Hongo Tadayoshi (北郷忠能)

Tadayoshi HONGO (March 11, 1590 - March 7, 1631) was a military commander in Kyushu from the Azuchi-Momoyama period to the early Edo period. He was the twelfth head of the family of the Hongo clan.
His childhood name was 'Nagachiyomaru,' and his regular name was 'Jiro.'

Brief biography

His father was the eleventh head of the family, Tadatora HONGO, and his mother was a concubine. In 1595, his father, Tadatora, died abroad during Japan's Invasion of Korea, and he took over as the head of the family at the age of five, but since he was a young child, his grandfather, Tokihisa HONGO, acted as guardian for government affairs, and his uncle, Mitsuhisa HONGO, for military affairs. In 1596, the grandfather also died, and Mitsuhisa was stationed on the Korean Peninsula, so practical work was entrusted to the chief retainer, Shigeyori KOSUGI.

When the Shonai War erupted in 1599, the Ijuin clan, the central player of the war was believed to have embezzled Miyakonojo City, a place of connection for the Hongo clan, through the introduction of Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and the efforts of the Hongo clan family to recover their hometown were impressive. As the war ended with victory on the side of the main branch of the originator of the Shimazu family, the Hongo clan succeeded in recovering their place of connection, Miyakonojo. Yet, Tadayoshi, who was in his early childhood at the time, took no part in actual military affairs, rather his uncle, Mitsuhisa, took the lead in the war.

In 1605, he tightened control over his family by expelling his chief retainer, Hisariku HONGO. It is believed that around this time, he began overseeing the business on his own as the head of the Hongo family, although, the conflict with forces believing Mitsuhisa, who actually played an active role in Japan's Invasion of Korea and the Shonai War, should be the family head, introduced the power struggle into the family. In the end, it was resolved with the intervention of the main branch of the originator of the Shimazu family to make Mitsuhisa become independent as a separate family; however, around this time, a feud began with the main branch of the originator of the Shimazu family which often intervened.

In 1607, he married the daughter of Yukihisa SHIMAZU, who was the most powerful branch of the Shimazu clan, and had become the lord of the Sadowara Domain. In 1612, he headed to Edo, met directly with Hidetada TOKUGAWA without any intervention of the main branch of the originator of the Shimazu family, and received a horse.

He was on extremely bad terms with Tadatsune SHIMAZU, and received a letter from Iehisa questioning his actions saying 'family heads that do not treat their vassals with consideration lack the credentials to lead,' but it lacked persuasion because Iehisa himself frequently purged his vassals.

He died from a disease in 1631. He died at the age of 42.
His posthumous Buddhist name was 'jigenindengodokujokonkoji.'

After the death of Tadayoshi, heads of family of the Hongo clan successively died young, and gradually became oppressed by the main branch of the originator of the Shimazu family.

Tadayoshi was known as a master of archery, and in November 1608, he was acclaimed for his performance of Toshiya (long-range archery) in front of the Hoko-ji Temple Daibutsu-den Hall, which built up the foundation of Miyakonojo as a famous production area for Japanese bows today.

Additionally, Tahei TOKUDA died after choking on vegetable soup containing rice cakes, and it is believed this occurred while visiting Tadayoshi for New Year's, but the dates do not seem to match.

[Original Japanese]