Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉)

Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI (TOYOTOMI no Hideyoshi)/Hideyoshi HASHIBA was a warrior and a warlord lived in the Age of Civil Wars (late Muromachi Period) through Azuchi-Momoyama Period. As to a dispute how to read '豊臣秀吉', see the article of 'TOYOTOMI clan'.

He was born as a farmer's son in Nakamura Village of Aichi county in Owari Province (Aichi Prefecture), served Nobunaga ODA and distinguished himself gradually. After Nobunaga was killed by Mitsuhide AKECHI at the incident of Honno-ji Temple, Hideyoshi went back to Kyoto to manage other warriors' activities, and defeated Mitsuhide at the battle of Yamazaki, which resulted him in becoming Nobunaga's successor. Later he built Osaka Castle and was assigned as Kanpaku Daijodaijin by the Imperial court. He was given a surname of TOYOTOMI and made a success to unify Japan, subordinating other warlords all over Japan. He introduced such policies as 'Taiko Kenchi' (nationwide location survey) and 'Katanagari' (sword hunt), and died in the middle of 'Bunroku Keicho no eki' (two Japanese invasions of Korea), asking Council of Five Elders to guard his heir, Hideyori.

His witty episodes were left such as 'Sunomata Castle', 'Kanegasaki no nokikuchi', 'Mizuzeme (siege by water) against Takamatsu Castle' and 'Ichiyajo (a castle built in one night) of Mt. Ishigaki' and he was regarded as the most successful person in the Sengoku Period.

A vassal of IMAGAWA clan

In addition, he is said to have taken his surname (means beneath a tree) because he was standing under a tree when he met Kahei or Nobunaga for the first time, but it is lacking credibility and is not considered to be true. He served Yukitsuna MATSUSHITA (Kahei MATSUSHITA), who was a feudatory of IIO clan which served IMAGAWA clan and was a lord of Zudaji Castle, a branch of Hikuma Castle which is located in Zudajiso of Nagakami county in Totomi province (present Zudaji-cho, Minami-ku Ward, Hamamatsu city). Tokichiro seemed to be taken a kindly interest but left his work soon. A lot of biographies such as 'Taikoki' describe that Kahei gave money to Tokichiro and sent him off because Kahei felt sorry for him who had been envied and insulted by colleagues. Some say that Tokichiro embezzled the money for an errand then escaped, but it is not certain.

Later, Yukitsuna served Ieyasu TOKUGAWA after IMAGAWA clan had declined, but Hideyoshi rewarded him with 1,600 koku salary in Tanba and Kawachi provinces in 1583, then added 16,000 koku and Totomi-Kuno Castle near Zudaji Castle in 1590.

Period served as a vassal of Nobunaga

Hideyoshi served Nobunaga as a lowly servant from around 1554 by an advice of Ikomakitsuno, Nobunaga's wife. There are several famous episodes in his sandal-bearer period, such as, he had voluntarily taken the position of the construction director of Kiyosu Castle, or food procurement director, and achieved great success with all of them; but these episodes have no historical evidences and seem to be just a legend.

By these achievements he made a success to gain Nobunaga's favor and distinguished himself among ODA followers. Around this time it is said that he was nicknamed 'monkey' or 'bald mouse' by Nobunaga from his appearance (see the subject of appearance). In 1561 he married with Kodai-in, who was an adopted daughter of Nagakatsu ASANO (Yasuko TABATA 'Kitanomandokoro One,' Minerva Shobo, 2007, ISBN 978-4623049547.p11).

There is a famous episode that he achieved to construct Sunomata Castle in one night in the middle of the battle with Tatsuoki SAITO of Mino province; this episode was described in 'Buko-yawa' and others, but there is no description of historical data in the document, so it is considered to be a fiction in Edo Period. Around this time, Shigeharu TAKENAKA (Hanbei TAKENAKA) from Mino ruled by SAITO clan and two Kawanami-shu local warriors, Masakatsu HACHISUKA and Nagayasu MAENO, became Hideyoshi's subordinates.

He was assigned to govern Kyoto with Mitsuhide AKECHI and others in 1568 when Nobunaga went up to Kyoto. There is a description of Hideyoshi in historical papers.

In 1570, he served the battle to defeat Yoshikage ASAKURA of Echizen province. ODA troops made inroads well, but when they were on the march around Kanegasaki, Nagamasa AZAI of northern Omi, who was on ODA's side, suddenly attacked them from behind. Although it was a desperate struggle of pincer operation by AZAI and ASAKURA, Hideyoshi brought up the rear successfully with Katsumasa IKEDA and Mitsuhide AKECHI (Kanegasaki no nokikuchi) and made a good contribution. After that he rendered distinguished service in the war against AZAI and ASAKURA.

After AZAI clan was subverted in 1573, Hideyoshi was given three counties of northern Omi, which had been ruled by AZAI, changed the place-name of Imahama to Nagahama, and became a lord of Nagahama Castle (in Omi Province). Around this time, he changed surname from KINOSHITA to HASHIBA, taken each one Chinese character from Nagahide NIWA and Katsuie SHIBATA.

He tried to recruit human resources well from Omi province and promoted former AZAI vassals and talented young men such as Mitsunari ISHIDA aggressively.

In 1576 Hideyoshi was ordered to help Katsuie SHIBATA, who was in the middle of war to Kenshin UESUGI of Echizen province, as a head of northern troops, but he disagreed with Katsuie over mission and made a retreat without permission. After that, Katsuie troops were defeated by Kenshin UESUGI. (The battle of Tedorigawa). Nobunaga got angry with Hideyoshi's behavior but permitted him, and Hideyoshi achieved to subvert Hisahide MATSUNAGA commanded by Nobutada ODA.

After that, by Nobunaga's order to capture Chugoku region he marched Harima province and subdued Norifusa AKAMATSU, Nagaharu BESSHO, Masamoto KODERA and other followers of AKAMATSU clan, the former Shugo (an official of Muromachi Shogunate). In addition, he got Himeji Castle from Takataka KODERA (Takataka KURODA), who was Masamoto's vassal and made it a center to capture Chugoku region. Some troops did not follow Hideyoshi but he subverted them at the battle of Kouzuki Castle (the first battle).

