Fujita Nobuyoshi (藤田信吉)

Nobuyoshi FUJITA (1559 - August, 26, 1616) was a military commander from the period of warring states to the first half of the Edo period. He was a vassal of the Yamanouchi-Uesugi family and was the second son of Yasukuni FUJITA, although there are also different theories. He had an alias--Shigenobu.

As a vassal of the Uesugi clan and a vassal of the Takeda clan

The Yamanouchi-Uesugi clan had been already suffered their downfall before Nobuyoshi was born. Because Ujikuni HOJO, a family member of the Gohojo clan, deprived the property of the Fujita clan, Nobuyoshi broke away from the Hojo clan and served as a vassal of Katsuyori TAKEDA. At first, he referred himself as YODO or ONO, and he was granted FUJITA as a family name, the position of Noto no kuni no kami (Governor of Noto Province), and the territory of 5700 Kan of rice (1 kan is 3.75 kg) in Numata, Kozuke Province by Katsuyori in 1579. After the Takeda clan was defeated by Nobunaga ODA in 1582, he fled to Kagekatsu UESUGI and became Uesugi's vassal. Thereafter, he followed Kagekatsu and joined his army, contributing to the conquest of Shigeie SHIBATA, the Honma clan in Sado Province, and Odawara. When the Uesugi clan was transferred to Aizu in 1598, he was granted territory of 15,000 koku in Omori by Kagekatsu.

Switch to the Tokugawa clan

In 1600, Nobuyoshi went up to Kyoto for the New Year's greetings on behalf of Kagekatsu. Ieyasu TOKUGAWA treated Nobuyoshi favorably, giving him gifts such as Intsu (silver currency) and the sword of Naotsugu AOE. For that reason, Nobuyoshi had a favorable impression of Ieyasu.

When Kagekatsu began to show a confrontational attitude towards Ieyasu TOKUGAWA with the chief retainer Kanetsugu NAOE, Nobuyoshi advised Kagekatsu to avoid a conflict with Ieyasu, and also visited Osaka to inform Ieyasu 'The Uesugi clan is not hostile to you,' making efforts to integrate them. Under the pressure from Kanetsugu, Nobuyoshi was forced to leave the Uesugi clan and escaped to find refuge with Hidetada TOKUGAWA. It is said that the Battle of Sekigahara was caused by Nobuyoshi's report 'The Uesugi clan may rebel against TOKUGAWA' to Ieyasu and Hidetada.

His final years

Thereafter, Nobuyoshi entered Daitoku-ji Temple, took tonsure, and adopted the name of Genshin. After the Battle of Sekigahara, he was granted territory of a crop yield of fifteen thousand koku in the Nishikata Domain, Shimotsuke Province. When Yoshinobu SATAKE, the Master of the Western Capital Offices, was transferred from the Mito Domain, Hitachi Province to a smaller domain, the Akita Domain, Dewa Province in 1602, he defended Mito-jo Castle. He joined the the Siege of Osaka, but he was punished by being deprived of his fief after the Summer Siege of 1615. The various reasons considered for this include his failure as an army superintendent of Yasukatsu SAKAKIBARA's force and his insolent manner from his dissatisfaction with his achievement in battle. On August 26, 1616, he passed away at the age of 58. He was said to die of disease, but recently, a theory claiming that he died of suicide has been widely accepted. His tomb is in Jisso-ji Temple in Nishikata-machi, Kamitsuga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture.

Assessment of him in later ages

Nobuyoshi is well known as a military commander who made the cause of the Battle of Sekigahara, and was said to have switched from the Uesugi clan to the Tokugawa clan to save himself. However, Nobuyoshi desperately attempted to save the Uesugi clan by travelling to Osaka for pleading for the life of Kagekatsu. The Uesugi clan had been proud of their military actions since the appearance of Kenshin UESUGI, and Nobuyoshi who advocated peace was forced into isolation as a result.