Keiganin (桂岩院)

Keigannin (Year of birth unknown, died on September 10, 1604, referred to as 'the concubine Yotsutsuji hereafter) was a woman who lived from the Azuchi-Momoyama period to the early Edo period. She was a concubine of Kagekatsu UESUGI, and the birth mother of Sadakatsu UESUGI.


She was a daughter of Kinto YOTSUTSUJI.

Her real name is unknown.

Her mother was a member of the Sugihara clan (who may have been a maid working for the Yotsutsuji family). Her brothers include Suetsugu YOTSUTSUJI and Tsuguyoshi TAKAKURA (renamed to Tsuguyoshi YABU later), and one of her sisters was Yotsuko YOTSUTSUJI, who was a favored concubine of Gomizunoo Emperor. Her nephews include Mitsunori YAMAURA, and her nieces include Bunchi-Joo Princess and Tsuguko YOTSUTSUJI, who was a favored concubine of Gomizunoo Emperor. One theory has it that she was introduced to Kagekatsu by a merchant who visited the Uesugi family, and became his concubine in Kyoto, although there is no historical material revealing details, thus how she became a concubine is yet unknown.

She came to Yonezawa as a concubine, while she resided in Yonezawa-jo Castle and served Kagekatsu at his bedding to spend nights and receive his affection, and eventually conceived his child. In May 1609, she gave birth to an illegitimate child Tamamaru (Sadakatsu) at Yonezawa-jo Castle during Kagekatsu's stay in Fushimi. However, her health deteriorated after delivering the child, and she died three months after the birth of Tamamaru without seeing the return of Kagekatsu, despite all the efforts for her recovery by prayer or treatments of doctor upon Kagekatsu's order. Lamenting his ill-fated, much-loved concubine who died too early, Kagekatsu had her funeral conducted by a karo (chief retainer) Kanetsugu NAOE at Rinsen-ji Temple, which was the family temple of the Uesugi family (Yonezawa City). Her kaimyo (posthumous Buddhist name) is Keiganinin-den Gessho Seika Daishi. The tomb was initially located at Rinsen-ji Temple, but in May 1629, it was relocated to Gokuraku-ji Temple in Yonezawa, which was the family temple of Kagekatsu.

It is said that Gokuraku-ji Temple in Yonezawa was designated as the graveyard for concubines of the lords of the Uesugi family thereafter.

A 'shadow lady' with a complex background

It is said that feudal retainers of the Uesugi clan did not have a favorable impression toward the concubine Yotsutsuji and the fact that Kagekatsu much favored her. A popular belief states that the earthquake that took place right after the concubine Yotsutsuji came to the Yonezawa-jo Castle is a retribution for Kagekatsu having welcomed a concubine into the castle disregarding the presence of Princess Kiku (who was Kagekatsu UESUGI's lawful wife), and that she died too young because she was cursed by the vengeful spirit of Princess Kiku.

Regarding this popular belief, some would consider it is the reflection of the truth; Princess Kiku is known that she was truly adored by all in Uesugi clan, substantiated by the fact that she is favorably described in various references as a woman endowed with both beauty and intelligence, despite the fact she married into the Uesugi clan for political convenience; thus quite a few feudal retainers refused to admit the presence of the concubine Yotsutsuji near Kagekatsu. However, considering the fact that bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) was enforcing Kaieki (forfeit rank of Samurai and properties) one after another on Daimyo families (feudal lord families) without a successor, it is highly likely that the concubine Yotsutsuji was requested to enter the Uesugi family and acknowledged by the retainers to conceive a successor. According to 'Uesugi-ke Gonenpu (Chronological list of the main events of the Uesugi family),' the birth of Sadakatsu was immediately notified to Kagekatsu who was staying in Fushimi at the time, and all the retainers in Fushimi visited the lord to offer their congratulations. In later years, Uesugi and Yotsutsuji families had trouble with bakufu over the treatment of the concubine Yotsutsuji's nephew, a Christian kugyo (high court noble) Mitsunori YAMAURA, while the grandson of Kagekatsu and the concubine Yotsutsuji, Tsunakatsu UESUGI who became the third lord of the clan, got married with his second cousin and a daughter of Kinaya YOTSUTSUJI, Princess Tomi, as his second wife.

[Original Japanese]