In 1579 he subdued Naoie UKITA, a warlord of Bizen province and Mimasaka province after the offensive and defensive battle against MORI clan over Uezuki Castle, and took an advantage in the battle against MORI, but he was forced to interrupt to conquer Chugoku region because of the betrayal by Murashige ARAKI of Settsu province.

In 1580 he attacked Nagaharu BESSHO, who was a lord of Harima Miki Castle and rose in revolt ODA clan, and defeated him by starving strategy for two years, although he lost important vassals such as Hanbei TAKENAKA and Sigenori FURUTA (the battle at Miki) in the middle of the battle. In the same year, he also defeated Arikoyama Castle, where Takahiro YAMANA of Tajima province stuck, and made Tajima province a territory of ODA clan.

In 1581YAMANA vassals rose in revolt at Tottori Castle after an exile of Toyokuni YAMANA, having Tuneie KIKKAWA, who was a member of MORI clan, a commander in chief, but Hideyoshi took starving strategy after dominating foods around Tottori and defeated them (the battle of Tottori Castle). He continued to fight against Terumoto MORI, who ruled Chugoku region. In the same year, he attacked Iwaya Castle (Awaji province) and ruled Awaji province.

In 1582 Hideyoshi invaded Bicchu province and flooded Takamatsu Castle (Bicchu Province), which Muneharu SHIMIZU of MORI's side protected (Mizuzeme against Takamatsu Castle). At this time he was confronted with MORI troops of which commanders are Terumoto MORI, Motoharu KIKKAWA and Takakage KOBAYAKAWA, and asked Nobunaga to deliver reinforcements.

As mentioned above, for the capture of Chugoku region such as the battle at Miki, starving strategy of Tottori Castle and flooding Takamatsu Castle, he showed his real ability as 'Hideyoshi, an expert at assault of castle'.

From Nobunaga's death to Kiyosu Conference

On June 2, 1582, his lord Nobunaga ODA was killed by Mitsuhide AKECHI in a rebellion at Honno-ji Temple in Kyoto (the incident at Honno-ji Temple). At this time as soon as Hideyoshi, who was in the battle of flooding Bicchu Takamatsu Castle, knew this incident, he immediately concluded a peace with Terumoto MORI on the condition of Seppuku (suicide by disembowelment) of Muneharu SHIMIZU, a lord of Takamatsu Castle and had his troops go back to Kyoto (Chugoku Oogaeshi).

Mitsuhide was aghast at Hideyoshi's coming and fought for him at Yamazaki on June 13, but Mitsuhide's troops were severely defeated because Tuneoki IKEDA and Nagahide NIWA, and Kiyohide NAKAGAWA and Ukon TAKAYAMA, who were followers of Mitsuhide, turned to support Hideyoshi so that Mitsuhide's force became smaller than Hideyoshi's force, and Mitsuhide was killed by nameless warriors (the battle at Yamazaki). Hideyoshi stamped out Mitsuhide's remnants with a die and got a power to rule Kyoto.

On June 27, at Kiyosu Castle there held a conference which decided an heir of Nobunaga and separation of left territories (Kiyosu conference). While Katsuie SHIBATA commended Nobunaga's third son Nobutaka ODA (Nobutaka KANBE), Hideyoshi commended the first son of Nobutada ODA (Nobunaga's first son), Sanposhi (Hidenobu ODA). Katsuie disagreed with Hideyoshi but had to follow him because Tuneoki IKEDA and Nagahide NIWA supported Hideyoshi and Hideyoshi showed a compromise to put Nobutaka as young Sanposhi's guardian, so Sanposhi became Nobunaga's heir.

About the split of territories, Nobukatsu ODA was given Owari province, Nobutaka ODA was Mino province, Nobukane ODA was north Ise and Iga provinces, Yusai HOSOKAWA, who was a vassal of Mitsuhide was Tango province, Junkei TSUTSUI was Yamato province, Ukon TAKAYAMA and Kiyohide NAKAGAWA kept their territories, Nagahide NIWA was given Shiga and Takashima counties of Omi province, which deserved 150,000 goku, Tuneoki IKEDA was given Amagasaki and Osaka counties of Settsu province, which deserved 150,000 goku, and Hidemasa HORI was given Omisawayama. Katsuie was given Nagahama of Omi province, which was former Hideyoshi's territory and deserved 120,000 goku. Hideyoshi himself got Tanba, Yamashiro and Kawachi provinces, which were Mitsuhide's territories and deserved 280,000 goku. In this way Hideyoshi became superior to Katsuie in the point of territory.

A conflict with Katsuie SHIBATA

A conflict between Hideyoshi and Katsuie was getting hard. It was because Hideyoshi built Takaradera Castle at Yamazaki, implemented 'Kenchi' at Yamazaki and Tanba and made friendship with some warlords of ODA clan informally, so in October 1582 Katusie delivered letters to impeach Hideyoshi with Kazumasu TAKIGAWA and Nobutaka ODA to other warlords. Against Katsuie, Hideyoshi broke through by holding Nobunaga's funeral with having his adopted son Hidekatsu HASHIBA (Nobunaga's fourth son) a chief mourner on October 15.

In December, Hideyoshi considered as a good chance that snow prevented Katsuie in Echizen, he ordered warlords such as Tsuneoki IKEDA to serve on duty, started with 50,000 troops from Takaradera Castle of Yamazaki, and entered Sawayama Castle of Hidemasa HORI on December 11. And then he surrounded Nagahama Castle which Katsutoyo SHIBATA, who was an adopted son of Katsuie SHIBATA, protected. Katsutoyo surrendered by Hideyoshi's trap because he did not have a good relation with Katsuie and Katsumasa SHIBATA, who was also an adopted son, and suffered from illness. On December 16, Hideyoshi invaded Mino province, reinforced his troops caused by surrender of Yoshimichi INABA, join of Nobukatsu ODA's troops and so on, and defeated Kajiki Castle protected by Toshiaki SAITO, an old vassal of Nobutaka. In this way Nobutaka was isolated at Gifu Castle, sent Sanposhi to Hideyoshi, and concluded a peace in exchange for hostage of his mother SAKA-shi and daughter.

