Hosokawa Garasha (Gracia) (細川ガラシャ)

Garasha HOSOKAWA/Tama AKECHI (1563 - August 25, 1600) was the third daughter of Mitsuhide AKECHI and the wife of Tadaoki HOSOKAWA. Her personal name was Tama or Tamako. She is known for being a Christian. Her children included Ocho (born in 1579, Kagesada MAENO's wife), Tadataka HOSOKAWA (born in 1580), Okiaki HOSOKAWA (born in 1584), Tadatoshi HOSOKAWA (born in 1586), and Tara (born in 1588, Kazumichi INABA's wife).

To honor her, Christians started to call her 'Garasha HOSOKAWA' in Meiji period; however, in feudal Japan, it was common for husbands and wives to have different surnames, and in view of the examples of Masako HOJO, Toko AKAHASHI and Tomiko HINO, it is clearly wrong to use the name 'Hosokawa,' her correct name being 'Tama AKECHI.'

Marriage to Tadaoki HOSOKAWA.

In 1563, she was born as the third daughter of Mitsuhide AKECHI and his wife, Hiroko AKECHI (she is also considered to have been the fourth daughter,
However, in this case, the first and second daughters were adopted ones, so essentially she was the second daughter).

In 1578, when she was fifteen, she married Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, the legitimate son of Yusai HOSOKAWA, on the advice of her father's master, Nobunaga ODA. Tama was beautiful and on good terms with Tadaoki, their first daughter being born in 1579 and their first son (Tadataka HOSOKAWA, later Kyumu NAGAOKA) being born in 1580.

Honnoji Incident

However, her father, Mitsuhide, killed Nobunaga ODA at Honnoji-Temple (the Honnoji Incident) in June 1582, then he himself also died, and Tama became known as the 'traitor's daughter.'
Since Tadaoki loved Tama and was unwilling to divorce, he confined her in Midono, Tango Province (present-day Yasaka-cho, Kyotango City, Kyoto Prefecture) until 1584. During that period, Tama was waited upon by Kojiu (chamberlain), whom Mitsuhide had made escort Tama when she got married, and by the maids of Ito KIYOHARA (daughter of a noble Shigekata KIYOHARA) of the Kiyohara family, who were relatives of the Hosokawa family.

It is a historical fact that Tama was confined in the mountains of Midono (Yasaka-cho, Kyotango City, Kyoto Prefecture), Tango Province after September, 1582. But in 'Tambashi' (History of Tamba), there is a tradition called 'Tamba Midono theory' which explains that Tama was hiding in Midono, Tamba Province. If this tradition is a fact, it is possible that Tadaoki HOSOKAWA sent Tama back to the Tanba Midono residence in the Akechi's domain immediately after the Honnoji-Temple Incident, then built a residence in Midono, Tango Province in the Hosokawa's domain and confined Tama there after the downfall of the Akechi.

Becoming a Christian

In April 1584, through the mediation of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, who had gained hegemony after Nobunaga's death, Tadaoki brought Tama back to the Hosokawa's Osaka residence. In this year, Okiaki HOSOKAWA was born. In the course of her tumultuous life, Tama had heard about the Catholic Church and gradually became fascinated by its tenets.

In 1586, Tadatoshi HOSOKAWA (his childhood name was Mitsuchiyo) was born and Tama always worried about his poor health. On March 19, 1587, when her husband Tadaoki went off to Kyushu, she dared to go to listen to a Catholic sermon. When she arrived the church, an Easter sermon was being given and Tama asked various questions to a monk.
Later, the monk, Cosme, remarked 'I had never spoken with such a brilliant and courageous Japanese woman before.'

After coming back from the church, Father Gregorio de Sespedes, a Jesuit staying in Osaka, arranged a secret baptism for Tama and she received the Christian name 'Garasha', a Japanized form of Gracia (from Gratia, meaning grace and blessing in Latin). However, Hideyoshi ordered the deportation of Christian missionaries and prohibited feudal lords from having faith in Christianity without permission. Tadaoki, furious at the fact that all the maids in the house had converted to Catholicism, cut off their noses and threw them out.

Fortunately, Garasha was able to keep her secret, but she felt abandoned and confessed to a missionary, 'I want to leave my husband.'
The missionary taught her, 'Don't yield to temptation, your virtue will increase only when you tackle the difficulty.'
She had been proud and quick-tempered until then, but after she learned the teaching of Christ, she became modest, patient and gentle.

Heroic death

On August 24, 1600, just before the Sekigahara War, Mitsunari ISHIDA of the West army tried to hold Garasha, who was in the Hosokawa residence in Tamatsukuri, Osaka, as a hostage, but she refused. The next day, when Mitsunari resorted to force by having soldiers surround the residence, Garasha got the chief retainer, Hidekiyo (Shosai) OGASAWARA, to pierce her chest with lance from outside the room (this is because in Christianity, committing suicide is a mortal sin). She was 38 years old.
She composed the following death haiku (Japanese poem): 'A flower is most beautiful when it knows the time to fall. People are like flowers, I will die without hesitation.'

