Suzuki clan (鈴木氏)

The Suzuki clan is one of the representing seishi (hereditary family name) in Japan. Although the connection with the Suzuki clan who was once a samurai family, is not clear, since there are diversified theories on it, this seishi (hereditary family name) is thought to be of the Shinto priest and its origin derived from the rice ear used at the rituals.

Many families with their family name Suzuki has 'Hozumi' as the clan's original surname, and it is deeply connected with the belief in Kumano Sanzan (three major shrines in Kumano, Kumano-Hongu-Taisha Shrine, Kunamo-Hayatama-Taisha Shrine, and Kumano-Nachi-Taisha Shrine). The Suzuki clan with the honsei (original name) of Hozumi was originally from Kumano Shingu, and this family line had handed down the post of Shinto priest.
The members of the Suzuki clan extended all over Japan as Shinto priests, through the kanjin (solicitation campaigns) of Kumano-jinja Shrine, and using the maritime traffic on the Pacific Ocean side with Kumano as its base,
It is also said that, in addition to the descendents of the families whose honsei (original name) was Hozumi, there were many samurai families which were given the family name 'Suzuki' for their devoted religious practices among those families who were allowed to have myoji (family name) at that time such as the Minamoto clan and the Taira clan, and in this way, the myoji (family name) of Suzuki quickly extended in the eastern Japan and other regions of Japan.

Thus, almost of all the Suzuki families are considered to be the descendents of the families, which were using the Shinto-related honsei (original name) of Hozumi or of the samurai families, including those of the Minamoto clan or the Taira clan.

Fujishiro Suzuki clan

The Suzuki clan in Fujishiro, Kii Province (present Kainan City, Wakayama Prefecture) was the family of Shinto priests at Oji-sha Shrine (present Fujishiro-jinja Shrine) during the generations, since the family moved within the same Kii Province from Kumano to Fujishiro around 12th century. It is said that, these families discussed later including the Suzuki clan of Saigashu (a Buddhist sect, Ikko groups) as well as the Suzuki clan of Mikawa Province, were regarded as the head lines among the families of Suzuki clans of with the honsei (original name) of the Hozumi scattered all over Japan, and they were the branches of the Suzuki clan in Fujishiro.

At the end of the Heian period, Shigeie SUZUKI and his brother Shigekiyo KAMEI, who were from the Fujishiro Suzuki clan and served MINAMOTO no Yoshitsune as roto (a retainer), died in a battle in Koromogawa, Mutsu Province (Iwate Prefecture), protecting their master, Yoshitsune. Therefore, there is a theory presuming that the reasons why the Fujishiro Suzuki clan was deemed as the head line of the Suzuki families of all over Japan and why the family name 'Suzuki' had extended in eastern Japan at an explosive pace, is because of a booming popularity of Yoshitsune, generated in Japanese medieval society. There is a tradition that Shigeie SUZUKI's son was the ancestor of the Doi clan of Iyo Province, and according to it, Kiyoyoshi DOI, the author of "Seiryoki" (The Record of Kiyoyoshi DOI) was a descendent of the Fujishiro Suzuki clan.

The 122nd head of the Fujishiro Suzuki clan died suddenly from illness in 1942, and the clan was extinguished since he had no heir,

Saigato (Saiga group) Suzuki clan

The Suzuki clan of Saigashu (a Buddhist sect, Ikko groups) was a local clan, which had its home base situated around the area of Hirai (present Hirai, Wakayama City) of Jikkago, Kii Province (present northwest part of Wakayama City, the north shore around the river mouth of Kino-kawa River) during the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States). The Suzuki clan was one of the powerful family lines of Saigashu, formed centering the Saiga-so estate (present periphery of the urban area of Wakayama City) by the local clans of the shoen (manor in medieval Japan) in the vicinity of, and it was in the position of the leader of the Jikkago area.

In the documents of the Edo period, a person called Shigeoki SUZUKI (or simply 'Shigeoki') frequently appears as the lord of Saiga-jo Castle with a stipend of several tens of thousands koku of crop yield, however, the Jikkago, where the Suzuki clan was actually settled, was on the opposite shore of the Saiga-so estate, and these descriptions lack the credibility.

The Suzuki clan of Saigato came to be mentioned frequently in history as from the mid-16th century, when Magoichi SUZUKI, commonly known as 'Magoichi SAIGA' took an active role. Same as the other local clans of Saigashu, the clan adopted guns in its fighting tactics shortly after the arrival of guns to Japan, and by the mid-16th century the clan seems to have been active as a certain sized mercenary force equipped with guns.

In 1570, when Nobunaga ODA opened hostilities against Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple and the Ishiyama War broke out, the Suzuki-to (group of Suzuki clan) lead by Magoichi SUZUKI, with the other groups of Saigashu, entering the Hongan-ji Temple as answering the request of Kennyo, the head of Hongan-ji Temple, fought against the Oda army. Magoichi SUZUKI was one of the most powerful leaders in the Saigashu that barricaded themselves inside of the Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple, and as Magoichi himself was a follower of Hongan-ji Temple, he was extremely trusted by Hongan-ji Temple.