In January 1583, Kazumasu TAKIGAWA, one of anti-Hideyoshi warlords, defeated Yoshikatsu OKAMOTO, who protected Isemine Castle, and Morinobu SEKI, who protected Seki Castle and Ise Kameyama Castle of Hideyoshi's side. Against him, Hideyoshi invaded northern Ise on February 10. On February 12, he attacked Kuwana Castle which Kazumasu lived, but had to withdraw 12 km because of firmness of Kuwana Castle and resistance of Kazumasu. Other troops which Hideyoshi organized attacked Nagashima Castle and Nakai Castle, but also were defeated by resistance of Takizawa troops. But the troops of Ise kameyama Castle run out by the attack of Ujisato GAMO, Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, Kazutoyo YAMANOCHI and others, and surrendered on March 3. However, in the Ise battle line, anti-Hideyoshi troops were superior in spite of smaller force.

On February 28, Katsuie made Toshinaga MAEDA leave for fight and on March 9, he set off to war, subduing 30,000 troops by himself. Against this Hideyoshi asked Ujisato GAMO to fight at northern Ise, went back to Omi and faced SHIBATA troops on March 11. This confrontation continued for a while, but on April 13, there happened an incident that Masakuni YAMAJI, who was a vassal of Katutoyo SHIBATA and surrendered Hideyoshi, changed to Katsuie's side. In addition, as Nobutaka ODA raised an army again at Gifu and attacked Ittetsu INABA, Katsuie's side was superior at first.

On the early morning of April 20, Morimasa SAKUMA, who was an important vassal of Katsuie, made a surprise attack, exploiting a gap that Hideyoshi went to Mino province to attack Nobutaka ODA. This surprise attack won success; Kiyohide NAKAGAWA at Oiwayama fort and Shigetomo TAKAYAMA at Iwasakiyama fort was routed. But later because Morimasa kept fighting at this fort against the order of Katsuie, Morimasa got a counterattack by Hideyoshi, who came back as quickly as 'Chugoku Ogaeshi' on April 21, and SHIBATA troops was defeated heavily because of betrayal of Toshiie MAEDA, so that Katsuie SHIBATA retreated to Echizen (the battle of Shizugadake).

On April 24, Katsuie committed suicide with his wife Oichi no Kata. Hideyoshi also conquered Kaga and Noto provinces and gave them to Toshiie MAEDA. On May 2 (there is a different view) he forced Nobutaka ODA, the third son of Nobunaga, to commit suicide, and Kazumasu TAKIGAWA surrendered soon. In this way Hideyoshi, who destroyed anti-Hideyoshi troops, built a status as a successor of Nobunaga.

A conflict with Ieyasu TOKUGAWA

(See an article of the battle of Komaki Nagakute)

In 1584 Nobukatsu, who was the second son of Nobunaga and recognized himself as a heir of Nobunaga, began to oppose and confront with Hideyoshi, triggered by Hideyoshi's order to pay a New Year's call. And on March 6, Nobukatsu deliberately killed his important vassals such as Shigetaka OKADA and Yoshifuyu TSUGAWA by a nominal reason that they held secret communication with Hideyoshi, which was virtually a declaration of war against Hideyoshi. At this time Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who was an ally of Nobunaga, stood on Nobukatsu's side, and Motochika CHOSOKABE, Saika party of Kii province and others joined the war against Hideyoshi.

Against this movement, Hideyoshi had warriors of Ise such as Morinobu (Mantetsu) SEKI, Yoshitaka KUKI, Nobukane ODA on his side by traps. In addition, he also made Tsuneoki IKEDA (Shonyusai) of Mino province, whose attitude attracted attention, on his side by showing a reward of Owari and Mikawa provinces. And on March 13, Tsuneoki captured Osutada NAKAYAMA, a warrior on Nobukatsu's side and protected Owari Inuyama Castle. At the first stage of war, Hideyoshi's side was superior, as Ujisato GAMOU, Hidemasa HORI and others captured Mine Castle in Ise.

But coalition troops of Ieyasu and Nobukatsu soon made a countercharge. They defeated Nagayoshi MORI, who put line at Haguro (the battle of Haguro). And they put a firm line at Komaki and faced Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi did not move from Osaka at first because he got ready for Saika party, but he left Osaka on March 21 and entered Inuyama Castle on March 27. Hideyoshi troops also put a firm line and both troops faced for a long time so that the battle lines were fixed (the battle of Komaki). It is said that HASHIBA troops were 100,000 and coalition troops of ODA and TOKUGAWA were 30,000.

Among that Nagayoshi MORI and Tsuneoki IKEDA, who were eager to restore reputation from former defeat, started a surprise attack of Mikawa, having Hidetsugu MIYOSHI (Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI), a nephew of Hideyoshi, a commander in chief on April 6.
However, in spite of surprise attack force, they marched so slowly that their mission was noticed by Ieyasu's information networks; they got a surprise attack adversely on April 9 while they were pursued by TOKUGAWA troops, and Tsuneoki IKEDA, Motosuke IKEDA (Tsuneoki's son), Nagayoshi MORI and others were killed in the battle (the battle of NAGAKUTE),

By this deterioration of war situation, Hideyoshi had to go out to capture by himself in spite of superiority of force. Hideyoshi captured castles in Mino, hold by Nobukatsu, such as Kaganoi Castle which Shigemochi KAGANOI protected, one after another, and laid a scheme to contain Nobukatsu and Ieyasu in Owari. It was true that Nobukatsu and Ieyasu were overpowered by Hideyoshi in finance and force, so Nobukatsu concluded a peace with Hideyoshi on November 11, without Ieyasu's permission. Ieyasu lost a legitimate reason because Nobukatsu had concluded a peace, so that he withdrew to Mikawa as well. Ieyasu concluded a peace by providing his second son Ogimaru to Hideyoshi as Hideyoshi's adopted son (= a hostage), 'Hideyasu HASHIBA (later Hideyasu YUKI)'. After the war Hideyoshi assigned to be Gon-Dainagon by Imperial Court.

