To Shigetane (東重胤)

Shigetane TO (1177? – 1247?) was a busho (Japanese military commander) in the early Kamakura period, and was a close associate of MINAMOTO no Sanetomo, the 3rd shogun of the Kamakura bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun), and was also a poet. His father was Taneyori TO. He was the 2nd family head of the TO clan (Chiba clan's family), a branch line of the Chiba clan.


A record of his father, Taneyori broke off around 1190, and it seems that Shigetane was passed over the family estate by his father around this year. A record of Shigetane started to appear around 1195. In 1199, at the incident of Kagetoki KAJIWARA, when a signing for impeachment was carried out by 66 gokenins (immediate vassals of the shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods), his name appeared in the signature. He cut a figure as a kinju (attendant) of Sanetomo who became the new shogun after the downfall of MINAMOTO no Yoriie, the 2nd shogun. His talent as a poet seems to have gone a long way to his prominence. He is said to have been a disciple of FUJIWARA no Teika. Further, he is also thought to have been taught by his father, Taneyori who had been famous as an excellent poet.

An incident showing Sanetomo's favor of Shigetane was written in "Azuma Kagami" (the Mirror of the East) that in November, 1206, Sanetomo sent a waka (a traditional Japanese poem of thirty-one syllables) to Shigetane to urge him to return to Kamakura, because he had gone to To estate in Shimousa Province (currently Tonosho-machi Town in Chiba Prefecture) and stayed there for a long time. Further, the wakas sent by Sanetomo urging Shigetane's return at that time are recorded in Kinkai Wakashu.

No matter how hard I may ask you to return, I only see autumn breeze blowing and wild geese coming back. No matter how hard I may ask you to return, I can't see you, and only feel autumn breeze blowing cold and wild geese coming back.

However, as Shigetane did not return to Kamakura even after he had received Sanetomo's waka, Shigetane finally invoked the wrath of Sanetomo.

According to "Azuma Kagami," the contents of the episode thereafter are as follows. Shigetane visited Yoshitoki HOJO the next month to consult him about the details of the incident. Yoshitoki agreed to take care of the incident, and recommended Shigetane to send a waka to Sanetomo. Sanetomo took a great fancy to Shigetane's waka brought by Yoshitoki, and recited it as many as 3 times, which appeased Sanetomo's wrath.
Shigetane felt grateful to Yoshitoki for it, and promised that 'he and all his offspring would obey Yoshitoki forever.'

Thereafter, he went to the capital (Kyoto) as a supplementary of Takiguchi no musha (samurai guards of the Imperial Residence). After returning to Kamakura from Kyoto, he reported the atmosphere of Kyoto to Sanetomo. Meanwhile, at that time, it was reported that Naozane KUMAGAI who had been missing since his run away from Kamakura died in Kyoto.

A record of Shigetane became unclear after the assassination of Sanetomo on February 13, 1219. After this incident, many gokenins (immediate vassals of the shogunate in the Kamakura and Muromachi through Edo periods), centered in the kinju (attendants) of Sanetomo, were said to have become a priest, and Shigetane was also thought to have become a priest along with them, and have passed the family estate over to his son, Taneyuki TO.