Fukushima Masanori (福島正則)

Masanori FUKUSHIMA was a busho (Japanese military commander) and a daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) active during the Azuchi-Momoyama period and the early Edo period.

Hideyoshi's retainer trained since his boyhood

In 1561, Masanori FUKUSHIMA was born as the eldest son of Masanobu FUKUSHIMA in present-day Miwa-cho, Ama County, Aichi Prefecture.

Because his mother was the aunt of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, he served Hideyoshi since his boyhood. He made his military debut in 1578 with the attack of Miki-jo Castle in Harima Province.

For his distinguished military service at the Battle of Yamazaki in 1582, he received a territory worth of 500 koku. At the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583, he distinguished himself as the Ichibanyari (person who spark a war in the spearmen's group), and first decapitated the enemy commander Ieyoshi HAIGO, and was rewarded with a territory worth 5,000 koku which was much more than what his comrades, Seven Spears of Shizugatake, received (other 6 commanders received 3,000 koku). Since then, he participated in many of Hideyoshi's decisive battles, and after the Kyushu Conquest in 1587, he was assigned as daimyo of Imabari region, Iyo Province which was worth 110,000 koku.

At the occasion of Japan's Invasion of Korea in 1592, he was in charge of assaulting Gyeonggi Province as the commander-in-chief of the fifth troop which included Katsutaka TODA, Motochika CHOSOKABE, Iemasa HACHISUKA and Chikamasa IKOMA. At the end of the same year, he was in charge of the defensive of 竹山 of GyeongGi-Do. As a result of the peace negotiation, the formation of the battle array in the south was decided, and he was appointed to oversee the defensive of 松真浦城 and 場門浦城 in Geoje Island. When the Korean Navy, led by Yi Sun-shin, attacked 場門浦 in October 1594, Masanori himself went into the sea and conducted his army, and repelled the enemy force by setting fire to their ships (Seikanroku, or the Record of Subjugation of Korea) (from Chiefs of Staff 'Chosen-eki').

In 1595, he was given a territory worth 240,000 koku in Kiyosu, Owari Province.

The Battle of Sekigahara

However, the relation between Masanori, who was a military expert, and the Bunchi faction (civilian party), which included Mitsunari ISHIDA, rapidly worsened with Japan's Invasion of Korea, and when Toshiie MAEDA died in 1599, he caused incidents with his close friend Kiyomasa KATO, such as, an attack of Mitsunari. At that time, he was dissuaded by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA from attacking Mitsunari, and as a result, he became one of the closest daimyo of Ieyasu.

He was also able to arrange the marriage between Masayuki, his elder sister's son whom he adopted, and Matehime, Ieyasu's adopted daughter. This went against Hideyoshi's will to ban the marriage between the families of daimyo; however, Masanori was convinced that this marriage will lead to the peace of the families of Toyotomi and Tokugawa in the future.

In 1600, Masanori led an army of 6,000 and took part in a campaign to subjugate the Uesugi in Aizu. During the campaign, Koyama council was held as Ieyasu received the news that Mitsunari ISHIDA raised an army in Kamigata (Kansai region), and at that meeting, Masanori, who had been persuaded beforehand by Nakamasa KURODA by Ieyasu's order, readily pledged his allegiance to Ieyasu and preempted the agitation of daimyos caused by Mitsunari's rebellion. As a result, by reversing the original plan, the strategy to head the army westwards was decided. Masanori advanced his army towards Mino Province from Kiyosu, and when attacking Gifu-jo Castle defended by Hidenobu ODA of the Western Camp, he scrambled for the position of the spearhead with Terumasa IKEDA, and together with Nakamasa KURODA, they took control of the castle.

At the final battle of the Battle of Sekigahara, he originally asked to directly confront the Ishida army, but was not allowed. Furthermore, to his fury, Ii and Matsudaira went ahead of him despite the fact that he assumed the role of leading the spearhead army in many of the battles in the past. Their provocation provided the offensive spark, and their battle against the Ukita army 17,000 strong was started. Takenori AKASHI, a commander famed for his bravery, was leading the vanguard of 8,000 men of Hideie Ukita's army, and the Fukushima army was pushed backwards for 500 meters and was on the threshold of total collapse at one point. Masanori, who changed color, whipped his army to sustain, and the battle saw the two armies go back and forth at each other.

Before long, the armies of the Western Camp collapsed one by one, triggered by the betrayal of Hideaki. The army of Masanori FUKUSHIMA also succeeded in beating the Ukita force, despite receiving serious damage. Masanori, who was regarded as the most important commander contributed to the victory of the Eastern Camp, also actively worked to seize the Osaka-jo Castle from Terumoto Mori who was the supreme commander of the Western Camp, thus he was rewarded after the war with the Hiroshima Domain, Aki Province and Hiroshima Domain, Bingo Province worth as much as 498,200 koku.