After that in 1586 Hideyoshi had his sister Asahihime marry Ieyasu and provided his mother Omandokoro to Ieyasu as a hostage, and promoted Ieyasu to come up to Kyoto as a vassal of Hideyoshi. Ieyasu followed this and went up to Kyoto to swear to become a vassal of Hideyoshi.

TOYOTOMI administration and capture of Kii, Shikoku and Ecchu

In 1583 he built Osaka Castle, in the former place of Ishiyama Honganji Temple. Yoshishige OTOMO, a warlord of Bingo province was very surprised at luxuriousness of this castle and praised 'the most wonderful castle in the world'. But it is said that there was a problem on protection at the part of castle, which Hideyoshi himself worried about, (Nobushige (Yukimura) SANADA built a fort, which was called Sanadamaru, on that weak point for later Siege of Osaka to reinforce protection of Osaka Castle and plagued TOKUGAWA troops.

There is an opinion that Hideyoshi was asked to be a Shogun from Imperial Court but declined (Shin HORI 'Political blueprint of Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, and Emperor' "History of Japan (13) Unifying Japan and the invasion of Korea" Yoshikawa Kobunkan Press, 2003, ISBN 4642008136).

On March 10, 1585, Hideyoshi was assigned as Sei- nii and Nai-daijin by Imperial Court. And on March 21, he invaded Kii and defeated Saika party at many places.
Finally he had Takatora TODO kill Shigeoki SUZUKI, a head of Saika party, by a trap and conquered Kishu (Conquest of Kishu)

In addition, he send 100,0000 troops to Shikoku against Motochika CHOSOKABE in Shikoku by having his brother Hidenaga HASHIBA to be a commander in chief and Terumoto MORI and Takakage KOBAYAKAWA join an army. Motochika was against this, but surrendered Hideyoshi on July 25, judging from the disparity of force. Motochika was permitted by ruling only Tosa province (Conquest of Shikoku).

On July 11 he was assigned to be Kanpaku as an adopted son of Sakihisa KONOE and given a surname of TOYOTOMI; this is understood as a change of surname from HASHIBA to TOYOTOMI, but HASHIBA was a family name (myoji) and TOYOTOMI was a surname (honsei), so they were different. The family name of Hideyoshi, Hidenaga and others did not change and remained HASHIBA. See detail in the article 'TOYOTOMI clan'. On December 25, he promoted to Daijodaijin and established his government (TOYOTOMI administration); "Kugyo honin" describes that it was on December 19 (lunar date) but "Kanemi-kyo ki" describes that the assignment was held before coronation ceremony of Emperor Goyouzei on the same day so that the writer of 'Kugyo honin' seemed to hesitate to show the truth (Masanobu HASHIMOTO "A research of modern aristocratic society"). There is an opinion that Hideyoshi asked Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA to adopt him as his son in order to establish 'TOYOTOMI Shogunate', but was rejected.

He started to capture Narimasa SASA of Ecchu province from August, but Narimasa did not protect and surrendered to Hideyoshi on August 25 by becoming a priest. By mediation of Nobukatsu ODA, Hideyoshi permitted Narimasa to keep only Niikawa county of Ecchu province. In this way Hideyoshi conquered Kii, Shikoku and Ecchu.

Conquest of Kishu

In Kyushu region Yoshihisa SHIMAZU, who defeated OTOMO clan and RYUZOJI clan extended his power, and Sorin OTOMO, who was pressed by SHIMAZU, asked Hideyoshi for help. Hideyoshi requested Yoshihisa SHIMAZU to surrender but was rejected, so that Hideyoshi decided to invade Kyusyu region.

In 1586 at Hetsugigawa River (present Onogawa river) in Bungo province Hideyoshi's coalition troops composed by director Hidehisa SENGOKU, Motochika CHOSOKABE, Nobuchika CHOSOKABE, Masayasu SOGO and Yoshimune OTOMO, fought for Iehisa SHIMAZU of SHIMAZU troops, but were defeated heavily because Hidehisa SENGOKU committed a blunder as Nobuchika CHOSOKABE and Masayasu SOGO were killed in the battle (the battle of Hetsugigawa).

But in 1587 Hideyoshi himself headed 200,000 troops with his brother Hidenaga TOYOTOMI, invaded Kyusyu seriously with an overpower force on SHIMAZU troops and defeated Yoshihisa SHIMAZU, Yoshihiro SHIMAZU and so on (Conquest of Kyusyu). In this way Hideyoshi subdued all regions of western Japan.

After the conquest of Kyusyu he declared to exile Christians, but practically Christians were accepted silently. In 1588 he introduced 'Katanagari' (sworn hunt) and promoted it in a large scale.

Conquest of Odawara

In 1589 Kuninori INOMATA, a vassal of Go-hojo clan, captured Nagurumi Castle in Kouzuke province, which Shigenori SUZUKI, a vassal of Masayuki SANADA, protected; with this incident as a start, Hideyoshi set off to Kanto region and surrounded Odawara Castle, a headquarter of Go-Hojo clan.

According to 'Taikoki', Hideyoshi ordered warlords of Ouu to come to Odawara, but Masamune ODA delayed. It is said that Hideyoshi described Oshu as a countryside and Taishu (Masamune) of Oshu as a wriggling insect and that Masamune marveled at Hideyoshi. Hideyoshi was described as a great person and a majesty of God whom ordinal people could not reach, and showed being on different levels. After Masamune went back to his territory safely, vassals of Hideyoshi advised that it was dangerous to set a tiger free, but Hideyoshi told them that he was going to kill him if Masamune rose in revolt and they understood.

Odawara Castle was a firm castle, which Kenshin UESUGI and Shingen TAKEDA could not capture, but it was powerless in front of surrounding troops which had no possible reason to withdraw in that season. After barricading in the castle for three months Ujimasa HOJO and his son Ujinao HOJO surrendered. Ujimasa and Ujiteru HOJO committed Seppuku and Ujinao was exiled to Mt.Kouyasan in Kii (Conquest of Odawara).

