Megohime

愛姫

Date Clan

Mutsu Province

Megohime

Lifespan:  Eiroku 11 (1568) to 1/24 of Jōō 2 (1653)

Other Names:  Tamura-gozen (common), Yōtokuin (Buddhist name)

Clan:  Tamura → Date

Father:  Tamura Kiyoaki

Mother:  Okita (daughter of Sōma Akitane)

Husband:  Date Masamune

Children:  Iroha (wife of Matsudaira Tadateru), Tadamune, Munetsuna, Takematsumaru

Megohime was a woman who lived during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.

In 1568, Megohime was born as the only child of Tamura Kiyoaki (a sengoku daimyō and the lord of Miharu Castle in Mutsu) and his formal wife, Okita (a daughter of Sōma Akitane).  

In the tenth month of 1579, Kiyoaki consulted in regard to the marriage of Megohime to Date Masamune, including confirmation of the date for a wedding procession, security measures, and other details.  That winter, Masamune (at the age of thirteen) received, as his formal wife, Megohime (at the age of twelve).  Date Tanemune was the great-grandfather of both Masamune and Megohime.  The palanquin was carried from Yanagawa Castle in the Date District.  With Date Shigezane and Endō Motonobu providing security, the procession avoided the Itaya Pass and instead traversed the Kosaka Pass, Shichi-ka-shuku, and the Niijuku Pass, arriving at Yonezawa Castle in Dewa Province.

Masamune, however, suspected the involvement of a member of the Tamura family in an attempted assassination of him so her wet nurse was murdered.  Moreover, many of her servants were sentenced to death so, initially, the relationship between Megohime and Masamune was strained.

Thereafter, their relationship improved, and, from the time that Megohime moved to the Date residence at the palace of Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Kyōto known as the jurakutei, in 1594, she gave birth to Irohahime (the wife of Matsudaira Tadateru).  Henceforth, she bore, altogether, four children with Masamune including, after Irohahime, Tadamune (the second lord of the Sendai domain), Munetsuna, and Takematsumaru.

While residing in the Date residence at the palace of Hideyoshi, she served as a sort of diplomat to Masamune, informing him of the situation in the capital.  In a letter, she noted: “The situation in the country is not settled.  The lord (Hideyoshi) will decide the course of action according to the justice of heaven and earth.  Do not be concerned about my well-being.  I always keep a dagger close to me.  By no means will I be shamed.”

In 1613, Masamune was in Echigo Province to oversee the construction of Takada Castle.  In a letter to Megohime, he wrote, in noble language, the spring and fall, natural vegetation, and beauties of nature speak to the Buddhist view of the evanescence of life.  Citing phrases from the The Pillow Book (a book of observations and musings recorded by Sei Shōnagon during her time as court lady to Empress Consort Teishi in the Heian period) and the Tsurezuregusa (writings of Yoshida Kenkō from the Kamakura period) and ended with a phrase from The Tale of Genji from the Heian period.  Rather than being estranged, this reflected a complex image of the relationship between the couple.

On 5/24 of Kanei 13 (1636), after the death of Masamune, Megohime entered the priesthood at the Zuigan Temple under a Zen priest named Ungo.  After undergoing the rites of tonsure, she adopted the Buddhist name of Yōtokuin.

On 1/24 of Jōō 2 (1653), Megohime died at the age of eighty-six.  She died on the anniversary of the death of Masamune.  Her grave was made at the Yōtoku Temple adjacent to the Zuigan Temple affiliated with the Rinzai sect of Buddhism and located in Mutsu.

Megohime frequently requested Masamune and Tadamune to support the revitalization of the Tamura (her original family).  In accordance with the will of his mother, in the year of her death, Tadamune sent his son, Date Muneyoshi, to serve as the head of the Tamura with the objective of revitalizing the family.

Anecdote

Megohime, in delicate hiragana characters, wrote on wrapping paper the following: “Last night I had a dream of brightly colored flowering branches” meaning that she saw this dream at the time that Muneyoshi’s mother was carrying him in pregnancy.