The Matsui Clan (松井氏)

The Matsui clan was a Japanese clan.

The clan had three branches; one that originated from Seiwa-Genji (Minamoto clan); one that originated from MINAMOTO no Koreyoshi (Kanja MATSUI) who was from the Tameyoshi line of Seiwa-Genji; and one that originated from MINAMOTO no Mitsumasa. MINAMOTO no Koreyoshi line included the Mikawa Matsui clan (Matsui Matsudaira family) and the Totomi Matsui clan. It has been said that the Matsui clan that served the Muromachi shogunate as Gokenin (an immediate vassal of the shogunate) originated from the MINAMOTO no Koreyoshi line as well. In the Edo period, they served the lord of the Kumamoto Domain in Higo Province, the Hosokawa clan as Hittokaro (head of chief retainers), and became the lord of Yatsushiro-jo Castle. The section below further explains the Tameyoshi line of the Seiwa-Genji.

The Yamashiro Matsui clan: It is said that this Matsui clan immigrated from Kudara (Baekche, Korea) into Matsui in the Yamashiro Province. According to "Shoku Nihongi" (Chronicle of Japan Continued), they were given the hereditary title MATSUI no Muraji by the Imperial Court in 761. According the record, there had been Matsui-mura village, Tsuzuki-no-kori County. Kurondo MATSUI, who resided in the Yamashiro Province and appears in "Taiheiki" (The Record of the Great Peace) is also thought to be from this clan. In the same province, there were also other Matsui clans that originated from Seiwa-Genji.

The Mino MATSUI clan: Among them, Kuro Naokiyo MATSUI is known as the lord of Otsuka-jo Castle in Taki County during the Muromachi period and the Sengoku period (Period of Warring States).

The Hyuga Matsui clan: they were active in the Miyazaki County of Hyuga Province. Yoshinari MATSUI from the clan made surveys for the irrigational canals at his own expense, and submitted a proposal for the construction of canals to the administration of the domain.. This proposal was executed and 200 chobu (hectares) of agricultural land benefited from his project.

The chaser Matsui clan: a chaser Yasaburo MATSUI was given chigyo (enfeoffment) 200 koku (36.078 cubic meters of rice) by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, and later, he was given a residence in Sunpu, Suruga Province as well as 100 koku (18.039 cubic meters of rice) by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA who had already retired at that time.

The earthenware maker Matsui clan: Yaemon MATSUI served Ieyasu TOKUGAWA who was the lord of Okazaki-jo Castle in the Tensho era and was given five bales (a traditional unit for rice, which is 60 kilograms) and Futari fuchi (the equivalent of an annual two-man rice stipend). He followed Ieyasu to Edo, after that, his family became the earthenware maker patronized by the Tokugawa Shogunate. The clan had its hereditary name "Shinzaemon."

Tanba Matsui clan: They served Kanrei (shogunal deputy) the Hosokawa clan as a chief retainer. They were a branch originated from MINAMOTO no Koreyoshi (Kanja MATSUI) of Seiwa-Genji. Among them, MATSUI Sado no kami is known as the lord of Takeno County in Tanba Province in the Sengoku period.

The Matsui clan as vassals of the AMAKO family: the Matsui clan which served Sengoku daimyo (Japanese territorial lord in the Sengoku period) the Amako family as vassals in the Sengoku period.

The Matsui clan as priests of the Itsukushima-jinja Shrine: They served as Shinto priests of the Itsukushima-Jinja Shrine in Suo Province.

The Matsui clan as senior vassals of the Kawagoe-Domain: They served the lord of the Kawagoe Domain in Musashi Province the Matsudaira clan as Jodaigaro (chief counselor of a castle) and Hittokaro (the head of chief retainers).
The lord was the Matsui clan of the Matsui family

The Makino clan as vassals of the Echigo-Nagaoka Domain: They were bestowed the surname "Makino" by the lord of Nagaoka Domain the Makino clan which had grown from Kokujin (a governor of county) of Hoi County in Mikawa Province to Kinsei Daimyo (feudal lord of the Edo period). They were a branch of the Matsui clan that originated from MINAMOTO no Koreyoshi (Kanja MATSUI) of Seiwa-Genji. This is explained in a later section on the "Mikawa Matsui clan."

