Tachibana Minehira (立花峯均)

Minehira TACHIBANA (1671 - January 10, 1746) was a master of the Nambo school of tea ceremony during the Edo period. Concurrently he was tactician for the fifth generation of the Chikuzen Niten school, which was a follower of Musashi MIYAMOTO. He was initially given the name Kyutaro and later, Sendayu. He was given the posthumous name Minehira. He also went by names such as: 宗樸、無華、寧拙 etc. During his time as a master of the tea ceremony he went by the name `寧拙`. During the latter part of his life was known by the Buddhist religious name `廓巖`. In the postscript of Musashi MIYAMOTO`s biography "Heihotaiso Bushu Genshinko Denrai" (the biography of Musashi MIYAMOTO by Minehira TACHIBANA) there is a record of `Venerable (poet) GANO (mentioned that) Hokin TANJI entered the (Buddhist) priesthood...': from which it can be deduced that Minehira TACHIBANA was also known by the name `Hokin TANJI`.


Minehira was born in Fukuoka, the fourth son of Shigetane TACHIBANA (chief retainer of the Kuroda clan in the Fukuoka Domain), and served Tsunamasa KURODA from 19 years old onwards. Minehira`s brothers and sisters included his eldest brother Shigeyuki ICHIKAWA inherited his father's (Shigetane) hereditary 10,000 koku stipend as chief retainer of the Kuroda family. Jitsuzan (Shigemoto) TACHIBANA (the second eldest brother) was a close associate of Mitsuyuki KURODA and, was kept on after Mitsuyuki retired in the role of 御納戸 (senior advisor/manager). In particular, Shigemoto was the key literary figure within the Fukuoka Kuroda family (participating under the name of `Jitsuzan`) and heavily involved in the Kyoto cultural scene where he launched out on his own independent pursuit of the tea ceremony. The name Jitsuzan TACHIBANA continues to be known to this day in association with the discovery and compilation of book on tea entitled `Nanporoku` (lit. `Nampo record`). Minehira was trained as a tea ceremony master by his second brother Jitsuzan and, he was one of Jitsuzan`s best pupils who was given permission to copy "Nanporoku," which was reportedly Sen no Rikyuu`s secret book. The tea ceremony master's name 寧拙 became known through the `Nanporoku` text.

On the other hand, when Minehira TACHIBANA was 21 years old, he was introduced to Sanetsura YOSHIDA (fourth generation of the Chikuzen Niten school) who was a follower of Musashi MIYAMOTO. Minehira TACHIBANA is recognized for the support he gave for their efforts over the ensuing decades and, at 33 years of age became the foremost successor to the legacy. At that time, Sanetsura YOSHIDA was becoming infirm so, Minehira was supervised by Sanetsura YOSHIDA's teacher 柴任美矩 at Akashi in Harima province all of which and more is covered in detail in the book "Tanji Hokin Hikki" (the biography of Musashi MIYAMOTO by Minehira TACHIBANA). 柴任美矩 was a follower of Musashi MIYAMOTO.

When Minehira TACHIBANA was 38 years old, he was implicated in his elder brother Shigemoto TACHIBANA's arrest in a purge and banished to an isolated island off the Genkainada coast (Kyushu area) called Daijajima island (Oronoshima island). Shigemoto died less than 6 months after being exiled and, it is said he was either assassinated or committed suicide. This followed the death of retired Mitsuyuki KURODA, whereupon Tsunamasa KURODA (who had been waiting for his chance) took the drastic step of obliterating the Mitsuyuki faction and suspicion fell upon Minehira TACHIBANA that he was involved in the purge.

Seven years later at age 45, Minehira was remitted and returned to society. Even with this, Minehira was not entirely forgiven and was paroled under the supervision of his third (elder) brother 立花小左衛門増武 and lived in 増武`s lands at Aoki village in Shima county (Nishi ku, Fukuoka City). Soon after his return that same year, Minehira (AKA 寧拙) took on an important role. He edited two volumes, 'supplementary' and 'confidential,' and added to the seven volumes of "Nanporoku" (lit. `Nampo record`), which his elder brother Jitsuzan TACHIBANA left.

At 52 years of age and as a fifth generation of the Chikuzen Niten faction of the Musashi MIYAMOTO movement, Minehira set about instructing three followers in military tactics. Two of the three pupils were Minehira`s nephews (Yojo TACHIBANA and 種章 TACHIBANA [aka 増寿]) and the third member was 桐山丹英. Moreover, at 52 years of age Minehira wrote a biography of Musashi MIYAMOTO entitled `Heihotaiso Bushu Genshinko Denrai`.
Whilst writing the Musashi biography, in the form of appendixes he appended the following brief biographies: #2. Magonojo TERAO Nobumasa, #3. Sanzaemon SHIBATO #4. Tarouemon YOSHIDA as well as his own 'autobiography.'
This book became known by the title "Tanji Hokin (=Minehira TACHIBANA`s commonly known name) Hikki" (the biography of Musashi MIYAMOTO by Minehira TACHIBANA).

In the latter part of his life, Minehira TACHIBANA secluded himself away in his retreat known as '半間庵' and announced he was entering the (Buddhist) priesthood under the name Tanji Hokin Nyudo Kakugen. According to the `Komono Genealogy` (in the possession of the Fukuoka Prefectural Library), the name `Tanji` used be the last name of Minehira`s ancestors.

The name `Komono` is associated with the lord of Komono castle in Kasuya County in Chikuzen Province. During the Warring States period in Japan, they fought as part of the Otomo Clan and under orders from Dosetsu TACHIBANA; they entered Tachibana Castle to support the Tachibana family. Tens of letters of citations and commendations were received from Dosetsu/Munetora (Muneshige) TACHIBANA (father and son). During the time of Masutoki (KOMONO), the lord of Yanagawa Castle in Chikugo Province was Muneshige TACHIBANA and they were chief retainers used by the whole family and given the surname `Tachibana`. During the battle of Sekigahara the Tachibana family became allies of the western army which was defeated and as such, Masutoki was requested by Nagamasa KURODA (lord of Chikuzen Province) to serve him in the same way and he became a steward to the 30,000 koku Akizuki Domain. During the time of Mitsuyuki KURODA (third generation domain head), Shigenao KURODA the third became a chief retainer; he was given a hereditary stipend of 15,000 koku, given the surname `Kuroda' and named as Shigenao Saemon KURODA. As an aside, (younger brother of the Shigenao Saemon) Kichizaemon Masuhiro had an income of 6,300 koku and together they jointly served as family chief retainers; with (illegitimate) elder brother Chosaemon, they were granted a stipend of 1,500 koku.

According to the 'Second Abbreviated Komono Clan Genealogy,' he died on January 10, 1746: the precise day of the 100th anniversary of the death of Musashi MIYAMOTO. In actual fact, Musashi died on the 6th; however, it is stated his will was dated the 10th. Age at death: 75. His posthumous Buddhist name was 無華斎廓巖宗朴居士. His grave is located at Torin-ji temple in Hakata. Minehira TACHIBANA had one daughter; however, she died in childbirth while having her first child. Having no sons, the family line ended. However, Minehira`s legacy of a book about tea (`Nanporoku`) and "Tanji Hokin Hikki," which contains biography of Musashi MIYAMOTO, are contributions to two fields: tea and strategy.