Araki Masahane (荒木政羽)

Masahane ARAKI (1662–March 10, 1732) was hatamoto (direct retainer) of Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). He dealt with Genroku Ako Incident as bakufu metsuke (inspector). His nicknames were Kojuro (興十郎), Kura no suke, and Jurozaemon. His official rank was Jugoinoge (Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade), Shima no kami (Governor of Shima Province).

He was born the oldest son to Jurozaemon mototomo ARAKI, hatamoto who had a territory of 1500 koku (crop yields) in Musha Country, Kazusa Province. His mother was Kurokawa Tanba no kami (Governor of Tanba Province) Masanao's daughter. On August 13, 1682, he was granted an audience with shogun Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA for the first time. On November 13, 1683, he was raised to Shoinban (castle guard). On August 27, 1697, he succeeded the position of family head due to his father's death, but in 1698, a part of his territory was removed to Sosa Country, Shimousa Province. In 1699, he assumed Otsukaiban (messenger), and on July 2, when Tsunanari TOKUGAWA, the Lord of Owari Domain, died, he was dispatched to the Kishu Domain, Kii Province. On February 6, 1700, he was allowed to wear Hoi (clothing for a lower-ranking retainer).

On April 21, 1701, since Naganori ASANO cut at Yoshinaka KIRA inside of the shogun's castle, it was decided to impose Kaieki punishment on Naganori, which means he would be dismissed and his castle called Ako-jo Castle would be confiscated. The next day, on April 22, Araki and Masayoshi SAKAKIBARA were appointed to 収城 Metsuke (different from bakufu metsuke), and they entered Ako on May 22. On May 25, Araki inspected Ako-jo Castle together with Sakakibara, Masauji ISHIHARA (local governor) and Toshinobu OKADA (local governor).

Katsunobu OCHIAI recorded the details of this inspection in his 'Goseki-Kenbunki' (Record of personal experience of Goseki). When these four shogun's retainers took a rest in the golden chamber of the castle, Kuranosuke OISHI served them tea and sweets, and asked them to support restoration of the Asano family by Nagahiro ASANO, younger brother of Asano Takumi no kami, but they did not reply and left for Daishoin (large study) quickly. Kuranosuke asked them the same thing when they were inspecting Daishoin, but they neglected him again. When they were just about to leave, having finished inspection, Kuranosuke offered them tea again to keep them, and mentioned restoration of the Asano family for the third time.
At last, his desperate attitude disposed Ishihara to say to Araki, 'His request is understandable. I think there is no problem if we tell bakufu about this after we return to Edo.'
Araki replied, 'That makes a lot of sense. I also understand what he said. So I'd like to ask roju (higher-ranking members of the cabinet of the Tokugawa Shogunate) to consider his request. What do you think, Uneme?' and Sakakibara answered, 'I agree with you,' and therefore Araki said to Kuranosuke, 'Then I will tell your wish to roju as soon as we get to Edo,' to which Kuranosuke responded, 'I thank you very much.'

Araki returned to Edo no later than July 6, and reported the inspection to Shogun Tsunayoshi TOKUGAWA, roju and wakadoshiyori (lower-ranking members of the cabinet), and also he told them about Oishi's desire to restore the Asano family, but nevertheless, Nagahiro ASANO ended up being left to his head family Hiroshima clan, and this is how Kuranosuke OISHI's activity for the restoration of the Asano family was failed. On September 30, Araki assumed bakufu metsuke. After that, Ako roshi (lordless samurai of Ako Domain) raided Kira-tei Residence and avenged their lord's death on Yoshinaka KIRA. Bakufu decided that all 47 roshi should commit seppuku, and Araki was dispatched to Tsunatoshi HOSOKAWA–tei Residence (the place where Kuranosuke OISHI was kept) on March 20, 1703 to hold an inquest on Yoshio OISHI and others by a curious turn of fate.

From August 10, 1703, he attended Emperor Reigen in Kyoto, and at that time he got a raise by 500 koku. Moreover, on December 14, he assumed Jugoinoge, Shima no kami. Later, he was encouraged by Emperor Reigen personally. However, in December 1715 (old calendar), accused of having made a blunder on the job, he was suddenly demoted to Kobushinyaku (originally having the duty of providing workers for minor repairs of buildings), and furthermore, the increase of 500 koku was taken away, and he was suspended from his work. He was forgiven on June 20, 1716, and retired on July 1, 1731, and transferred the reigns of the family to his oldest son Masatame. On March 10, 1732, he died. He was 71 years old at the time of his death. His homyo (a Buddhist name given to a person who has died) was Ryohaku (了白). Incidentally, Araki's daughter married Hideteru, grandchild of Yoriteru KAJIKAWA, who was known to have stopped Naganori ASANO during the sword fight in the castle, and due to this relationship, Araki's third son Masamichi changed his name to Uehide (上秀) KAJIKAWA, and was adopted to the Kajikawa family. This is also a curious turn of fate.

[Original Japanese]