Unifying Japan

Defeating the last biggest enemy, Go-hojo clan, Hideyoshi finally unified Japan. He finished the civil war age, which lasted for a long time. However, like DATE clan who Hideyoshi forced to subdue, there remained warlords who could kept military force because they were not defeated military. How to treat these warlords remained an issue for Hideyoshi's administration.

In 1591 Hideyoshi ceded Kanpaku position and family estate to his nephew Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI, and became to be called Taiko (honorific title of former Kanpaku). Hidetsugu seems to succeed TOYOTOMI clan; it seems to be reasonable to think that Hidetsugu succeeded a family estate once, but was disinherited later. It seems that Hideyori succeeded a family estate after Hidetsugu. Strictly saying, it seems that Hideyori's surname had remained HASHIBA during his all life because he was neither assigned to be Kanpaku nor the head of a family. His surname was TOYOTOMI; but it seems that he was forbidden to use it officially without assignment of Kanpaku. On the other hand, Hideyoshi ordered Rikyu SEN, who served Hideyoshi as a master of the tea ceremony, to commit suicide. Although Oribe FURUTA, Tadaoki HOSOKAWA and other disciples asked Hideyoshi to spare Rikyu's life, Rikyu committed Seppuku and died; and his head was displayed at Ichijo-modoribashi Bridge. There are various views on the reason for this incident.

In the same year Masazane KUNOHE, one of NAMBU clan in Tohoku region, rose in revolt, triggered by an entanglement on succession race. As a reaction to request for help from Nobunao NAMBU, Hideyoshi dispatched punitive force against KUNOHE, composed by Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI, a commander in chief, Ujisato GAMOU, Nagamasa ASANO and Mitsunari ISHIDA. Other warlords of Tohoku region joined this, so that punitive force became 60,000 troops. Masazane and Sanechika KUNOHE brothers resisted but surrendered because of being outnumbered. After that, all KUNOHE clan were cut off the head and subverted by Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI. The revolt was over.

From Japanese invasions of Korea to late in life

In 1592 Hideyoshi sent 160,000 troops to Joseon Dynasty (Bunroku Keicho no eki). At an early stage Japanese troops destroyed and overpowered Korean troops and occupied Seoul, Pyongyang and other cities, but the battle line was stuck by resistance of warriors in various places and reinforcements of Min Dynasty of China. From 1593 they ceased fire and started negotiation to make a peace between Min Dynasty of China and Japan.

During this invasion, his concubine Yododono gave birth to Hideyori TOYOTOMI. In 1595, two years after the birth of Hideyori, Hideyoshi ordered Kanpaku Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI, who was called 'Sessho(killer) Kanpaku' (of Sessho Kanpaku) to commit Seppuku by the reason of his immorality. Nagayasu MAENO, who was an old assistant of Hidetsugu, was ordered Seppuku as well. Hidetsugu's wife and children were also put to death at the same time. There are various views as to whether Hidetsugu's immorality was true or not; there is a view that Hideyoshi regarded him as a nuisance because his son was born.

In 1596 the negotiation of war was broken off and Hideyoshi sent 140,000 troops to Korea again in 1597 (Bunroku Keicho no eki). A diary of an aristocrat in the same year recorded that an elephant was brought to Hideyoshi at Osaka Castle.

On August 18, 1598, Hideyoshi passed away at Fushimi Castle, asking Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, a head of Go-Tairo, and Toshiie MAEDA, a guardian of Hideyori TOYOTOMI to look after affairs. There are various views on the reason of his death such as a stomach cancer. He died at 61 years old. Hideyori inherited the family estate.

His last poem was following; 'I have dropped as dew and vanished as dew; all things at Naniwa were only a dream'.

Hideyoshi's death led to the end of invasion of Korea. This invasion for seven years was a disaster which damaged both land and people of Korea heavily and became one of the reasons for the subvert of Min Dynasty by a burden of enormous costs and waste of troops. In Japan western Daimyos, who were mobilized the war, were exhausted without receiving bonus. Hideyoshi's tomb (graveyard, mausoleum and shrine) was built magnificently, but his funeral was not held because of confusion after his death.


Hideyoshi followed Nobunaga ODA's policies; he promoted business by Rakuichi-Rakuza (a policy of free-market economy) and a trade by Red seal ships, controlled cities and regulated business by an issue of coins. It is evaluated that 'Taiko Kenchi' and 'Katanagari' promoted to establish tax system and build a basis of Shogunate system of Edo Period by clearing the difference between warrior and farmer. However, such policies as 'Katanagari', 'Kenchi' and the hierarchization to warrior and farmer were implemented under ODA administration originally, so that it might be said that Hideyoshi could unify Japan because he imitated Nobunaga at least in the aspect of policies and strategies.

Hideyoshi turned in favor of Christians at first, but he ordered to exile Christians in 1587 for the reasons that missionary priests forced people to have a faith, destroyed temples and shrines, and ate beef and pork. In the historical research after late Edo Period, it is emphasized that Hideyoshi noticed an intension to conquest Japan by Spain and Portuguese through missionary's activities (Relate to the incident of Sun Fillip). But there is no exact evidence that Spain and Portuguese had an intension and plan to conquer Japan. It is sure that in the letters of Society of Jesus members there was a single proposition to conquer Min Dynasty and Kyusyu region; in fact, Alessandro Valignano advised the General of the Philippines to increase Christian in Japan and use them as troops in order to conquer Min Dynasty in the letter to him as of December 14, 1582, and Pedro de la Cruz advised the head of Society of Jesus that Japanese naval force was weak so that Spanish navy could conquer Kyusyu or Shikoku in the letter to him as of February 25, 1599. For the stronger countries of the Western Europe, it was a common practice to occupy port by force and promote more conquest using that port as a strongpoint; Portuguese conquered Goa, Malacca and Macao in this way. Such opinions were ignored by high officials of Spain and Portuguese.

