Kaiga Tomonobu (貝賀友信)

Tomonobu KAIGA (Yazaemon) (1650 - March 20, 1703) was a member of 47 samurai of Ako. His father was Yukitsura YOSHIDA. His mother was 貝賀左門女. His adopted father was Shinbe KAIGA. He was the real (younger) brother of Chuzaemon YOSHIDA. His main name was Fujiwara. His family crest was kasane ogi (double fans).


He was born as the second son of Sukebe YOSHIDA, a vassal of the Asano family in Ako Domain. Since he was an illegitimate child, he became adopted by his mother's younger brother, Shinbe KAIGA (also a vassal of the Asano family) around 1661. In Ako Domain, he was Chugosho (the lowest rank of samurai), Kurabugyo (manager at storehouse) with salary of 2 koku 10 ryo 3nin. He never had a wife but had a concubine and a daughter (Hyaku KAIGA) with her.

He lived in Ako with his concubine and daughter, but on April 21, 1701, his lord Naganori ASANO (Asano Takumi no Kami) slashed at Yoshihisa KIRA (Kira Kozuke no Suke)at Matsuno o-rouka in Edo Castle. Asano Takumi no Kami was punished with seppuku (disembowelment), and Ako Domain had 'kaieki' sanction (sudden dismissal and deprivation of position, privileges and properties).

Among the vassals, Yazaemon sided with senior retainer Yoshio OISHI, also joining the league by signing a pledge sealed with blood. When Ako-jo Castle was closed off, he stayed at 綿屋善右衛門's house on Takakura-dori Street in Kyoto as 綿屋善右衛門 was a purveyor of the Asano family.

On August 11, 1702, the Edo bakufu decided to extend the house confinement of Nagahiro ASANO (Asano Takumi no Kami's younger brother) in Hiroshima Domain in Hiroshima City, so restoring the Asano family became hopeless. Chuzaemon YOSHIDA in Edo wrote a letter to Yazaemon in Kyoto about this, and Yazaemon reported this to Kuranosuke OISHI in Yamashina Ward.

On August 21, Kuranosuke OISHI called up the league at Maruyama, Kyoto, and decided to revenge on Kira Kozuke no Suke (Maruyama meeting). About 120 members of the former Ako clan joined the league. As Kuranosuke OISHI wanted to confirm the members' commitment, he asked them to return their blood-sealed pledges. Yazaemon and Gengo OTAKA worked as messengers.

At the time when they asked them to return their blood-sealed pledges, Yazaemon and Gengo told the members, that restoring the Asano family had become hopeless and Kuranosuke was unreliable, to see their reactions. Yazaemon and Gengo confided their true intention to the members who still refused to return their pledges. Over 70 members including the family members of Kuranosuke OISHI (Genshiro SHINBEI, Gengozaemon OYAMA, and Magoshiro OISHI) left the league (return of shinmon).

After Yazaemon moved to Edo, in the guise of a townsman called Kihachiro, he stayed at a house rented by Gengoemon KATAOKA in Hacchobori Minatomachi. In the Genroku Ako Incident on January 30, 1703 (December 14, 1702 in old lunar calender), Yazaemon watched out at the front gate as a member of the gate squad. After the raid, he became in custody of Sadanao MATSUDAIRA. On March 20, 1703, he committed suicide by disembowelment, assisted by Hanbei OSHIMA, a vassal of the Matsudaira family. He was 54 years old when he died. He was buried at Takanawa Sengaku-ji Temple, the same place his lord Naganori ASANO was buried. His posthumous Buddhist name is Nindensekikenshinshi.

[Original Japanese]