Maeda Geni (前田玄以)

Geni MAEDA was a busho (military commander) and daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) during the Sengoku (Warring States) and the Azuchi-Momoyama periods. He was one of the Gobugyo (Five Major Magistrates) of the TOYOTOMI Administration and was the first head of the Tamba Kameyama Domain (or fief).


He was born in the province of Mino no Kuni (present day Gifu Prefecture) in 1539, the son of Motomitsu MAEDA. He was originally a monk at Komatsubara-dera Temple in Owari no Kuni but later entered Enryaku-ji Temple on Mt. Hiei. However, he was invited by Nobunaga ODA to become the retainer of the ODA Clan. Later, on Nobunaga's orders, he became a retainer of Nobunaga's son, Nobutada ODA. He was with Nobutada ODA in the Nijo-Gosho palace during the Honnoji Incident of June 1582 but Nobutada ordered him to escape from Kyoto with Nobutada's son, Sanposhi (later Hidenobu ODA), to Mino Gifu Castle and then to Owari Kiyosu Castle.

He served Nobunaga's second son, Nobukatsu ODA, from 1583 and was made Kyoto Shoshidai (or governor) but, as Hideyoshi HASHIBA (Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI)'s power expanded over Kyoto, he had to work for Hideyoshi. As the Kyoto Shoshidai, he played the role of negotiator between the Imperial Court and the Shogunate, and was a Bugyo (commissioner) for the 1588 visit by Emperor Goyozei to the Shogun's Jurakudai palace,. He also looked after temples and shrines and, as a former Buddhist monk, participated in the suppression of the Christian movement, though he later adopted a policy of conciliation rather than suppression.

He was made one of the Gobugyo of the TOYOTOMI Administration by Hideyoshi in 1598. After Hideyoshi's death, he tried to quell the power struggle within the TOYOTOMI administration and was opposed to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA's attempted conquest of Aizu. When Mitsunari ISHIDA raised an army in Osaka, Geni declared himself the guardian of Hideyori TOYOTOMI and remained at Osaka while secretly informing Ieyasu about Mitsunari's army, despite the fact that he supported the Western Army and had signed a denunciation of Ieyasu. He also claimed to be ill and did not take part in the battle. Due to these activities, he was not dismissed from his position after the Battle of Sekigahara and was rewarded with the 50,000 koku Tamba Kameyama, becoming its first Domain leader. He died on May 20, 1602. He was 63 years old.

Since his eldest son, Hidemochi, had died young the year before, Shigekatsu, his second son, inherited the estate.

Personal Profile and Anecdotes

It is said that he was greatly trusted by Nobunaga and Nobutada (father and son) for he was prudent and lacked personal greediness.

He suppressed Christianity under the Temple and Shrine policy but later showed an understanding of Christianity and secretly sheltered Christians in Kyoto in 1593 after Hideyoshi declared the Bateren (slang for Christianity) expulsion order. He supposedly held talks with the governor-general of India concerning Christianity. Geni's two sons became Christians due to these influences.

His fate can be contrasted with Nagamori MASHITA, another Gobugyo who remained in Osaka Castle as a rusuiyaku (or caretaker) and secretly gave out information about the Osaka (Western) army to Ieyasu, but who had his estates confiscated and was dismissed from his position after the Battle of Sekigahara. It is believed that Geni was favored by Ieyasu due to his connections with the Imperial Court.