Lifespan: Genki 3 (1572) to 8/1 of Keichō 9 (1604)
Other Names: Kanehime, Ninomaru-dono
Father: Kodama Motoyoshi
Siblings: Motokane, Kagetada, Mototsugu, Seitaiin, sister (wife of Masuda Kageyoshi)
Husband: Sugi Motonobu (later became a consort of Mōri Terumoto)
Children: Mōri Hidenari, Takehime (wife of Kikkawa Hiromasa), Mōri Naritaka
Seitaiin was a lady in Japan during the Sengoku period. Her name was Kanehime and she resided in the ninomaru, or outer citadel, of Hiroshima Castle so she was called Ninomaru-dono. She was later known as Seitaiin and was the natural mother of Mōri Hidenari (the first lord of the Chōshū domain), Takehime (the wife of Kikkawa Hiromasa), and Mōri Naritaka (the first lord of the Tokuyama domain).
In 1572, Kanehime was born as the daughter of Kodama Motoyoshi, a retainer of the Mōri clan of Aki Province.
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. 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 a retainer of the Mōri named Sugi 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).
Reluctantly becoming a consort of Terumoto, Kanehime resided in the outer citadel of Hiroshima Castle and received the affection of Terumoto. Owing to the jealousy of Terumoto’s formal wife, Minami-no-kata, she resided in Hiroshima Castle from early on before the construction was completed. Thereafter, she bore Mōri Hidenari on 10/18 of Bunroku 4 (1595), Takehime in 1599, and Mōri Naritaka on 9/3 of Keichō 7 (1602). The common theory is that Hidenari was born at Hiroshima Castle. Under another theory, after becoming pregnant, Kanehime sheltered in the residence of Zaima Narihisa in the village of Ono in Nagato Province and secretly bore him there.
In 1600, at the Battle of Sekigahara, Terumoto served as the supreme commander of the Western Army. In the wake of their defeat, the Mōri witnessed a reduction of their territory from eight provinces to only two (Suō and Nagato), corresponding to a reduction in their fief from 1,120,000 koku to 298,000 koku. In 1603, the Edo bakufu approved the construction of Hagi Castle along the coast of Suō to serve as the base of the Mōri. After their transfer to the new location, Kanehime could not return to Hiroshima Castle so, without entering Hagi Castle, she moved to Kakukō Temple in Yamaguchi. She was not able to enter Hagi Castle for the same reason noted above – it was not permitted by the formal wife of Terumoto.
On 8/1 of Keichō 9 (1604), she died of illness at the age of thirty-two and was interred at the Saihō Temple in Furukuma in Yamaguchi. In the Meiji period, her grave was moved behind the gravesite for the Mōri family at the Rurikō Temple at the Kōzan Park in the city of Yamaguchi.
Legend of Mount Hime
In Yamaguchi, there is the Legend of Mount Hime. The legend has many variations but is surmised to be connected to Ninomaru-dono and proceeds as follows:
In the castle town of Yamaguchi, there was a beautiful daughter of a senior person and a lord who fell in love with her at first sight and sought to have her at his side. Having been engaged, she refused, but after the senior person (her father) went to refuse the offer, he did not return. Unable to contain his rage, the lord captured the daughter and hung her in an old well on Mount Hime. He then threw snakes inside to make her suffer. While on the verge of dying, the daughter laid a curse while saying “My natural beauty has been my misfortune. So that women in later eras do not suffer this way, over all the land that can be seen from this mountain, no more beautiful women shall be born.” As a result, beautiful women were no longer born in Yamaguchi.