The Tsutsui Clan (筒井氏)

The Tsutsui clan was Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period) of Yamato Province in the Sengoku Period (Period of Warring States).


It is said that the Tsutsui clan originated from the Omiwa clan, the Shinto priest family of Omiwa-jinja Shrine. The Tsutsui clan had been dominating Yamato region as a local ruler of Tsutsui, Sonoshimo-no-kori County, Yamato Province. After the Kamakura period, Kofuku-ji Temple served as Shugo (provincial constable) of Yamato Province, and the Tsutsui clan served it as Shuto (group of monk-soldiers of temple); in the Sengoku period, Kofuku-ji Temple went into a decline, and local clans such as the Tsutsui clan and the Ochi clan began to rise in exchange. In the Onin War of 1467, the conflicts of Shugo Daimyo (provincial constable) of Kawachi Province the Hatakeyama clan acted as a trigger, in Yamato Province, some turbulence was caused.

Junko TSUTSUI, who became the head of the Tsutsui clan in the chaotic situation, demonstrated his ability very well and destroyed the longtime foe the Ochi clan while serving Kofuku-ji Temple as one of Kokujinshu (local governors) of Yamato, and he extended influence to establish the clan as one of powerful Sengoku daimyo of Yamato. Junko died in 1535, and his eldest son Junsho TSUTSUI inherited the clan. As bright as his father, Junsho set his base at Shigisan-jo Castle to fight against Nagamasa KIZAWA, and finally united Yamato Province. He also extended his influence to Kawachi Province and established the golden age of the Tsutsui clan. However, in 1550 Junsho died young at the age of 28, and his eldest son, Junkei TSUTSUI, who was only 2 years old, inherited the clan. The famous legend which produced a proverb "Mokuami" ("Moto no Mokuami") originated from this succession.


Junkei became the head of the family at the age of 2, however, since he could not manage the administrative affairs of course, his uncle Junsei TSUTSUI did those things as his guardian. However, knowing Junkei was still juvenile, Hisahide MATSUNAGA, a vassal of Nagayoshi MIYOSHI, invaded Yamato Province. Because of the series of bad conditions such as Junkei was too young and Junsei died in 1564, the Tsutsui clan didn't have any power to even control their own troops, and in the Battle of Tsutsui-jo Castle, their base Tsutsui-jo Castle finally fell to Hisahide, and Junkei was exiled from Yamato.

When later years Hisahide confronted the Miyoshi Sanninshu (or the Miyoshi Triumvirs, which are the three major members of the Miyoshi clan), Junkei joined in the forces of the Sanninshu aiming at recovering Yamato, however, he was defeated by Hisahide again and again. Therefore, Junkei became a vassal of Nobunaga ODA, the then ruler of the entire country, and used the influence of Nobunaga to successfully win an appointment as Shugo of Yamato Province by Hisahide, who was then a guest samurai of Nobunaga. After that, Junkei helped Mitsuhide AKECHI as Yoriki Daimyo (territorial lord who supports other lords) to make military achievements including the expedition of Hisahide (the Battle of Shigisan-jo Castle) and the expedition of Ikko sect's revolts. When Mitsuhide murdered Nobunaga in the Honnoji Incident in 1582, Junkei was induced by Mitsuhide to cooperate because Junkei had been Mitsuhide's Yoriki, however, he rejected it. He was allowed to maintain his domain. The act of Tsutsui's forces at this time was dramatized years later to become the origin of "Horaga-toge Pass," the term to indicate opportunism. Junkei died young at the age of 36 in 1584. As he had no son as an heir, the Tsutsui clan was inherited by an adopted heir, Sadatsugu TSUTSUI.

Destruction of the Tsutsui Clan and the Aftermath

Sadatsugu served Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI as his vassal. Compared with the past wise heads of the Tsutsui clan, he was mediocre in wisdom although he looked better in appearance, and he ousted Sakon SHIMA, an excellent vassal, after believing the false charge made by Hidesuke NAKANOBO against SHIMA. As Hideyoshi wanted to put someone trustworthy among his family members or relatives in charge of Yamato, Sadatsugu was transferred to Ueno-jo Castle in Iga Province in 1585. This transfer was believed to be the reward for his military achievement in the Shikoku Conquest and his hereditary rice stipend had to increase; however, in fact, the stipend was decreased from 400,000 koku (72156 cubic meters) to 200,000 koku (36078 cubic meters). It is said that because of this transfer, the Tsutsui clan had to dismiss many of their subjects and dissolve local clans of Iga.

Probably because of this cavalier treatment, Sadatsugu had been bearing a grudge against Hideyoshi; at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600, he sided with the Eastern Army (the enemy of the Toyotomi family) and obtained military achievements; after the war, he was allowed to maintain his domain and set up Ueno Domain in Iga Province. However in 1608, he was deprived of his status as the lord of Ueno Domain by the Shogunate's order, and the Ueno Domain with 200,000 koku was demolished. Sadatsugu himself was put under the custody of Tadamasa TORII. As for the reasons of his dismissal, it is said that he neglected the administrative affairs addicting himself to alcohol and women; he was a Christian; and it might have been a result of the Shogunate's policy to abolish powerful non-Tokugawa feudal lords, because the Tsutsui clan was one of such lords even ruling an important area of Kinai region (including five powerful provinces near to Kyoto).

In 1615, Sadatsugu was ordered by the Shogunate to commit suicide together with his son Juntei TSUTSUI on charge of his secret communication with the people of Osaka-jo Castle (the enemy) during Winter Siege of Osaka. Years later Juntei TSUTSUI was granted a domain of 10,000 koku in Yamato Koriyama, however he was killed in action during Summer Siege of Osaka, at the result, the Tsutsui clan as Daimyo family disappeared.

Later an adopted son of Junkei, Junsai (who was the second son of Junko FUKUZUMI), served Ieyasu TOKUGAWA and became a hatamoto (direct retainer of the Shogunate) with 1,000 goku, and his clan survived until the end of the Edo period. Masanori TSUTSUI who was active at the end of the Edo period was a Junsai's descendant; he was born to the Kuze clan, inherited the Tsutsui clan as an adopted heir, and engaged in negotiation for the Treaty between the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan at the end of the Edo period.

[Original Japanese]