Itō Suketake


Itō Clan

Hyūga Province

Itō Suketake

Lifespan:  1/15 of Eiroku 2 (1559) to 10/11 of Keichō 5 (1600)

Other Names:  Torakumamaru (childhood); Rokurō-Gorō, Rokurō-Saburō (common), Suketaka

Rank:  bushō, daimyō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Vice Minister of Popular Affairs, Governor of Bungo

Clan:  Hyūga-Itō

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  lord of the Hyūga-Obi

Lord:  Oda Nobunaga → Toyotomi Hideyoshi → Toyotomi Hideyori

Father:  Itō Yoshisuke

Mother:  Daughter of Kawasaki Sukenaga

Adoptive Father:  Itō Yoshimasu 

Siblings:  Takashiro, 麻生, Yorokobi-toramaru, Yoshimasu, Nikō-Hōjō, Tōkōan, 町上, sister (wife of Itō Sukenobu), Shōkakuin, Suketake

Wife:  [Formal] Ako-no-kata (daughter of Itō Yoshimasu)

Children:  Daughter (wife of Itō Sukebira), Sukenori, 於仙, daughter (wife of Takigawa 法直), Sukehisa

Itō Suketake served as a bushō and daimyō during the Azuchi-Momoyama period.  Suketake was the twelfth head of the Hitachi-Itō (and the eighteenth head of the Itō clan).  Suketake served as the first lord of the Obi domain in Hyūga Province in Kyūshū and was referred to in historical accounts as the individual who rejuvenated the Itō clan.

In 1559, Suketake was born as the third son of Itō Yoshisuke, a sengoku daimyō in Hyūga.

From 1568, he entered Obi Castle in the Minami District of Hyūga and fought against the Shimazu clan.  In 1577, after an attack by the Shimazu clan acting in coordination with a rebellion launched by Fukunaga Suketomo and Mera Norishige, Suketake accompanied his father to flee Sadowara.  They traveled from Mount Mera through Takachiho seeking the protection of Ōtomo Sōrin, temporarily retreating to Bungo Province.

For Yoshisuke and his grandson, Itō Yoshikata, as well as own great desire to make Hyūga a Christian province, in 1578, Sōrin invaded Hyūga and clashed with the Shimazu army at the Battle of Mimikawa.  The Ōtomo army, however, was defeated.  After the loss of prominent bushō in the Ōtomo ranks, the Itō were left humiliated in the Ōtomo territory for having been the catalyst for the battle.  Leaving Yoshikata and Sukekatsu in Bungo, Suketake, along with Yoshisuke, Ako-no-kata (Suketake’s formal wife), in addition to more than twenty servants including Kawasaki Sukenaga and Kawasaki Gonsuke (father and son), crossed the ocean from Kyūshū to Iyo Province in Shikoku and resided in Dōgo under the Kōno clan.  As servants of the Kōno, they lived in desperate conditions while Sukenaga engaged in the saké brewing business.

An individual named Yamabushi Mitsumine had formerly been helped by the Itō and, after the Itō temporarily retreated from Hyūga, Sukenaga frequently requested him to pray for the revival of the Itō family.  During his travels, while in Himeji in Harima Province, Mitsumine made an acquaintance with Itō Kamon-no-suke (Itō Nagazane), a member of the kiboroshū, an elite cavalry unit of Hashiba Hideyoshi.  Through this connection, via the Owari-Itō who shared the same distant ancestors as the Hyūga-Itō, Suketake came to serve the Oda clan, joining the command of Hashiba Hideyoshi as a yoriki, or security officer.

On 6/2 of Tenshō 10 (1582), Oda Nobunaga died in a coup d’état by Akechi Mitsuhide known as the Honnō Temple Incident.  Thereafter, Suketake was folded into the band of retainers serving Hideyoshi.  For his service at the Battle of Yamazaki in the wake of the coup, Suketake received a spear with ornate sculpture in the form of a dragon known as a kurikararyū spear.  He was also allocated a fief of 500 koku in Kawachi.  In 1587, during the Subjugation of Kyūshū by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Shimazu clan was expelled from Hyūga Province.  During this campaign, the Itō forces served as field guides to lead the army.  Owing to these contributions, Suketake was awarded 28,000 koku in Kiyotake and Miyazaki, restoring his status as a daimyō.  In 1588, he recovered his former home base of Obi while his fief was increased to 36,000 koku.  Later, Suketake deployed to the Korean Peninsula for the Bunroku-Keichō Campaign.  In 1599, he was granted the surname of the Toyotomi.

In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, Suketake served for the Western Army.  At the time, however, owing to a serious illness, he could not deploy.  He then secretly dispatched his eldest son, Itō Sukenori, to his territory to prepare military provisions and then, via Kuroda Yoshitaka, colluded with the Eastern Army led by Tokugawa Ieyasu.  In his home territory, acting as members of the Eastern Army, a chief retainer named Inazu Shigemasa led an attack against Miyazaki Castle, an auxiliary site held by Takahashi Mototane of the Western Army.  The attacking forces succeeded in occupying the castle but, at this time, the Takahashi clan had switched sides to the Eastern Army so, after the war, he had to return Miyazaki Castle to the Takahashi.  Nevertheless, Ieyasu acknowledged the service of the Itō on behalf of the Eastern Army and recognized their rights to their landholdings.

That same year, Suketake died of illness in Ōsaka.