Sakuma Katsuyuki


Sakuma Clan


Owari Province

Lifespan:  Eiroku 11 (1568) to 11/12 of Kanei 11 (1634)

Name Changes:  Shibata Katsuyuki → Sassa Katsuyuki → Sakuma Katsuyuki

Other Names:  Genroku, Genrokurō (common)

Rank:  bushō, daimyō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Master of the Palace Table

Clan:  Sakuma

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Hitachi-Hōjō, Shinano-Naganuma

Lord:  Oda Nobunaga → Shibata Katsuie → Sassa Narimasa → Hōjō Ujimasa → Gamō Ujisato → Toyotomi Hideyoshi → Toyotomi Hideyori → Tokugawa Ieyasu → Tokugawa Hidetada → Tokugawa Iemitsu

Father:  Sakuma Moritsugu

Adoptive Father:  Shibata Katsuie, Sassa Narimasa

Mother:  Older sister of Shibata Katsuie

Siblings:  Morimasa, Yasumasa, Katsumasa, Katsuyuki

Wife: [Formal] Daughter of Sassa Narimasa, [Second] Daughter of Shōno Shikibu

Children:  Katsutoshi, Katsutomo, Katsutane, daughter (wife of Akizuki Taneharu), Seishōin (wife of Tachibana Tanetsugu), daughter (wife of Yamaguchi Shigetsune), daughter (wife of Okada Yoshimasa), daughter (wife of Shibata Katsushige), daughter (wife of Ōshima Mitsumori, later, wife of Ikeda Settsu-no-kami), daughter (wife of Nose Yorishige), daughter (wife of Nakagawa Sukeshige), daughter (wife of Watanabe Kurōbei)

Sakuma Katsuyuki served as a bushō and daimyō during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  He was the lord of the Hitachi-Hōjō domain and the first lord of the Shinano-Naganuma domain.  Highlighting the turbulence of the period, over his lifetime Katsuyuki served ten different lords, including three dominant and, at times, opposing figures in Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu.  He also was blessed with many children including a total of nine daughters.

In 1568, Katsuyuki was born as the fourth son of Sakuma Moritsugu, a retainer of the Oda clan of Owari Province.

In 1582, Katsuyuki had his first experience in battle during an assault on Takatō Castle in Shinano Province.  Initially, he was adopted by his uncle, Shibata Katsuie,  but later wed the daughter of Sassa Narimasa and became his adopted son-in-law.  In 1584, Katsuyuki participated in the Siege of Suemori Castle but, in 1585, after Narimasa surrendered to Hashiba Hideyoshi (later known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi), he separated from his wife and, together with his older brother, Sakuma Yasumasa, served the Gohōjō clan in the Kantō.  Five years later, during the Conquest of Odawara led by Hideyoshi, the Hōjō were extinguished so, for a while, Katsuyuki and Yasumasa went underground in the countryside.  Later, through the offices of Okuyama Moriaki (their uncle and a direct retainer of Hideyoshi), the siblings were engaged in service by Hideyoshi who ordered them to serve under Gamō Ujisato.

Thereafter, Katsuyuki, along with his older brother, reverted to the Sakuma surname and served Ujisato who, as an outcome of the Oushū Retribution, held the territory of Aizu.  He was assigned to Tenoko Castle.  According to the military chronicles of the Sakuma family, Katsuyuki made significant contributions to the suppression of the Kasai-Ōsaki Uprising against former retainers of these clans who opposed new lords appointed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  At the height of this conflict, Date Masamune invited Ujisato under the pretext of a banquet with the intent of assassinating him.  Having detected the threat, Katsuyuki is said to have enabled Ujisato to escape.

After the death of Ujisato, Katsuyuki was called back by Hideyoshi to serve him at Fushimi Castle in the environs of Kyōto.  Although he is said to have been granted Naganuma Castle in Shinano Province, there was no official announcement.  Hideyoshi died in the eighth month of 1598.  Thereafter, the gobugyō, or Five Commissioners, requested input from Tokugawa Ieyasu whereupon, in lieu of Naganuma, Katsuyuki received 3,000 koku in Yamaji in Ōmi Province.

In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, he joined the Eastern Army.  In 1607, he moved to Edo Castle.  At this time, his fief was increased by 3,000 koku in Hōjō in Hitachi Province so that his landholdings reached 10,000 koku in total and he attained the status of a daimyō.

In 1615, at the Summer Campaign of the Siege of Ōsaka, he contributed by killing a commander for the Toyotomi named Takeda Eiō.  In recognition of his achievements, his fief was increased with landholdings in the Minochi District of Shinano and in the Takashima District of Ōmi.  At this time, he was formally awarded Naganuma Castle and became the founder of the Shinano-Naganuma domain with a fief of 18,000 koku.


In 1634, Katsuyuki was ordered to serve a role in the defense of Sunpu Castle.  While on assignment, he died at the age of sixty-seven.  He was buried at the Kenkō Temple.  Later, when his descendants moved the gravesite to the Kōgaku Temple in Nihonenoki in Edo, his posthumous Buddhist name was changed.  At present, a five-part gravestone representing earth, water, fire, wind and heaven at the Kenkō Temple is surmised to be for Katsuyuki.  In 2004, a new Buddhist mortuary tablet was made.  In the death register kept at the Bangaku Temple (the Sakuma family temple in Takashima in Ōmi), he is identified as Katsumasa.  There is currently no grave at the Kōgaku Temple.

Character and Donations

Katsuyuki was an enthusiast of chanoyu, or the tea ceremony, which he learned from a tea master named Furuta Oribe.

In 1628, three gates at the Nanzen Temple in Kyōto that had been missing for a long time were rebuilt with a donation from Tōdō Takatora.  At the celebration for the completion of the gates, Katsuyuki donated gold pieces and a large lantern to the temple.  A lantern named for Sakuma Genba was over six meters in height and according to its inscription was from Ishin Sōden, a priest from the Rinzai sect with ties to the Konchin sub-temple at the Nanzen Temple.  According to legends from the Atsuta Shrine in the city of Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, in the fifth month of 1630, Katsuyuki was in a shipwreck but saved by the divine protection of the Atsuta Shrine in Owari.  Grateful for being spared, Katsuyuki donated a large lantern to the shrine that stood eight meters in height.  The lantern known as the “Ghost Lantern” at the Tōshō Shrine in Ueno stands 6.06 meters high and was contributed by Katsuyuki in 1631.  The lanterns located at the Nanzen Temple in Kyōto, the Atsuta Shrine in Nagoya, and the Ueno-Tōshō Shrine in Edo are called the Three Great Lanterns of Japan and all were donated by Katsuyuki.