Tanegashima Tokitaka


Tanegashima Clan

Tanegashima Tokitaka

Satsuma Province

Lifespan:  Kyōroku 1 (1528) to 10/2 of Tenshō 7 (1579)

Other Names:  犬楠丸 (childhood), Naotoki, Sabei-no-jō, Sakonei-no-shōgen, 可釣 (monk’s name)

Rank:  daimyō

Title:  Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Inspector of the Board of Censors

Clan:  Tanegashima

Lord:  Shimazu Takahisa → Shimazu Yoshihisa

Father:  Tanegashima Shigetoki 

Mother:  Daughter of Shimazu Tadaoki (Shimazu-Sasshū family)

Siblings:  Tokitaka, 時式, Nippō

Wife: [Formal] Nishi (daughter of Shimazu Tadayoshi), [Consort] Daughter of Nejime Takashige, daughter of Kuroki 道統

Children:  Daughter (wife of Ijūin Tadamune), Enshinin-den (Myōren-fujin, wife of Shimazu Yoshihisa), Tokitsugu, Hisatoki

Tanegashima Tokitaka served as a daimyō during the Sengoku and Azuchi-Momoyama periods.  He was the fourteenth head of the Tanegashima clan.  He first received the arquebus from foreign merchants in Japan and fostered the development of domestic production.

In 1528, Tokitaka was born as the son of Tanegashima Shigetoki, the thirteenth head of the Tanegashima clan.

According to a historical account of the arquebus, in 1543, a Portuguese merchant aboard a Ming dynasty ship drifted ashore in Tanegashima.  On this occasion, the foreign merchants introduced arquebuses to the Japanese for the first time.  While witnessing a demonstration of the firearms, Tokitaka (who was sixteen years old at the time) was impressed at the power of the weapons and decided to purchase two of the arquebuses.  He then brought one of them to a blacksmith named Yaita Kinbei (Kiyosada) and ordered him to examine and produce more of the weapons while also ordering a retainer named Shinokawa Koshirō to research gunpowder.  After great effort, Kinbei succeeded in manufacturing a Japanese version of the arquebus.  The other arquebus was presented by the Shimazu clan to Ashikaga Yoshiharu, the twelfth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.  Owing to its origins, the arquebus was also referred to as the Tanegashima firearm and brought revolutionary changes to the battlefield during the Sengoku period.

His father, Shigetoki, was alive when the arquebuses were imported to Japan, but historical records refer primarily to Tokitaka so, at this time, Tokitaka is surmised to have already succeeded his father as the head of the clan.  Tokitaka wed the daughter of Shimazu Tadayoshi and, in 1555, he followed Shimazu Takahisa on an invasion of Ōsumi Province.  Together with his formal wife, he had two daughters.  In particular, his second daughter, Enshinin-den (Myōren-fujin), became the second wife of Shimazu Yoshihisa, the lineal heir of Takahisa.  Meanwhile, Yoshihisa also had a secret consort from the Nejime clan (which clan was feuding with the Shimazu) and, after she bore Tokitaka’s eldest son, Tanegashima Tokitsugu, sought to cover it up.  After learning of these events, Tokitaka’s wife became upset and took her two daughters, departed from Tanegashima, and returned to Kagoshima.  Thereafter, Myōren-fujin remarried to Kimotsuki Kanemori.  Tokitaka’s second son, Tangeshima Hisatoki, was born to a daughter of the Kuroki clan.

In 1560, Tokitaka transferred headship of the clan to Tokitsugu when Tokitsugu was merely five years old.  This was a rare event for the headship to be transferred to a successor at such a young age when the current head was still living.  In 1562, however, Tokitsugu died at the age of seven so the headship reverted to Tokitaka.  Later, his second son, Hisatoki, became the sixteenth head of the clan.

In 1579, Tokitaka died at the age of fifty-two.