Inaba Yoshimichi (稲葉良通)

Yoshimichi INABA/Ittetsu INABA was a busho (Japanese military commander) from the Sengoku to the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

He served the Toki clan, and three generations of Saito clan from Dosan SAITO, Nobunaga ODA and Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI.

He was the lord of Sone-jo Castle in Mino Province and known as one of the Three of West Mino with Morinari (Michitari) ANDO and Naomoto (Bokuzen) UJIIE.

His go (pen name) was Ittetsu. Some says that this is the origin of the word ittetsu (meaning obstinate, stubborn).

He was born as the sixth son to Michinori INABA. His mother was a daughter of Shosuke KUNIEDA. His lawful wife was a daughter of Saneki SANJONISHI. Sadamichi INABA and Shigemichi INABA were his sons. He was an adoptive grand father of Kasuga no Tsubone (Fuku) who was a menoto (wet nurse) of Iemitsu TOKUGAWA, the third Shogun of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun).

Status by birth/Succession to family headship

The grand father of Ittetsu, Michisada INABA, was from a family of the Kono clan, who was a noble family in Iyo Province, and it is said that the clan became a local clan as the family moved to Mino Province in his time. Also he is said to be a descendant of the Iga clan, which is the same family as the Mino Ando clan.

In 1515, Ittetsu was born as the sixth son of Michinori INABA, who was a local lord in Mino Province. He had become a Buddhist monk at Sofuku-ji Temple (Gifu City) when he was young, however, he quit the priesthood and took over the reigns of the family, as his father and elder brother died in a battle against Sukemasa AZAI in 1525.

Period of Toki/Saito clan

He first served the Toki clan and subsequently served the Saito clan, that succeeded the Toki clan, for three generations. He was part of one of the three most powerful groups of vassals. Therefore his decision to desert Tatsuoki SAITO to Nobunaga when Nobunaga invaded Mino Province made conclusive the fall of the Saito clan.

Nobunaga ODA period

He served Nobunaga from 1567 and he showed distinguished war service with Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in the Battle of Anegawa in 1570. Since then he continued to show talent in his military exploits fighting on successive fronts in Omi Province, Settsu Province, Ise Province and Echizen Province and was therefore rewarded Shimizu-jo Castle in Mino.

He took part in the Ishiyama War, the attack on the Asakura clan in 1573, the attack on the Nagashima Ikko Ikki Revolt (an uprising of Ikko sect followers in Nagashima) in Ise Province in 1574, the Battle of Nagashino in 1575 and the attack on Kaga Ikko Ikki Revolt (an uprising of Ikko sect followers in Kaga) in Kaga Province in 1580, and he showed distinguished service throughout. He became a monk in 1574 and named himself Ittetsu.

Honnoji Incident

After Nobunaga died in the Honnoji Incident in 1582, he planned to become an independent daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) in Mino Province. The family of Morinari ANDO, who were once exiled by Nobunaga, attacked their former territories Kitakata-jo Castle and Honda-jo Castle, which were territories of Inaba then, aiming for their reinstatement. He fought against Morinari and destroyed Morinari and their family. In January 1583, he fought against the lord of Ibi-jo Castle, Hannojo HORIIKE who was an adopted son-in-law, and then he ruled the territory.

Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI period

He served Hideyoshi HASHIBA, as Hideyoshi became powerful. At the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583, he followed Hideyoshi to attack Nishiho-jo Castle of the Fuwa clan who followed Katsuie SHIBATA. He took part in the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute in 1584 and showed distinguished service.

In 1585, Hideyoshi became Kanpaku (chief adviser to the Emperor) and he was given the Jusanmi (Junior Third Rank), Hoin (a priest of the highest rank in the highest managerial position). He died on January 5, 1589 at Shimizu-jo Castle in Mono. He died at the age of 74. His son Sadamichi succeeded the reigns of the family.


At the Battle of Anegawa, Nobunaga ODA generously said to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA 'you can take anyone from my retainers.'
Ieyasu proposed 'then I would take Lord Ittetsu INABA' without hesitation.

Once, there was a person who gave a slanderous account on Ittetsu to Nobunaga. Nobunaga believed this and invited Ittetsu to a tea gathering to kill Ittetsu. However, Ittetsu spoke his innocence while reading bokuseki (wrinting) on the wall by a Zen priest Kido Chigu and therefore Nobunaga believed that Ittetsu was not guilty. This shows that Ittetsu excelled in literary talent, and not only military prowess.

An aspect to his character was being stubborn, therefore the word Ganko Ittetsu (written: 頑固一徹 and meaning adamant) was said to be born from his name 'Ittetsu.'

He was a former lord of Toshimitsu SAITO (father of Kasuga no Tsubone [Fuku]). He protested through Nobunaga about Toshimitsu serving Mitsuhide AKECHI, but Mitsuhide did not accept it, as Mitsuhide highly regarded Toshimitsu.

[Original Japanese]