Shimotsuma Nakataka


Shimotsuma Clan

Echizen Province

Shimotsuma Nakataka

Lifespan:  Tenbun 20 (1551) to 5/15 of Genna 2 (1616)

Other Names:  Chiyoju (childhood), Shōjin, Chūshi, Raishi, Nakayasu, Soshū (stage name)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Shimotsuma

Lord:  Kennyo → Junnyo

Father:  Shimotsuma Raishō

Mother:  Daughter of Jōsenbō Ryōshū

Wife:  Daughter of Shimotsuma Kōrai

Children:  Nakatoshi, son, son, son, 仲此

Shimotsuma Nakataka served as a bushō from the late Sengoku to early Edo periods.  He was a priest at the Hongan Temple respected for his knowledge and performance of the traditional art known as sarugaku

In 1551, Nakataka was born as the son of Shimotsuma Raishō, a bushō serving the Hongan Temple in Echizen Province.

During the Ishiyama War against Oda Nobunaga, he engaged in assorted battles over a ten-year period and provided guidance to followers of the Hongan Temple.  In 1580. when, upon Imperial command, the Hongan Temple reconciled with Nobunaga, Nakataka was one of three representatives to sign the peace treaty (the other two were Shimotsuma Rairen and Shimotsuma Rairyū).  Thereafter, he obeyed Kennyo (the eleventh abbot of the Hongan Temple and of the Shinshū-Ōtani branch of the Jōdo sect of Buddhism) by endeavoring to bring under control the Ikkō monks in various locations who continued to resist the Oda army even after signing of the treaty.  After the death of Kennyo in 1592, Nakataka followed Junnyo, the twelfth abbot of the Hongan Temple.  In 1600, in the wake of the Battle of Sekigahara, based on a friendship between Nakataka’s lineal heir, Shimotsuma Nakatoshi, and Ishida Mitsunari, Junnyo was suspected of being complicit with the Western Army.  Therefore, Nakataka removed Nakatoshi from the line of succession while Nakataka himself was confined to his home.  In 1602, his confinement ended and, after the split between of the Hongan Temple between eastern and western branches, Nakataka aligned with the Nishi-Hongan Temple led by Junnyo.

In 1616, Nakataka died at the age of sixty-six.  He was succeeded by his fifth son, 仲此.  His descendants were known as the Shōjin family and became senior retainers of the Nishi-Hongan Temple.

Knowledge of sarugaku

Nakataka was devoted to sarugaku and, in the history of theater, is known as Shimotsuma Shōjin.  He is referred to below accordingly.

From an early age, Shōjin trained under Konbaru Dayū-Gyūren and acquired all of the secrets of the Konbaru school.   He was the most well-known amateur practitioner of sarugaku at the time.  He performed a revival of a work known as sekiden-komachi which was no longer practiced in the Konbaru school, exceeding the level of a professional performance.

From 1588, he kept records of performances providing detailed insights into the performers and the audience.  According to these records, Shōjin served as an instructor in sarugaku to Totoyomi Hidetsugu and performed sarugaku in front of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu.  In 1615, he even performed in the Imperial palace.  A diary notes that he was the most talented performer at the time.

Shōjin initiated Matsudaira Tadayoshi, the fourth son of Tokugawa Ieyasu, to the documented secrets of sarugaku, suggesting he sought to maintain the Shimotsuma family through the teaching of sarugaku.  Records, observations, and written secrets that he kept of sarugaku are regarded as valuable sources of information in regard to the history of this performance art.