Marume Nagayoshi


Marume Clan

Higo Province

Marume Nagayoshi

Lifespan:  Tenbun 9 (1540) to 2/7 of Kanei 6 (1629)

Other Names:  Kurando-no-suke (common), Iwami-no-kami, Tessai (monk’s name)

Rank:  Military tactician, instructor of the military arts

Bakufu:  Edo

Domain:  Hitoyoshi

Clan:  Yamamoto → Marume

Lord:  Sagara Haruhiro → (absconded) → Sagara Yoshihi → rōnin → Sagara Yorifusa

Father:  Marume Yosouemon

Children:  Identity unknown

Marume Nagayoshi served as a retainer of the Sagara clan of Higo Province during the Sengoku period and as a military tactician in the early Edo period.  Nagayoshi founded the Taisha school of military tactics.

Nagayoshi was a student of Kamiizumi Hidetsuna (later, known as Nobutsuna and by the title of Ise-no-kami), the founder of the Shinkage, or new shadow, school of swordsmanship.

In 1540, Nagayoshi was born as the son of Marume Yosouemon in Yatsushiro in the Yatsushiro District of Higo in territory controlled by the Sagara clan.  In 1555, when soldiers from Satsuma attacked Ōhata, Nagayoshi joined his father in his first battle and was given the surname of Marume.  His original surname was Yamamoto.

Beginning in 1556, he trained in the military arts for a period of two years under Amakusa Tanemoto (Izu-no-kami), the lord of Hondo Castle and landlord of the Amakusa District in Higo.

In 1558, Nagayoshi traveled to Kyōto to ardently study military tactics under Kamiizumi Nobutsuna.  Following three years of training, Nagayoshi was counted among one of Nobutsuna best disciples and a member of the Four Guardian Kings.

Later, when Kamiizumi demonstrated military tactics in front of Ashikaga Yoshiteru, the thirteenth shōgun of the Muromachi bakufu, Nagayoshi served as his counterpart for combat with the long-sword and, together with Kamiizumi, later received a letter of commendation from Yoshiteru.  He similarly performed sword techniques in front of Emperor Ōgimachi (the 106th emperor from 1557 to 1586).  According to one account, he received the title of an imperial guard for the north face of the imperial palace, but this appointment is not confirmed.

After returning to Higo, Nagayoshi served as an instructor in the Shinkage school of swordsmanship for the Sagara family.

In 1566, Nagayoshi traveled again to Kyōto, accompanied by disciples including Marume Jusai, Marume Kichibei, and Kino Kurōemon.  On this occasion, Nobutsuna was in his home province of Kōzuke.  On Mount Atago, and at the Seigan and Kiyomizu temples in Kyōto, Nagayoshi posted a sign proclaiming himself as the best military tactician in the land, challenging practitioners of the military arts and passersby to a sword fight, but no one entertained the offer so he returned to Higo.  In 1567, upon hearing of Nagayoshi’s posting, Nobutsuna provided Nagayoshi a certificate of mastery of the long sword issued under the name of Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami Nobutsuna.

After returning to his hometown, he served the Sagara clan.  In 1569, after Shimazu Yasuhisa, the general from Hiraizumi in Satsuma Province, deployed a scheme to attack Ōkuchi Castle, the Sagara followed Nagayoshi’s counsel who was caught-up in the scheme. The Sagara were subsequently defeated and lost many commanders and soldiers as well as Ōkuchi Castle.  After the battle, Sagara Yoshihi, a sengoku daimyō and the eighteenth head of the Sagara, blamed Nagayoshi for the losses and imposed punishment in the form of austerity upon him, vanquishing his dream of becoming a military commander.

Thereafter, Nagayoshi focused intensely on his training in military arts.  After Nagayoshi’s school surpassed other schools of military arts across Kyūshū, Kamiizumi delegated to him the instruction of the Shinkage school in the western provinces.  To learn new techniques in the long sword devised by Nobutsuna, Nagayoshi accompanied his disciples to Kyōto but Nobutsuna had already died so, dejected, he returned to Higo.  After several years of incessant training, he founded the Taisha school of military arts.

After their defeat at the hands of the Shimazu clan, the Sagara clan were relegated to only a portion of the Kuma District of Higo.  The Sagara then yielded their allegiance to Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  In 1587, the period of disfavor toward Nagayoshi eased and he returned to the service of the Sagara.  As an instructor of the Taisha school of military arts, he received a stipend of 117 koku.

The Taisha school of arts gained a following across Kyūshū and, in addition to the Sagara, Nagayoshi had disciples and students from many other families, including bushō such as Kamachi Akihiro, Tachibana Muneshige, and Nabeshima Naoshige.  Nagayoshi conveyed the secrets of the art to Akihiro.

In his latter years, he underwent the rites of tonsure and adopted the name of Iwami Nyūdō Tessai.  He spent his retirement life while engaging in land cultivation in Kiriharano.  In addition to swordsmanship, he was well-versed in the art of the spear and the naginata, the equestrian arts, the ninja arts, and the shuriken, or throwing star.  He also studied the cultural arts, including texts, waka, dance, and the flute.

In 1629, Nagayoshi died at the age of eighty-nine.