Lifespan: Tenbun 17 (1548) to 10/7 of Kanei 3 (1626)
Name Changes: Mototoyo → Toyokuni → Zenkō (Buddhist name)
Rank: bushō, daimyō
Title: Junior Fifth Rank (Lower), Vice Minister of Central Affairs, Assistant Vice Minister of the Sovereign’s Household
Bakufu: Muromachi – military governor of Inaba; Edo
Domain: Lord of Tajima-Fukuoka
Lord: Mōri Terumoto → Tokugawa Ieyasu → Tokugawa Hidetada
Father: Yamana Toyosada
Mother: Daughter of Hosokawa Takakuni
Siblings: Toyokazu, Toyokuni
Wife: Daughter of Yamana Suketoyo
Children: Shōshichirō, Toyomasa, Shōbei, daughter (wife of Toki Yorikatsu), daughter (wife of Kuchiba Shichirōzaemon), Toyoyoshi, Toyoharu, Minami-no-tsubone (consort of Toyotomi Hideyoshi)
Yamana Toyokuni served as a bushō and daimyō from the Sengoku to early Edo periods.
In 1548, Toyokuni was born as the second son of Yamana Toyosada, a shugo daimyō, sengoku daimyō, and head of the Tajima-Yamana clan in Tajima Province. His mother was the daughter of Hosokawa Takakuni, the fifteenth head of the Hosokawa-Keichō family, the deputy shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.
In 1560, his father, Toyosada, died. Yamana Munetoyo was sent from the capital area to succeed him but died early in 1561. Next, after his older brother, Yamana Toyokazu, succeeded to the headship of the Inaba-Yamana family, Toyokuni served as the lord of Inaba-Iwai Castle, an ancillary site. Later, owing to conflict with Toyokazu and Toyokazu’s chief retainer, Takeda Takanobu, Toyokuni was ousted from the castle and fled to Yatsuka in neighboring Tajima Province.
After the death of Toyokazu, with support from remnants of the Amago army led by Yamanaka Yukimori, Toyokuni succeeded to the headship of the Inaba-Yamana clan. In 1573, following an attack by Kikkawa Motoharu, a bushō from the Mōri clan, Toyokuni surrendered and submitted to the Mōri army. Toyokuni received one of the characters from the name of Mōri Terumoto, the head of the Mōri clan, and adopted the name of Mototoyo. Later, after forging friendly relations with the Oda clan, he dropped the character “moto” and changed his name to Toyokuni.
Service during the Oda and Toyotomi eras
From 1578, although Toyokuni cultivated friendly relations with Oda Nobunaga, he did not serve as a retainer of the bakufu.
In 1580, Toyokuni was attacked by Hashiba Hideyoshi, a senior retainer of the Oda clan. Toyokuni and others holed-up up for a while in Tottori Castle, but after the band of retainers including Nakamura Harutsugu and Morishita Dōyo insisted on resistance to the bitter end, Toyokuni went alone to the camp of Hideyoshi and surrendered. Upon the orders of Hideyoshi, Toyokuni was spared. Owing to the absence of a lord at Tottori Castle, Kikkawa Tsuneie was dispatched as a provisional lord to maintain the resistance against the Oda clan. In 1581, Toyokuni joined Hideyoshi in an assault on Tottori Castle defended by Tsuneie and his former retainers holed-up in the castle. When Toyokuni holed-up in Tottori Castle a year earlier, the besieging forces did not fully cut-off provisioning of the castle but this time the cessation of provisions led to the fall of the castle.
Toyokuni submitted to Hideyoshi’s army but refused an offer from Hideyoshi to serve the Toyotomi clan and became a wandering samurai. Later, he became a house guest of the Tada clan, a small-scale landowner in the Kawabe District of Settsu Province.
In 1586, during the period that Tokugawa Ieyasu resided in Hamamatsu castle, he enjoyed the favor of Ieyasu. Although Toyokuni was not a retainer of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, during the deployment to the Korean Peninsula from 1592, he was ordered to accompany Hideyoshi to Nagoya Castle in Hizen Province.
