Akechi Hidemitsu (明智秀満)

Hidemitsu AKECHI was a Japanese military commander during the time from the Sengoku period (period of warring states of Japan) to the Azuchi-Momoyama period. He was a senior vassal of Mitsuhide AKECHI, a vassal of the Oda clan. He was called Yaheiji MIYAKE before and after he took the name of Hidemitsu AKECHI.

Akechi clan theory

The origin of Hidemitsu is unclear in many aspects, but in history books and war chronicles, he was often described as Mitsuharu AKECHI (Mitsuyasu AKECHI's son) who was a cousin of Mitsuhide AKECHI. In recent years, one theory has had it that he was a different person from Mitsuharu AKECHI with confusing achievements and the other theory has had it that Mitsuharu AKECHI was a fictitious person created based on Hidemitsu. Furthermore, Mitsuharu AKECHI is not found in high-grade historical materials, whereas Hidemitsu can be found.

Miyake clan theory

Since he called himself Yaheiji MIYAKE, one theory exists that he was from the Miyake clan and some say that Izumo MIYAKE (三宅出雲) was his father. As a vassal of Mitsuhide AKECHI, several other names are found. In addition, Mitsukado AKECHI, Mitsuhide AKECHI's uncle, claimed the Miyake clan.

Actually, Mitsuhide AKECHI's second daughter, who was Hidemitsu's wife, was an adopted daughter from Mitsukado AKECHI and therefore, it can be interpreted as meaning that he succeeded as the head of his wife's parental family.

Toyama clan theory

According to the "Ena Sosho" written by Naosuke ABE (阿部直輔) in the Meiji period, Mitsuyasu AKECHI, Mitsuharu AKECHI's father as well as Mitsuhide AKECHI's uncle, was identified as Kageyuki TOYAMA, the lord of the Akechi-jo Castle in Mino Province. Based on the theory, there is speculation that Kageharu TOYAMA, Kageyuki TOYAMA's son, might be the same person as Mitsuharu AKECHI and Mitsuharu AKECHI might be Hidemitsu. Kageharu TOYAMA died in the Battle of Kamimura in 1572, but according to the theory, it is inconsistent with historical materials and inaccurate.

Kageyuki TOYAMA's wife was a daughter of Takasada MIYAKE, the lord of the Hirose-jo Castle in Mikawa Province, and it supports the theory that he succeeded as the head of the Miyake clan, which Kageharu TOYAMA's mother came from.


In 1578, Hidemitsu married the Mitsuhide's second daughter (actually Mitsukado AKECHI's daughter who was called Kawate (革手) or Orin (お倫) in stories, but her real name unknown) to be a lawful wife. The Mitsuhide's second daughter married Muratsugu ARAKI, the legitimate son of Murashige ARAKI, but divorced him due to Murashige's rebellion against Nobunaga ODA. Then, Hidemitsu claimed the Akechi clan, which can be clarified in writing in May, 1582.

In 1581, he became a Keeper of Fukuchiyama-jo Castle in Tanba Province.

In 1582, he attacked the Honno-ji Temple in Kyoto as a spearhead in the Honno-ji Incident where Mitsuhide attacked on Nobunaga ODA. After that, he was assigned to defense the Azuchi-jo Castle and fought against Hidemasa HORI as a rear guard for Mitsuhide in Uchidehama during the Battle of Yamazaki against Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. He lost the battle however, and then entered the Sakamoto-jo Castle. After Hidemitsu was surrounded by the Hidemasa HORI's force and then handed over his treasures to the besieging army, he stabbed Mitsuhide's wife and children to death and set the castle on fire to kill himself. He died at the age of 47.

Some doubt that Hidemitsu killed himself in the Sakamoto-jo Castle because there is no his grave in the Saikyo-ji Temple in Sakamoto where Mitsuhide's grave is found, and his name is not found in Kakocho (a family register of deaths), or nobody witnessed Hidemitsu's death. For example, Chokansai MIYAKE who is thought to have been a Keeper of Sakamoto-jo Castle was captured in Yokoyama (Fukuchiyama) and executed. Fuyuhiro Tsumaki (妻木冬広), father of Mitsuhide's ex-wife, killed himself in front of his daughter's grave in the Saikyo-ji Temple a couple of days after the surrender of the Sakamoto-jo Castle. The Mitsuhide's youngest child (later Yahei KITAMURA) escaped to his parents home together with his mother. A Hidemitsu's son (later Shigetoshi MIYAKE) later became a vassal of Katataka TERASAWA and then was killed by the uprising force led by Shiro AMAKUSA in the Amakusa War when he was a Keeper of Tomioka-jo Castle in Amakusa.

According the legend in the Seian-ji Temple (Tendai Shinseishu sect) near the Sakamoto-jo Castle, Hidemitsu changed into a priest's garb, and his saddle has been kept in the Saikyo-ji Temple, the head temple of Tendai Shinseishu sect. At first, his armor and helmet (possessed by Tokyo National Museum now) and Jinbaori (sleeveless campaign jacket worn over armor) were kept in the Saikyo-ji Temple. There is no doubt that he was a shadowy figure all his life.

Other theories

The theory that Mitsuhide AKECHI was Tenkai, a sojo (the official Buddhist priest in the highest position) in the early Edo period is popular, but some say that Hidemitsu was Tenkai. It is said that Tenkai was from Oshu (Mutsu province), but his family crest was the same as those of the Toyama clan and Miyake clan (Maru ni futatsu bikiryo [two lines in a circle] and Miyake Rinpo [wheel]) and therefore, some say that Kageharu TOYAMA mentioned above became Tenkai.

One theory has it that Tarogoro, Hidemitsu's illegitimate son was an ancestor of Ryoma SAKAMOTO who played an active role in the late Edo period.

Another theory is Hidemitsu (Yaheiji MIYAKE) was a son of Tokuoki MIYAKE (三宅徳置), a local samurai of Tsuneyama in Bizen Province.

Personal Profile and Anecdotes

It has been believed that the Hidemitsu's army set fire to the donjon and the keep of the Azuchi-jo Castle when withdrawing. Some argue, however, that it was unlikely for him to set the Azuchi-jo Castle on fire because he killed Mitsuhide's wife and children and then set the Sakamoto-jo Castle on fire to kill himself after he handed over many treasures to Hidemasa HORI when the Sakamoto-jo Castle was besieged, but it is uncertain.

There remains the legend of 'Crossing of Lake Biwa by Akechi Samanosuke (vice-minister of Left Division of Bureau of Horses)' that Hidemitsu crossed Lake Biwa on horseback.

[Original Japanese]