In the red seal license to Kennyo of Honganji Temple as of June 1,1587 during staying in Kyusyu, one of the papers to show Hideyoshi's idea on abroad, Hideyoshi wrote that 'the Emperor says that Korean King should come to Japan as an ancient example of Imperial Court' (Honganji Bunsh). An ancient example of Imperial Court' is regarded as either the pledge of obligation by three Korean countries at the conquest by Jinguu Empress or the order which Koken Emperor told an emissary of Silla that the King should come to see him in 752; Hideyoshi thought Korean King should serve Japanese Emperor and sent an emissary to Joseon Dynasty to tell this idea (Kouichi SHIMIZU ' About the idea to build a base at Hakata - relate to the forbiddance of Christianity - (Tamotsu Fujino Sexagenarian Memorial Association "Governance and foreign diplomacy of modern Japan" 1993, Yuhikaku Press, ISBN 9784639011954). This shows Hideyoshi might think that Japanese laws and rules such as Soubujirei (an order to ban battles between Daimyo) should be implicated to Korea; in fact on May 9, he sent a letter to a woman 'Koho' who served Hideyoshi and his wife to suggest the idea of conquest of Korea (Joseon Dynasty) after the conquest of Kyusyu as following; ' I sent an emissary to Korea and ordered to conquest that country as well'. It is regarded that this Hideyoshi's way of thinking deeply influenced policies against Korea for Japanese invasion of Korea. This is because of such a background that the conquest of three Korean countries by Jinguu Empress was believed as a truth and that Japanese who lived in an island country (except priests or merchants who had a chance to meet foreigners) were less conscious on abroad for a long time, as "Soga monogatari" (Myohonji-bon) written in Kamakura Period described western Japan as 'Kikai, Korea and Io-island'.

About human affairs Hideyoshi used Mitsunari ISHIDA and Yoshitsugu as a faction of civil officials and used Kiyomasa KATO and Masanori FUKUSHIMA as a faction of commander of war. It seems that Hideyoshi made both factions by giving them tasks which were appropriate to their abilities, but this separation led to a split of TOYOTOMI vassals after Hideyoshi's death.

It is famous that Nobunaga ODA exiled important vassals such as Hidesada HAYASHI and Nobumori SAKUMA, and Hideyoshi also exiled Masaharu MIKODA, Mitsuyasu KATO and Tomonobu BITO, and treated Takataka KURODA, an adviser of mission, unkindly and excluded him from the center of government. Because these vassals were, as it were, hereditary vassal who had served Hideyoshi since he served Nobunaga, it is no exaggeration to say that these expulsions led to the decline of TOYOTOMI clan, who had no hereditary vassal actually.

The existence of following two groups inside the administration after unifying Japan led to a conflict of political situation after Hideyoshi's death: a group of vassals who had strong associations with Hideyoshi and another group of outside Daimyos.

It turned to be one of the reasons for Daimyos such as Hideyuki GAMO (his servant) and Hideaki KOBAYAKAWA to join the East (TOKUGAWA) squad at the battle of Sekigahara that Hideyoshi decreased or changed their territories by nominal reasons such as rubbishy faults or youthfulness.


Hideyoshi's father, Yaemon was said to be a 'Hyakusyo', but it is a later way to see 'Hyakusyo' as a farmer and there is an opinion that his main business was 'Ashigaru' (conscripted foot-soldiers) of ODA clan (there is an another opinion that Hideyoshi was a peddler of needles before serving warlords and had a origin of merchant class, judging from his different ideas which a farmer could not hit).
The system of 'Ashigaru', which was given an important role in the troops of Dokan OTA and Soun HOJO, spread quickly all over Japan
There is a research to point out that Hideyoshi began to use his surname after he married Nene from KINOSHITA clan. In other words, such a possibility is pointed out as he was born from a hierarchy which people had no surname. A farmer class of this age was a comparatively huge hierarchy, composed by businesspersons of agriculture and manufacture; when a person who was from this class tried to become warriors' class such as local samurai, he usually used a place name like home village's name as a surname, and people of this class usually had authorized surnames which they could use among 'Ashigaru' in the community of village. If Hideyoshi did not have a basis to use a surname, it is possible to think that he was not from farmer class but from lower class than farmer. It could be said that there still remains mystery about the true place of origin and early life of Hideyoshi.

Hideyoshi hardly had children, but there is an opinion that he got a boy and a girl when he was a master of Nagahama Castle. The boy was delivered by a woman, who was called Minamidono, and his name was 'Hidekatsu'. The Hikiyama Matsuri Festival held at Nagahama every April (every October, in old days) was said to begin from the time when people were given congratulatory gold sands from Hideyoshi, who was glad to having a boy, and made a float and showed it at the festival of Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine. However, his son Hidekatsu died of disease in his childhood (later Hideyoshi named two adopted sons as Hidekatsu). In Myohoji Temple at Nagahama there remains a portrait of a child, who is said to be Hidekatsu HASHIBA, a stone monument, which is said to be Hidekatsu's tomb, and an ancestral tablet. Detail of a girl was not clear, but there is a following inscription on the back of Mida statue which Shanain Temple in Nagahama city holds. A historical record of Omi Sakata county describes that this Mida statue was donated by Hideyoshi for a daughter who was born in 1574. It means that Hideyoshi had two children, Hidekatsu and one more girl, when he was a master of Nagahama Castle. However, Shanain Temple now explains that it was donated for Hideyoshi's mother, Omandokoro. According to Tamonin Diary, Omandokoro died at 76 years old in 1592; so there is a gap of the date. The document says that the person for whom Hideyoshi donated the statue was "a beauty", so that it is suspicious whether it means 76 years old woman; and it is appropriate to think that Hideyoshi had a girl.

He insisted that he was a son of Hagi- Chunagon when he was assigned to Kanpaku.
(Of course Hagi-Hinagon did not exist among aristocrats.)