In 1600, Toyokuni joined the Eastern Army for the Battle of Sekigahara and served with forces led by Kamei Korenori.
In 1601, he was granted the Shitsumi District of Tajima with a fief of 6,700 koku. The Tajima-Yamana family (the lineage of Yamana Suketoyo) came to an end so, under the Tokugawa bakufu, the lineage of Toyokuni from the Tajima-Yamana was treated as the main branch of the Yamana clan.
Thereafter, he earned the trust of Ieyasu and Hidetada, participating in tea ceremonies at Sunpu Castle, but did not receive an increase to his fief or become a daimyō.
On 10/7 of Kanei 3 (1626), Toyokuni died at the age of seventy- nine. Descendants of Toyokuni served as senior-ranking hatamoto, or direct retainers of the Edo bakufu, including in roles responsible for the conduct of official ceremonies, throughout the Edo period.
Character and anecdotes
After incurring an assault by the forces under Hashiba Hideyoshi on his base at Tottori Castle, Toyokuni departed from the castle on his own to surrender but owing to losses imposed by the defenders upon Hideyoshi, Hideyoshi insisted that his formal wife (or, according to other accounts, his daughter) be tendered as a hostage.
Toyokuni declined to serve the Toyotomi family and became a wandering samurai. After roaming around several provinces, he was permitted to temporarily reside in the territory of the Tada clan in Settsu, but at the time of his departure, he offered a very formal greeting to Hideyoshi demonstrating himself as a very conscientious individual.
Upon seeing Toyokuni wearing a worn-out haori, or formal coat, Ieyasu chided him by saying “Even if you take care of your clothing, there are limits.” Toyokuni responded “I received this from Lord Ashikaga Yoshiharu.” Ieyasu then replied “You (Toyokuni) are a conscientious person who does not abandon your sense of gratitude.”
On one occasion, Toyokuni noted to Ieyasu “Lord Kutsuki Bokusai seems like a thoughtless character, doesn’t he?” Ieyasu then said: “Well, everyone knows Bokusai is a thoughtless character, but I think you (Toyokuni) are even more thoughtless than Bokusai.” When those surrounding them expressed doubt in regard to this assertion, Ieyasu said: “Bokusai is a thoughtless character, but he continues to hold the Kutsuki Valley passed-down from his ancestors. By comparison, how about you? From long ago, the Yamana were a prominent family governing eleven provinces out of over sixty and referred to as the lords of one-sixth. Now, all of that territory has been completely lost and you are in a temporary residence. This is surely the most thoughtless in the nation, and I don’t think there is anything more thoughtless than this.” Without expressing shame, Toyokuni responded “It’s just as you say. I do not have the luxury being the lord of one-sixth so I at least want to be called the lord of one-hundredth.” As one would expect, Ieyasu only wryly smiled in response.
During the Tenshō era (1573 to 1593), when Toyokuni and Tokugawa Ieyasu visited the residence of Shiba Yoshikane, Toyokuni is said to have acted too politely to Yoshikane. Later, Ieyasu candidly said: “Yoshikane was born in the home of the deputy shōgun, but is just a cadet family of the Ashikaga. You (Toyokuni), as a lineal heir of the Nitta family, which served as the governor-general of several provinces until not so long ago. So, why do you act in such a servile manner?” Ieyasu also called himself a member of a cadet family of the Nitta clan.
After the Battle of Sekigahara, Toyokuni searched for and engaged Takeda Sukenobu, the orphan of Takeda Takanobu who had earlier ousted Toyokuni, and granted him a stipend of 200 koku. Thereafter, the descendants of Sukenobu served the Yamana clan for generations.
When meeting Ieyasu after Ieyasu assumed the position as the supreme shōgun, he was praised for wearing the haori presented to the head of the Yamana clan by Ashikaga Yoshitane, the tenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu.
Toyokuni was well-versed in studies in usages and practices of the ancient court and military households in addition to cultural arts including waka, renga, sadō, and shōgi. As a surviving member of the prominent Yamana clan from the Muromachi period, Toyokuni enabled his descendants to continue in the capacity as high-ranking hatamoto of the Edo bakufu.