Lifespan: 15xx to 8/27 of Eiroku 8 (1565)
Father: Satō Tadayoshi
Adotive Father: Kishi Nobuchika (sent as hostage)
Siblings: Tadayasu, Masanobu, Yoshinobu, sister (wife of Satō Katatada), Seishitsu-in (wife of Saitō Toshiharu)
Yaeryoku was a woman who lived during the Sengoku period. She was the natural daughter of Satō Tadayoshi, the lord of Kajita Castle in Mino Province.
Tadayoshi was a powerful kokujin, or provincial landowner, in Mino Province serving the ruling Saitō clan. His later betrayal of the Saitō in favor of the Oda had fateful consequences for Yaeryoku.
Yaeryoku lived in the era when Saitō Tatsuoki inherited the Saitō clan after the death from illness in 1561 of his father, Saitō Yoshitatsu. The youth and inexperience of Tatsuoki provided an opportunity for Oda Nobunaga from neighboring Owari Province to increase his attacks in Mino, shifting his focus from the western portions to the central portions of the province. This is known as the Invasion of Chūnō (meaning the central portions of Mino). In an effort to mitigate the impact of attacks by the Oda, Nagai Michitoshi (the lord of Seki Castle) devised a plan to ally with Tadayoshi in addition to Kishi Nobuchika (the lord of Dōhora Castle), forging a three-way alliance among the respective lords of these castles in Mino. At this time, Yaeryoku was sent as a hostage for adoption by Nobuchika. This alliance enabled them to halt attacks by the Oda army in the central portion of Mino while the main division under Saitō Tatsuoki rushed in to sweep-up the Oda forces, going as far as to plan an invasion of Owari.
In secret, however, Tadayoshi and the Kajita forces had a plan to collude with the Oda army. Tadayoshi dispatched Umemura Ryōtaku (a resident of the area below Kajita Castle) and, via a senior retainer of Nobunaga named Niwa Nagahide, initiated the collusion.
Battle of Kajita and Dōhora Castles
At the stronghold of Dōhora, Michitoshi and Nobuchika devised a plan to lure Nobunaga’s army to the castle and, with the Kajita forces led by Tadayoshi, the Seki army led by Michitoshi, and reinforcements from the main division of Saitō Tatsuoki, destroy the Oda in an event known as the Battle of Kajita and Dōhora. The soldiers led by Nobunaga marched north, laying siege to Dōhora Castle defended by Nobuchika. Tadayoshi, however, followed-through on the collusion by siding with the Oda. Upon learning of the betrayal, the Kishi skewered Yaeryoku with a bamboo spear and exposed her on a cross on Mount Nagaomaru facing Kajita Castle and the village below. That night, a veteran of the Kajita army named Nishimura Jirōbei recovered Yaeryoku’s body under cover of darkness and buried her remains at the Ryūfuku Temple.
The name of Yaeryoku is the season of plum blossoms, so she may been born in the spring.
Yaeryoku was left exposed either on Mount Nagaomaru near Dōhora Castle or on the shores of the Kawaura River that flowed as a natural moat between Dōhora and Kajita castles in an area known as Todoro-no-matsu, meaning thundering pines. The pine trees in this area were lost in a typhoon in Ise Bay in 1959.
Although she was historically referred to as Yaeryoku, based on an investigation of materials from the family, she is formally referred to as Hime in the latest military chronicles of Dōhora.