The Mori clan (毛利氏)

The Mori clan is one of the samurai families. The original surname was Oe. The originator of this clan is OE no Suemitsu, the fourth child of OE no Hiromoto, a reputable vassal of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun); therefore, they are the descendents of OE no Hiromoto, but not from the main branch of his family. The surname 'Mori' originates from the territory Morinosho in Aiko County, Sagami Province (present day surrounding areas of Atsugi City, Kanagawa Prefecture), that Suemitsu inherited from his father, Hiromoto. The pronunciation of the surname was originally 'Mori,' but later changed to 'Moori,' "o" being replaced with its long vowel,"oo."

From the end of the Kamakura period to the beginning of the period of the Northern and Southern Courts (Japan), the clan moved from Nanjo in Sahashinosho, Echigo Province (present Kashiwazaki City, Niigata Prefecture) to the Yoshidakoriyama-jo Castle in Takada County (present Akitakata City, Hiroshima Prefecture), and developed their power as assuming the position of kokujin ryoshu (local samurai lord), then became a Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period) in the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States), the clan eventually grew to be the most powerful one in the Chugoku region.

The clan managed to keep themselves in peace during the Edo period, although the Mori clan was arranged to be the supreme commander of the Western Army in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and their territories were diminished to two provinces, Suo and Nagato.

Many brilliant patriots appeared from the Choshu Domain during the end of the Edo period, which became the driving force for the success of the Meiji Restoration.

Genealogy of the Mori clan (Aki Province) and up until the Muromachi period

The Mori clan is the descendant of the Oe clan and one of the distinguished families in the Sengoku Period.

The following is the Mori clan on the genealogy of the Oe clan:

OE no Hiromoto - Suemitsu MORI (Shiro MORI, Mamoru YASUGI) - Hiromotsu MORI - 章弁 - 公恵 (In the Sonpi Bunmyaku, a text compiled in the 14th century that recorded the lineages of the aristocracy, Mamoru YASUGI was recorded as"Nyudo MORI")
OE no Hiromoto - Suemitsu MORI - Tsunemitsu MORI – Tsunemoto MORI - Tsunechika MORI
OE no Hiromoto - Suemitsu MORI – Haji no Onari - Motochika MORI – Tokimoto MORI

The records from Sonpi Bunmyaku:
Suemitsu - Tsunemitsu MORI - Tokichika MORI – Sadachika MORI – Chikashige MORI - Morochika MORI
Genealogy of the Mori clan
Tokichika MORI - Sadachika MORI – Chikahira MORI (the forefather was Chikashige, and in his later years, he moved to the Aki Province in the south with his grandfather Tokichika and his father, Sadachika. From the generation of Chikahira, the members of this family settled in the Aki Province.
He was in the period of the Northern and Southern Courts [Japan])
Then continues as: - Motoharu (Morichika) MORI - Hirofusa MORI - Mitsufusa MORI - Hiromoto (Hirofusa) MORI - Toyomoto MORI - Hiromoto MORI - Okimoto MORI – Name uncertain (Komatsumaru MORI) - Motonari MORI (the second son of Hiromoto MORI)

As the fourth son of OE no Hiromoto, Suemitsu succeeded Morinosho in Sagami Province from his father, then he came to proclaim as the Mori clan. Therefore, Suemitsu should actually be the forefather of the Mori family and the Mori clan; however, as it is the custom of their family to regard Amenohohi (a male Shinto god) as the first head of the family, Suemistu is said to be the 39th head of the clan. Although Suemitsu was the father-in-law of Tokiyori HOJO, he banded with Yasumura MIURA and rebelled against the Hojo clan (the Battle of Hoji); Suemitsu lost in the war and the majority of the family disappeared, it is said that only the family of Tsunemitsu in Echigo, the fourth son of Suemitsu, managed to survive. It was rare that a rebelling family could avoid being punished, although they ware not directly participating; it is thought that the reason of Suemitsu MORI not being punished could be due to the fact that the Nagai clan, who was playing the central role in the Kamakura bakufu.