The Matsui clan as the vassals of the Kyogoku family: There found the Matsui clan that served as vassals of Kinsei Daimyo the Takatsugu KYOGOKU family. A branch of the Matsui clan, originated from MINAMOTO no Koreyoshi (Kanja MATSUI) of Seiwa-Genji, occupied the positions of retainers of the Sasaki clan of Uda-Genji in Omi Province. The Sasaki clan, the toryo (head of the clan) of the Omi-Genji (Minamoto clan), split into the Rokkaku clan and the Kyogoku clan, and in the Muromachi period, one of them, the Kyogoku clan became dominant Shugo Daimyo (provincial military governor). After the Onin War, they declined for the conflicts over the succession; however, one branch of the Kyogoku clan survived the Sengoku period; they incorporated some of the vassals and lower-ranking samurai warriors who had served the Sasaki clan, and at last became Kinsei Daimyo; however, their domain was frequently changed by the order of the shogunate. Some Matsui clans settled in Omi Province.

The Shinto priest of Ise-jingu Shrine, Matsui clan
The Matsui clan as vassals of the Kujo family: They served as vassals of the Matsui clan which was one of Gosekke (the five top Fujiwara families whose members were eligible for the positions of Sessho and Kanpaku).

The Matsui clan as taifu (vassals) of the KONOE family: They served as vassals of the head of Gosekke, the Konoe family.

The Matsui clan as the retainer of the Odawara Domain: They served as vassals of the Okubo clan, the lord of the Odawara Domain in Sagami Province and have been known as calligraphers.

The Matsui clan as senior vassals of the Suwa Domain: They served as vassals of the Suwa clan of the Suwa Domain in Shinano Province.
The Matsui clan as Confucian vassals of the Matsue Domain
The Matsui clan as senior vassals of the Kameyama Domain
The Matsui clan as senior vassals of the Mikami Domain
The Matsui clan as senior vassals of the Tsuwano Domain: They served as senior vassals of the Kamei clan, the lord of the Tsuwano Domain in Mimasaka Province. The Matsui clan as Jijo (maid) of Keishoin: "Matsui," a Jijo of Keishoin, played very important roles as a close adviser of Keishoin, and adopted children who later became the Shogun's retainer and Hatamoto (direct retainers of the shogunate).

The Matsui clan (Tameyoshi line of Seiwa-Genji)

The forefather was MINAMOTO no Koreyoshi, a son of MINAMOTO no Tameyoshi
It is said that after MINAMOTO no Koreyoshi called himself Kanja MATSUI, his son MINAMOTO no Yoshimune used the surname Matsui.

Other families of the same clan included the Mikawa Matsui clan, Tanba Matsui clan, Totomi Matsui clan, and Omi Matsui clan.

The Mikawa Matsui clan

One of the Matsui families became the vassal of the Kira clan of Mikawa Province. This family has been called the Mikawa Matsui clan. Tadatsugu MATSUI first served Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, and later he was given the surname "Matsudaira" and called himself Yasuchika Suo-no-kami MATSUDAIRA. Since then, his family has been called the Matsui Matsudaira family. The Matsui Matsudaira family produced fudai daimyo (a daimyo hereditary vassal to the Tokugawa family) and hatamoto.

Particularly, the Matsui clan who served as daimyo prospered during the Edo period, and took the central role in the administration of state affairs; they successively assumed various positions such as Roju (member of shogun's council of elders) of the cabinet officials of the Shogunate, Osaka Jodai (the keeper of Osaka-jo Castle), Kyoto Shoshidai (Kyoto deputy), and Jisha-bugyo (magistrate of temples and shrines).

From shogun's retainer to Karo (chief retainer)

During the Muromachi period, the Matsui clan served as the Shogun's retainer of Ashikaga Shogun family. When Yoshiteru ASHIKAGA was killed in the Eiroku Incident (1565), a son of Masayuki MATSUI, Yasuyuki MATSUI, took action with Yusai HOSOKAWA to back up Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA, the younger brother of Yoshiteru, to make him the next shogun.

When Yoshiaki asked assistance from Nobunaga ODA who was a daimyo of Owari Province and Mino Province, Yasuyuki went to his temporal residence and began to serve Fujitaka HOSOKAWA. At the wedding between Tadaoki HOSOKAWA (a son of Fujitaka) and Princess Tama (Gracia HOSOKAWA, a daughter of Mitsuhide AKECHI), Yasuyuki served as the organizer for Tama.

