Chosokabe Morichika (長宗我部盛親)

Morichika CHOSOKABE was a daimyo and busho (Japanese military commander) in Tosa Province who lived from the Azuchi Momoyama Period to the beginning of the Edo Period.

Succession to the position of family head

In 1575, he was born as the fourth son of Motochika CHOSOKABE, who was famous as a supreme ruler of Shikoku. After his eldest brother Nobuchika CHSOKABE died in the Battle of Hetsugi-gawa River in 1586, he was obliged to contest the inheritance of the position as a family head with a group that proposed his elder brother, Chikakazu KAGAWA or Chikatada TSUNO. Thanks to his father's strong backing, he was appointed to the heir in 1588.

Starting with Chikazane KIRA, many people were against this succession to the position of the family head, but Motochika punished all of them. The reason why Motochika appointed Chikumamaru, who was an infant, to the heir was that Chikakazu and Chikatada had already succeeded other family lines and that, above all, age differences between two elder sons and Nobuchika's daughter whom Motochika doted were too great to get married. When he celebrated his coming of age, eboshioya (a person who put on an eboshi in the event of a genpuku ceremony) was Nagamori MASUDA, who was a key vassal of the Toyotomi clan and he was given the character '盛 (mori)' and used the name of Morichika.

After he was appointed as the heir to be the head of the family, he took part in, together with his father Motochika, the conquest and siege of Odawara in 1590 and the Invasion of Korea from 1592.

On May 10, 1597, he promulgated Chosokabe Motochika Hyakkajo (literally, one hundred articles of the rules of Motochika CHOSOKABE), which he stipulated together with his father, Motochika.

In June 1599, as his father Motochika died, he inherited the position as head of the family and became the lord of Tosa.

In 1600, the Battle of Sekigahara took place. At first, Morichika intended to join up with the Eastern forces led by Ieyasu TOKUGAWA. However, he had his way blocked by Masaie NATSUKA, who belonged to the Western forces, at Minakuchi in Omi Province and he was forced to join up with the Western forces. Morichika formed the main-force unit of the Western forces and headed for Sekigahara assaulting and taking castles that had joined up with the Eastern forces,. In Sekigahara, while he could not take part in the actual battle because Hiroie KIKKAWA, who took Ieyasu TOKUGAWA'S side, settled down in front of him, the Western forces were annihilated.

Kaieki (punishment by removal of samurai status and expropriation of territories)

After the Western forces were annihilated, Morichika ran back to his territory, Tosa, commanding his troops. According to Tosa Monogatari, Morichika apologized to Ieyasu TOKUGAWA through Ieyasu's key vassal, Naomasa II, to whom Morichika had been close. As Morichika killed his elder brother, Chikatada TSUNO because of slander by Morichika's vassal, Chikanao HISATAKE, he invited Ieyasu's anger and was deprived of his position and territory.

Then, Morichika was sent to Kyoto and forced to behave himself with just the clothes he wore. It is told that, in Kyoto, he changed his name to Yumu OIWA [大岩祐夢 正しい読み不明] and lived on remittances from his former vassals and there is a record that he earned a living as a teacher of terakoya (a private elementary school during the Edo period). It is recorded that he maintained a friendship with KIYOHARA no Hidekata.

Osaka no Eki (The Siege of Osaka)/Battles of Yao and Wakae

In the fall of 1614, while the relationship between Osaka forces and Tokugawa forces was straining, he entered the Osakajo Castle by invitation from Hideyori TOYOTOMI.

In Osaka no Eki, because of the splendid performance by Nobushige SANADA, etc., Morichika could have no part to play (there is a view that guard of the Sanadamaru was conducted by Nobushige SANADA and Morichika jointly), but, in Osaka no Eki, he led the main-force units of twenty thousand together with Shigenari KIMURA, who was a key vassal of the Toyotomi family, and fought with Takatora TODO of the Tokugawa family.