During the late Kamakura period, Tokichika MORI assumed the position of hyojoshu (a member of Council of State) for the Rokuhara Tandai (an administrative and judicial agency in Rokuhara, Kyoto); however, displeased with the matrimonially related Enki NAGASAKI, the Naikanrei (head of Tokuso Family), holding power in the bakufu instead of the regent Takatoki HOJO, Tokichika lived in seclusion in goryosho (the imperial or shogunate's estate) in the Kawachi Province. There is a tradition that tells that Tokichika taught the art of warfare to Masanari KUSUNOKI during this time.

Caused by the Emperor Godaiko's anti-shogunate movement, the Genko War started in 1333 which Takauji ASHIKAGA destroyed the Kamakura bakufu; by this time, however, Tokichika MORI had already defected from the bakufu and did not participate in the Kenmu no Shinsei (The new government of the Emperor Godaigo). Motoharu MORI, a great-grandson of Tokichika, supported the Ashikaga side during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts, and played an active role under the commander Sadayo (Ryoshun) IMAGAWA, when the Ashikaga bakufu (Muromachi bakufu) dispatched Sadayo for the subjugation of Seiseifu fortress in Kyshu, which was under the power of Southern Court governed by the Imperial Prince Kanenaga.

The Sengoku Period

The Mori clan, who settled in the Aki Province as kokujin (lords of smaller rural domains in feudal Japan), produced several branch families, although some families fought each other during the middle of the Muromachi period, they became one of the most powerful families in the province. However, during the generations of Toyomoto MORI (the 48th) and Hiromoto MORI (the 49th), the Mori clan was surrounded by the other powerful clans, such as the Yamana clan, the Hosokawa clan, and the Ouchi clan, which made the Mori clan in difficulty deciding their course of actions. After Hiromoto died, during the generations of Okimoto MORI (the 50th) and Komatsumaru MORI (the 51th), the Ouchi clan and the Amago clan fought over the Aki Province and the conflicts between kokujin within the Aki Province also occurred frequently. Partly due to the successive premature deaths of their family heads, the power of the Mori clan was once weakened; however, when Motonari MORI (the 52nd) became the family head, he actively used his knowledge and strategies that enabled the clan to purge conflicts between families and tyrannical vassals and destroyed enemy forces, including the Takahashi clan of the Iwami Province, he further extended his power by taking over the powerful kokujin, Yoshikawa clan in the Aki Province and the Kobayakawa clan in the Bingo Province by the way of adoption.
Even after Motonari handed over his family estate to his first son, Takamoto MORI (the 53th), he continued to take command as a Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period); also, in order to destroy the Amago clan, he made Haruhisa AMAGO execute the Shingu-to group who were the pillar of their military affairs, as criminals (However, a more prominent opinion in recent years is that the purge of the Shingu-to was not conducted by the conspiracy of Motonari, but by the will of Haruhisa.)
Subsequently, in the Battle of Itsukushima in 1555, Motonari defeated Harukata SUE, who rebelled against Yoshitaka OUCHI and had virtually taken over the Ouchi clan.

In 1557, Motonari defeated Yoshinaga OUCHI, who was the puppet of Harukata SUE, and obtained the most of the former territories of the Ouchi clan. After that, he invaded the northern Kyushu, and fought with the Otomo clan, having the Akizuki clan of Chikuzen Province and the Takahashi clan of Buzen Province as his allies. In 1560, Takamoto MORI, the first son of Motonari and the family head of the Mori clan, was appointed to the Aki shugo (provincial constables of Aki Province). After Takamoto died, Motonari not only acted as the guardian of his grandson, Terumoto MORI (the 54th), but also possessed the Chugoku region (the provinces of Aki, Suo, Nagato, Bicchu, Bingo, Inaba, Hoki, Izumo, Oki, and Iwami), after destroying the clan's enemy, the Amago clan.

Motonari's first son Takamoto MORI, the second son Motoharu KIKKAWA, and the third son Takakage KOBAYAKAWA were all distinguished busho (Japanese military commanders), and these two younger brothers were renowned as the Mori-ryosen (military and political organization established by the scheme of Motonari), who supported the head family of the Mori clan.