However, in 1577 when the group's home base, Saiga was invaded by the Oda army, the Suzuki clan's estate, which was on the north shore of Kino-kawa River, became the first target to be attacked and occupied, and the Saiga forces were also on the backfoot at the fight on the south shore of Kino-kawa River, the Suzuki clan, along with the other influentials, surrendered to the Oda clan, pledging its submission. However, the following year, the Suzuki clan withdrew the pledge of submission to the Oda clan, and once again it supported Hongan-ji Temple. In 1580, when Kennyo finally gave up the resistance and left Ishiyama Hongan-ji Temple then moved to Saginomori in Saiga, the Suzuki clan followed Kennyo and submitted to the Oda clan. Then, within Saigato, a confrontation arose between the group that insisted the submission to the Oda clan, instead of supporting Hongan-ji Temple which had lost its influence, and the anti-Oda group who was opposed to it, then Magoichi SUZUKI killed the head of the Tsuchihashi clan in 1582, the Suzuki clan gripped the leadership of Saigashu. However, in the same year (1582) Nobunaga was killed in the Honnoji Incident, and Magoichi, who lost his backing, fled from Saiga, seeking refuge with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. Including Magoichi, several names capped by the surname 'Suzuki,' are found as heads of the artillery of the Toyotomi clan which served in the series of battles in which Hideyoshi took place, from the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute to the Bunroku-Keicho War. During this period, Hideyoshi carried out the conquest of Kii Province and defeated Saigashu in 1585. It is said that above mentioned Sukedayu SUZUKI was killed at this occasion.

After Magoichi's name disappeared from history, Shigetomo SUZUKI, who is said to have been either Magoichi's brother or son and served as a head of the artillery for the Toyotomi family as well, began to show active performance. Shigetomo took part in the side of Mitsunari ISHIDA in the battle to capture Fushimi-jo Castle, which was a preliminary skirmish of the Battle of Sekigahara, and he achieved a merit of defeating the castle commander, Mototada TORII. However, as the West squad lost in the Battle of Sekigahara, he was deprived of his territory and became a masterless samurai, and he was employed by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in 1606, then served the Tokugawa clan. Later, Shigetomo was assigned to serve Ieyasu's youngest son, Yorifusa TOKUGAWA and transferred to Mito Domain, and in the generation of his son, Shigetsugu, the family adopted the son of its lord Yorifusa, as the heir, then named him 'Yoshishige,' and the Suzuki family continued as a chief retainer of the Mito Domain. Afterwards, the Suzuki family of Mito Domain changed its myoji (family name) to Saiga, and it is said that the successive heads of the family adopted 'Magoichi' as their common names.

Mikawa Suzuki clan

The Suzuki clan of Mikawa proclaimed that it was a branch line of the Fujishiro Suzuki clan. The family ancestor, Shigeyoshi SUZUKI was a relative of Shigeie SUZUKI, and it is said that he was settled in Yanami, Mikawa Province (Yanami-cho, Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture) during the Kamakura period or the Period of Northern and Southern Courts (Japan). During the Muromachi period, the clan emerged as a powerful kokujin (local samurai) in the northwestern Mikawa, by extending its influence over Kamo Country (Mikawa Province) with its home base in Yanami, then in the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States) (Japan), the clan was divided into several branch families such as the Terabe (Terabe-cho, Toyota City), the Sachinomi (Kokai-cho, Toyota City), the Asuke (Asuke-cho, Toyota City) and the Norisada (Oaza Norisada, Asuke-cho, Toyoda City). These branch families of the Suzuki clan, maintained their semi-independent powers as repeating their stances, obedience or disobedience, surrounded by the potentials such as the Imagawa clan, the Matsudaira clan and the Oda clan.

In 1558, when the Suzuki clan in Terabe turned against the Imagawa clan, Motoyasu MATSUDAIRA (later Ieyasu TOKUGAWA), who was subordinated to the Imagawa clan, went out as his first battle to attack Terabe. After the Battle of Okehazama that broke out in 1560, the Suzuki clan still served the Imagawa clan, but in 1564, the Asuke-jo Castle of Asuke Suzuki clan was attacked by Ieyasu, who gained independence from the Imagawa clan, then subordinated, and the Terabe Suzuki clan was attacked by Nobumori SAKUMA, the military commander of the Oda clan in 1566, and destroyed. The Sachinomi Suzuki clan and others continued following the Tokugawa clan, and in the Edo period, they became hatamoto (direct retainers of the Edo bakufu). Shigetoki SUZUKI and his son Shigeyoshi SUZUKI, who followed Ieyasu, were members of the Suzuki clan of the Sachinomi line.

Zen monk Shosan SUZUKI, who was a famous author of Kana Zoshi (story book written in kana) in the early Edo period, and his brother Daikan (local governor) Shigenari SUZUKI, who made a great contribution to the reconstruction of Amakusa after the Shimabara War, were from the Norisada Suzuki clan, and both of them served as hatamoto (direct retainers of the Edo bakufu [Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun]).

[Original Japanese]