Early on June 2, 1615, the vanguard of Chosokabe troop found the troop of Takatora TODO. On this occasion, the vanguard of Chosokabe was lightly equipped, Morichika tried to make the vanguard join with the main unit of the troops, but it was found by the troops of Todo. The vanguard was defeated with guns. Taking advantage of the situation, the troops of Todo marched to crush the troops of Chosokabe, but Morichika took up a position beside an embankment of the river and made the warriors hold spears in their hands, rushed at once when the troops of Todo came close to them. The power of the rush was so tremendous that the vanguard of the troops of Todo was annihilated at a stretch. As Morichika did not ease attack, the Todo troops were almost annihilated and Takanori TODO, who was Takatora's nephew, etc. were killed in the battle and Takatora also was forced to run from place to place. Having lost many commanders all at once, the chain of command of the troops of Todo was crushed and they were almost put to rout, but the troops of Naotaka II rushed to the scene. Because of the appearance of these reinforcements, Shigenari KUMURA died in the battle and other troops were also annihilated, Morichika was forced to retreat.

Death of Morichika

Morichika gave up trying for victory and did not take part in the last battle near Osaka-jo Castle the next day and instead guarded the Kyobashiguchi of the Osaka-jo Castle.
When the defeat became decisive, he fled to try to come back saying 'If we are lucky, the whole country could be in the hands of the Osaka side.'

But luck was not Morichika's side and he was found and captured by Shichirozaemon NAGASAKA, who was a vassal of the Hachisuka family, when he was hiding in a field of reeds near Yawata in Kyoto on June 7. Later, Morichika was bound to the fence outside of the gate of the Nijo-jo Castle as warning to others. On June 11, he was beheaded together with six children in Rokujo Gawara in Kyoto and his head was gibbeted in Sanjo Gawara. He was forty-one years old, when he died.

With this, the Chosokabe clan was totally ruined.

Grave: Renko-ji Temple in Gojo-teramachi, Kyoto City.

He was given the posthumous name of Shoaninden Genosohon Daikoji (another posthumous name - Renkoku Ichiei Daizenjomon).

On the other hand, there is a legend that he became a priest in a branch temple of the Hongan-ji school in Wakasa Province and he spent his remaining years with a lady.

Personality and anecdotes

It is told that he was a large man in this period, the same as his father and elder brother (Nobuchika CHOSOKABE) and stood 180 cms tall. In the Renko-ji Temple where his grave exists, his portrait is kept (not open to the public, as a general rule) and his sturdy features, that were very close to father's, can be seen.

It is told that, in Osaka no Jin (the Siege of Osaka), he asked for Tosa Province as a reward. Since it was believed at that time that the Toyotomi side could have a good chance to win, it is sure that Morichika joined the Toyotomi side to recover his former territory.

It is told that, after he was defeated in Osaka Natsu no Jin (Summer Siege of Osaka), when he was captured by the Tokugawa side and dragged to trial, he replied 'The biggest distinguished war service on the Tokugawa side should be Naotaka II who defeated the Osaka side in Yao, and the cause of defeat of the Osaka side is Motochika CHOSOKABE who was defeated in Yao.'

In the same trial, when commanders and warriors of the Tokugawa side condemned him for not having committed suicide by the sword and instead being captured, he said 'I hold my life dear. If I can have my life and right hand, I can make Ieyasu and Hidetada into the same form as I am now.' and he begged for his life saying 'I will become a priest.'
However, Ieyasu TOKUGAWA, who knew Morichika's intention, did not allow this and sentenced him to death.

When he was pilloried in front of the gate of the Nijo-jo Castle and was provided kowaii (steamed rice) and akaiwashi (pickled sardines) put on an oshiki (wooden tray) by an ashigaru (common foot soldier), he got angry and said 'I don't feel ashamed to be defeated in battle and captured, but it is impolite to serve such poor food. Behead me immediately,'
Having heard this, Naotaka II ushered Morichika to drawing room and entertained him with food good enough for daimyo. It is told that Morichika was impressed with this consideration.

Because, in a record that describes Morichika's death, it is written as 'He showed no timidity at the moment of his death,' it seems that his last moment was praiseworthy.

Remarks:

Chuya MARUHASHI, who was called the right-hand man of Shosetsu YUI, named himself Morizumi CHOSOKABE who was the second son of a concubine of Morichika. Maruhashi was the family name of his mother's family where she was born..

Novels telling the story of Morichika, include "Senjo no Yume (literally, "dream in the battle field") by Ryotaro SHIBA and "CHOSOKABE Morichika" by Takao NINOMIYA. In the book by Takao NINOMIYA, Morichika's last is different from recorded history.