotomi family who served as intermediaries to resolve differences between two other high-ranking groups in the Toyotomi administration – the gotairō (the Council of Five Elders) and the gobugyō (the Five Commissioners) formed toward the end of Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s life to administer political affairs through a council system until his son and designated heir, Toyotomi Hideyori, became an adult capable of leading the administration.

Period of service to the Oda

In 1543, Yoshiharu was born as the eldest son of Horio Yasuharu, a dogō, or a local clan of limited landholdings, located in the village of Gokusho in the Niwa District of Owari.  His father served in an important role for Oda Nobuyasu of the Iwakura-Oda clan (the Oda Ise-no-kami family), the deputy military governor of the four upper districts of Owari.  There are historical documents jointly signed by Yasuharu and Yamauchi Moritoyo (the father of Yamauchi Kazutoyo) who served the same clan.

At the same time, the Iwakura-Oda were under pressure from Oda Nobunaga associated with a branch known as the Oda Danjō-no-jō family.  In 1559, in his first battle experience at Iwakura Castle, Yoshiharu was the first to achieve the distinction of garnering the head of an enemy soldier, but the Iwakura-Oda was eliminated so, along with his father, Yoshiharu, became a rōnin, or masterless samurai.  Thereafter, Yoshiharu served Nobunaga who unified Owari and, before long, he affiliated with Nobunaga’s retainer, Kinoshita Hideyoshi (later known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi).

Under Hideyoshi, Yoshiharu fought in assorted battles.  In 1567, at the Siege of Inabayama Castle, Yoshiharu served as a guide for Hideyoshi on a back road to the castle.  In 1573, Yoshiharu was awarded 100 koku in Nagahama in Ōmi.  Yoshiharu made further contributions on the battlefield, for which he was granted 1,500 koku in Himeji in Harima Province and, later, 3,500 koku in Kuroe in Tanba Province.

Period of service to the Toyotomi

In the sixth month of 1582, after the Siege of Bitchū-Takamatsu Castle, Yoshiharu performed the inspection on the death of an enemy commander named Shimizu Muneharu who committed seppuku on a boat as a condition for sparing the lives of his soldiers.  At the Battle of Yamazaki, Yoshiharu joined Hori Hidemasa and Nakamura Kazuuji upon orders of Hideyoshi to serve as commanders of an advance unit of infantry soldiers. The unit achieved results by killing enemy commanders while capturing Mount Tennō for which Yoshiharu was awarded a fief of 6,284 koku at Kuroi Castle in the Hikami District of Tanba.

In 1583, Yoshiharu’s fief was increased by 17,000 koku in Takahama in Wakasa Province.  In 1584, it was further increased by 20,000 koku.  In 1585, Yoshiharu participated in the conquest of Sassa Narimasa.  Yoshiharu was appointed as a veteran, along with Tanaka Yoshimasa, Nakamura Kazuuji, Yamauchi Kazutoyo, and Hitotsuyanagi Naosue, to support Toyotomi Hidetsugu.  Yoshiharu’s landholdings were transferred to 20,000 koku in Sagaki in Wakasa Province.  Just sixty days later, in the eighth month, Yoshiharu was transferred again to a fief of 40,000 koku in Sawayama in Ōmi Province.  However, owing to these frequent transfers, he did not actually collect taxes in Sagaki.  The landholdings in Ōmi were in a strategic location reflecting Hideyoshi’s trust in Yoshiharu.

In 1587, Yoshiharu participated in the Kyūshū Pacification and was invested with the court title of Senior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Head of Security.

In 1590, Yoshiharu joined the Conquest of Odawara.  Under Hidetsugu, he attacked Yamanaka Castle.  During this assignment, Yoshiharu’s eldest son, Horio Kinsuke was killed in action.  After the opening of Odawara Castle, their contributions were recognized, and Yoshiharu was appointed as the lord of Hamamatsu Castle in Tōtōmi (the former territory of Tokugawa Ieyasu before his transfer to the Kantō) with a fief of 120,000 koku and permitted to use the Toyotomi surname.  Around this time, because Yoshiharu was independent of Hidetsugu, he was not complicit in the subsequent Hidetsugu Incident.  Thereafter, he also made contributions during the Revolt of Kunohe Masazane.

