Konishi Yukinaga (小西行長)

Yukinaga KONISHI was a daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) in the Azuchi-Momoyama period.

He was known as a Christian daimyo (Christian feudal lord). His Christian name was Augustine. He was also famous for competing with Kiyomasa KATO to see which one could go on shore first when troops were dispatched to Korea. He fought bravely at the Battle of Sekigahara in the western army but lost the battle. Since he was a Christian, he refused to perform seppuku (suicide by disembowelment) and was decapitated.

Before serving Hideyoshi

In 1555, he was born in Kyoto as the second son of Ryusa KONISHI who was a merchant dealing mainly with medicines in Sakai City. Influenced by his father, he became a Christian in his early life. It is said that he was a vassal of Naoie UKITA at first and served mainly as an envoy in charge of diplomacy. It is said that Yukinaga's negotiation with Hideyoshi HASHIBA (Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI) allowed Naoie to surrender to Nobunaga ODA through Hideyoshi.

It is unknown what he did before he served Hideyoshi. The site known as his birthplace is located in Oshoji-dori Street which was the main road in the era when Sakai City prospered, and only the stone monument remains now. One theory has it that he was born in 1559 and therefore, there is a doubt about his birth year.

Days as a vassal of Hashiba (Toyotomi)

When Naoie died in 1581, he served as a vassal of Hideyoshi HASHIBA. It is said that he received a fief of 1,000-koku (unit of volume of rice). Appointed to Funa bugyo (official dealing with warships, sea lanes and the navy), he led the navy in the Toyotomi administration. He led the naval forces that were defeated by resistance from Saiga-shu (gun troop in Saiga) in the attack on Saika in Kii Province in 1585.

When the inundation tactics were implemented against the Ota-jo Castle, however, Yukinaga's navy mobilized Ataka bune (a type of naval warship) and artillery to attack the castle. Although the attack did not lead to the capitulation immediately, it caused the enemy in the castle to eventually give up the resistance and surrender the castle.

Since he had distinguished service in the Kyusyu Conquest in 1587 and the subjugation of revolt by inhabitant of Higo Province of the following year, he was given the fief of the southern half of Higo Province comprising Uto District, Mashiki District and Yatsushiro yielding about 200,000-koku. In Higo Province, he built a new Uto-jo Castle as his headquarters. He had a conflict with Amakusa gonin shu (five local samurai in Amakusa) over the construction of the Uto-jo Castle, but conquered them with the cooperation of Kiyomasa KATO and owned the fief of Amakusa yielding about 40,000-koku as well. It is said that the Uto-jo Castle owned by Yukinaga functioned as a mizu-shiro (castle on a lake or marsh for defensive reasons). In addition, at the request of Hideyoshi, he built the Mugishima-jo Castle in Yatsushiro which was suitable to command of the navy and overseas trading (and praised by Luis FROIS in "Frois's History of Japan"), and his senior vassal Yukishige KONISHI was appointed to the castle keeper. Moreover, he used the Kumanosho-jo Castle, the Kiyama-jo Castle and the Aitoji-jo Castle as branch castles and appointed his family vassal such as his brother Tonomonosuke KONISHI and Yaheiji YUKI to a keeper of the Kumanosho-jo Castle and the Aitoji-jo Castle, respectively. However, he gradually intensified a feud with Kiyomasa KATO who owned the northern half of Higo Province (Confrontation with Kiyomasa KATO).

In the Bunroku-Keicho Campaign started in 1592, he invaded Korea as a spearhead. He rendered distinguished service in capturing Busan Metropolitan City and Soul Special City and defending in Pyongyang.

Then, he engaged in negotiation with the Ming dynasty over reconciliation along with Mitsunari ISHIDA when the war situation in Korea went against him. Conspiring with negotiators on the Ming side including Wei Jin SHEN, he tried to conclude peace with the Ming dynasty by conveying false information that Hideyoshi would surrender to Ming and the opposite information to Hideyoshi. It was Joan NAITO (Hida KONISHI in Ming's historical materials) who went to Beijing, the capital of Ming as a Japanese envoy at this time.

As a result, it was determined that Ming envoys would visit to Japan with a document stating that Hideyoshi would be appointed to the Japanese king and a golden seal. Japan's tributary status, which followed the case of Altan KHAN, was high (for example, generals from the peace-seeking group including Yukinaga and Yoshitsugu OTANI were appointed to governor-generals and Yukinaga's vassals to commanders of governor-general in addition to Hideyoshi). However, there is no doubt that Hideyoshi would become a vassal of the Ming Emperor and therefore, Yukinaga asked Jotai SAISHO, who read out the document, to make up fake descriptions when he reported the document to Hideyoshi. Despite his request, Jotai reported it to Hideyoshi accurately. For that reason, the reconciliation failed. Yukinaga who led this peace negotiation provoked the outrage of Hideyoshi and was ordered to die, but escaped death through the mediation of Jotai, Toshiie MAEDA and Yodo-dono.

To make up for unfaithfulness in the peace negotiation, he was ordered to invade Korea again along with Kiyomasa KATO as a spearhead for the Keicho Campaign started in 1597. He joined the war to capture Namwon (the Battle of the Namwon Castle). After he occupied Chonju and then conquered the area around Jeolla Province, he stationed in the Suncheon Waeseong Castle. In the Battle of the Suncheon Waeseong Castle from the late September to the early October in 1598, he repelled the Ming and Korean army which attacked from land and sea. However, he had been on bad terms with Kiyomasa and confronted with him over operations, which caused him to confront with a military government group.


