Katagiri Katsumoto (片桐且元)

Katsumoto KATAGIRI was a daimyo (lord) who lived during the Azuchi-Momoyama and Edo periods. He was one of the Shichihonyari (Seven Spears) of Shizugatake. He gained Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's permission to use the TOYOTOMI surname. His father was Naosada KATAGIRI, a retainer of the AZAI Clan, who were daimyo during the Sengoku period, but his mother is unknown. His younger brother was Sadataka KATAGIRI who became the head of Koizumi Domain (fief).

Brief Personal History

He was born in Sugatani, Azai-gun, Omi no Kuni (present day Sugatani, Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture), the son of a minor feudal lord, Naosada KATAGIRI, who served the AZAI Clan. Sugatani was connected by mountains to the AZAI Clan stronghold of Odani Castle and served both as a supporting castle and a resort, due to the Sugatani hot springs. He fought on the side of Nagamasa AZAI until the fall of Odani Castle following Nobunaga ODA's seige from 1570 to September 1, 1573. The letter of appreciation from Nagamasa AZAI to Naosada KATAGIRI, written on August 29, the day before the castle fell, is still in existance.

It is uncertain when Katsumoto inherited the family estate. It is said that he served as a vassal of Hideyoshi HASHIBA (later Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI), around 1579, during the Nagahama Castle (Omi no Kuni) period alongside Mitsunari ISHIDA, who was born in same province of Omi.

In May 1583, after Nobunaga's death, he fought alongside Masanori FUKUSHIMA and Kiyomasa KATO during the Battle of Shizugatake (Ika-gun, Omi no Kuni) against the Katsuie SHIBATA, becoming one of the 'Shichihonyari (Seven Spears) of Shizugatake'
He was awarded by Hideyoshi with 3000 koku for his achievements during the battle. Afterwards, he served not as a general on the front lines but mainly as a supporting bugyo (commissioner), concerned with highway maintenance as the Highway Bugyo, the supply military of ships during the Kyushu Campaign and he attended the requisition of Odawara Castle during the Battle of Odawara, as well as investigating the Asari Incident as an Oshushioki, or judge. He also surveyed farms and their harvest quota, acted as a mediator for border conflicts, and participated in the reconstruction project of Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu Shrine in Kamakura. He was stationed in Busan (present day Busan City) during Hideyoshi's dispatch of troops to Korea (Bunroku no Eki) and participated in the attack of Jinju Castle. He returned to Japan in 1593. He became the lord of Ibraki Castle in Settsu no Kuni (Settsu Province) in 1595 and became the shirodume (samurai that served a castle) when assigned with the Osaka Castle guard duty in 1598.

The land given to Katsumoto, Harima no Kuni, was worth no more than 10,000 koku but, in Hideyoshi's later years, he was assigned as the guardian tutor of Hideyori TOYOTOMI and given the surname Hashiba.

He supported Hideyori after Hideyoshi's death and after the Battle of Sekigahara in September 1600, was given the 28,000 koku Tatsuta Domain in Yamato no Kuni by the Gotairo (Council of Five Elders) leader, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. He continued to serve Hideyori and tried his best to diffuse confrontations between the TOYOTOMI and TOKUGAWA families. As the relationship worsened following the Incident of Hoko-ji Temple Bell during the Siege of Osaka, he made an effort to hold peace talks with Ieyasu aimed at preventing war, but this led Harunaga ONO and Hideyori's mother, Yodo-dono, to suspect him of leaking information to Ieyasu, forcing him to secretly escape from Osaka Castle. This became a pretext for Ieyasu to declare war in the Fuyu no jin (the Winter War of Osaka). Once the Siege of Osaka began, he sided with Ieyasu and was given 40,000 koku as a reward.

However, he suddenly died 20 days after the Siege of Osaka ended. Some stated that he died of a disease, but it is also said that he committed suicide to take responsibilty for his inability to save Hideyori (it seems he pleaded for Hideyori's life in return for siding with Ieyasu during the Siege of Osaka). After his death, his son Takatoshi inherited the estate.

Personal Profile

His exploits as one of the Shichihonyari of Shizugatake were told about in "Ehon Taikoki," written in the Edo Period. In Meiji period, author Shoyo TSUBOUCHI described Katsumoto as a loyal subject in "Kiri Hitoha (A Paulownia Leaf)," and historical studies debated his loyalty or disloyalty. With the growth of empirical research after World War II, Shosaku TAKAGI pointed out in 1976 that Katsumoto was both the chief retainer of the TOYOTOMI and one of TOKUGAWA's national bugyo, and that is important to study the political situation around the time of the Battle of Sekigahara.

[Original Japanese]