After that, Ogasawara set off an explosive in the residence to erase Garasha's dead body and killed himself. Several hours after Garasha's death, Gnecchi Soldi Organtino visited the ruins of Hosokawa residence, picked up Garasha's bones and buried them in the Christian cemetery in Sakai. Tadaoki HOSOKAWA mourned over Garasha's death and in 1601, asked Organtino to perform a funeral service for Garasha at the church, which he attended; later, he reburied her remains at Sozen-ji Temple (Osaka City). There are several other sites considered to be Garasha's grave, including Daitoku-ji Temple Tacchu-kotoin in Kyoto and Taisho-ji Temple in Kumamoto, Higo.

When the Hosokawa residence was surrounded by Mitsunari's soldiers, Garasha advised Chiyo, who was the legal wife of the heir, Tadataka HOSOKAWA, and a daughter of Toshiie MAEDA, to run away and Chiyo evacuated to the neighboring Ukita residence where her older sister, Gohime, lived. Tadaoki was furious at this and ordered Tadataka to divorce Chiyo, but Tadataka refused, leading Tadaoki to renounce and disinherit him (later, Tadataka's descendants became the Nagaoka-naizen family (also known as the Hosokawa-naizen family), retainers of the Hosokawa family, regaining their family name, Hosokawa, in the Meiji period).

A play called 'Kijo na kifujin' (A brave lady)

A play called 'Kijo na kifujin' (A brave lady) (Gratia), modeled on Garasha, was premiered as an opera on July 31, 1698 in the Jesuit theater to celebrate the name day of the Holy Roman Empress Eleonor Magdalene (July 26).

Garasha's death was considered martyrdom in Europe (this was because the concept of 'Bushido' (the way of the samurai) and the manners of samurai society were not understood). The play depicts Garasha as a woman who kept her faith while enduring the unjustness of her barbarian and dominant husband, with her death reforming the tyrant at last.

It is said that this play was particularly favored by the princesses of the Habsburg family of Austria, who empathized with Garasha's life in which she was forced to marry into other country for political reasons, and were impressed by the nobility of her having kept her faith. It is said that the play also left a deep impression of respect and admiration on the lives of Eleonor Magdalene, Maria Theresia, Marie Antoinette and Elisabeth (Empress of Austria).

Works featuring Garasha

Kurumi ni Sake' (Walnut and Sake) (contained in the anthology 'Kokyo wasurejigataku soro' (I miss my hometown)) written by Ryotaro SHIBA
Lady Gracia' written by Ayako MIURA

TV dramas

NHK Taiga drama series

"Kunitori monogatari" (Tale of acquiring countries) (1973, based on the novel "Kunitori monogatari" by Ryotaro SHIBA, portrayed by Mika IMABEPPU, then Hiroko HAYASHI)

"Ogon no Hibi" (Golden days) (1978, portrayed by Yoko SHIMADA)

"Onna-taikoki" (Female Imperial Adviser) (1981, portrayed by Mayumi OKA)

"Ieyasu TOKUGAWA" (1983, portrayed by Rie MARUO)

"Nobunaga KING OF ZIPANGU" (1992, portrayed by Keiko IMAMURA)

"Hideyoshi" (1996, portrayed by Keina SHIMIZU, then Eriko TAMURA)

"Aoi Tokugawa Sandai" (Three generations of Tokugawa) (2000, portrayed by Kyoka SUZUKI)

"Toshiie to Matsu" (Toshiie and Matsu) (2002, portrayed by Kanako NAKANISHI)

"Konyo ga Tsuji" (Crossroads of a great achievement) (2006, portrayed by Kyoko HASEGAWA)

Other dramas

"Osaka-jo no Onna" (Woman in Osaka-jo Castle" (1970, Fuji Television, portrayed by Kaoru YACHIGUSA)

"Sekigahara" (1981, based on the novel "Sekigahara" by Ryotaro SHIBA, portrayed by Komaki KURIHARA)

New Year's special period drama "Nobunaga ODA" (1994, TV TOKYO, portrayed by Naho TODA)

New Year's special period drama "Kunitori monogatari" (2005, TV TOKYO, portrayed by Miyu TANAKA, then Rika ISHIKAWA)

"Mitsuhide Akechi, Kami ni Ai sarenakatta Otoko" (Mitsuhide AKECHI, unloved by God) (2007, Fuji TV, portrayed by Mao SASAKI)


"Teki ha Honno-ji ni ari" (The enemy is in Honno-ji Temple) (1960, Shochiku, performed by Keiko KISHI)


"HOSOKAWA Grazia" written by Vincenzo Cimatti

Mandolin orchestra

"Gekiteki joraku 'Garasha HOSOKAWA'" written by Seiichi SUZUKI (1968)


"Samurai Warriors" for Playstation2
"Warriors Orochi" for Playstation2


"Makai tensho: Samurai Reincarnation"

[Original Japanese]