Chikurinin

竹林院

Sanada Clan

Wife of Sanada Nobushige

Echizen Province

Chikurinin was a woman living during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  She was the daughter of Ōtani Yoshitsugu (a retainer of the Toyotomi clan) and formal wife of Sanada Nobushige.  Her younger sister (or niece) was likely given for adoption.

Chikurinin appears to have wed Sanada Nobushige during the Tenshō era (1573 to 1593) prior to separation from the Toyotomi administration around 1594 after her father, Yoshitsugu, had fallen ill.  This may have been around the time of the Conquest of Odawara in 1590.  Nobushige was sent to Toyotomi Hideyoshi as a hostage of the Sanada family, and the marriage appears to have been arranged upon the wishes of Hideyoshi for political purposes.  A familial relationship with Yoshitsugu, who was a capable magistrate, served to reinforce the position of the Sanada family under the Toyotomi administration.

At the Battle of Sekigahara on 9/15 of Keichō 5 (1600), Chikurinin’s father and husband joined the Western Army while she and Yamanote-dono (the formal wife of Sanada Masayuki – Chikurinin’s father-in-law) were protected by Chikurinin’s natural father, Yoshitsugu.  Following the defeat of the Western Army, she accompanied Nobushige to be confined on Mount Kudo.  The couple endured difficult circumstances on Mount Kudo and, according to legend, Chikurinin herself conceived of a special twine known as Sanada-himo using Pongee (a soft thin woven cloth) from the Ueda area.  She then earned a living by having retainers sell the material.  Although the supervision by those on the side of the Tokugawa was severe, she bore two sons on Mount Kudo and also raised another child born to a consort so she had a meaningful family life.

In 1614, at the Winter Campaign of Ōsaka, Chikurinin and her husband were provided a residence within Ōsaka Castle.  However, at the following Summer Campaign of Ōsaka, Nobushige was killed in action on 5/7 of 1615, after which she fled from the castle with her children.  However, based on an investigation by Asano Nagaakira (the head of the Kii domain) ordered by Tokugawa Ieyasu, on 5/19, it was discovered that she was hiding with her daughter Akuri (or Aguri) under the protection of three samurai in the Ito District of Kii and, on 5/20, was turned-over to Ieyasu in Kyōto.  A valuable short sword made by Rai Kunitoshi (from the Kamakura period) that Nobushige had received from Toyotomi Hideyori prior to entering Ōsaka Castle along with 57 gold pieces were seized and given to Nagaakira, upon which she was pardoned and underwent the rites of tonsure.  Her daughter, who had been married to Ishikawa Sadakiyo, received living expenses and resided in the capital thereafter.

Chikurinin died on 5/18 of Keian 2 (1649).  Her grave, along with Nobushige and Yukimasa (Nobushige’s eldest son), is at the Daishu sub-temple of the Myōshin Temple (affiliated with the Rinzai sect of Buddhism) in Kyōto.