Sakazaki Naomori


Sakazaki Clan

Sakazaki Naomori

Iwami Province

Lifespan:  Eiroku 6 (1563) to 9/11 of Genna 2 (1616)

Rank:  bushō; daimyō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Assistant Master of the Eastern Capital Office, Governor of Dewa, Governor of Tsushima

Clan:  Ukita → Sakazaki

Bakufu:  Edo bakufu

Domain:  Lord of the Tsuwano domain in Iwami Province

Lord:  Ukita Hideie → Tokugawa Ieyasu → Tokugawa Hidetada

Father:  Ukita Tadaie

Siblings:  Motoie, sister (second wife of Tomita Nobutaka), Naomori, Narikata, sister (wife of Takahashi Mototane)

Wife:  [Formal] Daughter of Togawa Hideyasu

Children:  Tsugawa Heishirō, Shigeyuki (descended from the Nakamura clan), several other sons, daughter (formal wife of Itami Katsunaga), daughter (wife of Ōmura Suminaga)

Adopted daughters:  Wife of Onodera Samon, wife of Hori Chikahide

Sakazaki Naomori served as a bushō and daimyō from the Sengoku to early Edo period.  Naomori was originally known as Ukita Akiie and the eldest son of Ukita Tadaie, a sengoku daimyō from Bizen Province.

Period while a member of the Ukita clan

Naomori served Ukita Hideie, his younger cousin, and had a stipend of 24,000 koku, but did not get along well with him.  When a controversy arose within the Ukita clan early in 1600, Naomori became opposed to his lord, Hideie.  Upon the judgment of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Naomori was put under his command and, soon thereafter, participated on behalf of the Eastern Army at the Battle of Sekigahara.  Owing to his contributions in the battle, Naomori was granted a fief of 20,000 koku in Hamada in Iwami Province.  Thereafter, he received 30,000 koku in Tsuwano in Iwami (which was later increased to 40,000 koku for his efforts at the Siege of Ōsaka).  At this time, Naomori was ordered by Ieyasu to change his name from Ukita to Sakazaki, whereby he became known as Sakazaki Naomori.

The Senhime Incident

In 1615, when Ōsaka Castle fell at the Summer Siege of Ōsaka, the formal wife of Toyotomi Hideyori and granddaughter of Ieyasu known as Senhime, was rescued from the castle.  Thereafter, the treatment of Senhime led to a confrontation between Naomori and the bakufu.  In the end, an event known as the Senhime Incident occurred whereby Naomori attempted to snatch her away.

Regarding the incident, under one theory, Naomori was requested directly by Ieyasu to help on the condition that he could marry Senhime, which was then disregarded.  Under another theory, Ieyasu only said that he would give her to whomever saved her, and did not specifically request the assistance of Naomori.  Moreover, with regard to whether Naomori rescued Senhime, there is a theory that Naomori did not actually perform the rescue, but that Senhime was protected by Horiuchi Ujihisa, a bushō with the Toyotomi.  After Ujihisa brought Senhime to Naomori’s camp, Naomori sent her to Tokugawa Hidetada.  Alternatively, there is a theory that, although Naomori rescued Senhime, he suffered burns in the process, and when she saw his appearance, she rejected him.  According to some views, the story regarding her rejection of him is folklore.

Under another theory, the cause of the incident was not the rescue of Senhime, but Naomori’s loss of face.  This occurred when it was suddenly decided that Senhime would wed Honda Tadatoki, the lord of the Himeji-Shinden domain, just as discussions had progressed via a Court noble to the stage of marriage with Naomori after Ieyasu had requested Naomori to set her future course now that she had become a widow.

Without regard to the reason, after the Summer Siege of Ōsaka, Naomori plotted to snatch Senhime, but these plans were discovered by the bakufu.  The bakufu forces surrounded Naomori’s residence, and announced that if he committed seppuku, then a succession of the family would be permitted.  There is a theory that the retainers refused to have their lord commit seppuku and were killed.  Under another theory, the retainers were persuaded by the words of the bakufu leaders, and after Naomori fell asleep while intoxicated, he was slayed.  Alternatively, based on the artifice of Tachibana Muneshige, Naomori killed himself after being reprimanded by Yagyū Muneyori.  Moreover, based on the theory that Naomori was reprimanded, Muneyori received the crest of the Sakazaki clan to use for the Yagyū clan.

These events were also detailed in the diary of Richard Cocks, the head of an English trading house who resided in Edo at the time.

At his defeat at the Battle of Sekigahara, Onodera Yoshimichi, the lord of Yokote Castle in Dewa Province, was dismissed from his duties and received protection from Naomori in Tsuwano.  After the death of Naomori, Yoshimichi constructed a grave for Naomori as a debt of gratitude on the thirteenth anniversary of his demise.

Personal qualities

In regard to governance of the domain, Naomori had a significant influence on the Tsuwano domain.  This included commencing the cultivation of koi, or common carp, along with the construction of ditches to enable the mass production of mosquitoes to feed the carp.  He also encouraged the planting of hybrid mulberry trees used to make Japanese paper.

Naomori was known as being impulsive and direct, as well as obstinate.  Naomori’s sister was married to  Tomita Nobutaka, a daimyō and the first head of the Uwajima domain in Iyo Province.  An incident occurred whereby a nephew of Naomori named Ukita Samon colluded with one of Naomori’s servants, whereupon Naomori had the servant killed by one of his retainers.  Samon responded by killing the retainer and then sought protection under Nobutaka.  Upon learning of this whereabouts, Naomori requested Nobutaka to turn over Samon.  Nobutaka denied sheltering Samon so Naomori prepared for a military showdown, demonstrating his persistence by making appeals to Tokugawa Ieyasu and his son, Tokugawa Hidetada, at the top of the Edo bakufu.  Ultimately, the bakufu recognized his claim and dismissed Nobutaka from his duties.  Thereafter, Nobutaka was confined to the village of Iwaki in Mutsu Province where he spent the remainder of his life.