Under Nobunaga's government, the Hosokawa clan became the feudal lord of Tango Province and Yasuyuki was assigned the Matsukura-jo Castle. Thoughout his life, Yasuyuki engaged in over fifty battles and made brilliant achievements; and it has been said that he was one of the most excellent Karo (chief retainer), along with Sakon SHIMA who worked for Mitsunari ISHIDA and Kanetsugu NAOE who worked for Kagekatsu UESUGI. Impressed with Yasuyuki's work, Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI tried to headhunt offering a half of Iwami Province and rice stipend 180,000 koku (32470.2 cubic meters), however, Yasuyuki declined it and kept serving the Hosokawa clan. Hideyoshi gave a cha-tsubo (tea urn) called 'Miyama' to Yasuyuki as a gift along with a shuinjo (a vermillion seal letter) to secure the fief Yasuyuki was bestowed from Nobunaga, including Jindoji Village in Sagara County, Yamashiro Province and Yase Village in Atago County. This chatsubo was later called "180,000 koku tsubo."

In the Battle of Sekigahara, Yasuyuki and his son Okinaga MATSUI fought under their lord Tadaoki HOSOKAWA and contributed to the victory of the Tokugawa side. After the war, the Hosokawa family became one of powerful daimyo with more than 390,000 koku of the Buzen Province and Bungo Province (a part of present Fukuoka Prefecture and Oita Prefecture); Yasuyuki was assigned the Kitsuki-jo Castle in Bungo Province and was bestowed fief of 25,000 koku.

Okinaga was born in 1582 as the second son of Yasuyuki; after his father's retirement in 1611, Okinaga succeeded the family headship. In 1632 when the Hosokawa clan was transferred from Buzen Province and Bungo Province to the Kumamoto Domain of Higo Province by the order of the shogunate, Okinaga was given 30,000 koku of Tamana County and Koshi County.

The lord of Yatsushiro-jo Castle in Higo Province

After his retirement, Tadaoki HOSOKAWA, the father of the lord Tadatoshi HOSOKAWA, resided in the Yatsushiro-jo Castle; since the castle functioned as the barrier that prevented the invasion of the Shimazu clan, it was regarded as an exception of the Ikkoku Ichijo Law (according to it, one province can keep only one castle); in 1646, Okinaga MATSUI was ordered to retain this castle, and from then on, the Matsuki clan served as a keeper of Yatsushiro-jo Castle. Okinaga married Tadaoki HOSOKAWA's daughter Koho, and adopted Tadaoki's sixth son as his adopted heir (Yoriyuki MATSUI); he was bestowed the new surname "Nagaoka" which was another family name of the Hosokawa clan, and called himself "Nagaoka Sado-no-kami."

The Matsui clan had a close relationship with Musashi MIYAMOTO, and there remains Musashi's letter to Okinaga ("the Letter to Nagaoka Sado-no-kami") which was written immediate before Musashi began to serve the Hosokawa clan. Yoriyuki became the guardian of Musashi MIYAMOTO who became a guest samurai of the Kumamoto Domain, and he learned art of warfare as Musashi's direct disciple. Yoriyuki maintained a close relationship with Musashi taking care of him during Musashi's illness and corresponded with Musashi's adopted son Iori MIYAMOTO. Therefore, many Musashi's works including ink-wash paintings and artifacts are still preserved in the Matsui family.

Since during the period of the Tokugawa shogunate the Matsui family had been maintaining their possession in Yamashiro Province which had been given by Hideyoshi before the period of the Tokugawa, it can be said that the Matsui family was a rare family which kept the status of direct vassal of the Tokugawa shogunate as well as the status of indirect vassal at the same time. They were therefore exempt from the Sankinkotai (a system under which feudal lords in the Edo period were required to spend every other year in residence in Edo); however, they were obliged to go to Edo and meet the shogun on the accession of a new head of the Matsui family or a new Tokugawa shogun.

As a blood relation of the Hosokawa clan, the Matsui clan continued to serve as Hittokaro (the head of chief retainers) until the Meiji Restoration. Although the Matsui clan was one of retainers of the Hosokawa family, they were regarded as a domain lord almost equal to daimyo, since they practically ruled vast land of 30.000 koku of Yatsushiro Domain in Higo Province. In Kumamoto Domain (the Hosokawa clan), three hereditary Karo family, including the Matsui clan, the Yoneda clan and the Ariyoshi clan, were called "Jokei Sanke" (three noble families).

Historical materials and historic sites

In Yatsushiro City of Kumamoto Prefecture which had been the castle town of the Matsui clan, historical materials of the Matsui clan are displayed at the Yatsushiro Municipal Museum and Matsui Bunko Library, and in its vicinity, there remain sites of Yatsushiro-jo Castle and Shohinken which used to be Matsui clan's ochaya (rest house). Historical materials of the Matsui clan, such as their genealogy, can be seen on the website of 'Yatsushiro Municipal Museum' and so on. The clan's historical materials are also accessible at the Izumi-jinja Shrine in the Suizenji Joju-en Garden in Kumamoto City.