Ogawa Suketada (小川祐忠)

Suketada OGAWA (1549 - 1601) was a warlord in the Sengoku period (period of Warring States). He usually went by the name Saheiji or Magoichiro. His official rank was Tosa no kami (the governer of Tosa Province). He held the position of Sakon Taifu (Chief of the Imperial Guard of the Left). His legal wife was a daughter of Naosuke HITOTSUYANAGI. His sons include Umanosuke (the vice-chief of government office of harnesses and horses on the Imperial ranch) Sukeshige OGAWA, who might be the same person as Umanosuke Mitsuuji OGAWA, as well as Yoshiuji OGAWA and Senkitsu TACHIBANAYA. Mitsuuji OGAWA, who is said to have been a Daimyo (feudal lord) as well as a Hita daikan (Edo period prefectural governor), was said to have been the first son of Suketada.


The Ogawa clan, said to be a branch of the Omi-Genji (a branch of the Minamotor clan descended from the Uda-Genji, and subsequently adopted into the Seiwa-Genji), was a local clan in Omi Province, serving as vassals to the Rokkaku clan in Minami Omi Province, and were the original lords of Sawayama-jo Castle. When the Rokkaku clan fell into decline toward the end of the Sengoku period, the Ogawa clan became vassals of the Azai clan, but seem to have lost their status as the lord of the castle.

In the Eiroku era, Suketada and his family fought against Nobunaga ODA, however, they were defeated by Nobunaga, after which they became direct retainers of Nobunaga.

Nobunaga ODA appointed Suketada to the position of Tosa no kami, and also appointed his son as Umanosuke.

After the Rebellion at Honnoji

At the time of the Rebellion at Honnoji, Suketada fell under the umbtrlla of Mitsuhide AKECHI, who had taken control of Omi region, and even went fight in the battle in the Yamazaki region, but was defeated.

Suketada surrenders to Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI. After Katsuie SHIBATA gained Kita Omi region as a result of the Kiyosu Conference, Suketada entered Katsuie's service and worked as the chief retainer for Katsutoyo SHIBATA, who was Katsuie's adopted son. At the outbreak of the Battle of Shizugatake, Suketada fought on the side of Hideyoshi, as Katsutoyo had switched to Hideyoshi's side. After Katsutoyo died, Suketada entered into the service of Hideyoshi, fighting in the Battle of Komaki Nagakute. Suketada was appointed as the lord of Imabari, Iyo Province, with a fiefdom of 70,000 koku and lived in Kokufu-jo Castle.

After the Battle of Sekigahara

In 1600, at the onset of the Battle of Sekigahara, at first, he fought on the side of the western provinces, and subsequently switched sides, fighting on the side of the eastern provinces along with Hideaki KOBAYAKAWA.

Suketada gained fame during this battle, as one of his vassal Jinsuke OGAWA's retainers, Masanobu KASHII, had killed Tamehiro HIRATSUKA on the battlefield. After the battle, Suketada joined the effort to capture Sawayama-jo Castle.

However, he was reprimanded for failing to disclose a secret communication with enemy, and he was therefore deprived of his official rank. It is said that this change of fate was due to his poor administration over his domain, the close relationship between his first son, Sukeshige OGAWA, and Mitsunari ISHIDA, and his switching sides repeatedly. After being deprived of his domain, he led a secluded life in Kyoto, and died in 1601. An alternative version maintains that he returned to farming.

His Descendants

His son, Sukeshige (or Senkitsu), went to Kyoto and became a Yorozu-ya (a money changer).

As he succeeded to become a great merchant, he was in charge of encampment during Kanbun era.

His great-grandson, Toshihiro, became falconer, and two generations later, his grandson, Shosen OGAWA, fonded the Koishikawa Hospital, which is well known through its frequent depiction in historical dramas. This family continued to provide support fo the Koishikawa Hospital for successive generations until the end of Edo era.

Many members of the Ogawa family went into the field of medicine, and one of Suketada's descendants became a famous doctor in Fujisawa-shuku (inn town).

Reflection on his Illusory Career Successes and Nobunaga's Personnel Administration

It is said that Suketada was offered a substantially higher amount of compensation in the Tensho era. (Seeing as he was a well known master of the tea ceremony during the reign of Hideyoshi, and licensed to teach the tea ceremony while Nobunaga was in power, it is highly possible that he was made an offer of promotion to feudal lord.)
It is unknown that which feudal domain he supposed to have received; however, considering his career that he used to be a lord of Sawayama-jo Castle while he served for the Rokkaku clan, Nobunaga might have planned to consolidate power by appointing Suketada as the lord of Sawayama-jo Castle. Nobunaga removed Kazumasa ISONO, who belonged to the Azai clan, as lord of Sawayama-jo Castle, and made Nobusumi TSUDA the adopted son of Kazumasa ISONO, it is believed that Nobunaga wanted to keep this area under the control of his most trusted vassals.
Suketada would have been the best candidate to become lord of the Sawayama-jo Castle, as he had no close ties to the Azai clan, and had previously served as the lord of this castle. (It should be noted that Nobunaga selected suitable persons taking into consideration their territorial affiliations.)