Kamiya Sotan (神屋宗湛)

Sotan KAMIYA (February 16, 1551 - December 7, 1635) was a wealthy merchant in Hakata during the Sengoku period (Period of Warring States) and the early Edo period. He was the sixth head of the Kamiya clan. His personal name before becoming a priest was Sadakiyo. 神谷' are incorrect kanji (Chinese characters) for Kamiya.

The Kamiya clan had already achieved status as wealthy merchants before the period of Sotan. His great-grandfather, Jutei KAMIYA, had been involved in the full scale development of the Iwami Ginzan silver mine.

In 1582, he went up to the capital (Kyoto) with Soshitsu SHIMAI and had an audience with Nobunaga ODA, who was the then ruler of the country. Sotan tried to control the Shimazu clan, which was extending its influence in the ascendant in Kyushu at that time, as well as to enhance his position as a wealthy merchant by having Nobunaga's protection. However, the effort proved to be in vain when Nobunaga died in the Honnoji Incident of June 1582.

In 1586, he went to the capital (Kyoto) again and developed close personal relationships with territorial lords and Sogyu TSUDA, who was the wealthy merchant in Sakai City. During the same year, he became a priest at Daitoku-ji Temple and took the Buddhist name Sotan.

In 1587 he had an audience with Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, who had become the ruler of the country following the death of Nobunaga. Hideyoshi liked Sotan, so he gave him the privilege of a wealthy merchant's status; thus Sotan was at the height of prosperity as the leading merchant in Hakata. Sotan financially supported Hideyoshi in the Kyushu Conquest. Upon the start of Japan's invasion of Korea in 1592, he served as a provider of logistical support and was active as a close adviser to Hideyoshi in his later years.

However, when Hideyoshi died of an illness in 1598, Sotan suffered discrimination by Ieyasu, who had become the ruler of the country. When Nagamasa KURODA was transferred to another domain after the Battle of Sekigahara, Sotan, who had once been the country's wealthiest merchant, fell to the level of chartered merchant of the Kuroda clan. He was no longer active as a merchant as he reached old age; he died of an illness at the age of 83 on December 7, 1635. His grave is located at Myoraku-ji Temple, in Fukuoka City.

The "Sotan Diary" was one of his literary works. It was the record of tea ceremony gatherings that described his activities during the Hideyoshi period. It was suspected to be a forgery created in later generations, but it was one of the precious historical books through which one could explore the workings of the Hideyoshi government. It was one of the four major records of tea ceremony gatherings along with "The Tennojiya Kaiki," by Sogyu TSUDA, "Imai Sokyu Chanoyu Nukigaki," by Sokyu IMAI, and 'Matsuya Kaiki," by Hisamasa MATSUYA.

[Original Japanese]