Sugi Motonobu


Sugi Clan


Suō Province

Lifespan:  15xx to 3/6 of Tenshō 17 (1589)

Other Names:  Nagasuke → Motonobu, Kojirō (common)

Rank:  bushō

Clan:  Sugi

Lord:  Ōuchi Yoshinaga → Mōri Motonari → Mōri Terumoto

Father:  Sugi Motosuke (Takasuke)

Wife:  Seitaiin (daughter of Kodama Motoyoshi)

Adopted Children:  Mototsune

Sugi Motonobu served as a bushō during the Sengoku period.  He was a retainer of the Mōri clan.

Originally, Motonobu was a retainer of the Ōuchi clan and he is surmised to have adopted his initial name of Nagasuke after receiving one of the characters from the name of his lord, Ōuchi Yoshinaga.

In 1556, during the Subjugation of Bōchō by Mōri Motonari, together with remnants of the Yamashiro group, Motonobu holed-up in his base at Jōkunjiyama Castle to resist, but, in the end, surrendered to the Mōri.  He received one of the characters from the name of Motonari’s eldest son, Mōri Takamoto, and adopted the name of Motonobu.  Thereafter, he became a retainer of the Mōri clan and, together with his father, served loyally.  In 1585, after his father died of illness, he inherited the headship of the clan and became the head of the Sugi clan.

Kodama Motoyoshi was a retainer of the Mōri serving as one of the Five Magistrates to conduct affairs of governance of the clan.  He had two daughters.  The eldest daughter was named Kanehime.  While in his youth, Mōri Terumoto was playing in front of his family residence when a beautiful young lady passed by who caught his eye who happened to be Kanehime.  (She was called Ninomaru-dono because she resided in the ninomaru, or outer citadel, of Hiroshima Castle and was later known as Seitaiin.)  Thereafter, Terumoto frequently visited Motoyoshi’s residence.  Motoyoshi was not pleased with Terumoto’s actions and, when she was thirteen, he arranged for her to wed Motonobu.

In 1586, during the Conquest of Kyūshū, Motonobu deployed to Chikuzen Province under the command of Kobayakawa Takakage.  At this time, although Kanehime was married to Motonobu, Terumoto did not give-up on her and, instead, ordered retainers including Sugiyama Motozumi (Tosa-no-kami), Sugiyama Narizumi (Seibei) (father and son) and Sase Motoyoshi to snatch her as his consort.

On 3/1 of Tenshō 17 (1589), notwithstanding that Terumoto was his lord, Motonobu departed with the intention of appealing directly to Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Ōsaka.  Aware of the potentially grave implications for the family, and despite the pitiable outcome, Takakage ordered Murakami Kagechika to track him down and, on 3/6, Kagechika killed Motonobu at Funagakure in Ōshima in the waters off Nogami-no-shō (Tokuyama).  This ended the lineage of the Sugi-Takasuke family – one of the Eight Families of the Sugi serving as hereditary retainers of the Ōuchi clan of Suō Province during the eras of Ōuchi Yoshioki and Ōuchi Yoshitaka.  Thereafter, when a vessel of the Mōri family was crossing the open sea of Tokuyama Bay, the conditions became turbulent and other unusual events were said to occur in the area of Hiroshima.


The memorial tower for Motonobu stands alongside the grave of Sugi Motosuke who built the Kōgen Temple as a family temple for the Sugi clan which is designated as a cultural asset of the city of Shūnan in the southeast portion of Yamaguchi Prefecture.  There is a legend that revengeful spirits of warriors ride around this temple on white horses so the main temple gate was firmly closed and another one constructed to continue the offering of prayers before the Buddhist altar.

The Mōri family frequently donated lands to the Kōgen Temple and prayed for the souls of the Sugi clan over a long period.

Together with Terumoto, Ninomaru-dono bore Mōri Hidenari on 10/18 of Bunroku 4 (1595), Takehime in 1599, and Mōri Naritaka on 9/3 of Keichō 7 (1602).