Ryūzōji Sueaki

龍造寺季明

Ryūzōji Clan

Individual

Hizen Province

Ryūzōji Sueaki was an individual living in Japan during the early Edo period.

Sueaki was born as the son of Ryūzōji Takafusa.  He considered himself to have the lineage of the eldest son of the Ryūzōji clan.  He was commonly known as Ryūzōji Hakuan.

Owing to the lower social status of his mother, Sueaki was not recognized as the lineal heir of Takafusa.  It is said that even Takafusa did not know of the existence of Hakuan.  After the death of Takafusa, however, the Saga domain was dismayed with the unexpected appearance of his orphan.  Given that some of the retainers connected with the Ryūzōji clan were sympathetic to the movement to revive the Ryūzōji clan under Hakuan suggests that he was in fact the son of Takafusa.

After his father died while Hakuan was young, he became a monk.  In the Saga domain, although Hakuan was treated respectfully as the orphan of Takafusa, he was kept under confinement.  Without resolving with the domain whether to stay or leave, he absconded.  Nabeshima Katsushige, the lord of the domain, dispatched his cousin, Ishii Shigenari, who convinced Hakuan to return but Hakuan did not follow-through.  Later, Hakuan returned to secular life and made persistent appeals to Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shōgun of the Edo bakufu, to restore the Ryūzōji clan to power in Hizen, but his pleas were rejected.  From the perspective of the bakufu, the Saga domain was stable under the Nabeshima clan so they did not have an incentive to seriously consider the request for change.

In 1634, Hakuan changed his name to Ryūzōji Sueaki and deemed himself the lineal heir to the Ryūzōji clan.  Ryūzōji Takanobu’s nephew (and son of Ryūzōji Naganobu), Taku Yasutoshi, rejected the claim and said: “As an illegitimate child, he is not entitled to call himself the lineal heir.”  He further asserted: “If there is a lineal heir to the Ryūzōji clan, then I myself am the most suitable.”  This brought to an end Hakuan’s maneuvers but his repeated claims resulted in a decision by the bakufu to assign him to the custody of the Aizu domain.

His descendants served as retainers of the Aizu domain until the Meiji Restoration.