The Edo period

In March 1601, Masanori entered into his new domain in Aki and Bingo Provinces, and immediately went around to check the area and recalculated the kokudaka (crop yield) by conducting land surveys. He proved himself as a surprisingly good local governor; he had in place a system of paying the salary rice to his vassals instead of allotting them fiefs (chigyo-wari), and reduced the burden of the peasants by disclosing the result of the land surveys, and collecting nengu (land tax) accordingly. It is also true, however, that the burden of the people of the domain actually increased under his government for the construction of the castle and the military expansion. He was also enthusiastic for protecting the temples and shrines within the domain, and it is known that in 1602, he restored Heike-nokyo at Itsukushima-jinja Shrine. Under his government, the kokudaka of the domain increased to 515, 800 koku at the time just before joho (shogunal sanction by means of sudden dismissal and deprivation of position, privileges and properties) took place.

While he provided his men for the repairs of various castles by the Edo bakufu since 1640 and displayed his royalty to the Tokugawa, he also did not forget to pay his respect to the Toyotomi family as his lineage. In March 1611, when Ieyasu pressured Hideyori to come to meet him at the Nijo-jo Castle, together with Kiyomasa KATO and Yoshinaga ASANO, he persuaded Yodo-dono who strongly opposed to it by saying that the Toyotomi family was the main lineage, and succeeded in making Hideyori's procession to Kyoto.
(Although Masanori did not go to the meeting on the plea that he was sick, he placed 10,000 soldiers alongside the highway from Maikata to Kyoto in case of an event.)

Just after this meeting was held, close friends of Masanori, Kiyomasa, Nagamasa and Yoshinaga ASANO (father and son), and Terumasa IKEDA who were daimyo favored by Toyotomi, passed away one after another. Masanori himself also asked for retirement for the reason of ill-health in 1612. However, it was not granted and he was kept useless on his duty, and when he was requested to provide his army at the Siege of Osaka from Hideyori, he refused it. And he merly gave him a silent approval to confiscate the rice in a depository in Osaka worth 80, 000 koku. When the bakufu found this out, they did not allow Masanori to take part in a campaign of the Eastern Camp, and ordered him to remain as Edo rusuiyaku (a person representing the master during his absence). When the Toyotomi clan extinguished, Masanori who also abandoned the family name of Hashiba, had no choice, but to offer his allegiance to the bakufu.

Kaieki (forfeit rank of Samurai and properties) and Masanori's later years

Shortly after the death of Ieyasu in 1619, Masanori was accused of breaching Buke Shohatto (codes for the warrior households) by repairing a small part of the Hiroshima-jo Castle, which was damaged during the flood caused by a typhoon, without permission. Although Masanori aplied the permission two months ago, he had not received it officially from the bakufu. It is said that he repaired only the leaky part of the building out of necessity. Although this case was once settled down on the condition where Masanori, who was in attendance for his duty in Edo, would apologize and remove the repaired parts of the castle. However, the bakufu again accused him of insufficient removal of the repaired parts, and as a result, his territories in Aki and Bingo Provinces worth 500,000 koku were confiscated; instead he was given Takaino Domain of Takaino County, one of 4 counties in Kawanakajima of Shinano Province and Uonuma County, Echigo Province, worth 45,000 koku.

It is generally understood that the bakufu wanted to control Masanori, who was considered to have an extreme personality as a commander. However, there is also a theory that he got involved in the power struggle between Masazumi HONDA and Toshikatsu DOI which was caused by the abolition of the dual-power system in the bakufu after the death of Ieyasu. It is said that Masanori's application paper was received by Masazumi, but was left on purpose by Toshikatsu in order to bring disgrace on Masazumi's reputation. It was the second shogun Hidetada TOKUGAWA who forcefully conducted Masanori's kaieki (sudden dismissal and deprivation of position, privileges and properties), and leaders of the bakufu, such as Toshikatsu and Masazumi, were actually hesitant as they feared that it may cause rebellion of daimyo.

In 1620, Masanori's legitimate son and heir, Tadakatsu FUKUSHIMA died young, and Masanori returned his territory worth 25,000 koku to the bakufu. In 1624, he died in Takaino Domain. He was 64 years old.

His body was cremated before the arrival of the emissary from the bakufu at then.
(A theory has it that in fear of being blamed that Masanori committed ritual suicide by disembowelment, seppuku, out of abasement, his body was quickly cremated to hide the fact.)
As a result, another 20,000 koku was confiscated from the Fukushima family, and Masatoshi, the son of Masanori who inherited the family, was lowered his status as hatamoto (direct retainer of bakufu) with a territory worth of 3,000 koku.

