Shimazu Kameju


Shimazu Clan


Satsuma Province

Lifespan:  4/26 of Genki 2 (1571) to 10/5 of Kanei 7 (1630)

Other Names:  Jimyōin (Jimesā)

Clan:  Shimazu

Bakufu:  Edo

Father:  Shimazu Yoshihisa

Mother:  Daughter of Tanegashima Tokitaka

Siblings:  Hira (wife of Shimazu Yoshitora), Tamahime (formal wife of Shimazu Teruhisa), Kameju

Husband:  Shimazu Hisayasu → Shimazu Tadatsune

Shimazu Kameju was a woman who lived during the Azuchi-Momoyama and early Edo periods.  She was the third daughter of Shimazu Yoshihisa, a sengoku daimyō and the sixteenth head of the Shimazu clan.

After getting married, she was variously referred to as Okami-sama, Kokubu-sama, and Kokubu-Okami-sama.  As an outcome of the Subjugation of Kyūshū by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Kameju moved to the capital of Kyōto.  Kameju carried the burden of serving as a hostage to ensure the obedience of the Shimazu clan to the Toyotomi administration after their surrender in the spring of 1587.

In 1589, she wed her cousin, Shimazu Hisayasu, but he died of illness in 1593 while on deployment in Korea.  Thereafter, she wed his younger brother, Shimazu Tadatsune.  Kameju did not get along well with Tadatsune who was known for carousing and high-handedness.  The couple did not have a child so Tadatsune negotiated with the bakufu to adopt Kunimatsumaru (later known as Tokugawa Tadanaga), the son of Tokugawa Hidetada, the second shōgun of the Edo bakufu.

In 1599, Kameju was granted by Shimazu Yoshihiro (her uncle) landholdings of 5,000 koku in the Hioki District of Satsuma.  The following year, she was granted by Shimazu Yoshihisa (her father) additional landholdings of 2,739 koku in the village of Ōnejime in Ōsumi Province.

In 1611, after the death of Shimazu Yoshihisa, Tadatsune quickly arranged for Kameju to reside separately in Kokubu Castle.  Then, as if to show off, he acquired eight consorts.

In 1624, she received another grant of 10,000 koku free of levies for her generation.

On 10/5 of Kanei 7 (1630), Kameju died at the Kokubu Castle.  Upon her death, Tadatsune sent a waka to her servants that is interpreted as: “In this transient world, Kameju died in the tenth month of the lunar calendar.  I am not, however, weeping so much as to make my sleeves wet with tears.”

Tadatsune did not build a grave for Kameju and, among the graves at the vestiges of the Fukushō Temple that served as the family temple for the Shimazu family for generations, only Tadatsune and Kameju do not have a shared grave, suggesting they did not get along and he treated her coldly.  However, there is also another interpretation of the waka that he was indeed crying to make his sleeve wet on the wish this was not the real world.


In a corner of the Art Musueum for the City of Kagoshima in the town of Shiroyama in the city of Kagoshima (behind a statue of Saigō Takamori), there is a stone statue known as Jimesā.  This statue, which was first discovered in 1929 on the prior grounds of the municipal offices of Kagoshima, is deemed to be a statue of Kameju which is pronounced as Jimesā in the Kagoshima dialect after her posthumous name of Jimyōin.

Every year, on the anniversary of Kameju’s death on 10/5, there is a custom to apply cosmetics to her statue.  Currently, women from the municipal office of the city of Kagoshima apply black and white poster paint along with lipstick and cheek rouge.  The make-up reflects the trends of the day and is publicized on television and in the news, attracting local attention.  This custom has been carried on since 1929 as an event to cherish her character.

There is a theory that the statue known as Jimesā was not originally made in the image of Kameju.  There was a stone statue called Shirochizō at the Daijō Temple (affiliated with the Shingon sect) in Kagoshima where the Shimazu family visited for prayers during the Edo period and observed a custom to apply face powder to the statue for prayers.  It is noted that Shirochizō resembled Jimesā and, after the closure of the Daijō Temple during a movement to abolish Buddhism early in the Meiji period, the statue was moved to the current location of the statue known as Jimesā.  Owing to the connection between Shirochizō and Kameju, the Daijō Temple was also known as having an affinity to Kameju.