Sakuma Morimasa (佐久間盛政)

Morimasa SAKUMA (1554 - July 1, 1583) was a vassal of the Oda clan. He was a family member of the Sakuma clan. Genba no jo. Morimasa was often referred to as 'Oni Genba' for his gallantry. He was a son of Moritsugu SAKUMA. His younger brother were Yasumasa SAKUMA, Katsumasa SHIBATA and Katsuyuki SAKUMA.

As a vassal of the Oda clan

Morimasa was born in 1554 in Gokiso, Owari Province (present-day, Gokiso, Showa Ward, Nagoya City).

In a war chronicle of the Sakuma clan, Morismasa was referred to as about 182 centimeters tall, indicating he was such a giant man, putting aside the authenticity of the numerical value.

Morimasa's first battle was the Battle of Kannonji Castle in 1568 (against Yoshikata ROKKOKU).

Morimasa continued joining various battles, including the Siege of Tezutsuyama Castle in Echizen Province (against Yoshiaki ASAKURA) in 1570, the Battle of Yasugawara (against Yoshikata ROKKAKU) and the Battle of Makishima Castle (against Yoshiaki ASHIKAGA) in 1573, and performed distinguished war service.

In 1575, when his uncle, Katsuie SHIBATA, was given Echizen Province, Morimasa was placed under the general's command.

Since then, Morimasa had performed outstanding war services in numerous occasions, such as in the suppression of an uprising of Ikko sect followers in the Hokuriku region, and was given a letter of commendation by Nobunaga ODA. He was also nicknamed 'Oni Genba' around this time.

Morimasa was appointed as the first lord of Kanazawa Castle of Kaga Province and given Kaga Province in 1580 through his achievement in making Oyama-Gobo Temple, a foothold of the Kaga Ikko sect's revolt, fall.

In 1581, while Katsuie was away visiting Azuchi Castle, Kagekatsu UESUGI invaded Kaga Province and forced Shirayama Castle (Funaoka Castle in Kaga) to fall.

When Morimasa arrived for help, the castle was already surrendered, but Morimasa attacked and beat the Uesugi army.

In the same year, when local samurais of Noto Province staged an uprising and held up fighting in Arayama Castle by the instigation of Kagekatsu, Morimasa headed for a rescue in response to a demand by Toshiie MAEDA and beat the Uesugi army stationed at the back of the castle.

After Nobunaga ODA died at the Honnoji Incident of 1582, Morimasa started serving Katsuie SHIBATA.

Battle of Shizugatake

As Katsuie SHIBATA deepened its confrontation against Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI after the Kiyosu conference, the two finally faced each other by the Lake Yogo of Omi Province in 1583.

At first, the two sides expected a long drawn-out battle and took the fighting stance for it. However, a vassal of Katsutoyo SHIBATA, who was an adopted child of Katsuie and had switched sides to Hideyoshi, let out information to the camp of Morimasa to the effect that Hideyoshi was in Ogaki and away from his castle.

Based on the information, Morimasa proposed to Katsuie to raid the fort of Kiyohide NAKAGAWA.

Katsuie opposed the proposal first, but finally agreed at a strong request by Morimasa on the condition that 'the Morimasa's army should be back as soon as destroying the fort'.

The raid by Morimasa ended in success by beating Kiyohide, which led the first battle of the Shizugatake Battle to victory.

After gaining a foothold through the victory, Morimasa was preparing for the next battle to attack the camp of Hidenaga TOYOTOMI to determine the winner of the battle.

Meanwhile, Morimasa demanded that Shigeharu KUWAYAMA, who defended the Shizugatake fort, surrender with the fort, for which KUWAYAMA replied that 'I will not resist but please wait until sunset', and the fall of the Shizugatake fort seemed to be just around the corner.

However, Nagahide NIWA, which arrived by ship across Lake Biwa with reinforcements, took the offensive by joining the Kuwayama army that was vacating the fort around sunset, and Morimasa failed to capture the fort of Shizugatake.

As Hideyoshi, who waited for the moment, returned to the battle field in a forced march as planned, Morimasa was isolated in the middle of the enemy.

The contact between the Morimasa's force and the Katsuie's headquarters was cut, as the force of Toshiie MAEDA did not move.

Consequently, the Katsuie's army suffered a crushing defeat to the Hideyoshi's army, and Morimasa tried to retreat to Kaga Province to make a comeback later.

The end of Morimasa

While retreating, Morimasa was captured by people of Nakamura-go. Knowing that his life was drawing to an end, Morimasa asked them to hand him over to Hideyoshi to meet Hideyoshi face-to-face.

After Morimasa was transferred, Nagamasa ASANO taunted him by saying that 'I don't understand why someone like you, who was called 'Oni Genba', didn't commit suicide upon defeat', and Morimasa replied, 'when MINAMOTO no Yoritomo was defeated by Kagechika OBA, he survived by hiding himself in a cave of a tree and achieved something great later', and people around him got impressed by that.

Hideyoshi, who appreciated the military prowess of Morimasa, urged Morimasa to work under him by proposing that Higo Province would be given to Morimasa, but Morimasa could not forget the great kindness of Nobunaga ODA and Katsuie, and pleaded to die from being dragged around a town in a gorgeous costume. It is said that this execution helped to boost the authority of Hideyoshi. Morimasa was dragged around the city of Kyoto and later beheaded in Makishima, Uji City. His age of death was 30 years old.

Morimasa's death poem is '世の中を廻りも果てぬ小車は火宅の門を出づるなりけり'.

After the death

Morimasa's daughter, Torahime, was later taken for a lawful wife by Hideshige NAKAGAWA, the second son of Kiyohide NAKAGAWA, by the order of Hideyoshi, and became okugata (title of honor for legal wife of aristocrat) of the family head of the Oka clan of Bungo Province. Therefore, the family temple of Morimasa is Eiyu-ji Temple of Taketa City, Oita Prefecture.

After the death of Torahime, Hideshige read the earnest with of Torahime and had his fifth son, 内記, to revive and succeed the Morimasa's family. The descendants of the family still live in Oita City. For details, please refer to 'Torahime'.

Also, it is believed that there was a clan which succeeded the family name of Morimasa among the vassals of the Tokugawa family of Owari Domain. It is said that a son of Torahime's daughter, Shigeyuki SAKUMA, served as the first family head, and followed by Shigenao, Shigekatsu, Shigekata, Shigetoyo and Masashige. The second family head, Shigenao, held the office of shogunate administrator of Annaka and Sakamoto of Kozuke Province. Behind the appointment, there seems to have been the support from Shigemune ITAKURA, Kyoto shoshidai (Kyoto deputy), and Katsuyuki SAKUMA (a younger brother of Morimasa), the lord of Naganuma Domain of Shinano Province. It is said that in the era of Masashige, the clan restored its family name from Sakuma to original Miura, but the Miura family line was extinguished with Masashige.