Mimura Chikashige (三村親成)

Chikashige (親成) MIMURA (year of birth unknown - October 28, 1609) was a lord of Nariwa-jo Castle (Kakushu-jo Castle) in Bicchu Province during the reign of the Mimura clan and Mori clan. He later became the founder of the Mimura family, which produced the chief retainers of the Bingo-Fukuyama clan in Bingo Province. His common name was Magobe. He referred to himself as Governor of Kii Province. According to the genealogy handed down to his descendants, his name is written as '親重' in Chinese characters (there is another man also called 'Chikashige MIMURA [三村親重]' who was a relative of the same Mimura clan in Bicchu).

Career

He was from the Mimura clan and a younger brother of Iechika MIMURA (though another theory says that he was a nephew).

Chikashige was so trusted by the Mori clan that when Motonari sent a letter to the Mimura family, he told messengers to show it not only to the head of the family Iechika but also to Chikashige.

In 1566, when his older brother Iechika was assassinated by Hidekiyo ENDO, assassin sent by Naoie UKITA, he substituted for his older brother to lead the army, using his wit to prevent it from getting disturbed. He then withdrew so smoothly, without disclosing the death of Iechika, that Naoie is said to have not believed easily the report of successful assassination. Since then until the Disturbance of Bicchu, he gave good support from his home Nariwa to Motochika of the head family in Bicchu-Matsuyama, and was called the backbone of the Mimura family.

When the Mori clan aligned itself with the Ukita clan that was a deadly enemy for the Mimura family, Nobunaga ODA took this opportunity to invite the family to turn against the Mori clan, but Chikashige insisted, together with the family's old retainer Takei clan, 'Oda is not trustworthy and it is too early to decide to turn against Mori and align ourselves with Oda.'
However, most of the family members, who attached themselves to the former family head Iechika, agreed on the alliance with Oda and thus the family head Motochika MIMURA decided to turn against the Mori clan. Chikashige, feeling his safety in danger, gave the information to the Mori clan and supported it to destroy the Mimura family including Motochika (the Disturbance of Bicchu in 1575).

After the Disturbance of Bicchu, the Mori clan recognized his achievements in some extent and allowed him to remain in the position of lord of Nariwa-jo Castle (Kakushu-jo Castle), but decreased his territory to about 8,000 koku, which was less than half of his original territory, for his failure to prevent the rebellion of the Mimura head family. Around that time, Katsunari MIZUNO, who was a maternal cousin of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA traveling around various provinces, stayed in his residence twice. Chikashige then looked after Katsunari very well, valuing him highly, and let him marry his daughter (whose name was Osaku, an adopted daughter who was in fact a daughter of his older brother Iechika MIMURA), and when Katsunari was recalled by Ieyasu, Chikashige even made his vassals to accompany him.

He remained in the position of lord of Nariwa-jo Castle (Kakushu-jo Castle) until the Battle of Sekigahara, after which he was forced to leave Nariwa in Bicchu Province and lost his power. He later stayed with the Miyake clan in Kojima, Bizen Province, and after the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate, Katsunari MIZUNO, who had been given the feudal territory of Bingo Province, employed him as chief retainer (with a stipend of 1,500 koku).

He died on October 28, 1609. The position of chief retainer was succeeded not by his first son Chikanobu MIMURA but by his second son Chikayoshi MIMURA.

A legend has been told among his descendants that his tomb is at the Genju-ji Temple in Nariwa, Bicchu Province (now Nariwa-cho, Takahashi City), which was founded by Chikashige's nephew Motochika for his father Iechika, but the head priest of the temple says that for Chikashige only a Buddhist mortuary tablet exists and no stone pagoda has been discovered. His posthumous Buddhist name is 'Genjuin Tensho Soun Daikoji,' which is of higher rank than that of his nephew Motochika who founded the same temple.
Ryoko-ji Temple in Fukuyama City also has a Buddhist mortuary tablet for him, but his name during his lifetime is referred to as '親重' not '親成.'
Some say that he or his descendants might have changed the character '成' of his name to '重' when he was employed by Katsunari MIZUNO, in order to avoid having the same character as his lord, though it was read differently.

Chikashige, as other warlords in the Sengoku period, seems to have associated himself well with people of culture, and Shuryo SAKUGEN (1501 - 1579), who was a priest of the Rinzaishu sect, gave Chikashige a calligraphy, which is owned by Kyoto National Museum.

The descendants of Chikashige prospered, led by the head family who succeeded to the position of chief retainer of the Mizuno family in the Bingo-Fukuyama Domain, and several branch families were established. Among his descendants surviving to the present day, the main branch, according to the genealogy, is the line continuing from Chikazumi MIMURA (the third descendant of Chikashige), who was a senior retainer of the Mizuno family in the Bingo-Fukuyama Domain (with a stipend of 1,000 koku) and after the Mizuno family's losing its position and properties, became a masterless samurai and settled in Yuzaki-mura in Bicchu Province (now in Kurashiki City, Okayama Prefecture). The descendants seem to have not been allowed to have a surname and bring swords, but owned large fields and treated equally well as village headman until the Meiji period began. Many descendants of Chikashige also remain around the area of current Kawaguchi-cho, Fukuyama City, and they are of the line continuing from Chikayoshi, uncle of Chikazumi MIMURA. The descendants of Chikashige include Daisojo (the highest-ranking Buddhist priest) Nisshu MIMURA, who was a chief priest in the Meiji period, of the Nichirenshu sect based in Mt. Minobu in Koshu region, and Junya MIMURA, who is a contemporary haiku poet and professor of Osaka University of Art.