Names given at the time of genpuku (attainment of manhood)
It was the custom of the Mori clan to put the letter '元' (moto) in their first names at the time of genpuku (The letter "元" is after 大江広元, Hiromoto OE, the forefather of the clan.)
A legitimate child who was to become the family head was granted to use a portion of those names of the powerful clan members, such as from the Yamana clan, the Ouchi clan, the Shogun family, and the Toyotomi clan, and combine it with "元," such as 'O元,' for example, "豊元," (Toyomoto) "豊" from the first name of "山名是豊" (Koretoyo YAMANA), "弘元," (Hiromoto) "弘" from the first name of "大内政弘" (Masahiro OUCHI), "興元," (Okimoto) "興" from the first name of "大内義興" (Yoshioki OUCHI), "隆元," (Takamoto) "隆" from the first name of "大内義隆" (Yoshitaka OUCHI), "輝元" (Terumoto), "輝" from the first name of the 13th Ashikaga Shogun "義輝" (Yoshiteru); and after the second son, naming by employing "元" from the headman's first name and adding another letter to it, such as, younger brother named "元就," (Motonari) borrowing "元" from his older brother's first name "興元" (Okimoto). Hidemoto (秀元), who was once an adopted heir of Terumoto, received a portion (秀) of the first name of Hideyoshi (秀吉) TOYOTOMI, and his's biological child, Hidenari (秀就), who became his heir received a portion (秀) of the first name of Hideyori (秀頼) TOYOTOMI. During the Toyotomi government, they were granted portions of the names from both Toyotomi and Hashiba.
During the Edo period after Tsunahiro, who was Hidenari's son, the Mori clan was granted to use a portion of the first names of the Tokugawa Shogun, and the heirs of the Mori clan used names that employed the last letter of the names of shogun for the half of their names, as 'O元' (However, it was becoming more common to use tsuji, distinctive character used in the names of all of them belonging to a single clan or lineage, such as 'O広,' 'O就,' 'O房,' 'O親,' and 'O熙'.)
At the end of the Edo bakufu, the 13th lord of the Choshu clan, Yoshichika (the 67th) and the 14th lord Sadahiro (the 68th) were forbidden to keep "慶" and"定" in their names, due to being guilty of Kimmon no Hen (the Kinmon Incident), and their names were changed back to the original "敬親" (Takachika) and "広封" (Hiroatsu) (Hiroatsu changed his name to "元徳," Motonori, after the Meiji Restoration.)
After the Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the emperor), as the Mori clan was conferred the title of duke, which was the highest position of the peerage, they no longer took orders from the Tokugawa clan or received portions of the names from anyone. Also, according to the Dajokan Fukoku (Decrees of the Cabinet) No. 149 that banned the use of the real name and the common name together, the Mori family abolished the use of the common names; also, according to No. 235 of the same decrees that banned the change of names, the clan used the name of birth for life and abolished the custom of renaming at the genpuku.
Due to these decrees, the clan members named their children with "元" on top of their first names at the births, as '元O.'

The Early-Modern times

The grandson of Motonari MORI, Terumoto MORI, subordinated himself to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and possessed the provinces of Aki, Suo, Nagato, half of Bicchu, Bingo, half of Hoki, Izumo, Oki, and Iwami. He also built Hiroshima-jo Castle and moved his base from Yoshida Koriyama-jo Castle to this castle, which was facing the Inland Sea, on a more convenient location. Terumoto later assumed the position of Gotairo (Council of Five Elders). At the Battle of Sekigahara, he was deceived to be in a position of supreme commander of the Western Camp by force. As it was explained that Terumoto had been just deceived, when Hiroie KIKKAWA communicated secretly, Terumoto managed to keep his territories; however, as his name was found in a (secret) covenant under joint signature found in Osaka-jo Castle after the defeat, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA annulled the agreement, and Terumoto took the blame and his territories were diminished to the Suo Province and Nagato Province (Choshu Domain).

In the end of Edo period, during the generation of Takachika Mori, the Mori clan suffered the oppression from the Edo bakuhu,including the subjugation of Choshu; however, the clan produced brilliant figures such as Shoin YOSHIDA, Shinsaku TAKASUGI, and Kogoro KATSURA and succeeded the Meiji Restoration.

[Original Japanese]