Komahime (駒姫)

Komahime (1581 - September 5, 1595) was the second daughter of Yoshiaki MOGAMI and Osaki Fujin, and was a concubine of Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI. She had an alias: Ima. She was a cousin of Masamune DATE. Her name Koma (駒) derived from Mt. Okoma (御駒山).

As Komahime was amazingly beautiful, her parents doted on her. Hidetsugu TOYOTOMI, the chief adviser to the Emperor at the time, heard about Komahime having the reputation of the most beautiful girl in the eastern part of Japan, pressed Yoshimitsu to offer Komahime as a concubine to him. Although Yoshimitsu kept refusing, he was consequently forced into promising to have Komahime marry into Kyoto from Yamagata when Komahime turned fifteen years old. In fact, the episode where Yoshimitsu had Komahime entertain Hidetsugu, who stopped in Yamagata-jo Castle on the way back from the subjugation of Masazane KUNOHE, was probably a fictitious story made up in later ages.

After Komahime arrived in Kyoto in 1595, she was in the Mogami's residence relieving her weariness of a long journey. However, on July 15, Hidetsugi was forced to commit Seppuku (suicide by disembowelment) on Mt. Koya by order of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. Komahime was also forcibly taken to Sanjo-gawara Riverside with the other concubines of Hidetsugu on August 2, and was the eleventh to be executed. It was even before Komahime virtually became a Hidetsugu's concubine. Komahime's father Yoshimitsu desperately pleaded for her life visiting various quarters, and there was also an outcry to save her life from various people.
As it became hard for Hideyoshi to ignore this, Hideyoshi dispatched a fast post-horse to the execution ground to stop the execution of her with an order 'to have her become a priest in Kamakura.'
However, it was too late; Komahime was killed when the horse was only approximately 109 meters away. She died at the age of 15. She died so bravely that everybody was impressed with it, saying she was the real daughter of a feudal lord.

Her death poem was 'I will be killed by the sword of merciful Mida (Amitabha) who brings criminals to justice, and I have certainly not committed any of the five sins that prevents someone from ascending to heaven'. This death poem, covered by her favorite kimono, is kept in the Kyoto National Museum with those of other executed concubines. Its copies are in Kyoto Zuisen-ji Temple and in Mogami Yoshiaki Historical Museum in Yamagata City.

The families of the concubines requested to hand over their bodies, but it was refused. The bodies were thrown into a hole dug impromptu, and a monument was placed on it which had inscribed threeon the words of 'Chikushozuka' (Mound of Beasts). What they did was so brutal that the Kyoto citizens felt that even the word 'shameless' could not express their disgust.

Komahime's mother Lady Osaki was filled with sorrow when she heard of her daughter's death, and passed away in mourning fourteen days after the execution. It was deemed a suicide.

Yoshimitsu was in quite intensive fury and grief, and some people said this tragedy caused Yoshimitsu to join the East squad in the Battle of Sekigahara. In the following year of Komahime's death, Yoshimitsu became a follower of a monk of the Shinshu sect, Jokei, who was preaching in Takatama. He moved Sensho-ji Temple (Yamagata City) to the Yamagata-jo Castle town, and made it a family temple for Komahime and Lady Osaki. In addition, in 1598, he donated approximately eight hectare patch of land and fourteen koku (a unit of volume) of a temple estate, had the biggest Buddhist temple in a castle town built, and gathered thirteen Shinshu sect temples in the Murayama area as tatchu (sub-temples in the site of the main temple), maintaining the town which would be called as a temple town later. In this temple, Komahime's room was relocated from Yamagata-jo Castle and her portrait was preserved along with that of Lady Osaki (her well-known portrait was drawn in the Taisho period while the original one was in a priest style).

Komahime's tragedy and the way it influenced later history
In the samurai society at that time, women were accustomed to being treated differently from men, but Hideyoshi ignored this by executing almost all the family members of Hidetsugu; a wife, concubines, and children. Execution of young Komahime and the treatment of the dead bodies were obviously unjust and brutal, which were not socially accepted even at that time. It is not hard to imagine that it shocked many feudal lords and the Japanese society as well as the Mogami family.

Incidentally, a few of Hidetsugu's wives and children were saved, however. It was certain that Yoshimitsu was treated unfavorably by Hideyoshi, given that Komahime was executed, despite not yet being Hidetsugu's actual concubine and Yoshimitsu's pleas to have her life spared. Yoshimitsu became an active leader of the anti-Toyotomi faction after this incident, and he was active as a key figure of the East squad in Ou (Mutsu Province and Dewa Province) in the Battle of Dewa in the Keicho Era. After all, this tragedy turned out to be one of the causes that cut short the life of the Toyotomi government.

[Original Japanese]