Kikuchi Takemitsu (菊池武光)

Takemitsu KIKUCHI (1319? - January 6, 1374) was a busho (Japanese military commander) from the late Kamakura Period to the period of Southern and Northern Courts (Japan). He was the 15th family head of the Kikuchi clan. He was a son of the 12th family head Takeuchi KIKUCHI and is thought to have been the 9th son. He had many siblings such as an older brother Takeshige KIKUCHI, the 13th family head, and a younger brother Takehito KIKUCHI, the 14th family head. His children were Takemasa KIKUCHI and Ryosei KIKUCHI.

He was the lord of Higo Province. His common name was Juro TOYOTA. His homyo (a posthumous Buddhist name) was Seigen.

He originated from Toyota estate in Mashiki District. He served as a substitute for the weak 14th family head of Kikuchi clan and recaptured Fukugawa-jo Castle, which once was a base castle of the Kikuchi clan, from the Northern Court (Japan) forces in 1345 together with the Aso clan. Taking this as an opportunity, Takemitsu KIKUCHI eliminated his younger brother Takehito KIKUCHI and became the family head himself.

He invited Imperial Prince Kaneyoshi, who was the imperial prince of Emperor Gotaigo of the Southern Court (Japan) and dispatched to Kyushu region as seisei shogun (literally, "great general who subdues the western barbarians"), to Kumabe Yamashiro Castle and contributed to the expansion of Seiseifu fortress in Kyushu as a Nancho power. He invaded Chikugo Province to expand his power in 1351; he got involved in the battle between the Kyushu Tandai (local commissioner) Noriuji ISSHIKI and Yorinao SHONI of the Hokucho (Northern Court) in March 1353, and defeated both of them to establish the fluorish of Nancho (Southern Court) power in Kyushu.

He also invaded Bungo and Hizen Provinces, defeated Ujiyasu OTOMO and exiled Noriuji ISSHIKI to Nagato Province.

He was defeated in a counter attack by Ujitoki OUCHI in 1359. However, he gained back power and defeated Ujitoki, and won in the Battle of Chikugo River against Yorinao SHONI and captured Dazai-fu (local government office in Kyushu region) by a night raid. The current Tachiarai (washing long sword) Town, Mitsui District, Fukuoka Prefecture corresponds to Tachiarai, Chikugo Province, in the river of which injured Takemitsu KIKUCHI washed bloodstains on his sword after the battle.

He later supported Imperial Prince Kaneyoshi, established Seiseifu fortress in Dazaifu, and battled again with Ujitoki OUCHI in 1362 to invade Buzen Province. When Ujitsune SHIBA, who was the Kyushu Tandai (local commissioner), attacked Dazaifu, Takemitsu and his younger brother Takeyoshi KIKUCHI fought him off.

When Sadayo IMAGWA (Ryoshun) was assigned to be the Kyushu Tandai (local commissioner) as the successor to Ujitsune SHIBA and Yoshiyuki SHIBUYA in 1372, Takemitsu lost to Ryoshun and escaped from Dazaifu with Imperial Prince Kaneyoshi to Mt. Kora to make the mountain be a new base.

It is said that he passed away on January 6, 1374 at the age of 52. He is worshipped as shusaijin (main enshrined deities) of Kikuchi-jinja Shrine of Kikuchi City, Kumamoto Prefecture.

His graveyard is located at Shokan-ji Temple in Kikuchi City, Kumamoto Prefecture. There is a bronze statue located at Tachiarai Town Park of Tachiarai Town in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Emperor Gokogon of Hokucho (Northern Court) was afraid of military force of Takemitsu KIKUCHI and issued Rinji (the Emperor's command) to hunt down and kill him.

[Original Japanese]