When Hideyoshi died in August in 1598, Yukinaga returned to Japan in December. After that, due to confrontation with Kiyomasa KATO over policies, he sided with a civilian government group including Mitsunari ISHIDA and joined the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 as a general of the western army in concert with Mitsunari ISHIDA.

In the main battle in Sekigahara on October 11, he fought bravely against the troops of Yoshimasa TANAKA and Sadatsugu TSUTSUI on the eastern army. Destruction of Yoshitsugu OTANI troops caused by the betrayal of Hideaki KOBAYAKAWA was, however, followed by the destruction of the Konishi army due to the attack from the Kobayakawa troops, and then Yukinaga escaped into Mt. Ibuki. It is said that Yukinaga did not kill himself because of his belief in Christianity which prohibited suicide. On October 15, he was captured by soldiers of Shigekado TAKENAKA and decapitated in the Rokujo-gawara riverbed on October 27, following Mitsunari. It is said that he refused sutras to be chanted by a monk just before his head was cut off because of his faith in Christianity. After that, his head was displayed in public by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA in the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge.

Personal Profile

Before the Battle of Sekigahara, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA proposed marriage between Yukinaga's legitimate son and a grand daughter of Ieyasu's legitimate son Nobuyasu MATSUDAIRA and it implies that Ieyasu wanted the strong navy and war potential owned by Yukinaga.

Since Yukinaga was a son of a merchant, he gives the impression of a civilian government group, but it should be kept in mind that merchants of the time held military power. Furthermore, it is said that he had a principle that "there is much point in stepping forward at a war".

His name was known in Europe by a missionary and there is an anecdote that Pope felt sorry for his death (whether it is true or not is unknown).

Confrontation with Kiyomasa KATO

Since their territories were next to each other, it is said that they always fought over the boarder.

Whereas Kiyomasa was a devout believer of Nichiren sect of Buddhism, Yukinaga was a devout Christian, which might be one of the cause of the confrontation. For example, Yukinaga hardly punished the Amakusa-shu (samurai group in Amakusa) having many Christians when the Amakusa gonin-shu (five samurai in Asakusa) rose in revolt in 1589. The Amakusa gonin-shu who saw it, however, were more aggressive and therefore Yukinaga was driven into the situation where he had to ask Kiyomasa in the neighboring territory for help.

Kiyomasa saw him as a member of the civilian party and despised him as "a son of a medicine warehouse merchant". It is said that Yukinaga used a paper bag with a red circle as a battle flag to react to Kiyomasa's despite when he invaded Korea. The paper bag with a red circle is a medicine bag of the time.

Competing with Kiyomasa KATO to see which one could go on shore first when troops were dispatched to Korea, Yukinaga landed the coast in Busan Metropolitan City and achieved a great exploit in landing first. He also competed with Kiyomasa to see which one could get to Keijo Prefecture first for attack and outwitted him to get there one day earlier.

He sent a vassal, Shi-la YONG to the Yi Dynasty Korea to tip Korea off about landing time of the Kiyomasa army and encouraged it to kill Kiyomasa. The Yi Dynasty ordered Sun-sin YI to attack Kiyomasa, but the conspiracy failed because he thought it was a trap and hesitated to attack ("Jingborok [The book of Correction]" by Seong-ryong YU).

Family and descendants

Grand father: Yukimasa KONISHI
Father: Ryusa KONISHI
Mother: Wakusa KONISHI, a devout Christian whose Christian name was Magdalena. It is said that she served Hideyoshi's lawful wife, Kita no Mandokoro.

Lawful wife: Kikuhime who was, like her husband, a devout Christian whose Christian name was Jesta.
(Source: the Ukita family document)

Hyogo no kami (Governor of Hyogo) KONISHI: Legitimate son of Yukinaga
He was 12 years old when the Battle of Sekigahara broke out. He was placed with Terumoto MORI after the battle and executed by Terumoto's discretion.

Hidesada KONISHI: His childhood name was Yosuke (與助). It is said that he was a son of Yukinaga's concubine.

Yazaemon ASAYAMA: The youngest child of Yukinaga

Daughter: A lawful wife of Yoshitoshi SO, whose Christian name was Maria
She divorced soon after the Battle of Sekigahara.

Adopted daughter: Julia Ota
Julia was a Christian name and Ota was a Japanese name. She was a Koran girl who was taken to Japan during the Bunroku Campaign.

Grandson: Mansho KONISHI, a son of Maria KONISHI
Older brothers

Nyosei KONISHI: Local governor of Sakai
His Christian name was Bento.

Tomonosuke KONISHI
Younger brothers

Yukikage KONISHI: A keeper of the Uto-jo Castle who received a fief of 5,000-koku.

Yoshichiro (与七郎) KONISHI whose Christian name was Luis. He received a fief of 2,000-koku.

Antonio KONISHI was ichimonshu (clansman) and a male cousin of Yukinaga.


Chief retainers
Mimasaka KONISHI
He was Sakuemon KIDO, one of the three chief retainers of Konishi. He received a fief of 2,000-koku. Suesato KONISHI was his another name. His Christian name was Diego or Jacob. He was described as the name of Jacobo Saquiman in a document of the Society of Jesus. Although he was originally a keeper of the Furumoto-jo Castle, he was later ordered by Yukinaga to build the Mugishima-jo Castle at the request of Hideyoshi and then became the castle keeper. He guarded the Mugishima-jo Castle at the Battle of Sekigahara. After he lost the battle, he surrendered the castle and ran away to Satsuma.

He was assumed to be one of the three chief retainers of Konishi.

Tadatoshi NAITO
He was a senior vassal of Yukinaga KONISHI. His Christian name was John (Joan).

[Original Japanese]