In the latter years of Hideyoshi’s life, Yoshiharu was appointed along with Nakamura Kazuuji and Ikoma Chikamasa to serve as a sanchūrō.  Current research questions whether this system may have been created in later periods.

Developments leading up to the Battle of Sekigahara

In 1598, after the death of Hideyoshi, Yoshiharu became close with Tokugawa Ieyasu and served as an intermediary between Ieyasu and the faction opposed to him including Ishida Mitsunari and Maeda Toshiie.  In a letter dated 2/5 of 1599, a senior retainer of Ieyasu named Ii Naomasa expressed his appreciation to Yoshiharu for serving as an intermediary.

Owing to his age, on 10/1 of 1599, Yoshiharu transferred headship of the clan to his second son, Horio Tadauji, and retired.  For his retirement, Ieyasu granted Yoshiharu a fief of 50,000 koku in Fuchū in Echizen Province.  This was the first instance in which Ieyasu granted a fief.

For the Conquest of Aizu, while Ieyasu led his army on a northern march to confront the Uesugi family, Yoshiharu and Tadauji offered him hospitality in Hamamatsu and requested to join the campaign.  However, Ieyasu responded that only Tadauji need join and ordered Yoshiharu to return to Echizen. 

In the seventh month, while en route to Echizen, Yoshiharu was invited to a banquet by Mizuno Tadashige (the lord of Kariya Castle in Mikawa) and joined by Kaganoi Shigemochi (the lord of Kaganoi Castle in Mino).  The event was held in Chiryū at one of the stations along the Tōkai Road in Mikawa.  During the banquet, Shigemochi killed Tadashige after an argument over a trifling matter (or possibly over grievances associated with the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute when Shigemochi lost Kaganaoi Castle to Hideyoshi’s army).  He also attacked Yoshiharu, who suffered spear wounds in seventeen places on his body, but managed to kill Shigemochi in defense.  As a result of this incident, Yoshiharu could not participate in the Battle of Sekigahara and returned to Echizen.  However, owing to the contributions of Tadauji in the battle, Yoshiharu received an increase to his fief of 24,000 koku in Toda in Izumo Province.  Finally, Yoshiharu was said to have secretly reported to Ieyasu in regard to developments in Ōmi Province and the northern provinces.

Edo Period

In 1604, Yoshiharu was conferred the surname of the Toyotomi.

That same year, owing to the early death of Tadauji, Yoshiharu’s grandson, Horio Tadaharu, succeeded him as head of the family.  However, Tadaharu was born in 1599, so Yoshiharu continued to serve as his guardian and de facto leader.  Also in 1604, a conflict arose within the Nakamura family in the Yonago domain of neighboring Hōki Province, whereupon Yoshiharu received a request for support from Nakamura Kazutada for which he deployed forces to suppress the disturbance.

After Tadaharu became the next head, it was discovered that Yoshiharu’s eldest daughter and her son (Horio Kawachi-no-kami) who served as the chief elder were plotting to take over the family. As a result, Kawachi-no-kami and his son, Kanon, were banished and then ordered to commit seppuku.

In 1611, Yoshiharu constructed and moved to Matsue Castle, but, on 6/17, died at the age of sixty-nine.


Yoshiharu was said to have attracted the attention of Hideyoshi after seen wrestling a wild boar, after which Hideyoshi brought him under his command.

Yoshiharu’s ancestral temple is the Shunkō monastery in Kyōto where is located a wooden statue of Yoshiharu with a deep scar carved in his left cheek.  It is surmised that this is related to the attack from Kaganoi Shigemochi.  Afterwards, when Tadashige’s retainers looked around the scene of the killings, they reportedly mistook Yoshiharu as the perpetrator of the crime.