It is famous that Hideyoshi was called 'Saru' (monkey), but it is said that an appearance of Hideyoshi's portrait evoked 'monkey' so that the story that he was nicknamed 'Saru' by his looking was spread. There is an another view that his nickname Saru originated from a graffiti after installation of Kanpaku, which said 'Saru (that) Kanpaku' used as an irony to mean 'he was born from lowly class which nobody knows'. And there is a view that Nobunaga did not call him 'Saru' (another view says he was called Saru behind his back among ODA clan, hated to be called Saru and showed no mercy against people who called Saru'); Tatsuo FUJITA guesses that he made up the nickname of 'Saru' because he wanted to utilize Sanno Faith (a monkey is a messenger of Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine). It is said that the nickname of 'bold mouse' was used only when Nobunaga wrote it in the letter to Kodaiin in order to scold him and not used usually. Even if he looked like that, it does not spoil his achievements.

In the record of Luice Frois and Toshiie MAEDA's reminiscences 'Kokuso Yuigon', Hideyoshi suffered from hyperdactylia and had one more finger. According to the latter, he had one more thumb in his right hand and was called 'Muttsu-me (sixth)' by Nobunaga. At that age (now also) in many cases people who suffer from hyperdactylia have their fingers cut in their childhood, but it is said that Hideyoshi had kept six fingers through his life even if he was seen oddly and did not hide the fact until he unified Japan. However, after unifying Japan, he erased this fact from records, and had painters draw his portrait with thumb of his right hand hidden. Therefore, 'the view that Hideyoshi had six fingers' had been regarded as a false. Although the view of six fingers is influential from the record of Toshiie MAEDA, many biographies do not mention about this because of lack of clear evidence. As even the latest novel treats this view oddly, this view has not recognized in general. In cartoon, "Sengoku" and "Shigurui" adopted this view and Hideyoshi in these works has six fingers.

His body height is not clear. There are many views from less than 150cm to more than 160cm.

There is a famous view that Hideyoshi wore a false mustache because he wore little actually (it was a custom for warlords at that age to wear mustache so that a person who wore less mustache usually wore false mustache).

The cause of death

There are various views on the cause of his death; one of them was that he died of syphilis.

In his last years he became senile and it is said he had incontinence in front of people (in NHK saga drama such as "Dokuganryu Masamune" and "Komyo ga Tsuji" (Crossroads of the Achievement), there were scenes that old Hideyoshi had incontinence).

Character and others

Hideyoshi is often described as a person who did not like to kill people, but he seemed to have a cruel aspect at least as hard as other warlords not only in his last years but also when he was a vassal of Nobunaga; shown by such facts as he annihilated Kohoku Ikko Ikki (a riot by people who believe Ikko-shu) in 1571 (according to Matsushita Record and Nobunaga Kouki (Nobunaga's biography) and that he executed more than 200 women and children by impalement for children and crucifixion for women in 1577 (from Hideyoshi's letter as of December 5).

He was known as a dutiful son for his mother, Omandokoro. After the battle of Komaki and Nagakute he had to provide his mother and sister as hostages to TOKUGAWA side temporally, and later he had Ieyasu bind over Shigetsugu HONDA because he had given his mother shabby treatment. While Hideyoshi stayed at Nagoya of Hizen province for the invasion of Korea, he heard that his mother fell into critical condition and went home quickly but could not arrive before her last moment. There is a description in an official textbook in Meiji Period that Hideyoshi was a dutiful son especially.

He was said to be passionate as he had a 10-years-old concubine; however, we consider the following circumstances; in pre-modern era not only in Japan but also all over the world, levels of rights of women and children were much lower than present time and sex with a child was permitted to some extent. The prophet Muhammad of Muslim had intercourse with 9-years-old girl, Aisha. Loice Frois described about Hideyoshi critically as 'extremely amorous and hedonistic like a beast'. Hideyoshi himself seemed to recognize his lechery, judging from his letter to Hidetsugu when he ceded Kanpaku position 'Do not run after women like me'. He ordered Daimyo as an important task to bring tiger meats, which were considered to be a good for building energy.

Daimyos of Sengoku Period had a taste of sodomy with vassal boys (so-called 'Shudo') (one of famous couples are Nobunaga ODA and Naritoshi MORI). But Hideyoshi was not interested in sodomy at all.
There is a following episode; when a vassal, who was suspicious that Hideyoshi was not interested in sodomy, brought the most beautiful boy among vassals to Hideyoshi and had them stayed only by themselves, Hideyoshi only asked him, 'Do you have a sister?'

Evaluation in later age

From Meiji Period to prewar of Showa Period, there was an effort to show Hideyoshi as a model of people for the policy of increasing wealth and military power because he had promoted to Kanpaku Daijodaijin in spite of lowly origin; and he was often seen favorably (an aspect is pointed out that seeing Hideyoshi positively led to looking down Ieyasu and coming down Edo Shogunate, and that, as a result, it led to boosting up legitimacy of Meiji Government). In that reputation he was regarded as a cheerful warlord who was very charming and won by policies rather than force, so he was often called 'Taiko san'. In stories created from such an evaluation Hideyoshi was described as a cheerful bright man, while Nobunaga was described as a clever genius and Ieyasu as an honest and prudent man. On the contrary, in Edo Period Hideyoshi was come down under 'the historical view of TOKUGAWA' as Mitsunari ISHIDA was looked down intentionally.

In this way there are many places where people think Hideyoshi favorably, so there is a memorial museum at his birthplace, Nakamura-ku Ward in Nagoya city. And in Nagoya Festival a person who plays Hideyoshi's role has a parade with persons who play Nobunaga ODA's and Ieyasu TOKUGAWA's roles; in Osaka city where he put a government (he was considered to build up the basis for the development of commerce in Osaka during Edo Period) he is very popular.

He was good at calligraphy unexpectedly and Rozanzin KITAOJI evaluated his works highly as Hideyoshi would be chosen if three good chirographers were newly selected. However, this is not equal to the fact that Hideyoshi was highly educated; it is said that he used many wrong letters, phonetic equivalent and kana characters in his letters. There is an episode in 'Taiko Yawa' that when a chirographer forgot the character of '醍' for '醍醐', he told him to write '大'.

