Ryūzōji Takafusa


Ryūzōji Clan

Ryūzōji Takafusa

Hizen Province

Lifespan:  Tenshō 14 (1586) to 9/6 of Keichō 12 (1607)

Name Changes:  Chōhōshimaru (childhood) → Takafusa

Other Names:  Tōhachirō (common)

Rank:  daimyō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Governor of Suruga

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

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Hizen-Saga

Clan:  Ryūzōji

Father:  Ryūzōji Masaie

Adoptive Father:  Nabeshima Naoshige

Siblings:  Yasuhime, Shōkain, Takafusa, Hata Yatarō, Murata Yasuyoshi, Sano Masayoshi, Inuzuka Ieshige, daughter (wife of Nabeshima Takaaki)

Wife: [Formal] Zuishōin (adopted daughter of Nabeshima Naoshige)

Children:  Hakuan (Ryūzōji Sueaki)

Ryūzōji Takafusa served as a daimyō from the Azuchi-Momoyama to early Edo periods.  Takafusa served as the lord of the Hizen-Saga domain.  He was a grandson of Ryūzōji Takanobu.

In 1586, Takafusa was born as the fourth son of Ryūzōji Masaie, a sengoku daimyō and the last head of the Ryūzōji clan.

Takafusa’s father was of frail health so, in 1590, at the age of five, he inherited the headship of the clan.  Nevertheless, the real authority of the Saga domain was held by a senior retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Nabeshima Naoshige, and his son, Nabeshima Katsushige, with the recognition of Hideyoshi.  At the time, the Saga domain remained in the name of the Ryūzōji clan but the power was wielded by the Nabeshima giving rise to a provisional dual structure of governance.  The Hashiba and Toyotomi surnames had been conferred upon Masaie while only the Toyotomi surname had been conferred upon Naoshige and Katsushige.  Later, the Hashiba surname was also conferred upon Takafusa.

Beginning with Masaie, members of the Ryūzōji clan sought to have the ruling authority over Hizen returned to the Ryūzōji.  Accordingly, after Takafusa matured, they had Naoshige sign an oath for the return of the powers to govern the domain to Takafusa and further had Naoshige adopt Takafusa.  Nevertheless, owing to the course of events including the deployment to the Korean Peninsula for the Bunroku-Keichō Campaign in the 1590’s followed by the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, the Nabeshima were able to strengthen their grip on authority in Hizen so the measures taken by the Ryūzōji failed to bear fruit.

Takafusa wed Naoshige’s granddaughter and served as a senior official of the Edo bakufu.  He became a hostage of Tokugawa Ieyasu and, in 1607, his authority was taken away by the Nabeshima clan, plunging him into a state of despair.  He proceeded to murder his wife and then made a failed attempt to commit seppuku.  To recuperate from the wound, he was permitted to return to Hizen but after another attempt to take his own life in his hometown, he died at the age of twenty-two.  The usurpation of the Ryūzōji by the Nabeshima is known as the Nabeshima Disturbance.

Just one month after the death of Takafusa, Masaie (who had retired in Hizen) suddenly died.  To determine the successor to the Ryūzōji clan, the bakufu summoned members of the family from Hizen for an inquiry.  They responded that Katsushige was best suited to inherit the Saga domain.  Therefore, Katsushige succeeded to the Ryūzōji family and was awarded the domain with a fief of 357,000 koku.  Within the Saga domain, Takafusa’s younger brother, Yasuyoshi, was treated as a member of the main branch of the Ryūzōji clan but he changed his surname to Murata and his children served the Nabeshima clan until the end of the Edo period.

Takafusa’s orphan, Hakuan, adopted the name of Ryūzōji Sueaki.  As the titular head of the Ryūzōji clan, he repeatedly appealed to the Edo bakufu to order the return of the Hizen-Saga domain from the Nabeshima clan but, in the end, the request was not granted.