Career of official titles

On August 11, 1585, he was appointed to Saemon no taifu (third-ranked officer of the Left Division of Outer Palace Guards) at Junior Fifth Rank, Lower Grade, under the name of Masanori TAIRA.

On September 7, 1597, he was appointed as Jiju (Grand Chamberlain). At the same time, he received the family name Hashiba.

On April 28, 1602, he was reassigned as Sakonoe Gonnoshosho (Provisional Minor Captain of the Left Division of Inner Palace Guards) under the name of Masanori TOYOTOMI (perhaps he was also promoted to the Lower Junior Fourth Rank at this time).

On July 23, 1617, he was promoted to the Junior Third Rank and reassigned as sangi (councilor) under the name of Masanori TOYOTOMI. November 2 of the same year, he resigned from sangi.

Personality and anecdotes

Although he received recognition for his military excellence as the best commander at the Battle of Sekigahara, there are also records of his words and behaviors at Sekigahara which suggest that he would not hesitate even to relinquish such a recognition in order to accomplish his purpose. There are following anecdotes and study in regard to the Battle.

When he seized the Gifu-jo Castle, he pleaded to save the life of Hidenobu ODA, the lord of the castle, saying 'even in exchange with my military honor'. Shortly after that, one of his vassals was insulted by ashigaru (foot soldier) of the Tokugawa family and committed suicide. Masanori demanded seppuku of Akitsuna INA, a hatamoto and the lord of the ashigaru, and blustered out 'if my demand is not accepted, I will leave this castle at once'.

Upon hearing Mitsunari's words 'a military commander should always try to comeback by escaping his peril' uttered when he was captured after the Battle of Sekigahara, it is said that Masanori praised him saying that 'it is quite right, escaping from the battle field should never be a thing to be ashamed'.

Although he is remembered more as a military commander of Budan faction (pro-military faction), he also achieved a good result in terms of administration as a feudal lord; his domain was calculated worth 498,000 koku in the land survey of 1601, and he increased it to 515,000 koku in 1619.

He was not a Christian, however, he consistently took a position to support the policy to protect Christians since the time when he was the lord of Kiyosu-jo Castle. He was known to be tolerant of religion in his policy.

There is an anecdote that he got very drunk one night and ordered one of his vassals to commit seppuku, and the next morning, he realized his mistake but it was too late, and he apologized crying to the decapitated head of the vassal.

In a drinking party, he forced Tomonobu MORI who was a vassal of the Kuroda family, to drink sake, and had to give up a spear called Nihon-go, which was the family treasure.

When he was on duty to help to construct Nagoya-jo Castle on order from the bakufu, he lamented as follows. I would do it if this was the Edo-jo Castle or the Sunpu-jo Castle, but this is a castle for the child of a mistress of the shogun'. I can't stand being pushed around for even things like this'. And he pressured Terumasa, saying 'you are Ieyasu's son-in-law. Please make a direct plea for us'. Kiyomasa said laughing as folloes, and he was able to calm the situation. Don't say such a silly thing'. If you hate constructing the castle so much, you should go back to your province and prepare for the rebellion'. If you can't do that, then follow the order and try to meet the construction schedule'.

In 1615 after the fall of Osaka-jo Castle, Masanori visited Sadakiyo ISHIKAWA of Myoshin-ji Temple, and was given a part of the land in the complex of Myoshin-ji Temple, and founded Kaifuku-in Temple there to pray for the souls of the dead to rest in peace. Sadakiyo joined the Western Camp at the Battle of Sekigahara, and after the war, he became a tea master and a merchant, and there are several theories about his wife, which is said to be the daughter of Mitsunari ISHIDA, a younger sister of Yoshitsugu OTANI, or the daughter of Nobushige SANADA.

When Ieyasu was on his death bed from a serious illness, Masanori visited him in Sunpu. However, Ieyasu coldly said to him as follows. you should go back to Aki once'. If you have a complaint about the shogun family (Hidetada TOKUGAWA), you should raise an army without hesitation'. After he asked himself out, Masanori cried out loud disregarding people's attention, lamenting 'it is such a shame to be given words like that despite the fact that I had served him until this day'. Having heard this, Ieyasu was satisfied, as saying, 'I said what I said because I wanted Masanori to say that word'.

He was known to be a henpecked husband, and there is an anecdote that he escaped from his wife who was threatening him with a long sword out of jealousy for his affairs with other women.


Saizo KANI
Masakatsu OZAKI
Nagayuki OSAKI
Tanetsune NAGAO

[Original Japanese]