Honda Shigetsugu (本多重次)

Shigetsugu HONDA (1529-August 9th, 1596) was a vassal of the Tokugawa clan from the Sengoku Period (the Warring Period) to the Azuchi Momoyama Period. His father was Shigemasa HONDA. He was commonly known as Hachizo, Sakujuro, or Saemon. His son was Narushige HONDA who eventually became the lord of the Maruoka Domain of the Echizen Province.

Instead of his real name Shigetsugu, he was better known as Saemon and Onisakuza, derived from his bold and intrepid personality. Along with Yasukage AMANO and Kiyonaga KORIKI, Shigetsugu was one of the three magistrates of Mikawa Province from the period of Ieyasu's, and exerted his talent in legislative affairs. Clear from his naming of Oni (Japanese demon or fearless), he was a man who played by the books when it came to the rule of law and he was also strict with others as well, but he was fair and honest regarding the distribution of rewards, plus, he wrote the laws in kana (the Japanese syllabaries) and made the interpretation simple for the convenience of the general public. Furthermore, he was not only known for his legislative role as a magistrate, but he also distinguished himself by suppressing the uprising of Ikko sect followers in Mikawa Province). At the Siege of Odawara, he intercepted and beat back the naval warriors of the Gohojo clan led by Kagemune KAJIWARA.

However, as a trade-off for Ieyasu's pledge to become Hideyoshi's vassal and go to the capital (Kyoto), Hideyoshi's real mother, Omandokoro, was taken as a hostage by Ieyasu. On this occasion, Shigetsugu who was entrusted to take care of Omandokoro treated her crudely, and by stacking up firewood around her building, he threatened to burn her to death if something had happened to Ieyasu in Kyoto. This is said to be Shigetsugu's bluff for Ieyasu's safe journey home, but upon hearing this from Omandokoro, Hideyoshi became upset as expected and gave Ieyasu an order to, "Dispel a rude man like Shigetsugu from your vassal hood." Due to this, after Ieyasu was transferred to the Kanto region, Shigetsugu was ordered to be under house arrest in the Koito-jo Castle of Kazusa Province (currently Kimitsu City, Chiba Prefecture) with 3000 koku.

Subsequently, his place of house arrest was changed to Soma County, Shimouusa Province (currently Ino, Toride City, Ibaraki Prefecture). In July 16th, 1596, he passed away at the age of 68. His graveyard, 'Shigetsugu HONDA's Resting Place,' is located at the designated historic site in Toride City, Ibaraki Prefecture.

He lost one eye and leg from his battle wounds, and it is said that he was missing several fingers.

Allow Me to State Briefly

Allow me to state briefly; beware of fire; do not make Osen cry; keep the horse fat.'

This famous line which is supposed to be the shortest letter written in Japan, is a letter that Shigetsugu wrote in 1575 to his wife from the trenches of the Battle of Nagashiro. This 'Osen' was the legitimate child of Shigetsugu, Senchiyo (later known as Narushige, the Lord of Maruoka Domain), who was an infant at the time.
Furthermore, in the original letter it is written, 'Allow me to state briefly; beware of fire; Do not let Osen get thin; keep the horse fat; kind regards.'

[Original Japanese]