A view to see Hideyoshi as a mastermind of the incident at Honno-ji Temple

A view that Hideyoshi might have been a mastermind of the incident at Honno-ji Temple is often told. The reason for that view was Hideyoshi's unnecessary request for reinforcement to Nobunaga. At the battle of Bicchu Takamatsu Castle Hideyoshi requested Nobunaga for relief column because of difficult situation as Terumoto MORI, Motoharu KIKKAWA and Takakage KOBAYAKAWA came to save Takamatsu Castle. However, MORI clan at that time had a financial problem caused by several wars and was invaded by Sorin OTOMO of Bingo and Mototsugu NANJO of Sanin, so that MORI clan could provide only 15,000 troops for Takamatsu Castle; as a result, it seems that Hideyoshi did not need relief column.

Then, the reason why Hideyoshi requested like this was regarded as following; Nobunaga at that time needed to come up to Kyoto because he had negotiated very often with Imperial Court over human affairs of high officials and a problem of Imperial succession. Mitsuhide evoked 'the incident of Honno-ji Temple' aiming at that chance, but he had a big problem. It was a reason to call up troops. However, since he was ordered to rescue Hideyoshi by his unnecessary request for relief column, he could call up troops without Nobunaga's suspicion and killed Nobunaga at Kyoto by that troop. As a view that Mitsuhide held secret communication with Maehisa KONOE shows, it is said that Hideyoshi was collaborative with Dainagon Haretoyo KANSHUJI or others and knew Mitsuhide's rebellion so that he requested like this intentionally.

As to 'Chugoku Ogaeshi' of Hideyoshi, there is a suspicion that he could not go back to Kyoto so quickly without any preparation, whatever an excellent warlord he was.

However, these views are not adopted as formal theories; in most cases only novelists use them as fiction. It is possible to offer counterarguments against above views.

In 'ASANO clan record' MORI troops was recorded as 50,000 so that it is possible to think that Hideyoshi requested relief columns based on this number of the initial stage of information.

Mitsuhide AKECHI's relief columns were ready for the Sanindo corner of the battle line against MORI and were not for the Sanyoudo corner.

Hideyoshi's request aimed to avoid having Nobunaga doubt about Hideyoshi, who could dominate achievements (to invite Nobunaga and cede achievements to him), and there is a need to request reinforcement in spite of advantageous situation.

As to what you call 'Chugoku Ogaeshi', preparation for travels to meet Nobunaga's relief columns only happened to yield results. Most of the views that 'he could not go back to Kyoto so quickly without any preparation' are mentioned by recent researchers, and there is no records to doubt 'Chugoku Ogaeshi' by warlords who had relations to Hideyoshi or TOYOTOMI clan at that time (if it was too quick from the viewpoint of warlords in those days, it is unnatural that warlords such as Nobukatsu and Nobutaka ODA, Katsuie SHIBATA and Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who was against Hideyoshi later, did not insist it.

Motoharu KIKKAWA, who knew 'the incident at Honno-ji Temple' insisted to cancel peace and attack Hideyoshi's troops, but gave up because of an against from Takakage KOBAYAKWA and others. One wrong move might have Hideyoshi to be in a pincer drive by MORI troops and AKECHI troops, and in fact, another Nobunaga's vassal, Kazumasu TAKIGAWA, was defeated heavily and lost his territory because the enemy noticed the incident at Honno-ji Temple; so it is difficult to think Hideyoshi planned such a dangerous booby trap intentionally.

Grave, Mausoleum, and Shrine

After his death, his body was berried at Amidagamine at Higashiyama of Kyoto (present Toyokuni Mausoleum) and enshrined as Toyokunidaimyojin at Toyokuni Shrine (in Kyoto city), but after the ruin of TOYOTOMI clan all buildings were destroyed and the title of Daimyojin was deprived by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. Toyokuni Shrine was abolished by Tokugawa Shogunate at the age of the third Shogun Iemitsu TOKUGAWA. In Meiji Period he was enshrined at a part of Nikkotoshogu, and Toyokuni Shrine was reconstructed. Although it is famous that there is a grave of TOYOTOMI clan at the Okunoin of Kongobuji Temple, there is no tomb of Hideyoshi. That reason is not clear.

His Buddhist name was '国泰裕松院殿霊山俊龍大居士'.

Other shrines which enshrine Hideyoshi as main gods other than the one in Kyoto city are following; Toyokuni Shrine (in Osaka city), Toyokuni Shrine (in Nagahama city) and Toyokuni Shrine (in Nagoya city). Osaka and Nagahama cities were ruled by Hideyoshi once, and Nagoya city was his birthplace.


Hideyoshi, who was born without any hereditary vassals and unified Japan, got many vassals (newly) in his life.

Subordinate warriors since Hideyoshi served Nobunaga ODA were Nagamasa ASAI, Yoshiharu HORIO, Kazutoyo YAMANOUCHI, Kazuuji NAKAMURA, Shigeharu TAKENAKA, Naofusa Higuchi, Yasuharu WAKISAKA, Katsumoto KATAGIRI, Mitsunari ISHIDA, Takataka KURODA, Nagamori MASUDA and so on, and he raised Masanori FUKUSHIMA and Kiyomasa KATO from their childhood.

At the battle of Shizugadake, Yoshiaki KATO, Yasuharu WAKISAKA, Nagayasu HIRANO, Takenori KASUYA and Katsumoto KATAGIRI, in addition to Masanori and Kiyomasa who made an extraordinary contribution, are pointed at as 'Nanahonyari (seven lancers) of Shizugadake'. However, there are various views that should be chosen as 'Nanahonyari of Shizugazake'.

After getting a position of successor of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi subordinated his important vassals such as Toshiie MAEDA, Nagahide NIWA and Masakatsu HACHISUKA, but it is thought that he kept friendship between them.

In his last years Hideyoshi created systems of the Go-Tairo, San-churo (Three Seniors) and Go-Bugyo (Five Commissioners), but after his death his hereditary vassals fought at the battle of Sekigahara, split into proponents of military government and those of civilian government.

[Original Japanese]