Lifespan: 15xx to 7/17 of Keichō 5 (1600)
Other Names: Magoheiji
Rank: bushō, daimyō
Title: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Assistant Vice-Minister of Education
Lord: Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Father: Nakamura Kazumasa (?)
Siblings: Kazuuji, Kazushige, Ukon (?), sister (wife of Yokota Muraaki)
Wife: Ikeda Sen
Children: Kazutada, Jinzaemon
Nakamura Kazuuji served as a bushō and daimyō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.
Kazuuji was one of three daimyō known as the sanchūrō, a senior role established toward the end of the Toyotomi administration responsible for mediating differences of opinion between the gotairō, or Council of Five Elders, and the gobugyō, or Five Commissioners. The other two members of the sanchūrō were Horio Yoshiharu and Ikoma Chikamasa.
His origins are the subject of various theories. These include that the Nakamura came from a branch of the Yamazaki clan who, in turn, were members of the Sasaki clan of the Ōmi-Genji, or the lineage of Taira no Yoshifumi (a bushō from the middle Heian period), or the Fujiwara clan, or the Tachibana clan. The true origins of the Nakamura, however, are uncertain.
In an account of the history of the city of Yonago, several roots of the Nakamura clan (theories including descendants of the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan) contain many uncertain elements and therefore cannot be regarded as historical facts, however, the genealogy from the era of Kazuuji has been authenticated.
A genealogy owned by Nakamura Yoshikazu, a descendant of the Nakamura family of the Tottori domain, was appraised to have been created over 350 years ago. In this record, the father of Kazuuji is Nakamura Yoshiichi but there is no reference to Kazumasa who is regarded as the father of Kazuuji in many accounts.
In one account, Nakamura Kazuuji is identified as the son of Nakamura Magoheiji Kazumasa, a resident of Nakamura in Bishū (Owari Province). In another, Kazuuji originated from a branch of the Sasaki-Yamazaki and was born in this location in Taki. According to another, Nakamura Kazuuji was the son of Yaheiji Kazumasa and first called himself Taki Magoheiji, and later, Nakamura Shikibu-shōyū, a person from the village of Taki.
From early on, Kazuuji served Hashiba Hideyoshi (Toyotomi Hideyoshi), a retainer of the Oda clan. Around 1573, he received from Hideyoshi a stipend of 200 koku in Nagahama in Ōmi Province.
Upon orders of Hideyoshi, Kazuuji served valorously in the Ishiyama War (1570 to 1580) and, in 1582, as a commander of an infantry unit at the Battle of Yamazaki. In 1583, he participated in the Battle of Shizugatake. That same year, Kazuuji succeeded Hachiya Yoritaka as the lord of Kishiwada Castle in Izumi Province with a fief of 30,000 koku. With the forces in Izumi under his command, he was responsible for the defense of Ōsaka as well as to prepare for the expected invasion of Kishū (Kii Province). Izumi Province was not under the control of the Toyotomi administration and, instead, was governed by the Negoro group from Kii along with residual elements from the Hongan Temple, resulting in a tense environment.
In 1584, early on the first day of the first month, Kishiwada Castle was the target of a surprise assault by Kishū forces. This was followed by a series of attacks toward Ōsaka but Kazuuji and his men successfully repelled them. Beginning on 3/22, he incurred a violent attack by the Kishū forces on Ōsaka and below Kishiwada Castle. The Kishū forces took advantage of an opening when, on 3/21, the main division of Hideyoshi’s army headed toward Owari to deploy for the Battle of Komaki-Nagakute against Tokugawa Ieyasu. Hideyoshi returned at once to Ōsaka as Kazuuji endured a difficult battle. Despite being outnumbered, Kazuuji defended Kishiwada Castle. In 1585, Kazuuji also led a counteroffensive during the Conquest of Kishū.
In 1585, Kazuuji became the lord of Minakuchi-Okayama Castle in Ōmi Province with a fief of 60,000 koku and was invested with the title of Junior Fifth Rank (Lower) and Assistant Vice-Minister of Education. In 1590, during the Conquest of Odawara, Kazuuji served in the vanguard forces under the command of Hashiba Hidetsugu. Almost singlehandedly, he captured the main portions of Yamanaka Castle defended by Matsuda Yasunaga. Based on this achievement, after the war, he was assigned to Fuchū in Suruga with a fief of 140,000 koku to contain the Tokugawa following Ieyasu’s transfer to the Kantō. In 1595, he was delegated all of Suruga as an official of the Toyotomi for territory under their direct jurisdiction. In 1598, Kazuuji was appointed as one of the sanchūrö in the Toyotomi administration. Under an alternate theory, the sanchūrō function did not actually exist and was a creation of later eras.
In 1600, in the prelude to the Battle of Sekigahara, Kazuuji joined the Eastern Army, but, on 7/17, he died of illness. His grave is at the Rinzai Temple in the city of Shizuoka. In lieu of Kazuuji, his younger brother, Nakamura Kazushige, along with his lineal heir, Nakamura Kazutada, deployed and fought in Mino Province. After the war, owing to their contributions, Kazutada was granted control of Hōki Province and Yonago Castle with a fief of 175,000 koku in addition to the status of a kunimochi-daimyō – a high-ranking daimyō of the Edo period with a large territory. In 1609, Kazutada suddenly died without an heir so the Nakamura family was extinguished with surviving members of the family removed from their position by the Edo bakufu.
In 1584, while serving as the lord of Kishiwada Castle, Kazuuji was attacked by the Saika and Negoro groups, an event known as the Battle of Kishiwada. In the moments before the fall of the castle, there is a legend that the castle was saved by a monk riding on a giant octopus along with several thousand octopuses.